Warrior of the Damned

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9

My jaw dropped,"W-w-what did you say?" I wasn't sure I heard her correctly. She was the wolf... what?

She laughed at me again. My shocked expression seemed to amuse her, "Before I explain, let's get some food in the two of you," she eyed me, specifcally, up and down, "and dressed into more sensible clothes."

I looked down, remembering for the first time my once breath taking gown. It was now torn and caked with dry mud. A few yellow petals clung to the fabric from my frolic in the field.

And yet, I felt completely naked.

************

Naevia handed me a green and brown tunic dress. The sleeves were short and the style was more adaptive to the woods as the bottom stopped a little higher than mid thigh on me. She had added dark tights and knee high boots, complete with a hooded cape, should I need it. I clinched my waist with a dark leather belt.

I'm not sure how she came into posession of these clothes. There was a possibility they were once hers, I guess... She must have had a different body type many moons ago.

It was an odd kind of attire for me and would take some getting used to as I had spent my whole life in dresses. But it was surprisingly comfortable.

Marek informed me the clothes had Naevia's scent, masking my own underneath. It would make it more of a challenge for any Seeker to smell me out.

We filled our bellies. Naevia's cooking was delicious but I refrained from asking her exactly what the main ingredient was. I had a sneaky suspicion I didnt really want to know.

She spoke first, "As you have already assumed, my soul mate was human. I will not burden you with the details of how our love blossomed... But after much consideration on my part, I finally left my clan for him."

She played with her spoon, swirling her stew methodically. "Of course they were furious. But in the end, they let me go without a fight."

She sighed and looked at us for the first time, "A young Shifter found me years later, deciding himself that I was to pay for my betrayal... for choosing human form, as opposed to wolf."

"I didnt know that was what he was. In a human body, our sense of smell isn't canine. To make matters worse, my prophetic abilities ceased after I left the pack," she smirked, mostly to herself.

"The Shifter wasnt kin to my clan... or any, as I would later discover. He befriended my love and after the trust was established, slayed him." A tear streamed down her wrinkled face, courtesy of the one violet eye. Her voice quivered as she tried to regain control of her emotions. She didnt continue with the how of her beloved's murder and I couldn't bring myself to ask her.

"And that is the only terrible thing about being bonded to a soul mate," she sighed, leaning back in her chair, "even if they die, you do not. You must learn to live without them. Praying your time will come soon so you can be reunited once more."

She now stared into the fire, eyes watery and red, "Death between soul mates is an agonizing pain. Different than your typical mourning of a loved one. You will physically feel a tear in your bond. A deep, excruciating wound... it can only be mended in the next life, when you find one another again."

"The bond is only torn, not severed?" I asked, curious. Death seemed pretty final to me.

"Yes, that's what makes it so painful. It isn't a scab to be quickly ripped off. It can never be severed as it is too deep a connection. But death will cause a tear when one mate is taken away from the other."

I imagined what it would be like if Marek died. At least, I tried... I couldn't bare the thought. I knew my survival depended upon his. How was I to live without him? How could a life without him actually be called "living?" I shook my head, trying to erase it all.

"Did you ever find him? The Shifter?" I asked, hopeful she had gotten her revenge.

"No, but not for lack of trying. I had heard he was living his life amongst men"--she laughed bitterly at this--"no, the irony of it is not lost on me... Unfortunately, without my keen since of smell, I wouldn't be able to locate him. You see, the longer a werewolf is in human form, the harder it is for them to transition back to a wolf. This just so happened to be the case for me."

"So what was your role in the pack?" I wondered.

"I was also a Warrior," she smiled at me and continued, "that is why I can hear Marek's thoughts. Werewolves are much like dogs in how they communicate... through scent, sound and body language. Except for Warriors. Should clans cross one another, their leaders need to be able to talk to each other. Warriors can read the thoughts of other Warriors. It is one of the powers granted to them and no other within the pack."

I sighed. There always seemed to be more layers... layers that were more shocking than the previous layers. I was almost surprised that I was still surprised. I felt as if nothing should shock me now.

But then, a realization hit me. It hit me hard, right in the pit of my stomach. A lump formed in the back of my throat. I was teetering here. Part of me was excited to ask, the other part was terrified to know the answer. Without considering the repercussions, I just blurted it out...

"But you are in human form..." I was trying to form the question in my brain, not sure how to ask. I just hoped she understood where I was going.

She looked to Marek. Then back to me.

"Yes." She simply said, no explanation.

This was not enough for me. She had been more than willing to explain mostly anything and everything, I couldn't think of a reason for her hesitation now.

"But why?"

She seemed nervous. Not willing to speak further. I heard Marek whine. Naevia turned to him, they were staring at each other, communicating something I wasnt privy to. After what seemed like forever, she nodded, I guess in response to whatever he had said to her.

She turned to me, took a deep breath and began, "Remember what I said about a Warrior having all the special traits of the other pack members?"

"Yes..."

"Remember the role of the Shifter?"

"Ye"--Suddenly, I felt sick. I was feeling sick a lot lately.

"Marek?" I turned to him, demanding an answer.

Yes, Addy, I can also shift to human.

I stood up from my chair. I didnt need to say anything. I just needed sleep. I was done for the night.

I went to Naevia's small room, curled up in a fetal position on her bed. I was exhausted.

Addy?

"Leave me. I do not wish to speak with you right now, Marek." I felt betrayed. I had known this animal practically my whole life. I had confided everything in this dog. Years of sharing my hopes, dreams, fears... he knew everything there was to know about me! It pained me to affirm that I knew nothing of him.

This was more complicated than transforming into a werewolf. He could be human if he chose to. But he never chose to. Why? I can understand why we were inside the Castle... him wanting to keep such a secret. I couldn't blame him for that and yet... he didnt trust me enough to keep this just between us?

I felt like he ripped something away from me... something I never had the chance to decide if I wanted or not.

I wanted to be angry at him. I wanted to yell at him. I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to grab the nearest object and hurl it at his head. But after everything I had gone through in the last 24 hours, I felt numb. Too numb to care about his secret. Too numb to be mad. I just needed rest.

I closed my eyes, afraid sleep wouldn't find me... what if I was never able to quell my mind enough to sleep ever again?

But sleep did eventually come. I dreamt of yellow and blue flowers. And blood.

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