"Hey, Monexei," my comrades called to me as Raz and I entered the camp in the woods. I grinned and inclined my head at them. Nicoletta, my right hand girl, came over to me. She and Raz were my seconds; only they could get away with calling me 'Monny'. I'd have throttled anyone else even thinking of calling me that.
Our camp was magically protected; Nicoletta was in charge of our defences and secrecy. I could tell it was not good news.
"Someone's nearby," she breathed.
"Threat?" I asked, equally as silently.
"Not sure," Nicoletta replied with a frown, "Want me to check it out?"
I flicked my eyes around the small community that we'd built here. Human and Creatures intermingled, happy, peaceful. This was the one safe haven for us. We were traitors in the eyes of those with War Fever. Many wanted us to suffer and it was my duty to protect them. Some had even found love here; some of our women were pregnant with hybrid children.
When all this was over I wanted it to be remembered that it began here. I wanted it to be known that I would do anything to protect it.
"I'll go," I decided, "Stay here, enforce the wards. Keep an eye on everyone. Raz stay with her. Post sentries on the camp boundries."
"Someone should come with you," Nicoletta insisted.
"No," I commanded, quietly, "If there is a threat then I'll be sure come back for help."
I met both their gazes steadily until they nodded their assent. I relaxed. Before spinning away I grinned and winked, "Stay out of trouble."
I made my way through the trees, cautiously. I was sure to make no sound. I could sense the presence of an intruder. It was my blood that had been used in the spell that alerted us whenever someone drew near. I took my responsibilities very seriously.
Then I saw it. A wolf. I frowned: that couldn't be right. Wolves and animals couldn't set off the 'alarms'. We had a special relationship with the animals of these woods. They were no threat to us.
I stepped forward and crouched. The wolf spotted me and yelped, stepping back. I noticed it had a slight limp. It eyed me warily; carefully shielding its paw.
"Aw, you poor thing," I cooed, holding out a hand, "Have you hurt yourself, piccola? Let me see."
The wolf seemed almost surprised at my gentle tone. It inched forward. I smiled encouragingly as it neared. I carefully took its paw in my hand. In it was a wicked nasty thorn. I winced myself.
"Sorry, bambina, this will hurt," I warned then swiftly yanked it out. The wolf whimpered. I soothed her the best I could with gentle words as I carressed the paw. The soft light of my healing power coursed through my blood making my skin glow.
The wolf extracted its paw hastily from my hand. I met its disturbingly human-like eyes and that's when I realised.
"You're a shifter!"