We landed on a hard stretch of land with a thump, a squish, a crack, a growl, and a hard exhale. Most of that I think was Dom who landed first and under the rest of us, but I’m sure we each contributed. He’s not a half bad cushion. True to our training we landed and rolled, jumping up into fighting form immediately. With no one else around, we launched on one another. The snarling and the sounds of punches landing echoed back to us, bouncing off the walls that encircled us that we had yet to notice. We were warriors born, bred and trained. We were also brothers, so the fighting went on until fewer of us could stand than not. Though most of us were down, physically drained from the exchanges, our mouths were still in prime fighting form and the verbal bickering and bashing continued long after the beat downs had stopped.
Ass, true to his nature, started in on Rigor with a relentless verbal assault blaming him for everything and anything that came to mind. Probably, a few that didn’t. Rigor, unlike himself, seemed to take it all and not say much. He was as aware as the rest of us that our current situation was largely his fault. Only when Ass stopped to take a breath did Rigor interject.
“You know, you didn’t have to come.”
“As if I had a fucking choice ya big blow hard. ‘Remember the pact, remember the pact…’ you were like a damn Edrin bird anytime we came to high house. ‘Remember the pact and Kyrna don’t shift.’”
Lone, Dom and I looked at each other. I could tell we were all thinking Ass had done a fair impression, though of Rigor or the Edrin we weren’t going to offer opinion. Deno was notoriously quiet. Killer was too. Looking at him, he was fighting his own battle half in and half out of a shift. Good thing to know that we hadn’t lost that ability on our way here. Where here was remained a mystery.
Only after we had wound out of our want to continue the bashing did the situation really sink in. Sitting amongst my brothers in a place that I had yet to notice, I was overcome with the foreign sense of being lost.
I had seen her. The one match to my immortal soul had been revealed and there was nothing I could do about it. I wonder what she is. She was obviously not like my brothers and I. I wonder if, like me, she saw my other form and knew in that moment she had gained and lost it all by my choice without her getting so much as a vote. Her tear had tracked from luminous, but frightened eyes so wide I think I could have seen the flecks in the amber if I’d had a moment longer to look. Her voice was a symphony in the only word she uttered, ‘No.’
I found myself imagining all that might have been, now that it would never be, and for a moment, second guessing my allegiance to my brothers. If I had known the cost first, would I have jumped? Of course I would have.
There is no simple description for Aedan Byrnes. Obsessive, dreamer, reclusive, compulsive, outdoorsman and wordsmith would be among the list if one were started. The displaced Gael lives in the upper Midwest with family between jaunts wherever the road takes him. A frequent traveler, he is as likely to be found rock climbing or spelunking as sitting fireside dreaming or aimlessly floating away.