October 10

WIP – The Wolf Siren – Chapter 1

Listen to the wind – it talks,
Listen to the silence – it speaks,
Listen to your heart – it knows.
– Native American Proverb

Chapter 1

Autumn was in the air, earlier than usual, and the pack knew it.  It wasn’t just the simple change in temperature which changed the color of leaves and brought a unique scent to the air that told them of the change.  They felt it on a baser level as well even though they lived in a world of plenty.  It brought about a desire to run and hunt that was difficult to appease.

Living in cities was hard for packs and their families.  While some were mates with other werewolves, most were matched with humans who knew the truth about their dual natures and kept silent to protect their spouse. The silence was maintained as time passed to protect their dual natured children.

Regular and frequent campouts eased the strain of living in the cities.  It allowed them to cull the natural herds of prey, such as deer, while running and hunting in wolf form. It allowed them to romp and play as a wolf – rolling in the leaves, play fighting with each other, chasing strange smells. They needed the freedom to be who and what they were without human intervention and problems.

Evangeline always looked forward to the pack campouts even if she didn’t get to enjoy all aspects of it as many of her packmates did. She loved the closeness of hunting with the wolves of her pack and the smells she could only smell as a wolf. She hated it because she was reminded by sight, smell and sound that she did not have a mate as many of her packmates did.

Few of the male wolves appealed to her – those that did were already taken and she wasn’t the sharing kind.  Yet, as she glided quietly in human form through the shadows, she was looking and hoping. She just wasn’t sure what she was looking for – whether it would be another rare one night stand or if she looked closely enough she might find someone who could be something more.

She hoped she figured it out soon.  Thirty winters and she still hadn’t found her mate, the man whose scent she would be inexplicably attracted to and whose children she’d willingly have.  Perhaps she should give up hoping for finding the “one” and just do like the male packmates did – sleep with anything that had two legs.

Leaning against a tree, she watched the couples around the campfires, some leaving to their tents, others to sneak off into the darkness of the woods.

“You’re brooding,” Caleb said behind her, disturbing her reverie.

“You’re stating the obvious,” she retorted.

“There is that,” he nodded with a laugh, “You know…maybe you should stop being picky.  Any one of the pack here would tumble you if you just asked.  Hell you don’t even have to ask. Give them a come-hither look and they’d be begging.”

“I actually have to like them for something to happen,” It was almost like he read her mind from earlier, but she knew he hadn’t.  She snorted with disdain before continuing,. “I’m not like you males that will screw any willing woman they find.”

Even though she was considering that very idea. At least it would take the edge off.

He held his hands up in surrender but still rolled his eyes at her words.  “Well I’m just saying…you’ve been getting more aggressive and less controlled with your anger. I’m worried about you, Eva.  We don’t need you going feral,” he paused before realizing he might have said the wrong thing and quickly corrected himself. “We don’t need anyone going feral, but you less so.  You are one of the few werewolves who live amongst the humans easily and keep our cover maintained.  We need you whole.”

Sadly, he was right, she realized.  Like some men who got crankier when they didn’t get laid, she had been growing increasingly restless, unable to sleep well at night and unable to maintain her level headedness at times.  It wasn’t a good mixture.

“I know,” she admitted,  “I’ll see if I can find someone to help me warm my bed – if not tonight, soon.”

“That’s my girl,” he said with a grin as he lightly punched her shoulder, “Besides, you need to pass on the tradition of storytelling and lorekeeping to a son or daughter.  Only way to get yourself one of those is to end up in bed with someone a few times.  You do know how that works right?  It’s not like a wolf just delivers a baby to your doorstep.”

She punched him back, not preventing the sarcastic reply from coming from her lips.

“Gee, I never did figure it out.  Swore it was the birds and the bees?  Or was it mixing sugar and spice and everything nice in a lab like the Powerpuff Girls?”  A grin crossed her face at the playful bantering.  “Go away, Caleb.  You may be the alpha, but you’re annoying the shit out of me and I need to get focused for the performances tonight lest I embarrass us all.”

“Right.  Wouldn’t want that,” Caleb snickered.  He knew she wouldn’t mess up.  “We’ll be ready for you in a few.  Take your time,” he paused for a moment, “Just think about it. I’m not going to hook you up with anyone, but perhaps it’s time to give more consideration to not just running the jazz bar, but also using it to find someone.”

Evangeline shook her head at his words, watching as he moved towards the larger of the campfires, one that was close to being a bonfire in size.  She knew her packmate was well intentioned, looking after her like a sibling instead of as the alpha.  She also knew had she not considered him a brother they would have ended up together years earlier.  Now he was happily married with two children and a third on the way, yet he continued to look out for her.

She wasn’t looking for the perfect man, just her man.  Curse fate for her mate not being a member of the pack already.

Closing her eyes, she drew in a deep, calming breath and focused on the stories she would tell this night.  She was one of the few remaining lorekeepers of the werewolves and she was taught the magic that was used to tell the stories – a magic that required a clear mind, sharp focus and a vivid imagination to go with the spoken words.

Ten minutes later she emerged from the dancing shadows, moving toward the bonfire and clapping her cupped hands to draw attention as she released just a touch of lore magic to make the flames surge into the air as its light illuminated her.  Attention was on her and her lyrical voice intoned the beginning of the story, her hands moving and seeming to weave the flames into interactive images that added a unique, but harmless illustration to the stories they told.

The youngest there, some of whom had never seen the stories told before, were the most enthralled by them. They were the reasons she enjoyed being a lorekeeper and telling the stories of creation, of the battles they fought, of the enemies they now fight and the struggle to protect humans from an evil few know exists.

Every lore session started with the same story, no matter the lorekeeper, no matter the tribe.  Each lorekeeper performed it differently, but the story was, for the most part, the same.  Often times it was the longest story of the night for creation is never simple.  Evangeline was a singer, so her telling involved lyrical song accented by the scenes displayed in the fire.

The story began with the creation of the first werewolves by the gods to protect humans from other supernatural threats.  Wolves were seen as powerful creatures by the two who were blessed with the gift of shifting.   Vague images appeared in the fire depicting a man and a woman shifting into their wolf forms, then shifting back before the scene shifted to a wedding feast with the two marrying.

“After weddings came children, though for our ancestors it was years before she carried her first to term,” as Evangeline spoke, scenes of The Mother being pregnant, then crying were shown.  “Until they learned The Mother couldn’t shift when pregnant. Finally, her stomach grew with child and the first of her sons were born.”

Once again the images shifted, this time of a very pregnant woman walking around before disappearing into a tent with other women.

“Hours passed before the world was greeted with the cries of twin newborns,” she continued, the images changing to an older woman leaving the birthing tent to present The Father with his sons.  “These were just the first.  The Mother would go on to have seven boys and three girls.”

The images would continue to change, showing the children as they grew up, both as humans and as wolves.

“But family won’t always get along and there were troubles between the siblings.  As time passed, they divided into tribes and travelled to settle elsewhere, creating the unique tribes and packs we have today,” she continued the story, illustrating where she could the struggles of the tribes, including what caused the creation of a tribe of banished wolves and the ongoing battles.

As the story concluded, the flames wound down as well back to a normal campfire and Evangeline gracefully accepted a bottle of beer, which she tipped back as both compliments and questions flowed.

Finishing her beer, she handed the empty bottle to Caleb and moved back to where she had been to tell the story of a recent battle and how one of their packmates gave their life to save the life of children that were not his own.

It was a sad story, one that was hard for her to tell without tears coming to her eyes, but it was to be told.  A story of bravery and loyalty even when loyalty had been betrayed.  The flames became even lower, somewhat less bright as she set the tone for the story.  The pack became quiet.

Her voice was somber as she began the tale, the fires subdued with her magic, the scene depicted of where some of them lived in Chicago then as the story progressed, changed to one of the known hiding holes of the Banished.

Evangeline was in the middle of the story, the image of the now deceased wolf facing off against an unseen foe animated in the flames, when a loud crack split the air then drew the air from her lungs. She stumbled backwards, a stunned look crossing her features as the animation in the flames disappeared and the flames themselves brightening back to normal.  Pain radiated from her left shoulder as she recovered from the force of impact, her left arm falling painfully limp to her side.

Shocked, she saw a hole in her shirt which was quickly staining red with blood. Someone had shot her.

Then the intense burning pain hit.  She hissed as her right hand came up to press against it, realizing she had been hit with a silver bullet. Bullets hurt, she wouldn’t deny that, but silver made it ten times worse and more dangerous.  She almost gave a cry of pain when the second ear-splitting crack sounded and she was knocked down as her right hand exploded in pain.

“Protect our people” Caleb yelled the minute he heard the crack, wrapping his body around his mate’s as he watched Eva collapse. He hated seeing any of his packmates hurt, especially Eva and he was torn.  He had to protect his mate, but he also had to protect his packmate who was now more vulnerable than ever.

The world spun as Evangeline hit the ground, her hand, shoulder and chest on fire.  Her vision blurred as she struggled to move as she saw packmates shifting around her to protect their families and to hunt the attackers.  She heard more gunshots and the snarls of angry wolves now on the hunt for the aggressors.

Ever stubborn she started to push herself up with her good hand, forgetting said hand was attached to a shoulder that had been shot.

“Evangeline stay down!” she heard Caleb shout from behind Stephanie. That seemed like a very good idea to her and was the last orders she heard as her eyes rolled back and she blacked out.

He growled protectively as he watched her stop struggling, heard the faint whimper of pain before her eyes closed. He watched her for a moment, to make sure she was still breathing, before listening to movement around them. Seeing a cabin had been commandeered as protection for their humans, he moved his wife to the cabin and left her and their children there, protected, so he could take charge and lead the fight.

Caleb shifted into wolf form. It was time for vengeance but it was short lived. The shooter had been quickly found, the smell of gunpowder was strong and easy to follow by the wolves. His throat had been ripped out by one of the other wolves.  Too quick of a death as far as Caleb was concerned.

The small team of wolves quickly scented and tracked down another Banished. The wolf had no hesitation in fighting back, snarling and snapping at anyone who got within reach until Caleb pounced on him and pinned him down, teeth sinking into the neck around the spine till he heard the satisfying crunch of the Banished’s neck breaking.

Two down, they searched for traces of any others, but found none.  It was strange for there to be only two Banished as part of the ambush. He had been expecting more. Then again, each report of attacks in the past weeks had been extremely different.

“We should have captured one alive,” he cursed, shifting to human form next to the shooter’s body. He was searching his clothes for clues and was thankful there had been no fatalities and only minor injuries from the battle.

Except for Eva.

“Shit! Eva!” In the rush of battle he had briefly forgotten about her and shifted back to wolf form followed by a handful of other wolves back to where she had fallen.  He skidded to a stop, padding over to her carefully, nuzzling her cheek with his wet nose before sniffing at the wounds and growling.  He shifted back to human form, clothed only in his jeans and dropped to his knees next to Eva.  She was still alive and he thanked the Earth Mother for that.

“Bring me the first aid kit,” he shouted before rolling her over on her side. He found one exit wound.  The other bullet he assumed would need to be removed, once they got her to a safe place and could start treating her.  Rolling her back onto her back he looked at her mangled hand. If they could get the bleeding to stop, she would heal – it would just take time.

Looking up he took the first aid kit from the wolf who had brought it and they knelt down to assist in bandaging.  Caleb nodded in approval before looking at another wolf, “Pass the word. Pack up. We’re leaving and holing up in town.”

He winced as he pressed a stack of bandages down on her shoulder and she moaned in pain.  He hated seeing her hurt, hated seeing her blood on his hands and he hated the one thought he couldn’t chase from his mind: Eva had been intentionally targeted but he wasn’t sure why.

Being distracted, he knew he probably used way too much bandage and tape on her shoulder, but at least it would slow the rate of bleeding.  He motioned for the wolf helping him to take over. As much as he disliked leaving his best friend, he had no choice. He had a call to make to guarantee her protection while she healed.

Jogging to his SUV he climbed in and drove it closer to where Eva was, then picked up his cell phone and turned it back on.  Booting up took forever, at least it felt that way to him.  Thumbing through the numbers, he finally found the name he was looking for, Michael Paulson, and hit “Call”.

One ring, Two rings.

“Come on…answer.”

Three rings. “Paulson.”

“It’s Caleb.  I’m calling in that favor.”