A Gentleman and a Rogue

Monday, August 10, 2009

Excerpt Monday - The Wolf's Torment

The Set up: Viktor tells Mihai he's been made into a werewolf.
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“Do you believe in myths? Vampires? Werewolves? I never did, though I heard many tales about them growing up,” Viktor said.

Mihai felt a cold shiver run own his spine, recalling the old witch’s pursuit of his mother. Had something similar happened to Viktor? No wonder his friend was distressed. Mihai grew distant, sensing Viktor had something to tell him that involved those repugnant legends.
“I’ve heard tales. The one that intrigued me the most was where a deadly plague ravished a village in Carpathia in the dark ages. Everyone died except the son of the count who oversaw the village. The son was changed somehow from the plague, and when he grew up, one offshoot of his children became vampires, the other werewolves. There’s more to the myth, but I’m being brief. Why do you ask?”

“I have been bitten by a werewolf, Mihai.”

Mihai got to his feet, stunned. Not his best friend! How could such foulness touch him? His eyes raked over Viktor, drinking in his friend’s features. Viktor was a man, but a werewolf was sly and cunning, a beast that, if left untamed, would ravish those he cared for.

Mihai lunged at Viktor, choking him. “Damn you. How could you let this happen?”

Viktor’s hands clamped around Mihai’s wrists, and with relative ease, he pushed Mihai backwards, causing him to crash into one of the posts of the gazebo.

“That wasn’t the reaction I expected from a friend.”

“How can you be a friend to me now? You don’t understand—!”

“Then explain it to me, Mihai. I have built a life here in Moldavia and I don’t want it taken from me.” Viktor balled his hands into fists.

Mihai drew in a deep breath. “I didn’t tell you the entire truth about my mother’s death. Yes, there was a carriage accident, but she was being pursued by a witch. It was a witch that slew her, and I witnessed it.”

“Why was a witch after the Queen of Moldavia?” Viktor asked.

“My mother had been promised into servitude to the witch as a little girl,” Mihai said.
Even now, at this moment, when Viktor was being totally truthful with him, Mihai couldn’t confess to his own mother being a witch. Not even to his closest friend. How could he? Viktor was a wolf, and Mihai had heard several tales of the werewolf’s cunning nature.

“I see. The witch took no pity on your mother, and the bastard who did this took no pity on me either. I have transformed. Sonia witnessed this. She’s so upset she won’t let me touch her, and I fear I might have tried to harm her in my unnatural state.” A tear escaped from Viktor’s eye.

Mihai stood there, rocked by his friend’s confession and his own painful memories of the night his mother died. How could he let such a beast into his home? How could he not? Viktor loved Sonia, yet even now his confession spoke of the werewolf’s inability to control his actions.
“How dangerous are you?” Mihai asked.

“I don’t know. But there’s more - Sonia is pregnant with my child.”

Mihai noticed how Viktor skirted his question, only to drop another bombshell on him. “Did you try to kill her in a bestial rage?”

“No, but she’s scared. She wants to leave me, and I don’t want her to. I want to be married to her and I want us to raise our child.”

Mihai shook so badly that he had to grab onto a support pole in the gazebo. “Is the child a werewolf, too?”

“No, thank heavens. Sonia and I have reached a compromise, with your help.”

Viktor was a good man. To see him in such agony broke Mihai’s heart. He knew wolves could be very dangerous. He had to make a decision. Could he forsake Viktor? Banish his friend from his life? What would a man do? Protect his family? He looked into Viktor’s pained eyes and knew he couldn’t send Viktor away.

“I’ll do whatever I can for you.”

“Go to Sonia. Tell her you and Theresa have agreed to be the child’s godparents. You’ll look after the child and keep it safe from me while it lives here with us.”

“And Sonia?”

“Once the child is born, if she wants to leave, she can. It’s her choice.”

“I’ll do this for you, but if you so much as touch that girl, be it as man or beast, I’ll kill you myself, and know this - I will not have you going after the citizens of Moldavia.”

“Mihai, my maker claims I am an ancestor of his and wants me to go to him for the next full moon. I don’t want to do that,” Viktor said, his voice shaking. “Will you make a place to keep me safe?”

“Where would I keep you?” Mihai asked.

“In a dungeon. You must build it as quickly as possible. You have little less than three weeks before the moon is full again.”

“Viktor—”

“Mihai, please, I hate him. He can do so many incredible things. You must lock me in a dungeon and keep me safe. How can I retain my humanity if you don’t? I won’t go to him, I won’t.”

“Fine, I’ll watch over you myself. You’re like a brother to me. If not for that, I would disown you. Do you understand?”

“I do.”

“Now do you understand why I want to modernize my country? I want to have all the latest inventions like railroads and lithographs so people will think Romania is modern, too.”

“You want all these new things to chase out the legends of the past?”

“Yes.”

“I see.”

“Don’t pretend that you know my heart, Viktor. I won’t forsake you, but my priorities are to Moldavia, and above that, Romania,” Mihai said.

“What happened to the boy I met in London?”

“I’m a man now, with responsibilities.”

“A man? A man has a heart. It’s what makes him human.”

“Then act like a man and go to the castle to sleep in your own room,” Mihai said.
“Tomorrow morning we’ll make plans to deal with your ailment.”

Viktor nodded his head, turned around and took long strides back to the castle.

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