I winced as my father's shout-audible both in my mind and to my sensitive ears-rang through the village, distracting me for the thousandth time.
"Keep it down you grumpy bast-"
My resentful mutterings were interrupted by Toby, in his human form for now, hovering in my doorway and rubbing his ears. I gave up my books for a lost cause and turned to him.
"Come here little one." I held out my arms for him, smiling despite myself as his features brightened into a smile. With a very childish noise, he jumped into my lap, wrapping his arms around me in a bone-breaking hug.
"Hey, you're getting strong mister." I teased him, trying to distract from our father's yells. Apparently Mr. "Bird Man" had escaped and Greywolf had something to do with it.
Toby's spaniel-brown eyes beamed at me. "Really? Am I really strong Imi?"
I lay my head on his tousled dark curls. "Indeed you are little one. Soon you will be as strong as Father."
Toby was silent for a while. "I don't like it when he shouts like this. It makes my ears and head sound like bells."
"It will stop soon, don't worry. Its not so bad here underground.
"Why does he shout like it?"
It was my turn to be quiet and I chose my words carefully before I spoke.
"Sometimes, things don't go as he wants and he gets angry. But really, its just because he wants to keep you safe."
I smiled. "Because you are a child. His child. Our children are the most precious thing, and the Alpha's child most precious of all. All the thirteen packs would lay down their lives before they would see you harmed."
A faint whine escaped him and he held me a little tighter.
"Its okay little brother. You know how big and strong Father is. Nothing could ever bring him down. And I'll always be here. I promise."
He fixed me with eyes that almost betrayed his 200 years. Then, a smile shattered the serious look with such child-like serenity I couldn't help to smile in return.
"I know you'll never leave me, Imi."
After the ringing in our ears had settled a little, I sent Toby on his way to do something useful. I sighed a little, casting my gaze around my room. Whilst on the surface, our huts were crude, rudimentary things-barely more than sticks and mud.
However, underground, they were a vast, sprawling network of high-tech, sparkling rooms, filled with technology light-years beyond what the humans had. My room was of a fair size, big enough to accommodate both of my forms. The walls were white, the floor and furniture pale wood. One wall was dominated by a vast bookcase, crammed full with books from fantasy to mythology and science. Lore on our kind featured prominently, along with that of the weres and vampires. A large desk occupied the wall nearest the door, constantly strewn with papers and half-open books. Mother would always comment that my mind was almost as restless as my body. If I was not at my books, I would be roaming the woods.
The wall opposite the door held just my bed, large enough for three, neat, rarely slept in and a modest wardrobe. Half was taken up with simple, dark clothing with a single formal dress. The other half held various knives and bows, each more deadly than the last. The final wall was broken by a door that lead to my bathroom and a mirror, with a small vanity table sitting beside it. On the rare occasion I did dress up, I would use this area to look at the result.
Wondering along my wall, I selected a well-thumbed novel and settled in the large chair that sat at one end of the shelf. It was here that I would frequently be found asleep, a book dangling at the end of my fingertips. The chair was one of those that would completely embrace you, cradling you just perfectly, with a high back and high arms that allowed for sleep.
From the chair, if I wanted, I could sometimes see my reflection in the mirror. I regarded myself now. A slim woman, no more than twenty human years, with serious blue eyes the colour of late summer skies stared back at me. Her hair framed her pale face, the same shade as her brother, though with only a hint of curl at the ends. Her feet were tucked under her body, which though apparently relaxed, would still move lightning fast if need came to it. She held an air of wisdom beyond her years, barely suppressed energy and the etheral yet dangerous beauty of flame and storms.
I shook my head, trying to lose myself in the plot of the book again, but my mind refused to leave the matter of the winged man. Something about him called out to my inquiring mind and all too soon, I abandoned my book in favor of more academic tomes.
Several hours later, an ancient, leather-and-parchment book held the answer. 'Angels and The Heavenly Host. From Arch Angels to Nephilim and All that Lies Between'. The proud proclamation wasn't the catchiest title I had ever seen but what captured my attention was the painting. My fingers lightly brushed the lines that made up the face of Mr. Bird Man himself. I let the image burn into my mind for a moment before abandoning my desk, making my way as quickly as possible to the woods, in order to phase and run.
The cool breeze of the moon stirred my coat as I stretched my body out, barely stirring the vegetation around me as I moved, like quicksilver, through the woods, along familiar paths. I felt the pack conciousness brush mine but I ignored their inquiries. A large, russet wolf intercepted my path, bringing me to a skidding hault.
Jeez Imi, you can't half run when you want to.
I huffed, sitting down hard. What the hell are you doing Jasper. I could have attacked you.
He gave a gruff chuckle, odd coming from a wolf's muzzle. Jasper was the son of the Betas in the Third Pack, my best friend and as of recently, my mate. Yeah right, you knew it was me.
True, even a half-deaf human could have heard you coming.
He huffed again in amusement and sat next to me, rubbing his muzzle affectionately over mine. Mind telling me what this is all about?
I sighed, returning his affection. I think that the Pack might be going on a Hunt. Our guest was an angel and Father is out for blood after that..woman/cat..thing threatened Toby.
Its been years since the last Hunt.
Before Toby was born at least.
You're worried. Imi, the whole pack will be there. He'll be safe.
I sighed. I just have a bad feeling about it.
Jasper chuckled, nudging me. You sound like Greywolf.
Hm, maybe but I bet Greywolf couldn't pin you.
Neither could you.
I pounced, starting a play fight. Though it both looked and sounded vicious, no damage was done except to Jasper's pride (for the third time in a row) as I pinned him to the ground.
We continued to distract ourselves from the prospect of the Hunt until the call came, around midnight. Jasper paused, half-pinning me with one of my ears in his mouth. I slumped, giving a heartfelt sigh.
I guess we'd better go then.