- #1 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Bound Fey
- #2 Co-Writing With AI Dungeon: Lore and the Trip to Market
- #3 Co-Writing With AI Dungeon: Lore and the Great Palace
- #4 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Lady with White Eyes
- #5 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Wizard’s Familiar
- #6 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Palace Crypt
- #7 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Restrained Demon
- #8 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Library Chase
- #9 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Library Vault
- #10 FINALE Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Lore and the Court Wizard
- #1 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Nero and the Black Wolf (New Story!)
- #2 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Nero and the Black Wolf
- #3 Co-Writing with AI Dungeon: Nero and the Black Wolf
“I’m sorry, do I know you?” you ask, your voice a little strangled. You don’t recognise the woman, but the eyes … the eyes are all too familiar. Her child’s eyes are just as bright. You try to deny what this must mean, try to forget the wolf-like creature you met all those weeks ago, as you try to forget it every day.
But the memories won’t go away. The memories won’t let you forget. The memories are all too real. “No, I don’t believe we’ve met,” she says. “I’m Lyssia. Your sister?”
Lyssia? The name stops your spiralling panic. Your mother mentioned that your father had had another child, though you don’t remember whether a name was mentioned. It was a rumour passed to her, as far as you knew; she’d had no more contact with your father than you had since he’d left. This is all so strange. You are already feeling unbalanced from her golden eyes, but this has turned you in completely another direction.
You hastily step aside and gesture for her to join you. “Please,” you say. “Come in. We can catch up over a cup of tea. My sister, you say?” You wish you sounded even a fraction less frazzled.
Lyssia nods. The toddler, a little girl, watches both of you from Lyssia’s hip. You realise with a shock that this must be your niece. Lyssia’s eyes flicker over to the toddler.
“This is Maris,” she says, “my daughter.”
“Oh, uh, hi,” you say, a little overwhelmed. You guide Lyssia away from your forge and back into the house, too dazed to think much of the soot streaking your arms or the heavy, scorched work apron on your front. While Lyssia and her daughter settle, you see about putting the kettle on and realise with a start how terrible you must look right now. You quickly wash your hands and arms in the sink and scrub the soot and sweat from your face, hoping you aren’t too obvious about it.
When the tea is done, you sit at the table across from them, grasping the tea cup a little too tightly and facing two pairs of identical gold eyes. “So,” you say. “What brings you to Blackwater? I mean, to me.” You flush, cursing your own awkwardness.
Lyssia smiles kindly. The toddler giggles at something she sees on the floor.
“I’m here to ask you some questions for the werewolf pack.”
“Werewolf pack? I … sorry, I thought you said you were my sister?”
“I am,” she says brightly. “And so are you. I mean … I think. That’s what the questions are about.” She takes a deep breath. “So have you ever had strange dreams? Of a full moon? Of running on four paws?”
Strange dreams … you frown, thinking.
Vivid, horrifying nightmares that feel so real you think you’re actually there. You remember dreaming the taste of blood and the pounding terror of running full pelt. These dreams had never been comfortable for you.
“Yes,” you say, hoping this doesn’t mean what you think it means. “But more nightmares for me.” You already know the Black Wolf of Blackwater is real, but finding out you are related to werewolves is making you feel sick with fear.
Lyssia nods. “Good,” she says, “that means you might have the blood. So is it true?” Her eyes flicker to your work apron nervously. “Is there a pack near Blackwater?”
The blood. Werewolf blood, she must mean. Like she has, or says she has. You think of the stories of the Black Wolf of Blackwater, stories you now know are true. There is at least one werewolf near Blackwater.
You set aside your tea and rub your face tiredly. You don’t want to think about this. “Maybe,” you say. “So … how’s our father?” you ask. “And how did you find out I live here?”
“He’s fine,” she says. “I’m the pack’s tracker. I track down new recruits and make sure they understand the rules. We can’t transform in front of humans.”
You nod, trying to bite down on your disappointment. “Oh. So you’re only here because of the pack.”
She shrugs and doesn’t meet your eyes, the warm smile she’s been keeping up this whole time fading. “It’s not the only reason,” she says. “We … don’t have a lot to do with humans. When I learned you might be a recruit, I was excited to meet you.”
“But you wouldn’t have been able to come otherwise,” you say.
She shakes her head. “I brought Maris,” she said, as if to mollify you. The toddler is pushing a spoon around the table, not really interested in you.
You see her eyes then, peering up at you, the spoon suddenly forgotten. The gold is brighter than you’ve ever seen it, and they are unquestionably a wolf’s eye, watching and waiting. You look away. “Is there anything else you wanted to ask me?” you ask. “I don’t intend to join your pack, whatever that might mean. I’m happy enough as a blacksmith. But if you wanted to stay a while, and talk family, that would be wonderful.”
She smiles again, but this time it is tight. “I’ll keep you in my thoughts, brother. Thank you for your time.” She leaves, and you wait for your mind to stop racing.
You don’t return to the forge, and spend a long time thinking. About the Black Wolf. About Lyssia and Maris. And about the nightmares you have never told anyone about, and which might mean that there is a wolf inside you, the same as there is in Lyssia.
You don’t get to sleep that night. You go out for a walk, keeping to the roads as the forest has become strange and dangerous in recent times. For the first time in weeks, you meet the Black Wolf. Its eyes flash gold in the dark, bright against its dark fur. It emerges from between the trees just as it had that night all those weeks ago. In spite of its hulking size, in spite of its enormous teeth, you can’t muster any real fear of it. Not after your last encounter. And certainly not after meeting Lyssia.
“So I might be a werewolf too,” you say to it, half-wondering if it really spoke to you last time or if that had been a dream. “But you already knew that, didn’t you?”
The beast stares at you, the muscles standing out on its thick neck.
It lowers its head, as if to charge, and you find yourself raising your hands defensively.
Then it stops. It sniffs the air. “Wolf?” you ask cautiously. You are more unnerved by its silence now than you were when it first spoke. The beast gazes off into the distance. Its hackles raise, and it begins to thrum with a deep, threatening growl. You follow its gaze.
A woman stands beneath the tree not far from where you two stand. She carries a bow, and looks like she’s reaching for another arrow. The Black Wolf turns, bounding off into the darkness.
The woman looks like a warrior. She wears leather armor with a steel sword strapped to her back. Her brown hair is bound back in a ponytail, and although she isn’t quite as tall or as well-muscled as you, there is no doubting her competence.
“Hello!” You call, striding forward. The woman shifts her focus, training her bow on you, and you stop and raise your hands in a pacifying gesture.
“It’s alright. My name is….”
“Don’t speak,” the woman commands. She aims her arrow at you.