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Not sure how to describe this really, lets just say that studying history and a recent battle with my beliefs has inspired some thoughts and a new book, here is the first chapter and prologue have a look.
I stood in the shade watching the fish darting about in the water. My hands had fallen into the now customary position over my lower stomach. I could feel the heart beats inside and small movements. The wrong unexplainable movements that I was so happy to be feeling. It was worrying me though. Something which had brought a lot of attention.
Silken hands slipped down my arms and gently onto my waist. I was pulled back gently into a warm wall of flesh. The hands moved around my waist, encircling it and I moved my hands to gently grip them. I felt my tension fading and he hadn’t even said anything. But that was just him. He had this way of making me totally relax just by being close to me. His palms were flat against my stomach and I knew he could feel the small movements that pressed against my stomach. I could see what his face would look like in my mind. A small furrow between his blonde eyebrows showing his worry but his plush, full lips would be smiling in wonder and total happiness.
That reaction still struck me as irrational. He of all people should fear what this meant, what would happen in the future. He still didn’t speak his thoughts though. I waited, my eyes darting around, following the fish in the clear river water. When they scattered I looked around. There was a deep shadow where the grass over hung on the opposite bank. A fully grown Kuisha came out of the shallow water and chased his younger relatives. It wasn’t long before he was swimming away with one in his jaws.
My grip on the hands tightened with anguish. That was the way the world was. That’s what happened across our planet. So why wasn’t it happening here? Would I do that one day? Hurt him? I wouldn’t be able to stand that. My true love was however as painfully aware of my thoughts as he always had been. He whirled me around so our faces were inches apart.
“You would never do that to me. I know you wouldn’t so stop doubting yourself.”
“But another of my . . . persuasion might. How can you take that chance?”
“Easily. I think it’s worth the risk.” He smiled and I allowed myself to be appeased for now but I knew that later as soon as I changed the fear would be back. He leaned down and kissed my lips gently, making me shiver slightly. He wrapped his arms around my waist again and we looked into each other’s eyes. We walked to the temple then back to the village. He dropped me off at my home and we kissed on the doorstep.
I thought back to the time by the river, when the movements were more noticeable. I felt the urge to change even there in the sunlight by the temple. A few hours and I wouldn’t be able to resist the curse much longer. Why oh why did He have to curse my blood? And why, why did it have to be a wolf? Couldn’t I turn into a kitten or something cute and fluffy or at least less dangerous?
The answers to those were quite simple though. Because.
The path’s gravel crunched under my feet as I joined many in the assent up to the temple. I resisted the urge to look around like someone feeling guilty that’s trying not to be noticed. That would alert suspicion which wasn’t good. Checks were becoming more frequent and the same excuse would only work so many times. I currently had my eyes hidden under a fringe of hair to avoid one of the tell-tales being spotted.
The temple was now starting to appear on the horizon and everyone was now relaxing. The legend said the temple was a safe space where the cursed couldn’t enter. They were close to their haven. I looked across at my favourite spot to walk by the river through the orchard. There was a perfect flat stone there with a path to the other bank if you had good balance. I longed to cross but something always held me here.
From the temple windows I could see some fellow members of the choir. Some waved and I parted my lips in a grin. We had practised a new song at rehearsal only a few days ago and were performing it today. I was one of the lead harmonies in the piece and one of the senior members in the temple choir which now meant a lot of attention. I knew I should have checked myself over before coming here but I had run out of time. No one was staring at me on the way there so I probably looked fine but the reassurance would be nice. If only they had mirrors in the temple, I would have coped.
Up ahead someone was grabbed from the queue and a light was shone into their eyes. Their arms, hands and nails were checked and they were pricked with a pin and the reaction watched fearfully. She was then allowed into the temple and everyone watched warily to see if they were going to grab anyone else for a check. No one enjoyed the test. I moved slightly quicker towards the door and took my place in the front row of the choir.
Before that long the temple was full and our conductor was waiting for order and attention. The song started and ended and though I managed to sing as well as ever while in my head I noticed every prolonged look and stare. The one that most bothered me was from one of the Blessed, a priest at the back of the hall. He watched me singing with a strange expression. Attention is never wanted especially when you are one of the cursed. If he had realised what I was I would have to run again. I didn’t want that. I liked my house here. I had just decorated.
The song finished and the choir moved to the cushions for the worship and sacrifice of the service. I looked away at the sacrifice, which today was one of the fish from the river. A Kuisha, a kind of piranha that ate its own kind. The service was long but the cushions comfortable. I still had to stretch slightly when I rose but I felt refreshed as I made my way out the temple feeling, as usual, a little smug for fooling the Blessed and defying the legend.
To add insult to injury I decided to go to the river for the afternoon. It was my day off really and I wanted to relax for a bit. For once I wouldn’t be changing to quench the urge. I had done that already last night after I couldn’t prevent it any longer. So now I got to actually rest after worship. A nice seat in the shade by the river on the table stone was just the thing.
I turned towards the rock which I could lounge on with my feet just above the surface of the water. Dip in a toe and the Kuisha would come for a snack and you would lose at least one. Some of my pack had learnt that from experience and many had less than ten toes on their back legs. I had always been respectful of the river so I still had all of mine.
I finally reached the table stone and quickly knelt down in the shade, away from the burning sun. I gave the temple a quick glance, trying and failing to be casual. I saw some of the Blessed faces in the windows and one approaching the orchard across the grass. It was the young man from before that had stared. Time for a quick getaway, I can pretend I just wanted a drink and go for a walk. I quickly hopped up from the stone and walked down the river bank to another set of stepping stones. These led into the forest, somewhere that was widely avoided these days thanks to the legend. Damn the blasted thing. Hanging my dress on a tree branch noticeable for the patrol to pick up I quickly clicked the switch in my head and changed once in the shadows.
The woods were a different place now to what they once were. A pack of the cursed had moved in and now everyone was too scared to wonder into the woods close to dusk. They were even edgy in the day despite the legend. The very much mistaken and falsified legend. I don’t think there were more than five things that were true in it. Maybe not even that thinking about it.
“The cursed ones remain in their human shape during the day until the moon breaches the heavens then under its rays they face no choice but to change to the form brought on by their cursed blood. During the day tell tale signs are left to enable the Blessed in their duty of hunting down the cursed and dispatching them from this mortal world.”
Most of that section was absolute garbage apart from the bit about signs when in our human forms. There were several that were not obtrusive or easily noticed but once seen were hard to explain. Some were only noticed when something happened to the individual, like a small pin prick would supposedly make the cursed snarl and snap. That only worked on some. Mainly it just really annoyed them and they would go and trample the temple grounds just far enough from the temple for them to still believe in its safety from the cursed. That was another part of the legend.
“The Wise One repels all of the cursed. In his domain will you be safe from them. Worship him who made you safe and give sacrifices as you try to weed out the endarkened. Then he will extend his favour to you and protect you from the darkness.”
More garbage. I went in the temple almost every day to ‘pray’. Actually I was yelling at the Wisest One about why he had to curse me for another’s crimes. My entire pack went in there with me just to rub it in His face that we could go in the temple and assure Him that we were sure as hell not going to stop moaning about our sore luck.
Thinking of my pack brought me back to the present. I might as well round them up and go on a scouting trip. Despite what the villagers actually thought I had the pack doing laps around the village to keep it safe from other, more dangerous creatures. Let’s see … Who would have the day off today? I think today it was Red Eyes’ and Soft Paws’ turn. I had cleared my patrol of the week last night. I’d add some hours up. The girls needed policing anyway. I was hardly leading them anymore because of the increased awareness of the villages. Some wanted to take action into their own hands. Time for a pack meeting maybe.
I started running for the border of our patrol. The others would cross me eventually. I enjoyed the world in this form despite that fact I hated the curse. Everything was clear and crisp in our vision, not blurry or out of focus like human eyes. The sense of smell was amazing, so analytical. Not only could you smell how many rabbits had passed through a clearing yesterday but you could smell how old they were and what they had eaten that day. The hearing range spanned for at least a mile in diameter.
But yet in this amazing world of freedom we still felt cursed. It was still us that thought these thoughts. Our nature didn’t change. We were human awareness’s trapped in a lycan’s body.
Hang on, footfalls. Thump, thum-thump, thump rhythm. Smells like rain water and lilies. That would be Red Eyes. She was one of the sensible ones. I sped into the clearing and skidded to a halt in the centre. She broached the trees at about the same time. She blinked at me and gave a welcoming yip, the sun making her pale cream fur looks almost luminous. I gave her one back. Her head was cocked to one side as she appraised me, then she began to Change. I followed her example. This meant she wanted to talk about something and had to use more than a dozen noises to get her point across.
She gave me a small grin, her red eyes still watching my face. “You okay Boss?”
I nodded. “Course. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Zeeva,” good Gods, the first name meant she was really worried. “You hate patrol as much as the rest of us yet here you are turning up voluntarily. Something must be up.”
“Just ran from one of the Blessed. He’s not a danger but it didn’t feel right to let one of them get so close.”
“There’s more than that. Thinking about the legend again were we?” I shuffled my feet and my eyes flickered to the side. Reds noticed. “It only gets you down when you think about it honey so why bother?” I shrugged. “And I think you had better get back to the table stone. He’ll think it’s odd that you ran. He might start asking questions. Besides you might as well find out why he wants to talk to you.”
“You’re right. I’ll go back in a bit. I want to talk to Soft Paws first. I think we need a pack meeting.”
“Soft Paws is ill. I’m running patrol with Standing in the Shallows. I’ll get the message round. When you want the meeting?”
“Tonight, at midnight. Spring Steps’ house. She lives out the way. Go there in our night forms through the woods.”
“Okay. We’ll get it done. Now get to the clothes stump and to the village before your Sir gets curious. Maybe get a cover for why you were in the woods to. Pick some flowers or something.” I nodded and began to run at the trees, changing mid-stride. In minutes I was at the clothes stump, a hollowed log that contained clothes of all shapes, styles and sizes. I grabbed some of my favourite forest blooms in the area around the tree stump and gathered a bunch.
I found a dress that was similar enough to my other one not to arouse suspicion and then I started to walk back towards the river and the stepping stones. There was no other way to cross; all I could hope was that he didn’t run into me on the way back to my house. I hopped from one to the other carefully then scrabbled up onto the other bank. The Sir was not to be seen along the banks. I padded along the bank back to the table stone.
When I slouched onto the ground I quickly looked around for Kuisha then sank my feet and hands into the water to wash off the mud. I snatched them out just in time as a pack of them swam upstream. I watched them as the sunlight shone off their scales. There were so many different colours in this group; it was like an underwater rainbow.
I sat there to watch the fish for a second and picked the bottom leaves off the flower stems. The Sir that had come looking down here would probably still be walking around the orchard. Unless he had seen me and come looking. Then I couldn’t risk turning back to go home. I would have to wait and see if he went past soon.
It ended up being short wait. He came up the path from the village meaning he went looking there. He was glancing around him so I returned my gaze to the flowers in my hand. Surprisingly I couldn’t hear the sound of his foot falls on the gravel. Everyone should make some sound. The sun was now lower in the sky and my flowers had been prepared and placed at the river edge. Spending the morning relaxed; even meditating for parts of it I had got over my feeling of panic after I caught him staring at the worship. Now there was just a small sense of curiosity over why he had stared. By now I could smell him coming along the grass to my seat. So he wanted to talk to me after all. I glanced over at him.
His face was the same as many of the blessed – handsome and calm. But I felt something different towards this face that gave it an edge. The other priests lost their passion and fire when committing to the order. His eyes still held a hot and fiery spirit.
Because of this I didn’t feel the need as strongly to run from this threat as before. I felt safe enough to stay on the rock and watch the fishes in the water. The Kuisha were currently chasing some more docile, colourful fish around. It was fun to watch as long as you had enough patience to stay very still. I didn’t hear the footsteps on the fresh grass but I felt the presence of a body near me, heat coming off the skin of the Blessed one, his scent in the air. I decided to be the first to speak.
“Kuisha are beautiful are they not, Blessed one, despite their deadly nature?” I said throwing a smile over my shoulder, my eyes never leaving the fish.
“Very Madame.” The voise was very pleasant, deep, warm and rich.
“Was there something you wanted Sir? Or did you just fancy a walk and spot me?”
“Oh I was just … err … going for a walk in the grounds. Then I saw you and you seemed as though something was on your mind so I came to talk to you. What is on your mind Madame?”
“I’m just thinking about the legend, it’s so sad to go in the woods now. No one goes in there, not to gather flowers, or herbs, or the healing plants. What exactly does the legend say? I think I missed some of it.”
“Ah okay, well I will ask the preacher to review it at tomorrow’s worship.”
“Thank you that would be nice.” I stood as I said it. I had finished the flowers and kept them bundled in my arms. “Now I think I had better go home and put these in some water” I murmured nudging the blossoms. I gave a low curtsy as he bowed and then walked past him down the path to the village. However a new feeling was in my body and did not seem to be willing to leave. A slight tightness in my chest and puzzlement in my mind at that meeting persisted the entire walk home and I found myself dazed as I finally got the flowers into some water. How strange this day has been, I thought with a frown. Something told me that there would be stranger to come.
|Link Between Hearts|