The Wolves of Lowcastle

Filled with secrets, magic, werewolves and forbidden love, The Wolves of Lowcastle is a fantasy-filled-fairy-tale told in multiple perspectives that will leave you wanting more.

When Prince Robert's father falls ill, he is given the task of finding the cure- which happens to lie with the village witch, Stella.

Along with Maya, a Servant with deep secrets he is deeply in love with, his best friend Edward, a Fool with dreams of being somebody different, Boodarat an Italian thief and his ferret, and Fergus an orphan taken in by Stella to bring people to and from her home in the mountains, Robert is in for one awakening journey. They all are.

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1. Part 1

 

 

The Servant

 

Hunger is the first thing you feel after the change. In my human form, I am always hungry, so this is nothing new. Not a day goes by that hunger does not ravage my body.

 

The change brings most people to their knees in pain, but not me. Like many of the other shifters, I feel pain everyday. When you are but a lowly servant, you tend to get beaten a little more than necessary. So the pain brought on by the change should really be nothing to everybody else, but most of them are weak. There is nothing that I can’t handle.

 

I shrug into my new skin as easily as putting on my coat. Human becomes wolf, but my soul stays the same. It will always stay the same.

 

When I am a wolf, I don’t have to tend to those higher up on the food chain, for in this form, I am the highest that there could be. And unlike so many other things, this could never be taken away from me. I will always be a Loup Garou.

 

I sniffed the air and smelled a rabbit close by. I would bring it to Claude and he would surely share it with me, for he was a kind Alfa. So as I stalked the poor little bunny, I prayed that I would be able to taste the warm flesh of the kill.

 

After having caught the rabbit and dropping it to the ground, I tried to pinpoint Claude’s scent, and sure enough, he had heard me kill the rabbit and was standing nearby, simply watching from behind a large oak tree. He walked over to me and nudged the rabbit with his nose towards me, ‘Take it, Maya.’

 

I licked the blood off of his muzzle, ‘Thank you.’

 

I took the first bite of delicious meat and my every taste bud sung with delight. This was the first food that I had had for the longest time, and it tasted amazing. Sensing this, Claude let me have another bite. And then another. But that was all that I would be allowed to have. He, of course had to eat too.

 

When he was done, I licked his muzzle to show my gratitude and respect. Claude had taken me in when my parents were killed, so he was like a father to me. He was better to me than my own father had ever been. 

 

After the big hunt was over, the whole pack converged at the edge of the forest to shift back. It was almost midnight, and I found myself very tired. Normally the hunt lasted longer, but tomorrow was Prince Robert’s birthday and it had started later than usual. All day, people would present him with gifts. He would be showered in them. And I would have to be there through it all, pretending that I didn’t remember the first day that we had met, long, long ago. When he was so badly beaten, that he could barely move. I wondered if he had scars. Wondered if he still remembered me because he was so especially kind whenever he dealt with me, but then again, he was kind to everybody. Much to his father’s chagrin.

 

 

The Prince

 

I was unhappy. This was not expected of me, or of any prince. I was to have a good time, and that was that. Except I wasn’t having a good time because even though today was my birthday, birthdays were really just like any other day.

 

I put his head in my hands and sighed as people brought me gifts that I knew I didn’t deserve. I’d never truly felt like royalty, and I didn’t know why. From as early as I could remember, I insisted that I didn’t feel quite like everybody else in my family. Father had brushed it off, but Mother always cried when she heard me say something like that, but I never knew why they made such a big deal of it. It was just how I felt, was I not allowed feelings?

 

A servant walked up to me tentatively, and I would never admit it but she was my favourite servant out of them all because she stirred something deep inside of me that I couldn’t quite identify. An old memory of…something. Maya was holding a small green box in the palm of her hand. I realized, a little too late, that it was meant as a gift. I took the box from her and smiled as she bowed in front of me, as was obligatory, thinking that it was preposterous that anybody had to bow down to me.

 

Softly, I slid off the lid and peered inside. It was a silver necklace with a small wooden carving of a wolf hanging off of it.

 

“Happy birthday, Prince Robert.” She whispered.

 

“This is beautiful, thank you Maya. It must’ve taken very long for you to carve.”

 

Maya smiled at me then, her secret smile that she always, for some reason, reserved for me, and walked away to do my father’s bidding. I tried to get my heart to beat normally, but it was no use. A love between us would never be allowed. But I could always dream.

 

Even the poorest of the poor brought me gifts that day, and I made sure that I thanked them all. Honestly, I wished I could do more than just thank them, but it would, just like so many other things I wished to do, not be allowed.

 

When the gifts stopped coming, the feast began. Everybody who had money would be invited. My mother would be set me up with some snob of a girl and I would be expected to fall in love with her and have a happily ever after. But that was not what I wanted. I just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t know what I wanted in life, but I was happy to keep looking until I found it.

 

The Fool

 

“Fool’s don’t have names, Edward” I said to myself quietly as the feast began, “they are simply there to entertain.” I was repeating what I had been told when I first was hired. I’d had no family; they’d succumbed to consumption, and I desperately needed to find work. The king was looking for a new Fool, for the old one was getting on in age. I had applied as quickly as possible, and had gotten the job because of the large pink birthmark that spanned the width of my face and neck, and even my arms.

 

At first, I was terrible as a Fool, and was almost fired. But as I watched the last Fool do his routines -juggling and simply acting like an idiot- I quickly learned what to do. I became the best that the royal family had in over twenty years. I didn’t like my job, but it gave me a pretty decent place to live by order of the king, and very good food to eat. A bed to sleep in was all that mattered to me, because I was once so poor that I’d had no home at all. So, though I did not want to, I walked out into the middle of the ballroom and began to do my job.

 

Juggling first.

 

Jokes and riddles second.

 

And then finally, the thing that I always looked the most forward too, insulting the royal family. ‘Good-naturedly,’ of course.

 

“Prince Robert, on this day, your day of birth, I would like to say something that I think we’ll all agree. You’re the worst prince that has ever graced this country. You’re too nice. You’ve got to be mean like everybody else here!” The crowd laughed, even though I had just blatantly insulted them. And so, on it went. I didn’t make fun of Robert much, since he was way too kind to dislike, unlike the rest of his family. Maybe he was switched at birth? Now, Edward, I thought, that really was the thought of a true Fool.

 

When my job was done, and I’d made fun of most of the drunkards, everybody continued dancing and laughing. The music swelled and all had a good time. Or so I thought. As I walked out of the room, I noticed that Prince Robert was following him.

 

“Did I do something to upset you Sire?” I asked, because though he and I were good friends, I still was to address him as Sire whenever we were on castle grounds. 

 

Robert laughed and shook his head, “No, but I wanted to thank you for such a gift. And I bet it pays off to insult everybody once in a while.”

 

I took off my stupid hat and scratched my head, “You know, you really are too kind,” and walked off towards the long staircase that led out of the castle and to my home, “See you later, I have to get to bed.” In actuality, I was just going home to drink myself into a stupor.

 

 

The Prince

 

 I could not fall asleep. The wolf necklace that Maya had given me was tightly fastened around my neck. I vowed that I would never take it off. I just kept thinking of her, dressed in rags. Her long black hair pulled high into a bun, her pale, almost translucent skin. I felt bad that she was always so banged up, as she was usually punished for reasons that made absolutely no sense. One time, she was beaten for sneezing in front of my mother.

 

My heart raced as I continued to think about her. She was not the most beautiful girl that I had ever seen, but she made me melt like ice, just the same. I knew that inside, lay true beauty, and something else. Courage. Bravery. She was not the most beautiful, no. But she was the most spectacular girl I had ever met in my entire life.

 

Laying there, in the dark, I finally fell asleep after a while. And I dreamed of a time when I was almost unable to move for fear of pain. In my sleep, my fingers raked across the scars. In my dream I ran my fingers across my broke, bleeding body, trying to fix what could not be fixed at all.

 

Blood is everywhere. I am going to die. Lying there on the cold forest floor, I think about my family. How I’ve never really fit in. ‘Too kind,’ Edward, the Fool, always said. And now, I am going to die. Better to die a kind boy in a cruel world.

 

All of a sudden, I hear a rustling sound in the bushes. Thinking that the men have come back for me, I panic and try to move away, but cannot. Instead of the men who had beaten me, a small black she-wolf slinks out of the bushes tentatively. She walks slowly over to me, her tail tucked underneath her body in nervousness. Sniffing the air as she approaches, her tail begins to wag and she begins to whine.

 

She gets close enough for her nose to just barely touch my hair. My heart is beating wildly as she sniffs; and all of a sudden I am no longer fearful. I am simply curious as to why she is not attacking. What a peculiar way to die, with a whinging wolf sniffing me. The wolf begins to howl until not one, but about twenty more wolves join her. Strangely, I am still no longer scared. I am more at peace than anything else.

 

They’re protecting me, I think.  These wolves are unlike any other type I have ever seen. They act almost…human. They converge around me, lying down beside me. Laying their heads down on my broken body. For some reason, they have accepted me as one of their own. The wolves keep howling, and strangely enough, this is enough to lull me to sleep, for I have forgotten about the pain. The last thing I see is a cloud lazily passing over the full moon. It seems like I’d only closed my eyes for a short second, but when I wake up I am being carried by strong arms up the long stairs that lead to my room.

 

“Father? How did you find me?”

 

The King sighs and then winces as he looks at my broken body, “The wolves.”

 

Startled by the odd memory, I woke up tangled in my sheets. That was the first time that I had been able to call up almost the whole memory. I usually was only able to remember the pain that had plagued every part of my body, and then waking up while my father had carried me up to bed. I still didn’t know why those men had beaten me up, or how I even came to be in the forest. I didn’t really have time to think about those things because the pain was just so overwhelming.

 

Deciding that I should probably just get up, I untangled myself from the sheets and swung off of my bed. As I stood up, there was a soft knock on his door. I chuckled under my breath, thinking that Mother must’ve heard me yelling in my sleep.

 

“Come in,” I said.

 

A small dark figure slipped into the room and stood quietly at the door, waiting to be addressed. It was not my mother, as far as I could tell, so she must’ve sent somebody.

 

“You can sit, you know,” I said.

 

“Thank you,” came Maya’s voice much to my bewilderment, “but I cannot stay. You’re mother sent me in; you must’ve been having a terrible dream. But I must go now-I have business to attend to elsewhere.” She paused and thought for a second and then added silently, “Sire.”

 

“You have business to attend to at this hour? It’s not even light out yet.” I shook my head.

 

Maya laughed, “I should say that it is none of your business, but if you must know, I take walks at this time. It helps me think.”

 

I nodded my head in understanding. I too, took walks to help me think. “Why so late? Or, as it is, early?”

 

She surprised me by saying, “Nobody is ever out at this hour. So it’s just the gardens and me. I could forget that I am but a lowly servant. I could pretend that I am a princess, one who is kind and fair. You, Robert are kind and fair. But it does not do you any good, though, does it?”

 

I sighed and nodded his head again. I didn’t know why I felt so comfortable with a person who I’d only ever spoken to about five times before. It’s not like I didn’t see her around the castle, but we would never be allowed to talk like we were then. “No, it doesn’t. To be a royal, you must be cruel, apparently. I do not see it that way, but what I see and what my parents see are two different things. What I see doesn’t matter to them. I am not allowed to think for myself.”

 

Maya smiled, “It matters to me and to the people.” But that wasn’t enough. And I wished desperately that it would be.

 

All of a sudden, a burst of courage shot through me, and I asked, “May I walk with you, Maya?”

 

My heart pounded against my chest in that familiar fashion only reserved for her. She looked down, as if contemplating, but then looked up and smiled at me, “Yes, I would like that very much. It is not often that we get to talk, you and I. I would like to know more about you.”

 

~*~

 

As we wound around the Castle gardens, Maya said, “Did you know that yours are the bluest eyes that I have ever seen? Well, I once knew a man with eyes as blue, but he died years ago when I was very young. I can’t even remember his name, but I remember that he used to sew the most amazing comforters. They were works of art, really.”

 

I did not know where my blue eyes had come from. Both of my parents had brown eyes to match their brown hair. It was just another thing about me that didn’t fit in. What she said stirred up the memory of being wrapped in the warmest blanket as a young boy, but I quickly banished it.

 

“Thank you,” I said quietly, unsure if she was complimenting me or not. We’d been walking for about an hour and we had spoken for that whole time. It was a refreshment really, to have somebody besides Edward to talk to. A female that was not one of the girls my mother had chosen for me, or worse, Mother herself.

 

Maya gave a thoughtful glance towards some petunias, “So, how is it then…being the prince of Lowcastle.” This caught me very much off guard. How was it? I didn’t quite know what to say to that.

 

“Terrible,” somebody said, but as soon as it was out there, I realized that it had been myself.

 

“How could it be so terrible to have been given anything that you’ve ever wanted?” she asked.

 

I bowed my head, “I don’t have everything that I’ve ever wanted. I don’t want any of it. I just want to be free. Sometimes, I hear the wolves howling out in the forest and feel…I want to be with them. I’m sorry, this must sound so silly to you.”

 

She shook her head no, “I suppose it should, shouldn’t it? But it we all have things that we long for, sometimes those things may seem impossible. But know that no matter how impossible they may seem right now, there is always the future. There will always be a better day. Do you not agree?”

 

Maya’s words held such wisdom. A kind of wisdom far beyond her years acquired from being a servant. I looked at her then, really looked at her. She was young, approximately my age or a year younger. But her green eyes were ancient.

 

“I’m sorry…” I whispered before I could stop myself, “I speak of wanting to be free to a servant who is beaten almost every day. I wish you could be free. Free from having to wait on people hand and foot, people who do not deserve it. My parents have never been kind in their lives, and if they ever have been, it was not in my lifetime.”

 

A tear slid down my cheek and before I could wipe it away, Maya reached out and did so for me. “Do not be sorry for something that you have no control over. I understand your feelings. We both want to be free, Robert. I believe that we both want the same thing.”

 

The Fool

 

A Fool rarely has a day off. I was finally having mine, taking a stroll in the garden. I guess I shouldn’t complain about my job, for I had a very good status, at least better than that of a servant. I was there to entertain, and if I did a good enough job, they’d give me a place to live, food to eat and clothes to wear. All I had to do was act like a total buffoon and not cross the line when it came to insulting the Royal family. One slip of the tongue could land me in the dungeon cuffed and shackled.

 

As I strolled through the garden in the early hours of morning, I heard Prince Robert’s voice. I began to walk towards it when I was stopped short by the voice of Maya, a servant girl. While I was very good friends with the Prince, I rarely had a chance to talk to the girl.

 

Should I continue on? I did anyway. It was the Fool in me, I suppose.

 

“Well, well, who do we have here? Eloping are we?” I said with a grin as I approached the two.

 

Robert’s serious expression softened, “Today is your day off, you know. You shouldn’t speak like you’re on the job.”

 

“It’s a way of life; I’ve grown used to teasing you.”

 

Maya smiled politely at me and I then realized that I should probably say something to her. “Why hello, Miss. I am Edward, or as you may know me, The Fool.”

 

She giggled, extended her hand, and said, “Hello Edward. You may know me as, ‘That blasted girl’ or ‘You over there’ but my name is Maya.”

 

I liked that she could make fun of her situation. She may be my replacement… I chuckled to myself.

 

“So what brings you to the garden?” asked Robert, absentmindedly running his hand through his hair.

 

I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t often get to enjoy its beauty. So, I figured that I’d spend the day here, soaking up its splendour.”

 

Maya sighed and reached out to touch a flower, “It is very beautiful. I come here to think in the early mornings. I find myself here a lot.”

 

I asked if I could join them and they accepted gracefully. It seemed like only minutes had passed by when Maya had to get back to work and Robert had to get back to the throne. I was left alone, to wander through the large garden, which was almost mazelike at certain points. It just went on and on. I wished every day could be like this one…

 

The King

 

Disgusting little thing she is, I thought to myself as I watched the girl clean the floor. I had spilled my tea and it was her job to clean it up. She was doing so terribly, though. What had gotten into her?

 

“You, work harder or I’ll have you beaten.” I threatened. She scrubbed harder and faster. That was more like it. Revolting creature. “And fix your hair when you finish. It is flying every which way and is going to get all over the place. If I find a hair in my breakfast, I am going to send you for a lashing.”

 

As I walked away from her, I remembered a time when things might have been different. When I would have had my son, here, as prince. Alive. But that was long ago, and Robert would just have to do. But his eyes were a constant reminder that he was not mine. Nor would her ever truly be mine, no matter what I told myself.

 

It was a cold night in December, the wind was treacherous and snow blanketed the whole kingdom. That was when our son, Robert was born. Unfortunately he was only alive for the briefest of moments before he passed.  His little brown eyes closed in death and my heart died with him.

 

I took him and ran as far as I could into the forest. Nobody would ever see him like this. As I ran, the wolves howled from somewhere deep in the woods. Fear spiked my pulse and I quickened my pace. The sound grew louder and louder, no matter which way I went. They were closing in on me. I tripped and dropped my poor baby boy into the snow. As I scrambled to get a hold of him, a man came into view. He had dark, dark hair and eyes so blue they contended with the sky. He was carrying something small and covered in a blanket. A child?

 

“He’s little older than that there baby, but he should do. His parents-they was killed in a fire. Ain’t got any relatives to keep him safe. I reckon you’d be as good as his own father, being, erm, who you are.”

 

The child began to cry as he handed it over to me, “No!”

 

The man sighed and said, “It’s for the best. You won’t even remember me in a few years’ time.”

 

I took the precious child without thinking and said, “What is his name?”

 

“Robert,” he said.

 

“Perfect…that was my son’s name. Nobody will know the difference.”

 

He picked up my real son, my baby boy, and held him close. “We’ll give him a proper burial and whatnot. Don’t you worry about that. You should go now. It’s almost light out and you should be getting back.”

 

The mysterious man kissed the babe’s head and said “We all loves you very much, boy…” then walked away. I looked down at the boy in my arms and held him tightly to my chest. This was now my son. I had to treat him as if he were my own flesh and blood. He opened his eyes and they were the same colour as that man’s.

 

“Papa?”

 

“I’m right here.” I murmured.

 

I turned around to see the man who had given up his son for me, but all I saw was a black wolf. I understood then that this was not a fully human child. He would never be my son. But nobody ever had to know that. No matter what, I would keep this a secret, not even my wife would find out.

 

I sighed at the memory and stuffed some sausage into my mouth. My life was a hard one.

 

 

 

The Servant

 

As the King walked away after having threatened me two times, I breathed a sigh of relief. He was gone. I could finish cleaning up in peace.

Every second I was close to that man, he gave me a new thing to hate about him. His wife was worse. She was my own personal version of hell. How is it then, that Robert turned out so kind? I’d never know.

 

My birthday is today and I wondered what Claude had in store for me. He usually baked me a sweet honey cake. I hoped he would stick to tradition, seeing as that was my all-time favourite. We never had the money to bake normally, but he always found just enough to make me my birthday treat, and I always looked forward to it.

 

I wondered if I should tell the Prince that today was my birthday. His had just passed so I was sure he’d share in my excitement. As I finished picking up the King’s mess, I decided that the minute I saw Robert, I’d share my good news with him.

 

Luckily, he came into the room at that exact moment. It was even luckier that nobody else was in the room except us.

 

“Guess what day it is?” I asked proudly.

 

He scratched his head, “Tuesday?”

 

I shook my head, “Well, yes, but no. It’s a very special day for me.”

 

He grinned widely, “It’s your birthday?” and I nodded my head proudly.

 

“I have been alive for twenty years!”

 

He laughed then, “I am two years older than you then,” and I blushed at this revelation. I never quite thought about it before…but it wasn’t a big age difference. Two years was small compared to some people, so I shrugged.

 

He sighed, “I have to get to my Father’s room. He is feeling sick apparently, which is why he dropped his tea. I’m sorry you’re stuck cleaning up his mess. If I were king, I would clean up all of my own messes.”

 

Nodding my head and quickly daring to peck him on the cheek I say, “Thank you.”

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