Monday, May 14, 2012
Hi folks, this is Bree again, with some major werewolf-y (and Senara-related) news. As you probably recall, we'd been trying to track down the werewolf who bit Gia. So far, we'd had no luck besides a blurry photo Josefina managed to snap. We didn't know who the werewolf was, or where he or she lives while in human form.
Today - not for the first time - I was looking on the internet for pictures of werewolves, trying to find a snapshot or even a somewhat realistic drawing that matched ours. Also not for the first time, I was having no luck. Occasionally one would catch my eye as a possibility, but nothing was panning out. After getting excited over nothing for a third or fourth time, I sighed and sat back in my chair.
This change of angle suddenly called to my attention the fact that Senara, who is sharing my room, was watching me instead reading the book she was pretending to be absorbed in. Before I had a chance to ask whether I had food on my face or my shirt inside out or something, Senara noticed me noticing her, and got to the point.
"Your family shouldn't hunt this beast, Bree," Senara said quietly. "This creature is simply too dangerous."
I appreciated her concern. Really I did. And it's not like we don't know we could be blundering into trouble. The problem is... if not us, then who is going to do it? As far as we know, we're the only ones around here who can deal with things like this. Well, technically the fairies could too, but they don't care much about matters that primarily affect humans, so they wouldn't intervene on their own, and we can't become indebted to them every time something goes wrong. For all practical purposes, it's us or no one - and no one isn't an option when there's a bitey werewolf on the loose.
"I know," I replied. "We realize it's dangerous. But we can't just stand by and do nothing."
Senara shook her head. "You have no idea what you are dealing with. This is not a natural creature, but one with more power than you imagine."
"We realize it's a werewolf, Senara," I reminded her, wondering how she had managed to miss that. The 'big dog' story didn't hold up past the first time Gia turned into a wolf after being bitten.
Senara nodded that she was aware. And I suddenly wondered what could be more dangerous than a rogue werewolf.
"You don't need to worry about this, Bree," Senara said. Before I could argue, she went on, "The creature will not attack again."
At this point, I was very interested in what our fairy 'exchange student' knew about this, and how. I closed the laptop lid, turned my chair around, and looked her straight in the eye. "Senara, what is going on? What is your involvement with this, anyway?"
Senara looked down, breaking eye contact, and said, "It's my fault that Gia got attacked. I... was reluctant in my duties. It will not happen again."
"What duties?" I asked, even more confused now. "What exactly do you mean? You had never even met Gia when she was bitten. How could you blame yourself for not protecting someone you didn't know existed? I think you'd better start from the beginning."
She sighed... and she did. The truth was something I'd never expected in a million years.
"This werewolf was an ordinary werewolf once... nearly four hundred years ago," Senara said. "He was among the first English colonists who came to this island; his name was John Carrow. He disappeared into the forest - killed, his comrades said, but actually bitten and turned into a supernatural creature. His existence was much harder than Gia's. He didn't have a family like yours to support him. But he might have had an ordinary life by werewolf standards, had he not accidentally run right into the middle of a war between two fairy courts."
Senara didn't have to explain - because I knew from Inna already - that the sort of war she was describing happens all the time among the fair folk, unbeknownst to humans. The fairy world is very fragmented into courts and clans, and they often fight about things outsiders wouldn't even understand. I nodded that I got what she was saying.
Senara continued, "One of the courts decided to put the werewolf to good use. Their enchanters augmented his powers with fairy charms, making him all but indestructible, and in exchange he was bound to fight for them in their war..."
I was starting to catch on. "But wars eventually end," I guessed. "And then they were left with an indestructible werewolf and no idea what to do with him?"
She smiled that I had gotten it, and replied, "Exactly. At first, they just let him run wild. The enchantment they had put on him required a death - a fairy sacrificed, blood spilled. With time, this blood enchantment would wear off. If they simply ignored him long enough, he would revert to his original werewolf form."
"How did he feel about it?" I asked.
"Indeed, Bree. Carrow didn't accept that at all. He felt entitled to the new powers he had fought in their war to earn. He started killing, no longer fighting a war but randomly, trying to attract as much attention as possible so he couldn't be ignored. Most of his victims were human, simply because they were easier to find. One night, though, he came upon a solitary group of fae. He ambushed them and spilled their blood, and suddenly, his waning powers were restored to full strength again. Now he knew what to do to keep what he didn't want to lose."
She went on, "I'm sure you're still wondering what this has to do with Gia - or with me. But I will come to that part of the tale soon. When some of their own were killed, the fair folk knew they needed to find some way of containing the beast. They debated ways to destroy him, but no one had any ideas for how that could be accomplished. Instead, they negotiated an agreement with him. A peace treaty, if you will."
With my heart sinking, because I knew I wasn't going to like the answer, I asked, "What did he want?"
Senara smiled again, but this time she looked sad. "I'm sure it won't come as a surprise. He wanted fairies to murder, so he could retain his powers. What he didn't know, though, and what the court who augmented him did, was that he didn't have to kill fairies on a regular basis for his powers to remain fully active. He only had to kill one fairy every seven years. The agreement was that he would be given one at every seven year interval, as a sacrifice. In exchange, he would leave the other fairies alone, and not attract the attention of the humans."
It was all starting to make sense. What Senara is hiding. Why she thinks she knows when she's going to die. And why she blames herself for Carrow's attack on Gia.
"Are you the next sacrifice?" I asked.
Senara nodded her head.
I had known she was going to say yes. I mean, I had already figured it out. But somehow, seeing her nod was still like a punch in the gut.
"Someone is chosen every seven years," Senara said. "Someone young - strong, with powerful blood - works the best, so that is what they provide for him. As time has passed, the ritual has evolved to the point the fair folk choose someone they'd like to be rid of anyway. I caused trouble for them by wanting to learn about humans. They considered that disloyal. So they chose me, and that is the truth of the 'exchange student' story."
"That's terrible!" I said, sputtering and struggling to put together a sentence, upset as I was. "That's...! And what about Gia...?"
Senara looked ashamed. "I... did not accept my role at first. I did not want to die. So I ran away. Carrow heard that his sacrifice had escaped, so he sent a warning. Biting a human. Gia was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It happened because I'm a coward, Bree. I'm sorry."
I shook my head, my brain racing a mile a minute. "It's not your fault," I said. My voice sounded weird, even in my own ears. "Of course you didn't want to die. Who would? But what I don't understand is... why send you to us? The fair folk have to know that we aren't just going to stand back and let you die. So... why involve us at all? Why not just quietly murder you so we'd never know? I don't mean to sound callous, but - if they wanted to sacrifice you, why would they send you to people who would do everything possible to prevent that from happening?"
"Because with you, they could make a binding contract," Senara said. "They didn't believe me that I wouldn't try to run away again. I won't - not after what happened to poor Gia because of me - but they aren't going to risk it again. So they bound me to you. And the 'exchange' part is, they took a hostage, just to be extra sure. If I find some way to escape again, someone else will die in my place. Someone... someone I care very much about protecting. I can't run away from your home. It's as if there's an invisible wall that will keep me in. On Midsummer's Eve, the fair folk will gather. I'll be dressed in a white robe. And... everyone will watch as they give me as a sacrifice to the beast."
I shook my head. "There's one problem with that theory. They gave you to us. And we're going to find some way to protect you. I promise. You aren't going to die."
"Thank you, Bree," Senara replied... but I could tell she didn't actually believe me. She didn't think we'd be able to save her.
I think differently, though. We've prevailed against seemingly impossible odds before. We have a little over a month to figure something out. And I'm confident that - scary indestructible werewolf creature or no scary indestructible werewolf creature - we'll find a way to save Senara.