Marcel Thibodaux arched his back. In the light of the full moon and protected from civilization by a forest of trees, he felt the power of the transformation. It wasn’t without pain, far from. He felt in the deepest of his being that his bone structure was busy changing. His hands and feet flowed out and became smaller, his muscles were adapting while he moaned and his body tried to handle the ripping extension. He felt his senses sharpen. He smelled the surroundings as if it was a steaming stew just served. He heard the squirrels ran away in the oak on his left side, he saw an owl floating through the air and seizing a mouse with him that peeped and screeched in mortal fear. Unaware he grabbed with his claws in the earth.
When the change had ended, he carefully put his snout in the air. He could smell his kind. The trail was strong and exciting, it had something sexual, something that aroused him. He got an irresistible urge when he pointed his gaze to the moon and the cry he tried to push out of his throat came out as the howling of the wolf he was now. The auburn color of his fur shined in the moonlight that still was young. His sensitive hearing caught an answer. White Lightning and One Eye had gathered at the foot of Dead Man’s Hill. He sniffed the scent up from the night and growled, showing his fangs. It felt good and all the worries of the past days fell off as a dead skin from his body. While he ran along the trees and bushes, he felt free. Free of the limitations of his human posture, denied of the restrictions his body imposed on him. Later on, he would stand nose to nose with his real soul mates. He would smell their scent and fence off his territory with his urine. He feared nobody and everybody who knew his name, would say that Red Fang was the most dangerous werewolf of Northern Europe. Even his animal kindred feared his fangs which were sharper and bigger than any dangerous predator, you could find in these regions.
‘I’m coming to you, One Eye, White Lightning. Keep a spot free for me on the flank of Dead Men’s Hill. We’ll run together under the full moon tonight and if we’re lucky, we’ll drink together from the blood of the dear we’ll die.’
Instead of an answer, he suddenly heard the frightening beating of the hearts of the wolves in the distance. Startled and surprised he stopped in the midst of his run. In his velocity, he still shove a little bit over the wet leaves. Something was wrong. Normally he would hear the young voice of White Lightning who would challenge him for the hunt as the arrogant young wolf he was. Or the forgiving voice of One Eye who would call to be careful with all the experience of an old wolf he had.
Now he just heard the drumming sound of panic, he felt the surprise and confusion about the things that were happening. But even that sound died in a few minutes. The silence was complete and ominous. A cloud floated before the moon, a bad sign. He felt his own fear pulsing in his throat and in his increasing heartbeat. Red Fang started to run like he had never done. He felt the scratching of the thorny bushes along his body. The cracking of dead branches that flew away and around with the speed he made. He couldn’t imagine what had happened, but his instinct told him he had to expect the worse.
Ten minutes later he stood at the foot of Dead Man’s Hill and looked at the battlefield. Still nothing moved. Out of the ripped apart bodies of his kindred, the warm blood was still steaming in the cold night. Some of them, he couldn’t even recognize because of the fact they were in so many pieces, even a relative wouldn’t be able to identify them. After a few paces, he saw One Eye. The best deputy he ever had. A werewolf from the first generation who once had lost an eye in the fight about the leadership of the flock. A fight Red Fang had won. One Eye never had born a grudge, on the contrary, he had subjected himself to the outcome of the fight. A bit further, he noticed the remains of White Lightning. His white fur was stained with his own blood that colored dark in the light of the moon. The fleece of the dead already laid upon his open eyes. The images of the slaughter were dead sharp and cut wounds inside his memory, where they were etched for as long as he would live.
He counted at least thirty victims. He couldn’t estimate the right number because of the many ripped apart bodies. The night would be long. He realized he had to delete all the tracks. The mortals would make something out of this that wasn’t what is was when the bodies would transform again. He had to run for help. After he had paid his last respect to his friends, the werewolf community of Horseville should come together and decide what to do. This could never happen again. Never again!
After the meeting Dragosj had called together, Julius and Diana had invited Mercedes to stay at their home. As long as they didn’t know how they would react to their mutual enemy, it would be wise to stick together. Not alone to protect each other, but also to react as fast as possible to each event.
‘I don’t want to be a burden,’ Mercedes said when she arrived in the underground hiding-place of Julius and Diana. ‘I realize it must be difficult for you. It’s not easy for me either to… contradict my natural instincts.’ She probably would have said something else but because of the peace, she had formulated it tactfully.
‘No problem, Mercedes,’ Julius answered, ‘we have enough space here and I guess we’re safe here. However, safety is relative nowadays.’
Diana, nonetheless the fact she understood Mercedes needed to stay with them, was less happy with the company. ‘I’ve got a spare coffin if you prefer,’ she tried sarcastically. The fact Mercedes was a wolf-witch and a woman, played in important role in her feelings. She had seen the Julius’ glances during the meeting and she knew enough. Not that Julius would try something, but the thought alone made her catty.
‘What do you like to eat? Blood sausage, blood bread or a tasty blood porridge. I really can recommend it.’
Julius desperate moved his hand in Diana’s direction. ‘Diana, if we have to enjoy each other’s company for the next few days, I think it’s not the right tone to sing. Let’s use our energy to find a solution to our problem. Mercedes, could we find out in one way or the other where what has happened with this second box of Pandora?’
Mercedes sighed. ‘There are a few persons who maybe know something more, but if they want to say it is another question. I know a few Mantike’s, they are divine messengers. They are not so trustworthy and they don’t like our kind if you understand what I mean. Then you have some Oracles, but they speak in such a strange tongue you need time to see through their clues. These are all possibilities. Oh, yes, I think of something else. There’s always, of course, The Water of the Lost Sighs.’
‘The Water of the Lost Sighs? Who has invented that name? What special thing does that water do that can help us in this matter?’ Diana was extremely skeptical about Mercedes’ propositions and Julius could hear it in her reaction. The ironic sound of her words was clearly audible.
‘I don’t know either. I once read about it in the writings my mother has left me. I don’t know where it’s situated but according to the documents in my possession this water would have special characteristics during a few days in the year.’
‘How do you mean?’ Julius, who was less catty than Diana wanted to hear more of this supernatural phenomenon.
‘The Lost Sighs are pointing to things that we have lost. The water mirrors an image of the place or the means to find these things back. Even if we know where this water is situated, it’s still guessing. On the other side, images could say more than mysterious words.’
Diana had cooled down and started to realize that her attitude wasn’t conducive to come to a solution. ‘Do you have these writings with you? Maybe we can put our heads together and look if can find the place to speak of our own sigh.
‘I never leave without my mother’s book. I’ll get it out of my luggage and then you read for yourselves the passages where she talks about this well.’
Mercedes hurried to her bedroom to fetch the book. Meanwhile, Diana used the time to ventilate her suppressed feelings. ‘If I hear her talking, all I can do is sigh. Who still believes in these old prophecies? We live in the 21st century!
‘Darling,’ Julius said in a tired voice,’ who of the mortals believes in nightwalkers or wolf-witches if you would hold an inquiry? Right, nobody. And I think, however, we really do exist. This morning pinching my arm, it still hurt. So I’m practically sure I’m not dreaming.’
Diana’s eyes were flickering. ‘You made your point, Julius. You’re right, of course, but don’t overdo it. As of the moment, this wolf-witch-women-being tries to charm you or comes too close, I’ll slash her throat open and drink her blood.’
Mercedes who just entered the room again looked at them with a grin on her face. ‘Have I heard correctly, is someone thirsty here?’
From a place higher on the hill, Vladimir Sango had watched the arrival of the lonely red wolf. His thirst was satisfied otherwise, he had attacked this beast also. It was good that somebody could witness of the bloodbath he had caused. Somebody had to tell about his deeds. The fear that would reign was one of the things which would help to create a new climate. An atmosphere of uncertainty, a state of being that would make every night creature look over their shoulder. It wouldn’t help, they couldn’t match his supremacy. Later on, when he would possess the last box of Pandora, even less.
He saw the wolf searching through the battlefield. The beast halted before some of the victims, pushed with his snout against their remains. Eventually, the wolf howled at the moon, a sinister sound that had no effect on Vladimir Sango. This sound was music to his ears. The sorrow and the anger that he heard in it fed the fire that burned inside his body. From his hiding place, he smelled the scent of blood at the foot of the hill. Dead Man’s Hill, a beautiful name but from today on it should be called Dead Wolf’s Hill.
Vladimir Sango, since he had taken the identity of Daniël Ainsworth, did have the opportunity to bathe in the blood of his enemies. The nightwalkers were certainly aware of his presence. Today the werewolf community would be frightened about what had happened. The many victims would keep the fear awake with these despicable creatures.
He couldn’t make much of the words of the Oracle Pitja. His rage because of her disappearance from her nest and the undermining of his intention to end her life, had vanished. He remembered her mysterious answer word for word.
‘The box you can see and take and still it will impossible. The one who tries it will be struck by a storm of sounds and will be locked in. She’s buried under a pyramid and opens in a strange saying. There you will find the box that you searching for.’
His memories which went back centuries talked about a solitary hermit somewhere in the mountains. A man who knew many secrets once had sold his soul to the devil to live forever. As far as his memory recalled, this was right, this recluse existed still today. Maybe he could make something out of Pitja’s mysterious words. The advantage of having many identities was that he possessed an immense memory. The proverbial needle in a haystack, he could easily find, at least if he knew where to find the haystack. He suddenly felt the urge to make a trip to the Pyrenees.
© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere