Chapter 16: New Companions
Klency provided me with clean water to wash up, clothed me with the women’s riding gear, and is now feeding me. He hands me a bowl with a few pieces of meat, carrots, and potatoes along with a slice of bread.
Ignatius had not fed me all this time. My stomach rumbles at the sight and smell of the food. Like a barbaric human, I used my bare hands to stuff it in my mouth. Klency smiles watching me eat his food.
“My brother is a much better cook than I am. It pleases me to see you enjoy it,” Klency comments when I moan at the salty flavors. The savory taste of the steamed potatoes mixed with the semi sweet carrots was a flavor I had not experienced.
“This is the best thing I have ever had,” I say between bites. Klency lets out a hearty laugh from his red lips. He pats my head with another smile gracing his round face.
“I apologize, Ignatius has been rather rude towards you. It is not like him treat people with such abuse,” Klency sighs, rubbing the back of his neck as we both sit atop a bale of hay. “Believe it or not, but Ignatius actually took myself and my siblings in when we were younger.”
My chewing slowed as Klency kept talking. “Our parents died in a terrible fire accident. Knowing that Ignatius has the powers to wield fire, I assumed it was him. He never denied it, so I grew up resenting him even though he took care of us. He fed us, gave us a roof over our heads, and a future of living in safety.” Klency falls back against the pile of hay with his arms behind his head.
“In return, I killed him while he was at his weakest. I hated him, thinking he tore our happy family apart. All that pent up anger led me to stab him to death,” Klency laughs in disbelief of his own actions. “That is when I realized I just turned into someone like him. A murderer. Later that day, when I thought he had died, he returned to us without a single scratch upon his body. It was amazing. For punishment, he struck me across the face. After that, he took me in his arms as I cried.”
He leaned forward as I finished my food and while his words sunk in. “Ignatius never killed my parents. He saved us from the fire before he could save them. You may think Ignatius is an obnoxious brute, but he has a kind heart unlike what people say.”
“Loki said I was the only human that knew his weakness, but you know?”
“There’s one thing about Loki that you should know, he cannot lie no matter how badly he wants to. He can only tempt others to lie for his entertainment,” Klency explains. If that was true, then that would mean...
“You’re not human?” I suddenly felt breathless. Klency’s smile dropped and he stood from the bale walking to pet one of the horses that popped it’s head out of her pen.
“Those wolves you fought in the arena that day,” He started while scratching the top of the mare’s head. “They are my siblings. All of them.”
I drop the prolonging stares on the back of his head as he told me his story. My gaze concentrated on the empty bowl in my lap that my hands now gripped. The mysteries that kept surfacing like I were drawing them out were starting to no longer shock me.
“What do you mean?” I had to know more. I need to know more about them, about me.
“We are shapeshifters, creatures that take form of a human and a wolf. If we so desire, of course. We can only obtain that ability when we reach a certain age to change in the human form,” Klency drops his hand at his side and turns to look at me with his brown eyes. “My brother Klaus and I were already in our humans forms when Ignatius found us. The others are still wolves awaiting for their time to come.”
Out of instinct, I set the bowl down next to me and wrap my arms around Klency. “I am so sorry Klency, I had known no idea.”
He froze under my touch, but eventually relaxed. “I tell you that I can shape shift and you apologize?” He was baffled, but correct.
“There’s a man who can summon fire at will and you expect me to be startled?” I question him, pulling back to look at his face. He gives me his warm smile and I return it.
“We are the last descendants of the Amorak. The wolves who were born and raised to fight with the gods. We have no one to serve now and I am afraid that when the youngsters awake to their humans forms they will oppose our ways since they no longer have parents to teach them.”
“And Ignatius knows this?” I press further. “And he allows them to kill criminals in the arena? What if they are hurt?”
Klency laughs. “They are Amorak. Artemis, do you realize what you easily did in that arena?”
“I remember trying to fend them off,” I say confused about what he was talking about.
“You fought against them, unlike the men that get put in there. You stopped them,” He emphasized. “No regular human could ever do that.”
His expression was hard, showing off his strong jaw and furrowed thick brows. “When I saw you for the first time, I had this strange but familiar feeling like you meant something great to me.”
Klency moved closer staring straight into my eyes with curiosity. “Your voice, it is strong and powerful to my senses. There is this overwhelming feeling that wants me to protect you. It demands it. Follow me, I want to show you something,” He says.
Klency moves away from my hold as silence overcomes the stables. He rubs the back of his neck again as if something were troubling him. His feet carry him farther away from me towards the wooden door that leads to where the wolves are kept.
With more energy in my system, I hurried after him eager to know what he was going to show me. He opened the door revealing a man standing on the other side.
He was lanky, like he had not had enough to eat. His hair was the similar to the color of mine, blonde, but almost white. His eyes were a dark unnatural red, full of fury as he looked down on the small Klency.
“Klaus?” Klency unexpectedly mumble the name of his brother he mentioned. The man’s expression became angrier. His eyes narrowed in on me and then flashed back to Klency.
“They were calling out to me, what is wrong? Who is this woman?” Klaus, Klency’s very angry brother, barked out questions leaving Klency speechless.
“She is— Uh—” Klency was opening and closing his mouth trying to explain. He quickly turned to me with fearful eyes. “Artemis, tell him to calm down.” He whispers to me.
“Klency! What is going on?! The calls of our siblings made me return from my journey and I am not particularly happy with it!” Klaus grabbed Klency aggressively by his shirt to growl in his face.
“Artemis!” Klency yells my name for me to calm Klaus.
It did not feel right ordering someone around, but I gave the demand. “Klaus, lose your temper.” My voice was firm and powerful.
Klaus eyes me wickedly before the red color turned back to a light brown. His hands reluctantly let go of Klency causing him to stumble backwards. Klency straightened his shirt and snarled inhumanly at Klaus.
“That would have been more enjoyable if it weren’t you,” Klency refers to the aggressiveness that he loves.
Klaus watches me, perplexed at what I had done to him. Even I was shocked that my words alone contained his anger. He blinked, then blinked again. The answers that I came searching for were revealed. It wasn’t the way I wanted to learn, but given the circumstances I now knew it was real. I can control the wolves with a simple command.
“Mistress!” Klaus falls to one knee with his fist over his heart. “We have finally found you!”
My eyes shot towards Klency for answers, but he was kneeling like his brother in the same posture. I looked between the two unsure of what to do or say.
“Artemis, allow us to ensure your safety. We pledge to you, as your loyal kindred, that we will serve you until death parts us. Will you do us the honor and lead our family by your side?” Klency lifts his head with determination.
“We have been searching for you, before the others change to be humans. It will not be long from now, they will be of age to awaken from their beastly forms,” Klaus speaks now, hope laced in his voice.
“Ignatius would not accept this!” I say in panic. This was not what I had been expecting, this sudden devotion was overwhelming. The responsibility of caring over these creatures never crossed my mind when I came to find answers.
“What will I not accept?” Ignatius’s voice was deep, velvety, compared to the two in front of me. Slowly, I turn to face him. What I expected to be anger, it was not. Ignatius stepped through one of the many doors of the stables gracefully. He was the complete opposite of what I saw him as from earlier today, he was calm and composed.
He looked cleaned up, a fresh set of new clothes and his black hair washed. The black pants with the tall brown laced up boots he wore made him appear taller than normal. A dark green shirt lay underneath this long blue coat with a scarf safely tucked around his neck.
His tousled black hair was thick and lustrous. His dark eyebrows sloped downwards in a serious expression making his face look strong and defined. His features were as if he was molded from granite, sharp jaw and prominent cheek bones. His orange eyes were surprisingly mesmerizing as they appeared to be gold, deep, and catastrophic.
Looking at him right now was like seeing him for the first time. There was only one word to describe this man in front of me. Why had I not seen him like this before? What changed?
“Artemis?” I could hear Klency’s voice, but my mind was lost in thought of how alluring Ignatius looked. I couldn’t break my gaze until Klency appeared in front of me.
“Are you alright? Ignatius was talking to you, you never answered him.” Klency’s brown eyes were full of concern and I cleared my throat before glancing around him to look at Ignatius again.
“Forgive me, it appears that I lack rest.” I tell Ignatius. His expression was the same, serious.
“Plans have changed, Atlas has requested audience with us. We leave tonight with the Prince’s of Aridor and don’t think this gets you out of trouble for leaving the room,” Ignatius warns me with an annoyed face.
“Also, Klency,” Ignatius looks to him and then to Klaus, “and Klaus. Would you care to explain to me why you are pledging you allegiance to her?”
Next time I’ll dream sweeter🌹
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