When Conan opened his eyes, he found himself tucked in a warm bed. His body ached and it felt even worse when he tried to sit up to get a better look around. He let out an audible gasp as a sharp pain shot through the length of his back. The sound was loud enough to alert someone, who pulled back a large linen privacy curtain and poked their head inside. It was a girl, with black hair down to her mid-back and deep brown eyes that stared back at him. She had a bowl of hot stew in hand and walked over to place it on the end table by the bed before taking a seat beside him.
The girl crossed her arms and gave him a piercing stare, though Conan couldn’t figure out why she was looking at him that way. He couldn’t even remember how he had ended up in this bed, or why he was in so much pain.
“So, you’re awake,” she stated.
“Y-yes, I guess I am,” he stammered, “How did I get here?”
“So you don’t remember last night, do you?”
He shook his head and she sighed. “You wandered into my dad’s camp and were trying to rob us of our dinner. You attacked us, and my dad shot you in self defence. Somehow you survived a gun shot at close range… straight through your lungs.”
“I-I’m sorry, but WHAT happened?!” Conan wanted to play dumb, because he didn’t know what would happen if people found out what kind of monster he really was. The girl wasn’t having any of it and she rolled her eyes.
“You were running around the woods howling. I howled back because I thought you were another wolf from the village, and you showed up at our camp. You attacked my dad so he shot you,” she explained again, “Don’t play dumb. I know what you are.”
Conan looked down at his hands and fiddled with them while trying to think about what to say, but noticed movement out of the corner of his eye and looked up to see a middle aged man standing by the edge of the curtain. Conan’s eyes widened, mouth opening, but the man spoke first. “Ah, I see you’re awake.”
The girl stood again and motioned towards the stew. “Eat something.”
She wandered away from the bed, through the light fabric divider, and left the room; Conan heard a door close behind her. The man claimed the girl’s seat for himself, resting his forearms on the knees of his trousers. “Don’t mind Alison, she doesn’t like strangers. I have to say, I’m surprised you're awake. You should be dead.”
“Did I really get shot?” Conan asked, still shocked.
“Afraid so,” the man said, rubbing the back of his neck, “And for that, I am sorry.” Conan still didn’t know what to say. Should he be asking anything? Or revealing any information? “So, you’re not from the village.”
Conan shook his head, “No, I’m from London.”
“That’s quite a distance, especially for someone so young,” his visitor said, leaning back and crossing his arms.
“I was sent away from home during the evacuations,” Conan explained, “Been alone for nearly two years.”
“Well, I should introduce myself. I am Aden, and that girl is Alison. She is my only daughter,” he smiled “And this is our little camp. We come out here every full moon for Alison to freely run around. We’re just a few Kilometers from the village.”
“I’m sorry, but… do you two know what I am?” Conan asked nervously.
“Yessiree, we do,” Aden replied “I guess you don’t know what it is you have stumbled upon. This is a sanctuary for werewolves and their families. My daughter and I came here when she was four. Scratched by a rogue wolf that attacked our farm. Brought her here so she could live a peaceful life without worry.”
Conan was having a hard time grasping the whole concept of what Aden was telling him. With his understanding, this whole area was full of werewolves and humans living together. That was completely foreign to him, he had no idea such a place existed.
“So, kid, what’s your name?”
“C-Conan,” he replied sheepishly.
“Nice to meet you Conan,” Aden smiled, uncrossing his arms “I sent word to the village and we have an elder coming. She will be able to heal you up, have you on your feet in no time! But I have to wonder if you’ll need her, I thought you’d be dead by morning.”
Conan sighed, flustered, “I seem to be able to bounce back from bad injuries.”
“I’d say!” Aden let out a deep laugh, slapping his leg.
The door creaked open and Conan thought he could see the silhouette of the girl, Alison, coming back in. Parting the curtain however, was an older woman who looked to be in her early sixties. The woman ambled in, stopping at the foot of the bed. She eyed Conan up and down. “Well, he certainly is young. What’s your name, child?”
“Conan,” he replied.
“I am Amelia,” she introduced herself, “And I’m one of the elders of the village— a werewolf as well. Though not nearly as young as you. How long have you been turned?”
“About two years,” Conan answered.
“And have you been alone all that time?”
He nodded. Amelia nodded back, furrowing her brow, “I see. Then last night’s event was bound to happen sooner or later. At least you survived and it was here, of all places.”
Amelia walked around to the other side of the bed, across from Aden, and took a seat on the bed. She lifted her head to smell the air before looking back to him, “I don’t smell any fresh blood. Your wound has already closed up completely. Interesting...”
“He said that he tends to bounce back from serious wounds,” Aden interjected.
“You’re a healer, are you?” she asked Conan. Not understanding what she meant, he simply shrugged. “I’ve heard about people like you. You can heal your wounds faster than humans as a wolf, I suppose that power has been doubled. You heal faster than even us wolves would.”
Conan had no idea how he could have possibly gotten himself into a situation like this and didn’t know what was going on… but these people didn’t seem like they were there to hurt him and seemed to genuinely want to help him. Alison came back into the room carrying some clothes and put them down on the bed. She looked at him with her serious yet striking stare: “For you.”
“You are welcome to stay here as long as you like,” Aden gestured to the space.
Amelia smiled warmly and agreed, “We take in any wolves who need our help. And you’re still so young. You’ll be able to learn to control your inner wolf. If you stay here, I promise — by spring, you will never have to fight against your wolf side again. You are the master of your own body. The wolf is just a part of it.”
“Will I really?” Conan asked hopefully.
Amelia gave a curt nod. “I taught Alison myself, and she’s been a werewolf since she was four. No wolf is left behind here. We live among humans in peace. We grow our own food, have our own families, and live completely normal lives. If you want to stay, you can, Conan. You can leave whenever you want, or stay here forever. It's up to you.”