(Thorn, Morpheus, and It appear in the 3rd Wolf’s Bane novel, Magicks Uncaged)
My father often told me how he became a Were. When he’d first seen the wolf, it was so far away, he didn’t worry. But when it raced toward him, he urged his horse to run fast. The beast had an odd lope, its back legs longer than its front, but it moved at a frightening speed. He’d never seen a wolf so big. When it leapt at Dad and knocked him out of the saddle, his horse kept going. The beast pinned him to the ground. When Dad looked in its eyes, fear pounded through his veins. Not wolf’s eyes. A man’s. He’d have died then, except that another wolf leapt at the first. While they fought, Dad ran, but the second wolf found him; and as he watched, it changed into a man. The man pointed to a scratch on Dad’s shoulder and shook his head. “I’m so sorry.”
Dad told and retold that story on long nights in our cage. It was just the two of us. The other werewolves didn’t like Dad. He was bigger, stronger, than most of them, and he’d been allowed to mate with a part witch/part vampire. That made me, his offspring, different than the other Were pups. I had the speed of a vampire and the strength of a shifter with a little magic thrown in for good measure.
Morpheus didn’t torment me like he did the others. When he tried, my father bared his teeth and shifted, but refused to eat. Morpheus used my father often to mate with other supernaturals, so he valued him and gave our cage a wide berth.
I was half-grown when Morpheus offered one of his caged witches to a demon. The demon could pleasure itself, if Morpheus was allowed to keep the offspring. The witch didn’t survive childbirth, but the half-demon proved healthy and repugnant. If Quint could goad any of the creatures in their cages, he delighted in it.
“We might be creatures, but we can choose high or low standards,” Dad often told me. “We can choose to be good or evil.”
Quint took a special dislike to my father. When Morpheus put Dad in a cage with several mutant shifters, hoping he’d mate with each of them, the females banded together and ripped out my father’s throat. I looked at Quint’s cage, and his eyes glowed with concentration. His lips curved with pleasure. He’d set them to do it. And I vowed that someday, I’d even the score.
When I was fully grown, I wasn’t surprised when Morpheus opened my cage door and shoved a beautiful succubus inside. My father had taught me to read, so it was easy to study the lab’s chart that Morpheus scribbled on, mixing our magic strands into mutant variants. He mated shifters with witches, and those witches with vampires, and then took the offspring to mate with incubi. He played the mad/mage scientist with supernaturals’ lives.
The thing was, I’d been alone a long time. The succubus was lovely. She knew the skills of her kind. I resisted her for more than a week, but I woke one day to her straddling me, rubbing parts of me that responded to touch more than to reason. Before I could push her away, she lowered herself, claiming me and enflaming my passion. Our son was born eleven months later. Hairless, with silver eyes and leather wings that slid in and out of his back, he was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. And I could feel his power.
“Hello, Father.” I heard the words in my mind. My child’s lips didn’t move, but he spoke to me.
Morpheus brought him to my cage, his mother uninterested in him, with plans to use him to control me. I felt my lips curl in amusement. If Morpheus avoided my father’s cage, wait until he knew my son better.
I loved and taught my boy, as my father did me. “We can choose,” I told him. “We can decide to be good or bad.” But I refused to name him. A name has power, its magic can be twisted against one. And so Morpheus called my son It.
Each time a new mutant was born, Morpheus took pleasure in “training” it. He’d say, “Jump,” and if the child didn’t jump high enough, he’d slam it with his magic, watching its flesh burn against a cage’s silver bars. I stood between Morpheus and my son as many times as I could until Morpheus slammed me against the silver, hard enough to drop me to my knees. And then he looked at my child and said, “Jump.” My son narrowed his silver eyes. He stared at him. When the wizard raised his palms to punish him, my son smiled. Morpheus’s eyes bulged, his tongue protruded, and he ripped at invisible hands to remove them from his throat. My son gave a silent laugh, and Morpheus stepped away from our cage and didn’t bother us again…. Until the day he shoved the succubus back in with us.
She gave her seductive smile. “It’s been a long time, Thorn. I’ve missed you. No one has the power and energy you do.”
I shook my head. “I won’t mate with you. Have you seen the way Morpheus treats our son? He tried not to feed him, to let him starve to death. When I didn’t eat either, he relented.”
She shrugged her smooth shoulders, unconcerned. I knew the plan. This time, when she gave birth, Morpheus wouldn’t bring the baby to me. He’d put it in a separate cage. And if he said “Jump,” and I didn’t, he’d hurt my child.
“Stay away from me,” I warned her. “I won’t have a child for Morpheus to use as a pawn.”
“I can take what I want,” she reminded me.
“Not this time. I’ll sleep in my wolf form.”
Her brows drew together in anger. “Either give me what I want, or I’ll drain you until you’re so weak, I can do as I please.”
“Do it and die.”
She laughed at my threat. “You overrate your powers.” She pursed her lips and inhaled.
I watched life energy slide from my nostrils, and then I shifted. I was on her before she could protect herself. She breathed in harder, faster, and I clamped my teeth around her throat.
My son’s eyes went wide in alarm. He didn’t know what to do. I’d die, I knew, but so would she. And It was old enough, strong enough to protect himself. Morpheus couldn’t use me or a sibling to manipulate him.
As the succubus took the last of my energy, I felt the last of her blood drain from her. I only wished that I could live long enough to see what It would become. Someday, he’d leave this horrid lab. I knew it. And the possibilities were limitless.