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Way of the Wolf, Pride of the Lion

It's never easy being a werewolf.
I've always been a loner, ever since I was bitten as a ten-year-old kid. No one in my family knew I was a werewolf, and I kept it hidden well. And once I was out of high school, I basically went on my own, living my own life, away from control-freak parents. I traveled a lot, visited a lot of places, but I tried to stay away from people, given my nature. I was in full control of my power, but still, I didn't want to risk an innocent person suffering the same thing I did.
Being a werewolf was nothing like what mythology said. A lot of what the books and modern fiction said was utter nonsense. First, I wasn't vulnerable to silver; I could touch it without being burned or poisoned. What I really had to avoid was a derivative compound of silver, called silver nitrate, which burned me on contact. Second, I didn't undergo an involuntary change at the full moon. Third, wolfs-bane actually served as a catalyst for healing from silver nitrate-related injuries. Fourth, I could actually assume three forms: human, anthro, and true-wolf. Pretty self-explanatory. And fifth, in my anthro or true-wolf forms, I could use telepathy, but I hardly ever did due to the strain on my head. However, once every three months, I had to go hunting, to satisfy my inner wolf. And that about sums up everything I know about werewolves.
My name is Turahl LeGrash. And this is my story. The story of how I went from a nobody... to a somebody.

{Midnight, January 30, 2037.}

The trees rustled slightly in the winter breeze, and the full moon shone overhead, casting a chilly silver light on the bare trees and deep snow. But I didn't let that bother me. I was in human form, getting ready for my hunt, which usually meant snagging a deer. Living here in the mountains of West Virginia was probably as close to true wilderness as a wolf could accept, while still living in the U.S. And to me, it was perfect. Where I lived, it was a literal preserve of mountainside forest, with an artificial lake down in the valley, over six hundred feet below my elevation.
I usually hunted in my anthro form, which meant I had to wear loose clothing whenever I did this. And this frigid winter night was no exception. Because I had a body temperature of over 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42.2 degrees Centigrade), the cold didn't bother me, so there was no way I could get frostbite or hypothermia. At that temperature, humans would be dead, but not me.
I stepped outside into the cold wind blowing down the mountain, letting it give me goosebumps. The way that felt always pleased my inner wolf, in ways I couldn't even hope to describe. And no, it wasn't sexual in nature. The wind flapped about my loose sleeveless red t-shirt and forest green pj's, and the snow surrounded my bare feet, giving me even more goosebumps.
<Well, here it goes,> I thought to myself. Taking a deep breath, I began the change into my anthro form. A powerful feeling welled up inside me, as my fingernails and toenails grew out into sharp claws, grey and white fur started sprouting everywhere on my body, and my already muscular form grew out even more muscle. My eyes went from their natural steel blue to a radiant gold. I felt a growing feeling at the base of my spine, and sure enough, my very bushy tail, which honestly didn't look very wolf-like, erupted out to a length of four feet (1.22 m). My feet grew in size, but did not turn wolf-like; they stayed humanoid, but with grey fur. And my height increased, by an entire foot, while my head went more lupine. In just seconds, the change was complete.
I had to admit, my anthro form looked rather sexy, but I didn't focus on that (no, I am not gay). I leaped over the railing, landing on the gravel below, and raced off into the trees. This wasn't exactly the best time to hunt, but maybe I would get lucky this time. Let's just say, my last few hunts were less than productive.
The trees literally became a blur as I ran at speeds way higher than any human could even try to reach. As a werewolf, I could run incredibly fast, up to 80 miles an hour (128.75 kph), but I usually didn't go that fast. Besides, it wore me out if I went that quickly, that is if I didn't trip over fallen logs. And that would've been embarrassing in front of other werewolves, if they actually lived up in this area.
A strong scent came across my muzzle. Fresh meat, close by. I could tell it was a deer. I raced up the nearest strong pine tree, using my claws to dig into the soft wood, until I reached a good enough height. I searched the area, letting my wolf-vision take over. Sure enough, there was a white-tailed deer, a young buck by the looks of it, trying to find some plants under the thick snow. Part of me felt sorry for this animal, trying to survive a tough winter, but the more I thought about it, the more it dawned on me: killing this easy prey would essentially be a mercy killing, sparing it death by starvation. Of course, part of me felt disgusted at such an act, but I had to satisfy my inner wolf somehow. I forced all the doubts to the back of my head, and concentrated on the hunt. I jumped from the tree to an adjacent one, directly above the buck. Baring my teeth and fangs, I prepared for the satisfying taste of a successful hunt. Then I leaped out, landing right on top of my prey.
The buck never even heard me coming. Instant, painless kill.
Once the buck stopped moving and death claimed it, I removed my clothes so they wouldn't get blood on them, and hung them on a nearby tree branch. Contrary to popular belief, blood didn't fully come out in the wash; it always left a residue, invisible to the human eye, but detectable through forensics. Not to mention other werewolves could smell it. Blood had a very rich metallic scent to it, as I had discovered on my very first hunt. And that same scent overcame me, as I crouched down in just my boxers... and dug right in. I kept my senses alert for any black bears who might want to chance a snatch at my kill, but I didn't scent or hear any.
Within about ten minutes, my inner wolf felt fully satisfied as the deer meat coursed through me. Not much remained of the buck, but the snow was stained with blood and innards. I wiped as much blood off my muzzle and chest as I could, using my body heat to melt snow into water and using it to clean my stained fur. Once that was done, I put my clothes back on and started to head back uphill toward my house.
Suddenly I heard something. For a second I thought I imagined it, but then it came again. The sound of a car driving recklessly. I mentally shook my head. What stupidhead would try to do drag racing on a road covered in snow and ice? Then a powerful scent came to me, coming from the mountainside road above my house. I reached my home just in time to see some kind of car drive past the entrance to my lot at speeds way higher than allowed. Based on what I could see, it seemed to be a grey stationwagon with two people in it. That was weird enough, but something was chasing them, moving incredibly fast. I sped up the driveway to the road to get a better look, knowing the darkness would hide my "monstrous" appearance.
Whatever was chasing those two people had to be big, because I saw a shadow cross over an entire tree, and that tree was over twenty feet high. The shadow had wings of some kind, almost like Mothman (no, not the Batman character; the cryptid from Point Pleasant, WV), but were more bat-like. And the scent this thing left... I knew exactly what it was.
Vampire. Long-time nemesis of the werewolves.
I ran as fast as I could without slipping on the icy road, following them. Good thing I didn't have to worry about anyone else seeing me; the Preserve was usually deserted during the winter. Running on all fours without going true-wolf, I managed to get close, but at this point, the car made a sharp turn on a patch of black ice, and went crashing into a patch of trees, coming to rest upside-down. The vampire, whoever he was, tried to attack the car, but I could smell sparks coming from the engine. To make things worse, the car was leaking gas. I didn't know much about car designs, but I knew leaking gas was never a good sign.
At this point the vampire spotted me and swooped in to attack. I ducked out of the way, but sharp undead claws cut through my shirt, destroying the left shoulder. More by instinct than anything, I unsheathed my own claws and cut into the vampire's wings, damaging them to the point they fell off. Once they did, they turned to ash.
But this vampire was a Class-C, indicating a lot of age and strength underneath the ice-cold skin. And in just seconds, it had me pinned on my back, nearly crushing my tail. But I knew vampires were vulnerable to at least one thing: stakes. Good thing there was a metal bar nearby. I managed to grab it, and in it went, straight through the vampire's chest. No way an undead heart could survive that. In a mix of gushing blood, ash and a bat-like screech, the vampire literally disintegrated, covering me in a thin layer of dust which blew away in the wind.
I got up and noticed the car had caught fire, and in seconds it would explode. I quickly rushed over to see if anyone needed help, but I could tell the two people inside the front were already dead with broken necks. The scent they gave off wasn't exactly human, but different. I realized instantly these were werecats, or to be more exact, werelions. Even my inner wolf felt sad fellow therianthropes had perished in such a gruesome way, and I unconsciously hung my head in sorrow.
Until I heard a faint cry, that of a baby, coming from the woman in the passenger seat. In her arms was some kind of bundle, and it was moving. Thinking quickly, I used my werewolf strength to rip the passenger door off, throwing it aside into a nearby bush. I carefully pried the bundle loose from the woman's frozen arms, and started running away from the car.
And just in time. The car vanished in an explosion, which knocked me over, but I shielded the baby from the blast, not caring if I got any debris on me. Once the shockwave dissipated, I cast a quick glance back at the car, or rather what was left of it. Nothing remained except a burning frame and a pillar of fire. The loud noise of the explosion nearly deafened me, and clearly woke up the infant, for it started crying. I unwrapped part of the bundle, to see a little boy with the head of a lion cub. I cradled him carefully, rocking him gently to calm him down, and he did after a few seconds.
I had no idea who those werelions were, or why a vampire had chased them through the wintry landscape. But none of that mattered. I had a werelion cub who needed protection. And right now, I had to make sure he would survive. But with the roads iced over and the nearest hospital about twenty miles to the north, I didn't have a lot of choices. For the time being, I would have to care for him. I certainly hoped he was old enough to start chewing.
I began the walk back to my house, and just as I reached the main road, it started snowing. I would put out the fire as soon as I could, but because of all the moisture in the trees, any chances of a forest fire dropped to almost zero.
A loner werewolf and an infant werelion boy.
Man was I in for the time of my life.

{Several day later. Keyser, WV.}

"Mr. LeGrash?" came the voice of the beautiful female assistant.
"Yes, ma'am?" I replied.
"Mr. Veradson will see you now."
"Thank you." I rose from my seat in the local county courthouse, with the werelion cub in my arms, safely wrapped up to prevent anyone from seeing his face. Chris Veradson was the adoption judge of Mineral County, and the only one in the county who knew of my lycanthropy. He himself was a werepuma, which was more common in America than other ailuranthrope varieties. And he knew when to cover for people and when not to.
Chris was a short African American man, much shorter than my muscular 6'4", and had short black hair and hazel eyes, in stark contrast to my large ponytail of dark brown hair and steel blue eyes. He also wore a judge's gown, the usual black color, while I wore a nice polo shirt and some black pants which were not jeans. And little Leo - that's what I called him - lay asleep in my arms, not even making a sound except for his steady breathing.
"Well, Turahl," Chris spoke first as I sat down in one of the guest chairs. "I didn't expect you to come down from the mountainside. And this is the little boy you rescued?"
"You got it, Judge," I replied.
"So what's the story with our lion cub? And don't worry; this ain't going on record. I'll make up a more mundane explanation for this."
"It's a bit complicated."
"Take your time. You're my last appointment for the day."
"Well, where do I start? It happened a few days ago, right after the snowstorm. I went out at night to do my quarterly hunting, and right after I finished, I spotted a car being chased by a vampire."
"A vampire, huh?" Chris commented.
"Yeah," I replied. "Not something I expected in the wintertime. Anyway, I gave chase - I was in anthro form at the time - and witnessed the car crashing. I managed to stake the vampire and I checked on the people inside, but both were dead."
"Broken necks. Even I can't heal from that. I heard the cry of this cub, so I reached in and pulled him out, just before the car exploded."
"And you weren't worried someone human would see you?"
"Chris, there's very few people in the Preserve this time of year, and in the immediate neighborhood, I'm the only one who lives there."
"I see. Did you know who the parents actually were?"
"I have never seen them before in my life. This is the first time I've met a werelion."
"Okay." Chris paused for a second. "Well, here's what I will put on the official record. A fatal car accident claimed the parents of... what's the cub's name?"
"I don't know his real name," I confessed. "So I've decided to call him Leonidas, or Leo for short."
"Very well," Chris acknowledged. "The official report is as follows: 'A fatal car accident claimed the lives of the parents of Leonidas LeGrash, and the infant was rescued by West Virginia citizen Turahl LeGrash. Unable to find a suitable foster home for the child, Mr. LeGrash, by the authority of Judge Christopher Veradson, has legally adopted the child as his own son.'" With that, Chris pulled out some papers, the legal documents for adoption. "Let's get the paperwork done, shall we?"

{Fifteen years later (July 12, 2052 C.E.)}

"Here I come, Dad!!" Leo yelled at the top of his lungs. I waited as the teenaged werelion raced at me with remarkable speed.
"Heee-YAH!!!" Leo made a huge jump over me, bringing a foot down, which I quickly blocked by crossing my arms and holding them over my head. I made a grunt of effort to throw him off, which worked to make him back-flip almost to where he had jumped off.
"Again!" I ordered. He came at me, his lion mane flying behind him. We exchanged blows and fists as fast as our respective bodies could allow. After several punches, Leo spun around to his left and raised a leg in a powerful kick, but I raised my arm to block it. I could see the smile on his face and in his fiery yellow eyes as he looked right into my golden lupine eyes.
"Very good, Leo," I said, letting my arm relax. "We'll call it for the day."
"Already?" Leo asked, relaxing at the same time. "I feel like I could run the Marathon."
"I'm not as young as I used to be, son," I told him, pulling back some strands of my anthro form head hair. I noticed Leo's white martial arts pants were soaked with sweat, and his already muscular torso gleamed with the salty fluid. I didn't fare any better; my red shirt was just as soaked, and my own pants needed a good washing.
"How about we head in and cool off?" I suggested. "This summer heat is killing me."
"I know what you mean, Dad," Leo commented. "I don't know how normal humans can handle being so hot."
"I wish I knew." By this time, both of us had entered the house, relieved to be in the powerful AC system. Almost immediately, my pet cat Spirit, a Siberian Forest tom, came up to rub against my furry leg. He followed me into the kitchen, where I grabbed a glass of ice-cold water. In just seconds, the glass was empty and I felt refreshed from the cold liquid coursing through my anthro form. Leo, meanwhile, sat on the sofa nearby, not going back to human form. I really didn't mind if he stayed in anthro form whenever at home, but if we went out shopping or for the occasional dinner at the local Stray Cat Café, I made sure he was in human form.
It was hard to believe 15 years had gone by, and Leo didn't seem to care if he was adopted. In a sense, he reminded me of when I was his age. Leo got into trouble a lot before enrolling at Keyser High, wandering off and exploring the Preserve on his own - sometimes in anthro form. I even had to resort to a special tracker embedded in the silver lion's head pendant necklace he always wore. Of course, he didn't know the tracker was still there. I cast a glance over at my adopted son, noticing the sunlight reflecting off his wet mane, which had really grown out over the last few years. It was still a brownish-red color, and it would darken to nearly black as he got older. My fur, on the other hand, hadn't changed in the slightest; it was still the same grey and white mix as when I had first changed.
I noticed Leo was flexing out his left arm, as if it had gotten stiff or something.
"What's wrong, son?" I asked, grabbing a second glass of water and bringing it to him.
"Just stretching," he replied. "These workouts you give really help. At this rate, I'll impress the girls."
"What? You want to be a chick magnet or something?" I joked.
"Dad!!" Leo fired back. "I'm not a chick magnet! Yeesh!" But he was laughing all the same, and I couldn't help laughing with him. When I finally calmed down, I handed him the glass; he nodded his thanks and drank it all in one gulp. I then noticed Leo develop a pensive expression on his face.
"Dad," he began, in a softer voice.
"Yeah?" I replied.
"Do you mind if I... try out for the soccer team this year?" I had to be honest, I did not see that one coming. I knew Leo liked to do sports at times, but he usually didn't try them. Werelions were four times stronger than a normal human and up to eight times faster, and I, being a werewolf, had the figures switched (8 times the strength and 4 times the speed of a human).
"I don't mind at all, son," I finally replied. "Just don't exert yourself too much if you're accepted."
"I know, Dad. The human world doesn't know about us. I just wish I didn't have to hide my true self."
"I feel the same way, son. You know, my parents don't even know I'm a werewolf." Before I could go any further, the phone rang. I went over to see the holographic display and I saw a local number for the Mineral County area. The caller ID said Chris Varedson. Before I answered, I quickly reverted to human form. Then I picked up, setting it on speaker.
"Hey, Chris," I began.
"Been a while, Turahl," Chris replied over the line.
"Didn't expect you to call while you're at work. What's up?"
"I've got a bit of a situation. It involves Leo. Do you think the two of you can come to my office in about an hour?"
"What is this about?"
"I can't discuss it on an open line, Turahl. You're gonna have to come down here."
"All right, fine. Give us an hour." I hung up.
"What does this have to with me?" Leo asked as I headed toward my room.
"I honestly don't know, son," I admitted. "But we'll find out soon enough."

I parked the Tundra as close as I could to the courthouse, and Leo and I stepped out. Both of us were in human form, and dressed appropriately. I wore a red polo shirt with a black undershirt and some nice jeans, while Leo had on a Hawaiian shirt depicting Diamond Head and some black pants. He also had his straight long blond hair pulled back, while my ponytail was well-secured behind me. I had to admit, he really did take after me, even though I was not his real father. His human form was nearly as tall as me, with similar muscle tone, but his eyes were a jade green color in contrast to my own steel blue.
Once we navigated the maze of the modern building, Leo and I found Chris' office on the second floor, and in we went. Chris sat on the other side of a mahogany desk, clearly not in a good mood. He really hadn't changed much since I last saw him 15 years ago. Sure, his black hair had turned a few shades of grey, but he was in his early 60s by now, and therianthropes did age, unlike vampires.
"Thanks for coming, Turahl," Chris began as Leo and I sat down. "Sorry for having you come out here on such short notice."
"Let's just get this done, Chris," I spoke. "What's going on?"
"I got a visit from a rather weird person. A werelion. He said he was the uncle of a Charlie Walters."
"Who is that?" Leo asked.
"I don't know," Chris replied. "But he said this Charlie was kidnapped 15 years ago - by a werewolf. He didn't explain how he knew."
"That's sad to hear," I commented. "But what does that have to do with us?"
"He knows Charlie was kidnapped here in Mineral County. I told him there was only one werelion living in this county, but I told him the name was confidential. He tried to force me into telling him, but I threatened to have him arrested. I'm telling you this because I think he knows about you, Turahl. As your friend and a member of the law, I want you to be careful. I think this guy may be trying to come after you and your son."
"But what could some crazy lion do against a wolf?" Leo asked. "Dad's twice as strong as any werecat in the world."
"Lions live in Prides, son," I explained. "If this guy is really after us, he'll have several people to back him up." Turning to Chris, I continued, "What did this guy look like?"
"Tall, very brawny, black hair and green eyes. I could tell just by looking at him, he has no respect for authority. Either that, or he thinks himself above the law."
"Why can't you just have this guy arrested or something?" Leo inquired.
"It's not that simple," Chris answered. "This falls outside human jurisdiction. We can't have this guy arrested, not without revealing our world to the humans. The best I can do is watch you myself. If I get more information about this guy or his Pride, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I recommend you keep a low profile."

Leo and I left the courthouse and headed back, after getting a quick lunch at the local Stray Cat Café, a Mexican-themed restaurant. By this time a storm had begun to cover the area, and as I drove back toward the Preserve, rain started falling heavily. Summer storms were not something I enjoyed, and my inner wolf felt the exact same.
For a while, we didn't speak, but the ride back was filled with tension; I could almost see it crackling in the air, or maybe that was just the static electricity from the storm or something. Whatever.
"Dad," Leo spoke after a while. "can I ask you something?"
"Sure, Leo," I answered, not taking my attention from the road, which by now was literally covered in water.
"What were my real parents like?" That question nearly caught me off guard, as Leo had never really asked what his real mom and dad were like. I hesitated before answering.
"I never met them when they were alive," I finally replied. "The same day I met you, they both died in a car crash. In fact, if you want, I'll show you where it happened."
"I don't have to get out in this weather, do I?"
"Hell, no. I'm not letting my son get hit by lightning."
"Dad, watch out!!!" Leo suddenly screeched. At the same time, an incoming car nearly hit us, forcing me to swerve onto the nearby embankment and come to a stop. Good thing the Tundra could handle rough terrain. Glancing in the side mirror, I noticed the vehicle do a very sharp turn and head back towards us.
"What's going on?!" Leo asked.
"I don't know, but I'm gonna find out," I replied, my voice unintentionally coming out like ice. "Get my gun out of the glove compartment." He did so, and I quickly loaded it. It was a heavily modified .38 caliber laser pistol, complete with a silencer to reduce any chances of anyone hearing it go off. I put the truck in Park, turned off the engine, and got ready to step out.
"Stay here, Leo," I instructed him. "Have your cell phone ready, just in case."
"Got it, Dad," he replied. I then stepped out, gun in my pocket, with the safety on. In seconds, the rain soaked me to the skin, and my clothes stuck to me. But I didn't even notice it, as my body heat protected me from the icy water droplets.
Standing in front of me were at least four people, all men. Three of them looked like ex-military people, as they wore black outfits and masks, while the fourth looked like a civilian. He looked tall and very muscular, with greasy black hair and green eyes. I knew instantly this was the man Chris had described. Which meant...
He was the werelion.
But that was only part of the reason I was pissed off. This guy had tried to run into me. And if one thing really made me mad, it was reckless driving. It took all my self control to stay in human form, but I was really tempted to go anthro.
"We found you, at last, wolf!" the lead man - the werelion - spoke above the noise of the rain and thunder.
"What gives you the right to try and kill me, lion?!" I fired back, barely keeping my wild temper down.
"You have something of mine. Give it back, or die."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"He's in your truck, numb nuts."
Leo. I cast a quick glance at him, who sat in the passenger seat with a confused look on his face. Did this crazy werelion actually think Leo was his nephew? If so, what led him to believe I kidnapped him?
"You want my son," I spoke, letting a little of the inner wolf out, "then you'll have to kill me first."
"'Your son?' Very funny, wolf. If that's the way you want it..." the werelion spoke. "Kill him!!!"
I moved first, and those pseudo-military guys raised their weapons to shoot at me, but I could tell they were just ordinary humans. The bullets they fired narrowly missed me, but I took refuge behind the Tundra and fired back. In all the contrast of light from the enemy car headlights, the lightning overhead, and the subsequent darkness, I couldn't see very well, even with my wolf-vision, but it looked like I hit someone in the knee.
"Never mind," the werelion shouted over a blast of lightning. "I'll deal with him! You get the boy!"
That was the last straw. I guess I got lucky about our location, as there were no homes in this area, just the scar from an abandoned rock quarry. I didn't hold back this time, but went anthro, ripping part of my shirt and the lower parts of my pants. My shoes and socks literally flew off in rags. Within seconds, my werewolf fur was soaked by the heavy rain, but I paid little attention to the weather as I charged at the three men approaching Leo, roaring in anger.
The men started retreating in terror, and I figured they had never seen a werewolf before, much less one charging right at them like something out of a horror movie. Within seconds, each one of them lay several feet away from the truck.
"Don't you touch my son!!" I roared over the noise of the rain and lightning.
"He ain't your son, moron."
The werelion had come up from behind me and tried to strangle my throat, but I threw him off, given I was twice as strong as this guy. He recovered instantly, and charged at me with speeds I couldn't match. I did the best I could to block his moves, but in all the light and darkness, I never saw what lay in his left hand.
A small blade, smeared with silver nitrate.
For a second, I froze as the blade entered my torso. Then I felt the blood gushing out, and the agony of the silver nitrate reacting with my werewolf body. I barely heard Leo cry out in horror, but I noticed him leap out and start tackling the werelion, while I stumbled back against the truck, clutching the silver nitrate wound. Leo went anthro as well, his fiery red mane flying out behind him and every which way despite the rain. I had to admit, he was doing well, but then came the knockout dart from one of the men I clobbered earlier.
"We have what we need," the crazed werelion spoke to his goons, while Leo blacked out from whatever they used in that dart. "Let's go!" Hearing that filled my inner wolf with rage, and for a few seconds I ignored the pain from the silver nitrate and charged at them, but I felt numerous bullets come into me, each coated in silver nitrate. I could barely stand in this kind of pain, and within seconds, the enemy car had disappeared into the darkness.
I was in way too much pain to scream, but I remembered the vials of wolfs-bane solution in the glove compartment. I staggered back toward my truck, but my vision was getting blurry, and when I reached for the handle of the door, everything just... melted around me. The next thing I knew, I had fallen onto the grass, unable to see anything.
Then the blackness came.

I didn't know how long I was out of it, but the sound of rain on a metal roof woke me, and I noticed I was in someone else's car, lying on the back seat. My head throbbed like the worst migraine on the planet, and I noticed I was still in anthro form, with my vision clearing up instantly. I then noticed a familiar face. Chris. He must have heard me wake up, because he looked right over at me.
"About time you woke up, crazy wolf," he spoke.
"How did you...?" I began in a soft voice, still a bit groggy.
"You're lucky I found you when I did. I wasn't sure you were gonna make it. That silver nitrate nearly did you in. Good thing I found the wolfs-bane solution in your truck."
"How did you find me?" I asked. "By scent?"
"Not in this weather, young one. I came to tell you something about that werelion I told you about."
"That werelion," I muttered in confusion. Then it all came back to me. "That son of a-!!" I bolted upright, but doubled over in pain as I did so.
"Hey, hold your horses, hell wolf. You're not fully healed."
"Chris, he has my son. I don't have time to waste."
"Turahl, listen. I know who this guy is."
"Then spill. Who is he?"
"His name is Frederick Walters. He's ex-military. I did some research on the man who visited me, and I found out he is a deranged sociopath. I also ran Leo's DNA against Walters."
"And?" I wasn't sure I would like the answer.
"They're related. Leo is Charlie. Frederick Walters is his uncle."
"But that doesn't explain why Walters kidnapped him. Do you have any ideas?"
"I wish."
At this point, my wounds had healed up, but my shirt was badly torn, so I ripped it off, exposing my undershirt, but left my pants on - what was left of them.
"Hey, what the heck are you doing?" Chris demanded as I got out.
"What does it look like?" I fired back, barely keeping my wild temper down. "I'm going after Walters."
"You don't even know where to start looking."
"I can find them." I headed toward my truck, retrieving the small e-pad from the glove compartment.
"What is that?" Chris asked.
"It's a special tracker," I replied. "When Leo was nine, I gave him a special pendant necklace for his birthday, and I embedded a micro-tracker in it, because at that time he ran off a lot on his own. I just hope he's still wearing the pendant."
"What's the range of that thing?"
"About fifteen miles. Maximum."
"The mountains of West Virginia are huge," Chris told me. "Leo could be anywhere by now."
I turned on the tracker e-pad, and almost instantly, I got a signal.
"He's not just anywhere. He's in Keyser."

Okay, to be exact, he wasn't in Keyser, but in the former industrial area. This was nestled in a small valley right next to the Potomac River, protected from flooding by levees. Nothing here but some abandoned warehouses and factories. I always thought it was remarkable how quickly things changed in a town, especially with all the modern technology nowadays.
But I pushed all that out of my mind as I drove the Tundra into that area. Of course I had reverted back to human form, but I would go anthro once I got there. Chris drove in his Camry behind me, which clearly wasn't meant for rough terrain. Especially after such a rough thunderstorm. And speaking of which, the dissipating clouds still had rain in them, but with nightfall approaching, it would get harder to see for any normal human. Not that it was a problem for me.
We pulled up to an old white building, which had started to fall apart at the roof, and parked. Leo's signal was still going strong, coming from a nearby large warehouse or factory or whatever-the-hell-it-was. It hadn't moved in a while, which meant Leo was either being held somewhere, or was still unconscious. I highly doubted Walters would kill his own nephew, but I wasn't an expert on psychology, especially with madmen.
"What's your plan, Turahl?" Chris asked.
"I'm going to free Leo, then get out. You can call the police if you want, as this counts as a kidnapping."
"And if you have to face Walters?"
"I'll try not to kill him. But I can't guarantee that."
And in I went.
Darkness covered everything, but I was able to see clearly as I went into my anthro form, stretching my undershirt to the limit again. I listened for any sounds, but with the wind blowing hard out there and water dripping from the roof onto the concrete floor, any sounds coming from inside the building got drowned out by nature.
Or did they?
"What is it you want?"
That was Leo's voice, coming from someplace inside the machinery area. I snuck over there, making sure I didn't catch my foot on anything. I even climbed the inactive machines; not a very smart idea, but I had to see what was going on. The scents these machines gave off was overwhelming, but at least it helped to disguise my own musky earth-like scent.
"You still don't get it, kid," answered some guy I didn't recognize. "Your uncle saved you from that monster."
"What are you talking about?"
"Charlie, how dense can you get?"
"My name is Leo!!"
"Your name is Charlie Walters, young man." That was the werelion who had stabbed me, Frederick Walters. "The name that stupid wolf gave you isn't real."
"That 'wolf' is my father!" Leo sounded angry, like he was about to unleash the fury of his inner lion. I just hoped he wouldn't do something that stupid, because I knew what resulted from an inner fury being unleashed. Let's just say, it would be like something out of Resident Evil. Yeah, lots of blood.
"That wolf is not who you think he is, Charlie," Walters replied to Leo's outburst. "He's been lying to you for 15 years."
"And you know this how?" Leo demanded.
"Your real parents did die in a car crash, but what he doesn't want you to know is this: he caused it. I know this because of this footage, courtesy of an old friend of mine." At this point, I could see what was happening down below. Leo, still in anthro form, was locked in some kind of metal cage, with two men and Walters on the outside. Walters held up an iPad, showing obviously faked footage.
<Okay, Walters, I don't know what bullfrell you're feeding my son, but I frankly don't care right now. This ends today.> Given how pissed off I was, I couldn't help thinking that, and I made sure my telepathy didn't activate by accident.
"That's impossible," Leo stammered. "Dad would never do something like that."
"This footage isn't faked, Charlie," Walters stated. "He's been lying to you all this time." He paused briefly. "We'll let this sink in for you. I know this is a big shock to you, but you can't ignore the truth any longer. We'll let you rest. But don't think of trying to break out. These bars are made of carbon steel, and are coated in potassium iodide. You touch it, it'll burn you."
I watched as they walked away to head for another part of the building. So much still remained a mystery, but I didn't have time to dwell on such trivial matters. I carefully made my way down to the floor and snuck up to the cage. Due to the scent of oil or wax (whatever), I couldn't tell if the bars really were coated in KI (potassium iodide), but I knew Leo was severely allergic to that substance, so no risk-taking yet.
"Leo," I whispered. He looked up from where he sat on a crate, and spotted me. I could see tears forming in his eyes.
"Dad," he whispered back, coming up to the bars but not touching them.
"You didn't think I'd leave you in the hands of some lunatic, did you?"
"Dad, they showed me some footage-"
"I overheard everything, son. I know they've been feeding you lies."
"Well, what about you?" Leo demanded. "You never told me the truth about my parents."
"I'm sorry. I should've told you sooner."
"Dad, tell me what really happened that night."
"I'll do you one better. I'll show you. Through telepathy." With that, I allowed my telepathic abilities to surface, knowing I would pay for this later with a lot of rest. The memories of that night went into my son's mind. Basically, he saw everything through my own eyes. I could feel his shock when he saw the vampire, the terror of the exploding car, the heat from the fire, and the sorrow of his parents' deaths. And when the image came up of me holding his infant self in a protective manner from the explosion, I let loose all the emotions I felt on that night, emotions too real to be faked.
I broke the telepathic link, and staggered back against a railing, trying to catch my breath. I could see Leo had this look of pure shock on his face, and tears were forming in his feline eyes. He clearly didn't expect to see a vampire in my memories.
"A vampire killed them?" Leo asked, his voice breaking with sadness.
"Yes, son," I replied. "Vampires are sworn enemies to all therianthropes on the planet. I did kill someone that night, but it was the vampire I killed, not your parents. If I hadn't done so, you would have died along with them."
Leo's eyes filled up with tears, and I could tell he was trying to hold them back.
"Leo, I am so sorry for your loss, but we need to get out of here."
"Dad, the bars are coated in KI."
"I'm a werewolf. I'm not allergic to KI." With that, I grabbed hold of the door to the cage, and yanked hard, shattering the lock. I made the opening big enough so Leo could get out without touching the KI.
And, as expected, Walters' cronies came running towards us. Typical.
"Great," Leo commented. "Into the fires we go. This should be interesting."
"Remember what I taught you, son," I reminded him.
Together, as father and son, we faced the incoming enemy squad. Leo went rushing in first, taking out as many as he could with just his speed, while I used my strength to throw heavy objects at them. Some of them aimed guns in my direction, and I figured they had silver nitrate, like last time.
"Missed me!!" I yelled as one of them fired - and hit a pole instead.
"Yeah? You want some more, bozo?!" Leo added as he continued whacking them with his incredible speed.
"Don't get cocky, Leo," I told him as I backhanded the seventh human, knocking him out cold.
"Jeez, Dad, you're imitating Han Solo."
"You're Han. I'm Chewbacca."
Leo laughed at that, while kicking an older man in the private zone, forcing him to keel over in a high-pitched groan. I picked up the last para-military goon and tossed him into a garbage can nearby.
"What is all this?!" That was the voice I dreaded. This time, I drew my .38 caliber pistol and held it up, as Frederick Walters walked in, in complete anthro form. His mane was literally pitch black and he had multiple scars crossing his bulging muscular frame, all of it visible as he was not wearing any clothes except very tight briefs. This guy was definitely no stranger to combat.
"YOU!!!" he screamed in rage and shock upon seeing me alive.
"Yeah? What about it?" I challenged.
"You should be dead. I stabbed you with silver nitrate."
"Doesn't matter when I have wolfs-bane to counter it."
"Then I guess I'll have to kill you the hard way, just like you killed my brother and his wife!!"
"You're wrong, Walters," I retorted. "I'm not the one who killed Leo's parents."
"That boy's name is Charlie."
"And what are you gonna do if I refuse to use that name?" Leo challenged.
"You cannot hide from the truth, Charlie."
"Well, clearly you are, Walters," I told him. "You want to know what really killed your brother that night 15 years ago?"
"Enlighten me."
"Your brother died at the hands of a vampire."
For a second, Walters didn't speak, then he burst out laughing. The exact reaction I expected.
"You are out of your damn mind, wolf," Walters fired back. "Vampires are no threat to lions."
"I'll prove it," I spoke. With that, I used my telepathy again to force him to see what happened. He clutched his head as if in pain, and I sensed he was trying to block it, but my mental power was twice as strong, even though I was getting exhausted at this point. When I finished showing him, I could tell his stubbornness - or was it pride? - was getting in the way. Lions hated to admit they were wrong.
"No, no, you made this up!!" With that, Walters went on the offensive, lashing out at both of us. Leo and I fought back, and it was martial arts chaos, as property was damaged beyond repair and all three of us received injuries on our bodies. Plus, my gun went out of my hand, which meant I had to use fist, claw and fang. I had to admit, this werelion was incredibly strong, nearly as strong as I was, which led me to believe he might have been a professional wrestler at some point. But of course, such trivial stuff didn't matter.
When Walters had Leo in a deadlock, I intervened, by delivering a powerful kick which sent Walters into a pile of debris. I helped Leo up, and the two of us faced him again, but he ran at such high speed, he knocked both of us into the cage where he had held Leo. The potassium iodide on the bars reacted instantly with Leo's skin, creating a burn on his exposed back (his shirt was a total mess), and he screamed in pain. I quickly pulled him away to remove the source of the pain, and he fell to the ground, gasping for breath. Unfortunately, there was no burdock around, which would have healed him instantly.
"You dare to injure my nephew, wolf? You have shown your true nature!!" Walters leaped right at me with frightening speed. Without thinking, I yanked a bar of the cage out of its position, and held it in front of me.
Walters went right onto it, unable to stop in time. The bar went straight through him, right in the heart, emerging in a gush of blood from his upper back.
And the KI did its thing on the spot.
Walters staggered back, while I could only watch in shock as he fell to the ground, shuddering violently from the lethal reaction. Leo managed to get up and walk over to his uncle, while I followed suit. I could see dark brown lines forming on Walters' skin, his blood veins reacting to the KI and pulsing out. Substance poisoning wasn't the best way to go, based on what I had heard about it.
Walters looked directly at Leo, not even noticing me. Jeez, this guy was defiant and proud. Way too proud for his own good.
"Charlie," he whispered in an agonized voice. "I'm glad I got to see my brother's son. I'm sorry it had to be this way."
"My name isn't Charlie, Uncle Fred," Leo told him. "The Charlie you knew no longer exists. My real name is Leo LeGrash."
"Defiant to the end, huh?" Walters whispered. "I guess I can't change your mind now... Leo. Just be careful of that werewolf. You can't trust those dogs."
"You're the defiant and proud one. And besides, Dad saved my life."
"Whatever. I gave you my warning." His breathing slowed, and then the eyes glazed over. Once the heart stopped, Walters' entire body reverted back to human form on its own, which was what happened in death for a therianthrope.
"Leo, you okay?" I asked after a while.
"Yeah, Dad, I'll be okay." Leo stood up, clearly trying to ignore the pain of his KI burn.
"We'll get some burdock for your burn," I told him.
"No, Dad," Leo objected. "I want it as a reminder, for what true family means." He gazed at me with eyes full of pride and tears. I couldn't help but smile at his maturity. Leo certainly was brave for someone his age.
"And I know where my family lies," Leo continued. "It's with you." He then embraced me tightly, and I returned the gesture carefully, so I didn't touch his burn. "I love you, Dad."
"I love you, too, son," I replied, feeling my own tears come up.
High above us, in a large hole in the ceiling, the clouds parted to let the light of the full moon shine down on us, turning our forms a soothing silver color. I had to be honest, I never thought I would be glad to see such a beautiful sight.
Time seemed to freeze for us at that moment.
And it was a moment truly worth treasuring.

{Two months later (September 9, 2052)}

Walters' ex-military cronies were eventually found and arrested, while the death of Walters himself was proclaimed a suicide (I don't know how they arrived at that conclusion). Chris retired from the judicial system and started his own vegetable garden, a hobby he had always wanted to try.
Leo and I never found out why the vampire had gone after his real parents. We didn't hear any reprimands from any Covens in the big cities, which led me to believe this particular vampire was some kind of outcast. I had no idea how vampire politics were run, nor did I care to know. I showed Leo where the crash occurred, and we built a small memorial for his real parents.
But enough of the past. Where was I? Oh, yeah.
I drove the Tundra into the drop-off part of the high school's parking lot. The light of a setting full moon shone through the clouds as the sun started rising in the east. Leo rode in the passenger seat, wearing a new shirt with the famous character Fox McCloud on the front (without the guns, of course, to keep it appropriate for school) and some new jeans. When I came to a stop, he started gathering his things and began to step out. But he stopped first.
"Dad," he began, "you think I'll do okay in soccer?"
"Just believe in yourself, son," I replied, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Even if you don't make it in, I'll still be proud of you."
"Thanks, Dad. Means a lot." He gave a quick embrace around my neck. I returned the gesture, making sure I didn't touch his burn scar.
"I'll pick you up at 3," I told him. "After that, what do you say to a nighttime hunt?"
"It's not for another month, Dad," Leo reminded me.
"I know. Let's call this a special hunt. What do you say?"
"I'm game if you are," he replied with a smile.
"Deal. Now go claw those classes."
"Yes, sir." With that, he was out the door of the Tundra and headed for the school entrance. I watched him go for a second, then I proceeded back toward our home in the mountains.
I could not help but feel more pride for my son than ever.
I guess his own lion's pride rubbed off on me.

Later that night, under the silver glow of the full moon, we raced through the woods, both of us in anthro form. Our prey lay ahead, an older lone buck, several years old judging by the antlers on his head. Leo was in one direction, while I went another, forming a pincer around our prey. My inner wolf felt an excitement for this, and I had to admit, my human side felt it, too. Kind of weird, huh?
<You ready, Leo?> I asked through the telepathic link I had established.
<Ready when you are, Dad,> Leo replied, letting his own excitement bleed into me.
<Then let's do it.> I raced toward the buck, fangs exposed in the mild autumn night.
As usual, the prey never saw me coming. Nor did it see Leo, until it was on its back.
Dinner time had begun.
This is a stand-alone short story, unrelated to my novels "The Hidden Beast", "Never Say Change" and "White Wolf's Wing." It is basically the story of a loner werewolf in West Virginia whose life takes a surprising turn when he adopts a werelion as his son - with unexpected complications. With the help of an African American werepuma friend, our loner werewolf will have to fight a strong enemy, to discover the meaning of a true family.

WARNING: contains some graphic violence and related descriptions, brief mild language, and what I call "Testosterone Overload" (one male character is depicted wearing minimal clothing). Kids can read this, but parental presence is recommended for those under age 13.

"Way of the Wolf, Pride of the Lion" and all characters herein belong to me, except where noted. Do NOT use without my permission.

Han Solo and Chewbacca are part of Star Wars.

Fox McCloud is part of Star Fox.
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wolflover985 Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
OMG!!!!!!!!!!!! that was amazing!!!!!:D (Big Grin) :happybounce: Heart 
darkblade2814 Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2013
good job
W-Lupus Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2012   Writer
Good job! Firstly, well done at composing a short story of decent length with a plot throughout. Short stories are a challenge to tell, because you've got so little room to worth with, and I think you did well in that regard.

As for the story, I have to admit I was surprised. I had a look at the description before I read, and I wasn't sure I would enjoy it. You're good at being descriptive without being overly wordy, and you did a good job with the dialogue too.
lynxmarsen Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I know exactly what you mean by short stories being a challenge to write. This is why I usually stick to full-length novels, because in that case I can expand the story's universe. Still, it's nice to do a challenge every so often, given writing seems to come naturally to me. And when it comes to describing a story, I always want a sense of mystery, to intrigue the reader.

I'm glad you like this story, considering how "unusual" it is regarding werewolves. If you want, you can check out my other works in the gallery, including my novel "White Wolf's Wing." Just be careful; not all of them deal with werewolves or other werecreatures.
W-Lupus Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2012   Writer
Oh yeah, I'm certainly with you there. I write novels by default, because I just prefer to develop things beyond the scope of a few thousand words. It's really hard to condense things when you can write so much more about the idea.

Well, I prefer werewolves when they're broken out of the savage and sinless saint stereotypes we have floating around. Ah, it's fine if they don't - I read a lot of things. It's a side effect of being an English Literature student. XD
fallowsingerwolf Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
this is really good! ^^
lynxmarsen Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Glad you liked it. I may have said this before, but this story seems to be my most popular work. If you want, you can check out my other works. Not all of them deal with werewolves, though, so... you were warned.

I also have a huge number of projects in the works, some of which do NOT involve werewolves, but furries instead (yes, I am a MILD furry; I'm not ashamed to admit it), and aliens. Beyond that I cannot reveal any more without causing major spoilers.
fallowsingerwolf Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
on my way to read them now :)

and i look forward to
strawberry-wolf-girl Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012  Student General Artist
lycanthropy is more spiritual for me so all the technicalities you described were uncomfortable. but i still enjoyed the story :)
minyjj69 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
nice loved it!!
lynxmarsen Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I'm glad you like it. This story seems to be my most popular work. It took me only a day to write it, since writing seems to come naturally to me.

If you want, you can check out my other works, including a huge werewolf novel I wrote called "White Wolf's Wing."
minyjj69 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Sure if its some thing you did iam sure ill love it to
weretamer Featured By Owner May 29, 2012
Nice I like the whole story esspecially at the end :D
lynxmarsen Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Glad you like it. If you want, you can check out my other works, including my werewolf novel, "The Hidden Beast."
weretamer Featured By Owner May 30, 2012
Realy? I would love to
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