|The Transformation Story Archive||Mythical Beings|
All For My Lady ...
You would like the story of the Monster of the Greenwood, my little ones? Well, then, if you will not go to sleep for a warm meal or a bed by the fire ... no? ... then tell it I must.
It all began long ago, in another place and time ...
I could hardly hold in the shouting. I wanted desperately to yell it to the world, the galaxy, the universe and beyond!
The Elfland group wants me! Me! ME!
When I finally put together my costume for this year, I wanted to make it special. Oh, always something to do with wolves. They're my favourites, after all. But something more ... impressive. So I used casts of real wolves' teeth from the natural history museum for the teeth, and even checked out Mech's book three times running to get the fur pattern right. I even positioned the sheath directly in accordance with the best five sources on canine and lupine anatomy in the library. Then tricked the jaw out with a hookup to my own lips. Sure, it cost me in terms of diction, but the little rims that held one jaw to the other gave me a movement that was almost eerily lifelike, while the spring hinges guaranteed a quick return with my lips.
Then the knight appeared. I couldn't believe the fluid grace with which he carried the armor, and I could tell by the movement that the metal wasn't off of some old Volkswagen Beetle or something. We're talking craftsmanship, here.
I nodded and gave a grunting growl. Apparently he hadn't expected that addition, because he paused a second before continuing. "My Lady, the Queen of Elfland, desires your presence this moment. Will you come?"
I used every ventriloquist trick I knew, and managed to growl an understandable, "When Titania calls, none may deny her. I come." Then I locked eyes with him ... and let the animal inside me have a little fun.
I don't know what happens when I do that, and I can't get a straight answer from anyone I do it to ... but it always gets a reaction. This time was no exception. But the reaction was not what I expected.
He paused a moment, looking into the depths of my eyes ... then nodded, turned, and led on.
My inner beast isn't used to such a challenge going unanswered, so he drew back, deciding to wait and learn more before he tried that again.
At the door to a large suite, the knight stopped, the door was opened, and he said, "The Monster is presented."
As he strode inside, and I kept three paces behind, checking every shadow, for I am a nervous beast, we came to the central room of the suite. There, upon a carpet of artificial grass, sat the Throne. And on that throne was ... The Lady.
"The Monster is presented, My Queen."
"So I see", she purred in a silken-sweet voice, "and am seen. Let the Monster approach."
Hesitantly, I moved forward, my eyes tracking every visible member of the court as they took in the sight of me, moving from my counterbalanced legjacks, up to the chest, where the form fit rather nicely in my opinion, and on to the head. Then, at a gesture from the Queen, I turned halfway around, presenting my tail and back to the view of the court.
Turning, I could see a small smile on the Queen's face.
"Has the Monster a name?"
I managed to growl, "My kind need no names. My name is My Queen's to give."
She almost seemed to start then, but recovered nicely. "Such a marvelous voice, and such magnificent work! Truly a well-made monster. But is the beast agile?"
At a motion to my right, I turned, swung, and connected with a small figure, hurling him back at least three feet as he screamed. I bowed to him, then turned to the Queen. "My apologies, Your Majesty. I am unused to being approached at speed for any good reason."
"Oh, well hit, Monster! But swiftness of arm is not the same as swiftness of leg." She gave me a sarcastic smirk, then continued, "Have you quickness in your other limbs as well?"
In response, I elected to show instead of tell. Leaping forward and to the right of the Queen, I pushed off, rolling and coming to a crouching position, from which I glared at the assemblage.
Recovering from that lapse in control, I rose, bowed to the Queen, and stood at ready.
"Ingenious. Mannerly yet mighty. Truly, a beast as I have not seen in a long age. We wish you to join our court, Monster, and be presented with us in the competition this eve. How say you?"
"I am My Queen's to command, now, always and forever. By oak, and ash, and thorn, I so swear."
A hush went through the court then, and a murmur, stilled by the raised hand of the Queen. "Pretty words. Let us see if they are more than that. Come this eve at the hour of six. You are to tell no-one the purpose of this, nor speak to anyone about our court or your joining us. Should you do so, your membership in my court shall end as it begins. Do you understand?"
"Yes, My Queen."
"Then go. Until this eventide."
I bowed, then followed the knight back to the door, tensed for whatever might go wrong. Reaching the door the knight held open, I passed through, turned, watched the door close behind me ...
And finally relaxed. Breathing a heavy sigh of relief, I removed my headpiece carefully, then headed for the nearest drinking fountain. That lapse of control in there had almost cost me.
No matter how much the beast in me loved it.
Being a berserker, in the old battle stories, always sounds great. You're strong, you're brave, you can do anything you want ... Don't You Believe It. Every day, I worry about accidentally letting loose and hurting some innocent bystander, or worse yet, killing someone ... anyone!
And I'm only a small berserker, what they used to call a wolf-shirt, or ulfheonar.
Still, the growl and the stare come in awfully handy sometimes ... and believe me, when you're facing off against a pair of pitbulls, being able to intimidate them comes in really handy.
But all of that means nothing when you're trying to date, or carry on a conversation, or deliver a speech, and all your inner beast can do is either try to get you to run as far away as possible or try to get you to kill as many as you can to take them with you.
That's why I work in haunted houses.
Scariness is a good thing there.
At the first stroke of six, I was standing ready at the door, with my headpiece firmly atop my shoulders. As I heard an old clock in the room before me strike the last note of six, the door slowly swung open, not even a squeak accompanying its motion. The knight stood revealed before me, but spoke not a word as he turned and led on into the room.
In addition to the court, there was now a mirror and a group of small men and women with needles and thread. As I looked at them, my beast said, No. They have sharp things. You cannot trust them. Still, I cautiously, nervously made my way into the center of the room and stood before the throne. And The Queen.
"You seem nervous, Monster. Are you afraid?"
I growled in response, "Only a fool is never afraid. I am one before many. Fear is wise."
She nodded. "A beast indeed. A veritable beast. You will have noticed that you are the only addition to my court that I am making at this time. My last Monster proved somewhat ... intractable. He has left my service."
Suddenly, I started laughing.
I clenched my jaw, trying to stifle the growling grunts that I allowed myself in character, but only succeeded in drawing the court's attention. "You are amused? Pray, what is this laughter's source?"
"(hunh, hunh) I (hunh, hunh) I ... do ... not ... know ... (hunh, hunh, hunh, hunh) ... Your ... Majesty." I drew a deep breath and sighed, the inappropriate sounds dying away. "My apologies, Your Majesty. It has passed."
She still looked at me oddly, but gestured to the mirror. There, as I turned to look, stood the very image of my costume. Then, at a sudden motion and a flash of metal, I whirled to face ...
A very startled tailor. I growled behind my mask, and he seemed to go pale, encouraging my beast to new and greater volumes.
In a swift animal movement, I turned to face the Queen.
"You will stand before the mirror, completely still, and allow them to continue. Is that clear?"
Her calm, velvet tone calmed my beast, and I bowed. "Yes, your Majesty. I shall obey."
Turning once more, I locked myself, responding to each touch with a twitch as the small tailors and seamstresses seemed to dissect my costume piecemeal and sew it back together. When the palest of them reached for my headpiece, a whine escaped me, and a shiver ran through me, as my beast cried No! Bitekillclawbitetearbite HIM! Barely holding onto myself, I released my lips from the rims and stood stock-still as the mask was lifted away, my whimper dying away to silence.
There in the mirror was the face I was born to. The blue eyes looked as though they were burning to me, as my lips twitched in frustration beneath my brown mustache and beard. Looking into my own eyes, I told my beast, We. Will Not. Harm. Them. Then, more calmly, All is well. Be patient. My beast only became more frightened, his constant mental noise hammering at my thoughts, pounding on the door to action. A door I refused to open to him.
At the same time, the Queen drew near, watching the sewers ... no, watching me!
"You remind me of one I knew once."
I remained frozen, knowing my beast would use any opportunity to act out against those who were subjecting him to this.
"I hope you will prove more ... tractable."
Finally, the bodywork seemed to halt, and the sewers withdrew. The overall picture was still the same ... but changed. The legs looked trimmer, the muscles I had sewn in moving more fluidly and evenly than before. The chest was somewhat changed, with more close-fitting padding for the muscles. The claws looked yellowed and stained, with a dark quick at the center. And the fur ...
The fur was perfect. Its colors would seem dingy to anyone else, I suppose, but I had given the fibers a proper breaking down with a sprayer filled with a black dye solution. Still, even my careful work was nothing to this. The dark guard hairs, simulated with fibers from hairbrushes, now glistened slightly, as if coated with the natural oils of the fur. The fur itself now matted where it would see little use, but swung freely elsewhere, as every movement folded the "skin" of the costume and produced a new mat or ripple. As I turned, I saw that even the tail had been so treated, and a new spring seemed to have been given to the piano wire that moved it.
Then I saw the mask.
My beast almost started before realising it was my mask, its lips drawn back from its teeth in a snarl. The teeth were stained and yellowed, the nose glistening and wet, the ears seemingly more flexible, moving back and forth as I picked up the headpiece, almost as though it was surprised to see me.
Putting it on, I turned back to the mirror ... and my beast gave a leap. YES! I stood, stunned, as I took in the image before me. The beast who stood there now seemed, by some trick of the light, more massive than before, more intimidating and fierce. As I lowered mt head to complete the snarl, the ears swiveled to the back, their furry surfaces turning to the front as the picture was completed. In the mirror, the beast snarled a challenge, his yellow incisors glinting unwholesomely in the light as his tail lashed behind him.
"It is finished, then. Come. We must prepare for the competition."
Following where she led, I met the rest of the troupe: a barbarian warrior and his steed. The storyline was obvious from the arrangement of our band: hero kills monster, saves kingdom, gets girl, ho-hum. I thought a moment and growled, "My Queen".
"Yes, Monster?", she replied without pause.
"May I win?"
She stopped, halting the procession, then turned to me, a smile growing on her pale features. "We shall see."
As our segment began, I tensed myself, preparing for action, my beast angered within me. Onstage, she began telling the story of a beast ravaging the kingdom (my part, of course) and the barbarian warrior sent to find and destroy it. A small woman from the court played out a seduction scene to tempt the warrior, but was ignored. Then it was my turn.
I leapt from the wings to land, half-crouched, upon the stage, then brought myself back to two feet. The barbarian and I circled as I snarled bare-tooth at him. Then, with a single swift action ... he attacked, his sword descending like a comet. I jumped backward, then sprang as the mass of the sword pulled him to his left. Grasping his shoulders, I sank my teeth into the right blade, scratching the surface of his toughened hide. He attempted to drive the air from my lungs with the hilt of his sword, but I held him firmly and shifted my jawhold to his neck. Suddenly, his well-practiced battle became a panic, his arms flailing as the air in his lungs was used up and his sword fell uselessly to the stage. I held the tableau a moment longer, then dropped his still form and howled my victory.
" ... and so the kingdom was forced to release the lands back to their true inheritors, and free the people from their oppressive rule. And the beast was honored with a place beside the throne of the queen of that realm, where he shall forever guard her kingdom and her heirs."
I snapped to, the beast shaking its head in confusion. Had I just ... but no, even as I watched, I could see him rising from the stage for his bows. I bowed long and deep with the company, and we retired to our seats for the remainder of the contest.
Elfland won, of course, with an extra "Honorable Mention" ribbon for "a truly original story".
At the dance afterwards, to which all contestants were invited this year, the warrior went after the ladies with all the finesse of a bullwhip, while the small lady from the play proved to be a complete flirt. The stallion had retired, the Queen making his excuses. And I?
I sat and listened to the music.
Finally, I rose from my seat and approached the Queen. "My Lady ... ?"
"My Lady, I would dance with you ... to celebrate."
A single eyebrow rose as she considered my request. "Indeed? A dancing beast, then? And should I refuse?"
"It is your right to do so, My Lady."
I stood there for an eternity of seconds, wondering why it felt so important to dance with her, but knowing I had to. Just had to.
"Very well. A dance, slow and stately, then."
At her gesture, the knight twisted the dial on the radio that was providing the music, bringing forth the strains of a minuet. The Lady took my hand, and raised it above her head for the beginning.
As the first half progressed, the Lady led, her patterns proving difficult to follow, almost impossible to anticipate. Still, I matched her as we spun and twirled about the floor, all eyes upon us.
Then, as the second half played on, I began to add my own motions to the dance. A second step here, a twirl there, a drawing bow in another place, with a pirouette for a matchpoint. Surprised, the Queen quickly recovered, then spun to match me, every step, spin and gesture in place.
Finally, as the second half drew to a close, the two of us became as one in thought and action, as time ceased to exist, to have meaning in any way save the tempo of the dance. We spun at last to a halt, having returned to our starting point.
I bowed, making a leg in the old-fashioned way, my hand outstretched.
She hesitated ... then took my hand, lowering herself into a curtsey.
I lifted her hand to my lips ... then lowered it, the kiss symbolic.
And the crowd applauded.
Our dancing over, the Queen led the way back to her chamber ... I mean her room. I started to ask her if she liked the dance ...
I couldn't move.
I Couldn't Move.
I COULDN'T MOVE!
My beast raged, my will adding to his as we braced to bring forth one sound, one motion that had nothing to do with walking, lockstep, behind the queen. Yet, for all our raging, not even a snarl crossed my face. Not one muscle twitched. Finally, we braced to cast our collective sanity to the winds ...
The Queen stopped. She turned, came to me. I tried to cry out, the beast to howl despairingly, trapped inside our frozen body, to tell her what was happening.
"It is well. You shall be free soon."
Stunned, my beast and I halted our struggles, watched as she returned to the front of the line ... and began to walk again.
When the troupe entered the Queen's room, something was changed. Something seemed more open, less confining about the room.
Then I saw the stallion cropping the grass.
The grip of ice left me, and my beast strained to run to the woods we now saw before us. Yet I stayed. I had questions.
The warrior cast me a last hate-filled glance and left for the inn, as the small woman vanished into a tree.
The Queen stood before me.
"Where am I?"
"Elfland, of course. For one with such a natural grasp of our ways, you seem surprised to find yourself here."
My mind skittered away from that question, my beast lurking in my mind's shadows as my thoughts spun. What do I ask? What has happened? What am I? The answer to both those questions came with the breeze as it ruffled my fur and brought faraway scents to my now-functional nose and tongue. I can feel my sheath, now a part of me, swell with my tension and subside with my realisations.
"What do I do now?"
"Most Monsters go to the Greenwood to hunt and ravage and find a pack. With your form, you can lead a pack of packs and rule the forest ... if that is what you want."
Somehow, somewhy, a longing welled up in me, and I said, my forever-growling voice almost a whisper, "My Lady ... "
Again, she started slightly, almost imperceptibly. "One other called me that."
"And he left."
Her face went stiff and cold. "I do not wish to be reminded of painful histories."
Finally, my beast and I joined in ripping the curtain away, turning our minds full into the urgings that beat at our mind as she turned once more to me and said, "You resemble him slightly. Yet you know as much of Elfland as any of my court. You do not ask the how or the why ... these things you ignore."
"What are you?"
I found my voice at last. "My Lady ... Tam-Lin never forgot."
She stiffened at that.
"And he never stopped loving you."
She turned to me, her voice hoarse as she said, "How do you know these things?"
"I am of the blood of Tam-Lin, My Lady. And we shall always remember."
She seemed to become almost brittle at that, her face growing so cold and pale that a statue of ice seemed to stand before me. "Do you seek favors? I will not restore you. You have sworn by the Three to be mine."
"I have made my choice, My Lady. When I first came to you, I knew only that you were what you claimed. The rest came with time. Time and magic."
"Do you wish to be a court pet?"
"As My Lady wishes me to be, so shall I be. This I swear by Oak, and Ash, and Thorn."
For a long moment, she stood silent, unmoving.
"Go and hunt the Greenwood. You will return to me this night, and always. This protection I lay upon you by virtue of the Seelie Court."
I swore I saw her throat work, then "Go."
I turned ... and hesitated. I turned back.
"May we dance again?"
She paused, then nodded. Around us, the wind began to whisper through the trees, shifting to a gentle cascade of melody, as we turned and spun, each a match to the other.
As my ancestor intended and knew.
Then, the dance ended, the music of the trees fading, I ran on all fours to the edge of the wood. And looked back.
On Titania's cheek, a single tear lanced its path across her cheek, sendind pain lancing through her.
Yet as nothing to the pain of memory. And of love.
And I ran to the woods to hunt.
And that, my young ones, is the story of the Monster of the Greenwood, who lives untouched by any hand of Fae, and shall live on in this land of Faery forever.
Now, now, cubs, you've had my story. I'll answer some questions, but that's all for tonight.
My Queen? Yes, we still see each other. She was the one who bred me with your mother, and enchanted you to be more like me.
Do we dance still? Indeed we do. The beauty of living in the land of Faery is that I am forever as I was when I entered, save I perish by misadventure. And My Lady protects me always.
Now, off to sleep. My Lady and I teach you hunting tomorrow, remember.
Ah, My Lady ...
I love you.
Related to "Booby Prize", as you'll have guessed ... but it's a bit different, hm?:)
All For My Lady ... copyright 1996 by Wanderer.
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