PLEASE READ THE PRELUDE AND OTHER CHAPTER'S FIRST
Dark, seemly abandoned city you’d expect to see in an old horror movie. Doors hanging by one hinge and swaying with an eerie scratch in the wind, windows busted in or held a grey ash like color that seemed to cover the whole area. A black truck made its way into the mass of ghost buildings and apartments. As it progressed it started to slow, before stopping in the center. Just then, the city came to life, animals of all different origins peaked out from in or behind every structure. A man came out of the truck and started toward the back, then stopping and looking around.
Three human-like figures stood on a roof near him, looking down and studying the man and his vehicle. The man twitched slightly when he spotted them, and then cursed under his breath, “Damn Familiars.” He recovered his strong demeanor as best he could. After all, that’s what he was told to do, “I’m not here to harm you or you’re people. I need to speak to the head… animal… here.”
Two figures disappeared and the third leapt off. He cleared the building and spread two large, black wings. He forced the wind beneath him downward to steady himself in the sky, then came down gently and landed on top of the truck. He walked toward the man and kneeled at the edge of the truck to tilt his head to the stranger. He looked in his mid to late teens with slick jet-black hair parted to one side, his skin pale as snow as expected in such a dark city. His shirt removed to show a chest between strong and average and arms steady, strong. He had a boyish face with the animal features of pure black eyes, those and the large black wings casting from his back marked him as some kind of bird familiar.
The other two came around the side of the truck as the man was caught by the boy’s curious eyes. They both looked about the same age as the first. The girl was a cat familiar, blond hair matching her tail and shaggy tail, her eyes a deep blue holding the same curiosity with a hint of the hunter’s eyes, in the stereo typical feline way. She was thin like the others, but strong. She blinked up at the man and wondered silently to herself whether he were bad or good.
The other was a boy, a wolf familiar. He had shoulder-length white hair white wolf ears and tail. His eyes golden on pale skin, his bare chest and back scared and scratched. His face elegant and long, his eyes holding anger and fear of the stranger intruding on the territory he grew up on. His tail stayed down, his ears flat. All three of them wore torn, old cloths adapted to the strangely humid and warm weather in the city with little to no sunlight.
The man looked around at them, and then back to the raven-haired boy, “I’m not here to hurt you.” He repeated slowly.
“He can understand you just fine.” The wolf barked.
“Volo,” the winged boy looked to the wolf, “its fine, calm down… He said he was peaceful now hear him out.” He turned back to the man, his large black eyes sending a chill down the human’s spine. He spoke calmly, a genuine trust in his voice that could be both a good and very bad trait for a familiar, “We don’t like… visitors… Is this important?”
“It is,” the man nodded, keeping his cool, “I need to speak to the one in charge here.”
The animals in the area around kept a safe distance, and started to growl, snarl, hiss, and stomp; angered or upset by the request. The feline’s ears fell back, her eyes narrowed, Volo spoke before she or the bird could “Bear doesn’t come out to talk to humans. He comes out when the human’s start trouble.”
The man looked to the wolf boy, who smirked at him. The bird jumped from the truck, “What’s your name, sir?”
He turned his attention to the other, “I’m Nathan, and you?”
“I’m Naoko, he’s Volo, and she’s Aya. If you need to talk to someone, talk to us.” Aya walked up closer, beside Naoko.
Nathan smirked, “I’m sorry if this offends but… you’re kids. I can’t really…”
“It doesn’t matter how old we are.” Aya interrupted, “Bear put us on night watch. So it’s either us or the morning watchmen who are older and…” She glanced to Naoko out the corner of her eye, then back to Nathan, “Not as kind. They won’t ignore a human.”
He nodded, “Alright, then how about this. I need some of Bear’s best trackers to help me look for a wolf cub.”
“A Familiar?” Aya asked, “We don’t hunt our own, sorry.”
He smirked, “Either you help us bring it here, or we find and kill it.”
They became quiet, Aya looked up to Naoko, and then back at the man, “…why is this cub so important to you?”
“Wolves are the species that produce the most familiars, and it was voted to stop the production at the source. Wolves are thought to be the source, get it?”
They drew quiet again, as did all the animals hiding in the night shadows. The human was gaining more confidence seeing the three teens so conflicted, both Aya and Naoko looking to Volo every now and then who still looked the man in the face. Naoko nodded and sighed soleomly, “what do you need?”
“I need to speak to ‘Bear’ now.” He repeated, slightly irritated.
Naoko turned, “Follow then.” and started deeper into the city, followed by Nathan with Aya taking up the rear. Volo watched them walk off and took his white wolf form, going towards the other animals coming to ask him what was going on.
Ritz sat on the bench looking over the pond, little groups of students scattered around he edge sitting in the grass. She watched the lone frog hop from lily pad to lily pad and then swiftly disappear into the water when the boys near it started to get loud. She took out her peanut butter sandwich and turned her attention to her laptop as she ate.
“Summer on campus,” Came Alex, walking up beside her bench, “Don’t you miss when school would be out by now?”
She looked up at him, short red hair and covered in freckles, the boyish feeling of Alex was annoying and admirable, “I guess, but when we got back to school they nagged us because we forgot everything we learned.”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full, Ritz.” We made his way over and sat down in front of her, his green eyes looking out to the pond, “Hey, has anything strange happened by your house?”
She blinked, the bread hovering about an inch away from her lips, “…no, why?”
“There’s a rumor that some hunters found a bunch of familiars there. And one got away, I thought maybe you would…”
“I don’t know anything.” She interrupted, taking a bite of her sandwich.
Alex looked to her in question, and then saw in her face that was a sore spot. He looked away, just remembering Oscar, “I’m just asking you to be careful, you know?” he smiled, “If I lose you, I may actually have to find a tutor.”
She smirked, “Kay, no other person could stand you long enough to tutor you. And didn’t you outgrow things like that in high school?”
“What do you think?” He laughed.
“I think you’ll never grow up.”
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