This is a prototype of a scene I’m writing for a book (tentatively called “Vestiges of Evil”). This is meant to be the first scene in the story.
Idiot. Coward. Fool.
Lykos had heard all of those as insults before, and never had he been so convinced of their validity. He looked to his wrists, chained in old manacles made of cold iron. They’d done their homework, it seemed. Normal iron wouldn’t be enough to contain him, but iron mined from some of the deepest places on the planet? Lykos would actually have to cut his arms off to get out of this. Joy. He sat in the corner of his cell, the old stone hard and cold against his back. He couldn’t quite see out of the cell door in the darkness, but he could see the rusty iron bars. There was a barred window above that let the light of the waning gibbous shine into the cell itself.
He’d never hated that damn silver orb so much in his life.
Lykos heard the sound of leather boots on stone, followed by a woman’s voice. “Lykos Silvertooth.” Her accent was rich, old realm from the sound of it. There was a tinge of the drawl and dialect of the frontier – a clear indication she’d been in this town for a while, if the shiny sheriff badge hadn’t given it away.
“It’s jus’ Lykos.”
A leather boot kicked his shin, startling him to look up. “You might think so but like it or not, it’s your name.”
He hadn’t heard the door. Lykos felt sweat beading on his hands.
“And what a name it is.” The woman’s accent had a sneer to it now. “All the world thought the entire werewolf race was dead. Turned out, WOOPS! Entire clan of you scum left in the northern mountains. Awkward for the Regime, I’m sure.”
Lykos glared at her, momentarily forgetting the door.
“And then when the Regime went to purge them from the world, we were all told they were slain to a pup.” Her sneer faded to a frown. “And yet here you are.
“Yeah, the Regime lied. Shocker.”
“Oh I don’t doubt it, but I do doubt that no one would have looked for you.” She knelt, glaring from the under the brim of her hat. “And I also doubt that anyone could have escaped the battle itself. The Regime is quite efficient in its exterminations.”
Lykos said nothing through his frown.
“So I must surmise you ran.”
Lykos said nothing through gritted teeth.
“Like a coward.”
“The fuck would you know about me?!”
Lykos snarled. “Don’t you dare mock me, you piece of human garbage-”
“I’m not mocking you, pup, I’m simply surprised.” She lifted up the brim of her hat to reveal bored red eyes. “Werewolves aren’t exactly known for their self-control. And yet, not only did you run from what would surely have been a glorious final stand, no one you attacked on the full moon last month has changed.”
Lykos was quiet.
“Additionally, you didn’t change during our most recent full moon.” She tapped her chin, looking out the window to the waning gibbous. “The cold iron around your wrists probably helped with that – I’m told werewolves hate the stuff – but normally a werewolf will at least snarl and rage. You did not shift at all, and in fact, for a werewolf you were quite quiet.”
Lykos knew for a fact that this woman was the only person he’d seen that shared that sentiment.
“I find that… interesting.” She continued.
“Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?” Lykos smirked, lifting up his manacled hands. “I’m gonna need these off.”
“Whatever you want from me, I want out of these stupid chains. Iron doesn’t sit well with my stomach.”
The woman cocked an eyebrow. “You are hardly in a position to be trying to bargain, mutt.”
“No, I’m not.” Lykos agreed, keenly aware of the cold iron around his wrists and ankles. “But you’re hardly the type o’ lady to be talkin’ about letting somethin’ like me go free.”
“You have no idea how true that is.” The sheriff tilted her hat down. “Which begs the question of what preposterous notion entered what is left of your human mind that you could bargain your way into freedom.”
Lykos grinned wickedly, revealing that his teeth were all canines. “Yer here, ain’tcha? Ye came to me. And unlike most folk, ya didn’t try t’kill me on the spot.”
The woman’s smile was unpleasant enough that Lykos’ smile faltered. “You’re such a smart little mutt, aren’t you?”
The werewolf’s smile faded entirely. “I don’ gotta sit here and take yer insults, bitch.”
“Yes, you do.” She said, her voice ice and her frown iron. “Or did you forget that your cowardice cost you your packmates, and your foolishness cost you your freedom?”
Lykos snarled and lunged forward, straining against the chains. To the woman’s credit, she didn’t even flinch.
“But you are correct, in a way. I came down here precisely to speak with you and ‘bargain’ for your eventual release. You see, I want to propose an alliance between you and I. Despite your cowardice, your strength and remarkable self-control-” (Lykos sincerely hoped she meant ‘for a werewolf’) “-will prove useful to me and the others.”
The woman took off her hat, revealing skin as pale as the grave in the equally pale moonlight. “The werewolves are not the only ones near extinct in this so called ‘utopia’. Humans hunted many such creatures down to the last, and they believe they have won.” She glared, her eyes blood red. “But you and I know that that is not true, not for you and I. As long as one of our kind lives, we can still rise again. And while I will freely admit I still detest your disgusting race, the fact of the matter is that such outdated ways of thinking will not help anyone.”
The werewolf was quiet for a moment as what she was saying sunk in. A low growl arose in his throat. “Vampire.”
“You bloodsucking scum have done more to kill us off than-”
“Yes yes, attempted genocide, righteous fury, I’ve heard it before.” She waved her hand as if brushing aside his indignation. “But quite frankly neither of us have a choice. Your fear, Lykos, ensured you would be the last werewolf.”
He snarled at the vampire. “And what about you, bitch?! You left!”
“Lady Luna Astell, if you please, or Sheriff if you prefer. I saw the purge coming, little pup, and warned my fellows. They cast me out.” Her tone was darker now. “And I decided to try my luck in the only place left that the Regime’s reach was not absolute.” She swiped her hat to the side in a brief flourish, as if a saleswoman showing what she had for sale. “And I found quite the little bargain on the frontier. Drop all your finery and put on a Sheriff badge and you can go anywhere.” Her smile returned, no less sickening to the wolf as she put the hat back on. “And I absolutely adore the apparel.”
Great. Not only was he alone with a vampire, she actually cared about giant hats in a world where she was probably the last of her kind, too. Joy.
“I can survive, certainly, and for a time I was content. But the simple fact, Lykos, is that I can barely keep on the sidelines out here, feeding just barely enough for short-term survival with no real expectation of long-term survival. Sooner or later, I will make a mistake. The Regime will come here, or I will be caught while feeding, or someone will die.” Her glare grew darker. “I simply cannot work alone any longer, and my allies are in similar positions. And as you proved last month, an outright attack on the humans is met with enough resistance to capture even a werewolf on the full moon. We need numbers, Lykos, whether we like who is among that number or not.”
Lykos said nothing.
“Now then.” She adjusted her hat. “I’ve got the authority and the evidence to back up a claim that you were framed for the werewolf attacks. But I’m afraid I will not simply extend my help without expectation of your own in return, I have too few assets to squander them on freeing something that is my enemy through and through. Which will it be, little wolf?” She leaned closer, just out of reach. “Stay here and let the humans judge your cowardice? Or come with me and my fellows, and do something about it.”
Lykos was quiet for a few moments. Then he sighed. “Like you said, I don’t got much choice.”
“Good.” She turned to leave. “I will have to convince the populace you are not a threat to them. Do not attempt escape.”
Luna‘s form seemed to slide through the bars of his cell, a silver mist in the air for the briefest of instances.
…Oh, that’s how she got in.
Lykos sighed. The ability to turn into mist… Some people got all the luck.