The journey to the place of the shaman was long and tiring. But it was well worth it.
The realm of the tribe illuminated soft yellow from beyond the trees. People were standing among their houses to welcome us. I knew that we were home.
Their heads were bowed, their fists over their hearts as a sign of reverence as the pack walked among them towards the house of the shaman. Tall trees loomed above, the moon a bright orb as the dawn approached. The sky was gray- dawn approached. Sam walked beside me, his breath frosted in the late night. Adonis was near to us at the head of the pyramid that we all formed.
It was a sea of warmth and light. Light seemed to come from every point. From the windows of people’s houses. From candles burning from their porches. From the silvery sphere of the moon. I could even see it in their eyes as they raised their heads, a look of awe about them.
We were the chosen ones.
I could feel the earth beneath my feet. I could see my breath in the night, like silver mist. The world was hushed, as though aware of our presence. I was still. I could hear my own heart beating, along with the others- all in rhythm. Bum bum. Bum bum.
Adonis stopped. The rest of us halted. A man came to stand before us.
We had traveled to the outer edge of the reservation. A simple house loomed in front of us, candles lit from the windows casting ghostly shadows. A man stood there, illuminated by the light. Immediately I felt at ease in his presence. He exuded a goodness that I couldn’t place.
He looked weathered. His hair hung long, streaked with gray. His skin was deep brown, gleaming in the low light. His eyes were deep. They were the first thing that I noticed about him. They were the color of the earth, and seemed to be the source of his pleasant aura.
“Welcome, Changed Ones.” He spoke in the Lupus language, although my mind perfectly translated to English. People who gathered outside of their houses seemed to hush as he spoke. The world fell silent once again.
“I am Ahanu. Shaman of the Lupus tribe.” The pack all bowed our heads in reverence and respect towards Ahanu.
“You may lift your eyes to me.” We did.
“I have much to inform you of. Halona will meet us soon. Children of the moon, you may Shift. Dawn approaches.”
Ahanu raised his arms to us, beckoning us with his eyes. Like magic, I began to feel the thrum of the Change recede within me like the tide. I felt the quick burst of heat as I slipped into another skin, my old body replaced with the new. Although it was becoming a familiar process, it was still painful. I winced as I morphed into my human form. But I was calm. I did not cry out.
The other men, having Shifted back too, came to stand around me, for the sake of modesty. The winter wind blew around us. Sam took hold of my hand, shielding my nakedness with his body.
Ahanu looked pleased with us. His eyes rested on me and remained there. “The magic has strengthened beyond the realm of men, I see.”
I looked up at him, not saying anything. I was afraid to break the careful atmosphere of respect that had formed between the shaman and all of us.
“Come inside.” He said, beckoning us in.
People receded into their homes, and the men continued to follow me inside of the shaman’s humble dwelling place, the winter wind withholding some of the magic from among us as we stepped into blessed warmth.