A Shifter Dream (Part 2 of 2)

They reached Gloucester in two weeks. The journey had strengthened their bonds and now their group radiated with trust. They led James around to the shadier part of the city and down a few alleys, until they came to a corner library. The inside was magnificent, going all the way up for at least two stories. It was cylinder shaped, with books lining the walls all the way up to the painted ceiling. In the middle of the room there was a desk with an old man sitting on a stool, completely immersed in reading.

Celia smiled, delighted, “Landon!”

The old man froze and glanced up, face purple with rage, “GET OUT!!!” He began to turn silver, his shape, uncertain.

James was already turning black with a metallic rainbow moving across him, like oil on water over black paper, “Get away from him, Celia!”

“NO!” Celia cried, too late.

As Landon morphed into a silver wolf, James turned into a black lion. They circled each other, snarling; then James lunged, pinning Landon to the ground, knocking the breath out of him.

“Don’t hurt him!” Celia was frantic, clutching Bobby to her, “Landon!”

Landon looked at her closely with squinted eyes. “Celia?” Then he began to change again. James, sensing he had calmed down, follow suit.

“I was surprised…I could have killed you! I’m terribly sorry. I couldn’t tell it was you; my glasses…”

“Th-that’s alright.” She was shaking and Bobby was comforting her.

He glanced at James skeptically, “It’s a good thing you had…James here with you, am I correct?” He snorted, “I remember him--arrogant and ignorant.”

She bristled, “He won’t hurt us.”

“Humph. It doesn’t matter. Thanks to what just happened, they probably know we’re here. I’d bet my life SHE’s on her way right now. Now she’ll kill us all.” He looked at Bobby, “But you already know that, don’t you…Shifter?”

Celia and James looked at Landon, then at Bobby, shocked.

Bobby glared at Landon and replied, “Yes, and you know it too.”

James spoke up, “Look you, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I want you to change me back to what I was before I met you! You ruined my life!”

“It was your own fault.” Landon hissed, “You wanted to be special, unique! And it cost you dearly. Besides, blaming me won’t help; you can’t change back, you’ll have to make do with what you’ve got. Now all you can do is change those around you.” He eyed Celia.

“I told you before that I would only want it if I didn’t have a choice! Do not bring this up right now!” Her eyes were bright with anger.

Bobby whispered in a small voice, “She’s here.”

The windows shattered, blowing glass everywhere and a tall woman entered the library. She was tall with pure blue eyes and short, silver hair, and moved so gracefully she looked as if she were floating.

She smiled warmly, “Hello Landon, I was beginning to think you were dead, hiding so well. The council nearly banished me when they thought I had let one of your kind slip through my fingers.”

“It’s good to see you, too.”

James leaned down to Bobby, “Who, er, what is she?”

“She’s a Nix,” Bobby explained, “a Nothing being, a water sprite; they are all the same. A group of them came from the Otherworld a couple hundred years ago to ‘keep us balanced with the humans’. Ha! It would not surprise me if they were after something else.” He gave James a meaningful look, but they were interrupted before he could say anything else.

“Ah! Landon,” she purred, “you have guests. That was so rude of me to barge in without introducing myself. My name is Eve Lrybal and I am part of the High Council.”

Landon wasn’t really listening; he was using his time to decide on what animal would be best to fight with.

Her voice was suddenly sharp, “We’ll have none of that.” She pulled out a saber.

James was already gone. He’d shifted into a lion, and ran straight at her. He reached the other side and blinked. She was gone.

Her mocking voice echoed in the cylinder, “You’ll have to do better than that, Shifter!”

Then she was in front of him and stabbed his shoulder. The pain was blinding, his scream caught in his throat as he gasped. Landon suddenly appeared, a silver blur as he bit her arm wrenching it away from James. She yelped, and then vanished. They stood back to back, scanning the walls.

Celia screamed and the two of them whipped around to the source of the sound.

Eve was leaning against the wall, gripping Celia with a bloody arm while pointing the saber at her back.

“You care about her don’t you?” she sneered at James, “Her and the child; I can see it in your face. So, play along and she’ll be fine.” She stroked Celia’s cheek, her nail cutting a slash on her face, bright red on white. “Otherwise she’ll die.”

James nodded and began to walk toward her. Suddenly, her eyes grew wide with anger as she heard his mind. With a shriek, she stabbed Celia, who shuddered, then fell forward. At the same time Landon leapt at Eve’s head. Eve swung her sword up, but she was too late. Landon’s body slammed into her, crushing her as the blade went through the width of his body. She was dead and Landon was dying. James rushed to Celia, holding her as he looked for Bobby, who was beside Landon, tending to him. Celia’s green eyes flickered up to James’ face. She smiled and said in a firm, raspy voice, “You’d better change me or else I’ll come back to get you. You know I don’t want to die.” She knew what he was…how he could make others like himself...what he’d gone through…she said she wouldn’t want this unless she had no choice. But she didn’t. She had known this was going to happen. She was in his arms, dying, and there was no one to save her. Unless he did. She closed her eyes and said nothing else.

“Alright,” he whispered, “You win.”


~~~


Two years later.


~~~


Landon was buried in Finch in a grave alongside James’ family. Bobby was fitting in nicely with other children his age and was going to have his sixth birthday soon. James’ assumption about his abilities when they first met was right on the dot; no one’s thoughts were private around the young boy. Celia was now eighteen. She and James were getting married in June and they were planning on building a house on his family’s land to replace the charred remains of the previous one. The townspeople of Finch welcomed them all and helped them settle in. James told everyone about the secret that he, Bobby, and Celia all shared. There had been enough secrets. Everyone was silent when he revealed the truth about the tragedy two years ago. He explained as best as he could, as he asked them to forgive him. But they shushed away his apologies. They understood that it wasn’t his fault. James had finally found peace with himself for the terrible thing he had done before. He knew his family would forgive him if they could; they had loved him so much. His gift wasn’t evil: he had saved someone he loved. He did what he would have done for his family.


But they would always be different, feared, and want nothing more than to lead a normal life. But none of that was important now. They were happy, content to be with each other. Three black dots among white ones on snow.


It makes sense for this story to end perfectly. Where everything fits into place and all is forgiven. The three oddballs were linking hands and staring into the sunset. The end. That was when I woke up.





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