Chapter One: Empty Vessel
Three-year-old Akira Hendrix looked up at the bars above her. The bigger kids can climb the monkey bars. Why can’t she?
“Move out of the way, runt,” an older boy said, pushing Akira down.
Laughing, he climbed the stairs that led up to the monkey bars.
Akira held in her tears as she scrunched up her face. They are always so mean to her, just because she is small and has no powers. They think they are all better than her. Well, she will show them.
Akira pulled herself to her feet and walked over to the stairs that the mean boy had just climbed up. She took a deep breath, then climbed the stairs. She got to the top of the stairs and frowned. She cannot reach the monkey bars. She is too small. She could hear the other children laughing at her.
If she were a real Havent, she would be able to use magic and swing across the monkey bars. But she is what is called an Empty Vessel. That is why her father hates her so much. He is a strong Warrior, and her mother is a very powerful Havent. But Akira is a dud.
Not only is she a dud, but she is also small. At least she is smart. Akira smiled and looked at the obstacle before her. She nodded to herself, then climbed the bar beside her. Up and up to the monkey bars.
With a bright smile, she took hold of the first monkey bar and swung to the next. She is doing it—she is really doing it!
‘Where is Mommy? Mommy should see me doing this!’
A strong wind blew, making her swing back and forth. She knows one of the kids was using their power, but she does not care. She is going to—Akira cried out when a gust of wind made her lose her grip, and she started to fall.
This is going to hurt—a lot.
Wolfric Selinofoto looked at the time on his phone. He is going to be late for his meeting. For over ten years now, he has worked with his brothers (or rather for). Each of his brothers has their own Havent, and they tease him mercilessly. Wolfric had finally given up on ever finding his Havent and joined his brothers, despite their teasing.
He knows they feel sorry for him and only do it to keep his mind off the fact that he does not have a Havent, his Psychi.
Wolfric passed a small park and heard children laughing as he felt a stiff wind blow. Children playing with their powers is always a disaster. He should know, his nieces and nephews have destroyed their parents’ house more than once.
He heard a scream and turned just in time to watch a girl use her powers to blow a very small child off the monkey bars. Without a thought, he rushed to the aid of the child. He skidded in the sand under her just as she landed, and the air was knocked from his lungs. Wolfric grunted and closed his eyes. The small child in his arms was crying, and no one seemed to rush to her aid.
Wolfric opened his eyes and sat up, the child in his arms. He set her on her feet and brushed the sand from her knees. She sniffled as she watched him.
“Thank you,” the sweetest voice he has ever heard said.
Wolfric looked up just as she wiped her nose with her arm. He looked into the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen. The amber color was bright and shined like a torch. He swallowed and tucked a hair behind her ear.
“Are you all right?” he whispered.
She nodded and continued to stare at him.
“What is your name?” he asked, his eyes still connected to hers.
“Akira,” she whispered. “What’s yours?”
Wolfric smiled. “I am Wolfric.”
Akira giggled. What a funny name, but she liked it.
“I will call you Wolfie,” she said.
Wolfric chuckled, “you can call me anything you want, Psychi.”
Akira giggled again. He is silly—he just called her a soul. She likes him. He is handsome and sweet. He kept looking at her, but it did not scare her. She felt peaceful around him.
“What are you doing with my daughter?!” a burly man demanded as he barreled over to Wolfric and Akira.
Wolfric watched Akira’s eyes dim. He frowned and pulled himself to his feet, then looked at the man. The man is definitely a Warrior, which makes Akira a Havent. Wolfric smiled. Now he knows why he had not found his Havent all those years ago.
She had not been born yet.
“She fell off the monkey bars,” Wolfric said.
He watched his Psychi shiver when her father placed his hand on her shoulder. Something was definitely wrong there. The man pulled Akira away from Wolfric and shoved her behind him, then got into Wolfric’s face and sneered.
“I heard what you called my daughter.”
Wolfric smiled. Not many fathers were too keen to have a Direwolf as their child’s Warrior. But she is his Psychi, and he would never hurt her.
‘No matter what she is.’
He could not smell her powers, but they had to be there. Otherwise, she would not have a Warrior.
“I know I’m not what you expected for your daughter. But I would never harm her.”
The Warrior snarled, “I don’t know what your game is here, but my daughter has no Warriors. She will never have a Warrior. She is an ádeio docheío.”
Wolfric blinked. An Empty Vessel.
‘No, that cannot be.’
He knows he had seen it in her eyes.
Wolfric looked around the large man at the little girl. She was crying again, her eyes red-rimmed and swollen. She looked at him, and his heart skipped a beat. Her eyes were shining so brightly, he knew she was his. He looked back at the Warrior.
The man was not as big as Wolfric, but he was a sturdy Warrior. Wolfric wondered where the other Warriors were and the Havent. The child’s mother.
“You will stay away from my daughter,” the Warrior said.
The Warrior grabbed Wolfric by the collar and lifted him off his feet. Okay—if this man wasn’t his Psychi’s father, he would be tearing his arms off about now.
“Daddy, no,” Akira said, tugging on her father’s pant leg.
The Warrior tossed Wolfric to the ground and sneered down at him.
“My daughter is off-limits. She has brought me and my Havent enough shame. She doesn’t need a pervert stalking her.”
Wolfric glared at the man. He did not know which he was angrier about. Being called a pervert, or the fact that he talks so of his own daughter. Many have had Empty Vessels as children, but sometimes they gain their powers when they are older, and sometimes not. Wolfric growled and glared up at the Warrior.
A woman with long blond hair ran up to them and pulled Akira into her arms. She hugged the girl and kissed her cheeks.
‘So, just the father is ashamed,’ Wolfric thought. ‘Where are her other Warriors?’
“What seems to be the problem here?” an officer asked as he walked up to them.
Someone must have called this in.
“This man accosted my daughter,” the Warrior said, pointing at Wolfric.
“No, Daddy,” Akira said, pulling away from her mother. “He saved me. I fell off the monkey bars.”
Wolfric looked at the little girl. She had to be no more than maybe two years old. She was smart and had a good vocabulary. That alone showed she had potential as a Havent. She is just a late bloomer.
The Warrior turned to Akira and looked to want to slap her. But stopped himself when he remembered where he was.
“I don’t want this man near my daughter,” the Warrior said as he turned to the officer. “He called her Psychi.”
Akira’s mother gasped and stared at Wolfric. But it cannot be. She is an Empty Vessel. Her Warrior would sense their daughter’s Havent, wouldn’t he?
The officer turned to Wolfric and shook his head. “Everyone knows that the girl is an Empty Vessel. They do not have a Psychi. They are ápsychos.”
Wolfric growled. That child is not soulless; he could tell that no one would believe him. It seemed that only he could sense her soul—her Havent. It is buried deep within her, but he saw it in her eyes. He knows she is his, just as much as he is hers.
“I don’t want to take you in, Mr. Selinofoto. But if you are seen with that child again, I will,” the officer said, then turned to Akira’s parents. “I will make sure he never bothers you again.”
The officer turned to Wolfric, pulled him to his feet, and led him away from the park.
Wolfric turned and looked at his Psychi. She was crying again as she watched the officer drag him away. She cried out when her father took hold of her arm and shook her, yelling at her for talking to a stranger.
The words, Stranger Danger, ran through Wolfric’s head, and he chuckled.
He will protect his Psychi, even if it kills him.
Akira lay in her bed that night. Her bottom was sore from her daddy whipping her with his belt for talking to the “pervert.”
Whatever that means.
But Wolfie is not a stranger or a pervert. She sniffled and closed her eyes, then drifted off to sleep.
She dreamed of her Wolfie saving her from her daddy and taking her away to a land covered in snow. She got to eat candy all day, and Wolfie read her stories at night. Just like Mommy used to do until Daddy beat her and told her a soulless Empty Vessel does not get Storytime.
Wolfric stood outside his Psychi’s bedroom window and listened to her cry. He had been too late to stop her father from whipping her. He swears to Zeus he will kill the man once Akira is old enough, and he can take her away from here.
Once she was asleep, he sat down on the ground below her window and scowled up at the sky. Why have the Gods given him his Psychi after waiting so long, just to take her away from him? Many Warriors have found their Psychi at such a young age and helped the parents raise the child until they were of age to accept their Warriors.
He closed his eyes. He had told his brothers what had happened, and they had been thrilled that he had finally found his Havent. And angry about the child’s father. Why doesn’t Akira’s mother protect her? And where the fuck is her other Warriors?
Wolfric drifted off to sleep and dreamed about taking his Psychi away from her parents to a place with snow, where they ate candy all day, and he read her stories at night. He smiled in his sleep as he held his Psychi close to his heart.
She will be his.
Akira walked beside her mother as they headed to her pre-school; she was the youngest in her class and the smartest. She saw a shadow and turned. Something big was following them, but she did not feel any fear. Her little heart pitter-pattered as she watched the giant shadow, then she saw him.
A gigantic wolf!
“Wolfie,” she whispered.
She knew he heard her because the wolf’s tail wagged, and his tongue hung out of his mouth, making her giggle.
“What do you see?” her mommy asked, looking in the direction she was giggling.
Akira shook her head and looked up at her mother.
Temple Hendrix smiled down at her daughter. Whatever she is hiding, she will let her have it. She is only three, and she has not had the best a life could give. Being an Empty Vessel makes life challenging in their world.
Temple’s Warrior denied the possibility of the Direwolf being their daughter’s Warrior. Akira has never shown any signs of having any kind of powers. But there must be something there if that Warrior has claimed her. Right?
Akira waved to her Wolfie as they entered the schoolyard.
She hoped she would get to see him again.