Mask by InuOkami

I'm not sure where I came from. I'm not even sure of when I came from. There's no real memories of the past, only cloudy feelings of being abandoned as a young pup. I'm not complaining about it. Well, not that much anyway. I just feel as if I'm lost and I don't belong, even tho there's no past to compare it to. How ever, one memory does stand out. I was rescued by someone who loved me. She never even thought twice about picking me up into her arms and taking me to a safe place where I was fed and kept warm during the harsh winter months of darkness.

I've lost count of the number of times the moon has come and gone behind the glimmering strands of lights dancing across the arctic sky. She would hold me near her chest and I'd listen to her heart beating. It was a comforting sound that eased the anxiety of my confusion. She covered the darkness of my past with a blanket of her own light.

I would stand tall, firm and proud as she brushed me every time the moon became dormant for a night. The whole time I was loved by her, I never knew her name. She never said a word, and never spoke my name. I don't even know if she had a name for me. But she never had to say it, because I would never leave her side. Except for having one another, we lived a solitary life away from any civilization, in the middle of a forest clearing.

On the morning before the new moon, I remember the grips of slumber slowly releasing me into the warmth of the sun that shined in from the window to the east. I lifted my head to show my gratitude to the one who devoted her life to me, as I did every morning. She would stare into my eyes with the love and compassion and joy that she did the first time she held me. Her hand would cover the top of my head, running the length of the back of my neck and coming back around to caress the bottom of my chin as I smiled, tongue hanging off to one side. She would kiss me on the forehead every morning before preparing a meal that we'd share while the sun would climb higher in the sky to chase away the darkness.

This morning however, held a dark and sinister surprise. For when I looked into her eyes, they were milky white and did not blink. Her face was a pale blue and the arm that normally kept me warm was heavy and cold. I licked her cheek while a sense of confusion, fear and panic filled me. I placed my head on her chest like I did many times before, only to hear nothing. I tried to nuzzle her, but she would not move. I struggled to free my self from her cold embrace as her body fell to the floor. Her spirit has left me as did the previous spirit that abandond me. I made my way to the floor and curled up in the arms of the one who loved me so, and I began to weep. I stood there for the length of the day, licking the arm that rescued me and fed me and kept me safe and warm. Each tear that rolled down my face would serve as token of gratitude for all the years that she's loved me unconditionally.

The rays of sun slowly moved across the wall until eventually, it also abandoned me. I slowly made my way to the door, each foot step echoing in the completly silent surrounding. I grabbed hold of the teathered old rope that she had tied to the door knob for me, so that I can let my self out. I held my head low as I walked the length of the frozen dirt path that lead into the center of the forest clearing where she and I would curl up together under a quilted blanket full of feathers to watch the arora dancing across the dark blue sky. I looked up to the moon and began to howl as if calling out to her, wishing she would come back to me. I sat there howling until the moon was hidden behind the clouds that began to creep in. I had nothing to live for. I could not bring my self to love another. Not the way I loved her. I stood up and decided that I'd go back to where she was, and I would remain in her arms until I would join her in death.

As I turned around, the wind picked up and the snow began to fall. In the blink of an eye, the humble log cabin where I would lay my self to die, dissappeard behind a wall of snow. I tried to dig my claws into the ground and push my way through, but I was no match for the blistering wind and the snow that felt like a thousand needles on my face. With every last shred of strength left in me, I cried out to her, but she did not answer. My limbs fell weak and I gave in to the wind. I lay down on the cold ground as the snow slowly burried me while I cried. "Why have you left me? Where have you gone? Why can I not join you where you are?" Just then, the snow and the winds became still and someone appeared before me.

"You, the survivor. You, the meek. You, the humble. Why do you mourn for this human? Have you not the will to go on?"

"No, not without her. She is my life. For if not for her love, I would roam the earth without purpose. If I can not live with her, I wish to die with her."

"So, indeed... you have a tiny ember of light within you. If granted, do you wish to be by her side once again?"

"This ember, if my wish is granted, will once again be a roaring flame. I love her enough to follow her in death."

"Your heart is sincere. Your eyes speak the truth. I will grant this wish under one condition... Your life will become hers."

"How do you... But can... What do you mean?"

"Wolves and humans living together, loving each other as you two, is not natural. However, it is not impossible. Branches of your family tree have evolved and your bloodline dwells in other canines known as dogs. These, dogs... are said to be the loyal companion to the humans who have domesticated them. You, do not possess the same blood as your canine cousins. The blood that flows within you is of pure wolf. Even so, as much as you resemble a dog, a loyal companion to the woman inside this cabin... Many humans will reject you, fear you, or attempt to kill you. They do not understand you, and it is human nature to fear what they do not know."

"She did not fear me, nor did she attempt to kill me like the humans that took the lives of the rest of my pack. She understood that I would not harm her."

"It seems as if your past isn't all that cloudy as you thought."

"No... I suppose I've tried to bury my past with all the other foul memories that I've had of humans trying to hunt me. But my reason for letting go of my past lay lifeless on the floor inside that log cabin. I do not wish to live without that human. She was every family member, every pack mate, and every best friend that I've ever known."

"As mentioned, your heart is sincere. Your life will become hers, I will subtract from you, that I may add to hers. Be warned, the consequences are not pleasant!"

"The consequences that I face, compare not to the pain that will surely come from being without her... I will give my light to her, as she has also given her light to me. I humbly accept this fate."

"SO BE IT!"

The clouds parted, the sky opened above us and the one who stood before me lifted his hands to the heavens. A brilliant light shined down to reveal an orb of energy that followed his hands as they were gently lowered to the crown of my head. My vision was reduced to a fraction of what a wolf could see. My hearing was made almost deaf to what a wolf could hear. My sense of smell was all but gone. My body violently contorted while a rush of flames consumed the fur that once covered my body. I lay naked in the snow, shivering with the sensations of a thousand and one tiny cuts.

"I bestow upon you, an enchanted mask. This mask, for as long as it covers your face, will keep you alive. For if you are to remove it, you will surely submit to death! Not by nature, but by the hands of the humans that you love so much. This is how your life, will become hers. Now go. I no longer wish to be in this place. I will be observing from a distance, far from where your senses can take you."

I stumbled back to the cabin where my love would surely await my return, only to hear blood curdling screams of terror. I placed my paws on the window sil to look in, only to find that my paws no longer had fur or claws. They were long, skinny, bones covered in hairless flesh. My reflection revealed a bare naked face where my muzzle once stood. My eyes focused past the glass panes to see a silhouette of a grotesque creature thrashing about at the foot of the bed where my love stood lifeless moments ago. I burst into the door to find that she has become a hideous monster that resembled something between a human and a wolf. She turned her attention to me, bared her large fangs and snarled.

"WHO ARE YOU? WHAT IS THIS? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? DON'T LOOK AT ME!"

I tried to tuck my tail between my legs to show submission, but the tail that I once possessed was now worn by the creature. This is what I was warned about. These are the consequences. The life that was subtracted from me was canine in nature. I was made into a human and she was rendered into a blood thirsty werewolf.

"GET OUT NOW! LEAVE THIS PLACE! YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE!"

"But my love... it is I, the one you..."

"IF YOU DO NOT LEAVE, I WILL BATHE IN YOUR BLOOD! GO NOW, OR PERISH!"

"But..."

"YOU WILL NOT BE WARNED AGAIN!"

I slowly backed away towards the door as she growled at me, razor sharp fangs and claws pointed in my direction, foaming saliva dripping from the side of her muzzle, her crystal blue eyes painted red with fury. As I stepped out, the door slammed closed and I began to hear the hollow howls of sadness and anger and coldness. A chill ran up my spine as I ran away. The one that loved me with all of her existence, now detest me with every shred of hatred. What have I done?

For days, I wandered aimlessly, reflecting and regretting what I've done. I survived by eating berries and the scraps of animals that have been killed by others. I happened upon a tiny village that thrived in the valley just south of where the woman and I lived. A young man hacking away at a tree with a large axe was startled by my sudden appearance. He called out to me, but I could not answer. Fear had taken my tongue and I was trembling. The man walked towards me with a red and blue garment that he took off his own body to cover me.

"Come, come... I don't know who you are, but you look like you could use a warm meal and perhaps some clothes."

"Arouw... Rouw..."

I tried to nuzzle and lick his face to show my gratitude. He quickly backed away from me, lifting his arms and trying to tell me something that I could barely understand. I didn't know much of the human language, nor did I know much of what was acceptable among humans. Aside from the ones who killed my family, the woman that I grew up with was the only human I knew. Perhaps this human is ignorant to how I show gratitude. Or perhaps, I am the ignorant one and need to learn their ways and what is proper, and what is not.

He took me in and gave me food and clothes. He noticed me having a hard time trying to get into these things he called pants. I had no idea what to do with the thing he called a shirt and I've never worn any type of foot garments. He called them shoes. He had this puzzled look on his face and began to speak.

"Oh my... you must be that kid who got lost in the forest all those years ago during the wolf hunt. The entire village thought the wolves ate you. Your father swore he'd get revenge on the pack of wolves that came near our village. Come here, let me show you something."

He gently offered me his hand with his palm facing up. I recognized this gesture from when my loved one wanted me to follow her and I obeyed. I stood up from where I was and cautiously lowered my head to his hand. He placed his other hand on my shoulder and helped me to stand erect as he shook his head from side to side. I allowed him to take my hand and he lead me through a dark and short hall way. The scent from the room filled my nose with pain and my eyes with tears. He opened the door to reveal my entire wolf pack family, their heads on the walls. I screamed bloody murder as I ran out, knocking things down as I tried to escape the room full of death. The man tried to restrain me, but I could not bare to be in that place. I tried to run back to the forest, but this cursed human body was not built for long distances. I had no choice but to return to the man who fed me. I approached him cautiously while he faced me with a defensive pose.

"I beg your forgiveness... I've never seen so many corpses in one place. It frightened me. I mean no harm."

"Oh my goodness... You can speak!"

"Most of my life has been solitary. An old woman living in the forest raised me when my family was slaughtered. She did not speak much, nor did I."

"There's an old woman living in the forest?"

"What was an once an old woman, is no more."

"Is she in danger? Does she need help?"

"The old woman, is no more."

"Well... Where is she, let's..."

"SHE IS NO MORE - Please understand, I do not wish to speak about her."

Tears began running down my cheek and the man embraced me while he apologized. We began to walk and he lead me to the village center. As we journeyed on, he told me the story of how the farmer who once lived in that place, lost his child to the forest. The entire village searched for her. They discovered a pack of wolves roaming. One of the wolves was chewing on a doll that his child once held on to while sleeping. The farmer became enraged with anger and killed the entire pack of wolves, one by one, until his revenge was enacted upon the animals that took the life of his child. The farmer died soon after the last head was mounted. This human was a young boy when all this happened and only know of what the farmer's wife told him before she also died, leaving the farm and all their belongings to this young boy who worked for them.

"The remaining villagers will be thrilled to see that you've survived and have come back! Oh this is such a wonderful day!"

As we got closer, the sounds of many people rejoicing could be heard. The smell of food and drink were in the air. The man suddenly stopped and held firm my hand.

"Oh my gosh, I forgot about the event going on. And if you were that mortified by a few wolf heads on the wall, this may not be the best thing for you to see so soon after."

"What is taking place in the distance?"

"They are a group of people that visit here every year. They celebrate the co-existence of life on earth with animals. It's called 'anthropomorphism' which is just a decorated word for animals who are human like."

"I'm sorry, I understand not what you are saying."

"Humans disguise them selves as animals who look almost human."

I was intrigued to see these humans who pretended to be animals. Perhaps there is someone else who has suffered the same consequences as do I. There may be a lesson to learn and perhaps, I might return to my loved one and right what I have wronged. I insisted that we venture forth and swore to this human that I would not panic as I did back at his farm.

We finally reached the village square. I was a little on edge to be this close to so many humans who were not out to kill me. It was a cold feeling to have them completely ignore me because I was no longer a wolf. But as long as they were not trying to hunt me, my anxiety was kept at bay. The closer we got to the center of the town, the more and more of these humans disguised as animals were surrounding us. But they were strange animals that I could never have imagine existed. A blue and red wolf. A yellow and black fox. A purple and pink giraffe? This was indeed, a strange sight to behold.

The man I was with called out to someone he knew. We walked toward each other and the old man greeted us under a large tree that was planted in the center of a lush green patch of grass surrounded by rusted cobble stone bricks. The old man greeted his friend with a handshake and a hug, then quickly turned to me and extended his hand. I cautiously extended my own hand, and he did grab it and shook it as well.

"Who's your friend here?"

"You will not believe this when I tell you..."

"Go on, try me!"

"Remember years ago, when I was adopted by the farmer and his wife?"

"How can I forget such kind people?"

"Well... This man is their child."

"I did not know they had more than one child of their own."

"They did not... This is their only child!"

"Indeed... And I am a polka-dotted woolly mammoth!"

"I knew you would not believe me... This is that child that was stolen by the wolves. He survived!"

"Impossible! I know for certain that this is not their child!"

"How can you be so sure? He emerged from the forest just north of here, frightened and naked and shivering cold."

"It's simple... The child they lost was their daughter."

"Your friend speaks the truth. I am not the child you speak of."

"Then... who are you?"

"I... mean no harm... And I lie to you not... I am not of your kind. I was raised by the woman in the forest. The one you call the farmer, slaughtered my family who's heads now decorate the walls of your living area."

"But that would mean..."

"Yes... The woman in the forest, is the child that was lost."

"We thought for sure that she was eaten by the wolves. The one that was mocking the farmer by looking him strait in the eye while he devoured her baby doll..."

"...was my uncle. He found the baby doll and was not devouring it. He was returning it to the child who's leg was trapped in a clutch of steel jaws. He was bringing the baby doll to her, to try and comfort her while the other wolves attempted to free her."

"BLASPHEMY - HOW CAN YOU KNOW OF SUCH THINGS, YOUNG MAN!?"

"Please, give me your word that you will not kill me."

"Young man, you have not given us reason to kill you. How ever, bringing up such bitter memories does pour salt in a long forgotten wound."

I took a few steps back and slowly removed the mask that was given to me so that I may reveal my true nature. Fear and awe struck the two men that stood before me. Their faces pale white with terror as they watched me transform. The young one screamed "BLOODY HELL - HE'S A WOLF" and the villagers began to laugh, until they realized I was not a human disguised as a wolf. I was indeed, a wolf disguised as a human. A wave of panic spread throughout the village. Some of them were pointing large blackened steel sticks at me. The same sticks that had taken the lives of my pack.

I closed my eyes as I was about to accept my fate. Death not by natural causes, but by the hand of the humans that I indeed loved. I closed my eyes and howled one last time as I heard a growl that seemed to come from the deepest pits of hell. Men's voices quickly began to gurgle and drown in their own blood. I opened my eyes to see the creature that was in the forest, the one that I loved and loved me, the one that I've cursed, had protected me once again from the humans who damned me without reason. She had slaughtered everyone surrounding me. She then turned her attention to me and began to shout.

"YOU... FLEE FROM HERE... I WILL FOLLOW SHORTLY TO DEAL WITH YOU AND WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO ME, YOU STUBBORN RETCHED MUTT... BE GONE!"

I ran as fast as I possibly could back to the cabin in the forest. With every stride, I cursed the day that I agreed to tempt fate and bring back the one that I love. I am a stingy, greedy fool for wanting a second lifetime with her. I've ruined her afterlife and turned her into a hideous, repulsive, vengeful beast with a blood lust. What have I done?

Once I got back to the cabin, I prepared my self to die yet, a third time as I anticipated her return. She barged in screaming "SHOW YOUR SELF AT ONCE" I slowly crawled out from under the bed, head lowered in shame and regret, tail between my legs and whimpering like a child who's been beaten.

"I know this is your doing. And if not for the wonderful years of companionship you've given me, I'd have spilled your blood the instant I realized you were turned into a human."

"My love, please forgive me..."

She began walking toward me as I cringed in fear. She knelt down and embraced me. A short pause before her voice began to crack as she whispered to my ear.

"What have I done to deserve this? Did I not feed you when you were starving? Did I not keep you warm when you were shivering in the coldest winter nights? Did I not care for you when you were considered a devil among the humans who were out for your blood?"

I began sobbing.

"I owe you my life for such selfless acts of kindness and love and compassion. I was about to accept death so that I may follow you to the next life time, hoping that I might find you, and that you might find me also. I was vulnerable and I was tricked into giving you my life, as you have given me yours when you rescued me from winter's bitter grip. I wanted to show my love and gratitude for all that you have done for me."

"So it is true, what the spirit told me... I believe you, because the same spirit that betrayed you, also betrayed me many years ago, when I was a child. My father told me not to wander off too far. I did not listen to him, and I was pinned in a bear trap. The spirit told me that my father would be very angry with me if he ever learned that I disobeyed him. I told the spirit that I would give anything to be set free of the trap. He granted my wish and a pack of wolves came to my rescue. By that time, the villagers began killing the rest of your pack. I hid behind a large boulder because I was afraid. When I emerged, only the blood stained soil remained of your pack. I took pity on you, for it was humans that orphaned you. I was taught to take responsibilities for what I've done. Had I not disobeyed my father, none of these events would have taken place. I owed you my life, and this was the punishment that I deserved for not obeying my father. Both my father's punishment, and the spirit's cursed betrayal, turned into one of the most amazing blessings in the history of time."

"My love, I will sacrifice my self and die a thousand deaths, if it will take from you the pain that I've inflicted on you."

"No, my love... You owe me nothing. You've given me joy and happiness and you've given me a reason to live. You've given me one lifetime, and that is more than I could ever ask for."

We lay on the floor in a loving embrace that seemed to last for an eternity. She pet me as I gently nuzzled her. The wind began to howl and the door slowly opened to reveal the spirit standing there. I immediately stood up and snarled.

"I've been watching the two of you, and I am obligated to tell you, there is a way this can all be undone."

"BASTARD - What is this obligation? Tell me how to do this before I unleash my own reign of consequences upon you!"

"SILENCE, IGNORANT MUTT - It is in my nature to be a trickster. As a fox demon, it brings me pleasure to watch you mortals scramble around when you get what you want, and then realize what you want, is not always what you should have. I grow tired of this and wish to move on to something more entertaining. As a trickster, how ever, I am obligated to show you how to undo the damage that you've wished for and later regretted."

"SPEAK NOW OR YOUR INSIDES WILL BECOME YOUR OUTSIDES!"

"If you place the mask on her, she will return to being a mortal human, as if nothing ever happened."

"That's it?"

"Yes, she will go back to being the human woman, as you found her... a corpse."

I turned to the werewolf.

My love, I've caused enough pain. As your loyal companion, as your obedient servant, as the one who wishes to be by your side for ever and even in death... I ask you... Do you want to return to being a human, or do you wish to live as you are?"

She nodded her head as a river of tears fell from her eyes.

"Yes, my love... And I will await your arrival in the next lifetime..."

"My love, I ask you once again..."

"Indeed..."

I took the mask out of her hand. I gazed into her eyes one last time.

"Goodbye, my love... And thank you... For granting me life... I love you..."

I gently sobbed as I slowly placed the mask on her face. Ever so slowly, her body began to return to what it once was. Once the transformation was complete, the mask fell from her face and I collapsed in her lap. The demon began walking towards us and reached for the mask. I quickly snarled at him. He paused where he was, and I snapped. I was holding his wrist in my jaws.

"NOT SO FAST - THERE'S ONE LAST THING TO TAKE CARE OF!"

I let go of his wrist and quickly took the mask in my mouth again. This time, I used all the strength I had left in me, and I bit down. The demon began screaming as tiny hair line cracks resembling a spider web appeared. He leaped at me to try and knock it from my maw. In that instant, it shattered into dust. The demon vanished into thin air. I began coughing up blood and gasping for air.

"My love... please... wait for..."

Mask

InuOkami

2 October 2019 at 11:24:07 MDT

This is just a little story that I came up with because like always, I was thinking about werewolves and transformations and such. I'm sure you'll find some inconsistencies, it's not perfect, but it's mine. Enjoy!

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