Copyright Lexi Ander
Chapter Eight, Part 2
"What would you rather do, Aldrich?"
Was that a trick question? He didn't know why but he was compelled to be honest with the stranger. "My name is Wulf." The man's blond brows arched. "Aldrich is my given name but my dad always called me Wulf." When the man didn't comment, he continued. "Paul wants me to come a monster. I want to be a hero like the ones my father told me of. If I have to learn to fight, I would rather be like Beowulf, a seasoned fighter, mighty and strong, ridding the world of monsters. Paul," Wulf sneered saying the name, "would make me into a murderer."
"Rule number one, never let your expressions give away what you are thinking or feeling. That is a tool you use to your advantage or someone will use it against you. If you cannot control your expressions, you will telegraph your next move and get yourself killed, no matter how good you are at fighting." He got out of the car and Wulf reluctantly followed him into the house. Why had he bothered saying anything at all?
They entered the cottage through a side door. It looked like a home. His mentor was an assassin. He expected something more blank, stark like in the movies.
"Why are you doing this? Wulf stood near the doorway. The freedom he wanted so badly on the other side of the threshold. Then it hit him, he would never truly be free, would he? His uncle had him on an invisible leash. If he ran and got away, then he would be running and hiding the rest of him life or until he was caught.
"I see you finally realized your situation," the man said. "We are really going to work on concealing your emotions. He poured a cup of coffee, and then another. He pointed at the laminate table. "Sit."
Wulf took the chair, staring at the man waiting for… "What is your name?"
"You can call me Scyld."
Wulf perked up. Scyld was an old name. Beowulf's father was called Scyld.
"I'm not going to call you Wulf." Scyld sipped his coffee, eyes crinkling at the corner when Wulf's mouth popped open in shock. "Wulf is a warrior's name. It is earned, not something given. Your da was a good man, wise beyond his years—minus his judgment marrying into that family. He might have thought that you have the heart of a fighter but have yet to prove it."
"You knew my dad?" Wulf was pissed about what Scyld said about his name, but he shoved it aside hearing Scyld speak of his father. He was weighing the pros and cons of becoming a runaway. He'd heard bad things happened to kids on the streets but being homeless in hiding had to be better than being a killer. But if Scyld knew his father, Wulf would stick around just to learn what Scyld knew.
Scyld ignored Wulf's question. "We will find a name others can call you. Your identity is a secret that you will never divulge to others. I don't have to tell you Paul is not a good man, but I am not your savior. I would not be training you, but I owe that bastard several favors. If I train you, it will wipe the slate clean and he will no longer have a hold over me." Scyld grimaced as if he tasted sometime foul. "I am telling you this because I will always be truthful with you. I could have turned him down and cancelled out my debts in other ways, but long ago your da and I… we were friends of a sort." Tears pricked Wulf's eyes. The comfort of being with someone who knew his father was overwhelming. "He had some interesting ideas of what real monsters were." Scyld smiled faintly, his eyes taking a far away look as if remembering something. Then his gaze sharpened and fell on Wulf, his expression blank. "I will teach you everything I know. You need to decide where you will draw the lines with your uncle. Make it plane what you will and won't do. You don't believe you have a choice. You do, you just have to decide if you are going to accept the consequences. Paul will send you after his enemies and most of them will be just as filthy and corrupt as he is. He will believe you to be his dog, the tool he'll wield with ruthless efficiency. In time, all who know your uncle will fear you, the nightmare Paul will send in the dead of night. But one day, you will free yourself from his grasp and you will forge your own path. The one your father meant for you all along and you'll be transformed from the monster of someone's nightmare into another's hero."
Scyld's calloused hands wiped away Wulf's tears. "Now drink your coffee and I'll make us something to eat."
He rose from his chair, puttering around the kitchen as he built several sandwiches. Wulf grimaced at the bitterness of the coffee, watching Scyld like a hawk. A plate filled with a sandwich too big for his mouth and some kind of potato side that smelled a little sour was set before him.
"Eat up. Tomorrow will be the first day of your true life. Just remember, being a hero is a bloody path to walk."
Years later and that day was still vivid and fresh in Zane's memory. Ruefully, he wished Scyld was with him.
Table of Contents
Chapter Six, Part 1 - Harbinger of a Nightmare
Chapter Seven, Part 1 - Stolen Answers