ysabetwordsmith: Victor Frankenstein in his fancy clothes (Frankenstein)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem was written outside the prompt calls, to fill the "things that people need" square in my Wordsmith Bingo card. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family.


"To See Your Soul"


There was no treating Bertolf like a little boy,
even when he was shaped like one.

He ran naked around the castle grounds,
having figured out the latch on the barn door
rather quickly, and played in the river,
but he did not run away.

He ate more of their chickens, although
Igor tried to keep him full of fish. Bertolf also
caught rabbits and squirrels, and quite a lot of mice,
which endeared him to Victor no end.

No matter what they tried, he would not wear clothes.
They could not bring him into the castle itself,
for he pissed on the walls and the floors like a puppy.

Bertolf seemed happy enough, though,
so Igor did not want to pressure him.

They had told the villagers about the boy,
and Victor had added wolves to the list
of animals that must not be hunted
within the castle grounds.

They had not yet told anyone about
the connections between the two.

It was Lóránt the woodcutter who first spied
the unfamiliar footprints in the forest --
not boot prints, but bare human feet,
the size of a large man.

"I'm not sure who it could be," Igor said
when asked, because Bertolf
was a good deal smaller.

Not long after that, Dénes the brewer
stopped by. "Do you know, it was
raining squirrels today!" he said with a wink,
laying a brace of them on the table.
"I saw something else odd in the woods,
too, bare footprints large and small."

"Like a man and a boy?" Igor wondered.

"Like several men and boys, or even women,"
Dénes said. "All different sizes of feet,
coming together and then moving apart again."

"How peculiar," Igor replied. "I'll keep an eye out.

This could be trouble, or just something interesting,
he thought to himself as he worked.

Igor was tending the grapevines at the edge
of the garden, near the forest, when suddenly
a stranger appeared between the leaves.

He had a long face, pale under matted black hair,
with a penetrating gaze and a short beard
that framed his mouth. He was quite nude.

"Good morning," Igor said politely,
as if it were normal to find a naked stranger
standing at the end of his garden.
"Is there anything I can do for you?"

He has such strange eyes, Igor thought,
watching the hazel shift through shades
of green and gold and pale brown.
They almost seem to see your soul.

The man tipped his head up
as if tasting the wind.
"You smell of friendship."

Well that was an odd thing to say.

Then Igor remembered Csilla saying that
others of her kind could smell how he had fed her.
"I have friends," he said. "One of them has
a particularly memorable smile."

The stranger grinned back at him,
lips closed but eyes crinkling at the corners,
pleasure and relief warm in Igor's mind.
"You have been touched," he said.
"We had no hope of finding allies here."

"We?" Igor echoed softly.

"I am Fridrik," he said. "These are my people."

They drifted out of concealment one at a time:
a tall woman whose blonde hair fell in tails to her hips,
leading a little girl with darker blonde hair and blue eyes.

"My mate Janika and our daughter Alida," said Fridrik.
"They're all that remains of my first pack. The same
is true for Shandor and his family."

The second man had a deep natural tan and green eyes,
with brown rolls of hair just to his shoulders. With him
came a woman even darker, and another little girl
whose tinted skin and brown hair marked her as theirs.

"I am Mircea. Our daughter is Simza,"
the brown woman said. Then she turned
and looked back toward the forest.

Slinking out of the shadows came a woman
with fire-red hair and brown eyes, her fair skin
showing boldly against the dark leaves --
no, not a woman, Igor realized as she approached,
but a teenaged girl not yet fully grown.

This one is frightened, Igor realized.

"Ena was all alone when we took her in," Fridrik said.
"The hunters have been cruel in recent years."

"There is no hunting of wild boar or wolves
on the castle grounds," Igor said truthfully.
"Only deer, squirrels, rabbits, game birds --
and only what may be taken safely
without depleting the supply. I'm Igor;
my partner Victor and I keep this castle."

The sense of relief was stronger this time,
a chorus of inward voices that came clear
even though Igor's empathy was still
a new and tentative thing.

"If we have come hunting something ..."
Fridrik said hesitantly. "... or someone?"

"Then I'd like to know what or whom,"
Igor said, holding the other man's gaze.

Fridrik moved closer, right up next to him, and
leaned forward to bury his nose in Igor's hair,
snuffling loudly behind the ear.

Startled, Igor froze in place for a moment.
What in the world is he doing? Igor thought.
Then he sniffed back, more cautiously.

Fridrik smelled fresh and wild, with
some kind of musky, woodsy undertone;
his surprise and approval echoed back to Igor.

Fridrik stepped back. "Few people greet us
in our own manner, even if they are
friends of friends," he said.

"It seemed like the thing to do," Igor said
with a shrug. "I figured that you
wouldn't be doing it if it were rude."

Fridrik exchanged a long look with Shandor.
The darker man nodded. Fridrik explained,
"We are Dacians ... some call us the Wolf People.
We came here following rumors of a lost cub."

Igor felt around in his mind, trying
to gauge their intent and their integrity.
They seemed honest enough, and really,
children belonged with their own people
if it was at all possible to return them.

"He's probably in the barn," Igor said.
"We've been calling him Bertolf --
if he has a name of his own, he hasn't
told us, nor spoken any other word."

The women looked profoundly unhappy at that.
"Dacian cubs learn to walk and run within
their first summer," Janika said. "Sometimes
they can survive even if separated from their pack."

"We've been taking care of him as best we could,
but there was no way for us to know if he had kin
to look after him," Igor said. "I can't even keep him
from raiding the henhouse or peeing on the floor."

"You've been feeding him," Mircea said, frowning.

"He needs to eat," Igor said sharply.
"Better he should get fish and squirrel
than gobble up all of our hens!"

"Let us go to the barn and smell him,"
Fridrik said, waving a hand.

The others fell in beside him, their bare bums
swaying in the cool autumn air, the women's breasts
bobbing softly in time with their long strides.

"I wonder," Igor said, "if werewolves
ever wear clothes like humans."

Fridrik wrinkled his nose. "If we must."
"But only when we must," Janika said.

"We do not feel the cold as much
as humans do," Shandor explained.

Different metabolism? Better fat distribution?
Igor wondered. They looked much the same
as humans; the differences must be subtle.

Igor opened the barn door for them,
but as soon as the visitors went in,
Bertolf began whining and growling.

No amount of coaxing from the women
or even the other children would soothe him.
Finally he skittered around the walls
to press against the back of Igor's legs.

"Well, that's new," Igor said. "He's never
been willing to touch anyone before."

"That's what I was afraid of," Mircea said.
"He considers you his packmates.
He will not want to come with us now."

"We thought we could reach him in time,
as we did with Ena," Fridrik said. "Lone wolves
usually stay alone until they come across
another pack -- it's rare for humans to feed one."

"I couldn't just let him starve, or keep stealing food;
someone was bound to get hurt," Igor said.
"You can't just leave, either. He needs his kin,
and I don't know how to raise a baby werewolf!"

"And stay where?" Shandor said.
"We do not care much for houses, and
few people want us around in any case."

If they live in the wild, surely they must
know how to take good care of it,
Igor mused.

"Come up to the castle and meet my partner Victor,"
said Igor. "Perhaps we can work something out."

"Very well," said Fridrik, and Shandor nodded.

So Igor led the little pack of werewolves up the path.
"Wait here," he said as he went inside.

"Done with the grapevines already?"
Victor asked. "It's not even lunchtime yet."

"No, we have some visitors," Igor said.
"They're here about Bertolf. I'll warn you
they're a bit odd, but I think I should
leave the rest for them to explain."

When they went outside, they found
Janika lazily scratching herself on the gate
and Fridrik sniffing the post where Bertolf
usually peed now they wouldn't let him indoors.

Victor's eyebrows climbed until they
disappeared under his bangs.
"Welcome to our home," he said slowly.

Fridrik headed directly for him,
and Victor dodged back a pace.

"He just wants to smell you, Victor,"
said Igor. "That's how they say hello.
It's polite to sniff him back."

Victor stood still, but it was clearly
more of an effort for him. He doesn't
like people crowding him,
Igor recalled.

"You smell ... different," Fridrik said
as he stepped away. He licked his nose,
tongue long and pink against pale skin. "Like Igor,
but not like sex. Are you mates, or not?"

Igor had to laugh at Victor's affronted look.
"Partners," Igor said firmly. "The details
are hardly any of your concern.
You were meant to discuss Bertolf."

"Will you be taking him with you?" Victor asked.

"We can't," Mircea told him. "We followed
the cub's trail here, but he has already
decided that you are his pack."

That led to a discussion of the Dacians
and their customs, which explained
a lot of Bertolf's quirks.

"We still haven't found a groundskeeper,"
Igor murmured to Victor. "What do you think?"

Victor nodded. "Our forest could use
someone to look after it, and Bertolf
needs others of his kind around
whether he likes the idea or not,"
he said to Fridrik. "If you will help
tend the land and count the game,
you are welcome to stay here."

Fridrik snorted in surprise.
"You would share your territory with us?"
he exclaimed. "Only the strigoi viu have done that."

"I have heard of human allies making such an offer,"
Shandor said slowly, "but not in recent times."

"As I said, we have friends," Igor repeated.

"Yes," Fridrik said, sniffing Igor again
as if to remind himself of the scent-marker.

Maybe if these werewolves stay, Csilla
won't feel quite so lonely,
Igor thought. They're not
vampires, but they seem to be connected
.

"What do you say?" Victor asked.

Fridrik and Shandor leaned together,
snuffling and muttering. Then they both
turned back to Victor. "Agreed," Fridrik said.

Mircea gave a scolding yip, and Igor
realized that Simza and Alida were
trying to break into the henhouse
to get at the terrified chickens.

"Perhaps you'd like to stay for lunch,"
Igor said dryly. "We are having fish."

Janica laughed. "We like fish -- especially
if we do not have to catch it ourselves!"

Perhaps, Igor mused, they aren't so different after all.

* * *

Notes:

Bertolf -- He has tinted skin, hazel eyes, and blond dreadlocks to his shoulders. His wolf form is flecked with black, gray, and brown turning lighter on the underparts. As far as anyone knows, he is the sole survivor of his first pack, and has since bonded with Igor and Victor.

Fridrik -- He has fair skin, hazel eyes, and curly black dreadlocks to his shoulders. A short beard and moustache completely frame his mouth. He was the alpha male of his first pack. He is the mate of Janika and the father of Alida. His wolf form is black.

Shandor -- He has light brown skin, green eyes, and brown dreadlocks just past his shoulders. A short beard and moustache bracket his mouth without quite touching. He is the mate of Mircea and the father of Simza. He was the alpha male of his first pack. His wolf form is dark brown to black on top with an ivory face and belly.

Janika -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and straight blonde dreadlocks to her hips. She was the alpha female of her first pack. She is the mate of Fridrik and the mother of Alida. Her wolf form is pale blonde, almost white.

Mircea -- She has light brown skin, brown eyes, and wavy black dreadlocks past her breasts. She was the alpha female of her first pack. She is the mate of Shandor and the mother of Simza. Her wolf form is black sprinkled with tan on top, with ivory paws and underside.

Ena -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and wavy red dreadlocks just past shoulder length. She is the lone survivor of her first pack. Her wolf form is a bright red-gold with paler ginger underparts.

Simza -- She has light brown skin, hazel eyes, and straight brown dreadlocks just past her shoulders. She is the daughter of Shandor and Mircea. Her wolf form is black with small tan markings.

Alida -- She has fair skin, blue eyes, and long dark blonde dreadlocks to her waist. She is the daughter of Fridrik and Janika. Her wolf form is white.

* * *

"To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your soul.
Just be sure something you want to view is there."
-- Unknown

Feral children often have trouble adapting to human expectations. This is particularly true for Bertolf, who isn't human to begin with.

Werewolves have appeared in mythology and fiction for ages. Historically the portrayals tend to be negative. More recently, positive portrayals have emerged, particularly for female werewolves.

Naturists go nude for many reasons, including comfort as the Dacians do.
http://www.naturistsociety.com/tns/about/FAQ.html

DACIANA: Romanian name derived from Roman Dacia, the name for the region that is today Moldova and Romania. According to Strabo, the Dacians were originally known as the daoi, from Phrygian daos, meaning "wolf." It is interesting to note, too, that daoi is the Gaelic word for a "wicked man."
http://www.20000-names.com/female_romanian_names.htm

Wolves have a complex social structure in the pack. Due to their keen sense of smell, they often sniff each other or their surroundings. Wolves use eye contact to communicate status, among other things. Staring is a challenge; looking down is submissive. A polite, equal-to-equal greeting in Wolf involves meeting eyes, looking down briefly, and then looking back. Wolves are very territorial and use a variety of signals to warn away rivals.

A groundskeeper maintains the plants and animals within an area, such as wilderness managed for hunting.

The strigoi viu are vampires, and allies of the Dacian werewolves.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-24 04:14 pm (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
And "Bertolf", as I'm sure you know, means "bright/shining wolf" :-)

• Feral children often have trouble adapted to human expectations.
→ adapting

Re: Yes...

Date: 2014-12-25 07:54 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu

«That's why I picked it.» That's what I figured.

Bertolf

Date: 2014-12-24 04:15 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
This implies that he's younger than they perceived, and the reaction of the adult werewolves needs to be clarified a bit-- I'm not certain whether they're /angry/ with Igor and Victor for trying to "humanize" Bertolf, by taking care of him as if he were a human child of the same apparent age, or /worried/ for the boy's ability to fit into either society. It definitely, absolutely, needs more development. That's even before they meet Csilla!

Re: Bertolf

Date: 2014-12-25 03:44 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
You implied a /lot/ of that in the poem, very densely packed in such few direct references.

It's also a tentative truce, right now, and I want to see how some of the more frequently mentioned villagers will adapt to the newcomers, too.

It's going to be a busy year!

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