Lykaon, Father of Werewolves

As I write this, it is the First of October (or the First of Halloween…yes, I’m one of those people). There’s a full moon tonight, the first of two we will have this month. I’m thinking of spooky things and witchy things. On full moons, I like to go out and place a jar of water in my herb garden to make moon water. I also like to howl. The whole family joins in. It’s…cathartic.

All of that will have to wait until I finish writing this blog post, however. The results are in from the poll, and the subject that won was legendary creatures. What’s the perfect thing to write about on a full moon in October? Werewolves, of course. Still, could there possibly be anyone reading this that doesn’t know a million things about werewolves? I’m willing to bet that some of you are even die-hard Team Jacob.

So, instead of telling you things you already know. I’ve decided to write a short story about the Father of Werewolves, King Lykaon. His myth chilled me to my bones and sent my imagination into the deep, dark places of my mind that I usually keep carefully shut away.


“Nyktimos, be quiet…”

The young maiden whispered in her son’s ear. He needed to be quiet, or his father…their father…would hear him. Worse still, their father’s head wife might notice them too. Everything echoed in the giant hall that served as King Lykaon’s harem, where he rested with all of his wives and children close by.

Eroto wrapped her precious boy closer to her in their cot, providing the only warm comfort in his short years. Yet, he struggled to stay still. The pain from another ear infection caused him to whine and bang his fists on the side of his head. He was sure to wake someone in this hall with his nasal whining.

Ismenis stirred, and Eroto’s heart stopped. She placed a hand over her son’s mouth. He must be quiet. She must not wake. If she displeased Lykaon’s favorite wife one more time…Eroto didn’t want to consider it. She watched with eyes so wide they stung. Ismenis became still again, sinking back into her dreams. Eroto lowered her hand from Nyktimos’ face.

“Eroto,” Alexios whispered from behind, snaking an arm around her. “Your son will wake father, if you don’t mind him.”

“If that’s what it takes to keep your hands off me!” she hissed back.

“Whore…” he muttered, but his arm recoiled.

It was a risk. Alexios was one of the few sons their father cherished. What he wanted, he got. He usually wanted whatever his father cast aside. She couldn’t stand the feel or the smell of men. The day her father had tired of her was the happiest day of her life. No more chugging down the wine forced on her. No more blurry memories of his grunting. No more pretending that no one else in the harem could see or hear what was happening. No more pain.

Then, she’d given birth to Nyktimos. They called him a monster because of his cleft lip and shrill cry. Ismenis wanted to set him out in the desert for the scavengers. King Lykaon insisted that Zeus had lain with his daughter. It was a futile attempt to hide his own sins and protect the perfect family image his subjects stupidly believed. Everyone in the harem knew the truth. The irrefutable fact, though, was that you couldn’t allow a child of Zeus to die. Therefore, Eroto’s child was saved, and became the only bright spot of joy in her life.

As her son grew, his cleft became even more apparent, and the problems associated with it were harder to ignore. Ismenis’ patience ran thin. King Lykaon’s shame was slowly dissipating with his memories. She feared for Nyktimos’ life every day.

Kallisto, Eroto’s eldest sister, crawled over to them from her cot. Quietly, she pressed a small bottle of warm oil into Eroto’s hand and then gestured to pour it into the little boy’s ear. Eroto nodded and followed her sister’s guidance. Kallisto crawled away before she could receive thanks. Nyktimos’ whine turned into a whimper. Soon, the only sound he made was the sucking of his thumb as he slept soundly.

“You’re no monster,” Eroto thought as she stroked her son’s cherubic cheeks.

She hoped he wouldn’t turn out like any of her fifty brothers. The only benefit of his cleft was that it kept their father at a distance. She promised herself that she’d raise him as a gentle prince and fell asleep.

“Where’s my oil?!” Ismenis screamed, waking everyone in the harem.

Nyktimos wailed with fear, and Eroto, startled herself, shushed him with haste. As she did so, she looked down and saw the empty bottle of oil that Kallisto had given her the night before. She looked up to see her sister’s panicked expression from across the room. She’d stolen it from her mother. Eroto would pay the price.

“Is this it?” Alexios asked, snatching it up before Eroto could hide it and handing it to Ismenis.

“It’s empty?!”

Ismenis’ usually beautiful face was red with rage now. She turned it towards Eroto, looking for answers.

“Nyk…his ear…” was all that the young maiden could say.

She couldn’t implicate Kallisto. She was her only friend here. Cold nausea spread across her forehead and down her body.

“You gave my oils to that monster?

Ismenis contorted her features in a perfect display of disgust. She dropped the bottle and wiped her hands on her robes. Nyktimos burrowed into his mother’s bosom for safety. King Lykaon rose from his stately bed and walked over to the commotion.

“Lyke!” Ismenis moaned, giving her husband a pitiful expression, “Look what your daughter and her monster did to the oils you bought me from Atlantis!”

“Eroto, how could you?” King Lykaon asked.

Eroto couldn’t look him in the eyes. With a voice as thin and trembling as paper, she apologized. She was met with a silence that scared her more than Ismenis’ screaming had.

“King Lykaon!” a page cried, running through the entrance of the harem. “Urgent news!”

“Spit it out, then,” the King replied, turning his attention away from Eroto and Nyktimos.

“Zeus is in the village,” the page said. “He’s telling everyone Princess Eroto’s son isn’t his.”

“What?!” Lykaon roared.

“He says…he says…” the page continued and gulped.

“What does he say?” Alexios asked, stepping next to his father.

“He says that you are the father, My King,” the page whispered, afraid to say it any louder for the dozens of harem dwellers around them.

“So,” the King said, glowering at Eroto now as if it was her fault, “he defiles and impregnates my daughter. Then, he tarnishes my name in my kingdom!”

Eroto hid her son behind her now. She was a small thing, barely a woman. Yet, she was prepared to defend Nyktimos with every inch of her frail body if she had to.

“If he’s such a powerful god, then we should treat him as such,” King Lykaon said, a malicious sparkle in his eyes. “We’ll invite him to a feast! We’ll offer him only the finest sacrifice!”

Effortlessly, he pulled Nyktimos from his hiding place. The young boy cried, and the king slapped him across the face.

“No, Father!” Eroto cried out, trying to pull her son back.

“About time,” Alexios sneared. “I’m so tired of that brat’s whining!”

Eroto’s other brothers clapped and howled in agreement. It was finally happening. She was losing her son.

“Father,” Kallisto said, walking to them now, “didn’t the gods outlaw human sacrifice? You can’t –“

“I can do whatever I please!” Lykaon snarled. “You’ve been spending too much time with Artemis. I’m the King of Men! I am husband to the most powerful nymph alive. I rule this realm. Zeus is out of his depth.”

Ismenis preened at his mention of her and smiled at the frightened child in her husband’s tight grip. The King shoved the small boy into Alexios’ arms.

“Take him to the chef,” King Lykaon commanded, “Explain that he will be a very special meal for a very special guest.”

“No! No!” Eroto screamed, tears and mucus streaming down her face. She tried desperately to reach her son, but her father held her back.

“Momma!” Nyktimos cried back, reaching for her as Alexios carried him away.

The moment Lykaon let go of his daughter, she collapsed on the ground. Her only source of joy was gone.

“We should lock her up,” Ismenis whispered. “You don’t want her tattling to her lover, Zeus.”

“Agreed,” Lykaon said and motioned for a guard to take her away.

In the cold, damp cells beneath their castle, Eroto sat in her tear-stained robes. Her mouth hung open. Her eyes gazed at all her nightmares replaying over and over. She didn’t hear the rattle of the door as it opened nor the light tiptoes approaching her.

“Eroto,” Kallisto whispered, “I’ve come to rescue you. We have to get you out of here.”

“Nyk?” Eroto asked and Kallisto replied with a fallen expression.

“I…I think Artemis will take you in,” Kallisto said, pulling her sister up to a standing position. “You’re not the only daughter that Lykaon has hurt.”

“I don’t want to live anymore,” Eroto cried, sinking back down to the ground. “Just let me die here.”

“You don’t understand,” Kallisto said, shaking her head, “Zeus is here. He’s likely to punish you with worse than death for our father’s lies.”

“Zeus…” Eroto whispered and astonishment hit her at once.

He was about to eat her son. It was a crime against the gods to sacrifice a human life, more or less, your own blood. Her father’s lies were nothing compared to this. She might not be able to get her son back, but she could at least get revenge. Maybe if she was lucky, Zeus would kill her instead of cursing her.

“I need to talk to Zeus…alone,” Eroto said.

“Eroto, that’s very dangerous…” Kallisto responded.

“What if he eats Nyk and Artemis finds out?” Eroto asked. “We have to warn him!”

Kallisto gave her sister a slow nod and said, “The feast is still an hour away. I’ll bring him here.”

Within moments, Eroto could hear them coming down the hall. When the door opened, the first thing she saw was Zeus’s astonished face. The King of Gods buzzed with lightning, giving him a beautiful and powerful aura. Even Eroto, who hated men, could see why so many women had become his lovers.

“What does this have to do with Artemis?” Zeus asked Kallisto.

“I’m sorry,” Eroto begged, groveling before him. “We had to lie to save you.”

“Save me?” Zeus responded, “How could you save me from anything?”

“It’s our father,” Eroto answered. “He lied about you impregnating me to cover for his own sins. Now, that you know, he plans on defaming you further.”

“What do you mean?” Zeus asked, his eyebrows pressing together to hold back his famous temper.

“He…he took my son…” Eroto explained, her voice quavering with despair, “and turned him into your dinner tonight…”

The god said nothing in response. His features opened in horror as Eroto wept at his feet. Kallisto kept her eyes cast down to the ground in shame. Then, Zeus pulled Eroto to her feet and dragged her all the way to the banquet hall.

Along the table sat every one of Eroto’s brothers, and at the far end was the only woman, Ismenis. King Lykaon stood at the closest end, waiting for his special guest with a golden platter of roasted meat, flowers, and fruits. His smile turned to shock when he saw Eroto’s arm in Zeus’s grip.

“Your Majesty,” King Lykaon said with a bow, “why — “

“I was willing to overlook your lies,” Zeus interrupted. “I don’t mind the tales about my exploits, especially with princesses. But, this disrespect must not go unpunished.”

“What are you talking about?” Lykaon asked Zeus, but his eyes were on Eroto.

“Is that your grandson on that platter?” Zeus asked, “Or should I say your son?”

“This is boar,” Lykaon answered.

“Lie to me one more time,” Zeus whispered into the King’s ear, “and I’ll make you watch as I torture your favorite wife until she finally succumbs to death.”

King Lykaon sat the platter on the table and took a step back. He muttered something about only wanting to offer the King of Gods the best sacrifice. It made no difference.

Zeus grabbed Lykaon by his ears, stretching them up into points. All fifty princes stood in protest. Even Ismenis rose to her feet. Zeus flicked his wrist, and they all fell back into their seats, unable to stand again. The princes screamed and shouted for their father, but the King of Gods ignored them. Ismenis pleaded for her husband’s life. Her pleas fell on deaf ears.

Zeus stretched Lykaon’s nose into a snout and his teeth into fangs. He ran his hands down the King’s body, leaving wiry, black fur in their path. Then, he stood back to admire his creation.

Eroto fell to her knees from the shock. What once had been a King was now the most terrifying creature she’d ever laid eyes on. He was part man, part wolf. The princes were yelling louder than ever now. Ismenis sobbed and pulled her hair out. Zeus turned towards Eroto.

“Should I let your brothers go?” he asked.

She thought back to the many nights they’d done nothing to protect her from her father. She thought about all the times Alexios molested her. She remembered their gleeful howling as her son was taken from her arms.

“No,” she said, her red-rimmed eyes looking directly into the god’s now, “they’re just as bad as he is. They knew all along.”

With a nod, the god turned his attention back to the princes, still screaming incoherently in their seats. Zeus waved his hands, and each one went through the same agonizing transformation their father had gone through. Then, Zeus snapped his fingers, creating a wall of lightning between them and the wolfmen. Their screams shifted to howls and growls. A few tried to make a run at the god who’d done this to them but were thrown back by the wall. Others were clearly hungry, but they didn’t want the roasted meats on the table. They wanted something fresher.

Ismenis struggled to get out of her chair but was still held down by whatever Zeus had done to her earlier. The princes, some of them her own sons, descended upon Ismenis. Eroto couldn’t look as they relished their feast. Zeus escorted her out through the other exit.

“Once the full moon is gone,” Zeus explained, “they’ll be men again. Only for a little while, though. So, we’ll have to get them out of the village before the next full moon.”

“I…I can’t…” Eroto said, “They’ll just kill me…”

“You have a point,” Zeus responded, nodding. “What if this kingdom had a new ruler and new guards?”

“But, there are no heirs left.” Eroto answered.

“There could be one heir if you’re willing to make the necessary exchange,” Zeus said and presented a vision of her son.

“Nyk!” she exclaimed reaching out to touch the phantom image.

“Even I have limitations,” Zeus said, touching her outstretched hand. “I can only restore a life for a life.”

Eroto turned from the illusion to the god speaking to her. She would have to die so her son could live.

“He’s just a small boy, a weak boy,” she said. “He’ll need someone to take care of him.”

“I’ll send my own daughter, Artemis,” Zeus assured her. “Between her and his Aunt Kallisto, he will be well-cared for and well-loved.”

“But, his cleft,” Eroto whispered, tears falling down her face. “Can they love him with his cleft?”

“I’ll bring him back more whole than he was,” Zeus answered and placed a kind hand on her shoulder, “but only if you want this.”

For the second time that day, Eroto looked into the eyes of a god and gave him a definitive answer.

They renamed him Arkas. A new name for a new body and a new life. He held no memories of his mother but was treasured by his people. They even renamed the kingdom to Arkadia just for him. Educated by the gods in everything a king should know, his people knew no hardship, except for one recurring problem. Every full moon, the howls echoed around the mountains, and the soldiers readied themselves for the long night.

The End

If you enjoyed this dark retelling, but are unfamiliar with the myth. I invite you to read more about the Greek legends about werewolves here.

Like reading my blog? Then, you’ll love my book!

Struggling With the Current is the first book in The Telverin Trilogy, a story about an exiled princess who finds herself in a terrifying world with equally frightening powers.

Read the Beginning Now!

Click on the download button below to receive the prologue and first chapter.

Coming November 30th, 2020!

Princess Eya’s life changes forever with the discovery of the Statue of the Goddess Winds, just as she’s coming of age. The long-overlooked kingdom of Hicares finds itself in a war it isn’t prepared for against the far more powerful empire of Pescel. To survive, Eya must flee her home, losing everything and everyone she loves in the process.

Yet, by leaving behind all she’s ever known, she learns that her sheltered life didn’t prepare her for the real world’s strange and frightening nature. She encounters people, places, and creatures beyond anything she ever imagined, along with sinister enemies from every direction. Perhaps her most surprising revelation is that she is developing terrifying powers of her own. Will Eya be able to find happiness in her new life, or will she continue struggling with the current?

Struggling With the Current is the first book of The Telverin Trilogy, a fantasy war story that takes place between several countries in the world of Telverin.

Like reading my blog? Then, you’ll love my book!

Struggling With the Current is the first book in The Telverin Trilogy, a story about an exiled princess who finds herself in a terrifying world with equally frightening powers.

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