What happens when the man you thought would protect you is more than a man? When another suitor comes calling would you stand by your werewolf husband or be tempted to seek protection against the dangers of the wild forest with another?
This historical fantasy short story is a retelling of Marie de France’s classic Medieval Romance Bisclavret.
Here’s an extract:
I am the last survivor of the noble family of Trigoff. Before I left our family home for the last time and made my way to a convent, I found this book that records the famous deeds of our ancestors. The story I add here in these blank pages marks a sad end to a glorious history. Yet I feel bound to write it before it is too late. There is talk of plague coming again through France from the south, and I am older and weaker now. I feel sure that this will be my last opportunity to tell of what happened. This is my confession.
I was seventeen in the summer of 1365. War and death had stalked the land of Brittany ever since I had been born. My father, the lord of Trigoff, had been taken fighting in the Duke’s wars, and my mother by plague before my earliest memories.
The Duke was a generous but stern guardian. He benefited from the incomes of my family’s estates, yet he also bore the responsibility of my upbringing. One day he visited me as my maid Beatrice and I sat reading to each other verses from the tales of Arthur’s knights. We had read little though, as we would stop and compare the knights of Arthur with those of the Duke’s court, arguing over who was the more handsome or chivalrous, whether Bertrand the Duke’s court or Lancelot from Arthur’s.
“It is time for you to marry,” said the Duke. “My debt to your father is at an end and now you must make a good wife to one of my most faithful soldiers, Edward of England.”
He said little else and took his leave. He seemed happy to be rid off me I thought. I wanted to run after him and protest against my fate, but Beatrice had already wrapped her arms around me. For a long time I stood there my tears soaking through the shoulder of her dress.
I was very scared. Edward was rarely at court and was not one of the chivalrous knights that Beatrice and I dreamt of. I had never seen him, but I had heard tales about him. My maids told me that he was a great and vicious killer. An English mercenary who had made a life for himself in France. They told stories of how he had slain Charles de Blois in the carnage of the Battle of Auray, ripping his head off with his own hands. In my anxiety I almost believed them.
But when we met his skin creased around his eyes with happiness and he gently took my hand in both of his and held it with such care. He was more than twice my age, wore an unfashionable full beard, and his clothes, although expensive, needed attention. I remember noticing that one of the buttons on his rich doublet had been torn off. Yet my heart warmed to him. Here was a man who would look after me.