Daylight was but scant minutes away, now. But every one of those minutes would be a struggle, fighting for his life, his very soul, and those of his family and friends.

It came to him slowly, rising gradually to the forefront from the dank recesses of his mind. The knowledge that he was in this situation for a reason, and only he was able to fend off the challenges that were placed his path. But the edges of the concept were fuzzy, undefined.

Malandanti. The word stuck fast in his mind; familiar, yet not. A void in his thoughts nagged at him for a moment, but he couldn't place it. There was something about that word that struck fear into his coref.

It also exhilarated him.

Memories of his childhood came to him now, days spent with his brothers in the harsh summer sun of southern Ontario, the pungent scent of animals, wheat and grasses in the air, helping his father till the soil while his mother and sister prepared the traditional harvest feast of their homeland. Nights spend gazing at the sky, the moon's light invigorating.

He drifted lazily, the fond memories threatening to pull him away from his precarious position and into the throes of yet another fitful slumber. His head tipped forward, eyes dragging shut, not of his volition.

The darkness across the room shimmered brightly.

The creature that pulled itself through was nearly fully formed, this time. Muscles rippled across thick, corded arms as it ripped itself free of the portal. A bestial odour permeated the space around him, cloying and acrid all at once.

Something changed, then.

Even as his body tapped reserves of power he knew not that he possessed, a change overcame him.

Across the room, the leaper worked its way free, its malignant form troubled by the confines of the portal. Being more solid than its predecessors, it was hindered by physical obstacles in ways its brethren had not been.

Even as he felt the remnants night's call, his strength and mind failing him, a sudden jolt of energy flooded Samir's body, its source unknown. The air cracked with elecftricity, reeking with the promise of retribution.

From deep within, a howl erupted into the night. It ripped through his body in a way he had never felt before, the change swift and unexpected. Muscles tightened and stretched, arms and legs elongated, fingers hooked. The modest shirt on his back ripped, his spine curving and pushing through even as his chest swelled to double its normal girth. Pain wracked his visage as mouth became unsightly grimace, then eventually snout, coarse fur sprouting along its extended length. Senses sharpened to a razor's edge, the darkness of the room brightening considerably as daylight threatened outside, and the scents surrounding him becoming nigh overpowering.

Fate had different plans for Samir, this night. His body was no longer his own. It had been written, long ago, but his ancestors had forgotten the old histories when they had left their homeland. They had thought that intermarriage between races and faiths had made their pasts moot. They were wrong.

The crossbow clattered to the ground, useless. Instinct dominated logic. As unsure as he was as to what was going on, he somehow knew that weaponry would be more hindrance than help.

His ancestry had come calling. With a vengeance.


The End

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