Tales Of A Shifter (P1) - The Meeting

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 72 - Rats

Chapter 72

Suddenly three new Shifters appeared in the door way of the day room.

It didn’t take long for Mantilo to notice, and with a smile, a warm smile that surprised Brandon he waived over the newcomers from the doorway.

Brandon instantly recognized two out of the three that appeared and made their way to the rest of the group. One was Glen and the other Erin...accompanied by a third male, with blue eyes and black short hair. The male was almost three inches shorter then Erin, but as the two of them made their way into the room, he held her hand and on their wrists and hands Brandon spotted matching bands or tattoos around their wrists as well as the identical bands on their ring fingers.

He guessed that like Mantilo and Glen Erin and the new arrival were a couple, but Brandon wasn’t left to wonder who he was for long, because without any warning Erin’s big hazel eyes locked on him and she rushed over to his chair, pulling the unknown man with her.

“Brandon, Oh no your face!?” Erin exclaimed, releasing the hand of the man beside her and steeping right up in front of Brandon’s knees. “Oh my god....Your cheek is split open....and your neck, its covered in blood! Let me see....”

She went to touch him, but Brandon didn’t think he could stomach that. He didn’t want to accept the care of a woman whose child he had nearly killed. Nearly let the Flame devour.

“No, please dont! Don’t...!” He said. Throwing up his hands and flinching back into his seat so that she couldn’t reach him. Instantly Erin jumped back and apologized. Brandon took a moment then he assured her. Then to soften his reaction he sent her a half smile as he lowered his hands.

“I’m....I’m okay. Really I’m fine. It just looks bad.” He told her softly.

Then to show that he wasn’t in pain he patted his cheek, where the glass had struck him.

To his surprise Erin sighed and sent him a huge smile of relief. “Good. I’m glad.” She told Brandon, before she stepped back beside the male Shifter and looked around at the day room.

Even with the shattered furniture moved out of the way, and the glass kicked to the side, the damage was far too evident to the walls and floor. “I can’t believe that thing trashed Uncle Mantilo’s home. What on earth happened?” Erin breathed

“I don’t really know something just suddenly....” Brandon told her, looking away from her soft gaze, not able to handle it directly. Partially looking at the floor Brandon gestured to the still unnamed man standing beside her. “Anyway....Who is this?”

“Oh this is my Mate....Drin.” Erin all but purred as she pulled him closer, she wrapped her slim arm around his right tricep as he stepped into her side. They looked like total opposites, with Erin being a tall Amazonian and Drin looking like a short football player, but they were both young.

Younger than anyone else in that room Brandon would have thought and far too young to be married. But one thing Brandon couldn’t ignore was how Drin only had eyes for her. How they latched onto each other at every turn.

Even in the midst’s of Erin talking to Brandon Drin had mostly kept Erin in his sights.

“Drin...This is Brandon the Mortal.” Erin quickly introduced and at that Drin turned dark blue, but happy eyes on Brandon. Instantly and like all the other Shifters Brandon sensed the animal inside of his gaze, the predator and the power, but he also saw the youth there. The boundless energy of a teen.

“Hello...Brandon the mortal...My Mate tells me that she stitched you up a few days ago.” Drin said with a smile that Brandon instantly knew was genuine. His dark blue gaze centered on the blood that Brandon knew was smeared over his neck and cheek. “And now you’re got more cuts for her to tend to already.” The young Shifter continued. “You’ve got to be more careful.”

“I’m fine...” Brandon responded eternally grateful that the Shifter did not stick out his hand in greeting. “You can...uh...leave off the mortal part.” He said next with a shrug. “It’s just Brandon.”

“Of course, it’s nice to meet you. You’re the first of your kind that I’ve ever seen in the flesh. Tell me....is it true that you don’t know about Dragons?” Drin asked him.

At his words Erin’s cheeks flushed. She hissed softly and started pulling him away. Looking surprised Drin dipped his head to Brandon and let the Leopardess pull him to the far right ....and it was them that Brandon queued back into what Mantilo was saying.

As Glens small shape glided into the room, she cast about wide green eyes at the damage. And once she got close enough to Mantilo he wrapped a large arm around her shoulder’s and pulled her towards the table. “Glen, I was worried...Where were you?”

And it was that moment that it occurred to Brandon that Glen had been relatively missing since the attack had begun, but Glen easily supplemented a response.

“When the attack hit, I wanted to help, I was even heading back to the dayroom to check on Brandon, but Lander told me to stay away and to go and get Erin and Drin.” Glen reported. Then she glanced at Mantilo.

“I didn’t know you were close or I would have gotten you instead....it took us a moment to get back. I didn’t mean to worry anyone. Are you boys okay?” She asked her sons, looking them all over and then to Brandon’s surprise she glance his way as well and her eyes clouded with worry as she noted the cuts in his face.

“Everyone’s fine. I’m just glad that you’re safe....” Mantilo told her softly, taking her hand and placing a kiss too it, then he pulled Glen closer and spoke to the entire family. And Brandon.

“Now....everyone listen...” Mantilo commanded, after which he set about filling in the new arrivals with anything they hadn’t already heard, then he delved into a new explanation.

After grabbing a sheet off the table and holding up another picture of the Ghoul, this picture was less of a painting and more of an ink drawing. It accurately depicted the physical attributes of the beasts that had attacked, from its long equine like heads, and long talons to its long limbs and sideways ears.

“This beast the Ghoul, or what was once known as the Rat...” Mantilo began, slapping the sheet down before him on the table top. “Is a scavenger. Once they were Shifters, but nothing remains but instinct....they used to be a Clan, but due to various factor, it seems that they were wiped out. The Rat Clan....” Mantilo continued to expresses to the hushed audience, but as he stopped to shuffle the papers before him Lander spoke up.

“Just wait....the Rat Clan!?” Lander hissed with a dubious sneer on his face. “No way!! I mean those things weren’t anything like rats...for one thing they were almost as tall as me!”

With a sigh Mantilo replied. “I told you....they were once Shifters....” Mantilo input to his son. “So they had the mannerisms and maybe even some of the attributes of rats....long sharp teeth, long nails, fast reflexes but like us they would also have the shape of men...”

After this Nate chimed in. “In the drawings and papers that I found...” He began. “All the Ghouls looked like....men and rats, fused together. Like a Shift that had gone terribly wrong between them turning into rats or vice-versa into men.”

“But they look revolting and they don’t act anything like us....they were psychotically strong and every attack was rabid and wild...How can you think that these things used to be Shifters?” Walter asked his father.

“And... “Ezekiel went to say something next, but he was swiftly silenced.

“All of you be silent....If you would let me finish what I was saying your questions will be answered.” Mantilo hissed in expiration at the fourth interruption of the explanation that looked like it was going to be lengthy and complex. After a moment of stern silence Mantilo cleared his throat and began once more. “Now from what I understand....The Rats or the Rat Clan was rapidly moving towards extinction ages ago back before I was even born.”

“But you’re like 200 years old.” Drin spoke from beside his mate and at this Brandon couldn’t remain silent.

“Wait...your 200 years old?” he felt compelled to inquire, and with little hesitation Mantilo looked at him, shrugged and replied.

“Yes I am.”

“Well I’m almost 250 years old...” Glen growled softly, further throwing Brandon for a loop. “And I’ve never even seen one of these Ghoul things in my life...so they must really be small in numbers.”

“But think of it...you’re both centuries old...and the Ghouls are older....” Erin said with a breath.

“But how much older is this group of Rats?” Glen asked him, brushing against Mantilo’s shoulder looking like a flower next to a bolder. She slightly lifted on to the tips of her feet to get a closer look at the scrolls he had spread before him.

“According to these scrolls they were just beginning to die out in the early years of my father’s fathers. That would be about seven...eight hundred years ago?” Mantilo answered first pointing to the writing on the paper, then pulling back from the scrolls he had laid to turn and speak to everyone gathered.

“So they are supposed to be extinct?” Erin sated, her hazel eyes squinting in curiosity. “But what exactly whipped them out?”

Without turning to the scrolls behind him Mantilo explained swiftly. “The poor condition of the Ghouls, was apparently brought on by disease, and sterilization which in turn was brought on by their penchant for devouring rotting flesh and also the rampant cannibalism that prevailed among their own kind. They ate each other and it made them infertile. But aside from this not much was known about them or what ultimately became of their dwindling numbers.”

With a hiss Mantilo turned a slightly ashamed eyes on his sons. “It took me too long to figure out what was going on. But when I first came across these Ghouls myself and in the flesh, it was many years ago. Almost a life time ago for me, and the one Ghoul that I saw was sickly and nearly dead on its feet. We struck it down and since then.....nothing else was seen or heard of this Clan or its brood.”

“So this is something that you’ve meet before?” Drin softly input, standing hand and hand with Erin, his dark blue gaze direct and his face set in a determined frown. He looked far too young to Brandon to be sporting such a serious face.

But young looking or not, Mantilo seemed to treat Drin’s questions with all the same seriousness as his sons.

“Yes...” He quickly supplied, then hesitated and said. ” But the Ghouls in these old books and scrolls are describe as being on the verge of extinction, sickly and diseased. They seemingly disappeared and were believed to have disappeared from the world about two and a half centuries ago.”

“Until now...” Ezekiel put in next. His tone grave, he nodded at the destruction that had been done all around. “These things....these Ghouls that we saw? They looked quite healthy and they weren’t weak at all, they demolished this room easily.” Ezekiel explained. “They didn’t appear to be sickly or even exhausted and they kept trying to spit this black crap all over us...” he finished with a disgusted sneer.

“Black!?” Mantilo suddenly hissed looking anxious. He turned sharp eyes on each of his sons, looking them over slowly “Did any of that black substance get on you, tell me now!” he hissed, taking a step in Ezekiels directions as though he planned a physical examination.

“Nope...” Lander supplied simply. Then he pointed a thumb at his older brother. “Walter got a little on his arm but he wiped it off...” he said shrugging

“What about you or the mortal?” Mantilo hissed at Ezekiel, even glancing in Brandon’s direction briefly.

“No...” Ezekiel answered looking at Brandon them back at his father. “It didn’t get on either us. Why?” he asked

And to this Mantilo sighed. “By all accounts....Its poisonous. ” Mantilo finally told them

“Huh!?” The entire group exclaimed in shock.

Chapter 76

Without missing a beat Mantilo spoke over the various exclamations of shock.

“Something about the black liquid seemed familiar and even dangerous to me and that’s why I told you not to touch the moose carcasses and I ordered the Martins to burn the dead horses out at the farm that night.” Mantilo explained steadily.

“After a bit of digging, I finally remembered that this was what made the attacks seem so familiar to me. The black venom, or the saliva that these Ghouls secrete seems to be highly toxic, in fact, described in these records and in the memories of the elders that I spoke to, it was theses Ghoul’s ability to secrete the black stuff that made them so undesirable and dangerous back in the old days”.

“Well isn’t that just....peachy?” Glen softly hissed beside Mantilo.

With a small step of unease each of the Shifter in the room tried to move away from the shattered furniture and sliced up walls, that were smeared with black stains and ooze form the Ghouls attack.

Unlike the rest of his family Lander walked over to one of the wall claws up walls, sniffed the black ooze and hissed as he drew back. “So what the hell is it exactly? Why does this black stuff smell like crap? Is it really venom? I thought they were rats...not snakes, so how can their spit be poisonous?”

Mantilo growled apparently sharing his son’s irritation at the danger of what was still unknown. “I don’t know what the saliva really is...” Mantilo said. “I call it poisonous, but there is so little information about the Ghouls to be found, that at this point I can only speculate....but if I had to guess? Id agree that this black liquid may not be so different form the way that a snakes poison works.”

He stopped, glanced back at the scrolls on the table, and then continued. “But seeing as these Ghouls are Rats and so are warm-blooded mammals, it’s probably just some kind of mix of bacteria and bile that they bring up out of their bodies and basically vomit on to their prey or onto themselves to spread it around. Its bile so it has a rancid odor....And if my memory serves me right....its lethal once it gets into an open wound...or the blood.” Mantilo trailed off, only for Nate to break in with a scoff.

“What exactly do you mean by lethal? I mean were not exactly mortals...” Nate inquired, with a swift and apologetic smile at Brandon he shrugged. “No offense, but it’s not like were fragile.” He continued looking away from Brandon and back at his father. “Not much grazes our kind or even manages to hurt us...so what’s a little poison gonna do?” Nate pointed out

“There is more to this poison then the norm...I would know.” Mantilo replied heavily. “Back in my younger years...There was one man, a Leopard with me when I stumbled upon the first and last dying Ghoul to appear in our lands years ago.” Mantilo ran a hand over his chin, took a deep breath and resumed his tail, with obvious hesitation.

“We...I tried to take out the beast quickly and quietly and being ignorant of the danger and thinking that the beast was already dead I tried to end its life ....only for it to rear up and strike down my comrade with one swipe of its claws.” Glen gasped softly as Mantilo shook his head. “I finished off the beast myself, nearly perishing in the fight, but my companion died....within minutes of being sliced by the Ghoul.” Mantilo imparted to the gathered Guardians softly, looking like he truly regretted his friends passing.

The melancholy in his face and voice seemed to affect a moment of silence before anyone could bring themselves to speak again.

Walter was the one to break the silence next.

“So, if we are to go by these past events?” Walter said looking at everyone assembled blankly. “You’re saying that even as Shifters we face danger where these Ghouls are concerned.” Then he turned his words and eyes to his father alone. “And you said that not only did your companion die, but that he died within minutes of being attacked?”

“Yes....The cuts were vicious and deep, puncturing his ribs, and slathered with the black venom wiped on him, form the Ghouls nails, and in seconds it was like a fever overcame the Leopard.” Mantilo recalled, with no visible distress on his face, but Brandon wondered if it hurt the Clan Head to dig up such old and gruesome details from his past. But if it did, Mantilo didn’t let it interfere with his words and he steadily laid out his thoughts on the matter of his friend’s demise.

“After the fever set in, his temperature must have become unbearable, because he started screaming and thrashing so badly that I couldn’t hardly lay a hand on him. Then his veins began to turn black inside of him, dying as the venom infected his organs, I could see the venom racing all over, branching out form the wound like vermillion ink beneath his skin.....and then he was just gone.”

“That’s terrible....I can’t imagine....” Glen offered to her husband softly eliciting a small smile of thanks form her mate.

“Hold on...How did you even manage to forget something like that?” Nate suddenly inquired of his father, with a deep sigh.

Looking slightly regretful MAntilo shook his head. “Well it happened nearly a century ago Nate, and I was but a few decades away from being a young boy, no older then you and your brothers now....So, in time I tried to forget that that day ever happened, because its wasn’t a pleasant memory to have around.” Mantilo imparted softly to them all, then he shrugged. “And until this year I hadn’t seen another one of the Ghouls so it didn’t seem important to hang on to the physical appearance of the beasts...I slayed the monster and moved on with my life....And the night that we discovered the moose slayings I felt like I was missing something, and even now I haven’t physically seen the Ghouls to confirm my theory....”

The Clan Head stopped then and let out a soft snarl as he cast a final glance about the destruction that had been wrought in his home. On his family’s home. And he said “But I believe without a doubt that this is the assailant that has snuck into our lands and invaded our home....and possibly even killed Billy. These Ghouls are what we face.”

All of the Shifter shook their heads, even Glen, as they digested all of what Mantilo had told them and shown them.

“So....let me get this straight... ” Lander hissed with a dark chuckle as the silence tried to stretch. “These fucking RATS, these Ghouls, have venom that is capable of killing Shifter after only a few seconds of its disgusting spit getting in the blood stream.” He outlined slowly, and his brother Nate steeped up beside him.

“Yes.” Nate replied. With his seemingly characteristic smirk in place and his tone full of levity as though he wasn’t currently discussing something potentially dangerous to his family.

And once more Lander chuckled. “And!” he said next, cutting his green eyes at his brother and father. “These Ghouls have been living in near obscurity and believed to be extinct, but now after nearly a hundred years, they fucking choose to appear in our backyard, massacre a parade of moose and horses and kill one of our people, then attack us head on?”

“Yes.” Nate replied again, though his tone was decidedly less chipper this time. He shook his head at his brother and put up his hands and shrugged. “But where are you going with this, Lander, what’s your point?”

At this Lander sneered at every one assembled and asked the one question everyone else hadn’t. “Well, why” He asked simply. “What are the Ghouls here for? Why are they eating our animals and possibly killing our Clans Men?”

After that every one of the brothers seemed to share a look and grew very quiet. Apparently none of them able to speculate or even offer any insight into the behavior of a beast that they had only just become informed about.

Until finally Mantilo shook his head.

“In the end...their motives or even the mystery behind their sudden appearance here doesn’t matter.....” He hissed glancing at each of his sons, slowly his black pupils began to lighten, until they were yellow and glowing and all together something predatory and feral. “Because, we are going out there to find them tonight....and when we do, we are going to kill them.”

And this time the silence was one of agreement.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.