By the time Ornstein had moved to the bedroom, Artorias was already long asleep. His roommate had always gone to sleep early - and he tends to get up later than Ornstein does, too. This didn't exactly bother him, though, as Artorias' sleeping habits usually made things a lot easier for Ornstein on full moon nights. He could easily slip out and back in before his friend was awake, leaving not much for Artorias to be suspicious of - other than his grumpiness, but Ornstein had always put that off as him simply sleeping bad on those nights, which Artorias seemed to accept as a reasonable explanation (not that it was entirely a lie).
Ornstein slowly shuffled under the blanket, getting comfortable. Today was another busy day for the knights, fending off a group of Gargoyles that intended to make their home in a nearby town, terrifying the local townsfolk, and scouting out the area near a rumored dragon nesting ground, though the four of them were unable to find anything in said area.
Either way, Ornstein was ready to let sleep wash away the exhaustion of the day so he'd be ready for the next. Winter was fast approaching, and it was getting considerably colder, prompting Ornstein to wrap his blanket around himself tighter. The room was silent aside from the soft snoring of Artorias, which he found himself smiling slightly at, endeared by his roommate's antics nearly all the time. He closes his eyes, ready to drift off to sleep himself.
But it only takes a few minutes for Ornstein to realize what day today is, after restlessly tossing and turning in bed. As the realization dawns on him, Ornstein quickly hops out of bed, grabbing the bare necessities before rushing out of the bedroom.
In his hurry, however, Ornstein accidentally woke up Artorias, who looks at his friend with surprise, unsure what he was doing up at this hour. Artorias slowly crawled out of bed, barely catching Ornstein before he was out the door.
"Where are you going?" The Wolf Knight asks, standing just a meter short of Ornstein, who seemed startled by Artorias' speaking up, but quickly regained his composure, aside from the obvious nervosity.
Ornstein turns around to look at the other, slightly smaller man, observing him closely for a few seconds.
"I need to go for a while."
Before Artorias even has the chance to retort, Ornstein had closed the door behind him, leaving his roommate standing in the hallway with more questions running through his head than when Ornstein first got up so suddenly in the middle of the night. 'Did I upset him?' Artorias wonders, unsure what to make of his friend's hasty leave. He shakes his head and makes up his mind to follow Ornstein - something was suspicious, and Artorias was worried his friend either was in trouble, was gonna get in trouble, or do something unnecessary and stupid (though he usually wouldn't leave for such occassions and this hadn't been a problem for quite a while).
Throwing on nothing more than a hoodie, some pants and shoes, Artorias leaves their shared home to follow Ornstein, who luckily hadn't gone completely out of sight yet, though it was obvious he was in a hurry, so Artorias did his best to keep up. As he got a bit closer (though not close enough for Ornstein to notice him), Artorias noticed how the Lion Knight was clearly stumbling and swaying, holding his head with one hand. Why would he go out in such a condition? What was up with him? Where was he even going?
It didn't take long for Artorias to notice they were straight on their way to Darkroot Garden. What did Ornstein want here? Artorias often came here himself with Sif because of Alvina and her hunters, but Ornstein didn't come with them so often, mainly because of his constant load of work, which didn't offer him much of a break - but even so, Artorias didn't know that Ornstein had any friends in Darkroot Garden, and he didn't think Alvina and Ornstein would call each other friends quite yet.
Inside the Garden itself, Ornstein went off to a small side trail that Artorias didn't even know of. He was beginning to slow down, seeming obviously in pain, but not coming to a halt yet. Artorias started closing the distance between the two, worried that Ornstein was going to collapse at any moment and that he would need help.
Ornstein toppled to his knees, prompting Artorias to quickly catch up, jogging down the path - before coming to a screeching halt as the other let out a horrific, bestial scream. He got down on all fours and began convulsing, twitching, shaking. Artorias watched every movement that was illuminated by the round orb of the full moon above the small clearing the two had come to stop in, in utter terror, unsure what to do. What was happening to him?
The first thing he notices is glinting teeth in the moonlight - sharp teeth, almost like a wolf's. And then... it looked like Ornstein's nails were becoming claws, bit by bit, sharper and sharper. They too shone in the moonlight, though after a few moments that felt like an eternity, Artorias doesn't see much of them anymore, as Ornstein turns further away from his direction.
And then he whips his head back around, and Artorias glares straight into two shining yellow orbs with slit pupils, that he feels are staring right back at him, shooting daggers into him, making Artorias hold his breath, afraid that he had been noticed. But just a second later, the head snaps away from him again.
The ears seemed pointier than usual... and then Artorias realizes that they were becoming pointier, moving upwards, slowly but surely, contorting with the rest of Ornstein. He quickly picks up the semblence of a wolf once again, and at that point, it starts dawning on him what exactly was happening to Ornstein. For just a short moment, Artorias catches sight of the hands and claws again, but just as quickly, they are whipped away again, Ornstein's red hair moving along with every swing of the head, every twitch of the body.
Artorias is rooted in place, too afraid to move. Ornstein's screams only increased in intensity, just like his wild, ferocious movements as the transformation continued, and Artorias felt a knot forming in his stomach, his face twisting with each scream and howl.
Just now, he notices the stub of a tail, forming at the end of the spine, growing out into a proper one at a steady pace, accompanied by a symphony of cries that made Artorias want to run, but his legs wouldn't move, no matter how much he wanted them to. It was around this time that the fur started becoming very visible, especially around the tail Artorias had been watching for the last few seconds. It was a dark shade of reddish-brown color, almost cinnabar, with a few darker spots, shining in the moonlight that fell down on it. As Artorias looks further down, he notices what he can only describe as paws, complete with light black pads, in the place of feet, equally overgrown with fur like the tail.
Artorias felt like an eternity had to have passed by now, sick to the stomach as despite everything, the snapping and cracking continued as Ornstein's whole figure continued to contort.
The knight tried to look away, but notices Ornstein's face. Or muzzle, moreso - growing long, like a wolf's, sporting a row of sharp teeth all around. Artorias realizes in the same moment that he was larger than before.
A hundred thoughts run through his head, ranging from "Run away" to "Is this where I die?", but they are all interrupted when the wolf lifts his head to howl up at the moon, the transformation complete - though visibly exhausted, judging by the panting. Still, the knight could not move, not finding the energy to. The wolf lowers his head to the ground, standing on all four, beginning to sniff around. It took mere seconds for him to pick up a scent - Artorias'.
The beast's head snaps around, directly to where Artorias was standing, still stuck in place, afraid to move. It is as if Artorias' breath became stuck in his throat the moment he saw those yellow eyes fixate on him, like a predator ready to stalk its prey - he knew that he was the prey. With slow movements, the wolf gets closer, growling underneath his breath.
'He's going to eat me,' keeps running through Artorias' mind, 'he's going to kill and eat me,'
Ornstein picks up the pace before pouncing, causing Artorias to tumble backwards in fear, his legs finally agreeing that they needed to move, but Ornstein had already landed a slash straight across Artorias' shoulder all the way to his chest when they rolled backwards, leaving the wolf on top, snarling down at his captured prey, teeth baring as the lip curves upwards.
The wound was not the worst Artorias had ever experienced, neither was it fatal, but it certainly hurt like hell. So much so, that he began feeling tears form at the corner of his eyes quicker than he could've possibly surpressed them - or maybe that came from the fear finally unleashing the rest of his emotions, or maybe both. Within seconds, they began streaming down his face.
As if something suddenly clicked in the wolf's mind, Ornstein paused just short of Artorias' face, pulling his head backwards as he stares down at the knight, who looked back, face wet from crying already, barely able to keep in sobs. As Ornstein continues to hesitate to move, Artorias, on instinct, says his name, hoping that, if there was anything of his Captain left in there, he would hear it.
It's barely a whisper.
For a few seconds, the wolf looks down at Artorias with a gaze of confusion and somewhat bewilderment. But then, there seemed to be a sudden recognition... and then the wolf noticed the blood on his claws, his eyes trailing to the large wound across Artorias' shoulder, and the stare shifts to terror, as if he had a sudden realization. The wolf begins to move backwards, first only with his upper body, but once he tumbled backwards onto his side, he quickly got up, staring at Artorias in horror for a few more seconds before scurrying a good distance away, trying to hide in a nearby cave.
Artorias takes a few moments to get up, groaning, still crying, holding his shoulder with his good arm. He begins moving over to where Ornstein ran off to, finding the wolf sitting at the very back of the small cavern, as if in shame. When he hears the knight approach, his head snaps to where the noise came from, backing further into the corner, whimpering, ears lowered.
"Ornstein..." Artorias speaks up again, this time a bit louder. The wolf whimpers louder. Artorias tries to muster a smile, carefully getting closer to the large beast. "..it's okay," he murmurs, slowly wrapping his arms around Ornstein, who doesn't try to resist, only whimpering louder, beginning to push against where the wound was with his snout. "I'll live," Artorias tries to reassure the wolf.
The two remain like this for a short moment longer before the wolf pushes Artorias away, still whimpering, but standing up on all fours now. Artorias, too, gets back up, though a little bit wonky at first.
It was pretty cold, and Artorias was freezing, with the little clothing he had taken with him on what he thought would be a short trip partially torn now. They had to go home, which was easier said than done, knowing that Anor Londo was well guarded, even at night. Still, he needed to treat his wound, and they could hardly remain out here all night (well, maybe Ornstein could, with his thick fur).
"We need to go home," Artorias softly cooed, but the wolf was very opposed to this idea, making it very clear with more whimpering and shaking his head furiously. Artorias sighs. "I can't get this wound patched up out here,"
After a few seconds of consideration, Ornstein begrudingly nods, following Artorias closely, who just now really notices how tall Ornstein is, as the wolf easily reaches up to his shoulders just on all fours. Artorias was terrified of imagining what kind of damage he could've done, had the wolf not snapped out of it just moments before eating the knight's face.
As they closed in on the entrance to Anor Londo, Artorias was trying his damnedest to figure out some way for them to get in without running into any guards who would certainly kill Ornstein on the spot, should they see him. But the side entrance that the two had left through earlier should not be guarded right now, as the patrol would be at the other gate. Artorias quickly explains this idea to Ornstein, though the wolf can't do much aside from giving up a bark of agreement.
The gate seemed empty, so they quickly rushed through, deciding to go through the side street instead of the main way to their shared home. However, just shortly after leaving the gate area, Artorias heard someone clearing their throat behind them, and he froze up in fear, slowly turning his head.
It was Ciaran, staring straight at the pair, arms crossed.
"What are you doing out here, Artorias? And which wolf are you bringing into Anor Londo this time? Because that's certainly not Sif."
A wave of relief washes over Artorias at the realization that they had been caught by one of their closest friends, not the local guards. He turns around, nearly forgetting the giant wound across his upper body, though he can quickly tell that Ciaran noticed from her shocked step back.
"D-Don't panic! Please. I need to get home... I can explain there. Just not out here, in the streets."
Despite an initial gaze of suspicion, Ciaran nods, accompanying the two on their way back.
By the time they enter the home, the cathedral's clock strikes midnight. Artorias and Ornstein had been out for over three hours by this point.
Once back, the first thing Artorias did was get out of his bloodied, torn hoodie, dropping it on the bathroom floor for the meantime, and bandaging up the wound - or, well, at least he tried to, failing miserably and promptly getting help from Ciaran, who could reach the spot much better than him. Ornstein had, in the meantime, retreated into the living room, plopping down on the couch in a mix of frustration and shame for the incident that occured just a short while ago.
Artorias and Ciaran joined the wolf in the living room after finishing up the bandaging and after Artorias had grabbed a shirt.
The first question Ciaran asked was "Where is Ornstein?".
Without even thinking about it, Artorias pointed at the wolf beside him on the couch, receiving a shocked and offended glare from Ornstein, who likely thought Artorias wouldn't just throw this secret out so soon. Ciaran furrowed her brows in a moment of confusion, unsure if Artorias was joking with her or not, but after seeing the wolf's reaction, she seemed pretty convinced.
"..What happened to him? And where did you get that wound?"
Artorias rubs the back of his neck, remembering what kind of position werewolves had within Lordran society and folklore (the kind that gets you instantly killed for just being one), not sure if he should say the full truth. "He, uh, turned into a wolf." "I see that. But why?" "Uhhhhmmm..." Artorias trails off, looking to the side. "Will you promise to not kill him or me instantly if I tell you the truth?" Artorias asked in his nicest, quietest voice, doing puppy eyes. Ornstein gave an offended bark, as if to voice his displeasure at Artorias so easily giving up his secrets. Ciaran squints her eyes, becoming more confused than she had been at the first encounter with them, before sighing. "Okay."
Ornstein hid his face in shame under his paws.
"Well, I'm pretty sure Ornstein's a werewolf," Artorias finally says. Ciaran blinks. "How are you sure?" she asks, knowing full well the consequences typically associated with being a werewolf in Lodran's society. Artorias blinks. "Well, I mean, transformation into a bipedal wolf thing under the full moon seems pretty fitting of the description of a werewolf." Ciaran nods, letting her arms fall to her side as she sighs once again. "Ooookay. And the wound?"
Ornstein burrows his face further, as if he was trying to disappear.
"Yeah, that was also kinda him..... He kind of attacked me before he realized it's me." Artorias said, looking to the side in embarassment a bit. "But that one's on me! I could've just run away but I didn't," he quickly adds.
Ciaran rubs her forehead. "Okay, so let me get this straight - Captain Ornstein is a werewolf, and you got yourself attacked by him because you were just standing around, right?"
Artorias nods, looking over at Ornstein who still had his head hidden under his paws. Then he looks back at Ciaran.
"...You won't tell Lord Gwyn, or anyone else, right?" he said in a surprisingly serious, and quiet, tone, seeming afraid that Ornstein may be hurt or chased, or even worse, killed, and that it may be his fault. His hopeful gaze remains on Ciaran.
After a brief pause, she shakes her head. "I will not tell anyone. Your secret is safe with me." she finally replies, looking over at Ornstein, who had begun peeking out from under his paw, seeming prepared to hear the worst. The wolf gives off an audible sigh of relief at Ciaran's words.
She turns to Artorias. "Just make sure nobody starts picking up a trail. You don't want someone who shouldn't know about this find out." she says. "Either way, I should get back to my duties. I will see you both later." With that, Ciaran makes her way to the door.
However, before she opens it to leave, she turns back one more time. "And Artorias?" "Yes?" "You should get that wound checked out by a healer. Lycanthropy is known to be spread by tooth and claw of a werewolf."
Artorias' heart sank for a moment. "Any idea who I should go to?" he asks after a brief pause. Ciaran looks over at him.
"Not sure. I would start with someone like Gwyndolin or Gwynevere, they might be more well-versed in these types of diseases. I'm fairly certain I have read a book about this with Gwyndolin once - they seemed pretty interested." She shrugs. "Just don't delay it too long. And try not to get yourself caught by Lord Gwyn or the guards, they might trace it back to Captain Ornstein somehow." she adds before saying her goodbyes and leaving the two knights to themselves.
Artorias seems thoughtful for a few minutes, before noticing Ornstein's staring at the ground, looking almost... sad? He found it hard to read the exact expression. Still, Artorias shook his head, carefully putting a hand on Ornstein's back and petting him softly, quickly getting a sound pretty close to a purr out of him.
"I'm spent, I don't think I can walk upstairs to the bedroom right now. Want to crash on the couch with me?" he asks his friend, who tries to put on a facade as if he was really thinking hard about abandoning Artorias on the couch and going to the bedroom alone, but his wagging tail clearly betrays him. Still, Artorias teases. "You wouldn't abandon me now, would you, Captain?" he says playfully. The wolf turns around entirely now and pushes him down on the couch, resting on Artorias like Sif (who was still asleep upstairs when the two left) usually would. Artorias laughs.
"I'll take that as a no!"