I’m scared. Don’t come near me. No… Stay away from me!
I felt his fear long before I heard him scream.
With a shock the pain took hold of me and pulled me out of my own mind and thoughts, which had just before focused on the movement of my feet. I fell on the ground as images –belonging to my brother, not my own- tumbled through my head: lightning and blood, the smell of burnt flesh and above all thoughts the horrifying shape of a Morphan gone mad. A Morphan who once carried the spirit of a wolf, an honoured member of the Lycan clan, one who had turned into what we call a Tiran. A monster that was killing my brother, slowly and painfully. As the stings of pain went on, a small part of my mind was able to tell me that these weren’t my thoughts.
With a gasp I returned to my own mind; my body and clothes were covered with mud and dust as I had fallen on the ground.
In the distance I heard the dampened cry of my three year older brother. Lightning bolts surrounded the place the sounds came from. I had felt the same bolts hurt my brother when I shared his mind. I continued my pace through the burned woods, feet drumming on the blackened ground, moving faster and faster towards him.
But when I arrived, all I could do was stand frozen on my feet and stare at the Tiran who had gotten notice of me.
The wolf Tiran turned towards me and stepped forward, as lightning bolts started to crack around his monstrous paws. ‘Father,’ I whispered, staring at him while he stared back at me. No sign of recognition could be seen in his eyes. All that remained were the feelings of pure hatred.
I awakened from the dream by the announcement in the bus.
‘Springhaven Central, I repeat, Springhaven Central!’
For a moment I was confused and slowly I remembered why we were on our way to that city. I looked around me to find my older brother Kiba already awake. Of course. This had been a nightmare we both shared in our minds. The sight out of the window didn’t make our temper any better at first glance, for thick fat drops of water rolled down the glass. It was in the distance that I saw a rainbow right above the large skyscrapers and the sun breaking through the clouds.
‘It’s all right,’ I said softly so no one else could hear.
Kiba studied my face for a second and sighed. ‘I had that nightmare again.’
‘Yes. I know.’
We sat quietly like that for a while in the bus which now drove through the city centre. I read from Kiba’s face he was getting nervous and that he was still worried about the dream. It was a dream which had bothered us from the night that tragic event had happened. We still couldn’t let it go.
I stood up, shoved the traveling bags aside and sat down on the seat next to him. As the upcoming healer of my clan it was my task to stand right behind the clan’s Leader to heal him, make him feel at ease and get rid of his worries. The future clan Leader was right now sitting next to me and there where always was a bright and energetic man now sat a lone wolf carried away by his past. I wish I could protect him against the nightmares instead of healing them away, but that would be the task of his Partner, which he hoped to find in this city. Until then, the only thing I could do was send him some hope.
‘How often have you been having that nightmare lately?’
Of course I knew the answer to this myself.
Kiba stared out of the window to avoid eye contact. Too bad I could always feel how he felt. ‘You should know that yourself, sis.’
What meant, way too often.
I let out a deep sigh. This meant he must feel horrible by now. ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’
‘You help me enough as you do and we’ve been quite busy these days. I just didn’t want you to…’
‘Nonsense,’ I said. ‘I will be okay. Don’t worry about me. Now come on, sit straight for a moment.’
‘You will feel better this way.’
I saw Kiba hesitate for a moment and his eyes strayed off to my hands. I could see in his eyes he wanted the healing. Finally he shifted his position in a more comfortable way and exposed his head.
Carefully and as inconspicuously possible I placed a hand on his forehead and concentrated on the happy memories in our life we shared. I felt the positive energy flow from my mind to his, which pushed the stress and worry aside to make place for cheerfulness. This he should need in the city to fulfil his task. Kiba’s instinct had led him to Springhaven, where somewhere his future clan-partner lived. All born Leaders one day were bound to a person by the Great Spirits who would be the perfect partner and love mate to them. The Leader and his or her partner shared a unique bond that made their relationship powerful but which also made them strong against the enemies we had; the Tiran. Past Leaderships had always been great and very strong and their powers reflected on the clan members. Upcoming Leader Kiba had been looking forward to this day and the only thing that rests him now was to actually find his partner in the busy and large city of Springhaven. A task which was not that easy.
Kiba tried his best to keep quiet under the pleasant feelings that spread through his body but couldn’t hold back a little moan escaping his lips. These kinds of mind healing were very effective through our brother-sister bonding and felt very good for the receiver, from what I knew. It was sad I couldn’t heal myself to experience what the other felt during the healing process and I often asked people what it was like. Physical healing which mended the wounds often brought tingles to the specific places I healed and made one feel warm, but mind healing was a whole different process for it influenced ones feelings and nerve system. I could make someone do what I want, but this was of course strictly forbidden and is considered as something monstrous. Something most Tiran did. I could, however, influence ones feelings so that person would change his temper. I couldn’t do anything about the side effects though. Kiba often told it probably felt better than sex, something I took with a grain of salt for he was still a virgin. A 20 year old virgin, kind of rare considering all those female wolf Morphan in the clan who really weren’t that bad and tried to get into a relation with him. He had rejected them all.
I felt I was done healing and removed my hand from my brother’s skin. He slowly opened his eyes and came back to the Earthian world. I could see he was sad it was over already, but he quickly regained his sense and shook his head. ‘Thanks,’ he said. ‘Are you okay?’
I nodded. ‘I didn’t have to heal very much lately, so I’m not getting tired that fast. I feel fine.’
He smiled. ‘Well, that’s good then. Man, am I hungry! I could eat a whole cow!’
Well, then I did a good job. He was his usual self again, the brother I liked. It was awful to see him so depressed after a nightmare. I felt a bit weak though and had lied about how I felt. Mind healing took me much more energy than physical healing and I started to feel a bit dizzy and light in the head. It felt just like losing much blood.
Kiba stared out of the window with an odd smile on his face. The after effect of my healing still flowed through his veins so that he felt really funny. This was so weird. He was my brother and there was nothing romantic going on between us, yet these healing mind sessions always felt so… sexual. Oh what the hell was I thinking? There was no way I would ever fall in love with him. He just isn’t my type. In my mind I slapped myself. I couldn’t help it I was given the task of being his healer. Normally a healer that didn’t share the same genes would have to take this role, but it was for the first time in generations that a healer had again been born with the genes of a Leader in her. My mother had been the partner of the Lycan clan Leader, she was a very gifted fox Morphan and those genes were also transferred to me. A Morphan family, and especially the brothers and sisters, shared an emotional bond, and while this bond had many profits, a disadvantage was this weird sexual mind healing because the effects were strengthened.
The bus slowed down; we had reached the bus stop in the centre. I felt a burst of adrenaline coming from Kiba and he jumped out of his seat to get to the bus’ door first, dragging his bags after him.
I stood up –too fast- and saw the world rotate around me for a few seconds. Ack. Stupid healing side effects. I cursed when the bus took turn towards the bus stop and almost fell to the ground.
‘Hey, you okay sis?’
I grumbled. ‘Yeah, fine, fine…’ I mumbled while searching in my bag for a croissant. Every bit of energy would help me.
And soon we got out of the bus. The wolf Kiba and the fox Vixen. Only other Morphan could see Morphan signs if they wanted to. It requires transformation for humans to be able to see our animals. By showing our animals we would attract both other Morphan but also Tiran to ourselves so we often just hid them. If we focus on signs though, we could see what kind of animal a Morphan has in his body.
I looked around me. So this is what a large city looked like. I had almost forgotten the sight of it because we had not visited such a large city in a long time.
Nah. Never mind. I could never forget the shopping centres. Let’s not lie about that fact.
It was as loud and smelly as I remembered. From every corner and every direction came the sounds of vehicles, hundreds of them and so many more people. Umbrellas were being put away for the rain had just stopped. It was morning and people were either getting to their work or to school.
And the smell… It was nothing like the forests and towns I was so used to by now. Not that I can say I ever liked the smell of horses. Makes my nose itchy.
Gotta get used to this smell, I told myself. I was probably going to stay here for some time.
I was pulled away from my thoughts when Kiba suddenly stood in front of my nose.
‘So here you have my backpack sis, I’ll get going!’
What the. Just five minutes ago you wanted to eat a whole cow, can’t you at least have some breakfast before you go, you excited mutt!
‘Eh..?! Already? But we have just arrived here!’
‘I’ll just do some city exploring! See you later in the dorms!’ he shouted while spurting off.
That little. He didn’t even listen to me. Oh well. That was just like him. I shrugged and froze when I looked down to the street. He hadn’t taken his own bags with him.
‘Great. Just totally great.’
It was going to be a long walk to the dorms…
I didn’t know how I had managed to reach the dorms but I finally was there. The student dorms were in the Military District of Springhaven, also called Fiorashore because the district had a small beach along the river the Fiore. I must have looked like some donkey at the end of her life for I was now carrying two big traveling backpacks, a large shoulder bag from Kiba and my own trolley case and the sweat trickled down my skin and I didn’t stand that firm on my feet and I couldn’t even say ‘hee-haw’ anymore. Inhale.
I needed to learn to control those side effects of healing and I hoped to learn it here. Most brothers and sisters of a future clan Leader were taught how to fight and protect, but since healers are rare and much wanted I was taught how to be a superb healer instead. But where would I be as a healer when I would have to fight alone? I wouldn’t stand a chance. And that was exactly why my mom had arranged schooling at the Morphan Academy in Springhaven, here because it was in the direction Kiba also had to go. Luckily, his partner was somewhere around here. I would be able to keep an eye on him.
But who would keep an eye on me? I wobbled on my feet and let the shoulder bag slide of my shoulder. I expected a ‘thud’ but the sound wasn’t there. Instead, the bag hung in the air, being held by a boy a little older than me. As small as I was, I looked up to him.
‘Can I help you,’ he asked with a smile.
It was only 10 meters to my building’s doors. He could have come a little, tiny bit earlier, but nooo. Still, he was rather cute with his babyface which he tried to hide with a very small stubbly beard. So I said ‘Yes, of course you can,’ and gave him a sweet smile. He grinned and also took a backpack and the trolley. I saw his arms were quite muscular and I wondered if he also was that muscular on his belly; I have a weakness for cute boys or boys with a six pack. His hair was also longer than average, just above the shoulders and slightly curling and waving. Very dark brown. Yes. He was pretty cute.
And he carried the luggage like it was nothing. Could he carry me too in those arms? Oh who was I kidding? I quickly set those thoughts out of my mind. Instead I focused for a second on his animal signs. Cat ears. Long black tail. A black panther from the Leopan clan for sure.
‘Which room are we climbing for?’ he asked while walking the stairs.
‘Forty-two,’ I answered, moaning at the thought of having to climb so many stairs.
‘Then I guess you might be the daughter of Melora?’ he asked looking over his shoulder at me.
It wasn’t that surprising he knew me, being the daughter of the woman who now was the Lycan clan Leader. Since I had enlisted the Morphan Academy and was assigned this room, news about my arrival must have quickly spread around the school.
‘Yes, I am.’
He studied me. Probably looking at my animal signs. It felt like he was studying my body though and I felt my cheeks turn red.
The panther boy smiled and continued to focus his eyes on the stairs. ‘I guess you will have to talk with Lenneard later on today then.’ Lenneard was the new Leader of the Leopan, who had found his partner not too long ago. He was only 28. Strangely I couldn’t recall ever having seen his partner.
‘You will find him in the military building to the North. Do you think you can find it yourself or would you like an escort?’
Wait. Escort? How exactly did he mean that? I couldn’t read his face because I was walking behind him.
‘An escort would be nice, Mr Charming, but I would rather play cat and fox when I am less tired than this.’
‘Yeah, you don’t look that much in shape.’ How subtle. Very charming. ‘We will do something about your stamina and condition too during the training, just you wait.’
The nerve. I will show you just how much condition I have.
So much for showing off. When I was finally on the fourth floor I was nearly gasping for breath. Okay. So maybe he was right about the stamina and condition part.
He took the other backpack from my back, grinning widely. ‘There is more than one way to skin a Cat,’ he spoke, pointing at the elevator on the other side of the staircase.
Oh yes, very cute. But also very annoying. I let out a grumble and stomped to my room.
Just then I remembered Kiba had the keys to his room but also to my room. In his jacket. And he was somewhere in the city at the moment. And I totally didn’t feel like going there and back again.
‘You suddenly look like a cat on a hot tin roof,’ the clown spoke. Enough with the cat sayings alright. I guess he heard those jokes a lot.
‘Well, duh, I’m still trying to regain my breath here from the walk,’ I replied. Didn’t I have some spare keys?
The boy looked at me piercingly. ‘Did you, by any chance, lose your keys?’
Of course not! I mean. I forgot Kiba had them. So that doesn’t count as forgetting. Oh well, I could just admit that I was screwed.
‘Yes, well, no, they are… somewhere. Somewhere I can’t go now.’
The boy stepped to the door.
‘You aren’t going to kick in the door or something, are you?’
Instead of the ‘crack’ I expected I only heard a ‘click’ and the door swung open. Eh?
‘There you go!’ the boy said cheerfully. I must have looked rather stupid with my mouth open or something because he laughed at me. ‘Cat’s got your tongue?’
‘Okay, enough now, stop it!’ I said. ‘I hope these aren’t doors where just anyone could walk in if they wanted? Because then I would like to have another room, thank you very much!’
‘Nah, I just do it in a Cat’s paw.’
Angrily I turned around. ‘You. Are. Annoying.’
‘Oh, but that I already knew. Tell me something new!’
Well, you can make a face that makes someone swallow her next angry comment. Hey, did he just say a sentence without a cat’s saying in it?
‘Okay, just who do you think you are?’
He put up a pouting face. Oh gosh.
‘I am extremely disheartened that thou, daughter of the great Lycan Healer, don’t know me, second eldest son of Eduard the Grey and Silvia Belladonna von Bastet, also known as Dabu Cevil von Bastet, at your service madam.’ He finished this sentence with a deep bow.
Holy crap on a stick. He was, just like me, a second born from the previous Leader of one of the mightiest clans on Earth. Miss von Bastet was now basically one of the generals leading the fights against the Tiran, which was the same status as a King or Queen in the human sayings. In the human world, this would make him a prince. Not that we called them princes. The Leopan clan was a military orientated clan, so they used military rankings instead of royal rankings. Because the first born, Lenneard, had just become the Leader of the Leopan, this meant the panther in front of me was now training to become a First Lieutenant, upgrading from the Second Lieutenant status he had now. As for me? Let’s come back on that later. There was a pretty important person in front of me who I had just called annoying. But what did I care?
‘Oh. Well. Pleased to meet you. But if you would excuse me now, I have a lot of stuff to organize in my room.’
The boy looked rather perplexed.
‘What,’ I asked him, staring him in the eyes. ‘Are you not used to reactions like that? Did you expect me to fall on my knees before you? Your status doesn’t change anything about how I will act towards you.’
‘It’s… no. I guess I’m just a little surprised. I really like your attitude.’
He seemed to mean that. Suddenly he took a step backward and his eyes focused on something that wasn’t there.
I tilted my head and frowned. ‘What?’
He quickly placed a finger over his mouth to shush me. Ah, he probably got a message from someone, just like I could talk with Kiba even if he was at some distance. If I put my mind open for those conversations, that is. My healing mind was pretty hard to break through, if I believed what others told me.
‘I should go,’ he said with a face suddenly gone all serious. ‘Don’t follow me.’
Before I even could even ask what was going on, he was long gone. The corridor he was running through was open on the Eastside so one could see the whole city centre from it. We were on the fourth floor. And he jumped.
I grabbed the edge of the fence and looked at him fall. For a moment I was scared he would fall to death, but like a real cat he landed on his feet and ran to the Military Building like Hell was chasing him. Something was definitely wrong. I did what was the only thing I could think of now and closed my eyes, letting the barrier around my mind fade, and called for my brother. He answered my call pretty quickly.
‘Thank the Great Spirits you called me, Vixen. You, like, never call me! I was trying to call you, you know, but like always you rejected it. Anyways, I have news.’
‘What? What has happened? Did you see anything? Are you okay?’
‘Yes, I am. I’m sitting on the largest skyscraper of Springhaven, you might even be able to see me if you concentrated and...’
I broke him off. ‘No time for that, Kiba! What did you see?’
‘They were just brought to the military grounds. Fallen Ones.’
Fallen Ones. Morphan who were beaten by Tiran, who had tried to turn them into a Tiran.
‘I don’t know what happened, but they can still be saved. I hope they have healers in the military.’
Fallen ones were pretty dangerous still, even though they hadn’t become Tiran yet. The blood and curse of the Tiran was still flowing through their body and if healed quickly they could be saved. If not, they would rise as a monster, far more powerful than an average Morphan.
This wouldn’t do. I broke off the call. ‘Thanks, Kiba. Please keep safe.’
And then I ran. If I were a cat Morphan I could’ve jumped too. But no, I was born a fox. Foxes took the stairs instead.
By the time I arrived at ground level I could feel my heartbeat drumming in my head, but I told myself to keep going. Learn to overcome my weakness.
I finally reached the Military, an enormous building that looked really expensive. I cursed the fact that I had no condition and hated admitting it. Yet there was no time for having no condition now. I dashed inside the Military Building and followed the people running towards the grounds on the other side. It was a normal school day and since this was an academy as well, I saw a lot of teachers who kept the students away from the doctors and soldiers running to the Fallen Ones. I felt lucky they didn’t know me, or they would have stopped me for sure. However, this lucky feeling was crushed when I reached the outer doors. I was picked out by a guard and it didn’t look like I would be able to pass.
‘But I am a healer! Let me through!’
‘Way too dangerous, kid. No way could a small one like you heal this massacre. Now go!’
Oh damnit. What now? I searched for stairs leading up and found some. Somewhere there must be a window or balcony in this large building.
And after some searching I actually found a balcony. Looked like this was the Grand General’s balcony. Only the General was gone now, just like the guards who were probably all helping downstairs. When I looked over the edge of the marble balcony I saw the mess on the military grounds. Fallen Ones lay on the ground squirming and twitching, trying to fight against the Tiran’s curse. Other soldiers were covered in blood. I saw Dabu trying to stabilize and calm down a Fallen One, but it looked like that one was almost a Tiran. They would have to kill him quickly, before he turned into a monstrous killing machine and it looked like the panther boy was ready to do so. Twelve Fallen Ones. Twelve potential Tiran. But today was not that day.
I concentrated and expended my healing range. I couldn’t jump down the balcony so couldn’t come closer than this to the wounded to my dismay. This way of healing was very depleting for me but there was no other choice. I targeted only the Fallen Ones; the doctors were already mending the physically wounded. They were on the edge of transforming. Just a little more…
And I healed.
I felt my own energy fade as I performed the mass heal, driving away the Tiran’s curse from their bodies. I closed my eyes and grabbed the balcony so I wouldn’t fall off. I hung over the balcony in exhaustion, but kept going. The entire curse had to be destroyed, or it would just spread and multiply again. As the curse faded, I felt it in my own body, from that day when I was only seven years old and the huge Tiran had stood in front of me. But I forced myself to think of other memories. Happiness. Family. Warmth. And the colours and sound came back to my healing forces and pushed the last drops of the curse away. The Tiran screamed and howled furiously at me, but they were too late. The Fallen Ones now rose up and slowly awakened.
And I fell.
I saw the ground getting closer to me, almost in slow-motion, and nearly lost my mind. Huh. Must have fallen over the balcony after all. This was going to hurt. A lot.
Only it didn’t.
The arms that caught me were soft.
The last thing I remembered were the arms of the people carrying me. I think I recall seeing some tails and arms of various Morphan. Then, I blacked out.