Carson here to welcome you to the month of MAYhem! This month we will feature books of all genres with one thing in common: the main character will be going through some kind of mayhem to get to their 'happily ever after'. Come back often to enjoy the struggle as much as the happy ending.
I wrote "A Good Deed Done" for an MLR Press call for stories with an Irish theme. I wanted to do a paranormal, but one that was a change from the usual shifter stories. The Irish werewolf, or faoladh, has a different legend and seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
These werewolves weren't monsters as those in Germanic myths. Instead they were protectors and warriors. The wolves protected children, guarded wounded men, and guided lost people to safety. They were also called upon by Irish kings in times of war. I gave my story an extra dimension by having the alpha werewolf gifted in magic.
Conner is a lonely farmer with a good heart. Finding a wounded wolf in the woods, he cares for it and watches it leave the next morning. He little realises that his good deed done will change his life.
A couple of years pass and Conner is still alone. He makes a living from selling his milk at market and supplements the food he grows for himself with the occasional rabbit he snares. Although he hasn't seen the young wolf he rescued, he always leaves part of the rabbit behind, just in case.
When a couple of Conner's cows go missing, he immediately sets out after them and meets his wealthy neighbour Boetius. The other man wants to buy Conner's farm, but Conner knows nothing other than farming and as usual refuses to sell.
Tracking the cattle, Conner realises they went in the direction of Boetius's farm and knows he stands no chance of regaining them. Heavy hearted he heads back home calculating if he can afford to replace them.
A thick mist descends and when it clears Conner's in a part of the woods he's never seen before. Aware of magic, or draíochta, and respecting the old myths and legends, Conner heads to a hut that he sees.
There he finds that in rescuing the young wolf, he'd rescued a faoladh. The werewolf, Ciaran, had known his mate immediately, but had been considered too young at the time.
With the blessing of Ciaran's parents, the couple begin their live as a mated pair. But Boetius hasn't given up on wanting Conner's farm and his greed threatens to destroy Conner and Ciaran's happiness.
Conner is a hard working farmer with a generous heart and a lonely existence. When a couple of his much needed milk cows go missing he tries to find them. Instead he finds that some legends are truths. Faoladh, werewolves, exist, and a good deed done a couple of years earlier to an injured young wolf leads to changes in his life he could never have imagined.
Delighted to have such a beautiful mate as Ciaran at his side, Conner feels his life is complete. But another man's greed threatens to destroy Conner and Ciaran's happiness.
A soft exclamation escaped him when he saw the cause of the wolf's distress. A wooden barb was buried in its side. Conner winced. The wolf must be in agony, and yet bore his touches.
"The barb has to come out, boy. As gentle as you've been, I can't trust you not to bite me." Conner murmured quietly as he drew some twine from his spliuchan. He was pleased he'd worn the pouch. It held many small but useful items.
Tying the twine carefully around the wolf's jaw, Conner smiled at the beast licked his hand and remained docile as the twine was tightened enough to keep that dangerous maw closed.
Taking a small knife from his spliuchan, Conner cut the barb from the wolf's side. The beast shuddered and whined, but made no attempt to stop Conner or try to escape. Conner was certain the beast had almost given up the will to live because of the pain.
Once the barb was out, he cleaned the wound as best he could with a torn piece of his jerkin and the water he carried. He cut the twine from the wolf's jaw and offered the beast some of his water which it lapped from his hand.
Although it hadn't been his intention to stay out overnight, he was loathe to leave the wolf while it was so weak and helpless. Looking around, Conner decided the clearing was sheltered enough to spend the night. He left the wolf while he gathered wood for a fire, then lit it with his tinder box. He was close to one of his snares and Conner made sure the fire was safe before hurrying to check his trap.
The trap held a good-sized rabbit. Conner took his prize back to his impromptu camp and skinned the rabbit. Once his pieces were being roasted, he took the rest to the wolf. The beast ate all he gave it without snatching and after another drink of water, closed its eyes.
Once his meat was cooked, Conner settled against the bough of a tall tree to eat. The sky darkened as twilight progressed toward night. Conner checked that the fire was out, then ambled away to take care of personal necessities.
On his return, he settled against the tree and pulled his cloak tight around him to ward off the chill of the night. The wolf seemed to be asleep and Conner smiled on hearing the occasional snore or snuffle from the beast.
The night passed swiftly and when Conner opened his eyes, he saw the wolf slowly rise to its feet. It padded back and forth for a moment, deciding whether or not it felt happy enough to move. It trotted to the edge of the forest, stopped, and looked back at Conner.
While the wolf had been pacing, Conner had also risen to his feet. He felt a pang of sorrow that the wolf would leave, and yet he knew the beast needed the freedom of the forests, not the confines of Conner's farm. "I'll miss you too, my handsome man. But life on a farm sure is not the life for you."
The wolf's head tilted from side to side as Conner spoke as if weighing his words. It came toward Conner, stopped, then reached forward and licked Conner's hand. Conner ruffled the thick fur the wolf's head, marveling at its softness. "Maybe we'll meet again, bonnie boy. But for now 'tis best you go home. I've tarried in the forest long enough."
The wolf ducked his head and trotted into the forest. Smiling, Conner grasped his stick and headed home. Since the death of his mother last winter, he'd managed the small farm on his own. He hummed to himself as he walked, an old proverb his mother had taught him ringing in his head. "Blessings are won by a good deed done."