Early Eighteenth Century
Edward Elric had always enjoyed himself in France, England, and Italy. There was a sort of polish that one didn't get out in the mountains and forests of Eastern Europe. There was also a collection of unimaginably interesting creatures that didn't dare adventure into the vampire- and ghoul-infested hills of the Prussian and Austrian territories. After all, survival instinct was rather strong in primitive creatures. His brother enjoyed the wildness, but he preferred to stay in civilization, at least occasionally.
But this didn't quite explain why he was skulking about in a shoddy little thrill-show outside of Marseilles. There were the typical freaks that you'd find in any inbred village. But there was another feeling that sheened over the human madness and disease, and he wanted to find it.
"Welcome, your lordship," the master of the camp said cheerfully in a rather broken dialect of French. His swarthy face was nearly on a level with Edward's which vaguely irritated the young man. "What for have you come here?"
"I'm just looking for something new and exotic and more home-grown than the king's public animal menageries."
"Indeed, your Grace? Perhaps you would like to see our own little exotic treat."
Edward quirked an elegant blond eyebrow. "Oh? How do you mean, 'exotic?' The last time I heard that phrase, I was introduced to the ugliest unicorn in the world."
The little man chuckled. "No, I swear you that he's much prettier than that. You'll please to stand away from the cage though. You would not want his mouth to bite you."
Edward hummed vague assent. He wondered what would need the precaution of standing back from the cage. Usually, it meant something poisonous with sharp teeth.
They passed ramshackle shanties and lean-tos painted gaudy colors containing women painted in human mimicries of the buildings. He wrinkled his sensitive nose at the barrage of alluring perfumes and incenses. Humans had no taste.
His opinion of humans sank another notch as he was introduced into the 'exotic' than the man had spoken of. All it looked to be was a miserable ball of chained and shackled humanity.
"What on earth?"
"A werewolf," the man said, evidently pleased with himself. "I caught him myself a few years ago. I lost seven men to his sire and dam."
"I beg pardon?"
"His parents both were werewolves."
"No, my lord. Werewolves. There was a bad problem with the creatures in Brittany and Normandy years ago. Jean Havoc is the purest of the purebreds."
At the sound of his apparent name, the boy lifted his head. Stunning blue eyes peered from under a ragged fall of (what he suspected was) blond hair. A brief flicker of hope was squashed beneath total and utter dejection.
"Blue eyes?" Edward asked casually, trying to disguise the sudden surge of interest about the caged creature. "Not normally a thing one sees with werewolves."
"I wondered about that, also," the man said, pressing his face to the bars and squinting at the defeated creature. "It stays with him in the transformation."
"I would hope so," Edward said curtly. "How much are you willing to give him up for?"
The werewolf's head snapped up, eyes blazing defiantly. The man began to twitter around the cage and the young dhampir. Edward ignored the man and concentrated on the werewolf. He was beginning to realize exactly how drawn to the youth he was. The young thing was pretty in his own way, and it might be nice to own such a man.
"And he's a vicious monster!" the small brown man said with great finality. "Where would you keep such a thing?"
"I have a rather large estate in the mountains of Germany," Edward replied easily. "I'm sure he would be happier there than kept in such a cage and irons. He watched the werewolf for a reaction. Nothing. The poor creature. "Would fifty livres cover it?"
"I'm sorry, no. Even though he attacked one of my men, he still brings in more money than that."
"Attacked one of your men? Interesting." Yes, definitely a prize worth netting. "Seventy livres?"
"Your Grace, he is not for sale!"
"Stuff it, old man," the werewolf finally said, his voice hoarse from misuse. "Take his gold and let me be."
The man squawked in outrage while Edward eyed the young man approvingly. "One hundred fifty livres."
The man huffed. "Fine. Take the damn monster. Give me the money and go."
Edward obliged him, handing over the gold without complaint, with a generous tip added on for good measure. After the man had left, he turned back to the cage. "My name is Edward Elric. From now on, you shall address me as 'Master' or 'my lord.' What shall I address you as?"
"Jean Havoc." The boy's accent was clean and well-educated, even if his voice was a bit sullen.
"How old are you, Jean?"
"Fifteen. I... think."
"How long have you been here?"
"Too long." The blond head laid down on drawn-up knees. "I just want to go home."
"Then I'll take you home. It's my home, but I think it'll suit you nicely. There's a large wood, several villages, and the castle." The hope in the poor thing's eyes was almost painful. "Do you want to give it a try?"
"Yes, sir. Milord."
The boy was a quick study, he'd give him that. "Well, let's get you out of there." He reached out to test the lock. It was heavy, but rusted enough that a good hard tug would get it loose. So he tugged.
Jean's eyes were almost comically wide when Edward swung the door open. "Sir?"
"I'm a dhampir, Jean. So is my brother. We can keep you safe." He reached in, hooking a finger into the chains. "Can you move?"
Edward began to pull Jean out of the cage. "We need to get you out of these chains, and then get to Paris. We can charter a carriage to Austria and then go from there."
Edward gently stroked the side of Jean's too-thin face. "You'll be all right now, my Jean."