Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : K.B. Forrest
Word Count :6352
Publication Date :2013-05-30
Series : #
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 0000654
Dark forest full of secrets call to her ancient blood. Can lovely Usha resist their seductive allure?
Professor Usha Baron embarks on sabbatical with hope, even after almost losing her tenure battle. Returning to her ancestral village deep in Germany’s Black Forest, she will finally continue the work her disgraced father had begun. He’d been laughed out of academia because of his firm belief in the existence of werewolves. Usha knew her father well. He was a peerless scientist, not the foolish madman his colleagues claimed he was. His work proved that there was a scientific explanation for this rare disorder, which he claimed ran even in his family line. Usha is determined to find rational answers, but dark castles and deep forests trigger a call in her ancient blood that cannot be explained by reason. Will she survive the encounter with a being she never knew lived within her?
Usha pushed up her heavy glasses and made another entry into the ledger. Her dull pencil made thick lines as she took notes—level number five, sector eight. Anthropology—the study of man. She sighed.
She knew about man, but only as far as her academic study took her. Days of teaching, bad teacher reviews and faculty meetings were the stuff of her boring life, but this was her true love. It was research that took her to far off places, and in this case, to a castle deep in Germany’s Black Forest. It was a place still almost uninhabited, despite the crowded German cities. People avoided the awful dark place with its dangerous secrets and few were successful in attempting to settle in the inhospitable area.
It was solitary work, but a true respite from life as a university professor. It was only day seven of her long-awaited first sabbatical. She’d have a glorious year to delve into the secrets she had dedicated her life to, much to the amusement of her colleagues, who thought her to be a quack. They were satisfied dealing with safe, worn out old topics. Anything as long as no eyebrows were raised. The damn cowards!
She had been lucky enough to somehow get tenure. Perhaps it wasn’t just luck, for her father had been a professor of great renown in that backwater, cow-town state university. He still had many backers, even after his sudden death. This research would vindicate her and her father both. She had planned carefully, and to add to her delight, she’d been offered a place to stay with a distant relative who still owned a castle in the midst of the area she wanted to study. It was a dream come true. Every day she set off to the castle, where she could work in the tomb-like quiet, away from the noisy students, prying colleagues, the damn Internet and email.
She believed that werewolves had a place not only in the rich German folklore, but also in reality. There were entirely too many accounts, all very similar, to dismiss it as fantasy. Her research had convinced her that werewolves had a perfectly logical explanation. Usha was certainly pragmatic and considered herself a scientist grounded in the strictest of scientific method. Just because something was part of folklore, did not automatically make it false. There was a scientific explanation for everything—of this, she was certain.
Werewolves weren’t supernatural, rather, they were very natural. The variation in the human gene pool was the real source of this so-called myth. The principle was quite simple. First of all, it was well known by this time, that some individuals had faulty gene strings. Actually, it was quite common. All it took was a broken strand of chromosomes that naturally sought for segments of DNA to fill the gaps. It was under these conditions that some sort of mysterious transformation in the replication of genes actually coded for the latent ailment.
It was hard to prove, especially without the corroboration of researchers from the Center for DNA Research, a government center, which was part of her university. Usha had given several talks there, and at first had gotten some interesting feedback, only to find that those hypocrites were laughing at her theories behind her back. Although they had to admit that her theories were at least highly plausible, just the word werewolf was enough to cause them to snigger.
Basically, she contended that the myth behind the bite of a werewolf was the key to the gene coding. A string of aggressive DNA introduced into a person who had a certain anomaly in their genes, could cause the person with the broken gene set to incorporate the alien DNA. The fact that a wolf had been the creature to contribute the DNA was not so astonishing. Wolves were the first animals to be domesticated, but in that process, many a human had been bitten. The strain of human with the receptive DNA had been limited indeed, but almost surely, they were ancestors of the people who now lived in the area we call the Black Forest. It was most likely here that the affliction first showed up, but a few outcasts may have spread their genes to other areas. This was, however, the site of its genesis.
Werewolves remained a living myth in the area. People still claimed that some poor souls living on the periphery of society were in fact, werewolves. Quite often cattle and sheep were found mangled, and not too infrequently, people disappeared, although the authorities attributed that to runaways and the like. Why and how did a ninety-nine year old run away? Well, maybe she wandered off and died in the woods. Surely, the real wolves would have eaten her body and scattered the bones. It was always easier to shrug off other possibilities. This was a normal human reaction to the unexplained or unusual, but only visionaries dared look into other possibilities.
People laughed at the descriptions Herodotus, the fifth century Greek historian, gave of the bizarre Scythian royal burials. He wrote that upon the death of a Scythian king, they would kill the king’s personal entourage, along with their horses and then set them up in a sort of diorama. All the warriors would be mounted on horseback, skewered through the dead horses’ bodies so that they appeared to be walking along after the king, who was similarly positioned. This was dismissed as utter nonsense until the day that such burial mounds were discovered, exactly as he had described them. Strange things were not necessarily impossible things.
In the past, people living near the Black Forest feared the roaming packs of wolves, but it was the werewolf, der Werwolf, that people really dreaded. This was a creature too close to being human, for it was human. A human with a rare, but very human disorder. Most of the other myths had a grain of truth to them, although some were Hollywood-produced. Wolfbane, for example, was irritating to any wolf or dog because of its smell, almost undetectable to humans. It wouldn’t really stop a werewolf.
The silver bullet thing was nonsense, but the full moon as catalyst for the change might be tied to the monthly female cycle. Now dog bitches have two receptive cycles per year, while wolves have only one. The combination of the wolf and human genes did not cause the human with the alien wolf genes to become less receptive, rather, on a monthly cycle tied to the moon, the female would ovulate in the human fashion. This would touch off the chemistry necessary for her change into the form of a werewolf.
Any human male affected by the gene combination, upon reaching puberty, would be susceptible to the change in preparation for the mating ritual, if his keen senses smelled the ovulating female. These traits were all subject to the normal rules of genetics where some traits were dominant and some recessive. In this case, the human ties with the moon were the dominant trait. The association of the wolf with the full moon was only an accidental coincidence. These remain unproven hypotheses, but tenable in any case.
Thus, the bite of a werewolf was not only an interesting myth, but also a clue to solving the puzzle. If a susceptible person were bitten by a person carrying the alien DNA, they could indeed be infected. Even sex with such a person could introduce the genes, if skin were broken. She took notes on some of the bones, setting aside the ones that seemed most irregular, while she mulled these things over. There was nothing quite like the thrill of hands-on research.
Usha was collecting bones from ancient, still guarded graves of reputed werewolves. The castle graveyard was perfect as it housed the remains of many an alleged werewolf. Some of these dated from before the building of the castle by a famous werewolf, Arshak von Baron. If she could collect sufficient DNA samples, the project might be successful. Even if this project kept her from having a social life and made her lose the respect of her colleagues, it was fulfilling.
As a half-German whose father boasted of having a werewolf heritage, she had been looking for answers her entire life—especially after he had been found naked and dead aside a mangled beef cow in a neighbor’s pasture. The neighbor complained that he heard a commotion, the baying of a wolf and had aimed in desperation at the big dog or coyote attacking his herd. The mystery remained unsolved.
The castle was enormous and creepy in many ways, but the thrill of being in such a place of history made up for its dank cold. She had set up a minimum of tables, which held her many collection bottles. Part of the work would entail collecting folklore, so as soon as she was introduced to locals willing to talk, that part of her research could begin. Many of the old families had volunteered already, but some were leery of American researchers and careful about disclosing secrets, but they might be convinced about her sincerity when they found out that she, too, had ties to their world. Her senses seemed alive with the buzz of her research.
She set down the ledger and picked up an open box holding bones out of sector nine. She suddenly felt uneasy, as if she could sense a presence. She strained to hear and the hollow sound of steps made her freeze. The damn castle was cold enough, but she hadn’t expected Holbeker, her host, to show up yet. Her sudden fear felt ridiculous, yet she couldn’t shake the feeling of foreboding.
“H-hello? Who’s there?” Her voice was tremulous. No—she was sure there were two sets of footsteps now coming toward her. She felt her legs turn rubbery and an irrational terror washed over her. It was preternaturally quiet, save for the hollow sound of feet approaching.
There was silence and then two big men entered the vaulted room. Usha sighed. Probably wandering tourists—but why are they in costume?
“Can I help you? This is private property,” she said in English, then in German.
They looked at each other and shook their heads in confusion. They wore wolf skins draped over their rough, medieval-looking garments. The weapons they carried were awesome replicas as well. Are they staging some sort of re-enactment? Had they asked permission? If so, why wasn’t I informed? What a waste of time!
Usha repeated her question and finally the stockier of the two, a black-haired fellow answered. She fell back against the wall when she heard his speech—authentic Old High German! She knew it well because she was one of the few in the world who knew it well enough to converse, however awkwardly, in that august lost tongue.
“We do not understand your strange tongue. Who are you, mistress? Why are you in our castle?” His sharp glance took her in and she felt his gaze traveling shamelessly over her body. His clothing was mostly leather as was that of his companion. He was handsome in a vicious sort of way. Usha felt her knees go weak under his gaze. Her jaws worked at mustering an answer, but shock caused her only to stare foolishly.
The other one, a strong-looking blond-haired man, tapped the speaker’s shoulder and sniffed the air. He spoke in whispers to his companion, his thick hair falling over his face as he nodded. She noticed that they had perfect replicas of the tattoos, which the old German tribes used to sport on all of their visible skin. They really do know their stuff!
He finally said, “Welcome. You must come from a far off land. You are a foreigner?”
Usha shook off her shock and answered in modern German, “Cut it out guys, I know you may be in the thick of some kind of fantasy reenactment, but I really don’t have the time. I admit that you are really good and you must have done some careful research on the period, but this is private property, and I am busy.” They were intriguing and good looking, too, but she didn’t have the time to play with them.
They again looked at each other, and began to converse easily in the ancient tongue. “It is a female creature. Where could she have come from? Is she a dangerous outsider or could she be part of the old pack? Why does she wear such odd clothing?”
Usha felt a chill run down her spine. Their speech was too easy to be contrived. It carried an accent that seemed authentic and their pronunciation was unlike the stuff they learned in the classroom—linguistic approximations of sounds no longer known. Besides this, the men seemed genuinely convinced of their roles, unlike actors, or worse yet, re-enactors.
She decided to play along with them. If they wanted to role-play, she was the queen of cosplay. She’d stun them. A nerd like her had no boyfriends, hell—no friends at all. She was a stodgy professor, but her only release was going to those anime conventions where she could dress up and act like somebody she wasn’t. Last year she’d gone as a vampire from the anime series Blood Lust. She could be a German frau, too. No, a German princess or duchess!