Learning the Truth

Rhys escorted Jen back to his beat up pickup truck.  Jeremy sat with his head back and his eyes closed leaning up against the passenger door.  Rhys gave Jen a hand up into the cab before stowing her bag in the tool box bolted to the bed.

Once on the road, Jen felt as if she could breathe a little better.  Something seemed to whisper to her that this would not end until Cullen’s arms wrapped around her neck.  She vowed to herself never to let him go again.  Then, either insane recklessness or unabashed bravery kicked in.

“Rhys.”

“Yes,” his eyes never left the road.

“Where did those tattoos come from?”

“Which?”

“Well.  I could see several on your shoulder.  Either that or it’s one complex tattoo.  I couldn’t quite tell, but I’m thinking it’s at least two different pieces.”

“There are actually three.”

Jen waited.  Just when she thought Rhys was not going to say anything else, he glanced over at her and spoke again.

“Two are mine by choice.  The third was not.”

“A drunken frat party type tattoo?”

“Not exactly.”

“So?”

Jen could see her prompt had not missed its mark, but there was something Rhys was holding back.

“Look.  I haven’t run screaming in panic, tried to douse you in holy water, or stab you with silver.  Whatever it is probably won’t be too huge of a shock anymore.”

Rhys blew out a long breath, “The third was from a group who practiced a rather rancid religion, not exactly one of the major world religions if you know what I mean.”

Jen nodded.

“By the way, none of that stuff you mentioned works to stop us.”

“What?”

“The silver, the holy water, et cetera.  None of that actually works.  It’s part of the werewolf lore that sprang up when the Romans wanted to control everything, but could not control our kind.”

“Okay.  Do the two have anything to do with each other?”

“What?  The crackpot zealots who forced the tattoo on me and the Romans?”

“Yeah.”

“No.  Other than both were attempting to dominate the wolves.”

“Oh.”

No one spoke for quite a while.  The radio played in the background, soft enough to be soothing but loud enough to provide a distraction from talking.

“How did they keep you to tattoo you?  And what does the tattoo mean if you didn’t choose to have it?”

“There are a few rare herbs that can drug us to sleep.  And the occasional wizard, for lack of a better way of describing them, can conjure a spell strong enough to subdue us.”

“Which one got you?”

“The herbs.”

There was something in the way Rhys gave his answer that told Jen there was more to the story than just that.  It also told her that now was not the right time to be asking about it.

“The tattoo is a mark of property.  They sought to control me through the herbs.  It didn’t work.”

Jen snorted, “Clearly.”

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