Elian woke up in his garden. He didn’t know what actually woke him until he heard the pounding on the door. Getting to his feet; pain arced over his body and he cried out.
“He’s in the back!” a voice called out and what seemed like seconds later, a cop entered the back gate door. The officer stopped and moved a hand to his radio. “I need the squad at 1811 Washington Blvd. I have a mid-twenties male attacked by panther.”
“Panther?” Elian asked and then the night came back to him. Marie lying dead by attack with her arm ripped from her body. Rae shifting to and from the panther form.
“Elian just relax.”
“Officer Self, what happened?”
“We responded to a call from a citizen and found a dead body in the sand hollow. Searching through it we finally found the body of…”
“Marie,” Elian whispered.
“Yes. We contacted her boss and he told us that she had no family but that she was dating you.”
“Damian!” a new voice called from inside the house. Officer Self turned to look. Elian looked as well. The officer was in Elian’s bedroom, leaning out the broken window. “There is evidence of the panther here in the house.”
“Elian can you tell me what happened?”
“I don’t remember.” Elian wasn’t sure what he was going to tell them. He knew that if he told them the truth, they would throw him in a hospital. He just wasn’t sure what had happened.
“ELIAN!” Rae’s voice rang out from the front of the house. Every single officer that Elian could see turned to look as she came running through the house. She was dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. She looked exactly as Rae always did. Not like she had the night before. If it had been her. He wasn’t sure. She landed on top of him hugging him so tight. “I was so worried.”
“Ma’am?” Officer Self asked trying to pull her back but she had such a grip on him that the officer couldn’t pull her off.
“Rae, its fine. I am safe.” Elian patted her on the back and she finally pulled back.
“Who are you?”
“Rae Smith. I work with Elian at the library. I heard the news that a body had been found. I heard the name and was worried that Elian had been injured. When I got here and the cops cars were all over…”
“Ma’am, you need to leave.”
“I’ll be fine, Rae.” Elian looked at her and saw when the look on her face changed from fake concern about him to real concern. It had been her the night before. He looked at her and he could see the contact lens in her eyes now. He could see the edge of the wig. He was seeing her for what she was and not what she wanted everyone to see. He wondered why the officers were not seeing her for what she was. She leaned close to him and gave him a hug.
“They are all human. They know nothing of our world.”
Elian nodded as she leaned back. The officers didn’t react to the words at all. She must not have spoken them loud enough for them to hear. Rae stood with a grace that Elian had never noticed before. He held fast that she was a wolf now. She was out during the day. The officers all walked away from him and into the house. He was being left alone while they tried to figure everything out. It gave him time to take his story and turn it into something that they would all believe. It was then that he figured out that he needed to call into work. He was sure that while it was morning, he wouldn’t be able to go to work that night. He wasn’t sure he wanted to go to work at all.
He watched as his house was cordoned off and then Officer Self asked if he wanted to go to the hospital or just let the squad look at him there. He didn’t want to go to the hospital. The two EMTs looked him over and cleaned and dressed his cuts and scrapes.
“He wasn’t attacked. This was all from the glass up top and then if you look at his feet, he looked around the woods for her.”
Elian drowned them out. He had more important things to worry about. Marie was dead and he didn’t seem to care. Yesterday he had been in love with her. Today, he didn’t care that she was dead. He sat there on the ground of his garden, thinking about what had really changed over the past day.
“Excuse me?” a voice asked. Elian looked up to see his lawyer standing in the garden. He had a briefcase in his hand and was dressed in suit even though it was too early for work. “I am James Atrian. I am Mister Coats’ lawyer. I know that you are not charging him with anything. I think though that he does need a change of clothes and some shoes. His feet are torn up and you can’t be expecting him to walk around in those ripped clothes all day are you?”
Elian looked down at himself and saw that he was indeed a wreck. He wondered how his clothes had even survived the shifting but then he remembered that Rae’s had shifted with her as well. It was like the clothes became the fur that covered them as animals.
“We are having the CSUs looking over everything and as soon as they clear some clothes, we were going to give them to him.”
“Good. I would like a few minutes to talk to my client. It will be up to him whether he speaks to you alone.”
“We don’t even have our eye on him. Marie Harper was killed by the panther that has been loose in the area for a long while now. We just want to know the progression of events that left her dead nearly a mile from here and he passed out in his gardens covered in scratches and his feet torn up. It’s obvious that he went looking and we would like to know why he went looking for a panther that had just dragged off his girlfriend.”
Elian looked at Atrian in shock. He hadn’t called the lawyer and he lived in Columbus. It was the lawyer that over saw his trust and all of his inheritance. Elian hadn’t spoken to him in a while. How could he have got to Belpre so quickly and knew what was going on?
“Then I can talk to him alone?”
Officer Self just waved his hand and started to walk away. Atrian moved over to sit beside Elian on one of the benches. Elian shifted and stood up, moving to sit beside him on the bench.
“Elian, I am sorry.”
“No. Not for her,” Atrian spat as he looked at the house where the cops were crawling all over it. “I’ll never be sorry for her death?”
“What?” Elian turned to look Atrian fully in the face. How could he not be sorry for the death of another human being? “How are you not sorry for death?”
“I became a lawyer very late in life.”
That stopped Elian cold. Atrian looked young. Like he had only been practicing a few months when Elian had meet with him and it was then that he noticed that Atrian hadn’t aged past that. Before Elian could say a word, one of the officers came over and handed Elian an open backpack with clothes inside of it.
“Come by the station tomorrow morning at nine to meet with the officers and they will take your statement.” Before Elian could reply, the officer walked away and Elian was alone with the lawyer.
“Good. Rae has consented to let us use her house.”
“Rae?” Elian asked and then it all clicked. Rae knew who is lawyer was somehow and she had called him last night. It was the only thing that made sense. How she knew who his lawyer was still eluded him. He had never told her about him. Atrian pulled shoes from the bag and helped Elian get into them before he helped Elian to the limo that was waiting. Elian had never been inside of a limo. The lawyer opened the door and ushered Elian inside before he crawled into the seat across from him.
“All questions need to wait until we reach Miss Smith’s house in a few minutes.”
Elian nodded and looked out the window as the limo drove towards the library. At the light that was nearly in front of the library, the limo turned to the left and pulled down a road that Elian had never really gone down before. It was a side street that had nothing on it that interested Elian. A sharper turn had Elian looking at where they were going in interest for the first time. There was a mansion of sorts that sat in behind trees. Elian had noticed it once before but had paid it no mind. It hadn’t interested him. Now it did. Rae was standing there on the front porch in a gown of deep green. She looked like she had last night with the black hair and purple eyes.
Atrian got out of the limo when it stopped and then leaned in and talked to the driver through the window. Elian heard the whispers of their talk but his eyes were on Rae. She was the woman from his dreams. Something in his dreams stopped him from seeing her like that until after he had seen her like that in person. He wandered up the walkway to meet her on the porch. Elian didn’t know what to say and he didn’t know what to do so he just stuck his hand inside his pockets. His finger brushed against something and he pulled it out. It was his ring. He hadn’t gotten used to wearing it so he sometimes put it in his pocket. He had done it the day before when he had been cooking.
Rae locked her eyes on the ring and they widened in surprise. Elian placed the ring on his finger and he heard a gasp from behind him. He turned and Atrian looked at the ring. Elian looked at the man’s hands as his moved to touch a ring on the man’s middle finger. It looked exactly like the one that Elian had on his finger.
“What is going on?” Elian asked as he turned to look at Rae. He pulled the ring off his finger. “What does this ring mean?”
“These are questions best asked inside the house, My Lord,” Rae said as she turned to start into the house. Atrian didn’t move at all. Elian almost followed her but her words whispered across his mind. He wasn’t a lord of anything. After a few seconds, Elian thought about that fact that she had turned into a panther and not a wolf. Could she be a vampire and did he want to go into her house.
“Lord Elian, I know that you have to not trust her. I am sure you have figured out what you are and I know what humans think about wolves and vampires but I assure you that they are friendly.”
“I know that,” Elian said as he threw off the hand that Atrian put on his shoulder. Elian turned and looked at the lawyer. “I know that Dmitry Darkan and Raven Shadow were wonderful friends.”
“You have more knowledge than you should, My Lord.” Rae’s voice was soft and Elian wasn’t sure why. He turned back and saw that she was not visible in the house at all. Curiosity got the best of him and he quickly moved into the house. He followed the fresh smell of cinnamon and then moved to what he figured was a solarium. The room was brilliantly lit and caught most of the morning sun.
“What are you both?” Elian asked as he sat down in a chair. Rae sat in a much larger chair that afforded her the ability to pull her legs up and tuck them under herself.
“My name is James Atrian and I am the current Atrian Lord. It’s what this ring signifies. It is passed down from father to son or daughter depending on the child born.”
“Then whose ring do I wear?”
“Your own,” Rae said in a whisper. She shifted a little and pulled from inside the pillows on her chair a picture. She handed it to Atrian and he passed it to Elian. “That is Dmitry Darkan and his wife Adriana.”
“Before they had Darius?” Elian asked.
“Yes. I could smell something on you and I started to search. That led me to Mr. Atrian. When you shifted last night, I placed a call to him and told him of your change from human to feral wolf.”
“It’s a wolf that changed without knowledge of what he or she is beforehand. It’s been a long while since a feral wolf was found in the world.”
“How am I a Darkan if the entire line was wiped out?”
“Why do you think you are a Darkan?” Atrian asked as he started to pull papers from his briefcase.
“So you both knew I was a wolf?” Elian asked he looked at both of them.
“I knew you were a wolf but I also knew that you were on the fringe of stopping being a wolf.” Rae sounded sorry about it at least. Keeping the truth from him.
“Why did I change?”
“The bite of a werewolf can change those who are human. If one is already a wolf by blood. It all comes down to sex. A virgin wolf has to bit someone and draw blood the first time they have sex. Being in a wolf family that knowledge is common. A wolf that’s been cut off and raised as human…it’s rare.”
“Why was I on the fringe of being human?” Elian wanted all the information. He wanted to know it all. He didn’t want to be left in the dark at all.
Rae looked over at Atrian and Atrian nodded. Rae sighed and shifted again in her seat. She spun the chair a little so that she was fully facing Elian. You are the sixth generation of Darkan wolves that hasn’t changed. You would have turned fully human the second you had sex and didn’t bite anyone. I think that it’s what the Matian were hoping had happened to you.”
“Who are the Matians?”
“The Matians are an ancient bloodline of wolves that didn’t like the power the Darkans and Shadows were holding over the rest of the wolves and the vampires.” Atrian looked through the papers he pulled out and picked out one. There were names scattered all over the page. Elian grabbed the paper and read them all.
Vampire: Shadow, Sky, Copper, Ice, Star. Witch: Lake, Fern, Wind, Light, Stone. Immortal: Wrenwood, Rosewood, Ironwood, Elkwood, Birdwood. Fae: Oak, Birch, Alder, Ash, Elm. Werewolf: Darkan, Helian, Verdan, Atrian, Matian.
“What is this?” Elian asked. He knew four of the names on the list but there was no way there were faeries and witches wandering around out there were there? Immortals he could understand. It seemed that Vampire and Werewolves lived forever, why not regular humans?
“Our nation was shaped by those fifteen families listed on the page. None of them theoretically held more power than the other. As the world around us shrunk and the humans expanded, the mystics as we call ourselves, governed themselves more and more. A vampire knew what happened if a human saw us.”
“How are you able to go out in the light?” Elian asked.
“That is why the vampires hide.” Rae stood up and moved over to the light. She turned back to look at Elian. “We don’t look different in daylight or in moonlight. Unless you look on a DNA level there is no way to tell us from a human, just like it is with witches, wolves, and immortals. Faeries if they are not careful can be because their blood is green. Blood vessels in the body still look that bluish purple but when the blood is spilled…green.”
“Why did you start the rumor of not being able to walk in day?”
“See that’s where it gets interesting. Vampires do need blood to live. I can eat food just the same as a human and my body reacts to it like food but it can’t get enough from the food to live. There are the crazies as they had been called lately. Crazies drink the blood of humans. This induces insanity. Once insane they begin to fear the sunlight and never go out in it. They can never live off of animal blood again.”
“Vampires live off of animal blood?” Elian asked.
“Yes. It is what we hunted long before humans walked this Earth and what we will eat long after they are gone.”
“Before?” Elian looked at the two of them.
“There is something else that I need to discuss with you, Elian,” Atrian said as he pulled another piece of paper free from the stack and handed it over to Elian. Elian folded up the other piece of paper and stuck it in his pants. He figured when neither the vampire nor the wolf told him no it was okay that he was taking the paper with him. Elian looked down at the new piece of paper in shock.
“This can’t be right. There is ten million in my trust account.”
“No.” Atrian pulled a new piece of paper from the stack. This piece was old and had lamination all around it. Elian took it and recognized the writing on the paper. It was Dmitry Darkan’s writing, his many great grandfather.
Only ten million is to go to Elian upon his age of majority. If he turns to a wolf, then he is allowed access to all of it. If Elian does not turn a wolf or is killed before the age of majority, then the money is to go to Raven Shadow so that she can destroy the traitorous wolves who have cursed this world.
Elian looked back at the other paper. There was over two hundred million dollars now listed as being in his accounts. The transfer was started that morning. Elian closed his eyes and took a few calming breathes. This was way too much. He couldn’t handle all of this. He knew that he had wanted to know all of it but now it was too much. He wanted to go to his parents and not think about a thing. He wanted to feel safe in his mother’s arms. He wanted to know that his father would stop anything from hurting him. He dropped the papers and took off at a near run to the door. He didn’t hear anyone following him. He was happy about that. He got to Washington Boulevard and didn’t know where he wanted to go. His house probably had cops still crawling all over it. His parents wouldn’t be home yet but he could at least stay there until they got home.
Decision made, Elian turned towards their house. He was running and he noticed that he was running faster than he ever had before. He wasn’t even running at his fastest. Deciding not to push himself he kept at that pace. It wasn’t long before he was on his parents’ street. He stopped when he saw that his parents were home. Both cars were still there. Just as he got to the front door and his father flung the door open.
“Elian!” His father grabbed him and hugged him. As he did, the smell of crushed leaves, water, and rotten milk washed over him. He nearly gagged at the smell of rotten milk. He forced himself from his father’s arms and took a step back. The entire house smelled like that. He looked up and saw this mother standing behind his father.
“Which one of you is it?” Elian demanded as he tried to calm down. He didn’t like the feeling that was washing over him. He didn’t know how he had never smelled the smell before.
“Which one of us is what?” his father asked as he tried to take another step towards him. Elian held his hand up and took another step back. His heel went over the back of the step and Elian almost tumbled down the steps. He grabbed out at the banister and stopped himself. When he looked up he saw the look of concern on his father’s face and the look of hatred on his mother’s. Every single things she ever did over his childhood now made sense. The smell of rotten milk was the smell of the Matians and for her to smell like that it meant that she was a Matian. He could tell the difference between what Marie and smelled like and what she smelled like. There was no smell of perfume and decay. He wasn’t sure what the crushed leaves meant but he didn’t care. Grabbing his father’s hand and pulling him close, Elian hugged him. He tucked his nose into his father’s neck and took a deep breath through his nose. There was the smell of water and crushed leaves. He figured the water was the smell of the Darkan line of wolves.
He let go of his father and stepped closer to his mother who held her arms out for a hug but Elian just shoved her hands away.
“Elian!” his father said.
“No. Don’t father. This is between her and I.” Elian turned to look her in the eye after he glared his father down. “Who sent Marie to me? Where are they living at?”
“Elian, I don’t understand what you want.” His mother’s voice sounded concerned but her face was not. Elian wondered how she ever slept with his father if she hated the Darkans so much.
“You know exactly what I want. Marie is dead, Mother. Marie died at the hands of a vampire just last night. She was killed and I don’t care.” His mother’s eyes widened at that statement but Elian went on. She had to know why he wasn’t in love with her anymore. “If father had bit you when you had sex the first time, would he still love you?”
His mother’s eyes widened even more. That sealed it for him. Elian knew that his mother knew every single thing. She had raised him knowing that one day, he would be killed. Did she even love him in any way?
“When you were born there was hope that you would smell like me. If you had, you wouldn’t have met Marie at all. You would have been my child and you would have been turned. It would have meant that the Darkans were no longer powerful. The blood that is the strongest wins the war of which family the child belongs to. You still smelled like water. Even now at the sixth generation of unturned and the Darkans are powerful. You had better make your peace with the world. Your vampire protector can’t protect your forever. It’s not like you have the protection of the Shadows. They are dead as well.”
Elian turned and started to run. He almost knocked his father down the stairs but he didn’t care. Running at full speed, Elian didn’t stop until he was nearly five miles outside of Belpre. He wasn’t sure at first where he was but he noticed signs that meant he was on his way to Little Hocking. He turned towards the woods and away from the road and as soon as he was lost in the woods, he felt himself shift. He let the wind on his fur and the sun that was playing hide and seek with the trees calm him down as he ran.
The sounds of the animals and the sounds of nature were more calming to him than anything else. When night fell, Elian thought that he might want to head home. Surely the cops were finished with it. He set off at a run, staying in his wolf form and quickly made his way to his house. It was still cordoned off with police tape so Elian curled up in the woods outside his house and went to sleep. He would see how well he slept in his wolf form.
Neither Atrian or I expected Elian to run like that. He seemed to be okay and then he just freaked out and ran. I kept track of him as he confronted his mother and then fled to Little Hocking. I stayed in my human form but kept an ear on his as he ran about the woods, getting used to his new form.
Atrian took a hotel room in Parkersburg to give Elian space. I would be giving him space as well if I wasn’t worried he would get himself into trouble. Emotions run strong in the Darkan family and I see that it still holds true. I remember my mother and father keeping Denton from trouble as I grew up. I remember every single thing that Dmitry did as a child that got him into trouble and I very much remember him fighting my father.
Elian wasn’t ready for the changes to his life. No one who grows up a human is ever ready for the changes. It’s part of what wolves and vampires rarely change humans to our kind unless the human knows of our kind and lives with them.
The Shadow vampires have protected the Darkan wolves for countless thousands of years. I will protect Elian to the death if I have to.