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Nocturnal - Prologue

The desperate man trudged through the forest. Weary from travel, yet determined to escape, determined to find a way to fight back. The autumn leaves crunching underfoot, twigs and sticks cracking under weight of the muscled warrior. The tall warrior removes his bloody sword from its scabbard and swings at the brush in front of him. Bushes, branches, and other foliage fall to his feet at the front of his path. The man continues to push on until the trees open up to a clearing, a thick slab of stone in its center leading to the edge of a cliff. As man approaches, eyes forward, the valley comes into view. The man’s vision blurs as tears come to his eyes when his line of sight crosses over the smoke slowly drifting up from a portion of the valley. He stops in the center of the stone still staring straight into the valley. The man trembles and falls to his knees as the tears roll down his cheek and he begins to sob silently.

Still on his knees, head bowed in sorrow, the man slowly brings up his arms, and clasps his hands as if praying. Tears fall slowly and lightly wet his clasped hands. The man, in a deep voice, begins to speak aloud in a somber tone.

"Please... I can't take it anymore... Please I can't keep watching them kill the innocent... I can't keep this up on my own... I want to fight them but they're too powerful... I can't keep watching people I love ripped to pieces and drained of life... I don't know if anyone is listening... I've never prayed before... But if there is someone there... We need help... These vampires ravage and murder everyone in their path... They're killing us... we stand no chance.

"They've taken everything from me... I've watched my family, my friends, my people, die before my eyes... I tried to fight but they were too strong... My sword has cleaved through many but they mend themselves... They're immortal... I cannot kill them... I cannot even sleep anymore from the nightmares... All I can do is run... But I want to fight... I want to end this suffering, for me and my people... If you are there... if anyone is there, please help us."

The man continued to weep and beg. The sun high in the sky silently beat upon his flesh. He continued this way until the sun fell and the moon rose and also fell. For hours upon hours he begged and pleaded until from exhaustion and dehydration, he collapsed. Lying in the center of the stone slab passed out and waking with screams from the nightmares of his family and friends murdered before his eyes. For days he lay on his back, barely sleeping, but barely aware of his surroundings, until one night when the moon shone full and brighter than usual, the man saw a blur of motion across his peripheral sight. He turned to see a creature in the distance. Once his eyes were able to focus, he made out the shape of a wolf. A black beast with piercing yellow eyes that bore into him. The wolf did not seem afraid, but approached him. At that moment, on the other side of his stone bed, he heard a rustling in the woods. He turned to see another wolf, this one gray and slightly smaller than the first, move slowly from the woods, staring at the man. He continued to hear more rustling in the brush and looked to see beast after beast coming forward to form a circle around him.

Finally, he was lying in a circle of what must have been a dozen or so wolves. An entire pack had come to watch the man’s agony. Hungry beasts lured by the smell of blood, he thought. And thought crossed his mind - Why had the vampires not hunted him, why was he still here? The thought passed as the pack began to edge forward until they were about 10 yards from where he lay. The wolves stopped and stood staring at the man. Then they sat, all the while never letting their gaze leave him. He seemed to be in a circle of bright moonlight with the wolves inside barely at the edge of darkness. They sat for an indeterminate amount of time until one, the black one, looked to the moon and howled. Slowly the other wolves joined in the chorus one by one. Until all stared at the moon in the same manner as the first. He could not help himself to look elsewhere. He gazed up at the moon, motionless and silent. The moon appeared brighter than before, even more lifelike, almost watching him.

For what seemed like minutes he stared. Then behind the wolves, at his head, the air began to warp as if heat were rising from the stone beneath it. Slowly ripples gained shape until standing before him was a giant white wolf. The beast was massive, larger by far than all the others. The white wolf stood with its back at nearly the height of the man’s head when he were standing. The wolf stared at him, as had the others, and then took a step forward, then another, and another. The wolf began to approach the ring of his kin. As he did, the wolves at the man’s head parted, letting the massive creature through. The wolf walked until, at last, he was standing over the man drenched in moonlight, casting a great shadow over the top half of the man.

The wolf leaned its head toward the man and he heard in his mind. "Rise young warrior and stand before me."

As the man comprehended that it had come from the wolf, his eyes widened, then slanted in a disappointed, yet somewhat amused, smile.

The man mumbled under his breath, "Great a giant magic wolf materializes out of nowhere and talks to me. I must be worse off than I thought."

The wolf bent lower and the man again heard words reach his mind. "You are not crazy young warrior. I am as real as you or my kin you see here. And I speak to you because of your utter devotion to saving your kind."

As the wolf spoke, he touched his muzzle to the man’s brow. As he did, the man felt a surge of energy course through him. He twitched at the sensation, but felt himself regaining his strength. His burns from the sun began to recede, as did his hunger.

Once he had sufficient strength he stood as the wolf requested and spoke. "Who are you? No, what are you to wield such power?"

The wolf raised his head until he met the man’s gaze. "I am Belias, god of cunning, the moon, and these are mine kin you see before you."

"Why have you come to this place? What have I to offer you? Have you come to answer my pleas?"

The wolf nodded low in agreement. "I come because you speak truth. The vampires are too powerful and will wipe out the human race if left unchecked. They must be destroyed. I am here because you have proven yourself worthy of this task. And I am here to give to you the power to achieve it. Long have I watched you struggle and fight for what you believe in. Time and time again you have proven yourself strong of will and heart. What is your name young warrior?"

The man looked curiously at the wolf then answered. "Why have you need to ask my name? You have watched me, as you said, should you not have it?"

The wolf inclined his head. "Have it I do. But I ask you out of respect, as you have earned such in my sight. Again I ask, what is your name, young warrior?"

"...My name is Lycan... Son of Gallion who is no more."

"Lycan, I have a gift to bestow upon you. And again, I will ask out of respect, will you receive it? You ask for the power to defeat the vampires, this I can give. You must be transformed. You must be more powerful than you are now. I will give you the gift of mine kin. You will have a keen sense of smell; teeth that can rend apart flesh and even metal, your physical strength will more than double. You will have a keen eye to spot your prey, and a sense of danger to protect yourself. You will have a body sturdier than any other that will regenerate faster than any other. To receive this, you must become neither man nor wolf. While using the full extent of these powers you will be something in-between. You will also at all times carry another gift to communicate with mine kin and me during the full moon. And I will give you the power to bestow all these upon those you deem worthy. You will be able to transfer this power using your bite, but only upon your intention. Your bite will also carry a poison to those you hunt. All this I offer you, young warrior. Do you accept?”

The man seemed to contemplate the question for a minute.

"There are so many vampires, I know not how long it will take to eradicate them all. How long will I live?"

The wolf gazed at him mulling the question and seemingly considering options. "I will give you unending life unless you are killed. Should you succeed in killing the vampires, you shall live on."

"Then I will accept," said the man bowing his head.

"Then I shall give you a warning. This power is ferocious, it will consume the faint of heart. I give it to you knowing you are strong enough to control it. But of those you seek to bestow this power on, you must be sure. Test them and their will, that it does not falter. If this power should fall to the weak, they will lose control and when my power is most powerful upon this world, as it is now, they will transform against their will. They will be a scourge no better than the vampires and just as deadly. Choose wisely Lycan."

The man nodded and the wolf again put his muzzle to the man’s brow. The man’s bones seemed to crack as they altered. He began to grow ever taller and black fur began to sprout from his skin. The man’s chest and legs expanded with rippling muscle. His eyes glowed a bright gold and his face contorted and elongated to resemble a wolf. Now standing almost 8 feet tall the man had thick legs and arms coated in black fur. His sense of smell increased a hundredfold and sight became acute and ever clearer. His fingers extended into razor sharp claws. He stood on 2 legs, not four. As the wolf had said, he became something neither man nor wolf.

He looked down at the wolf and said in a very low, guttural voice, "Thank you."

The man then transformed back to his normal size, to that of a human. His skin bare once again and the rest of his features back to normal. The white wolf began to howl and the others joined in once more.

"You are now part of mine kin. Use your communication with these mine creations. They will obey you and help you," the white wolf said, gesturing with a bow toward the wolves. "You will remain in your human form until you so choose to transform. Remember the feeling of the transformation and by that you can transform. Save your people Lycan and exterminate the demons upon the world."

As the wolf spoke his final words, he turned and departed back to from where he had appeared and disappeared in a like manner. Once he had gone, the other wolves dispersed back to the forest they had come from. The man looked down at his hands and smiled, knowing of his new found power.

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