Beast Warrior: Viking Werewolf

Beast Warrior: Viking Werewolf

Eva Gordon

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Beast Warrior is an historical werewolf romance that takes place during the Viking Era of the Dark Ages. A time when only the strong survive. It is the second book in the Wolf Maiden Chronicles, which depicts alpha lycans and their human wolf maiden mates.

 
PUBLISHED BY: Vanilla Heart Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-935407-31-7
PUBLICATION DATE: 2009
WORD COUNT: 128300
SEXUAL CONTENT RATING: 3 3 3
EBOOK READER RATING:
CATEGORIES: Vampires / Werewolves, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, Shape-shifter, Action/Adventure, Historical
KEYWORDS: werewolf, Eva Gordon, Wolf Maiden Chronicles, contemporary, wolfman, Vanilla Heart Publishing
 

EBOOKS BY Vanilla Heart Publishing

EBOOKS BY Eva Gordon

 
EXCERPT
COPYRIGHT Eva Gordon/2009


Prologue
West Frankish Kingdom, Anno Domini 825

 

At the edge of the dark wood Chanteloup tore at the choice liver from the downed stag. It was his privilege as the Alpha of his pack to feast on the best part of the kill. He paused and sniffed the cold crisp air under the full moon’s bright beacon before swallowing the final chunk. The brush of leaves rustling in the soft wind beneath his paws made him tilt his head at the sound of soft wings. The ominous hoot of an owl high in the tree canopy was unsettling. It was a warning of a looming challenge. He growled at the disturbance. Satiated, he flopped down away from the kill allowing the rest of his wolf pack of lycans to take their turn devouring the feast of the hunt. A distant howl carried a desperate message from his castle. Despite the cacophony of growls and grunts of satisfaction he pricked his ears and strained to hear. Something was wrong with Elinor, his mate. He growled for silence and the pack immediately stopped feeding and froze.

He and his pack were lycan; men and women that shape shifted painlessly into magnificent bear sized wolves. His pack shifted with the full moon, while as an alpha wolf, Chanteloup was able to shift at any time, regardless of the lunar cycle. Like all alpha males his mate must be a human woman with the five-toed mark of the lycan wolf on her left hip. These women were called wolf maidens. Elinor was such a woman. He loved Elinor more than life itself and felt dread in the deepest part of his core for her well being. She was to give birth during the next moon, yet the call of the alpha female Isabelle, indicated that she was birthing now. It was too soon. Lycans were superior to humans in every way both in strength and their strong blood, which kept them free of most plagues that struck humans. Unlike lycan women, human women died so easily during childbirth. Elinor had already lost their first child early in her pregnancy and now it looked dire for this child. Please Feronia, Goddess of Lycans let her live. He should have prayed for their unborn child, but could only think of Elinor. He could not endure to live without hearing her beautiful voice as she sang while playing the lute, her sparkling emerald eyes that spoke of the coming green of the spring and her shapely body that reminded him what the goddess of love had to have looked like, and her kind heart when she offered extra food for the peasants of his nearby village. Elinor. Dear Elinor. He faced his pack and commanded them to follow him back up to the high peak where the gray stone and wood castle stood as part of the Pyrenees Mountains. He signaled for two wolves to drag the prey back and then sped away at a fast lope up the mountain. He had never run so fast, so hard. His black form was a silhouette as he drew closer to the torch light of the illuminated castle.

Two female alpha lycan guards bowed and opened the gate. Like the alpha male, alpha females could keep their human form no matter what the moon cycle. Unfortunately, the alpha females of his kind could not have children. Their sole purpose was to devote their lives to the Lupercal, their governing council. He ran past them and was met at the hall entrance by Isabelle, an alpha a few years younger than Elinor. He quickly shifted from his black wolf form with silver spiral markings to his human form, large framed with dark raven hair and equally dark eyes. He grabbed his blue robe from the rack and shot Isabelle a fierce look. “Where is she?”

Isabelle’s normally neatly pleated wheat gold hair was in disarray and her face was pale. “Up in the solar. In her bedchamber, milord. Her water broke and she has gone into labor.”

He gritted his teeth and his eyes flashed up to the stairs. “I must go to her!”

She grabbed his taut arm. “No, Messire. It is bad luck. Sibyl is with her now.”

He took a breath and let it out slowly. Sibyl was the alpha midwife and seer that had delivered him. She had never lost a woman or child during the birthing process. Still, he worried. Their first child had been lost too early to survive. Would she save this one? All that mattered was that Elinor live. He paced. “I can’t just stand here and wait. Last time she bled so much. I want to be with her in case she loses the child again.”

“Come upstairs and wait outside.” Isabelle gathered her silk red gown and walked up the steps with him. She had been Elinor’s personal lady attendant and best friend.

He caught the scent of Elinor’s sweat as he stood in front of the door. Worse, the moans of her labor made him want to rush to her side and help in any way he could. He raked his black hair back and turned to Isabelle. “Tell Sibyl I wish to speak to her. That is, if she can leave Elinor for a brief moment.”

“Yes, Messire.” Isabelle squeezed through the door and shut it tight.

There was a babble of voices, Sibyl’s, her apprentice and Isabelle. Her maids should have been here, but because of the moon they were at this moment down on the grounds in their wolf forms.

The old gray haired woman stepped out and growled before speaking. “T’is bad luck for a man to be close to the birthing chamber.” Sibyl was on the Lupercal council and her status gave her a haughty attitude.

“Will Elinor live?”

She gave him a shrewd look as if he had just delivered the worst insult imaginable. She stiffened and pointed a gnarled finger at him. “I delivered you and let me tell you, your size nearly tore your human mother apart. She survived and went on to deliver your two sisters without a problem.”

He twisted a smile. “I trust you will pull Elinor through.”

She returned a crooked smile. “Elinor is doing well. The babe is in the proper position and is small. There will be no tearing.”

He felt a flicker of guilt at not thinking about his baby. He forced himself to ask. “And the child?”

Her brow grew troubled. “The child, a female is small because she is too early. Once I deliver the babe her life will be under the blessings of Diana and Feronia.” She lowered her voice to a soft whisper. “A babe so small will only suffer before death. If you wish milord I can make sure she dies quickly and painlessly.”

A daughter? But now Sibyl was asking him if he would allow the death of a runt too small and weak to live beyond days if not hours. His heart broke at the thought. He recalled how Elinor guided his hand over her belly to feel the kicks. Strong kicks. Just this morning he had spied on Elinor as she embroidered and sang to the baby. Songs of joy. The life they had created with love. He suddenly felt protective for the tiny girl child that had seemed so vigorous in the womb. If she was an alpha female she would be strong enough to survive. “No. You have never lost a child and you will not lose ours!” His voice a commanding growl. He felt his shift take hold. He focused to remain human.
She bowed. “I will use the powers of the old ways, milord.”

He shook his head in a brusque nod. “So be it.” Sibyl, a Gaul had been known not only for her midwifery skills but also for her sorcery and sight.

Elinor’s scream sent the midwife back to her side.

His despair rose and tears streamed down his face. He had never felt so helpless. Not even in the heat of battle. His kind, because of their superior strength, had always served as mercenary warriors to the king who paid with the most gold, silver and land. His own father helped Charlemagne win a kingdom. His father liked the idea of bringing the arts and knowledge to the continent; with it came the Holy Church, bringing the destruction of the old ways and pagans. King Charlemagne and now his sons never suspected that the powerful knights that helped in their battles were members of the secret Lupercal society of werewolves that practiced the old ways and worshipped the goddess Feronia. The peasants that worked his land practiced the old ways as well but not in the open. Unlike other villages his peasants were offered his full protection. The only humans that knew of them were wolf maidens that married alpha lycans and a secret order of men called the Lupercii that served the lycans since the founding of Rome.

Elinor was of a royal household of Aquitaine and none of her relatives knew that she was in fact married to a pagan werewolf. He had courted her and with cunning and fortitude convinced her devoutly Christian father to accept his betrothal. Fortunately Elinor though still a Christian accepted his old ways. Her only wish was that the child be baptized and, though it was not their fashion, he promised her the child would receive the proper baptism. In fact he would make it a grand affair to alleviate suspicions from other neighboring lords that his large territory was indeed a legitimate Christian hold. Many of the Lupercii even became monks to better serve the needs of the Lupercal. He smiled. T'would be an honor for a daughter to someday serve in the Lupercal.

“Push, Elinor.” Sibyl’s husky voice carried over poor Elinor’s screams. The crackling flame from the hearth matched the intensity of the shrieks.

He placed his hand on the door. “I’m with you, my love.” He caught a strong whiff of her blood mixed with wood smoke and the potent incense that Sibyl was burning. He heard Elinor sigh. But no shrieking baby. He pounded the door. “Tell me woman what is going on!” All he heard was rustling and Sibyl chanting. Just when he was about to rush in he heard the single piercing scream of an infant. He sighed in relief, his heart gladdened. As if providing chorus to the sudden shriek of life, his pack howled outside the castle.

Elinor’s voice brought him great comfort. “She’s beautiful.”

Isabelle walked out and quickly closed the door behind her. “Milord, she is as light as a bird but she is strong. They are bathing her.”

The continuous sound of the infant bawling pleased him. She was a fighter. “How is Elinor?”

She smiled. “She is well. The bleeding is normal. I will bathe Elinor after she gives the babe her first milk.”

Sibyl opened the door holding the now sleeping infant swaddled in white linen strips. “Come in Messire and meet your daughter.”

His eyes fell on the tiny child, no bigger than a small loaf of bread with a thatch of raven black hair, his hair, on her head. In a pack of wolves such a runt would have the lowest status, but in his household it would not be the case.

Sibyl interrupted his trance. “Hold her and take her to Elinor.”

His hands were rough and scarred from battle and he was almost afraid of holding such a tiny creature that reminded him more of a fae than a human. He took her. Ah, she was but air. He took in her sweet newborn scent.

“Bring her my love,” said Elinor’s melodic voice.

He walked with great care so as not to drop his precious treasure. He sat on a high chair next to Elinor’s bedside. She reached for her baby. He kissed the child on the forehead and handed her to Elinor’s waiting arms. Once the baby was secured he leaned over and kissed Elinor on her forehead. He then gently dabbed at the beads of perspiration.

“I wish to name her Emelisse after my grandmother.”

He nodded not taking his eyes off the living doll. The tiny miracle, “T’is a good choice, my love.”

Sibyl’s shadow in the candle lit room did not bode well. “The child is a wolf maiden and will need to drink the milk of a lycan in order to survive.”

Elinor’s eyes brightened. “She is human?”

Chanteloup sensed her relief. Though accepting of their kind he knew she wanted a human child. He had hoped the child was a lycan, but no matter. He would see to it that a fine alpha would someday be her mate. “She will be just like you, my love.”

Elinor continence changed from joy to trepidation. Her eyes darkened at Sibyl “Why lycan milk? I know I have plenty.”

“I must tell you the truth. A human child being born this early means that she may not survive for long. To insure she makes it she will need lycan milk to provide the extra strength until her tiny organs develop properly.” Sibyl placed a reassuring hand on Elinor’s shoulder. “You may give her the first milk and then I will ask Jeanette to be her wet nurse.”

The she-lycan was weaning her last child and had plenty of milk. Lycan children were human until their first shift during adolescence.
Elinor shook her head. “No. I will not allow my daughter to suckle from the teat of a wolf.”

Sibyl shot her a fierce look. “Look at her. Outside this castle such a small human child would die by morning. The richness of our milk will give her a chance.”

Elinor’s face grew pale. She gazed at the infant. Like most newborns she was inactive. “But she sleeps well.”

“Too well, Elinor. She must have a lycan wet nurse.”

Chanteloup moved a lose piece of damp brown hair from Elinor’s brow. “Sibyl is right. It’s her only chance.”

Tears welled in her eyes. “Very well then.”

Sibyl nodded and pointed a chin toward a white basin. “I will read the after birth and let you both know what I see in her future.”
Elinor flashed him a worried look. “No, not witchcraft.”

He held her hand in his. “It is merely our old ways; there is no harm in seeing what her future might bring. It will be up to us to guide her.” Elinor had never been so concerned with their beliefs until now.

She made the sign of the cross and held the babe in a tight hold. She nodded her head in acquiescence. She smiled at Sibyl. “I thank you for your help and, yes, even your magic in keeping Emelisse alive.” She turned to Chanteloup. “I will not stop you from hearing about her future but for me I do not care to know. I trust our father in heaven will watch over her.”

“As you wish my lady.”

Chanteloup stepped out to a garden near a circle of small standing stones. Sibyl stood in the center and appeared taller than normal. She had been out there after the late night’s birth and now the sun was just starting to peak on the horizon. Soon his lycans would return to their human form. The midwife laid out the afterbirth on top of a flat stone. It too had been small compared to the placentas of the lycans. She waved a smoking stick over the afterbirth and looked at the smoke as it spiraled up. She acted like he was not there. He stepped closer. “Well, what do you see? You need not lie, will she live past this day?”

She smoothed down the brown cloak that blew in the gentle early autumn wind. “The fates point to greatness in her birth. Yet because she a human and one with a delicate heart it is up to you to see to it that she, as your only child, is protected from harm.”

He frowned in disbelief. “Only child? Elinor and I shall have others. Someday I will have an alpha son to inherit my pack and my lands.”
He swallowed a lump of despair. And at that, a child with a frail heart. Would she live to see her first year? “Does Elinor know?”
“Nay. To spare Elinor’s feelings I did not tell her that she could no longer carry a child.”

He gripped his temples. “But? This birth was so easy for her; surely the next one will be so?”

“She can no longer make a womb. Emelisse will be her last. You on the contrary, can choose another wolf maiden.”

His face darkened. His hands fisted in rage. “There is only Elinor. Tis blasphemy to say I would ever consider sending her off and claim another.”

“My humble apologies milord, she is your life mate and not as others claim wolf maidens are merely breeders.”

He flinched at the term breeder. Many alpha men had sought women with the mark of the wolf not for a life mate, but to better their chances of having more offspring. The thought of his tiny daughter being exploited as a breeder made his blood boil with fury. He blew out a slow breath. “In what way do you see greatness in such a small weak human child?”

“Feronia listens to wolf maidens.” She fingered the afterbirth. “The future is a web that can spin in many directions and certainly this is what I see.”

“You speak in riddles.”

“It is the center of the web that predicts her life path.” She closed her eyes and tilted her head back as if in a trance, before speaking. “She is destined to be the wolf maiden of a great warrior. He will unite all of our kind.”

He sighed. So, she will live despite her early birth. His brow rose. “Of which pack will this great warrior come from? Who shall claim her?” He was thinking of all the recent births of alpha males throughout the different pack territories.

“I cannot say, but it will be she that claims him.”

He scoffed. “It is the alpha who claims.”

“T’is true, but I see several making such a claim. The mighty warrior will be the one that she claims as her true life mate.”

“So we shall take great care in who she meets.”

She pointed her stick to a deep purple mark on the afterbirth. “She is imbued with the gift of healing. I see a potion that will save many of our kind. She is to be an oracle to Feronia.”

He raised a brow in surprise. He could not help but smile. “A servant of Feronia?”

“Your Christian wife may not like the idea of what her people would consider a witch of the old ways.”

“Elinor will accept her gifts. A healer is an honored person.”

Sibyl gave him a sidelong glance. “Women who pursue the healing arts are viewed as consorts of the evil one.”

He shook his head. “Now that the Holy Church is established folks will re-introduce the old ways so as not offend or threaten.”

She shrugged as if dismissing his positive outlook as naïve if not foolhardy. “I will return to my land to the south and join my ancestral pack.”

“What of the Lupercal?” Sibyl was one of the twelve Alpha Female Lycans that governed their society.

“My apprentice Lupa is ready to take my place.” She gave him a wane smile. “Soon I will be too old to shift. I wish to return to my old den to take in familiar scents. To feel my ancestral territory beneath my paws as I hunt for aurochs with my den brothers and sisters.”

Chanteloup bowed. “My lady I am eternally grateful for all that you have done. I will see to it that several knights guide you home.”

She returned his smile. “Go to Elinor. Love her and love the child.”

 
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