The Werewolves' Story

The Pack: Chapter Two


When Chav was first bitten, at twenty-six, he had thought that he'd never want to see another werewolf as long as he lived. He'd done a good job of it, so far, even though it had only been about ten years since then. His little town, Rinmar, had accepted him with open arms-- the fact that he only changed once a month, for about a day and a half, didn't hurt matters-- and even gave him a room where he could stay locked up so he didn't bite anyone. He'd been perfectly happy to be a normal person most of the time, with a little "problem" every five weeks or so, and never even think of other werewolves.

However, right now, he was more glad to see a trio of werewolves than he'd been to see anybody in the past week. Perhaps it was just because he was the only sane person left in Rinmar, and seeing someone else sane, anyone else, was a relief. Perhaps it was because he was half-certain that it was his curse that kept him safe from the insanity that had torn Rinmar apart-- he couldn't think of anything else that might have done it-- and seeing someone else so cursed would help him prove or disprove his guess. Maybe, really, he was just too tired to care anymore.

Well, probably not the last, because when he'd heard people trying his door-- calling through it, pounding on it, slashing at it, whatever all they did-- he'd promptly slid a couple more things onto it and tried to hide. With his luck lately, they'd have been more of the afflicted, sure he was the villain in whatever story they'd made up for themselves. What with the entire town knowing of his curse, it had been only natural for the paranoia of many to focus on him. It was awfully lucky of him to have gotten the general store for himself, being both the safest and most well-stocked building to weather out friends and family tearing each other to pieces....

He'd never expected them to get through, anyway, not with half the store blocking the way, not unless they had a battering ram. From the sound of it, though, they had had a battering ram. Or something. At that point, he'd decided that running might've been better, but that hadn't gone over so well. At least they hadn't been more of the afflicted.

"What's your name?" the priest-one asked once they were all settled and as comfortable as one could get, when there was only one chair-- Chav had offered it to the lady, but she had frowningly and pointedly sat on the floor, so the priest wound up taking it as second choice. Maybe some people might've questioned a priest as a werewolf, but what about an accountant as a werewolf? That seemed even less likely! Chav wasn't going to question anything like that anymore.

"Chavarin Delaurenti," he answered. "Just call me Chav. Who're all of you?"

"I'm Zzandoren," the priest said. "This is Rythri, Resham, and Shessyi." The wolf thumped its tail on the ground once; Chav guessed it wasn't a werewolf, itself, only because he knew enough about magic to recognize the companion-rune on its back.

"Nice to meet you," Chav said politely. "I guess." More than nice; a possible life-saver.

Zzandoren didn't waste any more time on chit-chat. "Can you tell us what happened here?"

"Can I!" Chav shuddered. "Everyone's gone mad, that's what happened here. Normal people, just gone from normal to insane in the span of, like, a week."

"But what could cause that?" Zzandoren pressed. "There's no magic, not that we can smell, so--"

"You smell magic?" Chav interrupted, startled.

"Rythri and I do, yes," the priest nodded. "So we don't think it's a spell--"

This time Rythri interrupted. "Thonynde feels awfully weird about it, though, and there is a lot of smoke."

Whoever Thonynde was, Zzandoren just shook his head. "A spell strong enough to drive an entire town insane ought to be smothering us with its scent. The stronger the magic, the stronger it smells-- and besides, Chavarin is unaffected, and I doubt he's more magically resistant than the priest. It really seems more like an illness, to me."

"I think he's right," Chav told Rythri apologetically, as the fellow looked unhappy at being overruled. "People were kind of... sick, I guess, for a while before things got really bad. The anari got it first-- started off getting light-headed, dizzy, that sort of thing. Then headaches and fevers, the worst of them-- then the paranoia, delusion, violence...." He shook his head. "The couple humans we had got it later, didn't get it quite as bad, but still... got it." He took a steadying breath before he added, "I think someone else wound up killing them before they got past the fever stage, anyway. The town just... tore itself apart."

There was a moment's pause while they all took that in. Resham, the lady, broke the silence first. "What about you?"

"I've been holed up in here for the past seven days, since my neighbors decided I was a demon and ought to be burned in the town square." He shrugged, trying to act like it didn't matter. It wasn't their fault, really; they were sick. Even if they did focus on him awfully quickly. He added quickly, "I haven't felt much of anything, the whole time. A little bit of a headache at first, but it went away after a day, and I don't think I've gone insane." He paused. "You really are here, right?"

"Of course we're here," Rythri snorted.

Smiling a bit at the "obvious" answer, Chav said, "Then I guess I'm immune, or at least resistant, whatever it is."

Zzandoren frowned. "Definitely an illness-- but not one I've ever heard of. There's nothing different about you, Chavarin?"

"Besides, er, being a werewolf, no," Chav shrugged. "That's the only thing I can think of for why I didn't get it."

"It's logical," Zzandoren agreed. "Well, if none of us pick it up, we'll prove that one true. Do you know if anyone else survived?"

"I doubt they're all dead," Chav said uncomfortably. "I mean... I know some of them are, I heard it happen-- saw it happen-- but... some of them have to be alive, right?"

Zzandoren and Resham shared a glance that made him feel less hopeful about it. "The town is... pretty much deserted," Zzandoren told him gently. "We met two people in the temple, and that was it."

"That's two that're alive, then, right?" Chav said. "Who were they? Are they all right? Did you just leave them there?"

"Resham killed one," Rythri said, looking down, and Chav stared. "She attacked us, see, and...."

"Killed one--" Chav swallowed heavily. "You couldn't just knock her out? Or away? Or-- or-- she's sick, they're just sick, you didn't need to kill anyone!"

"I'm sorry, Chavarin," Zzandoren said quietly. He actually looked sorry, too, and when he looked angrily at Resham, she looked guilty. It wasn't enough, but it was something. And he couldn't be angry with them for too long when they could well keep him alive. Maybe he could be angry again later. "She was short and plump, with dark blonde hair, and human."

"Leyha," Chav said dully, and nodded. "Who was the other one? He's still alive, right?"

"The priest," Resham muttered. "He didn't even see us...."

"Will you come with us to look for other survivors?" Zzandoren asked. "I'm a healer; perhaps we can do something for them."

"Whatever I can do to help," Chav nodded firmly, "I'll do it."

The priest smiled. "Good boy." Without intending it-- or even thinking about it-- Chav smiled a bit, shyly, back. "Come on, let's see who we can find."

And Chav, who had never expected or wanted to see another werewolf as long as he lived, left his safe hole with three of them to see what they could do for his little town.


Chapter One - Chapter Three