Derek sprinted through the thick trees at a brisk pace enjoying the cool wind whipping around his wolfs form. Above, the full moon shone down on him her bright rays enveloping him in a warm embrace. He'd never tire of this. His lycan form was a strong and muscular build, so unlike his human form which hadn't even reached puberty yet. All of 10 years old, Derek was still waiting for his first chest hair to sprout and for the rest of his body to catch up to his long, gangly legs. As a wolf, Derek was graceful and agile, it was no surprise that he preferred this manifestation much more.
In the distance a wolf howled, loud in clear in the crisp night air. Derek bolted in the direction eagerly, building speed with every stride. He could see where the trees separated ahead of him creating a clearing, in the center of it sat a beautiful snowy-white wolf.
"Mother" he reached out with his mind searching for the strong telepathic bond he shared with his kin.
"Theoderek" came the warm tones of his mother echoing inside his mind. "Your shift was immaculate. You've really improved my son"
If Derek were in his human form he'd be flushed with pride at his mother's praise. They'd been practicing relentlessly for many full orbs of night. Derek thought that maybe he stood a chance at turning at will now and not just on a full moon. As he entered the clearing he leapt into the air, his silhouette changing form effortlessly back into that of a young boy. Barefoot he gracefully touched down onto the soft carpet of grass, drawing himself up to face his mother self-satisfied that he'd done well.
"You've made me so proud, Theoderek. You'll make a fine wolf and an even finer King" she spoke softly through the bond.
Derek turned his hopeful face to the sky and spread his arms wide, enjoying the moon's soft caress and an overwhelming sense of belonging. An owl could be heard somewhere in the trees surrounding them and he knew he belonged here, in the wild, amongst the other creatures of the night.
Not until the tell-tale signs of dawn began to make their appearance did Derek and his mother return home. They made quick work of entering the castle through one of the many hidden passageways his mother had shown him and soon after arrived at the entrance to his chambers, hidden behind a portrait.
"Remember my son, you mustn't tell anyone. This has to stay our secret. " his mother said in a hushed but very serious tone. "If anyone were to find out about us--"
"I understand, Mother. Our secret."
"For your own protection Theoderek."
"Yes Mother. I swore it."
His mother, Talia, Queen of Scotland, nodded her head satisfied.
"Yes, I suppose you did. I love you, sweet child."
Derek smiled in return, "I love you as well, Mother"
With that Talia turned and headed back down the passageway to her own bedchamber. Closing the hidden door and making sure the tapestry that concealed it was hanging neatly Derek padded across his rooms to throw himself atop his furs. Burying down into them he pulled his hands up to his face for close inspection. They were filthy, as they always were after he returned from an excursion with the moon. Concentrating he focused solely on his nails willing his claws to extract. Slowly his nails began to elongate, turning black and razor sharp. He dragged the claw of one finger across the palm of the opposite hand, making a shallow cut as he went and watching it heal quickly as if it had never existed. He'd never tire of that. Derek loved his wolf. Loved what he was. He couldn’t understand why his mother was so frightened of anyone discovering their secret. They were werewolves. Derek thought it was brilliant. Talia had cautioned him however that the rest of their family and their subjects would not find it quite as endearing as he did. She spoke of how the others would proclaim them witches. Demons even. Warned him from sharing what they were with anyone, even his Majesty the King, Derek's own father. It had been almost a year since him and his mother had noticed that he was fated to the same curse as she had been. Both foredoomed to change form every full moon. Letting his nails return to normal Derek shoved both his hands beneath the silky, warm pelts and closed his eyes, letting sleep claim him at last.
Derek was 12 when it happened. He sat with his mother, holding her cold, clammy hand desperately in his own and whispering feverishly spoken nonsense words of comfort in her ear. His father was standing behind him, a heavy hand on his shoulder. They both knew that the fever that claimed Talia would take her life. The physicians had done all they could and now all they could do was enjoy the time they had left together. The King was a brisk man who showed little to no emotion, marrying only to produce an heir and nothing more, but Derek was glad to have him there all the same. He didn't feel so alone with the reassuring pressure of the Kings hand on his back.
It happened without warning. One moment Derek had been clasping her hand and the next she was heaving the contents of her stomach all over the floor. The raven haired teen had flew back from his mother, knocking into the King but avoiding being hit by the offending liquid.
"Mother!" He gasped rushing forward once he realized something was definitely not right. The fluid that had left her mouth was pitch black. It dribbled from her lips down her chin and neck, onto her dressing gown.
"Mother no! You're going to be-its..." His hands fumbled to wipe the black mess from his mothers face when she snapped her mouth at him loudly. Her teeth just barely missed grazing Derek's hand as he pulled it to his body and glanced wide eyed at his mother in horror. His beautiful, kind mother who had dedicated her life to keeping her secret (now their secret) hidden was changing before his eyes...and the Kings. Talia's eyes were blazing a brilliant and startling crimson, her face twisting and contorting as her nose elongated into a snout and her mouth filled with the sharp and gleaming teeth of a predator.
" What in the blazing hell!" The King had shouted in terror as he stared at the half turned form of Talia. She was foaming at the mouth now, a crazy glint in her eyes.
"Guards!" The King shouted grabbing his sons arm in a vice-like grip and backing towards the exit.
Two men burst through the doors, unsheathing their swords before they'd even caught a glimpse of their Queen. Talia was across the room and pouncing on one of them before they had time to register what was happening. She tore into his neck roughly with her teeth, ripping out a chunk and spitting it out as the guard fell to the floor. Without a second thought she advanced on the second one.
"No! Mother stop!" Derek shouted out desperately resisting the Kings sharp tugs to draw him from the slaughter.
Talia's head whipped in his direction and Derek seen no recognition in that gaze. His mother was gone. An evil and demented smile graced her bloody face and she growled before leaping his way. Derek dodged her sending himself flying into a stone wall in the process. Talia stumbled momentarily before regaining balance and advancing on him again. Derek readied himself to shift and defend himself, to scared to think logically about what that would mean if his father saw him, when this monster baring his mothers face went completely still before pitching forward and hitting the floor with a loud thud.
Standing in the doorway to his mother's chambers stood a tall man with short grey hair and striking grey eyes. He held a small bow and approached Talia's motionless body purposely. Leaning down over her form he plucked something small from the back of her neck.
"Tranquillizer dart." He said meaningfully staring at the surprised faces around him
"Christopher!" The King exclaimed heaving a sigh of relief. "Thank god you arrived when you did. The guard... my son was going to be next..." he trailed off surveying the guard who lay dead in a pool of his own blood on the floor before continuing "The Queen, a demon has staked its claim over her.
Derek let out a cry of anguish. His mother had been right. She would be named a demon this day. His mother. His sweet, sweet mother. He felt bile rise in his throat and he raised his hand to his mouth to stop it but it was to late. He vomited all over his hand and the already sullied floor. His eyes began to water and the floor was rising up at him, then everything went black.
When Derek awoke it was in his own chambers and to the sound of desperate screams. Smoke was in the air and chanting could be heard getting louder and louder, rising above the shrieking sounds of a woman in severe pain.
Pain was throbbing between his ears making it hard for Derek to concentrate on anything but it didn't take him long to catch on to what was happening. Stumbling out of bed he ran as fast as his weakened legs would take him from his room and out the castle doors, into the courtyard. Out here the smoke was thick and muggy but he knocked people out of his way desperately headed in the direction of the screams trying to block out the chanting. Finally he could see it. A stake engulfed in burning, flickering flames and right in the center of them, his mother. Her mouth was wrenched open in a chilling wail, her flesh burning and pealing before his eyes.
"No!" He cried fighting to get past the guards, beating on their chests furiously. It took four to keep him at bay, his young werewolf strength not enough to make it past them.
"Mother no! Someone please. Someone please help her!" He could barely hear himself amongst all his mother's desperate screams or the merciless chanting of the spectators.
His eyes watered as he stared up at his one confidant in this world, helpless to do anything while she died a slow and painful death. Suddenly filled with rage the young man's eyes seeked another's in the crowd. Finally his gaze settled on the cold, empty ones of The King and he sent him a glare he wished could kill the man on the spot. The chanting finally broke through in his mind and he could focus on the one word being repeated over and over again. Demon. His eyes still locked on The Kings he mouthed the one word along with the crowd. Demon.