A Duncan Naillio Story
Duncan’s claws dripped crimson rivers onto the stone tiled floor of the mansion. His fur was matted and sticky with blood from claw tip to mid bicep. He threw his head back and howled in rage and anguish, his massive hybrid form a dreadful sight for his enemies. His howl echoed through the once palatial estate and he loped forward with murderous intent.
“Duncan!” the beautiful, golden haired woman deftly dodged the ½ elf’s playful swat at her behind. “I said stop,” her voice took on a playful edge as she furrowed her brow comically.
“We both know you didn’t mean it though, Love,” Duncan looked at his wife with his gentle tan eyes, a wide grin forming on his angular face. Long blonde hair framed her gorgeous face, framing her emerald eyes and her pert nose. Thick well formed lips were pressed tightly together in an attempt to hide the grin creeping onto her face despite her feigned anger.
Duncan reached under his customary vest and withdrew a few bundled stems that teamed with a multitude of small purple flowers and his smile widened even further. He extended his hand and watched his wife’s face alight with joy. She dropped her angry facade and clasped her hands in front of her slender chest.
“Heather, for my dear sweet Heather,”
“You are so sweet, Darling. How do you always seem to know what I need?”
“Because we are one in spirit, my Love,” he moved close and wrapped a powerful arm around his wife. “Nothing will ever change that.”
“I have to tell you something, Duncan,” she looked down and a flush came to her high cheekbones. She took her husband’s gift in her left hand and his hand with her right, guiding the strong slender hand to her lower abdomen. “I’m with child!” she exclaimed looking for her lover’s approval, knowing that some extra difficulties would arise due to her husband’s heritage. Duncan’s eyes widened noticeably.
“That’s…wonderful…” he stammered a bit. “Heather, I am so happy for you…for us.” he knelt before her and put his pointed ear to her womb, knowing that there would not yet be anything to hear but wanting to be close to his wife in the moment.
Duncan raced through the mansion, pausing only to sniff the air tracking his prey. Borean was difficult to form with his wolf shaped maw but in his hot fury he felt the need to scream. Revenge filled his thoughts as two unfortunate blood bound ghoulish soldiers carrying rifles stood their ground at the end of a garishly decorated hall. He summoned the control needed to speak.
“MURDERER!!!!” the screaming growl came out of his maw as the guardsmen leveled their rifles.
The beast charged as smoke and the thunder of the blasting powder being ignited filled the room. Twin musket balls sped through the air at the vicious monster catching him in his left side. He heard the cracking of ribs as a red mist exploded from his back but the pain only fueled his rage all the more. With three great, leaping strides he was amid the men. Their buff coats offered little protection from his razor sharp claws and teeth.
Duncan spent the next few weeks close to his wife’s side. Little happened in the small village of Rend and none of it required his immediate attention so the gentle druid turned his focus toward caring for his wife. Soon he’d have a child, another son or daughter of Gaia to bless the world. Heather’s abdomen slowly swelled over the weeks, showing a small protruding bump where the couple’s child was forming in her womb. Duncan stayed as long as he was able, but his blood called him to hunt.
Heather watched intently as he gathered his things to set off. He threw some salted meat and cheese in his pack along with a loaf of freshly baked bread. His eyes caught his wife’s and for a moment he thought of staying, but he had other responsibilities as well. Heather handed him his hickory quarterstaff and smiled patiently at her husband.
“Our stores are running low, Love,” he said by way of explanation. She nodded in acceptance, but he went on anyway. “I have to hunt.”
“I know, Duncan, I knew who you were when we married,” she put a soft hand to his chest pressing his father’s medallion into the flesh of his torso though she didn’t know it. “I love every part of you, even the one that sometimes takes you from me. Go. Hunt. Provide for your child,” she had a wistful look on her face and she began to hum softly to herself.
“Oh, and Dear,” she called.
“Yes, my Love.”
“Don’t forget your bow,” she teased. “Not everyone would understand your method of…hunting.”
“You’re always looking out for me, aren’t you?” Duncan teased as he picked up the shortbow that the couple kept by their front door. Truth be told, Heather was a better shot with it than he, but she was wise to insist that he keep up appearances. “What would I ever do without you?”
“Probably expose yourself to the world and get hunted down as a terrible monster,” the beautiful human woman quipped back and winked.
“I have to go now, Love.”
“I know, be careful.”
Duncan set out the door into the cold winter evening. The rooftops of the small town of Rend were capped in snowy peaks and every chimney belched out plumes of white smoke into the twilight. He could pick out the keep and Castle Rend far in the distance when he topped a particularly large hill. His hesitance faded with each graceful step he took toward the coniferous forest beyond his newfound urban home. The smells of the Wyld beckoned and he was desperate to answer the call after his weeks-long voluntary exile from nature. After clearing the busier streets, Duncan broke into a trot, then a full run making speed toward the Cedar Haunt Forest and the hunt.
The massive left palm of Duncan’s war form was as large as the burly human face that it enveloped. Strong fingers tipped in dagger-like claws closed over the offending guardsman’s head digging into the soft flesh at the back of his neck and drawing a scream. Duncan began to squeeze with vise-like power.
His right hand was left to deal with the other ghoul. This man was a bit more slender and agile, but it did not help him. Duncan stiffened his fingers together and thrust them forward piercing the youthful guard’s buff coat, tunic and diaphragm. He didn’t stop until his fingers found the guard’s spine. He grasped it as though it were a handle. A twitch of his powerful limbs and the young man flew, crashing against the stone wall and slumping to the floor paralyzed and hemorrhaging.
His left hand continued its inexorable tightening. Blood poured from the middle aged retainer’s nose as his hands came up to try to loosen Duncan’s grip. The bones of his skull first grated together, then gave out with a sickening pop. His fist closed tight as brain and gore splattered in a sphere around it, painting ceiling, floor, and wall alike. Duncan’s wounded howl became a deafening roar as rage took him fully. Bloodlust colored his vision a furious carmine, and the scent of his prey called to his beastial nature.
“LUUUUCCCIIIIEEEENNNN!!!!! I COME FOR YOU, MURDEROUS LEEEEECCHH!”
Duncan’s hunt had gone as well as expected despite the growing winter. The herbivores of the area were already fattened and moved about less and less with each passing day, ready to wait out the deep snows that would soon arrive. Still, he’d snagged a fat young elk and had field dressed and salted it to preserve the meat for the journey home.
He’d been out a week already and had another two days’ journey home carrying the kill. He could of course make it by this evening if he entered crinos and ran, but he was close enough to Rend that he didn’t wish to risk being spotted, not that most mortals would remember anything more than a frightening encounter with a bear or some such. But the people of Rend were hearty and not unused to danger, there was no need to risk it.
He walked the day through dragging his kill by a large branch that he’d lashed horizontally between the elk’s 6 pointed rack of antlers. Between this meat and the constant supply of fish from the Redwaters, he and Heather would get through the hardest of the winter and he could hunt again when the snows receded near spring.
He was still a dozen miles or so from his home when the sun sunk below the horizon. He’s found a natural shelter under the bows of a wayward pine. The drooping branches forming a small natural hut, large enough for a small fire. The babbling of the Redwater, so named for the iron deposits that colored it, lulled him toward slumber from perhaps a hundred feet to the east. The carcass of the elk hung high from a strong branch of a mighty cedar downwind of his shelter.
As he slept, dreams came. He saw his home, smoke roiling out of the chimney. Thick, black, acrid smoke. Something was very wrong. He raced through the town as fast as he could, but it seemed as though he moved through molasses. Every running stride brought an eternity of dread. After what seemed an eon he reached his front door and put his shoulder into it calling out for his wife. The door burst open in splinters…and he woke, shivering and drenched in sweat beneath the boughs of a wayward pine some dozen miles from Rend.
His fire had smoldered to coals, the stream still babbled. Something was wrong…something at home. He threw snow atop the dying coals to ensure the fire was doused and rose. He thought of the elk for a moment, but it was well secured and high enough that even a black bear would have trouble reaching it. He reached within himself finding the wolf and willed the change to lupus. His wife needed him.
Duncan bounded down the hall, close on the trail of his intended prey. The wounded flesh on his side knitted itself back together as he ran. His ribs set themselves straight and bone fused with bone, making all seem as new. The evil servant of the Wyrm stunk of death and decay. Lucien Weaver fled from the onslaught of the powerful werewolf, or appeared to. The powerful black court vampire bid his time to strike. He rounded a final turn that opened into a large ballroom in the abandoned mansion he’d been using as a lair and he turned prepared to meet the beast’s charge.
Duncan barreled into the ballroom charging the murderous vampire. Lucien waited until the last second before he reached out and grabbed the enraged hunter. His strength belied his slender frame as he twisted and used the leverage of his hip to throw the beast across the room hard. Duncan’s sharp claw reached out grazing the vampire and leaving shallow creases in the undead flesh of Lucien’s face that slowly oozed the crimson vitae that fueled his unlife. The giant body of the war form beast slammed into the wall crushing an ancient suit of armor in the process.
Duncan recovered quickly and regained his feet just in time to accept Lucien’s lightning fast charge. Duncan caught the vampire’s arms a hair’s breadth before they could close on his head. Lucien’s nails had elongated into claws nearly as deadly as Duncan’s own. The corded muscles of Duncan’s arms snapped taught as the two nightmares stared into each other’s souls locked in a deadly stalemate.
The wolf that was Duncan sped through the woods covering the dozen miles in less than half an hour. Yells of surprise followed him as he raced down the cobblestone streets of Rend but he paid no mind to the Men. His mate was in danger, he knew not how. Within moments he arrived at his door and again looked within. He used his anxiety and rage to transform nearly instantly into Crinos, the warrior beast of his ancestors and smashed through the door. Everything was quiet…still…motionless…
The scent of blood was thick in the air and underneath it was something foul. He loped to the bedroom and an involuntary howl was ripped from his soul. Heather, his beautiful wife lay on their straw bed, pale as a sheet. Above her was a man that smelled of death and decay. His black hair combed back and his fine clothes barely rumpled by his wife’s struggle. Elongated canines dripped with his wife’s blood from them as he turned and hissed at the interruption. Duncan leapt at the intruder, his clawed hands closing on air as the foul Leech turned to mist.
He reached down and cradled his wife’s body, willing her to live, to no avail. She and his unborn child with her were gone. A few short minutes later Men with torches entered his home. The screams began, the torches and pitchforks were turned on him and he ran. He ran from his dead wife…from his child never to be born…from the guilt of leaving for the hunt…he ran from it all.
It was weeks before he calmed. His rage played itself out in the Wyld. He hunted often and gorged, trying to sate the hole that had been gouged in his life. He was saved, ironically, by a vampire. He was thrashing about knocking trees to the ground and ripping them apart bodily when he smelled the death and decay of the undead approaching. Duncan hid himself lying in wait for an ambush.
After perhaps ten minutes he saw the prey. A slender man, with platinum blonde hair that was fading to a silver gray. A wicked scar creased his left brow, tracing a line down to his eye and below. Pale green eyes peered intelligently at Duncan’s hiding spot. The man looked incredibly out of place, dressed in the black cassock and collar of a priest of the Holy See, a silver starburst that was the Star of Da’vidah embroidered on its chest and walking with a finely crafted, but simple cane. He spoke in a soft voice.
“Please, Duncan,” his gentleness was apparent in his speech. “I have no desire to quarrel with you. “I truly only want to help.”
“Liar! You reek of death,” growled the beast ready to pounce and end the vampire. He stayed his hand as he saw the melancholy expression upon the leech’s face at his words.
“I know that I do, noble Hunter. The world may be a better place if I was no more. I am no longer sure. If you wish to destroy me, I will not attempt to stop you, but I’d prefer to help you, if you’ll let me.”
“Who are you?” rage was subsiding to curiosity and Duncan found himself reaching for a new form, Glabro, just in case the bloodsucker’s fine words turned out to be a ruse.
“My name is Quaestor Auguste Duval, I am a priest and a member of the Inquisition of the Holy See of Mediga and, as you have already ascertained, I am a vampire. I can help you find your wife’s killer,” the vampire’s hand reached up and traced the scar that had nearly taken his eye. “He and I are…familiar. Would you like my help?”
“You can take me to him?”
“I am sure that I can point you in the right direction.”
“Deal. You live. At least until he dies.”
“I’d give you my life, if it ensured that his ended,” Auguste smiled sadly, realizing that they’d reached an agreement.
The two powerful beast’s were evenly matched. Lucien’s vampiric strength matched by the rage and the gifts of Gaia imparted upon her most precious of children. Slowly, living muscle wearied and the undead menace gained the upper hand with a wicked grin.
“Yes,” Lucien whispered in the werewolf’s ear. “You cannot hold forever, you will fail, just as you failed your woman.”
A roar erupted from Duncan as rage fueled his weary muscles in a surge. He was able to throw the vampire back from the grapple and readied himself to pounce again. Lucien waited and pulled his last trick. As Duncan closed on him, the devious vampire pulled a silver blade from his shirt sleeve and slammed it home in the werewolf’s side. The wound stung like it was filled with liquid fire and Duncan retreated, a whimper escaping his canine throat, drawing an unholy chuckle from Lucien.
“You like my little friend?” the overdressed vampire teased Duncan as he involuntarily transformed back to his half-elven form, his body trying to escape the ravaging pain of the silver.
“Fuck you…” Duncan spat
Lucien Weaver stood over his prey, savoring this kill. He’d had no idea that the pretty girl was married, or pregnant. He’d only been out for a meal, but this was just too rich. A mighty garou laid low before him, it was enough to make him forget the trouble of relocating yet again. That seemed to happen a great deal since he’d turned that whelp of a priest. He was sure that the good father was behind at least some of it. He’d have to remedy that at some point. He’d thought that the church would take care of that problem for him, but that devious bitch of an Inquisitor had just carried on as though nothing had happened to her pet.
Duncan snapped back to reality as Lucien hesitated, lost in his thoughts of victory and conquest. He was embarrassed at giving in fully to his rage, forgetting his other gifts. He closed his eyes and reached out for Gaia whispering a small request. Warmth spread in his hand, coalescing into a small ball of pure fire. He stood hiding the flame behind him. Lucien noticed him standing and lunged forward with his silver blade as Duncan brought his arm forward and thrust the flame into Lucien’s face drawing a pained shriek from the vampire.
Lucien dropped his dagger, swatting at his face thinking to put out the flame. Duncan formed another flaming sphere and hurled it at his quarry, then another. Fear overcame the vampire in his moment of victory and he retreated fully, turning to mist and disappearing.
“This isn’t over, Leech!” Duncan called after his fleeing foe. “I’ll find you again, and next time your life is mine.”