The gray stain washed from his vision as he rose on shaking limbs, shedding fur and leaving him naked to the winter wind. Snow had fallen in the night. The man gasped, wiping the blood from his trembling chin. Behind him in the fresh white fall were the telltale tracks of his curse. Claws and massive paws leading from the forest.
He had lost himself again the night before when the moon could not be seen. Only a shaving of iridescence light in the heavens, the darkness overcame him as did the blood lust. No matter how he fought it, the urge was too strong.
There wasn't anyone there to stop him.
Memories from the night before hammered in his brain. He had no control over what he did in that condition. A company of men taking shelter in the wood, horses nickering and then bucking in panic at his scent. A young man in chain mail was calming them, distracted by his task. The others around the fire drew their weapons. He had honed in on the lonely one grasping the reins of the horses and attacked.
It hadn't been a difficult kill. One slash across the neck and a crack of a paw against his back then the man went limp in his deadly embrace. He had been unable to drag his prey away, hide his sins, as one of the company stormed up and delivered a harsh blow to his arm. He had released the dead body and thundered away into the snowy wood, howling with pain and anger. Wandering and leaving a trail of blood that was covered by the blizzard, he had finally come home.
He collapsed on the front steps of the manor. A familiar figure draped a blanket over his frostbitten shoulders and helped him to his feet. He glanced down at his hand past the wound on his forearm. Fist clenched around something round and small.
He was seated before the fire in the great hall. Peeling back his fingers, he gaped down at the pendant in his hand. He remembered tearing it from the man he had killed in the forest. It was a family prayer pendant, with a crest he knew so well.
Pressing the pendant to his chest, he moaned and tumbled over onto the flagstones.ns 18.104.22.168da2