??A Howl In The Night??
People Are Like Ants… They Always Follow Their Queen?
A purple sun is cast over dark, blood red waters, whispers of screams still clamoring to leave the horizon. A castle like a shadow lays at the edge of the lake, the color of the night. True terror is in the air, mixed with fear, pain, and longing.
A man paces back and forth in a dingy room, muttering words that should not be repeated. Bookcases stretch across each wall, a single door creating the only gap. Soft chairs as soft as silk are lying about, and a minuscule coffee table is set in the middle of it all. Only one other person is in the room, listening attentively to every sentence he spits out after a string of expletives.
“I can’t believe this has happened…” the man, face unknown, turns to his companion, “I made a huge mistake.”
“Everyone makes mistakes,” the slightly gray-haired, stubby man the size of a dwarf, does not even truly care about his predicament. However, the tall man with a veiled face is very distraught.
How can he fail not once, twice, thrice, but FOUR times in his mission? If he wishes to stay on his throne, he better be seeing more results from all these traps his servants have been dropping around the mansion. If not, his subjects will not obey him. They expect him to foil the prophecy, but he has only succeeded in helping to fulfill it.
This last attempt, though, is the crowning glory of his failures, the cherry on top of the sundae. It makes the others look like a simple game.
How could he have switched the two bottles by mistake? Sure, they were identical, and smelled almost exactly the same. But leave it to him to completely forget which one is which, and take the one that guaranteed disaster.
The veiled man, wrapped in a thick, velvety robe, continues to speak, words coming out of him like the soft flow of the harp. “I am the King,” he emits, voice barely above a whisper, “but I am not worthy.”
It is then that the chubby man truly comes into play. He marches over to the majestic man’s side, tugging on his arm to force him to the small man’s height. “You ARE worthy,” he tells the man quietly, every word packing a powerful punch, “you are the only one in the entire kingdom with a true body. You are the only one that is free to be your own. You can do things your subjects can only dream of. Everybody wants to be you… You are the only one who can save us.” His eyes are steady, gazing through the folds of the veil.
There is a moment of complete silence, and then the tall man rises upwards. Fire is alight in his eyes, anger and determination clearly seen. “Close the gates,” he commands, “no one in or out of the kingdom may bypass it. It must open for no one. Also double our security around the kingdom. If they are ever found within the area, bring them to this castle. I want to gloat before I kill them forever, and with it, any chance of destruction.”
“But what about… that?” the man points to a mysterious object resting in the crown the veiled man wears.
“This,” he pats the crown softly, “is safe with me.”
The object pulsates a glowing red on top of a wealth of rubies, electricity crackling in the thick, choking air. The tall man sits down in a rough leather chair and takes a sip from the wine glass at his side, smiling.
The next time he tries, he will succeed for sure.
My eyes fly open as I scramble out of my resting place among the tall trees and thick blades of soft grass. Which, coincidentally, is by a beautiful bathing pool that reminds me of the spa tub the pack owns at the mansion.
Or maybe it isn’t coincidental.
But whatever the case, I have been getting wonderful progress on my meditation, although these frightening visions keep popping up sometimes. Is this what’s supposed to happen? I haven’t even conjured one spirit spear yet.
These strange dreams are getting more plentiful, many featuring the veiled man, and some showing the strange, deathly sharp gates as they bang to a shut. Everything I see is desolate, the kingdom not exactly the picture of health. Every time I shut my eyes, almost, I am whisked away to the place of smoke, death, and tears.
I start to run through the trees towards the garden after checking my watch, noting the time. Chills run through my stomach as I realize that school is only twenty minutes away, and with it, the stares.
Even a couple of hours staring at the mirror has not convinced me that the beautiful girl looking back is me, and if I am feeling that way, the school’s reaction will be truly unpredictable. I almost want myself back, so I can go almost unnoticed through the crowds, but now since I am implanted into another’s body, I will have to hunch to be below them. Xavier is treating me exactly the same as before, comforting me a little. Maybe this girl in the mirror really is an illusion, a hallucination concocted by my deepest, darkest desires.
Jake, Ray, and Yi treat me like normal also, although Wes obviously has hyped up his flirting, ticking Xavier off immensely. He has to almost constantly pull Wes off me, although I personally think it’s rather funny. I have gotten used to Wes’s hilarious advances, which is strange considering that just a week before I had never really talked to a guy, let alone a handsome one. I think Wes just does that because he knows it makes Xavier angry.
But school? A completely different matter. I know they will react. How they will react is the real question
I race into my room, smelling the sweet dandelions by my window as I look at the clothes thrown on my bed. All my clothes from before do not fit me, which is a shame because I didn’t even get to wear them all. Somehow, almost magically, a whole new set of stylish apparel was in my closet this morning. They all fit perfectly, sliding over my new form like butter and flowing past my ankles. As I checked the back of them earlier, they all were designer clothing, leading me to believe Xavier had done some late night internet shopping. When I asked him, he didn’t deny it.
Today’s choice is a light blue blouse that reaches my hips and dark jeans that fit me like a glove. I shimmy out of my t-shirt and shorts, almost feeling like a “peeping tom” when the girl’s unfamiliar, creamy skin is bared, and slip into the clothing. I am about the same size as I was before, but the length is completely different. I don’t know how Sidney is going to take it when she finds that I suddenly tower over her. She likes to look down at me, but now she will have to tilt her head upwards.
I comb a brush through my now-long red hair, marveling at its softness. It isn’t as exotic as Xavier’s blue hair, but I feel it has its own appeal. It is completely straight and dries quickly, which are both strange but enviable qualities in long, thick hair. Everything I have ever wanted is what makes this new body, but instead of true admiration, I feel fear.
This is not what I want.
If there was some way to change back, regaining my imperfections, I would take it. Before, I wished desperately for change, but now I don’t care as much. Once I desired everyone’s acceptance, but now I only need one’s…
I shake the image of him from my mind, scrambling to tug on my shoes. With one more glance at my watch, I run out of the doorway, heading to the bridge where Xavier and I meet.
A d@stardly handsome b0mbshell with eyes like emeralds and luscious blue hair waves at me as I walk closer. “You look pretty in your new clothes,” he says, his silky smooth voice sparking fire within me. I subconsciously straighten at his side, my flowing blood red hair dancing past my upper back.
“Really?” I can’t help but squeak out those words, flashing him a smile to hide the discomfort. Maybe Xavier really likes this new shell I am now trapped in, one with physical beauty far surpassing the average human. I am currently almost Xavier’s equal, our looks perfectly in sync. Men will now desire this flawless body like women love Xavier’s build. Inside beauty doesn’t matter when you have eyes like emeralds and lips like luscious cherries.
“Of course,” he offers me this heart-melting smile, and offers his arm. With a heart thumping erratically in my chest, I take it. I start the run, a slow jog that doesn’t even tire me anymore, and Xavier easily matches my pace. He laughs, pure joy echoed in his eyes.
“Why the jog?” he questions.
“Because we have to get to school before we’re late,” I laugh back, hoping that he won’t discover my truly troubled demeanor. He has enough worries of his own.
We continue for a few more miles in silence, and then Xavier pulls on my arm and comes to an abrupt halt. “Is there… something you need to ask me?” he prompts slowly, concern in his features. I suddenly realize that my smile had been morphing into a scowl as we ran.
I decide to ask the questions on my mind. “Xavier,” I begin, “what did you look like before you became a werewolf?” Obviously worse, which is kind of hard to imagine. I tried to put myself in his shoes. If I was a beautiful werewolf and I just got mated to an ugly guy, what would I do? Part of what attracts me to him is his physical beauty; without it he could have just been another annoying, jeering guy.
Xavier reaches with one hand towards his pocket, pulling out a small picture. “I thought you might want to see this.” He hands it to me, and I stare at the person I know so well.
His eyes are a crystal blue, framed by enviously long lashes and a face much like the present Xavier standing beside me. His hair is a golden blond with blue streaks, and his build slightly less attractive. But other than that, they were identical. “Why blue streaks?” I stare at the golden-blue clash, still managing to look attractive on Xavier’s form.
“Because I lost a bet with my friends,” he shrugs, “and was forced to do that. It just happened to be the day I was practically killed by a werewolf.” He fingers his azure hair, sparkling in the light.
I feel so jealous. How could he look like that as a human?
“Do you… like the body you have now?” I question softly, and he laughs.
“Oh, this shell of perfection? Nah,” he shakes his head, “I really don’t care. It is the inside beauty that really matters.” His emerald eyes gaze into me, understanding my inner qualms. Funny how he used the word shell also, as if he thinks of his physical appearance like I do.
Silence crackles in the air, tension between us. It is usually not like this, but now I have a biting curiosity that I must satisfy. Xavier senses it too, stiffening as my mouth opens.
“Please tell me.” I look up from the dazzling picture and grab his arm. He seems resilient, but then breaks under my intense stare, weak against my hopes.
“Well, there’s not too much to tell. I was driving to a party, when some strange force stopped the car completely. The windshield became blurry, and I was unable to see anything. There was dead silence, and then the creature ripped the car door from my vehicle. It was a monster, half man and half werewolf, what we call a Beast Talent. He immediately clamped down on my arm and dragged me to a clearing in the forest. There, he started to claw at me, a rather disgusting experience I would rather not speak of in detail,” he shudders, “it was terrible. The werewolf was blinded by bloodlust and my somewhat pleasing scent. However, I managed to hurt him as well, and some of his blood got in my wound. The light of the full moon began to convert me. Once the werewolf realized what had happened, he tried to escape, but in a matter of seconds I was a werewolf also with a bloody vengeance. Werewolf conversions are nearly immediate, although yours was not the case because of the Spier blood. Anyways, I killed the savage werewolf and sort of… took his place. That is why the council didn’t exterminate me for being a stray.”
Xavier has killed someone? And he speaks of it so lightly. It is as if killing is nothing to him, almost like a friendly hug or pat on the back.
“The council again…” I think aloud, “what is it?”
“Well, think of it as a police force and a judicial court rolled into one. We don’t have too many laws, but the ones we do have need enforcing. The first one is no new converts without alerting the council, except cases like mine where someone didn’t intentionally convert me, and the other is to not reveal themselves as a werewolf to humans unless they are mates. The latter is not particularly enforced unless it becomes a serious matter, but the first one is very important. We do not want to overrun the human world, especially as immortals, with werewolves. The council consists of a ruling pack, of which a werewolf named Remi is the head.”
“What about Yi, then? Why didn’t they exterminate him?” I quickly remember that Yi got converted without approval.
“They pardoned him because he shows incredible promise with his Stealth Talent,” he comments. “When he becomes fully matured, he will probably be one of the strongest Stealth Talent in the world. Already he is invaluable to the werewolf community.”
“Wow,” I think of cheeky, skinny Yi… the strongest Stealth Talent in the world? No way. He’s too immature to be something like that.
We start up again, and I start to feel more comfortable by Xavier’s side. The world blurs slightly around us, and I can sense his alluring presence washing over me like a flood. However, as the school begins to come into view just over the tips of the trees, a strange feeling of cold fear starts to collide with the peace, and I suddenly get shivers running up and down my spine. My knees begin to shake, and my grasp on Xavier’s comforting arm gets crushingly hard.
“Ow!” Xavier rips his arm from my grip, “that actually hurt!” He looks as his now-red skin, indented with nails, a slight amount of blood seeping forth. I nearly gape at the pain I inflicted on Xavier’s supposedly indestructible arm, wondering exactly what I will be capable of in the days to come. Xavier seems to be thinking along those lines too, being deep in thought.
We continue to travel through the bushes into the narrow pathway leading to school. My breaths become faster, and more frenzied as we go along. “Calm down,” Xavier’s relaxing, musical voice enchants my senses as it wraps around my innermost fears.
Students begin to merge with us in clumps as our feet pound on the sidewalk. I can feel them immediately latch upon me like lasers, burning holes through my skin. Immediately I try to shrink, wishing I could scurry like a rat into a hole in the wall. I am tempted to use my speed and zoom away from the rude people who only want to gossip and stare. I feel as if I am under a microscope, being scrutinized at every second.
As the crowd grows thicker with interested observers, I begin to hear what immediately comes after an intense gaze. “Who’s she?” whispers erupt all around me. I can hear almost everything now, and I can easily overhear their words.
“Who knows. Maybe she’s new.”
“Look at those long legs! She’s like a model!”
“Who is that hot chick by the blue-haired guy?”
“She looks like that ugly girl that always used to walk around scrunched over with a pissed off expression on her face except prettier!”
“Even Sidney is not as gorgeous as this girl!”
“Who the crap is she?” I hear Sidney’s shrill, whispering voice as she walks a couple feet away from me. I shudder slightly.
We entered the school, Xavier reaching to hold my hand. I look at the amused people around us, suddenly flushed with embarrassment, and snap my hand away. “Not here!” I whisper angrily, though what I really meant is not ever. I am not going to let him disarm me again. The wall to my heart shall not tumble to ruin.
However, he is making it shake, and that is what is scaring me so much. I don’t like to be vulnerable, and Xavier is doing an awful good job of making me feel that way. I am independent. I can’t lean on anybody, for all they do is leave. My mind flashes back to that time, and my blood runs cold.
One more hammer to my heart, and it will fall to pieces forever.
Xavier frowns at me slightly. “What’s up with you?” he says, staring into my soul with bright emerald eyes, “penny for your thoughts.”
“I’m sorry, Xavier,” I sigh, “but right now, they are worth much more than that.”
“Name your price.” I look up from the floor into Xavier’s serious eyes, at the absolute certainty of his words. All I do is just gently shake my head, unable to give them away. I am not ready.
I wince inwardly as his hand touches mine, and then retreats as if he had committed some sort of crime.
Our classroom stands before us, reeking with boredom. This was the class with that uber-lazy teacher who just types on his computer all day long. Also… the only one I have with that vicious serpent named Sidney.
And this one just has to be first.
“Let’s just get it over with,” Xavier says, propelling me into the room to find our desks. The stares are worse here, people openly scavenging me, scanning my new appearance. It is just like before, except that I am practically imprisoned in here with them until the mischievous bell rings.
Sidney flounces into the room, her long, blonde tresses flowing past her upper back. She is adorned in a light pink baby doll dress, one a bit too short to be decent, and five inch wedges. Her baby blue eyes scan the room for a moment, then focuses on my form. She walks over to my side, a light, happy smile on her face.
“Hey Mona,” she greets me, “Hey Xavier.” I slightly smile back, unconvinced by her friendliness. “Nice” and “Sidney” are two words that do not mix.
“Hey Sidney,” I speak, once again amazed by the prettiness of my voice. It is like an orchestra, a melodious harmony of notes coming together to create a few words. Sidney notices this, her smile growing a little tight-lipped. She obviously misses the time when my voice sounded grainy and weak.
“That is such an adorable outfit!” she practically squeals, “I love that top.”
“Thanks,” my smile grows a little wider and more rapturous, I pleased that someone likes the attire I so carefully selected. Maybe she is thinking along the lines of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!” I honestly have no clue why she is like this.
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