From the Author
I am an unsettled soul. I lumber through the accumulation of my two-hundred-plus years and yet somehow, under my thick fingers, the delicate stones of a precious grave marker did not wobble.
Lizzy's cairn held its shape.
The stones, each individually lifted from the pebbled lake shore behind me, continued their duty. Each locked to the ones above and below, and each held steadfast.
Two centuries ago, I set the first stone, a flat, cracked wedge of granite I'd found up the hill. Cold soil had folded around my equally cold hands as I'd dug it out. Dark soil full of bits of life--beetles and ants and the parts of leaves rendered into grains--squished between my fingers. I carried the stone to the cairn's site and pressed it into the moss under what had been,at the time, an oak sapling. Another two rocks--one a purplish-red, semi-smooth lake stone, and the other a gray, boxy, small boulder--set the cairn's foundation.
To this day, I still tended the grave marker. I still visited.
"Lizzy," I whispered. She had run the Arctic with me. She had kept me alive. If it hadn't been for her and the other hounds of my sled team, I would have sunk below the ice long before we found new land.
My trek had started with one blazing moment of rage. One singular need to make my father pay for his trespasses against not only me, but life itself.
He escaped. I rode my fury into the midnight sun, a modern Prometheus on the back of a sled pulled by hounds with souls stronger than my own.
I hunted seal. The dogs ran until only Lizzy remained. And one day, she and I wandered into magic.
She died shortly after the elves found us. They thought me a jotunn--a giant. Many of them still do. I no longer argue.
The werewolves understood Lizzy's soul. They helped me choose the sapling that marked her grave. The two loup-garou pack founders, Gerard and Remy Geroux, went so far as to declare the oak sacred to their kind. And slowly, over the years and decades, I slotted into Lizzy's cairn a new quartz chip here, an open agate geode there. I fitted the smooth and the pockmarked. With the wolves' help, I built for Lizzy a marker worthy of her bright light.
The sapling became one of the many grand oaks circling my lake. Above my head, a squirrel ran the branches chattering like Ratatoskr filling the eagle Vedrfolnir's head with gossip. The lake lapped its shore. The sun warmed my skin and I wondered about my unsettled soul. I wondered how it was that a hound always knew with certainty the reality of her world.
I set a new stone, one with a rounded edge perfect for the tree-side of the cairn, and stepped back.
I am large by both mundane human and elf standards. I duck and twist my shoulders when crossing most thresholds, and stand a good nine inches taller than Arne Odinsson, the elf who oversees this land. My eyes, though dark, shimmer with a deep red fire. I wear my black hair in the Old Norse style the elves prefer--naked above my ears and twisted into a knot at the back of my head. But unlike the natural pattern of the elves, I must shave my scalp where my scars do not already inhibit my hair's growth.
The scars have faded over my two centuries, and the slow rebuilding of my epidermis has replaced my original sallowness with a warm, if ashen, demi-health. I was built from parts of others, after all, and modeled out of clay polluted with death. My health is not my own.
I am the abandoned son of a mad scientist. I am a man who walked the Arctic into a new continent, and a monster adopted by Nordic New World elves. I am friend to werewolves, witches, and vampires.
I am Victorsson, son of Victor--son of the abandoning father who called himself Frankenstein. I am an unsettled soul.
The elves call me Frank....