Genre: fantasy/historical fantasy
Date of Publication:
ISBN: ebook 978-0-9847731-0-
ISBN: Paperback 978-0-9847731-8-3
Number of pages: 392
Word Count: 116049
Cover Artist: Elliot Kreloff
"LIBAHUNT!" Alexei breaks the terms of the wolf-magic he inherited from his grandfather and loses the ability to control the shapeshifting. His grandfather's magical wolf-pelt was meant to protect their rural village in 1880s Estonia by fighting the terrible storms in the sky but instead, it drives Alexei to kill, slaughtering his neighbors, his friends —even his family.
Heartbroken, Alexei flees his home in search of an enchanter to free him from this hideous curse. Wandering through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Bohemia, he encounters the Master of Wolves, who forces Alexei to terrorize and murder the local farmers, and the infamous Frau Bertha who traps all those who anger her by turning them into wolves. Will Alexei find a sorcerer who can free him?
It was late June. His lonely walks had become much less frequent. Midsummer approached. The celebrations of the solstice were no longer the serious invocations of fertility that they had been but were simply an excuse for the children—and adults!—to stay up late, jump through the bonfire, drink heavily. Boys began courtships and girls would woo the boys they admired, just as Alexei and Grete had flirted with each other across the bonfire. Everyone in the village sang together around the bonfire late into the night. At last, only embers remained and dawn was not far off. Grete and Alexei collected their children, carrying the youngest, and stumbled home.
As soon as they collapsed into their bed, they found ourselves in each other’s arms. Like youngsters on the first Midsummer after their wedding. Alexei’s lips found Grete’s throat and shoulders. Her hands explored his buttocks and pulled him in, closer and tighter to her. Alexei arched his back, so as to delve more deeply into her,
his tongue still caressing her throat and shoulders. Her groin leapt up to meet his.
Then the nightmare began.
Alexei remembered that night but could not bring himself to put it into words. He remembered feeling the pins and needles of the wolf fur burst from his back. He recalled how the great tail grew behind him and swirled around Grete’s thighs, curling towards her waist. He saw his arms and hands become forelegs and paws, nails and claws extended. His leg muscles grew taut, pressing his furry stomach down onto his wife and forcing himself into her as she fought against him. He remembered how, even as he attempted to pull his face away, his nose narrowed and grew long. He struggled to not recall how the fangs materialized, already buried deep in Grete’s throat and shoulder, even as his tongue lapped up the blood in savage excitement.
The noises were confused. Snarls. Cries. She wept in pain and terror. He growled savage commands at her. Sheets ripped. She kicked, her legs flailing. One carved wooden bed leg gave way during the struggle and the heavy bed collapsed with a thud. She tried to scream but could only gargle on the blood that filled her torn throat.
The baby, across the room, woke and cried for an instant before she was silenced forever. Blood spewed everywhere. Werewolfhood swept over Alexei, and he drowned in it…
When he finally woke, Alexei was sitting naked on the doorstep of their home, covered in blood. He was rocking back and forth, back and forth, cradling the mangled body of their middle son on his lap. The corpse of the eldest was splayed out on the floor behind him. The blueberries, buried deep in the earth about his door, burned his buttocks but could not dislodge him. He heard wailing somewhere, and it was some time before he realized that the howls emanated from his own throat and that the salt he tasted came now from the tears that coursed down his face, rather than from the blood of others that had coursed down his throat.
His family was destroyed. His life was over. It would only be a matter of time, perhaps moments, before someone came to the door and discovered the truth. There would be no way now to deny that he was the great werewolf, and his neighbors would all then unite to slay him.
“Without the cunning woman or someone else that knows the old ways, would they be able to slay me in a manner that will also kill the werewolf?” he mused.
As he sat there rocking, rocking, he finally lifted his eyes towards the clear summer morning. How long would he be forced to wait for someone to come discover him?
“Alexei.” His grandmother spoke as clearly and distinctly as he had ever heard her, though he could not see her. “You must go. Leave this place. The townsfolk will not know how to destroy the werewolf and will only bring further destruction upon themselves. You must find your deliverance elsewhere.”
His grandfather’s voice joined hers. “Go now, Alexei. Go, and take the wolf skin with you. It is too dangerous to let it fall into someone else’s unsuspecting hands. Take it with you and flee.”“Where?” he pleaded in the midst of his sobbing. “Where can I go now?”
About the Author:
With degrees in medieval history and theology from Yale and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Academy, Stephen Morris brings his extensive knowledge and meticulous research in medieval magical practices to his historical and contemporary fantasy novels. In each of his novels, the magical and fantastic elements are all drawn from authentic occult beliefs and practices from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance or from local legends and folklore.
“I first became interested in the occult and magic when I was very VERY young and saw The Wizard of Oz on television for the first and second times. The first time, my mom says I was terrified of the Wicked Witch’s appearance in Munchkin Land amidst smoke and flames and ran straight to bed! (I must have been 5 years old or so.) The next year I began watching the movie again and made myself stick with it past the appearance of the Witch and after that — I was hooked!
“The Wicked Witch of the West became my favorite character because not only is she the most interesting but she is the only one who wields any real power in the movie. She became my idol for years and years! (When a major storm recently struck Manhattan, I made a comment on FB about the wind picking up our house and depositing it atop someone wearing peppermint stripped stockings and glittering red shoes and my cousin responded: ‘You’ve been chasing those shoes for YEARS!’ LoL!)”
A former priest, he served as the Eastern Orthodox chaplain at Columbia University. His previous academic writing has dealt primarily with Late Antiquity and Byzantine church life. As a Project Leader with Inter-Disciplinary.net, he also organizes annual conferences on aspects of the supernatural, monsters, evil and wickedness, fairy tales and folk tales, and related subjects.
Stephen, a Seattle native, is now a long-time New York resident and currently lives in Manhattan with his partner, Elliot.
Author Central: https://www.amazon.