Alia felt a knife twist in her heart as her thoughts returned to that bitter, cruel moment. “I don’t love you anymore,” Svenson had said. “I’ve met someone else. We’re done.” He’d been firm and forceful. She knew him well enough to know she wouldn’t be able to change his mind. So, she had accepted the news with as much grace as she could and walked away, alone and into the night. Let him have his secret liaison with his new lover. Let him…
But she hurt. Badly.
And, truthfully, she wasn’t willing to let him go. At least, not without exacting retribution.
The moon hung high in the sky. A full moon. On Halloween. One of the most powerful combinations possible. She stood naked in the clearing, her breasts glistening in the moonlight, the steel knife glittering in her hand. Beside her in the cage, the wolf cub yipped in fear. She glanced at it, seeing only a flurry of moving shadows, then bent and opened the hatch. She reached inside and expertly grabbed the small creature by the scruff of his neck. Something he deserves, she thought before plunging the knife into the yelping wolf cub’s throat. The pup writhed spasmodically, then grew still. She touched her fingers to its wounded throat, painted three arcane symbols across her chest, then touched her fingertips to her tongue. Next, she began to dance, moving about the clearing in a liquid series of motions of swaying hips and gesturing arms. She began to chant:
Master of a thousand forms, and the dark seas that swell.
Come to me, oh, Dark One, and deliver my wish to fate,
Curse the faithless heart with blood of the wolf irate.”
Finally, she took the lock of hair, his hair, a gift he’d given her many weeks ago, and lifting it up, scattered it on the wind. The many golden follicles flittered away from her, riding the wind currents into the unknown reaches of the night.
A shadow formed at her feet. A growing, cloud of dark mist that writhed and undulated like a tortured, living thing. The mist grew upward in the shape of a large black pillar. It sprouted wings, a head, arms and jagged teeth. Piercing red eyes burst forth. “Mistress,” the thing of evil said, “I’ve come to offer service, but you must offer payment.”
Smiling, she bowed her head. “Anything you require, my Lord and Master.”
Svenson gently stroked his fingers across the smooth, soft skin of Mia’s face. She looked up at him, eyes sparkling and full of light, her blond hair faintly glittering beneath the stars. He bent down and kissed her; she melted into his embrace. He felt his passion grow; his arms enfolded her. Then…
A far off keening pierced the night air. He looked up, and Mia shrank into him, looking frightened. “What was that?” she asked.
“Nothing,” he said. “A wild dog, maybe.” Then, the pain started. The full moon burst from the clouds and a great spasm shook his body. He staggered backward, agony lancing through his bones. Mia took a step toward him, then stopped, a look of horror on her face.
It felt as if his very bones were expanding; as if his flesh and sinew were a great muscled hand and his skin a much too small glove bursting in its efforts to contain him. He dropped to his knees, clutching his chest. His fingernails thickened; his teeth grew long. Tufts of fur sprouted across his body, and the last pieces of his sanity frittered away.
Then, all was a nightmare of slashing claws and shredding flesh.
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