Halloween Writing: Lailoken, Ken?

Halloween Writing: Lailoken, Ken?

A Story by Tay

The islanders were driven mad by the news of Lailoken’s birth. They feared the worst, and barely concealed it from his parents. The island drew dark in a pit of its own misery. Farmers glared as the family passed, shivering in the bright daylight. “Ach, the wee cub isnae tae bad” the father would reply when questioned. He saw no reason for anyone to fear a baby. Still, he knew they were, as a family, outsiders. It wasn’t truly their fault, and they had tried to make it better for everyone, but it was tough. No one understood what they went through.

The islanders met one night; a month after the birth was announced. It was obvious to them something had to be done. Two fully-grown adults were dealt with; they kept to themselves. But a young child that didn’t realise what was happening? Surely, surely, this could only be for the worse. They all sat with their drinks, arguing. “They’re foul creatures, a disgrace to our island! We must get rid of them!” the old man grumbled, as he leaned against the wooden worktop. His face was wrinkled and folded in the fury of his argument; his eyes were but miniscule black insects partially hidden by wisps of greyed hair. A woman sitting at the big table looked at him sharply, “We cannae be sure the bairn will do any harm”. There were murmurs of agreement throughout the room. In the dim light, people nodded. Their fear was one thing, but none of them would murder a child for no good reason.

Lailoken grew up. As a child he became restless in the tiny island, wary of everyone else who seemed to shun his family. He wished his parents didn’t insist on keeping such a close eye on him all the time. He knew, from a young age, that he was different. One night, about once a month, his mother and father left before the sky darkened, followed by the sound of stone on stone as a boulder was heaved into place, blocking Lailoken’s exit. Left on his own, he would shiver in his animal skins, waiting for that dreaded time when “it” would start. He had been through it for as long as he could remember and knew nothing else. The pain of those nights were a permanent scar in his memories.

That particular night, he was seven summers old. He felt older, invincible, but terrified all the same. It was into the winter now, snow a foot deep outside their house. The pain started and Lailoken wanted to scream, the pain like stab wounds through his body. Nothing mattered but the black veil of agony. He wrenched his eyes open, trying to be strong. There were his hands. But they weren’t his hands. The tufts of fur only came once a month, at night. His teeth suddenly felt sharper in his mouth. He spat and looked down to see a stream of blood. He always forgot that his teeth grew. Lailoken rubbed a hand down his back, still throbbing from the discomfort. Smooth fur. He shook his head as he stood shakily, gingerly trying his feet. The claws were sharp. Slowly, he changed from Lailoken to the baby wolf. His mind was confused, unsure what it was anymore. His head felt as though it had been wrapped in sheep’s wool, it was so difficult to understand anything. Lailoken shuffled over to the exit. He had been testing his strength before, but never considered leaving. Part of his mind, the part that was still Lailoken, knew that true safety lay where he was told to stay. But his mind was even less Lailoken that night. He was angry for being kept locked up. He wanted freedom. And food. Food was sadly scarce in the winter, his family had none and his tummy was rumbling. The stone was dry and cracked in the middle. He scraped it with his claws and dropped to his hands and knees. He ran back a few steps, then forward, shoving against the rough boulder.

At last, it gave way. Lailoken fell to the ground, his mis-shapen jaw bashing off the snow-covered earth. His fur was wet and matted. He stood, gasping, on his hind legs, pricking his ears up as he looked around. Senses alert, the young werewolf watched his surroundings carefully. He sniffed the air, smelling food. Following the scent, he pounded across the snow, hardly daring to take a breath. Adrenaline rushed through him. The chase was on.

The light had faded; Lailoken only had the moon and his extraordinary sense of smell to guide him through the tall grass. He followed his trail over a hill and down, down onto a beach. He bent over, snuffling and clawing at the sand. His ears twitched as the faint sounds of the islanders drifted towards him. Lailoken licked the blood from around his snout as he settled behind a rock archway to wait.
“…but the stone’s gone. It cannae jist be gone. After aw these years, we thought it wid be safe. Whit can we dae? He could be anywhere.”
“I dinnae know. Something has tae be done.”

The voices blurred as the characters disappeared once more into the distance. Lailoken was still struggling to keep control of his own mind. His stomach grumbled again as he slowly padded off. Food had moved, but he could still find it. He wasn’t sure if it was even food he smelt, but his stomach told him it should be. He headed to the right, over some rocks, a little half-frozen stream, and through some bushes. Finally, he stopped. The exercise was wearing him out and there, right in front of him, was his answer. He could feel his heart beating faster and faster, high up in his throat. The thoughts flying unchecked through his head were both his and the wolf’s. No, not them… But food… But they’re… But. Lailoken howled in frustration before quickly realising his grave error.

Standing on the beach were two creatures poor Lailoken could just recognise. Through their dark fur, elongated snouts and sharp claws, he saw the true people, his true parents. Wolf-Lailoken was less forgiving. It wanted food and it was rather adamant. The creatures had looked up from their tender fighting, noticing the howl they knew so well. They both glared and ran over to the younger werewolf.

The shadows began to dance before his eyes, twisting and turning and jumping around. Lailoken turned and saw the islanders approaching, pitchforks and lit wooden stakes… Why? The family howled. They thought they trusted each other, now everything was wrong. The hair on Lailoken’s back stood up.

The flickering light from the torches burned into his eyes. All he wanted was food in the pale light of the moon. All he got were grumbles from his stomach and a confused mind. The islanders drew closer, menacing scowls, dark shadows across their faces. His parents snapped at the air, furious.

A fight was imminent, the danger buzzing in the air like a stranded bee. He could see the silver sword in the hand of an islander; he could see his parents baring their teeth. Lailoken leapt across, biting into the flesh of the men he knew too well in his own mind. Ripping the bloody skin apart, no longer knowing who he was. He felt bone, teeth scraping against it, and moved on, snout hair covered in congealed blood. Lailoken-wolf devoured as many of the men as he could, the grumbling gradually fading away. The next time his black eyes looked around him, he saw the man with the silver sword advancing on him, a face filled equally with terror and anger.

Lailoken didn’t see it, he couldn’t have, he didn’t see his parents leap over and grab the man with the sword. But he saw the man drive the sword into his parents. He saw the man cut their heads off. Lailoken crumbled at this, even in wolf state his heart was breaking; his face had tears falling down it. His paws were above his head; he was shaking in the horror. The islanders looked confused as the sun began to rise. The first rays of the sunlight hit Lailoken with force. The pain again. More pain. Not long later and he was just a little boy, curled up on the ground shivering and crying. Maybe it was this the islanders saw, something inside even the fiercest of men knew Lailoken had never meant to kill their friends. They kept close guard over him, the boy who could never truly be close to anyone. Not after the night his parents died. It was all his fault after all.

© 2012 Tay

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Added on November 7, 2012
Last Updated on November 7, 2012
Tags: werewolf, merlin, scotland, middle ages, halloween



United Kingdom

Chemistry student.Idiot. Pirate. Scottish. more..

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