Lord of the Wolves
Anna woke to find herself in the spare room at Tanya’s house again. It was night and she could see the waning moon shining through the curtains. For a moment she thought that she had relapsed and the whole horrible ordeal had been a fever dream but the pain in her wrists and ankles suggested otherwise. Indeed when the sheet fell back as she sat up she could see the abrasions and bruises on her wrists where the chains had been.
She swung her feet out of the bed and sat there staring at her hands, remembering the ways they had sprouted fur and claws and how she had disemboweled Ragnar. Not a dream then. At least she was free but what the hell had happened there? She sucked in a deep breath and looked up slowly, freezing as she saw her reflection in the mirror. Her eyes had changed from their usual boring hazel to an unnaturally vivid amber colour.
She didn’t realise that she’d cried out in surprise until Tanya ran into the room.
“You’re awake!” she exclaimed. “Daniel said you’d sleep a while longer. How are you feeling?”
“M-my eyes!” Anna said. “What happened to my eyes?â€ Her stomach flipped. “I-I’m not human any more am I?â€ She turned to look at Tanya and felt her mouth dropped open. Tanya’s eyes had changed colour to the same odd amber. “W-what happened to your eyes? What’s going on.â€ She pulled up her knees and hugged them, trying to swallow her fear.
â€œMy eyes were always this colour,â€ Tanya said cheerfully. â€œSo were yours. You just couldn’t see them because you hadn’t changed yet. And what do you think you are? You’re a werewolf like your mother. You pretty much gutted your captor you know.”
â€œI-I’m what?â€ The bottom dropped out of Anna’s stomach as she stared at Tanya open mouthed.
“Yes, I imagine it is a bit of a shock,” Tanya said. “I know it was when I changed and I wasn’t fighting for my life at the time. It’ll be fine, Anna. I mean you said you don’t have a problem with werewolves.”
Anna swallowed and forced herself to compose herself. “I don’t, but that’s a lot different from being–” She stopped abruptly as more of what had happened came back to her and an entirely different fear overwhelmed her. “Jason! Did that bastard do anything to Jason? What about David? The car was on fire! And that poor girl, Caroline?”
“Jason’s fine,” Tanya said. “He’s downstairs. David too, though he’s not here right now or he’d have probably got in here before me. Caroline… well we broke her link to Ragnar and she’ll recover physically. Mentally she’s going to need help but we’ll get that for her. I’ll get you some sandwiches. You need to eat and get some more sleep. Full moon has already passed this month but I don’t think we can wait for the next one so we’re going to have to teach you to control your shifting. You’re going to need your energy for your first full change. I can get Daniel to brew you up a sedative if you’re too wound up.”
That was the second time Tanya had mentioned that name. â€œWho’s Daniel?â€ Anna asked. â€œAnd I’m not hungry.â€
“He’s our pack healer,” Tanya explained. “He fixed up your brother and David and he can fix up your bruises as well. And hungry or not you should eat. Would you like the sedative?”
Anna tilted her head and considered. “It’s probably not a bad idea. I’d like to thank him for helping Jason anyway.”
“I’ll go and get him and some sandwiches then.”
Anna watched her leave and then went back to staring at her eyes in the mirror. She looked up again when she heard someone clear their throat in the doorway. A honey blonde woman with warm brown eyes stood in the doorway smiling at her.
“Hello?” Anna said.
“Hi.” The woman’s smile widened. “I just wanted to make sure you knew we were okay as long as you don’t eat anyone human.” The woman paused. â€œAnd try to be a bit more picky about the vampires you hunt as well.â€
“Huh?” Anna stared at her then blinked in surprise as she recognised the woman’s voice. “You’re the werewolf hunter who backed Tanya up when Rhiane wanted to execute me!”
“That’s right,” she said. “I’m Meredith.”
“Thanks for that,” Anna said. “And I have no intention of eating anyone.”
“Rhiane is dangerous” Meredith said. “She needs stopping. And I didn’t think you did, but it’s worth saying.” She was gone before Anna could respond.
Not before Tanya had seen her there, however, because the woman appeared a moment later and paused in the doorway and frowned after her before re-entering with the promised plate of sandwiches. A young, brown haired man with the same amber eyes and ready smile came in behind her.
â€œWas Merry giving you any trouble?â€ Tanya asked as she pushed the plate into Anna’s hands.
â€œNo, just saying we we’re good as long as I didn’t eat anyone. Since I have no intention of eating anyone this shouldn’t be an issue.â€
â€œI should hope not.â€ The young man put a steaming mug of a nasty looking concoction on the bedside table and knelt before her. “I’m Daniel, the Haventon pack’s healer. Now you’re awake I’ll sort out those bruises, but I think you needed them to ground yourself when you woke up.”
“Thank you.” Anna took a bite of the first sandwich and then stuffed the whole thing into her mouth as she discovered she was hungry after all. Once her mouth was clear she gave him a weak smile.” And I think you were right I probably did.â€ She ate another sandwich before adding. â€œThanks for looking after my brother.â€ She looked around at Tanya. â€œCan I see Jay.â€
â€œOf course,â€ Tanya said and left the room again.
Daniel waited while she finished her sandwiches then took her wrists in his hands. She stared in amazement as the bruises which had been so livid against her fair skin faded in seconds. Daniel grinned at her surprised gasp then turned his attention to her ankles as Tanya returned with Jason.
“Jay!â€ Anna gasped in relief. â€œYou’re all right! I was afraid that bastard had killed you.”
“I’m fineâ€ He hurried over and gave her a hug. “Just a bump on the head. Daniel fixed me up in no time. I’m more worried about you. Are you okay. They told me what happened. Must be a shock.â€
â€œYou don’t seem shocked,â€ Anna said.
â€œMum told me just before she died.â€ He squeezed her shoulder. â€œI was more shocked to find out you were a vampire hunter.â€ He gave her a stern look. â€œYou have some explaining to do about that.â€
â€œHuh,â€ Anna said.
â€œAfter she’s slept some more,â€ Daniel said firmly as he pushed the mug he had brought with him into her hands. â€œDrink up.â€
Anna sipped it cautiously then gagged at the unrelenting bitterness of the brew. â€œUgh! That’s disgusting!â€
â€œI know,â€ Daniel said blandly. â€œIt’s also good for you, Drink up.â€
Anna scowled at him for a moment before gulping it down trying not to taste it. Almost as soon as it hit her stomach her head started to swim and she flopped sideways on to the bed. â€œI feel strange, is that the sedative?â€
â€œYes,â€ Daniel said. â€œDon’t fight it. You’ll feel better when you wake up.â€
â€œDon’t think I could if I wanted to.â€ Anna wriggled under the covers and closed her eyes, then opened them a moment later. â€œDavid isn’t here? Where is he?â€
â€œWith a friend,â€ Tanya said. â€œThey’re trying to find out what he is.â€
â€œOh,â€ Anna said. That should make her ask more, she knew, but as she sank down into the teeming darkness in her head she wasn’t sure what.
â€œI’m sure some of Tyler’s acquaintances will know what you are,â€ Liam said as he drove David and Tyler through the dark streets. â€œMany of them know more lore than either he or I.â€
David said nothing. He still wasn’t sure that he wanted to know what he was, but he also knew that hiding from it wouldn’t help.
â€œWe’ll try Malcolm first,â€ Tyler said.
â€œThat’s what I thought, â€œ Liam said as he turned into a small cul-de-sac. â€œHe’ll know if anyone does.â€ He parked in the drive of a large, ivy covered house that couldn’t have looked more like some sort of haunted house from a horror movie if it tried. In spite of the late hour a dim light was visible in one of the downstairs windows.
â€œWe won’t be disturbing your friend will we?â€ David asked.
â€œI wouldn’t call Malcolm a friend,â€ Tyler said. â€œJust someone who helps me occasionally. And no he won’t be asleep. As you’ll soon discover Daemons and Faeries don’t sleep as much as humans. Come on let’s go and see him then.â€ He headed for the heavy oak front door. David and Liam followed just behind.
The door was covered in strange carvings and the doorknocker was in the shape of a strange winged creature.
â€œThat’s creepy,â€ David said.
â€œWards,â€ Tyler said. â€œMalcolm is old and paranoid.â€ He reached for the knocker then jumped back as it creaked open and a young boy with completely black eyes looked at them, â€œMalcolm.â€
â€œI can’t help you, Tyler,â€ Malcolm said. â€œI wish I could.â€ He made to close the door but Tyler blocked it with his foot.
â€œYou don’t even know why we’re here,â€ Tyler said.
â€œYou’re here to find out what the boy is,â€ Malcolm said. â€œI can’t help you except to advise you that if you’re wise you’ll cut him loose and keep away from him.â€ He pushed Tyler’s foot out of the door with his own and then slammed it.
Tyler stared at the door and turned to look at David speculatively. â€œWell this just got more interesting. He was absolutely terrified.â€
â€œI thought you said he was old, he’s just a kid,â€ David said.
â€œHe looks like a child without his glamour but he’s over a century old.â€ Tyler gave him a wry smile. â€œSurely you’ve heard of black-eyed children?â€
â€œWell, yeah,â€ David said, â€œBut I thought they were a creation of the internet not a real creature.â€
â€œOh no they’re real,â€ Tyler said. â€œMost of the sightings are total crap though, they’re mostly harmless if a little scary.â€ He scowled at the door. â€œThey don’t get scared though, paranoid but not panicked like he was. I wonder what that was about.â€ He looked over at Liam. â€œWe’ll try Jan next.â€
â€œGood call.â€ Liam was frowning as well as they headed back to his blue Volvo. â€œLet’s hope he can help.â€