Tales Of A Shifter (P1) - The Meeting

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Chapter 35 - The Massacre

Chapter 35

Silence.

The mortals head slumped in his grasp. Ezekiel smiled, his eyes still closed he let a little bit more of his impressions pour across the mortals mind, soft warmth, peace, relaxation. He impressed these thoughts in a loop of energy and suggestion until he felt it take root, like a little blanket of energy the memory would slowly play out on its own, fading from the mortals mind completely, but he hoped that the peace and warmth would remain once his memories faded from Brandon’s mind. The mortal seemed to need it.

This being another part of Ezekiels innate abilities he felt the power inside of his core, trickling out of him and into his entire body. A warm stream separate from his blood, but his to direct as he willed through his body.

Innate abilities were very rare and powerful supernatural abilities that were often only gifted to one Leopard male or female every couple decades. And only one male or female in a family was normally possessed of an innate ability, but for Ezekiel and his brothers these things didn’t seem to apply. All of them were supernaturally gifted. And Ezekiel....was the first and only Shifter born to have more than one innate ability at his disposal. Their powers made them great Guardians, but in some ways...the gift was also a curse.

At times when people needed their powers Ezekiel and his brothers were proud to have them, but dealing with each of their individual powers and the side effects from them was an exercise in will and in some cases Ezekiel knew that his siblings each struggled with it.

Ezekiel had his own....side effects that caused him no end of pain when it came to his own innate abilities. Ezekiel could impress his thoughts and memories on others through touch. Which is what he had just done to calm the mortals mind. Good feelings like peace and calm he could share or weave into another person’s consciousness. Bad feelings like terror and hate he could also push onto his enemies or anyone he wanted to mentally dominate. But he could only do it through touch and unfortunately the act was not two sided. He couldn’t read the thoughts of others or take their memories. But unlike the rest of his brothers Ezekiel had more than one innate ability. In fact he had three of them.

Making him the most supernaturally possessed male to ever be born in the last few centuries. Ezekiel never let this go to his head though. He was not in search of power or validation. He didn’t need to bang in his chest.

Besides Ezekiel knew that each of his brothers were gifted and in some ways, they were more powerful then him, as he was more powerful than them.

He felt no need to compete and each of his siblings, excluding Lander, seemed to feel the same. Ezekiel failed to tap into his powers too often because there was a side of himself that he never wanted to let out, but he did often use his powers to help him with his duties as a Clan Guardian.

He was usually the one in the family to keep his siblings from erupting into an all-out war. With a touch he could often stop an angry Shift or a clouded mind. Stop other Shifters from overflowing with frustrations or fighting amongst themselves. He could sooth even his father’s wrath or Landers if he could touch them and only if there was no other option. He did not use his abilities to manipulate others.

He could help them keep the beast at bay if they lost themselves and in his village many looked for him to intervene when there was a huge dispute among the Clans men or a blood feud that refused to die out between some younger leopards.

He may not have been the most serious or law abiding of his siblings, but his power was respected and in the end that was what mattered. Especially since his other two powers were deadly if he didn’t control them. The other powers were tied into his blood making Ezekiel what his people called a Reaver.

A strange, feral concoction of Shift energy and Supernatural strength was always boiling beneath the surface. Like steam in his soul building up with no way out.

Reavers were dangerous. Unlimited strength. Unlimited rage. In the wrong state of mind or if he got terribly wounded....he could and would turn Reaver. He would hunt and kill anything in sight. The rage and unfiltered power that he could display was bad enough, but Ezekiel also had another innate ability stamina. A deep deep reservoir of stamina.

Ezekiel spent most of his time finding an outlet for the power inside of him. He was rarely tired or sick and he felt this buzz all around his leopard pushing it against him all the time. For some Shifters the beast inside was easy to control, but for Ezekiel the beast was right there with him, step for step. It could and would take him over. He held it down, but the Reaver in him kept him and his leopard on edge not matter what.

He was always in one thing or another. Always poking his nose around where it didn’t belong. But Ezekiel had taught himself to use that, to indulge in the boundless back and forth in his mind and body. He used it to sharpen his mind and keep active. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but for Ezekiel curiosity had saved him from going insane a long long time ago.

Ezekiel opened his eyes slowly, sighed as the strangers scent washed over him, and pulled back his hand. The smell of leather mixed with the peppered scent of the mortals blood still sent a zing of awareness into him, but Ezekiel tried to ignore the slight burn in his throat as he turned and blew out the candle and left the mortal to rest.

When Ezekiel went back out into the hall, his mother and his brothers, all turned to look at him. Ezekiel looked back at them and shook his head. “I got nothing.” He told them as he ran a hand back across his head and scratched the back of his scalp. “He wouldn’t talk about it or anything really.” He explained.

Glen sighed. “Well, we tried.” She cast Ezekiel a soft smile of encouragement. “Thanks anyway honey. I will still try to talk with your father about this.”

Ezekiel smiled back at her and touched her arm. “Don’t worry.” He told her. “I’ve got an idea.”

And the Mortal had given it to him.

****

Ten minutes later found Ezekiel and the rest of his family on the ground floor of their mansion. The warm glow of candle light contrasted the dark starless night beyond the drapes. Ezekiel could feel the minutes ticking away until his father would return, minutes he was wasting.

“You can kiss my ass. I’m not wasting my breath on this anymore. Dads gonna be back tomorrow and then all of this will be out of your hands” Lander hissed as Ezekiel asked him once more to cover for him. Ezekiel needed to slip out now.

The rest of Ezekiels family had already moved out into the foyer by the front door. Nate and Walter had already heard about his plan and realizing that they couldn’t be instrumental in making it work, his brothers had gone off to the door way with Ezekiels mother to discuss Patrol and the upcoming festival.

“Come on you sour bastard. It’s just one little lie!” Ezekiel tried not to beg and found himself failing miserably. Lander hissed at him, but for the most part he ignored him as he sat in his seat stoically putting on. But Ezekiel knew that if he wanted his last ditch plan to work, Lander was going to have to be on his side. The mortal’s words had struck a chord in his mind.

Why had he asked me if there was anyone else out in the woods?
Ezekiel had wondered to himself all after putting the man to sleep. Ezekiel had been sufficiently busy at the time, trying not to die, that he had honestly been unable to analyze the surrounding for any other beings beside the intruder. And with the strange scent of the mortal’s blood playing with his senses, Ezekiel couldn’t recall smelling another bodies in the woods, but could there have been someone else out there?

Was there another intruder in the forest? Is there something out there that can help me get to the bottom of this?

Because the sooner Ezekiel removed some of the mystery surrounding the mortal, the sooner he could get his father to stop being so overprotective.

He hoped.

Ezekiel needed to sneak off away from patrol and out into the fringes of the forest, back to the place where he first discovered the mortal. And this is where Lander came in. Ezekiel knew that if anyone else except for Lander tried to cover for him with their dad, except for Lander, Ezekiel knew his father would be extremely suspicious. For all his aggression Lander was the most straight forwards of them all.

Lander hissed as he stood up and began to walk out of the door.

“Lander wait! Stop being an ass, you know Dads gonna be back soon ...” Ezekiel called walking behind him, only for him to slam into his brothers back when he abruptly stopped in the middle of the door way.

Over his shoulder he spotted his mother and brothers standing just in front of the door. His mother in a slim black night gown that dusted the carpet beneath her bare feet, and his siblings in their patrolling gear. Ezekiel did a hiss of his own and went to shove his brother out of the way, but at that moment Lander turned his head and shot him a warning look.

“I’d shut up if I were you.....cause he just walked up the steps.” His green eyed brother barely whispered himself as he stepped to the side and leaned back against the wall.

Before Ezekiel could even register that all of his plans had just gone up in smoke, the front door was opening and his father was striding in.

The moment he saw his entire family gathered in the foyer he paused, looked at each of them, sighed and closed the door behind himself.

Instantly Ezekiel picked up the vibe that something was wrong.

Why is he back so soon?
Ezekiel asked himself as his mother greeted him with a kiss to the cheek.
He’s never been back hours before the deadline before...

Even though his father must have sensed his son’s curiosity all of his attention remained on his wife for the first few moments after he came into the house. Mantilo greeted her softly, embraced Ezekiel’s mother, his wide chest and arms looking like they would swallow Glen up completely before he let her go a moment later.

Mantilo greeted Walter first and the severity of his tone as they began to speak made it apparent that his mind was on far far grimmer things besides the continuing tension of the stranger’s presence in his home.

Ezekiel cast Lander a curious glance as their father waved them over, but as Lander cast him a customary sneer and shrugged back, Ezekiel walked over without further hesitation.

His father didn’t mince any words with a soft breath he shook his head, his dark hair soaking up the candle light. His brown eyes hard with regret.

“We have a situation.” He began, glancing at each of his sons as he talked. “Something has slaughtered a couple moose’s in the western part of the fields. Something large. Something....angry.”

All of the brothers took a step closer, their interest piqued...and their instincts telling them that this was a moment to band together.

“The Sem’s Clan alerted me to the mass slaughter last night and sent me a message requesting that I come out to the fields and investigate it personally.”

“Well that was bold of them, wasn’t it?” Nate pointed out. He put his thumbs through his jean pockets. A slightly serious grin on his face as he looked at Walter. “Calling out the Head of the Clan to investigate a few dead Moose?”

“No, I wasnt bothered by the request.....and it wasn’t just a few moose’s Nate.” Mantilo said. “The entire field that I visited was covered in bloody moose bits! A massacre.”

“Nice.” Lander scoffed.

Their mother shot him a serious look, but for the most part the rest of the family ignored him.

“An entire field? So, how many do you think actually died out there?” Ezekiel asked him next. He was better with numbers. He didn’t much care for ambiguity.

His father cast him a serious look. “All of the bodies were disjointed, so I had to estimate from the random body parts strewn all about the place....” He told him. “But I’d place my guess at about fifteen dead and there may be another five or so that were drug off and eaten.”

“So something kills fifteen or more moose, chews on a few pieces and that’s it? What the hell did it even kill the moose with....a bazooka?”

Glen cast Lander an odd look. “What on earth is a bazooka?” she interrupted.

All of the brothers looked at Lander. Ezekiel had no answer for her. He honestly had never heard of such a thing himself. Lander laughed.

“Uh Don’t worry about it mom...it’s just this sick that the mortals shoot out of a cannon that makes everything it hits explode into bunch of pieces.”

“Okay....back to what I was saying before. It wasn’t a bazokie or whatever.” Mantilo growled.

Lander went to correct his improper use of the mortal term, Ezekiel kicked his shoe and glared him into silence.

“The thing that did this.....ripped and clawed the bodies apart.” Their father explained demonstrating slight by letting his own claws pop up from his fingertips. “All of the bodies were slashed up, the cuts between joints jagged. And Blood was all over the field. Soaking it as if the beasts had been taken by surprise and dispatched in a mighty flurry of killing.”

Fifteen moose....nothing in these parts, hunts like that.

Ezekiel thought to himself as each of them silently digested the information.

There’s a few bears and mountain lions and foxes.....but nothing that would hunt so excessively and also nothing that is strong enough to take down so many moose....

Ezekiel had had his own run in with a moose years ago. Antlers a hard a cement, hooves as sharp as glass and a heavy body made of muscles and height. On his sixteenth birth day he had gotten to close to a fawn while hunting with his brother his leopard had suffered not one, or two punctures, from kicks and antlers to its body, but five deep wounds that had taken weeks to fully heal from.

The moose that foraged around the western and northern parts of their lands were powerful and they were territorial mammoth’s that demanded respect and all of the Shifters in Ezekiels Clan gave it to them. It was only when the moose migrated around the mountains that they were hunted in preparation for the annual ceremony.

Ezekiel felt a slight chill, because he couldn’t logically place what or who had managed to kill so much game. He knew that not even a pack of a pack of rabid dogs would have been strong enough to kill so many of those moose.

“Look it doesn’t matter so much what it was...” Mantilo began after a few moments of silence had passed. He hissed softly as he moved away from the circle and walked towards the staircase. For a split second Ezekiel feared that he was going up stairs after the mortal again, but his father simply sat on the staircase and looked at them. “Right now I fell that’s its urgent that we find it and keep it from killing any more of the game we live off of.”

Ezekiel and all of his brothers nodded in agreement to that.

“Okay! So let’s go hunt it down already!” Lander bumped Nate’s shoulder. “With this mutt’s nose on our side....” He began as Nate growled at him. “We’ll be able to track down whatever it was long before morning. It had to have left some kind of scent behind or tracks.....”

“No....” Mantilo breathed heavily cutting his son off. “I already tried to track down whatever it was by scent, but there was far too much blood, decay for me to get a good accurate scent.”

“No scent trail? That complicates things for us....” Walter rumbled in a voice that could have been disappointment or indifference.

“Well sweetheart.....tracking is more than scent trails, I’ve seen you guys tracking game in lots of different ways.” Glen said Ezekiels oldest brother. With big green eyes urging them to be positive she looked at her husband and said. “Let’s forget scent. Whatever it was that killed the moose’s to the west must have sustained some injuries of its own, right?” She asked him “So what about tracks or blood that wasn’t from the moose’s? Do you remember if you smelled that?” she asked him, but Mantilo rubbed a large hand across his eyes tiredly and shrugged.

“IT was a travesty Glen. Something about it, something about the marks on the bodies, it seemed familiar.....but....for the most part?” Mantilo sighed again. “The moose were completely opened up in the fields, so there was also the scent of feces and urine from the intestines and released bladders that had been pulled out into the fields. It obscured all traces of smell and brought in multiple scavengers that further messed up the area for any adequate tracking to take place. So tracks were overrode by other predators that visited the site before I arrived.”

“Well.....let’s just go already!” Nate nearly yipped in excitement. Nothing got Ezekiels brother more excited than the idea of the chase.

“If we go it would be best to have all hands on deck. Tracking down whatever killed the Moose may not exactly be a walk in the park.” Ezekiel’s dad told them. “Ill be calling in the rest of the Guardians from patrol to help tonight.”

Ezekiel found himself smiling softly at that.

Man...
He thought to himself.

It’s almost been two weeks since I saw Erin and Drin.
All the business with the upcoming festival and the intruder showing up has kept me too busy to go by and pay those two a visit.

Ezekiel regretted that now. The two other Guardians in the village, which brought the total up to six, were not just his friends but his family. Theses Guardians he thought of lived outside of the brothers home, but they that were as close to Ezekiel as anyone could be, because they were his cousins. Ezekiel absolutely adored the last two Guardians in their family, not only because they were younger then him, but because he had watched them grow up.

But the tension between him and his dad, coupled with his regular duties and patrols in the villages had seriously put a damper on his time. Suddenly the prospect of seeing his cousins was all the motivation he needed.

“All right!” Nate nearly yipped like the wolf that he was. “It’s all hands on deck, but it’s not goona be necessary. This is just gonna end up being total overkill!” He partly scoffed.

“What? You don’t think I should pull the other Guardians in on this...This thing could be something lethal.” Mantilo began, but Nate wasn’t convinced by his somber tone.

“Dad, I doubt it! ” Nate denied him softly. “You know what I think? It’s probably just one of the local Bears. Last month a bear wondered into the Horse fences and took out three of the Mares before we could run it off.”

“Oh and why do we care what you think?” Lander growled at him, the scowl on his face a certain contrast to the smirk on Nate’s.

“Come on, I just know! I feel it down in my wooly tail!” His brother exclaimed wrapping an arm around Landers neck and leaning on him heavily. Until Lander shoved him off. Barely fazed by Landers customary aggression towards him, Nate simply smiled harder, flashing a sharp set of canines.

He bounced up on his feet and brought his hands before him. “Six of us on one hunt? We’re so gonna slaughter this thing....and believe me when I say this...” Nate smiled as he pushed his fists into his palms, alternating popping his knuckles as he talked. “It’s going to be awesome!” Nate inserted optimistically.

Ezekiel and his mother both shook their heads. As Mantilo and Lander sighed. Nates Wolf was showing out, excited by the prospect of hunting in a pack.

Walter simply shrugged, his face nearly expressionless, aside from the slight shine of luminescent yellow bleeding through his eyes, as the prospect of the hunt stirred his inner beast closer to the surface.

“All right...lets gear up and then well meet the other Guardians on the way.” Mantilo told all of them, then he looked directly at their mother. “Can you bring me my blade and a fresh pair of boots?”

For the first time Ezekiel glanced at his father’s feet and noticed the crimson blood stains discoloring most of his tanned hide and soaking the strings.

With an accommodating smile and a nod, Ezekiel watched his mother hurry towards the kitchen.

All of Ezekiel’s brothers moved and clustered about the front door. Ezekiel could literally feel the heat around them, floating softly in the air as the Shift simmered beneath their skin and it was at that exact moment that he realized that he didn’t even know if he was going to be allowed to join them.

Hunting. Shifting. Ezekiel knew that those things were privileges in Shifter culture. Things that all Shifters were allowed to do, but when one Shifter angered another particularly a Shifter in a higher standing them themselves, Shifting in that Shifters presence was enough to start a fight. And Hunting was a privilege that most Shifters were barred from participating in if the Clan Head felt the need to discipline or punish them.

And Ezekiel knew that he had angered his father greatly in the last few days. He was still on thin ice and the issue with the mortal was still at a boiling point....but whatever was going on sounded like important business. And even in the middle of the awkward situation he found himself in...it was his job to protect the Clan from danger.
But he realized that he wouldn’t know unless he dared to ask.

“Dad...?” Ezekiel asked his father as he stepped up beside him. Mantilo had his head tilted down as he waited for Glen to return, but he quickly opened his story brown eyes and glanced at Ezekiel. “This whole thing sounds a little bit dangerous...I wanna tag along....if that’s all right?”

His father didn’t even look at him as he leaned forward and began untying the laces from his boots.

“Nate said all hands on deck, so I guess that means you too, but if you’re coming bring shoes....cause it’s not pretty out there.” Mantilo said to him. He slipped his large feet out of his bloody boots and socks, just as Glen came back into the room with a huge pair of boots under her arm. As he his father slammed his feet one by one into fresh boots and laced them up. All of the brothers shared looks of displeasure, but all they all put on their boots and Tims as well.

Ezekiel nodded at Lander when he tossed him his boots from beside the door and after a moment of shuffling Nate tossed the door open and charged out in to the night. “Let’s move!”

Ezekiel bit off a hiss of discomfort as the warm energy of the Shift pooled in his feet, beneath the leather encasing his feet. All Shifters in their Clan knew that Shifting and boots just didn’t mix well, but if their father had advised them to wear shoes.....it was better for Ezekiel to comply.

So after kissing his mother on the cheek he was out in the darkness as well.

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