William and the Werewolf
Author Butch Berry
William and the werewolf is an olden days tale driven by magical forces,
clear divisions of good and evil, and the prominence of royal families in generational
deities. It’s a tale of a peaceful, almost idyllic city in the country we know today as Italy,
but in those days was its own country - Apolia.
A baby boy is born to Queen Felice and King Embrons, the benevolent rulers of Apolia.
They and their subjects live in a world of nervous harmony with Rome, Greece and Spain
– all of which are ready to go to war at the drop of a hat. Soon after, the prince, before
being even named, is brazenly taken by a wolf in full view of the king’s court, and
disappears without a trace. Fearing the worst, his parents resign themselves to his death.
The wolf, however, is at the forefront of magic undercurrents and a deep spiritual
undertone that imprints itself indelibly on the story. Contrary to the king and queen’s
misgivings, the wolf inflicts no harm on the lad, but instead transports him miraculously
across waters to its cave. There it nurtures and cares for the prince until he grows and
blossoms into a young teenager; clearly more than a wolf – a werewolf to be exact.
Leaving the cave, the prince connects with a peasant farmer and his wife, who become
his adoptive parents. They decide to call him William. He develops a good, mutually
caring relationship but knows in his heart of hearts he is not their real son. One day, the
king of Rome, on his travels, meets William on the road, and senses that he is meant for
higher things. He convinces his new parents to allow the young man to accompany him
back to Rome, where he appoints him as page to his daughter Melior.
Melior falls in love with William - head over heels in love. She’s a little spoilt and
strong-willed, so to make sure feelings are mutual Melior gets a cousin to cast a spell on
him. The spell works its magic and the two become inseparable. As often happens these
days and then as well, things don’t go in a straight line. The king of Greece offers the
king of Rome a king’s ransom if his daughter Melior will marry his son. A royal marriage
made in heaven, which the king of Rome accepts. The fly in the ointment, so to speak, is
Melior, who is having none of it. She convinces William to elope with her.
They escape attention under guise of bearskins and take cover in a cave that looks
uncannily similar to the one William called home in his adolescent years. De je vu, one
might say. In fact, the werewolf reappears to protect them in their lair, bringing them
food and chasing away suspicious and nosy characters.
At this point we are brought back to Apolia. Embrons is dead, and Queen Felice rules
alone. The kingdom is under Spanish siege and looks to be in desperate straits. As is the
way under such pressing circumstances, an all-knowing seer – the Oracle - is called in to
look into the future; he gives the queen challenging but also encouraging news: there’s a
young man living under disguise as a bear, in a cave away from Apolia. He resides there
with Melior – the runaway Roman princess. If the queen can convince this young man to
return with her, the tide of war will change in her favor. The Oracle also tells the queen
that such actions will result in her long-lost son returning alive to the fold.
Dressed in deerskin to keep things “animalistic,” the queen travels to the cave and is
received cautiously by the pair. Gradually William feels an affinity towards her. The
queen offers William the kingship of Apolia with Melior as his queen alongside if he
returns with her. The werewolf, as William’s protector, somehow follows them back and
hangs around the palace. William supports his mother, both still unaware of their kinship,
saying that he needs a sturdy horse to go into battle against the Spanish. The queen takes
him to the Embron’s steed, which nobody has been able to mount since his death.
William has no trouble at all. He rides the horse to the battleground, and sure enough he
rallies the Apolia forces to eventually defeat the attacking Spaniards. A Spanish prince is
captured and held in the course of battle. The queen and William notice the werewolf in
the palace gardens. He tells her that the presence of the wolf always brings good fortune.
The Spanish king meets with the queen in Apolia to beg for his son’s release. The
werewolf, inside the palace at this moment, kneels at the Spanish king’s feet. William,
ever vigilant when it comes to his lifelong guardian, asks why this mystical animal would
do such a thing. The Spanish king answers that his son Alfonso and the werewolf may be
one and the same. Rumor has it his wife and jealous stepmother bewitched Alfonso, so
her own son would succeed to the throne. Alfonso also simply disappeared at a young
No one understands this better than William. He urges the king to bring his errant wife
back to try reverse the spell. In return Apolia and Spain will never wage war again and
his captured son will be set free. The king of course a winner all round, hastens to obey.
The Spanish queen acquiesces, and Alfonso miraculously appears out of the werewolf’s
fading image. He brings with him the olden day version of “breaking news”: William is
indeed Queen Felice’s son who he, as a werewolf, took from Apolia when still a baby
because he knew a jealous uncle with designs on the crown planned to murder him.
William asks what he wants as a reward for all his good deeds. He answers, “your
beautiful sister’s hand in marriage”. William say’s, “Yes – if she’ll have you.” She does.
William is finally home and a more permanent harmony returns to Apolia.
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