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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 25: Hastings 9
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 24, Kondor 8
The pack mother was a most unusual female. Like Raal, she looked very human; yet (and perhaps because she was a woman) she looked more the beast, hairy and wild, with powerful muscles under thick skin. As Lauren tried to read her mind, she found something feral, very inhuman, and yet strangely compelling and powerful and intelligent. This was a leader, a shrewd mind and keen intellect, suspicious but not xenophobic, inquiring and analytical, and yet emotional and potentially violent. She would be formidable as an enemy. And as Lauren assessed her, it was clear that Annuda was studying Lauren quite as seriously. It was Annuda who spoke first.
"So, you are Lauren Hastings, the new wizard among the vampires." As Raal had introduced her very much like this, it was less surprising.
"Pack mother." Lauren's voice was flat, controlled. "Is that the proper way to address you? I have little experience among your people."
"It is proper," the wolf replied. "Few outsiders use it, however."
Annuda turned, and moved toward a chair, indicating another for Lauren, and continuing. "Arnie the Ghoul says that you are bullet proof. Is that true?"
Lauren thought a moment before answering. She did not wish to broadcast her weaknesses or her strengths too widely, but she did wish to have allies. "I have managed within the past week to deflect at least one bullet and to avoid at least one other. I would not care to discuss how this was done, and would prefer not to have to attempt it too often."
Annuda smiled, but did not bare her teeth. "I understand that. I have taken several bullets of such metals as lead and steel, metals which will not kill me; but I would not be eager to take another. So Raal seems to believe that we should welcome you."
Lauren concluded that there was a question in that. "I am friend and defender of humanity. God has sent me into this world to do something, and I believe that that something is to strike a severe blow against the vampires that prey on mankind. But how do you and your people fit into this?"
"The wolves are enemies of the undead, and always will be. Some of us the vampires have enslaved; but our wills are stronger than man, and we are not blind to their presence as are so many humans."
"And how," Lauren ventured, "do the wolves feel about the humans?"
The wolf-woman considered for a moment, then answered. "We are the children of Lilith, Adam's first wife." Lauren had heard that there was some myth about Lilith, the woman who became a beast; but she knew nothing more about it than that. "Lilith was created from the dust of the earth to be with Adam, but she fell before Adam. It was different with Eve, because Eve was part of Adam always, and she could not fall and not take Adam with her. But when Lilith fell, Adam could still be saved, so Lilith sacrificed herself for his sake, accepted the First Curse upon herself, and left the garden."
It passed through Lauren's mind that in her world these ideas would have been labeled myth or even fantasy; but to Annuda, this was her history.
"For her line to be preserved, Lilith took a mate from among the wolves; but her children did not wish to be wolves, and married humans. And so it has been from time immemorial, that the line of the werewolves has been maintained as half human, half beast.
"To Adam was given dominion over the earth; Lilith did not share that, but was made to be his helper. Some say that the fall of Lilith changed that; some say that the fall of Adam changed it. Among some, Adam is resented for allowing us to make that sacrifice, for not accepting the fall which proved to be inevitable in the Second Curse. By them, humanity is seen as a necessary evil. But it is also said that there will be a redemption, that man will be restored; and in the redemption of Adam is found the redemption of Lilith. As all things are restored, the partnership between the sons of Adam and the daughters of Lilith will be restored, not to what it was, perhaps, but to something wondrous. That is what my pack believes."
"But meanwhile," Lauren suggested, "you fight the Third Curse, the curse on Cain, the living death, while most of the sons of Seth are oblivious to it." There was again a smile on the beautifully wild face as Lauren continued. "We stand together."
Lauren rose. "Trust does not come easily between those with powerful enemies. The risk of treachery from someone who is not what he appears is too great. But I fear that I will not appear as I am for awhile, because the hand I'm playing requires me to win the confidence of my enemy before I destroy him. I assure you that we are on the same side, but I won't ask anything of you until I have earned your confidence."
The smile again crossed the wolf's face. "Raal will be your driver. He is very good, and may save you at need. It is a small thing for me to do."
"And besides, he will be your eyes and ears, so you can know what I'm doing."
"Already we understand each other. Raal?" she called, and the wolfman returned. "Take our friend wherever she needs to go."
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with the first six chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #27: A Novel Continuation. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: