Manbane by Cyberwat is a HorrorClix fanfiction posted on It's Wicked Fun on June 22, 2007. It follows a Siberian peasant turned werewolf, who narrates the story, as he recounts the events leading to his current suicide attempt, including a run-in with the Wolfbrothers.
Someone please tell me I'm not a murderer. Maybe if I hear it from someone else's lips, I'll believe it.
I already know my other names. Until yesterday, I was called Bradford Trent. Before that I was Henri Julian, Kyle Prinn, John Terence, Benjamin Smyth.
Too many names, monikers I used to obfuscate my own nature. But only one name rings in my own ears now: a cursed title they've applied to me for nearly five hundred years and that once, unbelievably, swelled my chest pride. Now it only fills my heart with loathing.
But better any name than, "murderer."
Too long have I waited to act on the odium I finally know that title deserves. Too long. Now, I've bought a Colt .45 and loaded it with bullets. Very special bullets. I have the bringer of death in my mouth with the safety off. The question now becomes, "Will I have the courage to do the honorable thing?"
If I'm to do it, it had better be soon. The moon will be out then. Then it will be too late. Too late to resist the call of the coward.
For what no one has ever known, what I've always been able to conceal from everyone, is how craven I am at heart, despite my age and experience. This spinelessness, this filthy phobia of justice that stays my hand, is my curse: a pest passion greater than that bestial Thing that overtakes me in the crazed fire of bloodlust. It's why I haven't yet pulled the trigger. It's why I still only sit here, trying to rationalize this latest deed as something other than the just punishment for wanton criminality.
How ironic that I should fear death so. It is a trait none of my kind would dare to bring against me even if they knew the truth; I'm too old, and my kind only grows stronger as they age. Of course that strength is the very reason I must shoot myself now, tonight. Before it's too late.
Before I'm too strong for the gun to harm me.
But I can see, in my mind's eye, the gun lying in a ditch. Unused. Just like all the other times before when swords, bullets, and the occasional dining utensil rose to the challenge of becoming my would-be headsman's axe. But maybe tonight will be different. Tonight I have an extra incentive.
I killed her.
God forgive me, I killed her!
Already my hand is weakening, not out of decrepitude but for other more subtle reasons. It's curious: I can summon enough strength in my arms to crush steel and snap bones. And I can't pull a simple trigger.
I should tell my story. I owe her that much. Maybe the telling will remind me, sounding the clarion call to duty. Then I'll pull the trigger.
Yes. Then I'll do it.
One would think, and many have suspected it because of my achievements among my kin, that I was born a nobleman: as privileged, spoiled, and over-refined as any arrogant young Caesar. If only that were so. Perhaps I might have been spared my fate.
It was 1596 according to the Gregorian calendar when I entered the world: not in a palace, palazzo or villa, but in a dirty hovel amidst the howling cold of the Siberian steppes. Too young to appreciate that the house of Rurik was about to come to its final ignominious end and that greedy foreigners, poised to prey on the gasping invalid that was Mother Russia, would try to take what little heritage we had and drown it in blood.
My family was composed of stolid and indifferent peasants, inured, as all Russians are to this day, to suffering and want. The world outside was both our boon and blight. Living far from any road, more than a hundred miles from Tobolsk and untouched by the vitriol of the Khanate, our household knew frozen sadness and buried, sepulchral mirth. My father was a woodsman and my mother a seamstress. They were visited by no one save the nomad Kazakhs; and neither gave their only son more than food and shelter. They believed the steppes were no place for kindness, and I grew up to see the world as a punishment imposed upon men by God, who had somehow found us too odious to allow us warmth: that perhaps Siberia was His way of preventing our stink from spreading to the sultry places of the world.
One such human stench was carried by a very wicked man, the only lord who held sway over us, Baron Sergei Mihailovich Andreev. A tyrant, a spendthrift, and a liar, it is true, but he was almost preternaturally shrewd for all that. As the Time of Troubles claimed so many lives and our country was grasped by exiles, mercenaries and Cossacks alike, Andreev was able either to placate or rise above them all; how we never knew.
The Kazakhs would often whisper in timid and tremulous tones whenever the subject of the aristocracy in general, and of the baron in particular, would come up. Tales of ghastly killings, devil-worship, or dark conspiracies always seemed to follow in Andreev's train; so much so that his name became the favored talisman to frighten me whenever I misbehaved, the familys touchstone of terror.
As I grew into manhood I, of course, ceased to believe in such stories. How could any one man be so horrible? Was I truly expected to credit all the insane tales of cannibalism, heathen rites, and ancient curses? I may not have been a prince or a boyar myself, but I had arrogance aplenty: the remarkable, overweening egotism only achieved by those who lack understanding.
Would to Heaven that I had remained in my ignorance! One dark and wintry day, the Kazakhs warned us of an imminent attack by a mercenary German army led by a warlord whose name we never discovered: someone whom, at last, Baron Andreev was not able either to crush or to ally himself with. This man, supposedly a former priest of an unknown order, had challenged the baron to single combat. When Andreev refused, the ex-priest had ordered his castle burned to the ground.
Now the Kazakhs told us that the hated noble had escaped and was rumored to be fleeing in our direction.
Of course we didn't run. The cold in my father's heart had frozen him in place as surely as the chill of the steppes bind a rigid corpse beneath the ice. My father, stubborn to the end. By the next morning, both he and my mother would be dead.
The moon sailed high in the heavens that night, shining like the evil eye through the tenebrous gauze of the overspreading clouds of that evil winter.
Silence. No freezing breeze troubled the branches of the evergreens or sent the snow whirling in icy dust devils. No bird of the night cried its mournful hoot. The world was still, darkling.
We heard a howl, a distant baying as of a lone wolf. Then the padding of feet.
An instant later, something heavy slammed against the door of our hovel. There was heavy breathing outside as of a large animal. My mother cried out in terror and my father held an axe in his shaking hands.
The door burst in pieces. Some dark shape, larger than a man and snarling like a wild beast, tore into our home in flurry of teeth and claws. I saw very little of it; my face was hidden in terror as I cowered under our one table. I heard screams, shouts and dull impacts. Then something grabbed me, sank sharp teeth into my leg. I yelled in agony and fright. I felt my trousers become wet with blood and urine as I sobbed for my mother.
Then something struck me from behind and I knew no more.
It may well be asked how I knew the identity of the monster that destroyed my life. I know because when I awoke next morning to the cold blowing through the destroyed doorway and I saw with rising sickness and horror the shredded corpses of my parents, I saw also the body of the baron, naked and with a silver crucifix, our family's one treasured possession, buried in his heart. My father's severed hand still clutched the implement.
I think I went mad for a time. I vaguely remember images of trees flying by, the bugling of a herd of reindeer, the cries of something that sounded like a wolf. But for once in my life, I don't remember the cold. I knew nothing of consequence for a long time, a beast in every sense of the word. I will probably never know the details of what happened, and to this day I am only dimly reminded of that time by an isolated memory of a bloodcurdling shriek: a cry uttered by what had to have been a Serbian.
"Vlkoslak!" A gargled curse cut short by the smell and taste of warm blood.
A word that rang eternally in my ears. Vlkoslak. Werewolf.
My first clear memory following that horrible period is of awakening in a small house outside of Lübeck in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The year was 1614 and Russia had a new house of Tsars, but I was far from the Motherland with no memories of what had taken place in the intervening six years between my parents' deaths and my reawakening in this strange country.
I learned later than my host, Herr Hrolf, had been one of the mercenaries who had plied his trade in Siberia and had found me wandering near the border of Poland.
I had been covered in blood.
At first I would not believe it. How came I to leave my ancestral hovel and make such an arduous journey to the country of my enemies, a journey bathed in the ichor of once-living beings?
It was then that Herr Hrolf took it upon himself to bring me back from the brink of insanity. Fortune, or perhaps the whispering geists that gnaw at the feet of the fates and tempt them to spin evils, brought me ever closer into the web of my benefactor. I had no money and no status, a peasant from the steppes of Russia; thus was I at his mercy for shelter and succor. But for all the debt I owed to someone who had, for an unknown purpose, drawn me from the darkness, a tie of greater strength bound me to that place.
Her name was Helene.
Ah, most beautiful and terrible to me even now! As her lunar namesake was reflected in her eyes, so my fate was bound to her by powers unseen. I knew not what creature she was, nor why I cleaved to her side; but I felt stirring within some presentiment of terror at the sight of her fixing her gaze upon me, luminous and near-predatory.
Herr Hrolf was not blind to this attraction. Indeed, he appeared to welcome it, saying only that certain powers had ordained a strange union that he could not and dared not resist. I was loathe to press him for an explanation, not merely out of courtesy but because I had gazed too long into the darkness. A quivering anxiety oppressed me to abandon forever the conventions of my family and nation; these, dead to me as they were to all my kind, were impotent phantoms unable to stay my hand from seizing my right as one of the blood.
In a dream, I ignored the madness of these thoughts. Though I often found the spoor of some creature in or near my rooms after many a night of dreamless slumber, nameless wreckage and detritus of things both inanimate and otherwise, my febrile brain could make nothing of it. Only vague impressions of night winds and cold light offset the feeling of warmth and the coppery smell that wafted indistinctly to the ghostly nostrils of my subconscious.
Meanwhile, vague rumors reached my ears as I wandered the twilit streets of Europe: fearful whispers of a terror that hunted by Luna's glare, seizing the unwary wanderer and leaving blood and other, less mentionable things in its wake.
It had a name: a name I learned only in the darkest corners of poverty-soaked cobblestone alleys as I wandered, nearly senseless with an incomprehensible passion that gripped me in its iron claws. A name I would carry with me ever after and by which I would become known even amongst the unnatural predators that haunted the unlighted places between the domains of mortals.
Perdición de hombres. Fluchmann. Fléau de homes. Banemensen.
I killed them all.
I can still feel it. Satiation. Thrill. Need. Running, quick and sleek; the taste of blood, sweet blood; the thrill of unlimited power.
I vaguely remember vows made in a forgotten chapel in the Alps. I remember the scent of her, ancient words that escaped our lips.
Eyes shining in dark.
The howling and the pain, hardly felt as anything articulate. Nameless ones roaring out their challenge to the shining huntress in the sky.
God save my poor soul. In the name of reason, let me be calm!
I emerged as a somnambulist from a deep slumber to find that I was no longer the peasant I had been. The mourned Andreev had tasted my flesh and now I was his heir. I learned from our scouts in far-off Tobolsk that the Khanate had not wasted any time in tracking down the despised baron. Finding his corpse with the embedded crucifix and condemning him subsequently as a demoniac, they had spit his head on a pike as a terrible warning to the powers that stalked the lives of men.
The remains of my parents were never found, but I suspected the worst.
I was now a fledgling of a great house, albeit an endangered one. As such, I was heir to a great legacy of appalling wisdom. I learned the truth about what hides beneath the blanket of history, what mortals dare not entertain with their thoughts lest it drive them mad. I learned of the slumbering Old Ones from Outside, of the fall of Cain and the rise of the hated Bloodcall, the madness of the Furies and the great slaughter of my kind through the ages.
My ferocity had become widely known in a short time: the upstart beneficiary of the exterminated Andreev. The alpha, the Dire Werewolf, that aging nightmare of tooth and claw, saw me that night; and from his terrible mouth, I gained in truth the name that had before been only a febrile whisper in the mouths of timorous rustics.
I was Manbane. I was death incarnate. Perhaps I would be his successor one day.
I was a threat. No doubt he hated me.
Many names I have taken since that day. But that one terrible name has displaced all others in the mouths of kin and victim alike.
I remember it even as I hold the gun, as I caress the trigger.
Why can't I pull it'
Too late. The moon is out. So full and bright. Another weapon will lie disused, no doubt to be acquired by a gang member, curious beggar, or ignorant child. I am once again a coward.
I have always been a coward, a quivering cur that shrank before the teeth of my creator in the cabin centuries ago, a craven who subsequently hid behind the façade of raging ferocity and unearthly strength. A murderer who rationalized the deaths at his hands as his own personal birthright!
I killed her. Her last of all. She was a threat. Our pact was not the holy matrimony of two souls. Nothing so blessed. Merely a convenience, a filthy bargain made to perpetuate the bloodline.
The pack howls. I can feel the change. The glorious change, the shedding of this mortal guise and the freeing of all the dark passions that boil beneath the veneer of man.
What am I? I am Manbane. And I hunt!
Tell me I'm not a murderer. Make me believe I am other than what I am.
If you dare.