Dowan has always been a simple girl. Her hobbies include hanging with her friends at the bar, spending time with her family and turning into a six foot tall werewolf so she has no idea how to handle him when the Spirits drop him in her lap. War torn, ancient, wise and lethal like a snake, he changes everything she believes, he makes her question who she is and what it means to fight for love. But forbidden love always comes with sacrifices.
There is a war on the horizon like which the supernatural world can't even fathom. Sacrifices are only the beginning of love torn asunder, blood shed and the rise of Hell and Heaven alike.
Dowan has choices to make, choices that alter not only her world but the very fabric of life itself. She must learn to fight and love and, ultimately, lose. Life's not about learning what you can live with, it revolves around discovering what you can't live without.
This story is rated M for graphic scenes in later chapters as well as language throughout.
Darker Than Black (Book One of the Hybrid Descent Trilogy)
Listen to me my child, my child
May you grow to know,
To never let yourself slow.
This life is full of beauty,
Remember honor, family and duty.
Taste the world, its life around you.
Never fear to love all and love true.
Forget not the strength of Mother Earth,
The power she bestowed you in your rebirth.
The strength of tooth and nail,
To prevail in a world dominated by males.
The spirit of Wolf will guide you from wrong,
But you must always remain strong.
Listen to me pup of mine,
Listen well these words I rhyme.
-Lowery family poem
The night was bright as if the moon goddess was feeling graceful, dancing and laughing. A full moon floated in the sky, lighting the forest floor. Everything was quiet as the animals dreamed of peaceful things in the crisp autumn air. The brilliant green that crowded the trees and ground reflect the moonlight giving the area a strange glow. Eerie yet mesmerizing.
Everything was soft and lush, at peace until-
"Is this how we're starting off senior year, Dowan Lowery?" I jump awake, immediately alert as Mr. Knox, the strict, stick-up-his-ass, history teacher called out. He sported a stiff frown as he waited for an answer. I had fallen asleep already, not even half way through the class.
"I would have preferred to start it with breakfast but I got caught up shape shifting into a werewolf and howling at the moon all night so I over slept." I yawned and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes as my human classroom brethren laughed. I pull my hood from my head and give him my undivided attention. For the moment.
"Late to class, sleeping during class and clowning around. Wouldn't want to break tradition, hm?" Knox gives me a stern stare and I grin.
"My mama raised me better than that. I'll let her and Dad know to look forward to your calls."
I mounted the steps reaching to the two story colonial home that my family owned. The school day could not have ended faster, but it was over for today. It was really a fine house, my great-great grandmother had bought the land and had the house built. She, alongside, the worker created, designed, built this home with her own two hands. Even though it's been repainted quite a bit it still has its original dark red color. The windows and door are natural dark wood with grey slate covering the roof. The house may be a few centuries old but it looks brand new and very expensive. The back yard was a wide open expanse surrounded by a 9-foot tall privacy fence that looks as new as the house.
Our family owns thirty-seven acres, stretching far in the back woods of Maine. The excess land was given to us on account of what we women are. The immediate backyard, surrounded by the fence, is relatively clear; most of it can be viewed from the wrap around porch and the second floor balcony that's been added to my room.
The two car garage sat farther from the road, adjacent to the house. White walls with red lining and black shingles. It was a nice, quiet place usually, about as quiet as a werewolf household can be.
Unlocking the front door, I stepped into the narrow hallway and dropped my backpack on the floor next to the door.
"I'm home, Ma, Gran. Dad?"
I kicked my shoes off and padded into the kitchen. The hallway opened up into a connected kitchen and dining room/living room. To the left a modern kitchen, almost blindingly white with the shine of polished stone countertops and state of the art appliances. An island table wrapped around toward the dining room and from there pearl white tiles became warm brown rug. The walls were a sponged off white covered with pictures.
Some were paintings of wolves, in human and wolf form and some were family photos, smiling faces and warmth. Many were of mother and father before I was born but they were deafened by how many were of me through the years, photos of me, being hugged and loved, in both forms.
Straight in front of the hallway was a mahogany dining table; aside from the table, bookcases covered the back wall and the dining room became the living room. A matching couch and love seat in dark green suede sat facing the farther back wall where the stone fireplace covered a large portion of the wall with stacks of wood to the left and several feet from it a large T.V. sat.
One door and a set of stairs led from this room. The door sat in between the dining room, kitchen split. It led to a walk-in pantry/storage room and the first floor bathroom. The stairs sat against the far right corner and took you up to the second floor, which only held bedrooms and a second bathroom.
I made my way up the stairs, feeling almost like a zombie, and to my room where I shouldered the door open then closed. I could feel my change pushing forward the moment I walked through the door. Today was an overly average day with nothing to make me feel overexerted but the feeling of exhaustion was surprising and burdening as I dragged my feet over to the bed, with not even the strength to glare back at what tried to trip me on the floor.
It's not even dark and I'm so tired. I was practically ripping my clothes off so nothing could hinder my change. I spent most of my day at the school pretending to be human, dealing with their issues and ignoring the majority of people there, after I'd taken a good, long run. Caught a young buck then headed back here. All thought dissipated as my sight narrowed in on the bed.
Well there's no point waiting. I was almost fully wolf before my belly hit the bed and I was asleep before I could cover my eyes with my paws.
"Where am I?"I whispered into the air as I suddenly found myself in a room, round with a flat ceiling. A surreal feeling crept over me as I turned in a circle. Everything was a painfully bright white with six doors spread evenly apart around me. "Where do they lead?" I asked myself with a knot forming in my stomach. Something felt wrong about these door but they looked plain, simple and too innocent. What's wrong with this place?
"You have no idea what this place is, do you Little One?" An unmarked door to my right opened and there stood, right before the threshold, was an ethereal wolf. It's heavy paws and thick coat looked like light smoke, about to disappear. I could see through the large wolf but its eyes were unmistakably solid, like pulsing beckons. It laughed and smiled like a human and I swallowed a gasp of shock.
"You speak…like a human. How? Wolves can't have voices or even the capabilities to talk." It laughed yet again and spoke again, seemingly without trouble.
"Maybe in the world but this isn't there and neither are you. This is my mind and yours in a way." His voice was undeniably male I noted. He gave his back right paw a shake before sitting back.
"Do you recognize me Dowanhowee? We've never met like this but you take my form to fly through the woods almost every day." His eyes danced as my brain whirled. He chuckled and the words jumped from my mouth before I thought to speak.
"You are my wolf? My other half?" My eyes widened and suddenly I was just as much confused as I was shocked. "How?" I took a step towards his door and he held a paw up.
"I'm sorry Dow, but you cannot step through these doors. As much as they are part of you they are my mind and within I can see your past, your present and your future. If you cross the threshold of any door you'll break us both apart." He had a look on his face that came across as regretful but he gave me a wolfish smile. "But I can come to you." He seemed perfectly content as he stood up and walked over to me and as he passed through the doorway it seemed to shutter and then ceased.
I watch his wide gait, smooth and soundless like a predator. It didn't matter this creature was incorporeal, it had the air of a deadly animal.
"I'm glad to finally meet you." The words popped out of my mouth and I bit my lip as he gave a wolf like bark, he stepped behind me rubbing against me and let his long tail wrap around my legs delicately. Something about the way he rubbed against me reminded me of how a cat would but I don't think he'd find that as humorous as I do. He made a noise in his throat that could be either a rumbling laughter or his attempt at purring but I couldn't tell before he continued.
"Even though we know each other intimately, it is the first time we've formally met." His head bumped against my shoulder and with him finally standing so close I realized he had the same color eyes as mine, dark amber with gold flecks. We stared at each other before I laid my arm gently around his shoulders. With him beside me I felt more than whole, so very content, also like he was my brother. It was true you grew up with your wolf knowing your every secret, your every lie and your every love. You couldn't have conversations with the wolf but you felt their presence lingering in the back of your mind and were always brought to the forefront when you changed.
"Why am I here? Now, all of a sudden?"
"I don't know that, but I just felt you here so I came. You can only ever possibly show up here if you are asleep." I thought about my overwhelming tiredness that came with no forewarning. How I had changed right before hitting the bed. This all felt too strange, real but not at the same time.
"You said…you know my future, everything…does it have to do with what's through those doors?" Something felt right with my conclusion and I somehow already knew what he'd say. Wolf's instinct I'd guess.
"Yes, in a way. Sometimes theirs people, sometimes they show places but they are all connected to you. I have seen in the doors but even I can't decipher it. Go ahead, open them but do not cross them." He warned me, his tone loving but stern. Before I could take but one step, the door opened on their own, they creaked and sighed until fully open.
The wolf scowled. "They never do that for me. I hate not having thumbs…" He continued to grumble under his breathe but I heard nothing. I can't tell if he's teasing me. I was staring into the first three doors. The first held my grandmother, in wolf form, white coat against a solid white background. The second was my parents, holding each other, their embrace is loving. While my mother was smiling sweetly, dad scowled in my direction so full of hatred I cringed.
The third door made me stumble, it made my knees shake. I was staring at myself except the Dowan through the door was covered with cuts, bruises and burns. It looked like someone had put her through a grater then chucked her in a fire but before I had time to look away the image changed to that of the same Dowan but in a different way. All the cuts and burns were still there but they had healed into scars and this new Dowan look strong, defiant and above all powerful. Like her life had changed but she learn to live above what was wrong, as if someone was holding her up. Was it my imagination or were her fingers curled as if holding something invisible?
What could possibly have been done to make me like that? I thought about it but waved it away not wanting to dwell on the image that showed first in that door. My gaze swept over the fourth door that showed two people with identical smirks. Both the male and female stood tall, mighty and carried air of confidence and authority. They look so similar with coal black hair, arched brows and arrogant auras they were undoubtedly twins. I noted something strange about the male, his eyes mismatched; one grey and one blue. They stared hard into me but they made no movement towards us.
"Don't worry they can't see us. These aren't even the actual people, just projection of them. I can see by the look on your face you don't know them." Even racking my brain I knew that I had never seen them before just now.
"Do you know them?" I glanced at the wolf and he shook head, the structure of his face scrunching together like how humans furrow their brows.
"Yes sort of, but they are not from your past or my life. They are in your future, tied very strongly with your life." He knew my future, everything it seems. It confused me and made me so curious my head started to throb. I put my fingers to my temple and massaged it.
"So you know everything about my future? Like when and how I'll die? If I will have kids, be mated or whatever?" He stared straight at me. The wolf was such an awesome sight. With his head held high he looked regal and stunningly powerful. His eyes were level with mine when he sighed.
"In a manner, what I see in these door I can decipher where they are from but do not ask me for details because they will not come forth. It is forbidden and I wouldn't even if you begged because it would unravel us, both in mind and body and not in a particularly pleasant fashion." He let his tongue hang out and smile before nudging me, which made me stumble. I glanced towards the fifth door. I was going to shout at him when I noticed that this door had no one in it. I glanced back at him and he shrugged before lying down to curl his tail around his feet. He seemed to be particularly interested in something under one of his nails.
"So damn helpful you are." I muttered under my breath before turning back to the door. A soft all-consuming glow flowed from the door and from what I could tell it seemed to pulse. Even though the light was concentrate towards the middle of the door, the warmth that bathed me was fulfilling. The longer I stared the more I believed that whatever was on the other side must be a good thing because after the door with two views of myself I couldn't handle anything negative. Minutes must have been ticking by but I heard no impatient noises from the wolf and figured he probably went to sleep. Suddenly I sucked in a breath and swallowed the urge to hiss when a figure did appear but only barely. I hear a chuckle that was undeniably male and I saw faint movement.
"Is it reaching for me? I can't tel-" I heard nothing from the wolf as he suddenly appeared in front of me with an intimidating stance. I had a feeling that if I tried to go around him he'd tackle me to the floor.
"Out now Dowanhowee! They've never moved before and they definitely shouldn't be moving now. You'll be waking soon so forget about this place." He pushed and shoved me until I was slowly edging closer to the door that I originally saw him come through.
Why did the silhouette move for me now? What is this place? Why was my family and these strangers all showing in those doors? The more I asked myself those questions, the more I confused myself. I hadn't even realized we reached the door until my feet were tapping against the threshold.
"I thought you said I couldn't pass over the doors?" I scowled at him and he nudged me hard enough that I would probably wake with a bruise and he scowled back.
"You're such a smart ass. Goodbye." He stared with a mixture of relief and regret. I wanted to say something but it felt like I was being dragged away from the door and into the abyss behind me. Before he disappeared from view I saw him look in the direction of the fifth door.
I bolt up gasping awake as I look around frantically. My dream comes back to me in pieces as I search my room for I'm not even sure what. Everything was exactly how I'd left it. Clothes scattered around the beige carpet in need of vacuuming. Bed adjacent the door, my floor to ceiling dark wood bookshelves attached to the wall paneling on my right. Straight across from me was a cherry wood desk cluttered with paper, book and knick-knacks. My balcony's glass door open on my right and a wide window was set just in front of the foot of the bed. I eyed the tipped over trash can as the conspirator trying to trip me… today? Yesterday? What time was it?
I check my penguin clock half drowning under my mound of crap on the desk and it reads 10:38 and assuming the apocalypse hadn't passed while I'd slept the sunlight blazing in the room meant I'd slept a solid fourteen hours. Not all that surprising considered I technically didn't sleep last night. I'd been out all night running then came back here and headed off for my first day as a senior. So, not shocking and yet baffling.
I stretch slowly rolling the kinks out of my shoulder and back before jumping out of bed. Dressing quickly I pad silently barefoot down to the first floor. Even in the hall upstairs I could hear my Dad's low bass voice and mom's soft, high laugh.
"Oh look who graces us with her divine presence." My mother mocks as my feet hit the bottom stair and I meet my mother's eyes. My mommy is simply the prettiest woman I've ever seen. She's where I get my heavy Native American blood. Her skin is that natural deep tan, velvet brown. It matched her equally dark hazel eyes. From here I couldn't see it but flecks of vibrant gold swirl in those dark depths, eyes that I saw reflected back at me when I looked in the mirror. Flecks of gold are a trait in werewolves and when the wolf came forth, we take its form and the change would start by our eyes being swallowed by this light golden yellow. Today her waist length silky black hair was in a messy chignon. She was in knee short cut-off jeans and a fitting tee.
Papa glanced over his shoulder at me, smiling beautifully. For a man in his forties he was a looker, charming, playful but serious and responsible. He had dark-as-night hair, short and always brushed back. A soft face, strong jaw and Caucasian. It with his blood do I get some a bit fairer skin than most Native Americans and height. My momma was a short little thing, no more than five-three but curvy as all hell. Papa is an average five-ten which put me at around five- eight. A bit taller than most girls my age but I enjoy seeing over their heads.
Papa was human, shocking to many people but not otherwise frowned upon. It's actually fairly common for werewolves to have children with human, less common to mate and live your life with one. It's easier for females to do it whereas males are primarily territorial on everything, women are family orientated. Males might get violent over everything but females will show you the meaning of Hell hath no fury if you so much as poke her pups.
"'Ello." I grin as I come up to them. I kiss dad's cheek and round the island to duck my head in front of mom. She scowls at me and I keep my eyes down until she puts her hand on the back of my neck and gently pushes me towards the stove.
"There's a plate for you in the oven. It was warm at six thirty this morning." I got a scolding look and I stick my tongue out. She just shakes her head. Papa knows what we are, mom told him way before I was born, and also it'd be difficult to explain giving birth to puppies. He accepts us without reservation.
"I assume you decided not to go to school." Now it was dad's turn to tear into me. I pouted. It was long ago decided that I would attend a human school, apparently an education is required.
I honestly wouldn't care if I didn't have to wash my nostrils of the human reek every day. I wanted to burn my nose off and accept that I'd never smell again if I didn't have to stand the stain all those reeking bodies left on my tender sense. They knew how I felt and still insisted. Werewolf children didn't need to go to human schools and rarely did, but I guess that's what happens when you have a human parent.
I make a whining sound befitting my other half and he growls much like a human. It makes mom laugh every time. I open the oven and take out the foil covered plate. The aroma of bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy curl up into my nose making my mouth water. My mom is the best.
They let me eat in peace, for just a moment as they continue to chat. It's mostly about mom's work. She's a painter and her style is landscapes. She does wolves on the side, half the pictures downstairs she painted, but those are for other werewolves. It's kind of a tradition sort of thing, much like the Lowery Statuettes. It's a werewolf tradition, passed down through the females blah, blah, duty, blah, right and to be cherished.
Every female carves one when her oldest daughter comes of age and hands them down so that one day she will carve hers and pass them to her daughter. Every one so far has been crafted with a different wood; birch, elm, rowan, oak, you name it. Currently we have seven, including my mother's. Hers is a wolf with a toothy grin and one paw outstretched motioning you closer. Grandmas, made of a polished mahogany, was a human woman in the midst of the change. Her hands twined over her head, she had a tail and claws. In each and every one the Wolf Tree was carved and inlaid with silver like paint.
I think back to my dream last night.
When a lycanthrope conceives a child, whether it be with another wolf or a human, they carry the child like a human, while the pregnancies tend to be two semester, closer to a wolves period, than three the child forms as a human in the womb. It's during this time that a Wolf Spirit binds itself to the child. The Wolf Spirit is an ageless entity of benevolence; they are good, proud, and wise beings from realms beyond our own. They are drawn to us by blood and a connection deeper than we understand. They confront the mother and with her acceptance they will fade into her body and cover the child like a cloak. The process it painless and over in moments.
The Spirit enters the child's tiny form, weaving the fabric of its existence with the babies and from the union is born the Wolf Tree. It's a mark of pride, a tattoo that we are born with at the base of out spines. The tree begins as but a hatchling barely breaking the surface of the ground and like a sprouting plant it lives and breathes. As we grow, with age, understanding and maturity the tree unfurls, stretching out and growing into a blooming, thriving tree on our backs.
Legend says the first of the werewolves, a Native American, was on his death bed covered head to toes in the tree as if the Spirit for which it grew cradled him into the afterlife. One thing we do not know is if the Spirits are reborn or do they die with us. They do not say.
"There's a major gallery opening in Mass on Monday so I gotta leave on Sunday but I'll be back on Wednesday." Mom says as she wipes down the counter.
"How long is this gallery?"
"Two days, Monday and Tuesday. If I was running I'd probably be back Tuesday night but I need to take some art with me so I need to take the Rover." Dad nods as they go back and forth about this art showing, what kind, how much they're paying, that sort of thing. I stuff my face with the mound of protein. It's not a lie that werewolves eat a lot. What is a myth is when you see werewolves change instantaneously. If only. No it take a werewolf, depending on age and experience, as little as ten minutes to shift your organ, muscles and bone structure into a completely different species.
When I first changed it took a half hour to complete because my human brain was screaming in pain and confusion. We may be born with it, expecting it but it's easier said than done.
"The leader of the Council died yesterday." The room falls still, mom gasps.
"Oh my, why? What happened?"
"Old age, natural causes. Reydra was very old by her races standards."
"When will the new head be voted?" I ask around a mouthful of pig. They jointly scowl at me and my lack of manners.
"Well the cycle has come full circle since Reydra was a warlock so this next head will be fae. They haven't decided yet, within the next couple days I'm sure. So far it seems likely between Meseran and Gaseil." He frowns to himself making mom nod like she knows what he's talking about.
"Wuh?" Another biting look. I grin as I stuff biscuits in my mouth just for the pure enjoyment of their reaction.
"I don't like the woman, Meseran. She's too… cold, calculating, but then again Gaseil is also very strict. He keep saying how things will change if he's elected. For the better, he says, and I believe him but he's comes across very intense sometimes."
"Fae are usually like that," Mom tells him with furrowed brows. "I'm not surprised. They live hundreds, even thousands of years and they don't have emotions like us. I think they feel but they don't have extremes like love and hate. What they feel is very watered down."
"Politics." I say with disgust as I run the water in the sink. I wash my plate thinking solely on my dream and despite remembering it I only got pieces back. Broken sections, tattered pieces that barely make sense together. White room. Wolf. Him grinning, rubbing against me. Doors. Happiness. Pain. Shock. I feel raw emotion and yet they feel distant. Echoes in my head, diluted.
"Mom, do you ever dream of your Wolf?" I lean back against sink, crossing my arms to look into her amber-gold eyes. Her eyes widen and she smiles.
"Does she speak to you? Did you dream of her?"
"Him." Now she frowns.
"You have a male Wolf? Odd."
I shrug and tell her what I remember of my dream as dad watches silently. I tell her of the doors, what the Wolf said they meant. I hesitate and tell her what I saw in each that I remember except the one where dad seemed to hate me and I'd been tortured. Mom stays silent, still and focused. I can see the nature of the beast beneath her skin when she falls patiently, cautiously still.
"I thought I saw something move in that door and all of a sudden he's shoving me awake, yelling at me. Is it normal to dream of your Wolf?"
"It's not a bad thing but my mother told me it usually happens when the Wolf has something to tell you or you are becoming strong enough to push yourself into their realm. You say it wasn't expecting you?" I nod.
"He... was surprised I was there. He said something like he felt me and that's why he showed up."
She moves with the grace and speed of a werewolf. We aren't as agile or quick footed as some races but we are known of our grace and dexterity. We have the ability to move faster than humans but not as quick as, say a vampire or the Imperions. If the Imperions weren't just myths and fairytales.
Her arms come around me and she lifts me off my feet. It shocks a squeak from me then a snarl of surprise.
"I'm so proud of you, pup." Her voice is thick with tears when she laughs.
"Great Spirits let me down before you break my ribs. They'll heal but that doesn't mean it won't hurt." I choke. I front and drop sarcastic retorts with ease but my momma's word easily bring tears to my eyes.
She sits me on my feet and lifts her face to give me a radiating smile. I have to look away as a whine claws up my throat.
"Damn, you are short." I give her an evil little smile and she slaps me on the back of the head with a twist of her face.
"Language and common courtesy."
"The Hunt and bloody things." I snap my teeth together as the urge to run on all fours overwhelms me. I see it does to her to when her lips curve and the gold flecks widen in her eyes. It rings her pupils before she stops it. I imagine mine look the same.
"You've grown into a beautiful wolf, pup."
"A beautiful woman." Dad added from his perch at the island. He's watching us like we're his world. I see mom look at him like that all the time. I wonder who I'll give that look to one day.
"But not old enough to skip school and curse under my roof." He narrowed his eyes. I drop my head to him, my papa. I let out a whine, a pout and he rolls his eyes.
"That does not and never will work on me." He looks over my shoulder and his eyes widened. I see lust spark. I make a sound of disgust and mom laughs.
"Will looking behind me blind me?" Dad stands, eyes still focused over my shoulder.
"Run now little pup before you're deaf and blind." I choke and sprint for the stairs. I make it to my door when my mother shrieks and purrs.
Oh Great Spirits, kill me now.
I strip in my room and stumble out of my panties in my haste as giggling echoes closer until their laughing outside my door as they pass.
Life isn't always running and playing as a lycanthrope. Sure it's a lot of freedom, raw emotion, exhilaration and I would change it for the world but somethings can be harsh and painful. The change is one of them. It's magic, through and through, but nothing like some movies. I once watched the movie Blood and Chocolate about a Loup-garou. When they showed the change from human to wolf I laughed until I thought I was going to pee myself. They make it pretty, mystical, a thing to be awed at. I wanted to tear the movie to shreds.
I started my change five minutes ago. It's not beautiful or remotely dazzling. It's painful, ugly and horrifying. Bones crack, they shift and reform. You don't slide into an entirely different species with a snap of your fingers. I pant and huff as the pain ebbs and flows until my bones are finished and sinew and heavy muscle lengthen and thicken. Fur ripples over my skin as I stretch the ache out of my joints.
"Dowan?" My door opens and I growl. I, like many wolves after their change, can get testy. I glance over my shoulder as my teeth are encased, sharpened and my claws grow over and cover my nails. I'm nearly done as the structure of my face relaxes and I bare my teeth at my Gran. She's an older woman, in her second century of life that could easily pass for forty-five.
"Apologies. I'll speak with you later." She smiled sweetly and closed the door. The change is complete. I nudge open the glass door I cracked when I started undressing and bound off the balcony. I hit the ground and as my paws touch down, I dig into dirt and push forward. I'm at the back of the fence, facing into the vast wood of rural Maine and I leap.
Tall buildings in a single bound!
I am power, strength, raw ferocity!
I rule in these woods. I stalk I hunt I kill.
I am the predator.
I hope you're here to stay for the laughs and tears, the loss and love. I mean what would life be without the good and bad and every shade of emotion in-between? Do me a solid and review, would you? I appreciate it. Laters!
Update 10/1/14 - It was brought to my attention that through the transition between my computer and FP that what I had originally been using for transitions through scenes vanished so I'm in the process of adding some to sort through the confusion of scene changes. Bare with me and I go through all the chapters. Thank you. :)