Tales Of A Shifter (P1) - The Meeting

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Chapter 55 - The Great Loss

Chapter

Brandon stopped Erin with a soft question.

“Wait. Sacred Laws?” He questioned her, then he shared a look with Ezekiel. “What Laws are those exactly? And what Wars are we talking about?”

“Well they are the doctrine....or the codes by which all Shifter society function.” Erin glossed over, not seeing the blank look on Brandon’s face.

“The Sacred Laws were created soon after The Great Loss and it is known throughout all seven of the Shifter Clans that these Laws were written by the Dragon Lords.”

“Whoa....wait!” Brandon cut in his mind buzzing with fresh questions suddenly. “Dragons...?” he asked her, not believing that he had heard her right. “There are Dragon Shifters?”

“What do you mean?” Erin giggled at him uncertainly. She looked at Ezekiel then back at Brandon, her hazel eyes clouding with confusion and surprise and skepticism.

“Of course there are Dragons Brandon.....” She laughed again, but this time the sound choked off as she turned her head and squinted at the blank expression on Brandon face.

He truly had no idea what she was talking about.

Brandon knew that he should have down played his obvious ignorance on the matters that they were discussing, but he honestly wouldn’t have known where to begin and he didn’t have the strength to force himself to act like anything but a confused, lost, and uninformed person.

Maybe because that was what he really was?

Brandon didn’t know much more about the world then what his last two years of running had taught him and beyond learning how to buy food or work computers he still didn’t know a lot about the world around him. He knew even less about history or politic or laws.

“Come on mortal you must know of the Dragons....” Erin shook her head and gestured with her hands. She pointed a finger up to the heavens. “They and the ancient leaders of Man came together longa ago. And because of what they did, all that you see here and all around you is possible!”

Brandon shrugged and glanced about the kitchen, trying and failing to get what the leopardess was trying to tell him. “What do I see here? What did they make possible?” Brandon asked her trying not to feel foolish as Erin shared a disbelieving look with Ezekiel, who for the first time during their conversation had moved closer and was giving Brandon a strange look of his own.

“Peace!” Erin bit off, she fanned her long arms around her, making an all-encompassing sign.

“Everything, all of man and Shifters would be gone if it wasn’t for what the Dragons and the Ancient Kings of Man did. They Dragons themselves have ruled on high for millennia’s. They wrote the Sacred Laws in blood and fire....Working together, with the Kings of Men they....” Erin stopped and shook her head at herself. “Oh, you must have head all of this growing up....right?”

Brandon simply shrugged. Erin scoffed and opened her mouth to say something more.

“Erin wait.” Ezekiel suddenly interjected. With a hand on his chin Ezekiel tilted his head at Brandon and asked him directly. “Brandon you’re not playing with us are you? You really have no idea what she’s talking about....This isn’t a game?” he said it not so much as a question, but as more of an answer to Erin’s prodding and disbelief.

Brandon looked at him. He should have found Ezekiel’s simple assertion annoying, but he didn’t. He actually liked that Ezekiel took his ignorance at face value. Brandon shook his head. “No...” he answered.

“But that’s not possible! What about the wars, and the Great Loss!? How can you not know this stuff?” she positively growled. Showing Brandon a new side of herself.

“Sorry, no clue.” Brandon could only shrug. And feeling no obligation to elaborate on his ignorance any further he tossed his hand up at Erin. “So why don’t you educate me a little miss history buff. Explain to me what the Sacred Laws are again.”

“Well.....that would take all night.” Ezekiel put in before Erin could respond, but from the look on her face she seemed to agree with Ezekiels words.

But as Ezekiel looked at Brandon’s expectant look, he sighed and tried to elaborate. “But the quickest way to summarize it, would be to call the Scared Law a text, or a codex of behaviors and rules that are supposed to govern the interaction between the Clans and the Mortals.”

“It that it?” Brandon asked them. “But what are the Laws exactly?”

“That’s the gist of it actually, and if you only wanted to define it Ezekiel got it perfectly.” Erin shook her head after Ezekiel cast her a look. “But To full elaborate on the Sacred Law fully would actually take me days....but because you asked I can at least try to outline how they came to exist and what they represent.”

“Ok.” Brandon nodded.

“Well most of the things I’ll be telling you about happened nearly three thousand years ago according to dates of some of the most ancient scrolls and artifacts.” Erin began. “But suffice it to say. Man and Shifters were once terrible enemies. Man grew across the earth, and slowly all the beasts of the land began to die away. Including the Dragons who once dotted the heaves like the stars.” Erin shrugged and shook her head.

“Resources were low, hatred ran high. And so there was a war. Most of the wars that were started, the Shifters carried out on each other. Clan on Clan, fighting for land, and food and survival. And then the mortals joined in and the fighting knew no end. But to make a long story short and to skip over a few hundred chapters of history, the Dragons, and all the surviving Clans came together. They made a deal on the dawn of The Great Loss and after a terrible event the wars were over. The Kings of man and beast signed the Sacred Laws into existence. A symbol of eternal and binding blood ties that are supposed to govern in Sifter society and stand as a peace treaty for all time between us and mortals.”

Her words tickled him. Something about them felt strange to his ears. His head hurt. Suddenly feeling terribly clod again and weightless, Brandon ducked his head. He swallowed a few times trying to regain his composure, even as his mind whirled. Filled with a thousand questions and no small amount of confusion Brandon waited until the tile stopped shifting beneath him, then tried to ask her. “Wait....I...I don’t understand. So.....there are Dragons out there somewhere? And what was The Great Loss? What’s that?”

“No, I’m sorry. You two, but that’s enough....” Ezekiel interjected casting Brandon a concerned look as he waivered in his seat. “Brandon your about to fall out of that chair.” He said

“I’m....I’ll be fine. Just answer the question” Brandon tried to say it clearly and just as sternly as the Shifter, but it came out like a hollow whisper. He heard the buzz all around him, it was in his ears, in his soul. The energy felt too sweet, too warm to ignore. He wanted to tear that little spark off of Erin suddenly. He had to have it. The flame inside of him needed it! And she didn’t. all he had to do was take off the gloves...and reach out....

But Ezekiel was between them. “Erin there will be more time for a history lesson later....finish up the stiches now.” He told her, and without an argument she nodded
“Okay...”

“But...” he began. Brandon tried to interject and stand up, but nearly lurched himself onto the floor.

“Stop that...you’re exhausted.” Ezekiel inserted, he grabbed at Brandon’s arm and sat him back down. And to Brandon’s shame Brandon knew that that was the only thing that kept him from collapsing out of his seat. “It’s been two hours and the stiches are almost finished. Besides Erin’s tired and she can always speak with you later...you know....when you’re not bloody, shirtless and sick.”

Feeling heavy and out of control all at once Brandon bit his lip. He tried to keep his thoughts strait, he tried to ignore the pain, and the cold and the buzz and the flame....he tried to ignore Ezekiel’s warm hand on his bare arm. “Erin don’t let him stop us....don’t listen to him, he’s just a big blue bossy prick....in fact that’s his new name, bossy blue boy.”

“Not it’s not. Brandon stop.” The Shifter hissed in expiration as. “Are you groggy or something...your slurring your words?” And that was the end of it. For the next fifteen minutes Ezekiel held Brandon’s arm and supported him as Erin put in the last few rows of stiches.

And Brandon swam in and out of his own turmoil as the minutes passed. Until with a happy little shout Erin pulled back. “All done.” She exclaimed. Then she leaned in and put a hand on Brandon’s chin forcing him to look at her. “How are you feeling now Brandon?” she asked him and Brandon forced himself to answer her.

“My side is burning.” He told her and it was. The rest of his body felt as cold as ice, but his wound was on fire.

“Ok, I’ll try to fix that.” She said and with a sympathetic look she removed her hand, turned and reached around to grab a big black bottle and a fresh cloth. “I’ll apply this septic to clot any further bleeding and the fluids been chilled so it should reduce the inflammation as I apply it.” She said, her words barely more than an echo.

Suddenly Ezekiel released him and steeped towards Erin. “No, Erin.” He began sounding stern. “That’s enough for now, let me apply the rest of the septic...” He told her and went ot take the cloth and bottle out of her hand. “Besides you need your rest and its been a long day, you should go home before the sun drops.”

“No, I’m fine Ezekiel.” Erin said, jerking the cloth and bottle away from Ezekiel and hissing at him slightly. “Stop worrying so much, you’re as bad a Drin sometimes. Just let me do this last part....and then....” Her words faded away from him. Brandon couldn’t hear her or Ezekiel anymore.

Brandon wasn’t listening. The energy was right there. Like a warm heartbeat. It was so close. It was his too take. It belonged to the flame. He started to give in. He started to give the monster in his chest what it wanted.

He was going to let it feed...just this once, he was too weak to fight it and what would Erin miss if he did take it? A small spark of energy that she didn’t even know was there? Brandon couldn’t keep holding the power in him down.

He couldn’t...until Ezekiel said to his cousin “I know you know how to take care of yourself, but Erin you shouldn’t be up and about like this! It’s not good for you right now.”

And somehow those words got past the flame, it got past the need, and the monster and it made Brandon wake up enough to raise his head and his voice and question them both. “Why?” Brandon managed to make his words heard over their bickering. “What’s wrong with Erin? Is she sick or something?” he asked.

Ezekiel, unaware of his struggled sighed and said “No, she’s not sick, she’s pregnant...”

***

And this was why he could never forget what he was.....what he could do. He killed.

From the moment the leopardess had walked into the room Brandon had sensed it.

Suddenly Brandon realized what that slight buzz behind his eyes was. Extra energy, small, soft, humming beneath the bigger currents in the room. The life of a child encased in its mother’s womb. And he had wanted to devour it.

The feeling had come over him suddenly and without understanding. As it always did. Electricity across his body, chills up his back, a warmth in his soul. All of it told him something different. Sometimes it told him nothing at all.

So much he didn’t understand, but he knew that the leopardess needed to stay far away from him. And the Flame.....everyone did.

In the passing moments that it had taken for his horror to register Erin had once more approached him and ignoring Ezekiels disapproving looks she began applying the septic to his red, but freshly sewn side.

Not thinking, Brandon shoved the girl’s hands away from his body.

“Ow....!” Erin cried as she fumbled the septic and rags, causing all of it fall on the ground and splatter, chilly cold black fluids all over the tiles.

“Hey!” Ezekiel growled, scooping down to help his cousin stopper the poring fluids and gather the cloths she had dropped. “What are you doing, Brandon!?”

Caught up in the horror of what had almost happened. What could have happened to Erin’s child...all Brandon could think about was getting away from her.

Somehow Brandon found himself shooting out of his seat. Brandon backed away from them.

“Brandon!?” Ezekiel shouted as he moved towards the doorway. But by the time he had looked up again, Brandon had swept out of the room.

But of course he didn’t get far at all.

***

Erin didn’t know what it was that had set the mortal off but she was instantly worried. In his condition she knew that the mortal, Brandon shouldn’t have been moving. Leaving the bottle and clothes on the floor, she follower Ezekiel and sprinted out of the kitchen and down the short hall that led to the front of the home.

And when they got there both Erin and Ezekiel were shocked to find the mortal standing at the top of the first three of the steps appearing as though he had stopped from sheer lack of energy. With his face laid on his arms, across the railing Brandon was still shirtless so it was easy for Erin to see that his sides were heaving in absolute exhaustion and that he was shaking from head to toe.

“What happened?”
Erin aske herself as she followed Ezekiel over to the mortal.

He was fine only a few minutes ago.....Now he looks like he’s having a panic attack.

But Erin was destined to remain clueless because as she and Ezekiel moved closer and prepared to grab the mortal, he screamed at them.

“Please stop!!” he yelled into his arms, hiding Brandon’s face from view.

Ezekiel hissed at the mortal as he waved her off and approached Brandon on his own. “What the hell what are you doing Brandon....what’s wrong?” he asked the man as he stood on the step beside the mortal and tried grab his arm.

“Leave me alone!” Brandon shouted and with more strength then he should have had he lifted his head and shoved her cousin back. But seemingly prepared for the move, Ezekiel grabbed both of his hands and the mortal began to fight him. He struggled and shoved with more energy than a dying man should have possessed. Louder and louder, he screamed and seemed to be on the pint of pure hysteria. “Don’t touch me....Don’t touch me!”

Finally after only a few moment Erin watched her cousin jerk the mortal off the steps, but he fought him the hold way. “Brandon clam down!” he tried to reason, but nothing he said seemed to work. “Brandon you’re going to hurt yourself if you don’t get a grip! Stop struggling!”

But all the mortal said was “Let me go!”

Finally with no other option, but to restrain him or let him injure himself further Erin watched her cousin jerk the mortal around and lock his wrists behind him and still the mortal tried to fight them. “Brandon, please clam down I’m not trying to hurt you! I promise, I wont ever hurt you...”

“But I want to hurt you....” Brandon choked back as though he wanted to sob. “So just leave me alone!!” he said.

“You want to hurt us?” Erin asked him confused by his words and behavior. But Brandon didn’t elaborate, he only continued to struggle with her cousin, futilely trying to get Ezekiel to release him.

“Let me GO!” Brandon shouted once more...until with a choked cough, he collapsed on the floor at Ezkeiels feet and seeming like he didn’t want to put unneeded strain on the mortals shoulders, Ezekiel released him.

The mortal sat in a dejected heap and like a doll he then let Ezekiel move him. Her cousin positioned the no longer hysterical man back against the stair case. Speechless and assaulted by the silence now that the mortal had calmed, Erin was surprised to see her cousin reach out and gently pushed the mortal’s hair back from his forehead and stared into his eyes.

“Are you done now?” Ezekiel asked the mortal with a soft smile, his eyes worried but to Erin’s shock a tear traced its way out of the mortal’s right eyes.

“Ezekiel....” He choked out, sounding as though he were speaking in a trance or just too empty now to put any emotion in his voice. “I need to leave this place. Please...please...”

Ezekiel frowned dropped his hand from Brandon’s forehead and didn’t respond. And just when Erin was about to speak for him, he lifted his hand and dashed the tear from the mortals face. Softly he traced its path down his cheek and wiped it away with his thumb.

“Shhh...You should know that you never have to beg me for anything and I get that you want to leave.” Ezekiel said softly as he smoothed away the dampness on Brandon chin. The act so strongly tender that it caught her eye. “And I’m sorry that I trapped you here, but we are on a Lock Down for everyone’s safety, you can’t leave cross my Clan Lands borders and besides where would you be going Brandon? You can barely walk and you’re still days away from a full recovery. Just give me a little time to get you back on your feet. I just want to help you, nothing more. Let me do that.”

At that a fresh tear ran down and once more Ezekiel wiped it away as Erin watched the mortal sob slightly and shake his head.

“Your so fucking bossy blue boy...I don’t know why I met you. You cant help me....I wish..I..w....” Brandon mumbled and dropped his head onto his chest, then he went completely silent and Erin realized that he had passed out.

After that Erin and Ezekiel spent a moment in shared silence both of them processing Brandon’s actions and words, before Ezekiel sighed, leaned down and scooped up the mortal as though he weighed nothing but air. And the mortal was anything but small, but in Ezekiel’s embrace....he seemed to rest easily.

Such a scene should have seemed strange and unnatural seeing as the two were virtual strangers as far as Erin knew, but Ezekiel handled the mortal with such confidence and care, that all Erin ended up feeling was a sharp ache for Brandon and a hope that he would awaken in a better state of mind.

Barely seeming to notice the weight in his arms her cousin cradled the mortal against him and spoke to her.

“Look Erin....I’m sorry about.....well all of this.” Ezekiel told her. Brandon’s head tucked beneath his chin as though that was where it belonged. “Are you okay? I know that you got shoved back there....”

“No, I...I’m fine....he didn’t hurt me....” She explained, trying not to stare at Brandon in his arms. “I’m just confused. I don’t know what I did wrong...” she began feeling somehow responsible for Brandon’s distress. But Ezekiel assured her.

“You didn’t do anything...” he interjected quickly, then looked down at his shirtless and still pale burden and sighed. “I think Brandon just got spooked by something.” Ezekiel explained.

“But what do you think it was?” Erin tried to ask as she touched Brandon’s cheek only to feel fresh tears on her palm. Saddened and upset by the feeling of his tears on her hands, she pulled back. Her chest tightened for the sight of his sorrow. She wished she could ease it. And without an answer Ezekiel tightened his hold on the mortal, turned and began to walk towards the steps.

“Erin....I’m gonna go and put him to bed.” He explained. “If you want to wait for me, I’ll be right back down to help you with the septic that spilled in the kitchen.”

“No..I’m fine.” Erin said giving them both a little wave neither of them could see just then seeing as Brandon was unconscious and Ezekiel had his back towards her. “Once you get him settled finish off his side for me. You just focus on getting some fresh gauze wrapped around his stomach and some fluids into him....I’ll focus on cleaning up the septic and then I’ll head home. When he wakes up will you tell Brandon that we’ll talk more later?”

Ezekiel stopped and smiled back at her. “I will, promise. And thanks Erin. Hell probably need the company. Get home safe, alright?”

Erin smiled and watched him disappear up the steps before she went back to the kitchen. She cleaned up the medical spills, threw away the dirty rags, wiped down the floor and replaced her medical supplies and was soon gone.

***

And when Erin left the house she was both confused and intrigued.

She found that even though Brandon had been aggressive towards her, she liked him. She even hoped that she got speak with him again. But she was deeply worried about and for him as well. It was strange but true.

What was the mortal’s story?

She pondered on his injuries, the scars that littered his body and also his strange and irrational behavior.

And as she neared the cabin that she shared with Drin she couldn’t help but wonder whether the handsome stranger was going to prove too much for their normally patient and kind cousin, Ezekiel to deal with.

And what she worried about most of all as she walked into her home and gave her mate a kiss was WHY the tender acts she had witnessed between her cousin and Brandon made her terribly happy....but also incredibly sad.

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