Chapter 14 - Guardians
Chapter 14 - Guardians
Mantilo watched his youngest son steadily and let him stew in silence for a few seconds.
Ezekiel like the rest of his sons was not a child.
Ezekiel was twenty three years old and the youngest. Nate was right before him in age also in his early twenty’s.
Walter was the oldest of his sons at age twenty nine. And Lander came in just below him in age at twenty six years.
But Shifters were different then Mortals in they way that they aged.
Where mortals were known to age once a year, for Shifters, the first few years of life was the same as a mortals. But after puberty.....after the Shift first takes them for the and the beast inside awakens, Shifters began to have a rapid decrease in their ageing. Mantilo had estimated that Shifters aged one year to a mortals every four or five.
So in reality his sons were nearly decades older then they really appeared. And the same could be said for any of the other Leopards in Mantilo’s Clan or other Shifters around the world, that were not pubescent yet.
So none of his sons were children, they were grown men, that he had no real authority over, nor did Mantilo treat Ezekiel as such, but they were still his sons and no matter how old any of them got Mantilo would continue to protect them....or guide them, sternly, if need be. Until the day he died.
“But....” Mantilo amended looking Ezekiel in the eyes. He was secretly proud that his son was trying to take his punishment without any flinching, but he kept his face grim and his tone grave as he said “I will concede on behalf of you mother, your brothers, and because no matter what has happened behind my back. A life is in the process of being saved today. So....I’ll be lenient.”
Thinking that life couldn’t be better Ezekiel mistakenly dropped his shoulder and ex-hailed in relief only for his father to continue. “Ezekiel you are to now take over Landers patrolling shift, added onto your own shift for the rest of this week, as well as helping you mother with gathering the materials needed to ensure the intruders wellbeing. That means you will most likely be ruining back and forth between Kim’s and Glen, in mortal form. Gathering gauze and herbs for sterilization. Mmmm...Just make sure that you don’t Shift while you transport the surgical supplies. We don’t want to risk an infection, from fur or dirt touching the supplies that your mother will be using.”
Knowing that the distance between the healer Kim and their own mansion was a difference of nearly three miles, Ezekiel tried not to openly grimace.
Ezekiel speared his brothers with glares as they all broke into snickers and laughs at his eexpense. With effort Ezekiel schooled his gaze before he looked back at his father, but the anger was there in his blue eyes even though he bowed his head and complied. “Yes father.”
“Also, I will only say this to you once more.....” Mantilo quipped. And on one side of himself Mantilo felt a little sorry for his youngest son. Ezekiel was a good and naturally curious man, and reckless to a fault. He knew that Ezekiel was dying of curiosity when it came to their unexpected intruder, but Mantilo didn’t want him getting any more involved. It was best that they all remain at arm’s length concerning the stranger in their home until Mantilo knew just what he was really there to do.
“Im ordering you to STAY out of that mortal’s room.” He commanded Ezekiel and the rest of them once more.
At this Ezekiel raised his head and frowned. “What? Well then how am I supposed to help heal him if I can’t go near him....?”
“You won’t be healing him at all, nor will you approach that room again.” Mantilo rumbled with a shrug. “You will bring all of the supplies that you gather to your mother, and then head off to continue your patrols. Which will take you much longer now that you’ll be taking over all of Landers duties. Feeding the animals in the West and South. Weeding with the Clans Men in the South to prepare the fields, gathering herbs in the East, scouting the forest in the East and South.....Gosh you’ll barely have time to stop, much less check on that mortal.” Mantilo smiled over at Nate as he gaffed with laughter, then he turned steely, sharp yellow eyes on his son.
“I mean it Ezekiel.” he enunciated. “Stay away from that room.” Mantilo didt like how his son had been willing to come to the strangers aid so openly. He didn’t like it at all.
“Fine. As you will it Clan Head. “Ezekiel once more complied, but there was no hiding the hiss underneath his breath that he expelled as he looked out into the morning dawn creeping across the cool wet grass, dashing small rainbows on spider webs as it grew brighter.
Mantilo nodded, unperturbed by his sons’ displeasure.
“Now, in mean time we are still Guardians.” Mantilo said trying to move on. “We’ll carry on with our assigned routes, but there will be a few changes.”
Guardians. Mantilo’s fancy way of saying Watchmen or enforcers. In the mortals world his sons would have been called cops.
Every Clan Head in the history of Mantilo’s Clan had had a small band of Leopards that he used to gather information, protect his people and cull any would be usurpers of the peace. Over the years the purpose of the Guardians had of course changed, but the main purpose was the same. To assist the Clan head in protecting and cultivating the land and the Clans men.
In the past the Guardians were normally other males form other families in the Clan, but Mantilo had his sons, and each of them had powers and individual strengths that made them invaluable as his Guardians. He only had two other Guardians and they were his niece and step-nephew.
Mantilo took a moment to think about their current predicament and how he was going to disperse his sons for the next few days.
Then he looked to Lander. “You will not be on patrol with us Lander. Stay with your mother. Ezekiel will pick up the slack for now.” Mantilo began. “I want you to keep an eye on the mortal. Tap his thoughts when he wakes up if u can, find out if he’s got any hidden agendas, and above all else? If he makes a move to hurt either you or your mother. Put him down.”
Ezekiels lips thinned at that, but he still didn’t say a thing.
Lander nodded at his father then looked at Ezekiel sideways. “Hey, I hope you enjoy cleaning out the sheep manure.” Lander goaded him. “I’ve been putting it off for days, and today Mrs. Henry’s definitely gonna make you do it all in retaliation for my putting her off for so long. So you have fun with that Lil bro.”
Ezekiel flashed him a mouth full of sharp fangs in return.
Mantilo ignored the exchange and turned to his other two sons. “Nate, you’re with me. I have a few elk that need hunting and skinning and separating for the up and coming Celebration. Then you can get back to your normal patrol of the village to the north” Nate blinked his dual colored eyes and smirked. Mantilo took that as an agreement and moved on.
“Walter you will continue to patrol the West village.” Mantilo said next
Walter looked in the direction of the village in question and said nothing. Like Nate’s simple smile, Mantilo took his oldest sons silence as an answer in and of itself.
“Good. Let’s get it done.” Mantilo told them all, unhooking his thumbs from his jeans he turned and strode out further into the sunlight and grass.
All of the brothers broke formation at that time.
Walter trudging of to the west silent and unmoved by the events of the last few minutes. Nate was happily following his father to the north and with a small sigh Ezekiel turned and started out for the south.
“Hey....” Lander suddenly called to him from behind. “You’d better go and pick up those surgical supplies mom asked about first Ezekiel.”
“Shit.” Ezekiel hissed, and changed direction towards the west. “This is gonna take forever without Shifting.”
“Good. A long walk will teach you something.” Lander laughed at him.
“Come on Lander. Seriously? I’m not complaining about the walk.” Ezekiel barked stopping to hiss at his brother. “You know that I could run for miles and not feel a thing. It’s the time that I’m concerned with.” Ezekiel explained to him.
“This whole picking up and bringing back supplies will take almost an hour by foot. Not to mention all the other Clansmen who will be at Kim’s looking for healing herbs, slaves and supplies, just like me. Mom said that the mortal’s condition was delicate.” Ezekiel pointed out. “He could die from blood loss by time I actually manage to return and your too busy being an asshole to care!”
“Ezekiel, you know that you’ve got the fastest legs in the village. You’ll be back here in no time! Besides... it’s my job to be an asshole.” Lander said dismissively. “It’s not like Walter even has a sense of humor or a sense of any other emotion for that matter. And Nate’s to damn chipper. So it’s my job to humble you bastards.”
Not knowing what possessed him to say what he said next, Ezekiel tipped his head into the soft sunlight. “Im anxious Lander. I don’t want him to die on us. I think it would be a terrible waste. It’s weird I guess, but...” Ezekiel shrugged and stopped.
“Not really. ” Lander said, then suddenly broke off with a chuckle. “Hey! Do you remember Annabel the cow?”
“God...” Ezekiel dropped his head and grated at him. “Please don’t remind me. Let me live the shame down!”
“Come on!” Lander teased. “You loved that cow! You raised it right after it was born and its mother bled to death. Dad told you to just let it die because it was premature and a runt to boot, but you fought him on it for a week. And you cried and cried until he gave up.”
“Whats your point!?” Ezekiel hissed softly, trying not to be horribly embarrassed.
“My point is that you aren’t weird. ” Lander laughed. “You’ve just found yourself another Annabel. You love taking care of stuff. I mean that’s why you’re the one always feeding the hogs and caring for livestock. You got moms Healers mentality but for animals.”
“Hm, I guess see your point.” Ezekiel nodded smiling back. “But you know Annabel died two days later.” he recalled sadly. He could actually still remember the last breath that the little cow had taken in his lap after sitting with her for seventy two hours strait. “I’m hoping that that doesn’t happen to the stranger.”
“Well here we are again. Just like the silly cow, but trust in her, mom won’t let him die.”
Ezekiel rolled his eyes at him. “You tried to kill him yesterday morning Lander.” He drawled. “Remember?”
“Heat of the moment... and it was just a threat.” Lander simply stated then sighed sounding almost guileless for once. “I’m not a monster Ezekiel.”
Ezekiel eyed him and shook his head. “Oh really, see I couldn’t tell.” he teased.
“Ha ha smart ass” Lander hissed. “Just stop worrying. I’ll do my job. So will mom. No need to worry about your little intruder after this anyway. You won’t be seeing him again after today if Dad has his way. Once he’s better Dads moving him.” Lander reminded him. “So hurry and go pick up the supplies already.”
Lander said shooing him as he turned and mounted the steps to the front door. He looked back at the last step and snapped his fingers. “Oh...and you might want to put on some shoes....no some boots! Those sheep really made a mess of the place last time I was there....”
Ezekiel flipped his brother off.
“Fuck you...I’m getting this manure out of the way if it kills me, you asshole. I’ll be damned if you get too keep cracking on me about it.” Ezekiel hissed.
Changing direction, so that he could go into the garage beside the right wing of the mansion; where he would done a pair of rawhide boots for the long day ahead. And no sleep. But deep inside he felt not one shred of regret.