The sound of a startled gasp snapped his gaze to a clearing. His eyes narrowed on the hag who stood there, her gloved hand raised to her mouth, her eyes wide as saucers as she stared at him.
"Oh no!" she whispered, gaping at his cuts and gashes.
He knew they were fading and disappearing right before her eyes. Her horrified gaze darted to his shredded clothes.
Hell and damnation! She looked like she was going to faint. He grabbed his bag from the ground and pulled his remaining trousers and shirt out. "Do not fear me," he said as he shoved them on. "I was attacked by wolves."
She backed away. "No! Stand back!"
"I will not harm you. I need assistance. I seek a woman who--"
"You seek me," she said, raising a gloved hand.
He narrowed his eyes as realisation dawned on him. "You are Zora, the witch who lives in these woods."
"Yes. Forgive me. I do this only to protect you." She mumbled a string of words he could not understand.
Stunned, Bryce felt himself grow cold and then numb. Unable to hold himself up, he collapsed to the ground as darkness surrounded him. She was doing this to him!
"I mean you ... no ... harm..." he said hoarsely, trying to hold onto his last shred of consciousness. He stared at her unsightly features, tight and drawn with regret, and rested his gaze on her eyes.
They were the colour of the ocean, fringed with sooty lashes, framed by delicately arched brows. Kindness poured from them and he was fascinated with their out of place context on the hag's repulsive features.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, before he blacked out.
Bryce opened his eyes and took a moment to adjust to his surroundings. He was sitting on a couch, his body wrapped in a silver chain. His ears pricked when he heard the sound of singing again, but this time, he wasn't enchanted by it.
This time he was bloody furious!
Whoever was singing outside on the front porch was holding him prisoner. Evidently the hideous looking witch, Zora, had a daughter because he couldn't conceive a voice so lovely belonging to the old hag.
Bryce tried shrugging out of the chains, but the more he struggled, the weaker he became. He heard a movement at the door and saw the hag walk in from the outside.
"Untie me," he growled as he snapped his gaze to her face.
"I cannot." Zora walked into the living room and stood ten paces from him, wringing her gnarly hands as she stared at him with worry on her face.
"You know what I am," Bryce said.
"Yes. You are a Lycan."
"I only seek a cure for this damn curse."
Her expression faltered and she looked momentarily surprised. "I'm sorry. I can't help you."
He grimaced. "I have gold, if that's what you want."
"You don't understand. I cannot remove the werewolf curse. No one can. The rumours you've heard about me are false."
Bryce couldn't believe his six month journey had brought him to nothing. Anger rose in his chest and he struggled to get out of the chains, growling as a numbness restrained his strength. Dammit! He'd have to ruin his remaining clothes.
As a human, he didn't possess the strength to snap the chains in two, but as a Lycan he did.
Calling on the beast within him, he summoned it to the surface. Nothing. His beast refused to rise. He glared at her.
Zora watched as Bryce struggled with the chains and said, "You cannot shift into either your Lycan or your wolf form. I've cast a spell on the silver chains. They're subduing your beasts."
"What do you want from me?" he roared. He moved sharply and jostled the table next to him, knocking a vase over as he shot her a furious look.
Sadness and regret tinged her expression. "I want nothing." She walked to the table and reached for the vase.
Bryce narrowed his eyes and lunged forward, his hand snaking out from beneath the chain. The chains stopped him from moving further, but not before his fingers brushed her skirt.
She shrieked and jumped back.