The next chapter in my novel, which still requires a lot of edits. Comments and emails are welcome! 🙂
****Warning, this is not a PG novel. There is language! So, if you are offended by words, I would not read.****
Our ceremony took place in a large clearing. Trees surrounded the outside circle marking the boundaries of the holy ground. Three large rocks stood dead center of the grounds. This was where rites were performed. A fire burned to the right and life sides of the rocks, casting dim glows on the crowd. 27 werewolves and 60 kin stood out in the darkness. Melissa kneeled to the right of the crowd, taking the position of lead rite mistress. I was to her left. A howl resonated from the council of leaders that stood to the right of the rocks. The ceremony had begun.
Jonathan walked out from the seated council which contained him, Ryan, Sara, and Jeffery, who was the enforcer of laws and punishment. Jeffery was a very tall man with broad shoulders and a strong jaw. He was harsh and followed every law to a “T.” It was him I feared the most with this new healing ability I was doing. If he caught me I was done for.
Melissa and I sat with our hoods up and our heads bowed while Jonathan spoke. “Tonight we are here to honor the life of Connor, Keeper of the Gate. He was a man who put his life on the line every day for every man, wolf, or creature on this reserve. Connor patrolled the boarders of the reserve everyday to keep us all from harm. We are the ones who put him in harm’s way. Yet that meant nothing to him. The only thing that meant anything to Connor was the life and sanctity of our home. He protected our lives and gave his in return, and for that we thank him.” Howls rang out through the crowd, echoing one another. I knew all of the humans shifted form to give a last goodbye to Connor. A small tear slid down my cheek as I prayed to Gaia to keep Connor’s spirit safe.
After the howls died down Jonathan spoke again. “But before we start out ritual, I have a few announcements to make. First off, I would like to introduce a new member to our reserve. His name is Jalal and he came from overseas to join our ranks. I would hope that everyone treats him kindly and warmly. I am assigning Razziel Petrovitch and Aisha DeEspronceda to his care.”
I looked up slightly to see a thin shadowed figure walk out from the crowd. He was taller than the other werewolves here, possibly 6’4” or 6’5”. I could tell he had dark hair but it was too dark to see what he truly looked like. I would have to get a better look later. I bowed my head back down as Jonathan spoke again. “Secondly, after tonight we will be following a curfew on the grounds. Unless you are given special permission, you are not permitted not leave your house after dark. This goes for kin and shifter alike.” I sighed to myself, Razzi and I always went out after dark. We will just need obtain this special permission he spoke of. “We will be forming a special team to assist on ground watch till we deem the area is safe. Now, let the Ritual of Great Passing begin.”
Jonathan headed back to his seat and that was our cue. Melissa and I both rose and bowed to the crown, then to the elders, and finally to one another. Connor’s body was then brought to us by two members of his pack in their true werewolf form. They placed him gently in front of us in the circle. We then bowed to the body. I copied Melissa’s moves exactly. From the washing of her hands, to the rubbing of the ointment on the body, Melissa and I were in perfect sync. As we started chanting, warmth seemed to arise in my body. It was like a prickly dance of energy was flowing through my veins. We dipped our hands in the bowls of blood and a ripple of chill entered me as well. A hot and cold essence filled my person. I closed my eyes and not only followed Melissa’s movements, but evolved them.
Energy started to flow out of me as we got closer to the end of the chant. I opened my eyes to a world of spirits. I could see them moving and flowing throughout the sacred area. Dancing in the wind out our words, we were calling them to us, calling them to help guide Connor to Gaia. The spirits were coming and for the first time, I could see and feel their presence. Our chant ended but they spirits did not leave my sight. I felt Sara and Melissa stare at me while the other wolves sounded the final call. Could they feel the energy I was producing? Please let’s not make my life more complicated…
We all broke for the party. After every ritual there was a celebration of sots, full of food, drinking, and general chatter. I started cleaning the ritual area when I saw my mother approach me. She was a shorter woman with short cut graying hair. My mother had always been pretty fit, but had gained some extra weight in the past few years; she was going to be 50 next month. The fire reflected off her glassed and her already fierce green eyes looked almost scary in the light.
“Aisha Lee DeEspronceda ,” everyone knew when my mother was mad at me since she was so loud when giving me grief. “What in the world happened to you? I went to see you at the hospital and you were gone! No note, no call, nothing! How are you even out of bed? Your wounds were weeks, maybe even months away from being healed properly. “ I glanced around to see who was watching. Most had gone to the part already, only Melissa, Sara, Jonathan and Razzi, who was coming up behind my mother, remained.
“Mom, I’m fine. I promise. I am so sorry I forgot to call, I just got busy. Had to shower and prepare for tonight.”
“Yeah Mrs. DeEspronceda,” Razzi cut in, “I drove her home after I visited this afternoon. We should have called but it took a while to redress the wounds properly.” My mother looked at her and I gave her a quick nod before she looked back.
“Everything is fine Mom, just go and enjoy the party. We can talk when I get home tonight. “I smiled at my mother trying to give her some comfort.
She looked at me knowingly, “You better be home at a decent hour young lady.” She looked to Razzi, “Will you get her home ok?” Razzi nodded as my mother put her hand on my left shoulder and gave a little squeeze. I continued to clean as she walked away. I crotched down towards the mess and Razzi joined me.
“Aish, was not your ‘injured’ shoulder your mother just touched was it?” She finger quoted the word injured and I looked at her blankly.
“Oh…..crap. Do you think anyone noticed?”
Razzi glanced to the people around us, “I’m not sure. But she sure as hell did.”
I nodded, “well this will not be easy to explain. But there is something I need to tell you. When I was at home today, I heard a knock at the door. When I went to answer it there was a box on the porch.” I hesitated for a minute, checking to make sure no one was in earshot and continued quietly. “In the box was pictures of you all big and furry and attacking me.”
“What the fuck,” Razzi gasped, “who took them?”
“I don’t know Razzi, but Ryan took them to see if he could trace them for anything like that. There is more…” I moved in closer to her so that I could talk below a whisper, “Connor’s horn was in the box.”
“What? Where is it now?”
“I gave it to Jonathan. This is so bad and I am really not sure what to do. I mean-“ the crunching of footsteps broke out conversation and we both looked up to see an olive skinned human standing above us.
The three of us stared at each other for a few breaths till Razzi finally broke the silence. “Umm hello?” It was not till then that I recognized the tall man. It was the new guy that Jonathan introduced during the meeting, the one we were to show around. What a bad time for formalities.
He bowed his head graciously to the both of us, “my name is Jalal. I believe your Elder Jonathan spoke of me during the rite.”
Razzi and I rose from the ground and slightly bowed our heads in return. I extended my hand to him, “I am Aisha DeEspronceda. It is a pleasure to meet you.” He grabbed my hand and raised it to his lips placing a light kiss on it. This was not a common tradition around here, especially when you are greeting kin.
“I am Razziel Petrovitch.” Razzi said as she held out her hand. He gently let go of mine and took hers. This was a different kind of handshake. It was firm, like he was trying to impress her. And from the look in her eyes I could tell she was.
“It is so wonderful to meet you both. Jonathan has spoken so highly of you two. I am happy to finally meet the kin that Jonathan holds in such high regard. After that spectacle tonight, I am sure you are a wonder. “
Razzi and I glanced quickly to one another. “Well,” she started. “Let me show you to the party and get you introduced to the rest of the reserve. We will see you in a bit Aish.”
I nodded. “It was great to meet you.”
“Pleasure was mine,” Jalal responded as he bowed his head and followed Razzi off to the party.
I bent back down to gather up my things. Melissa, Sara, and Jonathan all walked up towards me. Sara was finally out of wolf form. She was a very plain woman, only a little taller than me and thin as a rail. She wore no makeup nor fancy clothes for that matter. But it all worked for her. Sara was one of those people who looked best natural.
“Hey guys,” I started speaking before they could trying to plan my escape. “Great ceremony tonight huh? I probably should be heading off to the party, don’t want to miss out on all the food. Man I am famished.” I started to stand and Jonathan offered me his hand and placing his other hand on my injured shoulder. I flinched away a little late, “Ouch, Jonathan that is my bad shoulder.” All three of them looked at me knowingly.
“Aisha,” Jonathan spoke first, “show me your shoulder.”
“I, uhh, well I…” I stammered. Sara took the opportunity to lean in and smell my shoulder. I knew she could not smell any blood. I nodded and bit my lower lip gently. I placed my things on the ground and sighed as I lowered my hood. I pulled my robe off my shoulder, revealed the bandages and began slowly unwrapping them. I finally unveiled the smooth skin of my shoulder. All that was left of the wounds was small puncture scars from the bite.
Jonathan ran his hand on my skin, sending a shiver up my spine. He fingered the scars intently trying to feel every centimeter. “How did this happen? I mean this is incredible, but how are you fully healed already?” His fingers tingled on my skin like dancing electricity.
“I don’t know Jonathan, I just woke up at the hospital this morning and they were gone.”
Melissa walked closer to inspect the non-existent wounds. “This is troubling Aisha. Not only are you healing, but what happened to you during the ritual is another matter. I felt you open up and call the spirits. That was your power, not mine.” She placed her hand on my shoulder, pushing Jonathans to the side. “Plus Sara is right, you smell of different energy than before.”
“Listen,” Jonathan spoke, “we must keep this to ourselves. Jeffery will have you banished, or worse killed if she is found not to be a kin. We will need to think of what to do about this matter.”
Sara wondered up to me, “Jonathan, you know we do not need to think about what is going on here. From what she has showed us during the ritual and these wounds being healed, I fear she is a magic user.”
My heart sank in my chest as this word came from her parted lips. A magic user, it made sense but how could it be? “Why Sara? Why do you think this?”
“You smell of pure energy.” Sara spoke softly as she strode towards me. “This energy calls us to it like a moth to a flame. Look at Jonathan, he cannot keep his hands off of you.” It was the first time I noticed Jonathan was tracing my scars on my back with his fingers through the cloth of my robe. He seemed to just notice it too and stopped instantly as he glanced to Sara.
I tried to speak but it was too hard. I swallowed and took a deep breath. “If I am one of them, I cannot stay here anymore. I will be a danger to everyone around me. Plus if Jeffery found out he will kill me. I need to uhh…” I sniffed back the tears, “leave the reserve for everyone’s sake.”
“Aisha,” Jonathan spoke, “we will talk to Ryan. Maybe he will let you run one of his businesses. We can give you a duty off of the reserve as to not arise suspicion. Then you can come and visit all the time. Here, let me get you home.” I nodded I was not in the mood for a party tonight.
We got into his pickup and drove home in silence. I had too much on my mind. magic users were the worst of the worst. They fed off energy of others and used it to perform magic. Since our reserve had a huge energy source, there were attacks on it by the magic users from time to time. Their powers were limitless, seeming to bend reality at their will. I felt like I was committing blasphemy to Gaia, like I was desecrating her home.
When we reached the town square where the roads split off into different housing districts, I noticed we were turning down the wrong road. “Jonathan, I live the other way.” I said pointing to the road going the opposite way.
“I know,” he said softly, “but I thought you could use a drink and someone to talk to. Sound ok?”
“Yeah,” I nodded. I guess I needed some time off. I would have cracked a joke about not getting drunk and taking advantage of me, but this was Jonathan not Ryan.
His house looked just like all the others, even for being the leader of this reserve. A simple and plain log cabin and unlike most of the others, his was not covered in flowers and other outside decorations. As we walked up to his door, I realized I was still in my robes, which in light almost bared all. I decided to keep my arms crossed in front of my chest the whole time.
“Make yourself at home, I’ll be right back.” Jonathan offered as he walked towards the kitchen. I had seen his house before and it really had not changed much. Same brown furniture, same bear skin rug on the ground, nothing had changed. This was one of the things I loved about Jonathan, consistency. “What’s your poison Aish?” I heard him yell from the kitchen.
“Jack and coke, please, if you have it.” I could hear the clanking of glasses and bottles in the kitchen. I sat on the couch, watching the fire crackle and feeling its heat on my cool skin. “Thanks,” I said as Jonathan handed me the glass. I sipped the drink and felt the warmth of the liquor slide down my throat. I was feeling better already.
Jonathan sat on the other end of the couch. The silence was strange at first, neither of us knew what to say. “I’m sorry Aisha,” he started, “for taking advantage of you. I shouldn’t have kissed you, but I was weak. Please forgive me.” He scooted closer down the sofa.
I placed my drink on the table and grabbed his hands in mine. “It’s alright. You did not use me or anything. Besides it was nice.” I smiled, “I kinda needed it.”
Jonathan looked up at me and deep into my eyes, “Then forgive me for what I’m about to do right now.” The next move happened too quickly for me to react to. Jonathan came forward at me pushing me back gently on the couch by my shoulders. He placed his lips on mine, parting them with his tongue. He hands moved from my shoulders, slowly down my body. Without thinking I kissed him back, sliding my tongue into his mouth. His mouth left mine and he started kissing and nibbling down my neck. My heart was racing as I felt his through his chest. His hand reached the tie of the robe, quickly untying it with ease.
Wait, what was I doing? What if Sara was right, what if he just wanted me because I was emitting some new energy, drawing him to me? “Jonathan wait,” I said breathlessly. He looked up at me, eyes burning with intensity. “Do you really want me or are you just reacting to the new energy? I just…”I sighed, hating myself for what I was going to say next, “I cannot do this for the wrong reasons.”
His eyes shifted down, “I do not know the answer to your question Aish, and all I know is that I need you right now.”
“But what happens after?”
“I don’t know…” He let his voice trail off.
“Then this cannot happen. I just can’t. You are not some plaything I picked up at a bar. You are my Elder and,” I scooted out from under him, tying my robe back in place, “my heart feels too strongly for you for this to be just some one night stand you need to get out of your system.” I stood up and started walking to the door.
“Wait. Aisha please.” I felt his hand on my shoulder.
“Jonathan, no I am sorry but,” I turned to face him, “I love you too much to let this happen for the wrong reasons.” I put my hand on his cheek and gently kissed his lips. “And, if I stay here any longer, I know I will not be able to resist you. I cannot have you regretting me in the morning” I turned and walked about the door. It would be a long, cold walk home but I needed to be alone.
As the hour walk home slowly passed by, I thought about my new fate. I was something hated and feared by the werewolves. The law say to kill a magic user on sight when found. And tomorrow I needed to leave the only place I had ever known. What a crappy way to end my last night here. I snuck into my house through my bedroom window. There was no way I was going to deal with my mother tonight.