Title: Lupine

Note: Tale as old as time.

My name is Lucien and I am the last of my kind. For the past one thousand years, my kind has battled against the vampires and I'm all that is left of our "valiant" cause. There was little warning before it happened, no perceivable sign of an impending war that would wipe out both our kinds. For the full moon, all my packs converged at the Manor to change and be safe without hurting those around us. The vampires stormed without warning, breaking down the doors and stalking in like they owned the place that was our haven.

And leading the pack of savage blood-suckers was Sullivan. We had a background together, we were friends once...but that was so very long ago, before he decided to challenge everything we knew and became the monster. He snapped, somewhere in his fifth century of undead life and gathered a riot of younger vampires to believe in his cause. He brutally murdered the council, drained them dry of their stolen blood and hung them up for the beasts to feast upon.

He leered at me, said I had a chance in the new-world order and I refused. The Pack is family, and family comes first. Always. And to survive in Sullivan's order, I would be signing their death sentence. He shrugged his shoulders with a fluid grace, disappearing in a flurry of black velvet and red silk. The new-world order had begun, and my kind and I were not part of its ranks.

That was the beginning of the end, and it would be a slow and painful way to go. By the time he called about his soldiers and prepared for war, a decade had passed and the threat had been forgotten in the shadowed depths of all our minds. He waited until the day after the full moon, one of our weakest moments, and he exploited it with disarming velocity.
Sullivan raided a smaller pack; killed the men by means of a slow death on a silver chain, raped their mates and ripped their heads from their shoulders, and dismembered the cubs alive. For the first time, in my very long life, I felt sick. That was how the war began, and from the start, I feared how it would end. I tried to talk to Sullivan, and was refused at the door.
This was over a hundred years ago, and my wounds (both mental and physical) are catching up with my tiring body and weakening spirit. If I must contribute something to the Scrolls, let it be this, the War that destroyed the werewolves and the vampires in one long suffering but nonetheless fell swoop.

The year was 1340, six years into the war the Plague would hit and destroy a third of Europe's population. Beasts of the night weren't the only ones dying, the mortals were racked with death as well. But by the time the Black Death began ravaging them, we would be too immersed to notice much more than the weight of weapons, the sting of fangs, the calm of death.

A night of the full moon dawned and all was well, the beasts slept in the lower parts of the Manor, and the servants stood guard with silver should any single one try to escape. It was the night after that brought the wrath of hell upon both our kinds and sent us spiraling into a vicious cycle. While the wolves were sleeping off the ill effects of the change, Sullivan's ghouls set fire to their homes. Burned every last resting place of every single wolf in my pack, they had nowhere else to go and not a single thought in their heads save revenge.

The next night, we rallied in a field, talked like the gentlemen we once were and I thought I had smoothed it over, and little did I know how wrong I had been. As I said before, it took him a decade to gather vampires from every corner of the world and equipped them with weapons, while all my wolves had moved into Europe after the council was slain. I sent out messengers, telling all the far-away packs to return to the Manor for safety was fast disappearing.

Within the week, the Manor was filled to the roof with werewolves. Every room was filled with packs, from peasants to nobles cursed by the fangs of our ancestors. Most of the changed were old enough for the wolf to have taken over and become what was a pure beast, they had mated with fellow wolves and their cubs were pure. There were only a hundred or so still green werewolves, with the knowledge of a fresh cub and terror of their own kind still evident in their yellow or green eyes. I explained to them all what had occurred and what was expected to happen, a small war to usher us into the new-world order, to prove to Sullivan that we were worthy of living. The wolves nodded and murmured their agreements that Sullivan would have his war.

Most of the beasts in the now excessive pack, could change at will, and I knew that the few would couldn't would need to learn. When in that physical, mental, and spiritual state pain becomes irrelevant and virtually nonexistent. It would take more to kill them, to even seriously harm them. Changing would be a crucial part of the war, and staying strong long enough to end it and still live.

The beginning of the war was as every war had begun since the dawn of weapons, we rallied and our forces met. Dusk settled over us and as the human slept, we fought. Normal people, of sound body and mind, morphed. Their bodies twisting as the demons within surged to the surface, making their bodies ripple with muscle and shred their skin only to have the exposed skin burst into fur. Eyes slitted as jaws elongated, sharp teeth sawing through gum to make an appearance through blood. Long black claws tipped fingers and bushy tails swept the ground, ears lay flat into the mane that ran down the wolves backs. The vampires grinned, but as my packs met Sullivan's, the grins became snarls.

Even the undead feel pain, and the smooth porcelain masks became twisted and contorted with rage, fangs snapping down on chorded necks and long nails digging into fur and flesh. The wolves fought against the onslaught, but the vampires proved more stead-fast than we earlier thought. Sullivan and I both watched from opposite hillsides as our kind met in a writhing mass of snarling fangs, snapping jaws, vicious claws and inhuman snarls. Long into the night as the darkness dragged on, the moon over-watching all with a pale face, impassive and calm. Blood ran from the fields like wine and when the sun rose, the bodies of the fallen lay bare. The sun itself seemed to rise from the crimson blood of the fallen wolves and vampires, while the wounded limped home to heal and the tired to sleep.

Day, once our greatest hate became our best friend. Day was when we were left alone; to sleep, to heal, to mend. That was when we drew up all our courage and learned the new tactics, how to change faster, to handle a sword better. Many wolves, who were unable to handle swords were taught to use a bow. The army with weaponry training was saved, while the others went out each night to fight the battle that no man knew of, nor cared to know of with the beginnings of the Plague chasing at their own heels.

Each night, Sullivan and I stood on our hillsides and watched as our packs rushed headlong into the vicious throws for a new world order. The snarls of rage, the yelps of pain, the howls of frustration and the screams of victory. The black forest in which we had taken to soon emptied and the beasts all left with quivering haunches and their tails between their legs. The trees watched, silent spectators, as muscle-bound body slammed against muscle-bound body, claws digging deep in broad chests and feet digging into the blood-softened ground to better gain a grip and push their opponent backwards. Heavy jaws snapped down, making an empty sound unless they met flesh, then the sound was that of a screech owl. Unnerving and painful, making myself cringe and Sullivan smirk. The branches curled like gnarled fingers and stretched over the open field to cast long shadows, which waned as the sun drew near.

We watched the shadows as much as the battle. For when the long black fingers were short, it was time for us to disappear. We would slink to our respective sides of the dark wood, hide beneath the sweeping branches and nurse our wounds. The field's tall grasses were wallowed down, and stained a deep copper color. The bodies of the fallen were dragged away by the beasts and those too wounded to walk were left to their doomed fate. Neither of our kinds could be weighted down with a floundering beast, heavy in breath and short in time. It was best, so we thought, to leave them to their natural fate.

For a hundred years, we fought trivial battles, though only one truly stands out in my memory. The Church Battle. We had not fought for a few days and my pack converged at a cemetery, the graves were silent and the wind whistled through the dead trees. Under foot, the crisp covering of old snow breaking to allow our feet to sink to the frozen ground underneath. A large raven flew from the steeple and the wind brought a curtain of snowflake about our group. When the snow had settled, vampires were everywhere. Perched on the stones, leaned against the cast-iron fence, hidden in the church's shadow. Dread crept in and suddenly, the shadows swarmed and my pack and I were fighting for our lives. The shadows morphed and wrapped around, and the pack managed to break free. Only to find themselves being attacked by vampires.

The odds weren't exactly even, but once you've lived as long some or even most of those monsters had, it was more about surviving than playing fair. Fangs gnashed against fangs, and gave the appearance of a deadly beautiful lovers' quarrel. Hands interlaced and bodies shoved against one another, feet scrabbling at the frozen ground in hope of finding better purchase. Wolf and vamp broke away, twisted and circled. Eyes slitting in anger, before lips parted in snarls of rage and bodies slammed against another with enough force to rattle the branches. Stones were crushed under foot, and more toppled. The ground of graves were ploughed with hind claws and toes of boots.

Grunts and hisses, snarls and growls of rage, pain and despair. Claws racked chests, fangs dug deep and bodies slammed against one another. The battle rose and fell, the clamor began to rise to a dull roar and I was seriously surprised that no human came to investigate. The moon began to dip, and lips parted in snarls before, like the disappearing shadows, the vampires too were gone. And in their wake, lay the wounded and the dead. The snow stained a deep crimson, and melting from the heat of the life-giving liquid. Stones were laid over, broken and shattered. The bits of rubble strewn about, having shattered some of the windows. Even the church had withstood damage. The stained windows were cracked, spider-webbed and torn away completely with long tears in the paint. Not long after that battle, the war began to wane.
By this time, the Plague had reached new standards and taken to London. England's countryside were our domain, and we began to feed on animals rather than humans. But beasts are smarter than man when it comes to things like this, as we reverted to hunting in herds for deer and wild horse. The vampires of course, cared not that the blood had a dieses, they could not catch it. They struck bargains and broke them, rather than allowing a fledgling vampire to live, they drained the human dry. Every day, we watched long lines of people going to funerals, to graveyards to bury their beloved. It would have been tragic if we ourselves were not going through the same predicament. We too had buried those we loved and held dear, as had the vampires so their need for pity was lost on us.

When this war had first begun, I had thought it to last no longer than a year. But days warped into months, and months into years until a century passed. Days, or should I say nights, like these with the moon on the wane and the promise of snow in the air I miss Sullivan. Of all the vampires I ever met, Sullivan was the greatest. Handsome, charming and deadly. Able to set you alit with one look, and then watch you burn. We were friends once, from the same city in the same country. We would be the same age by human standards, but he was changed before I.

Before the killing of the council and before the war, the City of Dead was a fine place. Now all that remain are ashes and ruins of once-beautiful buildings with stubborn windowpanes that refuse to break and doors that refuse to fall and hang by single hinges. I had witnessed the destruction of a great city so immense that the hope of rebuilding was fathomless. Sullivan took the rules of society and warped them, bent them and finally broke them and allowed us to live as we pleased. That night was the first that I looked upon my friend and felt fear, awe and perhaps even love. The second night was the night he died and the war was finally at its end.

The last fight was drawing near and I rallied all the wolves and we made way to Sullivan's castle. The huge rock formation rose from behind a black forest and behind it flanked mountains so blue in the night they looked purple. We crept up on it, killing any vampires that we met with stealth so not to rise attention. The forest was tangled, thick vines hung from draping trees, moss clung and smothered, poisonous flowers opened and the vicious growls of beasts far worse rumbled from the shadows. Even the moonlight could not hope to penetrate the thick wood. As the forest began to thin, a wide plain stretched before us. Led us to the castle's outer walls, and the arches brought the vampires down who stood guard on the wall, send them spiraling to crash on the ground below. On quiet feet, we stalked to the gates and proceeded to climb over the walls.

Inside the castle's inner walls, lay rooms so detailed and extravagant in their decor that we stopped. The lush fabrics, sweet scents, and beautiful art had us distracted. When I pulled my eyes away, Sullivan and a large troop of his vampires stood at the base of the stairs. He looked at me before shaking his head slightly and lowering his gaze to the stone floor softened with this rugs. "Lucien, it shames me to think that you did not know you were expected." His gaze leapt up to meet mine, and his lips curved into a cruel smirk. "Kill them." Vampires leapt forward to do as their lord commanded. Snarls already ripping from their lips and I barely stopped one from reaching me. So caught up in watching Sullivan glide away, long silk robes dragging behind him. But my blade did sink deep, and the vampire crumpled before me.

Though I am loathe to admit it, I will. I followed him, darted past his minions to chase after him. Left my pack at the jaws and fangs of blood-thirsty vampires for him. I followed Sullivan through the long, winding corridors and every time I lost his scent, the whisper of silk against stone drew me on. In a large, open room with windows overlooking the mountains, he sat at a desk. His fingers interlaced and held before him, gaze steady and calm. A sword rested against the wall behind him, and my fingers lingered on my own. But he did something that disarmed me more surely than he might have ever. He smiled, not a cruel smirk or snarl, but a soft smile I hadn't seen since before the change. Often, I am reminded that he offered to change me, so we could be together forever, but I refused. The wolf pounced and I was human no more. The smile reminded me of his gentle prodding and the promises of forever.

"Lucien." I floundered for words, so chose silence instead and he understood. With fluid movements, he stood, the robe sweeping out before settling about him again like wings. His slender fingers reached for the ribbon and silk whispered dejectedly to the floor. I am ashamed to know that I could hardly tear my gaze away. Just as I am shamed to know that my rejection of his love, though I returned it, festered into this. Then boiled into rage when he found out about the wolf. My rejection of his love grew into a war between our kinds, right up until the very end. Sullivan often wore practical clothes, but never had I thought him to like leather. I know now that he was trying to keep me off guard, and it worked.

He looked skinny, but strong and muscles rolled visibly in the black leather confines of his trousers as he walked around the desk to meet me. The black silk shirt hissed against his skin and when he moved, it lay close like a second layer. I would have backed up, well even more, but I meet the large wooden doors. He sensed my distress and stopped mere inches away, looked down upon me with such a gentle gaze that I had to look away for fear of my heart fluttering away. "You left your dogs." He pitched his voice low, soft, like the silk that draped from his shoulders. "You left your bats." My tongue stumbled over the words and I could hear the smile on his lips as words fell from them. "I do not worry for them." I nearly choked on my tongue when his fingers skated along my jaw. "Forever. This war, because of it, forever will never come. The whole promise of immortality is taken from us Lucien and you must fight it like the man you still are, under all that doggish hair and slobber." Then his presence was gone, no longer was his scent clouding my mind or his heat drowning me.

When I drew my gaze back, Sullivan was perched on his desktop with his sword in his hand. As soon as I could breathe again without catching any of his scent, I lunged. Trying to catch him off guard but his slender blade caught hold of my wider sword and pushed me back. We circled, sword-tips touching as we moved in a wide circle. We drew back and our blades slammed against one another in unison. Swords struck one another and barely avoided flesh and we calculated each other's movements. We touched, the dull clang and as we swept away, our backs brushed. From down stairs, we could hear the wail of the wounded and dying and the roar of battle. The clamor growing more and more with the wail becoming more pronounced. Sullivan swept his sword down in a hard strike, forcing me to block it and as his sword pushed mine down towards my chest, we were mere inches apart again. Behind me, the door flew open and then the pressure on my bent arm was gone and Sullivan was behind me, staggering against me and the vampire at the door was writhing on the floor in pain.

It took a while for it to sink in, I killed the vampire at the door and turned to grin at Sullivan, to see his reaction at me killing one of his own. He lay on the floor, gasping, and timidly touching the arrow in his chest. I knelt beside him, wrapped my hands around the shaft and he snapped at me, "Don't. Its tip is silver and was dipped in holy water. If you touch it, you will perish. So don't." I knew it was meant for me then, and I gathered him into my arms, ignoring his hiss of anger. "I do not appreciate being handled as such." I held him against my chest and all the questions I wished to ask died on my lips as I stared into his eyes.

He smiled again, that same curve of lips that took years off his undead life. "How about a kiss to tide me over?" I looked at him, shocked. "Tide you over until when?" His eyes closed, long lashes forming perfect crescents on his high cheekbones. "Until forever." Tears sprung to my eyes and I choked on my breath, but I pressed my lips to his. As I kissed him, I felt him leave and terrified, I broke away. I stared down at his body, growing colder under the beautiful silk and leather, even as I held him. He lay gently on the floor, his long hair spread out around him, and looking like he might wake up any moment. But he didn't. I got to my feet and drew him into my arms again and I walked down the staircase.

The halls were littered with death, blood staining stone and dripping to the floor below it, blood ran down the stairs in little streams and arrows stuck in backs. In the monstrous great hall, the bodies had fallen on top of one another, as though they had rushed on top of the dead to get at the living. And I stopped, and listened and could hear no heart-beat nor pulse but my own. I could bury them all, but most vampires would rather be burned, so I set Sullivan's castle alit. And in the glow of the wildly jumping flames, I buried my only beloved deep beneath the draping branches of a black willow tree. As dirt began to cover him, I could see the tree's roots forming a protective cage about him and I was the only one left.

With my story told, and my own forever drawing near, I wait. As I have waited for so long. I have seen wars and diseases, rulers and dictators, peace and killing. And with a single kiss to tide me over until the expanses of forever, I am ready. Let the merciful council take me now, and draw me into forever.