This is part of a short story I was working on a while back. Let me know what you think below. Be sure to sign up for the monthly news letter, and follow me on social media for all the latest news and updates.
I stood on the edge of the cliff, looking down at the river fall below. The cool night air, picking up the hair that had fallen from my braid and tickling my neck. The air was cool despite how hot the day had been. Overhead the moon shown around the gray clouds that were carried on the wind. I could just let myself lean forward and I would fall, I would close my eyes, so I would not see it coming. All I had to do was take a single step and it would be the end. The tribe would think I fell, they would think it was an accident, I would still be a celebrated soldier. My thumb went to the necklace around my throat, each of the precious gems that shown there represented a battle I had participated in.
How long had I been fighting now, I wondered. It felt like all my life, I had been a child when I had returned from the human world. Now what was I, not an adult, not by shifter standards, fifty years old and I was still an adolescent.
I looked up from the canyon below, and across the great expanse, through the dark night air. On the horizon there was a glow, a human settlement. If only I could go live among them, if only my shifter ability allowed me to blend in with them. My tail brushed the ground behind me, the thick auburn fur picking up some of the fallen pine needles and brushing them aside. My long pointed ears a top my head flitted back as I heard a branch crack behind me.
I froze was it another shifter, were they friend or foe. I turned to look over my shoulder, a rabbit hopped out from beneath a bush and across an open patch of ground and disappeared back into the underbrush. I let out a sigh.
I turned my attention back to the river below, its surface shining silver in the moonlight. The darkness beneath would welcome me, it would take away the doubt and fear. The pain from old scars would disappear, the memories of too many battles would fade into the void. I took a deep breath and held my arms out too my side. I leaned out over the water and fell.
“Are you insane,” A voice came from behind me, a strong hand wrapped around my wrist and pulled me from the edge before my feet left the pine needles. He spun me around to face him and held me by my shoulders. I looked up at him, glowing steel blue eyes stared down at me. He was a shifter, but not a friend.
A savage, his necklace told me that much, not gems like mine, instead there were fangs of the fallen. It had been a tradition in the ancient past, when our people had been at war, to collect fangs from the fallen shifters and make war jewelry from it. My tribe had changed that to gems when this war had started.
He was tall, six feet at least, since he towered over my five foot eight. He glared down at me with those gray eyes, the moonlight catching on them and making them glow. He had a thick dark beard and long black hair pulled back in a knot at the base of his neck. His tall black ears were pulled back hard against his head in agitation, his black furred tail twitched with agitation. His strong hands on my shoulders held me firm as I tried to pull away.
He shook my shoulders, “I asked you a question, are you insane?” He growled.
“If I was would my answer really be truthful?” I demanded.
“What were you doing?” He snapped.
“I want it to end, I’m tired of fighting, I am tired of watching my kin die, to our own kind and the humans.” I hissed.
“So you think killing yourself will end a war that has been raging for nearly two hundred years?” He shook his head. He let me go, he waved at the cliff, “You’re right maybe it will, go ahead.” He said.
I glanced wearily over at the cliff. My stomach twisted into a knot, it had been selfish to think my death would solve anything. I would be one more name on the monument. I would be one more soul that had served and died.
I pulled away from him. “Maybe I will,” I turned my back on him and went back to the cliff edge. I stood on the hard limestone that formed the cliff face and looked back down at the water. I heard a rustle and glanced over my shoulder, the savage sat cross legged on a boulder behind me. He had an elbow on his knee and his chin resting on his hand as he just watched me. “What do you want?” I demanded.
“Nothing I just want to watch,” He said.
“You want to watch someone die?” I retorted.
“No I’ve seen that plenty of times, just like you, I just want to see if you actually are enough of a coward to go through with it,” He mocked.
I spun on my heel and stomped over to his boulder and put my finger on his chest. I could feel his heart be beneath my finger time, his muscles rippled hard and strong as he breathed. He did not flinch away as I rampaged towards him, just continued to sit and watch me with those haunting steel blue eyes.
“You have no idea who I am,” I growled, my voice taking on an animalistic tone.
“Don’t I?” He whispered, his eyes shifted to slit pupils and back to round again. “You are a soldier, lost in this war, you’ve seen too much death and blood, you have watched to many of your kinsmen die pointless deaths, there is no more honor in the fight.” He growled, my hand dropped to my side and I stood up to my full height.
“What would a savage know of honor,” I hissed.
“Your tribe calls us savage,” He retorted, “We are no more savage than your own people. We were kin once, one tribe, united in our fight for survival. Your people decided that humanity was more important than our own people.” He snapped. I felt my ears twitch backward, and I glanced away from his steely gaze.
“I’m no coward.” I growled.
“Then you don’t have to jump,” He stated. “Great want to come hunting with me?” He asked, his voice light like the breeze in my hair. He hopped from the boulder and landed beside me. He smiled down at me, I felt something stir within me, a heat grew behind my ears and swept down my spine and over my chest. I shivered, and turned my eyes away from him my ears back.
“You want to hunt with someone who do not like, isn’t that against tradition?” I demanded.
“Who said I don’t like you, how can I not like you I don’t even know your name,” He replied, he was stretching and was in the process of pulling his shirt off. I turned my gaze away from him, the heat returning to me. “Are you blushing?” He asked.
“What, no,” I growled, glaring over at him, his shirt was on the boulder, he stood bare chested before me. His muscles were hidden beneath a layer of dark chest hair. He grinned at me, I knew my face was red but I had my pride. “Who are you then, we can introduce ourselves then you can go about disliking me.” I growled.
“My name is Khaos,” He stated his grin not lessening as he crossed his thick arms over his broad chest.
“I’m Fang,” I replied.
“Well Fang now I know who you are, and we have already established I know exactly what you are. I don’t dislike you.” He held out his arms towards the trees, “Now can we go hunting? I’m starving.” He stated. I glanced up at the sky the clouds were clearing, and the shadow of a hawk flew overhead. I turned back towards him and pulled my own tunic from my shoulders and threw it onto the boulder beside him, his grin grew wider. “What is your form?” He asked.
“A wolf,” I stated.
“So traditional,” He laughed, “So be it, newcomers choice.” He let his pants fall to the dirt and turned away from me to transform. Not before I glimpsed his full human form though, I felt the heat rise back within me and turned to focus on my own transformation.
As wolves we ran, no tribal worries. No thoughts of war. We hunted, we ate, and we slept under the moon together, as wolves.