The King of the Werewolves

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werewolf

“Have I told you how the King of the Werewolves was made?”

“In the town of Klagenfort there was once a lazy cobbler who was known throughout all the empire as a cunning, no-good rascal. He was brilliant with his hands and could make almost anything. But he rose late and he was always looking for tricks and devices so that he could stop working as soon as the day had begun.

“He made for the emperor a pair of shoes.”

“The emperor asked for the shoes to be stitched with gold and silver thread, and he paid very handsomely for them. When they arrived, they were very beautiful and the emperor lavished the cobbler with gifts. But the cobbler had stitched the shoes with copper and tin, which he had painted to look precious. As the shoes aged, and the paint flaked, they turned to grey and to green.”

“The emperor sent his messengers to every corner of the empire, and finally they found the cobbler, living far away, under a new name.”

“Then the vengeance of the emperor was terrible. He told the captain of his guard to whip the cobbler, and to flay his skin. Soon, the streets ran red with blood. As the cobbler lay dying, the captain took the knife from his belt, and cut a strip from the cobbler’s back, and he sewed himself a belt from the cobbler’s skin, so that all would see and remember and no tradesman would ever cheat the emperor again.”

“Before he died, the cobbler spoke his last words. He swore that for his terrible punishment, by the gods or by the Devil himself, he too would be avenged.”

“For his loyalty, the Emperor rewarded the Captain. He let the Captain marry his only daughter. Then the people rejoiced, for she was beautiful, and she was the pride of her people. And for a week or two no-one thought of the cobbler’s curse. But on the first night after the full moon, when the servants entered her chamber, they found her body dripping with blood. In the night, a wolf had come and eaten her neck. And then the servants were confused, for the door to the palace was locked, the walls were high, and they could not understand how the animal had come in. And nowhere in the palace was there any trace of the Captain.”

“This was the first adventure of the King of the Werewolves, who lived afterwards with the other animals, for he was ashamed of what he had done.”

 

“So many people, when they have done something wrong, will keep to themselves and admit nothing, blaming others for their own crimes. So it was with the King of the Werewolves, he retreated deep into the forest, and he waited for a chance to prey on the people, any people, who he blamed for casting him out. He lived on mice and rats and other small animals and he was always hungry, and he was still ashamed.”

“One day, there came into a forest, a trader. He made his business by exchanging iron nails, spices, things made in the towns, for the food grown by the peasants. But he was a thief, and he would charge just as much as the people could bear, and then more, for they needed him more than he needed them.”

“As the merchant rode his horse among the trees, the King of the Werewolves could smell his coming. He could smell the fine meats that the merchant had packed for his journey. He could smell the rich odours of the city, of a man whose hands were not calloused, and whose arms and legs were pale. And, as the King of the Werewolves waited, his throat glistened with the meal that would be his.”

“As the merchant rode through the woods, the King of the Werewolves began to follow him. And the trees, which so often sang with the sounds of the birds, grew silent, as all of nature watched to see the man’s fate.”

“On he rode, conscious of nothing but the sun of the noon day. On and on, the King of the Werewolves followed him, deeper into the dark woods.”

“Finally, when the trader came to a well, and dismounted, the King of the Werewolves struck. He jumped on the man, dragging him to the ground. He did not even spare the man’s bones, but broke them, to suck the marrow clean.”

“This was the second adventure of the King of the Werewolves.”

 

“Over time, the King of the Werewolves buried himself deeper in the woods, among the trees that never came looking for him, among the wild things that left him alone. For much of the month, he would sleep, but on the night of the full moon he would rise, and then he would look for the tame animals that lived in the fields and in the barns and were his favourite food. The King of the Werewolves was no longer sad, for he barely remembered that he had once been a mortal man.”

“So it went on, for many long years. Until the people who lived in the district became angry, and complained that if nobody stopped him, they would starve.”

“Finally, the village blacksmith brought them altogether, and armed the folk with the swords from his forge, and told them to be strong. On hearing his words, finally, the people went on, to kill the beast that was in their midst.”

“But years of hunting had made the King of the Werewolves cunning. He could hunt in the night, he could hunt in the day, and he could smell fear.”

“When the men of the village were out looking for him, he slunk silently into the homes which they had forsaken. And when the men returned to their homes, there was not a woman or a child left standing. All had been killed, and the King of the Werewolves’ belched as his body filled with their flesh.”

“This was the third adventure of the King of the Werewolves.”

 

“So why did they call him the King of the Werewolves?”

“He had special powers. At night-time, when a mood cunning came over him, he would still take the form sometimes of a human being. He could run on the ground for a hundred miles, fast as lightning, and not feel tired for a second. And his claws were so sharp that they could cut anything, flesh, fur or bone.”

“You say he was the King of the Werewolves. Did he have subjects?”

“All the animals of the forest, all the wild animals, were his to command. The rats were his messengers; the foxes would bring him food. And the longer he lived in the forest, the further afield his name was known. Other wolves came to follow, some who had been human once like he had, others who lived as men but only changed into wolves on the very night of the full moon. They followed him in their thousands.”

 

“In the city, there was a new Emperor. Like all the educated folk, he had heard the stories of the King of the Werewolves. Unlike his predecessor, the old Emperor, who had died, he knew nothing of where the King of the Werewolves had come from. Every day his messengers brought fresh stories of the foul deeds of the werewolves. People had been killed, their bodies eaten, even children were not safe.”

“So he asked his advisors what should be done.”

“One suggested that they could surround the city with walls so tall that no evil could sneak in. Another suggested that they could build great stone towers, reaching right up to the sky, so that they could see evil before it was upon them. A third wise man said simply this, ‘You cannot defeat the King of the Werewolves, for his evil was made by Man. The best you can do is to call on your people to laugh and play and forget his name. And hope that with the ordinary passage of time his evil abates and people forget to speak his name.”

“‘I will not wait”, the Emperor said.

“To defend the city against the King of the Werewolves, the Emperor ordered his alchemists to make a giant figure out of earth. For three days and three nights, his labourers worked at the task. They stood in the grounds at the very heart of the city. They traced a shape with their sticks, like an unborn child with its hand near its mouth. They cut and dug, deep into the soil. And then the alchemists came and cast spells. The earth formed into shape and took life.”

“In this way, the Golem was born.”

 

“When the King of the Werewolves heard of the city-dweller’s plans, he took off his magic belt, and dressed himself in human clothes. He wore gloves and boots, and a fine black cape and a black hat upon his head.”

“He walked into the city, and no-one knew the threat which was upon them.”

“He sniffed the food that the guards ate, he tasted the beer that the soldiers drank, and he looked upon the hut where the Golem lived.”

“After 30 days and nights, the King of the Werewolves returned, which a mighty host of animals. He was determined to destroy the town. His forces were so many that they surrounded the city on ever side.”

“The people threw spears at the foxes and the wild dogs, they fired at his wolves with arrows dipped in fire, but the arrows could not piece their skin.”

“After many hours of fighting, the people began to grow weary, and the Emperor came to the hut where the Golem said. ‘You are our champion’, the Emperor told him, if you cannot defeat the Werewolf, we are doomed.’”

“And so the messengers of the people and the messengers of the Werewolves spoke, and finally it was agreed. The King of the Werewolves would fight the Golem. If the King triumphed, the City would be razed to the ground, and all the people would be scattered. But if the Golem triumphed, there would be no more war, the werewolves would retreat, and they swore they would never come again.”

“There was a stadium in the City, and the men and the wolves sat there as they watched the battle that would determine everything.”

“The Werewolf howled, and all his people howled, and the men cringed with fear. Powered by this dreadful sound, the Werewolf reached as if to tear his enemy limb from limb. But the Golem had all the cunning of the city-dweller in him, and he twisted and turned one way and the other and the Werewolf could not strike him.”

“Next, the Golem attempted to pound the King of the Werewolves with the rocks and stones that were his flesh and blood. But the Wolf was a magical being and the stones could not hurt him. Every blow the Golem sent down, bounced off his skin”

Then it the King of the Werewolves’ turn again. He flexed his terrible, long, until they shone in the terrible moonlight. With a great roar, he swung his hands, as if to cut the Golem’s head right off.”

“He swished, one way and another, and finally, the head was cut.”

“And then there was a terrible sound from the people, a sound of sorrow such as never you heard. For the sky was dark, and the wolves were waiting to eat”

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2 responses »

  1. “So many people, when they have done something wrong, will keep to themselves and admit nothing, blaming others for their own crimes. So it was with the King of the Werewolves”. Why didn’t he set up a website??

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