Tales Of A Shifter (P1) - The Meeting

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Chapter 54 - Weak & Warm


Brandon kept his breathing shallow, tried to listen only to his heart beat and the bodies in the room. He wanted to focus on Ezekiel, but he wasn’t close enough, nor was he speaking. He was standing far back, standing rigidly like he were holding himself in place, but why Brandon didn’t know.

He found that he wished that the Shifter was speaking or moving so that he could focus on that instead of the girl. But he couldn’t.

So Brandon tried to focus on how cold he felt and the pain in his stomach.....anything to keep his thoughts off the pull within him.

The flame, the energy waking up, clawing at him like a sickly puppy. Like a heavy drum beat it thumped against his soul, reaching out, sensing. He couldn’t stop it. He couldn’t control it. But he understood what it was reaching for.

The Leopardess. Erin.

She was a beautiful young girl, as tall as Ezekiel and as stunning to look at as Glen, but like the rest of Shifters that Brandon had encountered he sensed the beast in her. An unnatural grace. A predator.

With her soft hazel eyes, brown hair, and heart shaped face. She looked more like an amazon to Brandon then a healer, but beyond that he sensed something in her. A spark of extra power. A small buzz of extra energy. And he wanted it. The flame inside of him wanted to consume it. He felt it flickering alive in his soul. Taking advantage of his weakness to resurface, to hunt.....to feed.

Brandon didn’t know what the spark was that emanated all around Erin. It felt soft and weak and warm....and just what he wanted. But Brandon didn’t want to risk the chance that he would do something horrible.

He knew that it wouldn’t hurt her if he took the small bulb of energy off of her, nor would she feel it if he stole the excess energy away from her, but as tired as he was just then....as sick as Brandon felt; He didn’t want to give into the power within him.

He refused to feed it. He despised it. He wanted to deny it. He wanted to starve it. He wanted to flame to die away as it had before.

So he held it down. But still the energy buzzed, just along the Leopardesses’ fingertips as Erin spoke to him and began to remove the shirt that was soaked in his blood. The world swam in and out, all that mattered was the buzz, until his shirt fell away and he heard the young healer gasp in shock.

It took him a moment to realize that Erin was staring at his chest, at the scars that littered his torso. And Brandon forced himself to focus on her and what she was saying.

“Oh my god....” The Leopardess gasped and Brandon watched her look at Ezekiel. Her hazel eyes glanced about the destruction, and she flinched back as though she wanted to touch one, but didn’t know if she should. “What happened to you?” Erin asked him.

Not planning to give an answer to that question; Brandon swallowed and tried to act like a normal person. “If....if it’s too disturbing....” He said began barely putting his mouth to work. But Erin cut him off. She touched the bloody wound on his side gingerly almost like a ghost and slowly tapped around the abused flesh with her fingertips.

“No, It’s not disturbing at all.” She said. The shocked look in her eyes remained as she looked him over, but a genuine smile lit up her face. “I’m sorry. I was just surprised....and I’m just a little afraid that Ill hurt you. Are they still tender?” She asked him, looking like she wanted to pull her hand away instead of continuing to prod his side.

Still feeling cold, Brandon glanced over her head and found warmth in the eyes that captured his. Ezekiel watched him steadily from his spot a few feet away. His blue eyes glanced at the damage with neither shock nor empathy registering within them....just rage. And pain.

“Don’t worry....” Brandon found himself telling her as he stared into the Shifters blue eyes. “They don’t hurt anymore. “He explained to the leopardess but for some odd reason Brandon felt like he was telling Ezekiel instead.

“O...Okay. I’m happy to hear that.” Erin gladly expressed. And at her words Brandon broke his eyes away from Ezekiel and looked at her.

“So can we begin?” He asked her, wanting to get away from the girl and her tempting energy. And get away from Ezekiels magnetic gaze.

“Yes, just um...remember to keep breathing.” Erin told him.

Then the young leopardess began applying the new stiches. She moved hesitatingly at first, but soon she had settled into a fine rhythm full of focus and precision. Her large, but graceful fingers skimmed his side with a confidence that didn’t negate pain, but also didn’t cause it unnecessarily. Brandon may not have liked to be touch, but he had no choice but to respect her care and patience.

The skill in her hands remained Brandon of another leopardess; Ezekiel’s mother Glen, and soon enough...against his better judgement, Brandon grew calm in the silence with her and Ezekiel standing close by.

The buzz in the air didn’t get louder or stronger, but more and more it called to him. A fine dust of warmth and energy buzzing all around Erin’s slim hands and body.

The energy inside of him crackled all along his soul. It craved the energy hanging around the girl. It knew that it was there, it scratched at Brandon lightly, on the edges of his mind, begging for scraps. It wanted to taste the energy that was there....energy that would make Brandon fell a thousand times better. All he had to do was let himself take it, but Brandon held back.

He tried to still his mind, he tried to go numb to everything. Still every stich was torture, every time the needle popped in and out of his already sensitive flesh he wanted to moan, he wanted to push Erin away....the pain was nearly impossible to ignore or tune out. So was the yearning inside of him, the itch to take the small buzz of excess life hanging about the leopardess and devour it.

Seeming to notice his increasing stiffness and interpreting it as pain, Erin suddenly spoke to him. Her voice echoed against his mind and bounced away, but he made himself pay attention.

“So.....where is that that you hail from Brandon?” she spoke clearly though she remained engrossed in her work.

“H...Hail from...?” Brandon said with a slightly dead chuckle. Purposely leaving her question unanswered. He glanced into her hazel eyes. “That’s a...dramatic sounding question.” he told her.

“But aren’t mortals all about drama and big gestures?” Erin began with a small tilt of her eyebrow. “I hear that you live these intense little lives full of so many odd things. Like living in big cities made out of stone and electricity....Oh!” The leopardess exclaimed suddenly making Brandon freeze in fear that she had fumbled a needle, but all Erin did was catch his gaze and share a shining smile with him. “And you mortals can fly!”

“Wait...” Brandon managed with a small smile. “We cant fly. We.... We can travel around in these giant metal machines. They take off and lift into the air. I’ve seen them....but I’ve actually never ridden on one myself.” Brandon told her suddenly wanting to subdue the burst of carelessness that had overcame him. He really didn’t need to talk about himself.

“Oh?” The leopardess asked him, as she leaned back in her seat, dunked a fresh towel in the steaming bowel beside her and started dabbing at something on his stomach, which Brandon assumed was more blood and didn’t look. “So you’ve never been on one of these metal flying machines? Why not?” Erin asked him as she sat the now, blood stained cloth across her shoulder and went back to work.

“I just like walking...” Brandon partly fibbed in response. The truth was that Brandon had in fact tried to ride in the contraption that the men around him had called an “Airplane”. He had hoped to use the flying contraption to escape to a place far far away.

Unfortunately the moment Brandon had stepped onto the flying machine, the entire engine belched white smoke and died. Three hundred people were rushed off the Airplane and Brandon was left with the sneaking suspicion that he was the one responsible for the machines malfunction.

Of course Brandon had tried to board other Airplanes....but all six of the other planes died the moment he came near them. He didn’t know why...he just knew that walking was far safer where he was concerned....for him and for other people.

After that the silence between him and Erin tried to creep back in, but for once Brandon needed the conversation, more then he craved the silence. So he continued to chat Erin up by asking her a few more question.

“So...” He began with a small hiss of pain. “Who told you all of this stuff about Mortals Erin?” he asked her.

The young leopardess shrugged at his question. “Well most of the stuff that you need you can find on the web, but mostly I learned about mortals from my instructor from school....he was a world history and sociology professor.”

Intrigued Brandon asked her. “Wait....wait.....you went to school?”

“Well, didn’t you go to school?” Erin asked him with a small smile.

No, but that’s beside the point.
Brandon said to himself.

Everything he had learned....Brandon had learned at a price. He looked over at Ezekiel shrugged and replied to Erin. “Well, of course I went to school, it’s just that I didn’t think Shifters did that kind of stuff.”

“Well we Shifters do. And I got top marks in school.” Erin confided to him proudly as she applied two more stiches that made Brandon’s teeth clench. “”I just graduated a few months ago, so I’m not in School anymore. And I’m a bon-a-fied member of Shifter society. I’m working on becoming a Healer and I’m also a Guardian working along with my cousins under our Clan Head Mantilo. So I’m awesome.”

Brandon found himself chuckling once more. Liking the young leopardess even against his will. He put a hand over his mouth to stifle a shout that tried to rise in the next moment when Erin tugged on one of the strings connected to his flesh.

“Are you okay?” Ezekiel called after a moment of stunned silence followed his pain shout

“I’m sorry.” Erin hissed looking ashamed, but Brandon waved her down with his other hand.

“I’m okay.” Brandon told her, avoiding Ezekiel’s gaze all together. But still feeling his eyes on him Brandon tried to get the conversation started back up.

“So, what...What else have you been taught about mortals Erin?” Brandon asked in a mummer that he knew was mostly stifled by the gloved hand still held across his mouth. Even so, Erin seemed to pick up on the gist of his question and after a few more silent and focused seconds of unstitching she responded.

“I know of big prosperous cities. Like New York City where everything is all cold and stone, I’ve also studied places like England and Paris and some odd place called Africa?” Erin bit her lip and shrugged. “I’ve also read about contraptions as big as a house that can move the earth and I’ve even been told that a few of your people have left this world behind them and that they slumber up in the stars and sleep on the moon.”

“Ha!” Brandon couldn’t help but gruff at her. “The way you talk about us....” He began in a pained whisper as Erin pulled back yet another torn patch of wires and tender flesh and softly wiped away the old and new blood that began to flow downwards.

Erin paused and flashed him a look of sympathy, before she resumed. “What? Did I say something funny?”

Brandon shook his head slightly. “No.....but it just kind of sounds like poetry when you talk about mortals.” He told her, barely keeping his focus on her and not on the pain. He cast Ezekiel a glance. Then centered his eyes back on his feet and tried to continue speaking.

“It’s like.... like you’re.....praising mortals, but humanity isn’t all that great....believe me.” Knowing that he was being morbid Brandon tried to soften his words with a chuckle but Erin didn’t smile this time.

“No...” The leopardess agreed swiftly. “I learned a lot about mortals in world history. And I know that mortals have many short comings. So I wasn’t singing man’s praises mindlessly.” Erin told Brandon as she leaned back.

“I was simply outlining what I knew about your kind that was positive. But I know that mortals have committed hundreds of atrocities in their time. I know that mortal men have created and perfected all kinds of acts of murder, war, and destruction on each other and on the environment. I also know that there are a few mortals out there that call themselves Hunters and that they hate and hunt Shifters for sport; and that they skin us and sell our fur or heads.” Erin sighed, then shrugged. “But I don’t have to agree with you and say that “Most mortals are bad based off a few of their actions”.

“No, you don’t.” Brandon quipped. And Erin shrugged.

“Besides the history of my own people isn’t pristine.” Erin told him, she shifted in her seat “So if mortals have problems....sadly the same can be applied to Shifters as well.”

“Really. Do you actually believe that?” Brandon smirked looking at the leopardess. Enjoying the conversation so much that he forgot himself.

“Yes...the Shifters have made some horrible mistakes!” Erin answered him. She motioned with her hand “So many that I cant stress it enough! Back before the Sacred Laws were written and the Clans were separated peacefully, well there were whole Clans of Shifters that were wiped away in these long turbulent, bloody wars many of which were instigated by assassinations.”

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