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The Beast in Me (completed)
I chased through the night. I let my fleshy tongue dangle out of my mouth to cool my body as I sped back to hunt down my victim. The twinge of guilt and shreds of rationality that still had guided me through my previous transformation four weeks ago were jammed into the farthest part of my brain now, intimidated by the ferocious state of my mind.
A gusty wind had started blowing. Strings of my saliva ripped off and slapped down my neck and up into my face. Without diminishing my speed I tried to blink it away and then shook my head. Just before I exited the woods I heard a distant howl. The sound reverberated in the marrow of my bones. The fur on my skin stood on end and it felt as though an electric current was stimulating my nerves. I slashed around in mid-run and nearly missed a tree trunk. But I never stopped galloping on the four legs of mine. Instead, I made a neat half circle avoiding the shrubs and producing deep skid marks in the soft mossy forest ground.
There was another howl. It sounded much closer this time. I headed back in full speed throwing my head left to right, trying to make out the source of this archetypical signal. It was impossible not to heed the call. The fibers of my muscles tautened as I grazed the trunks of the huge pines that stood in my way.
Ahead, I saw the reddish-yellow glow as if from tiny headlights between the trees. I gasped and licked my teeth. A couple of the lights blinked once and I directed my path to close in on them. Moving on, I entered an open area where the moon filled the meadow with its pale light. Suddenly, I saw it! Standing like a statue on a mound was an enormous beast that was arching its head high into the sky. It opened its snout and let out a deafening howl. I saw how it was stretching its broad and furry throat sitting upon two mighty shoulders. Immediately, I came to a halt, just a few strides in front of it. With wide-open eyes, I froze to my ground and stared at this mountain of a werewolf.
The howl ceased as suddenly as it had started and then the werewolf majestically lowered his snout. I finally saw its glowing red eyes. They seemed to be zooming in on my own fearful eye globes. I felt how I crouched under the gaze and how my ears bent downwards. The werewolf snarled and started growling. To my surprise, the sounds made sense in my mind,
“Well, well! Turns out I had it right, after all! There was indeed another one of us in these hunting grounds. Tasha wouldn't believe me but my old nose has never fooled me yet...”
I heard a whimper from where I had seen the other glowing lights. I realized that there was a whole pack of werewolves just within a stone's throw. I felt my body tremble.
“But it's merely a cub...” the werewolf said amused. Then he raised his hind legs and strolled leisurely toward me. I was as if paralyzed, barely daring to breathe. He seemed to be looking me up and down. “What do you call yourself?”
“Byron.” I answered reflexively. He rounded my back and I felt the fur stand upright on my neck.
“I'm Zeus... by the way, we never use our human name tags. You must find your true werewolf name before you can be accepted by a pack.”
“How do I find out?” I asked meekly more curious than aware of the implications of joining a pack. He didn't answer immediately but quietly went up on top of the mound and turned around.
“By slaying your first victim.” Zeus said quietly. I heard the low approving growl among his pack. “I gather that you were hunting for it before you turned around to heed my call...”
I remembered again. Yes, I had been on my way to Sheena's house. I growled in confirmation. Zeus slowly nodded,
“And you have my approval now but you should know that we have long planned to make these our grounds. The general area had been under the protection of a half-Veela for a long time but we have eliminated that threat just a few months ago.”
I gasped. He must have meant Sheena's mother!
“Now we are free to roam here!” He said triumphantly. The other werewolves in the distance gave a howl of pleasure.
“Not quite!” It slipped out from me.
Zeus flinched just a fraction of a second. There was movement toward us in the woods and the rumble of their growling was aggressive this time.
“And what do you mean by that?!” Zeus hissed dangerously. I ducked my head and said,
“There is a Veela in Baskerville! I... I believe she is the daughter of the half-Veela you slayed!”
The werewolves in the woods howled with fear and confusion.
“Nonsense!” Zeus cried, his red eyes widening sickeningly and his sharp teeth at full display. “It cannot be a half-Veela, let alone a Veela! Her mother bred with an ordinary human. That makes her the last of her bloodline. Her daughter cannot possess any Veela powers!”
I shuddered. Actually, I had no proof that Sheena actually was a Veela. The only thing I could know for sure was that her mother had firmly believed that her daughter was going to be a Veela on her sixteenth birthday. Today. I had been right there with her in my human form. How could I just have run away from my prey like that?
Zeus saw the look in my eyes.
“Ah, you have chosen her as your first victim...?” I didn't answer. He nodded, “It is a strong instinct, you will not rest until you have slain your victim... or get killed trying! Which is a likely possibility if you were to face a Veela on your own!”
“We have lost three of our best beasts - among them our former alpha - before our attacks finally had an effect on Michelle de Veela. Our saliva is deadly if it enters the veins of a Veela. But it is nigh impossible to even scratch them!”
There was whimpering from the woods again. I shuddered but wanted to know,
“Why?! What powers do Veelas possess that a werewolf cannot overcome?”
I heard cracking in the underbrush. The “headlights” had started moving closer, growing in size. Then they appeared as grey shadows in the faint light just outside of the perimeter of the woods. There were four of them, not counting Zeus, their leader. He looked at me silently for a few moments, as if perusing my intentions, and then calmly explained,
“We never actually have met a full-blooded Veela ourselves. But werewolf stories tell of their shear impenetrability of their shields. You see, they are more like ghosts than of flesh and blood. They try to drive us mad and lure us into deadly situations. They have power over storms and bodies of water. Many of us have drowned while trying to hunt down a Veela. Our only chance is to catch them in their human form when they practically are defenseless. But the full moon serves them as much as it serves us werewolves.”
“We were lucky we only had to deal with a half-Veela! But as I said, since her Veela bloodline has not been reinforced by her mating partner, there is hardly need for you to worry. As it would seem...” he bared his teeth as if grinning, “In any case, you will be doing us a favor by taking out her offspring.” He rose to all fours again, turned toward the woods, and began trotted off. But then he stopped and looked back at me. He solemnly nodded his head, as if positively acknowledging his own idea,
“If you succeed in eliminating the remainder of the Veela's breed, you actually would be welcome to join our pack. We have great plans.”
I felt safe enough to rise now,
“You'll find out in time... or not.” And then he bounced away, streaking like a comet and was out of sight. There I stood alone. Shreds of clouds fluttered past the big fat moon high in the sky. I raised my head and looked up. The wind was chilly now and gusts were blowing the fur on my throat and chest sideways. It was ever so subtle, but I could feel that the power of the moon was waning already. With it, the fury inside my chest was dwindling as quickly as it had set in. My human senses were coming back in waves. Who was I? What was I?
I was still too much werewolf to use reason as I could in my human form. But I could feel more humane again, I could empathize. I felt danger. This pack had killed the Veela's mother. They would kill her, too, if they could. Zeus did not believe that she could have the full powers of a Veela, given her ancestry. In that case, I had an edge over her. Perhaps. It was a gamble. Then without thinking anymore, I was off again, following my bestial instincts once more.
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