Concerning the effects the metal would have on me, I should have suspected, at that. Or more to the point, I already knew that silver, pure silver, held some quality disagreeable to me. I had at times laid hands on silver coins, booty taken from some fat merchantman during my career as captain of the Lycanon’s Curse. And on those rare occasions when I’d held silver in my hands, depending on the grade and quality of the ore, the purity of the coinage, these latter had either irritated my hands or, only once, when dealing with coins of a particularly fine mintage, had burned my palms as a flame would have done. So yes, I knew that something about silver had an adverse effect upon me that no other precious metal contained; I had held gold often enough to no negative effects. But I did not know why silver troubled me so. Nothing in my experience or knowledge could account for it. At the time I marked it only as a curiosity and offered little more thought to the matter. I had the witch’s powder, the reader must remember, to hold the beast in thrall. I had Samaethea waiting for me at home and a life upon the sea. I had, then, things of greater importance to occupy my thoughts.
But when the moon grew fatter, closer to its fullness, after we had already set sail, my captors locked me inside the silver cage. I found that by no more than touching the bars I suffered a burn as from a hot brand. After a few hours I grew sick and weak. I found it necessary to beg a cloak from a Centurion as, being then unable to stand and forced to sit down on the floor of the cage, reclining against the bars, I had to place the garment between my exposed flesh and the metal to prevent my being burned.
While locked in the cage, surrounded by silver, even though the moon burned full, bright and white-hot overhead, I did not, could not transform into the beast.
Here then, had I known about it and had I been able to gain for myself silver in a sufficient quantity and of adequate purity to forge for myself a cage—which would have proven difficult, I concede—here would have been an alternative to my magical elixir, another way to keep the beast in check. As the silver made me sicken, though, far sicker than my potions, I partook of the better option, I think.
Those times, locked inside the silver cage, were miserable. I suffered to no small degree. Yet, as another curiosity of the power the metal held over me, I recovered my strength and full health almost within moments of being removed from the cage. The remainder of the time, other than those few days each month preceding and following the waxing of the moon, my captors allowed me a relative freedom and treated me well enough. Again, this latter owed to fear and grudging respect rather than kindness on their part. At first they had kept my hands chained, in shackles of iron rather than silver, but after some time, when they’d become convinced I did not intend to cast myself overboard, necessitating them to fish me out and back aboard the vessel, and I’d made no attempt to fight them or stage any opposition, they allowed me to move about the ship unbound. There were even those among the soldiers, while not kind or affectionate towards me, who yet developed with me a certain guarded affability.
Also, they were curious. After the initial keeping at arm’s length of the monster in their midst, they began, bit by bit, to ply me with questions. I answered them with all honesty; I had no reason to do otherwise. On discussing the Doghead and the fact that, by its very existence, it proved the power and the influence of Lucifer, the fallen angel, and that this therefore must prove, if the argument be taken to its logical conclusion, the existence of God, I was able to bear witness to these hardened men of the necessity for Christ. It turned out two of the Centurions had wives who were Christians and so they were already well aware of the fine points of the Gospel. To this knowledge I added my own exhortations. In one of the men I daresay I saw an inclination towards acceptance of the Holy Faith himself. If so, if even one soul found his way to the embrace of our Savior, then that entire journey occurred not in vain.
The reader should remember that my own faith at that time had grown most infirm. I did not of my own intention seek to proclaim the Gospel to any of these men. However, such is God’s providence that, merely by telling my story and debating upon the nature and reality of spiritual evil, I was able to proselytize. It is as I am now penning these words and looking back upon those events that I offer thanksgiving to God for the chance He afforded me to extol His virtues. At that time, I gave no more thought to the furtherance of God’s kingdom than I did to the silver that burned me. God can accomplish His intentions even when we are not aware of them and are indifferent to them.
Two ships flanked the one whereupon they held me captive. Three Roman warships staffed by seasoned fighting men, all to convey one prisoner to the capital of the Empire. One prisoner, but scarce a normal prisoner.