I tried to inject a little bit of humour into this chapter, as the last one was a bit heavy. It’s hard to write ‘funny’ without going overboard. The perspective jumps quite a bit, for which I apologise, but it’s necessary for the story to develop. I’m not entirely sure where the story is going because I like to write as I think rather than plan, so it might seem a bit disjointed.
Time flashed past and before any of them new it; the baby boy had grown into a man. On the dawn of his eighteenth birthday, he was awoken by clattering noises from downstairs. He rose sleepily from bed and shrugged on a pair of jeans and a polo shirt that stretched over his wide shoulders. His bedroom was still dark, the curtains blocking out the majority of the early morning sun. The gloom didn’t impede his movements as he walked to the curtains and pulled them wide, letting the blinding rays fall into the cramped space.
The light came to rest on a typical teenager’s room. It was messy with clothes strewn over the floor. A small pile of dusty schoolbooks was laid against a wall and next to those a vast array of CDs and DVDs stood on racks piled to the ceiling. The carpet was a clean navy blue and it was warm under his bare feet. Posters of his favourite musicians and films were dotted around the yellow walls in a seemingly random pattern.
He padded softly into the corridor outside of his room and scratched at the stubble on his cheeks. He slowly made his way downstairs, hearing the hushed voices get close and closer. As he neared the kitchen, he stepped on a squeaky board and suddenly the voices were silent. He continued to trot towards the closed kitchen door and as he turned the handle, he readied himself to pounce on any intruders.
“SURPRISE!” cheered the small crowd gathered around a large chocolate cake with eighteen lit candles sticking out of it. “Happy Birthday Owen!” His mother swooped down on him and began showering him with kisses that bruised his cheeks. Through the haze of maternal embarrassment, he could see his father shaking his head and laughing. They said it was his birthday when in fact it was just the anniversary of being brought home by his Dad, but no one else knew that.
“Come on Elaine, you’re strangling the poor boy. Let him come up for air.” He said as he attempted to pry the mother away. His salt and pepper hair was thinning and he had wrinkles around his eyes, but the lines on his face were formed from laughter rather than tears. “I think he knows you love him.”
Elaine had tears in her eyes as she pulled away. Her little boy was all grown up and he was going to leave for university the next day. This was one of her last opportunities to tell him she how loved him before he was hundreds of miles away studying in the seaside city of Plymouth. As wonderful as it was to see him moving into the world of adulthood, it was still painful for his mother to let him go. Her inability to have children had made his arrival all the more special and Elaine’s catholic upbringing told her that he was a gift from God.
In truth, he was just the opposite.
In a dark chamber deep beneath Vatican City, an ancient werewolf was meditating. He was desperately trying to foresee the next great evil before the other two had visions of their own. It was a secret competition they had and Caesar was beginning to trail behind. The golem was so old and powerful that he had snatches of possible futures lining up to wish him good morning, and the vampire was so deeply immersed in shady dealings of his own that he was more attuned to the darkness than either of his colleagues.
Just as Caesar was about to call it and go to sleep, he felt it. A tingling that started at his temples and then intensified until it was burning his retinas. He blinked slowly and the clouded-grey eyes were replaced by orbs of shining white. The voice of the Creator flowed into his mind and shaped his thoughts into images that flickered like old film.
An old man stood in a doorway with tears in his eyes. A lonesome road curled between the hedgerows of a country lane. A girl screamed in violent fury. A knight in black-plated armour rode a steed of boiling shadows. A fire grew and grew till the smoke blotted out the sun. A giant wave rose from the sea and engulfed a city. The earth was cracked by a light from the sky.
The light faded from Caesar’s eyes and despite his horror at the flashes he had witnessed he felt a moment of triumph. There came a thumping at the door, but he was sure that nothing could ruin his mood.
“Enter.” He called out to the noisy intruder.
“Lord Caesar” an acolyte burst into the room and began to breathe deeply as though he had run a marathon. “Lord Oberoth has just received a vision of the future! He says he has information regarding the new threat!”
Owen’s birthday was going off without a hitch. The guests laughed and sang at all the correct moments, the gifts were thoughtful and the cake gaziantep escort was delicious. But there was something nagging at the back of his mind. He had a feeling that someone else should be present at his eighteenth birthday. He had often wondered who his real parents were. Had they died in the explosion he had miraculously survived? Had they abandoned him? Were they, even now, searching for him? His adoptive father held no answers for him as his efforts to locate them had been fruitless.
He could not remember their faces but that was unsurprising, as he had only just been born when the Police Chief found him. Sometimes he dreamt of voices and faces that seemed muffled by shadows, but these dreams were just as unhelpful.
At 6pm, the guests began to leave. The house felt strangely empty without his friends making loud noises, he could finally hear his own thoughts but he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to. His father clapped him on the back, looked him in the eye, and in that brief glance he seemed to see the confusion his son felt.
“It’s okay to miss them Owen. Even if you never knew them, you won’t ever forget them.” He said in an understanding tone of voice.
The problem was that Owen didn’t want to be understood. He wanted his Dad to shout, to tell him that he should forget about his biological parents and move on. That he had a loving family and that was all that mattered even if they weren’t technically related. But the Police Chief was too kind to say such things; he knew that Owen would have to come to terms with his real parents on his own.
“I know it’s stupid Dad, but I miss them at times like this. I don’t even know what they looked like but I miss them.” Owen had his head in his hands.
“It’s not stupid Owen. Just don’t forget to stay in the present instead of worrying about the past.” His Dad smiled a toothy grin and mussed his black hair out of shape. No son was too old to be irritated by his Dad. “Right, your mother and I are going out for dinner. You should pack before we get back so that she doesn’t have a chance to persuade you not to go to uni.”
“Okay Dad. See you later and don’t be back too late. Wear your seatbelt and check both ways before crossing the road.” He hugged him and tramped upstairs to find his clothes.
“You can’t be serious!” cried Malus, the Vampire Elder, in outrage.
“He’s got to be dead! Nothing could survive the Summoner’s final attack, otherwise we would have gone to deal with her ourselves.” Agreed Caesar.
“Unless it was that final act that allowed the Pit to tear itself a hole in the fabric of reality. The energy requirements would be so large I can only think of one possible power source.” Oberoth was certain of his conclusion.
“Raw magic.” Caesar slumped back into his throne and bowed his head.
“But that doesn’t explain why we never received the visions again. What changed?” Asked Malus in confusion.
“We sent the two assassins after her. She was weakened enough that the child did not have the entirety of its powers. It would have to wait until it had matured sufficiently, that is if it even knows its purpose. The Summoner would have tried to channel her power more efficiently had she not been interrupted so the devastation may not have occurred but for our interference. Perhaps she had an accomplice ready to train the child in her absence?” This explanation was alarmingly rational and Oberoth’s fellow Elders were stunned into silence by the realisation that their actions had done nothing but delay the inevitable.
“We MUST find the child!” shouted Malus in horror.
“But he won’t be a child anymore. It’s been eighteen years since that day. We have only received this vision because he has finally matured enough to wield his full power.” Countered Caesar.
“We will have to send a Hunter after him.” Said Oberoth.
“We can’t do that! They’re too unstable; they can’t be trusted with something like this. They are my kind and even I can’t control them.” Caesar, for all his magic and wisdom, was wary of the Hunters. They were werewolves of unimaginable skill and were nearly impossible to defeat one-on-one. Their mountain home was deep within a silver ore mine and they had grown total resistance to its ionising effect on werewolf cells.
“How will we contact them? They are too secretive to come out of hiding, even in the face of the Apocalypse.” Malus asked, though he thought he had an inkling as to Oberoth’s plan.
Sure enough, the golem held a silver dagger behind his back. He struck with the impossible strength of tectonic plates and Caesar was thrown onto the floor. The silver in the blade reacted to his werewolf DNA and began to release toxic radiation that killed his cells one by one. He died slowly and in agony and he stared into Oberoth’s eyes with sadness and confusion.
“I am sorry my old friend. But this is the only way to reach the Hunters and save the world. I will miss the times we spent together, but I know your death won’t be in vain.” The golem held his dying friend even as the werewolf’s body began to burn with the white heat of magic.
Oberoth released him and braced himself against the wall of the chamber. Malus was not quick enough and as the magic in Caesar’s body escaped, he was thrown against the wall with enough force to crack every bone in a human body. The worst was yet to come however; at the moment of the Elder’s death, his power of foresight was also released. A mental shockwave rushed out of his lifeless corpse and crashed over the whole world at the speed of thought. For one agonizing moment, every mentally attuned creature the world over had the psychic equivalent of a blue screen of death. Their minds shut down to protect them from the forces attacking them.
The message was received by every werewolf the world over, even the Hunters. Caesar was dead; they must go to pay their respects to their former leader.
Unknown to the other two members of the Triumvirate of Blood, Caesar had seen his death already and had long ago enacted a curse that would be the downfall of his murderers. At the moment of his demise, his consciousness screamed through the sky and lodged itself inside the mind of one of the Hunters. Unfortunately, his aim had been a little off. So instead of inhabiting the mind of the Alpha he was suddenly sharing the same head as one of the Alpha’s offspring. He was disconcerted by the sensation of having another’s thoughts swirl around him and he almost lost his mental grip.
Fenris McAgnus was the runt of the litter. He knew it, his father knew it, his brothers knew it, and everyone in the underground network of Krakarov Mountain knew it. His position as Angus McAgnus’ son made him immune from most of the bullying he would have received otherwise, but it didn’t make the pain of being such a disappointment any less intense.
He knew his father despaired of him and he knew that he was butt of many a joke by the members of the pack. He didn’t know why he didn’t just leave. “Oh, now I remember!” he thought. It was because they were in the middle of the Siberian Tundra, miles underneath the ground and living in a dormant volcano. There was literally nowhere to go.
Why couldn’t he be more like his brothers? They were tall and strong and they were born leaders. He was barely 6’5″ and only 240lbs, which was nothing compared to them. He was also severely let down by his werewolf form. His nine-foot fully transformed werewolf body was as a child compared to the majestic altitude enjoyed by his father and siblings.
When he had been young his mother had always told him that he would grow up to be bigger than all of his brothers, but as the years progressed he realised that there was no way he would ever even hit seven feet as a human, and he could forget about being a giant werewolf like the rest of them. He would just have to settle for being called “short-stuff” “half-pint” “hobbit” and “pup” for the rest of his natural.
Fenris was the runt of the litter in all but one sense. He could out-think the lot of them. He was the cleverest wolf in the mountain and had at least 40 IQ points on everyone. Despite his embarrassing stature, he could cling to that lifeline for the rest of his life. Fenris’ brain was a shining beacon to all that felt his psychic presence outside the mountain.
This was probably why, hurtling through mental subspace and unable to see his target’s unfortunate relative lack of size, Elder Caesar had thought that he was the pack Alpha. The wonderful mind he had caught a whiff of had to belong to someone important in the pack. So it was that, while everyone else in the entire mountain was clutching their heads in pain, Fenris McAgnus suddenly felt better than he had in years.
“Pa? Pa what’s wrong?” he asked fearfully as he watched the great and powerful Angus McAgnus writhing on the floor. Psychic attacks always fell hardest on those with weak minds, and Fenris’ family were some of the biggest knuckle-dragging brutes in the known universe. It was the medical equivalent of ten epileptic seizures happening at once, so it was no wonder that they were brought to their knees.
“You can’t help them boy,” the voice seemed to emanate from within his own mind. “It won’t last long, but it’ll hurt like fuck till it’s over.”
Caesar was surprised at himself. Where had that come from? He thought for a moment and realised that the strength of the mind he was cohabitating was such that his own essence was being altered. He was in no danger, he was not fading away or losing his memories, he was just becoming more and more like a grumpy teenager.
“Who’s there?” Fenris asked out loud.
“I’m not out there, I’m in here.” This baffling statement was accompanied by a sharp stinging near his temples. “In your mind, as it were.”
“You’re a figment of my imagination?” This time Fenris thought the words rather than said them.
“Yes and no. Yes in that my presence is being changed by your imagination, but no in that I am very much real.” Caesar tried to simplify but the science behind the magic was too complex.
“Great. So now that there’s no hope of me becoming of any use to anyone, I’ve gone crazy.” Fenris mentally rolled his eyes.
“I saw that! Honestly, kids these days have no respect for their Elders. Huh? I just made a joke. I haven’t made a joke in four hundred years.” Caesar focused for a moment.
Suddenly there was an old grizzled werewolf standing in front of Fenris. His fur was pale white and he was muttering to himself. He seemed very short, not like any of the werewolves Fenris knew.
“Well I would wouldn’t I. Not everyone’s a giant you know. I’m considered quite tall where I’m from. Or I was, before my physical body died. Christ! They grow them big where you’re from.” Caesar had a direct connection to Fenris’ thoughts and could hear them as clearly as a voice.
“How are you standing in front of me? You just said your physical body… Oh! You’re projecting an image of yourself through my eyes, that’ll make communication easier I suppose. But won’t I look a bit odd talking to myself?”
“I thought of that.” Caesar grinned smugly. “I’ve done a teensy bit of rewiring of your perceptions. When you ‘speak’ to me, you’re actually just thinking. Don’t worry it won’t affect anyone else. You’ll just have to be careful not to keep looking at me during conversations.”
“What’s happened to all of them?” Fenris asked.
“Unfortunately, I happened. A side effect of me vacating my mortal shell is that all of my considerable magic escaped my body; it’s causing some… difficulty for the psychically inclined.” Caesar gave an apologetic shrug and held up his hands in a show of ‘mea culpa’.
“Why didn’t it happen to me?” Fenris asked in a more curious voice.
“Not entirely sure. At first I thought that I was somehow shielding you, but they started having fits before I landed in your head. You must be powerful to stop such an attack. Either that or…” He trailed off and started muttering. Fenris began to get irritated; it was unfair that the sharing of thoughts could not be a two-way street.
“It is. You just have to focus on the part of your mind that I inhabit. Think of your mind like a big multi-storey hotel. I’m in one of the rooms. Try to picture the room.”
“What does it look like?”
“Well…” Caesar began. He turned around on the spot where he was standing in front of Fenris. His body seemed to become more translucent than before. He regained opacity and grinned with one eyebrow raised. “Well… I’m not sure I should say.”
“You don’t mean…” Fenris’ eyes widened both externally and internally. He flushed red with embarrassment.
“Yes, that room. You could probably move me to a different room if you like, but I quite like it in here and you might dislodge me from your mind entirely if you try. Besides, at least now I know you’ve got some imagination.”
“Okay, I’m coming in.”
It was as if he had stepped into another world. He was standing in front of a red door floating in darkness. He groaned as he saw the room number on the door. XXX. Hopefully that just meant room 30. He opened the door and he was pulled inside by Caesar. He clamped his eyes shut.
“It’s not really to my taste. But, whatever floats your boat and all that. Maybe if I spend enough time in here I’ll start to like it.” Caesar had an expression of sheer enjoyment on his lupine face.
Fenris turned as he opened his eyes and was half expecting to see some sort of leather harness or handcuffs or ball-gag hanging from the ceiling. Instead, he found he was looking at a small table on top of which was a bottle of wine and a half melted candle sticking out of an empty balsamic vinegar bottle.
“Not much of a deep dark fantasy really. Seems a bit tame to me. So your deepest sexual desire is romance?”
Fenris muttered darkly about “interfering old men” and “perverted ancient dogs”. Then to his surprise, he found that he wasn’t really upset, it was nice to share his secret with someone, especially someone who could never tell anyone else. He waved his arm and one of the empty seats by the table was filled with the silhouette of a man. First, he was tall and broad chested, and then he was petite and slim. The silhouette seemed to shift and change, never taking one form over another.
“Ah… so that’s why you’ve buried your romantic side in here. I know werewolves aren’t the most accepting of critters out there. But it’s much better than it used to be. Why, in my day, you’d be castrated and every male in the pack would fuck you till he came in your ass. That was the punishment for the sodomite, provided of course that the Alpha remembered to castrate him. They forgot that bit sometimes you know, quite often in fact. More often than you would…” Caesar stopped for a moment and seemed to consider what he’d just said. “Now I think of it, it just sounds like an excuse for a bunch of randy dogs to fuck someone for free. I expect the ‘victim’ was in on the whole thing.”