9 November, 2014 by katelaity
Here’s a little taste from the opening of the first draft of my new medieval adventure, Blood Moon, which is based on another of Marie de France’s lais, Bisclavret:
He was wolf again.
As much as it frightened him, every time he had to admit the pure joy of it. As the moon waxed his skin began to itch and he knew he could not be satisfied until he found some quiet spot in the woods, hid his clothing under some rock and fell asleep in the moonlight.
And every time he woke as the wolf his limbs sang with the joy of it. He knew he ought to be ashamed of this terrible transformation — so unnatural, surely wrong — but as he stretched and felt the power of his remade flesh and bones he loosed a howl of utter abandon.
It just felt so good. Surely it could not be wrong?
Bisclavret ran into the darkness, his eyes bright and his tongue lolling and the woods were alive with scents. Over there a rabbit, over there a stag, and soon he would hunt but not yet, not yet. Nose in the air he sought the real quarry. They had to be here somewhere.
As he ran the rich glow of the moon transfixed him. It felt like velvet upon his fur. Fur! How incredible to feel so warm yet not swaddled in layers, light and free.
That was the main thing. He had never felt shackled as a man. He was wealthy, his lands covered these woods and the farmlands beyond, he had a noble wife from a good family and the exploits from the last war he had fought for the king had filled his saddlebags with gold and gems.
Yet as he ran along the woods, naked and alone, Bisclavret felt richer than any man alive, as if the whole wide world were his. The woods enveloped him and the strength in his legs made him certain that he could run to the ends of the earth without tiring.
There! He scented them at last and let out a howl of welcome. The other wolves responded with enthusiasm and they ran to meet, upping and barking with delight. No need for the formalities of human contact, the elaborate rituals of courtly behaviour that divided people as much as it united them and made everyone feel suspicious.
The wolves had welcomed him as a brother from the first. They had followed the lead of the old grizzled lady who headed the pack. She had greeted him with soft whines as if he had been a long lost pup returned to her side. Even now she nipped his shoulder as if to admonish him for staying away so long. The easy familiarity brought him such joy and he felt as surely at home here as he had anywhere, so he did not question the strangeness but wondered if given a choice he would ever remain in this shape, give up his human life and run forever in the woods and the night.
But more pressing matters awaited now. The pack hungered and they were strong together, so they set off, the old wolf in the lead. Her senses were acute, she was the first to catch the scent. A sheep and its lamb had wandered too far from the shepherd’s gaze and had passed through the forest as they sought their return.
But the old wolf bayed, the others picked up the scent and joined her cry. At once the happy loping steps became stealthy and swift. No more lolling tongues and playful shoves at one another, this was serious.
Food was life.
Never mind that it was one of his sheep. When he was wolf all thoughts of ownership and property seemed remote, unimportant. The thought of hot flesh in his teeth drove him to the hunt as surely as the natural wolves. He howled along with them as they drew closer to the prey, their harmony as perfect as any plain chant in a chapel…