Lost in the Mists
Twentieth of the Fourth Moon, 602
The spring has come to life in my mountainous domain. I have awoken this season to find the Tser Pass flooded out once again and two lower bridges destroyed by the rapids. I have sent dispatches to Barvoia for the townsfolk to rebuild these paths before taxes are due at midsummer.
After being awake for a few days, I have begun to prepare my new magical experiments. I must devote the next weeks to research if I am to be ready by the summer solstice. Even with the urgency of my tasks, I feel drawn to this book and its record of the past. I started early tonight, writing a bit and then discarding the page. In short time I found myself staring at Tatyana’s painting once more.
When I became aware of this, it was almost midnight. I sighed in frustration at another night lost.
I left the castle in the form of a wolf and raced through the darkened forest. When in these moods, I sometimes visit the bottom of the falls or Berez or another place where she had been. I never find her at these haunted spots, but I remember the loss all the same.
Tonight, I went to the frozen mountain pass where I last saw my love. The snows had receeded significantly and I could paw through the muddy ground up Mount Baratak. Even miles away, the deafening roar of the swollen Tser Falls could be heard clearly. I began investigating the old cabin ruins; long burnt out and abandoned.
The first year after that dark winter, I searched for Tatyana’s remains. As always it was in vain, but I did find the frozen corpse of young maiden with auburn hair. She seemed to have also gotten lost on the mountain that winter. I continued my search and found no Tatyana.
In the years since, more and more people have met their deaths on that frozen path. I wonder if Tatyana’s loss, or the young woman’s death has put a curse on the path. I have sought to investigate this, as well as continue my otiose quest to find Tatyana.
Tonight, I did not get to search for long before I could smell a pack of wolves in the area. It only took a moment to realize that these were not native, nor true wolves at all. A pack of werewolves it seemed had started to make their way through the pass; I rarely enacted any barrier save for the fog around my own castle. It kept things interesting, and tonight would be an example of that.
They were moving fast, racing down the pass through the mud and melting ice. Eight in total, and they sounded tired. Wearing the form of a wolf myself, I sat awaiting them. As they reached the lower clearing they came to a sharp halt once they sensed me. Like their animal kin, they could tell I was no normal wolf. They padded cautiously towards me and stopped some twenty feet away.
Not finding the façade entertaining any longer, I resumed my natural form. As soon as I did, the wolves began snarling harshly. I narrowed my eyes and met their glare. The largest of the pack came forward and looked at me with glowing green eyes. There were no words, but I could understand it well enough.
“Out of our way, leech,” it said.
“You are in no position to bark at me. And even if you were, that is no way to speak to your new master,” I mocked. At my retort, one of the other wolves raced forward snapping its massive teeth towards me, assuming the massive war-form of the lycanthrope as it did so. I avoided being crushed by the beast’s massive jaws by transforming into a cloud of mist. The beast fell through the space I was just in, as I returned to solid form behind it. Before the other wolves could aid their comrade, I plunged my clawed hand deep into the beast’s spine. The creature collapsed in the muck, now in the form of a nude man.
I turned pack to the pack. They looked at each other, and to their large leader.
“Before we waste any more time tonight,” I started, “I would caution you that I am the Lord of this domain. It may be difficult, but I promise you I will kill you all before you could substantially harm me.”
The wolves continued to snarl as the man lay writhing in bloody mud. He would heal in time—- if I allowed it. I smiled at the thought.
“I would enjoy the fight as I haven’t been so entertained in a long time, but I think you may be of use alive. I’ll leave the choice to you,” I said.
“What do you want?” the leader said.
“Ah, that’s more like it. Tell me, where are you coming from,” I asked.
“Vorostokov.” The werewolf said. I had heard of this new domain to the west, through the mountains.
“What would make you leave your home?”
“Gregor banished us. He hunts us.”
“It’s no matter, I guess, you are here now. Living or dead, you are mine. What say you?” I taunted.
The leader assumed the form of a man. The others followed suit.
“Very good, hounds. Now kneel to me,” I said. The werewolves slowly dropped to one knee.
We struck an accord. In exchange for their lives and continued loyalty, the werewolves would remain near the Tser Pool and surrounding woods. They could prey on any animal or mortal that strayed from towns or villages. They were not to attack the trade caravans or the Vistani. They were forbidden from creating any more werewolves without my permission. And they would answer whenever I called them.
Properly controlled, these creatures could prove to be powerful minions.