Author: Luna Moonsilver PM
Marina had managed her transformation on the first day, but now it's Kel's turn. She hopes to be as perfect as her sister. She has no way to prepare for what is really going to happen. One-shot.Rated: Fiction K - English - Fantasy - Words: 1,322 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 05-02-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3018836
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Marina had managed her transformation on the first day. A look of calm bliss had crossed her face and there had been a ripple in the air around her. When Kel blinked and looked again, an elegant deer stood in her sister's place. She gasped from her hiding place on the balcony. It had been perfect.
That was ten years ago, though Kel still remembered it vividly, even more so on the eve of her fifteenth birthday. She would try in the morning - hopefully, like Marina, she would shift first time; but her parents had told her, if not, then no matter. It had taken her mother six months to get the hang of it, her father a year. She'd manage it, they were sure.
Kel sighed and closed her eyes, budging further down her bed. Her doubts niggled at her, but she ignored them. They were probably right, her parents. They knew what they were talking about, after all.
Morning came and Kel woke with an uneasy feeling. Marina came to get her at ten, taking her by the hand.
"Remember - don't be nervous. Do as Master Kai says and you'll be fine. It's easy once you know how."
They left the house and walked the grounds, the grass damp underfoot. Master Kai sat under the old oak tree - the same place he'd been sitting ten years ago. Marina let go of Kel's hand.
"Rin-" Kel began. She didn't know how to continue.
"Go on," Marina said. "Don't keep him waiting too long."
Kel nodded and, biting her lip, stepped under the shadow of the tree. When she glanced back, she saw a deer disappear over the hill. Master Kai inspected her before he stood. His face seemed grave.
"You are Kel?"
"Yes, sir," Kel said. She shifted from foot to foot.
"Stand still." He circled her and Kel was sure she could see something of a wolf in his features. "Chin up, look straight ahead." Kel did as she was told, breathing deep the scent of leaves and grass. It was autumn now and already leaves were scattered across the ground.
Master Kai stepped back and Kel followed the movement with her eyes. "Do you know what I'll be?" she asked quietly. He didn't answer, but stared at her for a moment.
"Go back inside," he said finally. His tone was gentle. "I must speak with your parents."
Kel didn't know what he said, but when she saw her parents next, her mother was crying and her father was cursing. Marina was speaking with Master Kai, so Kel let herself out onto the balcony and sat there in the rain.
The water was cool but not really unpleasant and it drowned out the sounds of her mother crying. Kel hugged her knees to her chest and tried to puzzle out what was going on. Master Kai must have seen something in her - what, she wasn't sure - but it must have been awful.
Would she transform into some kind of monster?
The thought gripped Kel and wouldn't let her go - what kind of creature would be so hideous they wouldn't let her change; was it just something they didn't want to look at?
There were no dangers associated with the transformation, as far as she'd heard; no stories of peoples' animal counterparts taking over or of strange things happening during the process. It led Kel's mind to only one conclusion: her sister, Marina; beautiful, lovely Rin. Rin the elegant deer. Kel, the hulking, lumbering… what?
She stood, wiping a mix of rain and tears from her face. Master Kai only came to see the creature, to focus the mind; the process was simple enough. Be calm, in body and soul. Find the animal and release it. The first time was the hardest and the older a person got, the more difficult it became.
Kel closed her eyes. She listened to the rain, pounding on the balcony, but then turned her ears inwards and listened to her own heartbeat. One try couldn't hurt. Her heart slowed and she forgot about her parents, about Marina and Master Kai and the crying.
She saw a bird. It wasn't one she recognised; though it was about the size of an eagle, its feathers were a deep, burning red. It turned its head in the recesses of her mind and chirped once. Kel swallowed and stretched her arms wide.
She felt the flames; they were warm but not hot and the bird chirped again. There was no pain, not exactly, just a tingling sensation that wracked her entire body, and then Kel was gone and the bird stood in her place.
The noise from inside seemed louder, so Kel spread her wings and flew. If the rain seemed a little cooler, she didn't notice, too caught up in this new sensation. The wind whistled past, buffeting her, keeping her up and it was only then that Kel realised - she'd done it alone! She'd transformed, first time, alone. She let out a cry of delight, revelling in the musical pitch; this was all she'd wanted and more. The bird she'd seen was beautiful. She was as good as Rin, as perfect.
Fleetingly, she thought of her family and she turned back towards the house, coming in to land on the balcony again. If they only saw, they'd understand. They'd see that whatever their doubts, she was fine.
The transformation back took a little more time, but that was normal too, Kel thought as she lay, panting, on the balcony. She'd get used to the switch.
The rain still poured, soothing against her warm skin. Kel wiped her brow. It must have just been the flying.
She stood and screamed as a burning sensation raced up her legs. It felt like flames all over - like she was burning alive - and oh, it hurt! Marina was the first out and reached for her, but drew back just as quickly.
"Kel," she whispered. Kel looked at her, vision blurry through the haze of pain. "Look."
She pointed at Kel's arm. Kel followed her gaze, staring at the raindrops that sizzled and evaporated when they came into contact with her skin. "What…?" she began, but her voice was a useless sandpaper rasp.
Master Kai pushed his way past her parents and pulled Marina aside. "You're the phoenix, Kel," he said, "And you will burn and burn and burn unless you stay that way."
Kel understood, then, her mother's sadness, her father's anger, Marina's bargaining. She closed her eyes and embraced the bird.
"You can never remain human," Master Kai said. Kel dived off the balcony and disappeared into the night.
She sees a deer sometimes, through the trees - though the creature never comes too close. A swan comes looking for her occasionally, thought the horse stays away. Kel can't bring herself to blame him.
The wolf, the cunning, clever wolf, tricks her down into the clearing and stares at her until sun-up. When he transforms back into Master Kai, he still stares.
"You can't hide forever."
No. But she also can't explain that she hates her own shadow - never mind her own reflection. She hisses a low note and propels herself into the trees again.
He follows her still, even as his joints stiffen and she tries to get away. When he dies, finally, at the foot of the mountains, she flies down and looks at his body. He was the one who never abandoned her, the one who refused to let her live out her existence alone.
She cries out her phoenix song and with a powerful flap of wings, lifts off into the sky.
Kel has a deer to find.