Randolf

Ember Fullbuster is your average fifteen year old girl. It’s the first day of school and a strange boy appears at her front door, saying that she is a werewolf and will have her first shift this full moon. During their conversation, she discovers that he is a werewolf himself. Ember brushes him off, thinking that he is just pranking her, she goes to school as normal, but the day of the full moon, she begins seeing strange things. Her head pounds and she gets a high fever. Her vision fades into a red glow. She gets sent home from school. But when the full moon rises, her life will never be the same again.

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5. Glimpse

The sound of pawbeats drowned out the noise of the forest. A calvary of wolves galloped through the trees. She ran just behind Luna and Caleb. Ash and Joash by her sides. Together they galloped for what seemed like hours.

“Halt” Luna said through the mind link.

Did you find something?” She asked.

Luna nodded. The two trackers parted so she could see.

“Fox prints?” She asked.

The trackers nodded. Memories of Eden and Raef came flooding back to her. Raef…. Her muscles stopped working and her body drooped, looking like a rag hug on a clothesline. A small nudge pulled her back to reality.

“You okay?” Ash asked. There was deep sympathy in his voice.

“Fine” She shook her head to try and clear her thoughts, “Any idea who the prints belong to?”

“No, but we can split up and follow them, we have a big pack. The five of us will follow the trail while the rest of you, make yourself scarce, hide in the greenery, but stay close to us in case of emergency” Luna projected her thoughts over the pack. Everyone seemed in agreement, or not willing to challenge someone so close to the alpha.

 

    The groups separate. The five of them follow the trail silently. Only the faint sound of their breath could be heard. A twig snaped from behind them. A red fox jumps out from behind a bush. Everyone turns, fangs bared. Even Ember started showing teeth.

“Relax, Em, it’s me.” A wave of relaxation washed over the group.

“What are you doing way out here?” Ember asked.

“I could ask you the same thing.” Eden said eyeing the wolves by her side.

“Looking for my parents.” Ember said with as much baravery as possible, but even her mental voice was only a squeak, “Want to help?”  

“I’d love to-”

“Hold on, you can’t just have a stranger join the pack. What if she can’t be trusted.” Ash interrupted.

“She can.” Joash’s deep voice made everyone except Ember flinch. Even Eden.

“How would you know that?” Ash managed to squeak out the question.

“Just do.” His voice rumbled the forest. Despite his vague answer, Ember had a sinking suspicion his water powers told him Eden’s true intentions. She had no idea how they told him, but she just knew. She also suspected the others didn’t know about his powers.

“You coming?” Joash asked. She nodded and trotted up to the others a few yards in front of her.

 

The six of them rejoined the others in a cave just as the sun passed behind the treeline.

“Who’s this?” A brown wolf challenged.

“A friend, she is on our side.” Joash’s voice boomed and fear seeped into the challenger’s eyes.

 

    The morning sun threatened to blind everyone whose eyes had not yet adjusted.

“Rise and shine.” Joash said, “We got a lead.” Ember leaped to her paws and darted out the opening. She was met with Luna and Caleb running along her sides, guiding her through the forest. The trees blurred into a solid green canopy.

“Ember?” A masculine voice made her stop dead in her tracks. She turned to see her father sitting up against a tree, her mother asleep next to him. They were unharmed with the exception of a few bruises. Without thinking, she leapt into her father's open arms, teeth, claws and all.

“Ember, I so happy you’re okay.” Jayden said, squeezing the life out of her now human body.

“I’m okay, you’re the one who got kidnapped.” She said sarcastically, “I love you Daddy, I’m so happy you are alright.”

“Hey sweetie.” And arm touched her on the shoulder.

“MOM!” Ember wiggled her way out of her father's embrace and wrapped her mother in the same bone breaking hug her father had given her.

“We should be heading home.” Her mother whispered in her ears.

“Right, yea.” Ember said as she led them back to where her pack had spent the night. Holding them tight, as if she were to let go, they would disappear. As soon as the group emerged through the cave opening, a mix of cheers and sighs of relief flooded the cavern.

“Now that we’ve found them, it’s time we head back. We don’t want to be out here too long.” Joash’s voice boomed with happiness as he shifted back to walk with the rest of the two-leggers.

 

    The walk back was long with no moments worth remembering. They arrived at the den just as the sun disappeared behind the hillside.

“We made good time.” Joash said, “Steph, Jayden you are welcome to stay here tonight.”

“It’s quite alright Joash, thank you for taking such good care of Ember.” Steph replied.

“Ah, don’t worry about it, Ember can handle herself just fine.” Joash said, “Will I see you again soon?”

“Definitely.” Jayden said as he wrapped Joash in a goodbye bro hug.

“Until then.” Joash said as he waved goodbye.

Steph and Jayden turned toward the car, leaving Ember to say goodbye.

“You did well Little Lite” Joash said, clapping her on the back, “You’re a born leader.”

“Thanks, but it wasn’t me alone.” She felt Fulki stir.

“And you never will be.” Fulki rose her head in pride of Joash’s words.

“Until next time.” She said.

“Until next time.” He said.

Ember turned and heading back towards her parents. A soft sorrow rising silently in her chest.

 

    The days following her parents return proceeded as normal. They felt almost too normal. Go to school, come home, to homework, go to sleep. She saw little of Jacobs or Raef at school. Life was normal, well normalish. She looked at her phone it was 7:45am. Just as she was about to walk out the door, an arm pulled her back.

“Just stay safe today Em” He father kissed her forehead before letting her go.

“What is he so afraid of?” Fulki asked.

“No idea. It’s like he knows something's coming.”

 

    It was still cold since the sun hadn’t come up out of the clouds yet, and the campus was still shrouded in shadows.

“This is what I get for coming to school early.” She told herself.

“Actually, I think it’s a quite pleasant surprise.” A familiar voice broke the darkened silence. Ember turned. Melody stood mere feet away.

“What do you want!” Ember yelled.

“To apologize.” Melody spoke calmly.

“Apologize?” Obvious shock was in her voice.

“Yes.” Melody nodded slowly, “I am not your enemy-”

“Then why’d you take my parents!” Ember interrupted.

“Please allow me to finish.” Ember nodded, “I was just doing what I was told.” She took Ember’s hand and placed it right where her neck met her left shoulder, Ember could feel a small lump under her skin, “It’s a tiny bomb, it won’t do much damage normally, but if it blows under my skin, it will remove my head from my shoulders. They told me, if I didn’t go exactly as they said, they’d detonate the bomb.” By the time she finished, Melody was in tears, “I’m so so sorry. Please forgive me.”

Despite her better judgement, “I forgive you.” Melody smiled weakly through her tears, “But who’s they?” Ember asked.

“The Tranmere Government. They made a promise not the touch the shifters, but I’m not a shifter. They also don’t know I’m here. Speaking of which, I have to go.” Melody gave her one last hug before shifting in her small black wolf and whooshing away like she had never been there in the first place. Part of her wondered if Melody had really been there at all. Or had she just hallucinated the whole thing.

“Ember?” A shake pulled her away from her trance.

“Yea, what?” She turned to see Eden looking at her worriedly.

“Come on, we have geometry.”

“Right.” They walked off into an hour of hell.

The class was boring as usual, but Melody’s appearance took up all her metal space. Math can wait. Why would she just walk up to me and tell me all that? Fulki woke up just as something dawned on the animal, “What if she’s not the only one.” Fulki said.

“What?”

“Think about it. The government could have blown her head off if they found out, but she came to talk to us anyway. If there was only her imprisoned then I doubt she would have sought us out personally, maybe try and send us a secret message or something, but no. She came up to us in person to both apologize and call for help.” Fulki explained.

“You might be right.” Ember said.

“Might be?” Ember rolled her eyes, “Come on Em, we need to tell the pack. And soon.”

“We have a free period after class, we’ll go then.” The two “nodded” in agreement.

 

    The bell sounded as Ember stood up.

“Ms. Fullbuster the bell does not dismiss you, I do.” Mrs. Meyer said. But it was too late. Ember was already out the door and halfway across the lawn. She bolted toward the trees. Barely a millisecond after passing into their protection from any unwelcome eyes, “Fulki.” Ember fell back as the wolf surged forward. Her point of view flew into third person as she fell on her paws and continued running. There was a faint line stretching out in front of her. Fulki followed the line without fail.

“It’s showing us where to go.” Fulki said.

“Ah.” said Ember. A brief silence passed where only the sound of pawbeats intruded.

“Wolves are like human trackers. We can envision a place with the intent to go there and we’ll be led there.” Fulki explained. Ember nodded. They ran for who knows how long until a small gathering of huts emerged in an upcoming clearing.

“The Den.” Ember said.

“We made it.” Fulki replied.

“We have to find Joash.” Ember said. Fulki nodded and trotted along a new line. They continued toward the largest hut in the clearing. They pushed through a tarp acting as a door. Without looking up, Joash said, “Aren’t you supposed to be in school.” Ember shifted back into her own two feet before shrugging, “Free period.” Joash sighed.

“Ok, Ember. What are you really doing here.”

“Do you know how many werewolves the government has in custody?” She asked.

“What is this about.?” Now interested. Something told her she shouldn’t tell him about her meeting with Melody.

“It’s just that…” She trailed off. A terrifying realization slammed her in the face. She felt like someone just chucked an anvil at her. Melody said the government promised to leave shifters alone, but Melody wasn’t just shifter. Neither was she. And. Neither was Joash. We are all mage wolves.

“Yep.” Fulki said. Both of them stood frozen in the realization.

“Ember?” Joash asked. She blinked away her “paralysis” and slowly walked up to her alpha. She placed her hand were his neck met his left shoulder. Joash had the same lump as Melody. Joash was bombed.

 

    Ember turned on her heels and ran. She ran like there was no tomorrow. Shifted and ran faster with her wolf body. She darted back to school, longing for the safety of humanity. She began to see the school through the treeline. Shifted and kept running until she was in the middle of the cluster of buildings Only then did she stop to take a breath. She collapsed onto the grass. She just laid there. Relaxing into the earth. Exhaustion pulled at her tired eyes until she fell into a deep sleep.

 

    “Ember wake up. You’ve been asleep for hours and people are really starting to get worried. Do you really want to deal with the EMS people again.?” Fulki said.

“Good point.” Ember replied as she opened her eyes to see Eden and the nurse looking at her worriedly.

“Good you’re awake.” The nurse said.

“Well duh. Unless this is a dream. Wait....” She thought of a T-Rex running through the room. Nothing happened. “Not a dream.” She said kind of disappointed.

“No, this is real life-”

“I bet dream you would say the same thing.” Ember interrupted. Laughing to herself.

“Ember, this is important.” The nurse said.

“What’s wrong.” Her tone suddenly changed. The room became deathly serious.

“This was in your hand when we found you.” The nurse said, handing her a piece of paper with a blue diamond made up of two intertwining lines. The lines seams to weave together. She looked up at them, confused. All the color in the nurses face had been drained out. She looked like a ghost standing in the yellow artificial light of the office. “You don’t know what that logo is?” The nurse said, terror crawled its way into her voice. Ember shook her head, she had never seen it before. “Figures. You are too young.” The nurse said, “That is the logo for the Tranmere Government. What did you do to get on their radar, I want no part of. If anyone asks, the two of you will tell them that you woke up and I sent you home. Understood.” Eden and Ember nodded.

“Open it.” said Fulki.

“What?”

“What if it’s from one the imprisoned shifter mages.”

“Good point.” Ember said as she slowly unfolded the paper; as if one wrong move would make it explode. The fold creases seemed to underline two words. Help us.

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