Wolf's Bane Ch. 01byMr. Marvel©
My name is William Harold Smythe and this is the story of how I became one of last true immortals. My life began in the year of our lord 1747, on March the fourth, on a small farm outside of Trenton, New Jersey. I was the fifth son of a wheat farmer named Caleb Smythe. My father was a second-generation immigrant when his father brought his pregnant wife over to the New World from Surrey, England to make a better life for his family. Grandfather died of a heart attack after my sister Sarah was born and Grandmother Smythe lasted only another year or so after his passing. Father worked the fields from sun-up to sundown, along with my older brothers; Samuel, Nathaniel, Martin, and Steven. Yes, I was the baby of the family, though Sarah was born five years before me and was my mother's pride and joy. As the weeks passed and became months, I learned to crawl then walk and finally talk. Once I started talking no one in the family could get me to stop. They always referred to me as the chatterbox and if they yelled at me to be silent, I just kept going as if nothing was said. As the years passed I grew into the spitting image of my grandfather, black hair that shown almost blue and sea green eyes, though a little taller than he was at the end of his life. At the age of fifteen I started growing taller and ended up at the height of six feet four inches. Because of the work that I did on the farm I developed strong, lean muscles that belied my true strength. By the time I reached eighteen I was trapping and hunting in the forest surrounding our home, so we had fresh meat every few days.
It all started on a crisp April morning, a Sunday if memory serves me correctly, I had risen with the sun and dressed quickly to start my chores. Poppa was working in the fields already, tending to the matters of various pests. I walked down the familiar stairs of my home, hearing the clinking, hustle and bustle of breakfast being made. As I walked into the kitchen, Mother scolds me for sleeping so late, though I know she is only teasing me, as is her custom to do so.
"Morning Momma." I said with a small smile.
"Good morning sleepyhead. What are your plans for today?" asked Samantha. Samantha Smythe was always a chipper sort of woman with a pleasant sense of humor.
"Well, after I finish my chores Martin and I will be going into the forest to hunt." He had prepared his hunting rifle and all of their supplies the night before.
"Be careful, William. You know I don't like you going into that particular forest to hunt. You've heard the rumors, same as I have. Something is very queer about those woods." Samantha said as she hugged her son. The fabric of her homespun dress always felt scratchy against his skin.
"Yes, Momma. I always am and you know it." I stated. After I ate my breakfast of porridge my siblings decided now was the time to make an entrance. I cleared my bowl from the table as everyone was murmuring good morning to each other. I told Martin to hurry up but my older brother told me that 'Rome wasn't built in a day.' I rolled my eyes at him, as was my custom, whenever he tried to impart little pearls of wisdom to me or anyone else.
As I walked outside onto the front porch I called out good morning to Poppa, to which he waved from the golden field. A few more weeks and the wheat would be ready for harvesting, then we would rotate other crops in it's' place.
'Better get started on my chores.' I thought.
I made my way to our chicken coop, checked on their water, threw a little feed on the ground outside the coop but still inside the fenced area for the chickens. They all ran out of the coop to get to the feed first, and while they were feeding, I managed to scoop out all the dropping with a shovel before they were finished. The chickens seemed a little off today for some reason, they were acting very strange. I just couldn't put my finger on what was off. Anyhow, I headed towards the barn to move a few bundles of hay. I've been putting it off for a few days and Pa would take his belt to me if I didn't get it done today, before I left. Ten bundles of hay, weighing about thirty pounds apiece, tied in sturdy twine, by the time I was done moving them I was lightly covered in sweat. I then hear Martin calling my name so I hollered back that I'd be there soon. I ran out of the barn as soon as I was finished with my chores. Martin was standing on the porch with his rifle and his rucksack full of supplies for our expedition. I looked around the porch and didn't see my things.
"Marty, where is my stuff?" I asked my brother.
"Do I look like your body servant? Get your things yourself." Martin said smartly.
I stomped back into the house, letting the door slam behind me.
"Don't slam the door William!" My mother exclaimed.
I cringed inwardly; her yelling was like sharp nails on a chalkboard. I quietly walked back up to my room and gathered his gear. I gathered my flintlock rifle, gunpowder, paper wadding, lead ammunition, hunting knife, bedroll, and a few blankets.
'I'd only need the last two if Martin decided to camp out in the forest.' William thought.
Martin was in charge of packing other supplies for a few meals and some bandages in case one of us got hurt. I stuffed my gear in my rucksack, which had seen better days, and carried my rifle over my shoulder. The early morning sun streamed through the dust covered window. His small bed sat along the wall, the duck feathered mattress showed the odd feather poking through here and there. I rushed out of my room and clipped my elbow on the doorframe as I passed. Martin was still smirking when I finally made it out the door. As I passed him I jabbed him firmly in the ribs. We started walking towards the forest, as we passed poppa we waved at him.
"You boys be careful. Martin, mind your brother while you're in those woods." Caleb called out to his sons.
"Yes, Poppa." replied Martin.
I just rolled my eyes at Martin; he was such a suck up at times. We started off again and soon we left our fields behind as we neared the edge of the forest. Tall pine trees made up much of the woods near their home, of course there are oak and birch trees sprinkled throughout the woods but the pine trees with their coarse bark dominated the landscape. Brown-orange pine needles littered the ground everywhere they looked and small undergrowth made their way very difficult. After walking for an hour, they found a small clearing.
"Martin, I think this is as good a place as any to wait. It's only a matter of time before something comes here to graze or forage for food." I said.
Martin agreed with me. Besides, if we went any further it would take us longer to get back home carrying our meat and equipment. I took off my rucksack and laid it near the base of an old oak tree. I made my self as comfortable as possible against my rucksack and waited. Martin found a nice spot behind a pine tree, about fifteen feet away. I took my rifle and started to prepare for the prey to come. I half cocked the striker on my rifle and loaded a small amount of gunpowder in the chamber through he muzzle. I then loaded my paper-covered ammunition down the spiral barrel chamber with a ramrod to make use it went in all the way. I then prime the flash pan with a bit of fine gunpowder and then set the striker to full cocked. When that was done I looked over at Martin, to see that he was just finishing loading his own rifle.
'And now we wait.' William thought.
The minutes seemed to tick by slowly, the birds chirped off in the distance, crickets were singing on a nearby log. Waiting was the worse part of hunting, there was nothing to distract you while you wait. Soon, I began to get tired. I tried in vain to keep my eyes open but it is a losing battle. I finally gave out and nod off. The sound of a twig snapping brought me wake almost instantly. I looked over at Martin and saw he was awake too. I picked up my rifle and checked the clearing. There in the middle were five deer, two bucks with twelve point antlers, one adult female, and two little baby deer's. I motioned Martin with my free hand and indicated the two bucks as targets. He nodded his head and pointed to the one on the right for himself and then pointed at the left one for me. I nodded briefly, raised my flintlock, and sighted the left most deer. I was aiming at its chest while I slowed my breathing and steadied my rifle. My vision narrowed until all I saw was the buck I was aiming at and counted to ten silently. I closed my eyes at the last second and pulled the trigger. The lead ball fired perfectly from my rifle and struck the buck right in the chest. I heard a second shot half a second later and noted that Martin's buck staggered then fell. My buck was no better; it just dropped instead of staggering. The other deer ran as soon as the first shot was fired and vanished into the surrounding woods. I got up from my hiding place and slowly walked towards my kill. I kept away from it for fifteen minutes, just to make sure it was done with its death throes. I looked up through the trees noticing that it was getting late.
"Martin, I think we'll need to spend the night here. It took nearly an hour to get here through unmanageable underbrush and pricker brushes. Plus we got two bucks to carry back with us."
"Yeah Willie, your right. I'll set up camp and you field dress the carcasses. I'm going to go look for some dry fire wood."
"Fine. Don't wander too far though. You might get lost." I said sarcastically.
"Can't hide behind mother's apron now, can you little brother? You don't want me to thump you now." Martin said with a little laugh and walked off to find some firewood.
He came back five minutes later carrying a large bundle of wood. While he was setting up the fire I dressed the deer as best I could. They should be fine until tomorrow. I unrolled my bedroll and laid two blankets on top and pulled the corner of one blanket over for later. Martin was starting to prepare dinner, some beef jerky, a few rolls of bread, and four pieces of peppermint sticks for later. We ate our dinner in relative silence and sucked on the peppermint sticks before turning in. As soon as the covers were over me I was asleep like a log. I had no dreams that night, just a peaceful sleep where time didn't matter. Suddenly I awoke, not quite sure what had woken me. I didn't move out of my covers but I did listen to my surroundings. Something was stalking our camp, by the sound of it was big. I risked looking over at Martin to see him already awake, looking into the woods, trying to find whatever it was that stalking them. I locked eyes with Martin and arched my eyebrow, indicating that I was up to something. He shook his head no but it was too late to stop now. I reached for my hunting knife, pulled it from the sheath and gripped it firmly in my left hand, the blade turn under my forearm. I hoped to keep it hidden until Martin could load his gun. I heard a branch snap closer to the camp, directly behind me.
'Crap, why me?' I thought.
Like a flash I was up and turned towards the sound I heard. I strained my eyes, hoping to see where the hell it was. The next thing I know a large blur of fur shoots out of the woods faster than lightning striking the ground. Before me drew up the largest animal I had ever seen. It was at least seven feet tall, brown fur covering its body from head to toe. The only thing that I could compare it to was a wolf, though not like any wolf I've ever seen. It stood on two legs and had a human like body, the rest was pure wolf. Its muzzle held razor sharp teeth, at least half an inch long. It paws or hands had stubby fingers with razor sharp claws almost an inch long. Then I noticed its face, which held an almost human intelligence and had a mane of shaggy hair topped off with two pointed ears on the top of its head. The eyes held me for the slightest moment, the color of the sky on a bright sunny day.
The growl was what brought me out of my investigation; it was showing hostility towards me and my brother. I acted before it was too late. I charged the beast and swung my left arm out in a wide arch catching the creature off guard. My knife slashed the beast across the chest, leaving a small river of blood dripping down its fur. That got it mad. The beast lunged and snapped its jaws, enclosing my arm in a forest of sharp teeth. Its jaws tighten on my arm, breaking with a sickening wet snap. I screamed in agony as stars exploded behind my eyes. I heard a gun going off and the beast released its grip on my arm. It staggered back a few feet and once it got it's wits about it the beast renewed its attack. My left arm lay at my side, bloody and useless, my knife laid on the ground in front of me. I reached for my knife, picked it up and stabbed the creature with all of my might under the jaw, driving the knife right into its brain. It pawed at the knife trying to grasp it for a few fleeting moments, then fell forward and stopped moving. I moved forward, grasped the handle of the knife, and yanked it free of the beast. Once I had my knife everything went black and fell to the ground.
I was dreaming, the most vivid dream that I have ever had. I was dressed in old clothes, wearing a tall hat with a gold buckle on it. I was siting in a chair in what appeared to be a formal meetinghouse or church. Before me were seven people, the village council or elders. Their ages ranged from late thirties to early seventies and were all male. They were all dressed in black robes and had adored, white wigs upon their heads, as a sign of their office. I was beginning to feel nervous as I looked at these grim looking men sitting behind a large table facing me. One from the middle of the table stood up and cleared his throat in order to speak.
"Benjamin, you have been charge with witchcraft, consorting with minions of the devil, and for bringing this darkness into our fair town of Salem. Do thou have anything to say in your defense?" Said one of the men.
I stood up slowly, taking my time before answering, though I had no idea why these people were calling me Benjamin. I was thinking of ways to stall them, when I suddenly started to speak against my own aversion.
"I have done nothing of the sort. Who here has accused me?"
An old man at the end of the table spoke up.
"The widow Parkins claims that she saw you three nights passed, in the pale light of the full moon, and watched as you changed form into that of a wolf beast. We know that is one sign of witchcraft, shape shifting, and witchcraft comes from communion with the devil, there fore you are guilty of the crime of witchcraft and consorting with the devil. You have sinned Benjamin, against God himself and only he can grant you salvation. Admit to your crimes and we shall make your death as painless as possible. If you don't, well then we will make you suffer unimaginable agony until you die of a slow death."
"What say you?" asked the first man.
I took a slow steady breath, while on the inside I was afraid of what would happen, but I gathered my courage and stood as straight as I could and replied.
"My answer is this gentle sirs; fuck you. I do not recognize you as lawful elders of this community and there fore you cannot judge for these so called crimes."
There were gasps from behind me and I heard the sudden thudding of bodies hitting the floor. The old men in front of me singled to two strapping young man-boys to take hold of me but I did not fight their grasp.
"For your insolence Benjamin, you shall be marked as a witch, and then burned at the stake tonight, where you wither in the fires of hell for all to see." Replied the old man again.
The seen slowly faded and became nighttime. There was a huge stake surrounded by old logs, which they're being covered in pitch and oil. The entire town was there to see me burn. Vendors were going here and there selling their wares to the crowed spectators, making a profit off my death. Soon they marched me out of the town hall, shackled by my wrists and ankles, towards thew stake. The town council was standing in front of the stake waiting for my arrival. The blacksmith came forth with a branding iron, glowing brightly in the night like a star. The iron held the emblem of the witch, which was a huge star inside of a circle. My guard forced my hand open and the blacksmith branded my right hand, throughout the entire process I did not scream nor did I make a sound. My forehead was covered in a light sheen of sweat and I was re-shackled to the stake. I noticed that clouds covered the night sky and wish one last time to see the moon in all her glory.
"Benjamin," started one of the council members,"you have been found guilty of Witchcraft and have of consorting with the devil. The town council of Salem, Massachusetts has sentence you to death, to burn at the stake." With that one of the council members threw down a lit torch.
Flames leapt up the logs and started to consume them, I could smell the sickly sweet smell of the pitch burning beneath me. The flames soon spread and started to burn my cloths and me. I struggled against my bonds and started to scream, which turn into a roar of fury. All of the townspeople cringed back from the stake and watch in horror as I began to change. The sounds of clothes tearing and bones popping out of place only to be rearranged into a different position. I looked up and saw the moon breaking through the cloud cover and its rays shone directly on me. The crowd scream in horror as I change from a human to a werewolf of lore. It was easy enough to snap my bonds, like dried out kindling. I leapt down from the stake and tore through the nearby council members with my razor sharp claws. Before the rest of the towns people knew what was going on, I rush out of the square leaving behind a trail of death and destruction in my wake. Never to be by these pathetic people again.
I shot straight up in bed and began screaming at the top of my lungs that is when I felt many hands trying to restrain me. I thrashed in bed for a good ten minutes, cursing and swearing at those around me. I managed to throw someone a good five feet from me. The next thing I know I'm strapped down to my bed and its early morning, judging from the light shining through my window. I look down to see that I'm restrained with belts. I try to move but the belts would not budge, so I quit trying to move. I look to my left and see my father sitting next to my bed, sound asleep with bags under his eyes. I did not expect him to have his gun in his lap though.
"Pop, what going on?" I ask. That seemed to wake him up and he eyed me wearily, like I was going to eat him whole or something.
"William, how are you feeling? You had us sacred there for a while." Pa said.
"Well," I stopped and searched for how I felt and then I realized I felt really great for some reason. "I feel really good, but the last thing I remember was being attacked by a wolf." I decided to leave out the part about the wolf being a complete monster.
"That's what Martin said. He dragged you out of the forest by himself and in the dark too. He is lucky he found his way home at all. It must have been a big wolf by the size of the bite marks. Nathaniel and Steven went and retrieved the deer, they were perfectly fine so don't worry about it. Though they didn't find the wolf's carcass, strange really, you'd think the deer carcasses would have been drug off by a predator and not the wolf's. You've been asleep for three days with a high fever, you've been rambling on and off since you got back, then you started cursing and hitting everything within reach. You threw Samuel across the room." Pa said.