Moonsilver Transfusion Chapter 7

Chapter 7

My attempt to convince Cliff to stay with the pack by latching onto his sleeve failed. Tugging on his leather belt didn’t accomplish the task either, but did earn me a hug and a… belly rub. Really it was a dirty trick to escape me. One moment his fingers were in my chest fur and suddenly he was out of the car. Whining loudly almost brought him back again, but Victoria betrayed me by nipping my side with her fingers. Cliff escaped, laughing as I grabbed her wrist and wrestled.

“Abby, down! Come on!” She chided me. “Have you gone completely wolf brain on me?”

Forest. Run now, I sent with a huff, settling back on the passenger seat.

She pushed my muzzle away with the palm of her hand. “What if I don’t want to run? Death keeps me mostly in wolf form, likes to pretend I’m their dog.”

I nipped at her fingers, capturing one and sucking on it. Plaaay. Cliff’s recovery had disrupted our usual welcome back routine. We wouldn’t have slept too much longer, but we wouldn’t have left the bed either.

Hooking the captured finger, she pulled on my fangs affectionately. “Let’s drop the kiddo home first.”

“Why can’t I come to the forest?!” Secret protested.

“How long has it been since you’ve done your homework?” Victoria asked.

“Merf.” Secret’s ears wilted and she crossed her arms. “Not long enough.”

“We’ll pick you up after dark, then.” Victoria said firmly.

“How come whenever you two get mushy I have to do homework?” Secret grumbled.

“Saves your innocent eyes.” Victoria started the car.

“Not my ears. You’re both very loud.” Secret said.

Victoria just laughed and started driving. Satisfied, I hopped into the back where I could stretch out and lay down. Human me lay slumbering inside me, her complications and worries could wait. Pack first, then territory tonight. That’s what mattered. Human me cared about far too much.

Later, Victoria and I rested against each other on a bed of pine needles deep in Kingsley Park as the last purple rays of the sun died away. I savored the moment, my muzzle resting on the velvet black fur of her back, the forest around us thoroughly marked by our couplings. Victoria panted lightly, a grin on her long muzzle, tall ears turning to focus on small forest sounds. We waited a little longer and the slimmest sliver of Luna rose in the sky. We raised our voices to greet her and our howls echoed through the forest. Our song turned from worship to practical matters, letting those who heard know that this patch of green belonged to our pack.

No voices rose in challenge, yet I felt a small pulse from the ground, as if something had twitched. Human me, now a bit more rested, offered the tendrils of her worried thoughts, but I pushed them away. She’d been without me for days, I needed one night to simply be. With night securely fallen, we ventured into the concrete throughways of our neighborhood and collected Secret. She responded to Victoria’s gentle nosing about duty, the closest sentiment to human homework we had, with testy merfing. Whether she did some and was grumpy about it or she hadn’t and didn’t want to admit it wasn’t clear. Human me would figure it out eventually. We had a different sort of work ahead of us tonight. More than a human week had passed since we properly secured our territory as a pack. With Secret settled in the small of my neck we set out on our patrol, refreshing our scent markers along the more southern borders and waiting for the night to deepen. Once Luna’s curved slit in the sky climbed higher we strode down the sidewalks, searching for things out of place and unsettled. In particular, I searched for the scents of Slade and Nigel, but found no evidence they’d returned to our territory after we’d encountered them at the hospital. We did find a new camera trap that we thoroughly ‘watered,’ until it sparked.

Our older markers were undisturbed, we found no scents challenging our claims. Yet, beyond it, brought sounds and signs I didn’t like. We came up along the eastern edge to walk alongside Powell Boulevard, a wider through street that still had a steady pulse of traffic. Populated by small stores and parking lots that afforded us very little cover. We skulked around the rear of the buildings, peering across the way, trying to locate the source of the single note scream that pierced through the noise of the road.

Victoria looked at me, cocking her head in an open question. Go See?

No. Outside territory, I told her, scraping claws through the dirt. In truth, I knew what it was. I didn’t want to see that spirit again, and worried about what lurked beneath our own feet. Extending my awareness downward, into the ground, I felt between the bones of the world and the ground beneath me to the slow rhythm of what slumbered there. Before, I’d taken the presence of the territory’s slumbering spirit as a comfort, now my mind traced the lines of pain that had driven Mill Park to such anger. If Powell Hurst woke, would it demand retribution  too? Nervous, I pulled myself back into my own skin.

We continued on, Victoria pausing often, turning one ear toward the scream, a wail of pain that sawed on our hearts. Further down the road, the gossamer scent of the Summer Court drifted on the warm breeze down from Kelly Butte. The grove of oddly shaped trees that decorated its top huddled and whispered among themselves. Tempting those who heard it to come closer, to maybe understand the mutterings flitting between the leaves and needles. A fence of orange mesh guarded against that whim, marked with day glow signs that instructed those who saw them to keep out, danger, and a spray-painted sheet of plywood that read, “No one will save you.” This marked the boundary between the city and the domain of Titania, Queen of Summer. To set foot in there was to be subjected to her laws and whims.

Victoria sat and pondered the grove, ears sagging under the guilty weight over our partial victory over Joy. Secret tensed on my back, holding tight with her claws. I Joined Victoria, wrapping my neck around her body; human me’s words would do better with these moments. Touch and words helped soothe. Still, Victoria leaned against me, grumbling her discontent.

The whispers of the trees grew louder, almost becoming words but never reaching clarity of meaning. I had expected that Joy would have taken all of those too lost in her magic to survive without it back through the gate Secret had opened for her. Yet, she had taken only half. Leaving these trees to taunt us and invite more. What fed the Summer court more? The souls that were now trapped within it? Or leaving a scar on the city for us to ponder? Victoria bared her fangs at the trees as a frustrated rumble slowly grew into a growl. I ducked my head beneath hers and lifted her chin in an attempt to calm her.  

With a huff she turned away from the park, long ears folded back. This done.

A step back from the grove and the fey’s inviting whispers were overpowered by the wail of agony. We looked at each other, both of us knew its source, knew again that we couldn’t solve this problem with tooth or claw.

I look. Only look, she sent.

Reluctantly I retraced our steps and crossed the road. As soon as my paws touched the opposite sidewalk, the ground stirred beneath us. That vast lake of pain rippled in response to our presence, but it didn’t try to leap up into my body. Victoria’s tail curled between her legs, but she continued her cautious walk forward.

“Merf?” Secret asked as we threaded up around the Butte and into the Mill Park neighborhood, to the house Victoria’s warning had sent me to. Human me stirred from her slumber to breathe anxiously at the sight of the boxy van with the shallow bowl on top of it parked in front of the house. We circled around it and even at this hour, the site had attracted a small crowd of onlookers centered around the mound that had been the spirit’s manifestation.

No one saw us approach; they were all focused on the girl who knelt where I had stood hours ago. Hands clasped together, they bobbed up and down as she wailed out into the night, lending her voice to the wordless pain of the land she made her home on. Once the scream faded to a whisper, she fell forward, rested her forehead on her interlocked knuckles, took a few deep breaths before crying out anew, her voice lancing through my heart. A pup in pain.

I heard a heavy thump in the front of the house. An SUV jumped the curb. From it, a woman burst from the driver’s side.

“Sadie?!” She called out. “Sadie?!”

“She’s over here, Isabell!” An onlooker went to her, offering a steadying hand.

Sadie’s mother ignored it, breaking into a stumbling sprint that ended at the edge of a circle of broken earth that extended from the base of the spirit’s mound. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” She shouted across the ground as if it were a chasm between them.

“Told you where I had to go, Mother,” Sadie said a moment later, once her current scream subsided. “If I scream until dawn, we can have another. So can everyone else. We don’t have to move. It will even fix the house.” Her hands broke apart to clutch at her chest.

 “Over my dead body. We were attacked, your father lost his leg and won’t stop talking nonsense.” Isabel drew herself up, squared her shoulders and wiped her own eyes. “We are not staying here one more day. Not one more day.” With that declaration she stepped out into the circle.

Sadie’s head snapped up, raising her chin to the sky and emitting a shriek that stabbed directly through my skull. The sound staggered me, and most of the onlookers clapped their hands over their ears. Isabell blanched at first, but as the sound continued she marched across the soil and threw her arms around her daughter.

“No! Whatever you fucking are, you can’t have her!” Isabell shouted as the sustained shriek warbled, swelling impossibly loud.

Beside me, Victoria sank to the ground and pressed her paws over her ears. Inside the circle Isabell struggled to lift her daughter from the ground, tendrils of cable and roots wrapped about Sadie’s ankles.

“I don’t care what she told you or promised! I am her mother and I… Will… Not… Allow… THIS!” Isabell’s body strained, pitting her strength against the spirit’s, the cords of her neck strained to the point that human me nattered about snapped tendons. All the while, the scream of agony undulated out from the girl, as if the spirit poured as much pain as it could into the small girl.

Despite her mother’s struggles, the girl did not budge.

Isabell was right about one thing, this could not go on. She was going to hurt herself or Sadie, and then this was all going to get worse. I hadn’t wanted to come because I’d known this was not a situation that I could fix. Now that we were here, my heart ached for them both. We had to try. Nosing Victoria, we went to find a place to shift.

How do? I asked her.

I big, you talk? She suggested. I cover you.

No, I stamped my paw. Human me tired. Even if I pushed human me forward, she’d be too exhausted to face a crowd like that.

Victoria ears fell. I bad human.

A rumple of fabric and Secret stood between us. “I could do it,” she whispered. “Tell them all that a deal is a deal.”

No. Victoria and I both huffed immediately. Her eyes folded with disappointment.

Victoria prodded her, Make fur me?

“Merrf?” Secret tilted her head, green eyes squinting in confusion.

Shaking herself, Victoria started to shift and I dredged up a still weakened human me and coaxed her into sharing the body. Combined, the precariousness of the situation crystalized in my mind as I gained muscle and mass. Secret’s head shrank from well over my shoulder to even with my rib cage. Meanwhile Victoria had gotten her upper body mostly human and rolled onto her side as her legs and hips straightened out.

“I meant,” Victoria strained, “Could you glamor me some clothing.”

“Oooh. I can do that.” She bounced excitedly, then cast about the ground; brightening, she picked up a single large crow’s feather, “This will work.”

As Victoria got two human feet beneath her, Secret flicked the feather in her direction. It landed and stuck to Victoria’s shoulder, rippled once, then feathers flowed over Victoria’s entire body, encasing her skin. Both Victoria and I made a sound of surprise. A sudden gust blew and all the feathers lifted away, revealing a long black dress wrapping Victoria’s slim form, complete with silver jewelry and a black veil hiding the lower half of her face.

“Good job, Kiddo,” Victoria said as she adjusted the very low-cut dress. “Now let’s see if we can sort this out.”

I announced our arrival with a howl.


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