The Prophecy of the Starnik

Chapter 13. The Wrong Kind of Gift

So, last night was nothing short of weird and interesting. Howling was exactly singing, so that's what wolves have been doing in those moments, simply singing their hearts out in a literal meaning. Rosie taught Scott right after the little she knew of howling with someone, it's how you were supposed to find the person to spend your life with. Two hearts, one song, this was how she learnt it, apparently, Sarah and Terry never got to find out, it was indeed a speedy relationship. It wasn't something to be taken lightly, sometimes wolves howled together but never did love one another, or sometimes it was the opposite and despite their howls not matching they'd find a way. On occasions, it could be a friendly howl like last night was and sometimes it would work out pretty good, and even sometimes it was something they had previously worked on, the more likely friendly howl. None-the-less, last night wouldn't be forgotten in while.

Rosie had taught a human to howl! Surely something that has never been attempted before, and to top it off he was actually pretty good and could howl with her. He was defiantly nervous throughout, that was easily noticeable, sure he may have been a little flat at the start but he made up for it. The start was all about trying to get over the awkwardness and worry it would go wrong and eventually build it up stronger. It was all about never being alone no matter how hard things maybe, and with their job to do it was important they do.

Anyway, after their howl they continued to talk and lie together on that clifftop until it far beyond dark. It got to the point Scott had fallen asleep and Rosie was too worried about waking him, so she laid herself close and almost over him to keep him warm. Here she then fell asleep and the two remained the rest of the night. The early hours of the morning woke them both quickly, today had grown colder and no matter how much Rosie held Scott he didn't warm up. So, within an hour they went home where he could add some layers to warm up, he had some of the leftover stew to help whilst Rosie went her separate way before they reached the den to find herself something to eat. She was successful and ate her squirrel when she came home.

By this point, Scott was walking around the den whilst she ate going through things they seemed short supply of. Usually once every few weeks he'd journey into town to replenish their supplies and even make a little cash whilst he was there. Seemed a good idea at this point, it was a nice day some people would be out in the town, good time for some busking. "Hey Rosie." Scott called. "Have you seen my bag?" He looked high and low and had done for a while now. She looked and answered with a mouthful.

"It was hanging up last time I saw it." Then she swallowed. "Why, what's wrong?"

"We're getting low on some stuff, not to mention I could do with some cash right now." He looked again at the peg it was usually hung from, it must have fallen behind the trunk below.

"How long are you going to be? Not planning another game are you now?" She grinned while ripping off another bite.

"Not this time, besides… It's your turn." He chuckled and dragging the large chest back to search behind. There it was, this time he was sure to push the trunk all the way back to stop this happening again.

"Are you going to be late? The howl is tonight remember."

"That's a wolf thing." He said coming out and slinging the rucksack over his shoulder. "I won't ruin yours and Kit's big night." He further teased and therefore led to her somewhat blushing a bit. She instantly looked away to cover it and resumed to polish off the remainder of her breakfast. "Look, in case I don't make it in time, I really hope it goes ok for you guys. You two deserve it." He said filling the rucksack with a couple of things, a bottle, a book, even a knife he dropped inside should he need it.

"I hope so too, I like him, I'm not sure what tonight will bring. I just hope everything works out ok."

"I'm sure you will." He then slung the bag over his shoulder. "I better get going, I want to hear all about it when I get back. Got it?"

"Yes Mom." She giggled. "See you later."

The two had learnt after several moments and occurrences that it had happened that once they were a set distance away from one another, the longer they are apart the weaker they become. It had even gotten to the point before where Scott was away an entire day and completely lost all his abilities. It was during one of the first few times they began playing hunter and hunted. He inquired Rosie about it once he had found her and she too realised it, hence why that particular game came to a finish very fast. It worried them, how it happened was something that took a while to figure out and experimenting several times. The maximum distance was around kilometre, give or take, and it would take around four hours for their powers to diminish completely. So, if Scott was going to acquire any money the sooner the better, the longer it was the weaker he became. That child he lifted the last time he did this was a strain, learning from his mistakes was something he had to do living off-grid.

Today was a good day it seems, forty dollars he made in change and notes, that would last him a little while longer. The crowds dispersed while he finished counting everything before slipping it all into the little pocket on the side of his bag, and it was in this moment he heard footsteps. No surprise so he didn't react, this was a busy place in this part of town, these ones however approached him and before he knew it he had a shadow cast over him. "That was quite the performance young man." He had a deep voice. Remaining knelt, Scott turn up to the black silhouette to talk to the large man. Heavily built, good posture with his hands-on hips. Ex-military perhaps?

"Thanks, it's just a hobby. Something to pass the time really." He turned back to his bag while he answered to zip everything up, it was time to move on.

"Ever thought about do that professionally? It's not every day you watch someone "magically" lift objects like that in somewhere as exposed as this. That's talent."

"It's not as hard as you think." Scott chuckled. "Although it did take quite a bit practise." He then took his bag in hand and slung it over his shoulder while standing up.

"I bet. So listen, a guy like you with talent like that ought to be recognised."

"Are you some kind of spotter?"

"I guess you could say that, it's my job to look for people you could say. Not officially though."

"Right, well thanks but no thanks. I'm not looking for anything more than this." Scott replied and beginning to walk away. However, he was followed, this guy seemed persistent.

"Are you sure? I mean, you have some potential."

"I'm pretty sure, thank you for the offer, Mr..."

"Howard, David Howard." The two shook hands. "Well, if you change your mind here's my card, my personal one. Again, nothing I do is official." He passed it to him with his other while they still shook hands with the other. The man then gave Scott a friend pat on the shoulder over the top a bit but…ok.

"Yeah, ok. I will. Take care now man." And with that Scott turned and left, well that was clearly the sign for a good day. So now food was on the agenda, that forty dollars would be enough for a couple of days at best, now that Rosie could hunt he could focus more on his needs rather than hers, she was capable of taking care of herself and if anything providing for him too. It was something he wanted to put forward to her, hunting for the pair of them.

So, with night closing in Rosie did what most she-wolves did before a big night out and began to prepare herself. First, bathing. This was important, even though she was clean first impressions was key, not to mention this was going to be a special night and she wanted to make the best of this by looking and feeling suitable. The usual stream she washed in were preoccupied already by a few other she-wolves of the pack, Mali being one of them. Her canter came to a steady stop as she closed in and attuned to the gossip the girls shared. "Boys, times like these are the only times I see them bath." One said.

"I know right!" Another agreed. "I don't remember the last time my brothers washed!"

"Well Kit is overdoing himself, I think he's downstream for like…the third time today." Mail giggled.

"Well, can't be easy dating a Starnik." The first she-wolf replied. "Who knows what she could do with her powers."

"I know right!" Rosie then said stepping ever closer and gaining their attention. "I could blow him away or worse…heal him to death." She giggled.

"What I meant was that it's not exactly the most normal thing." She quickly added, she didn't want her upset. Didn't want to be on the bad side of a Starnik!

"Well Kit isn't exactly normal either." Rosie laughed. She understood, no offence was taken.

"I hear that." Mail added. "Come on in." She slid over to make room in this shallow part of the stream. "After this, I found a spot of lilies, should make a nicer smell then water.

"Awesome, that'll help." Rose replied whilst sinking herself into the cold water. "So, he's really trying hard, is he?"

"He's just nervous, his first howl and all." Mali answered. "He's been doing something all day to keep himself busy, saves him pacing and making me dizzy."

"Now that's sweet." Rosie said, somewhat blushing due to all the effort her date was making for just a few hours of her company. She laid down to soak her entire body.

"So, Rosie." One of the she-wolves asked, almost red this girl was, a dark red above with a dirty white underside. "Is this your first howl?"

"Yeah, it is. Well…I mean I've howled with my Mom before."

"Really?" The second added. "I swear I heard someone howling at the viewpoint last night, I didn't recognise and I know most howls in the pack." Rosie froze, she didn't think anyone had heard them. This could be somewhat awkward.

"Oh that…Yeah…yeah that was me." She sat back up to let the water drip down her body.

"Are you seeing someone else?" Mali was curious to say the least, it was weird to date two wolves at once, but it wasn't exactly a bad thing. She thought she only had eyes for her brother.

"No, no. God no. No that was, umm…That was just me and…Scott." She practically mumbled the end.

"The human!" The second she-wolf almost shouted, she was almost stark white, other than her right ear, black, the only other colour on her. It was rather unique actually, a good trait.

"And she was a good teacher too!" Out of no-where Scott seemed to appear walking towards them from the direction of the den.

"Did you hear much of that?" Rosie grinned.

"You've had bigger achievements then teaching me to howl, just learning how to be a wolf in general." He leant up against a tree beside the river and looked down at the four of them. "Just wanted to let you know I was back when I heard you, thought I'd be…"

"Nosey?" The white she-wolf finished. "We'd like some privacy please!"

"Yeah Scott, watching four girls bathing isn't exactly a good gesture." Rosie teased.

"Different species remember." He chuckled. "Come back up soon? Need to have a quick word before you go tonight."

"Sure." He then turned and left, he was hungry and she'd been soon so dinner was a thought. "Come on girls, show me where those lilies are then."

Just over an hour later the howl had begun, dozens of wolves gathered at the top of the viewpoint, some by the cliff, others a little into the trees, wherever they could find a little space to themselves. Friends, lovers and long term mates, all here to just have a good night. Walking up the hill of course was Rosie side by side with Kit, quite literally. They grazed their sides with one another wanting contact, they were both eager to start this. There was no hiding the obvious feelings they had now, but there was still no rushing things. "Wow, quite the turn out tonight." Rosie said looking around at all the wolves both young and old.

"Beautiful night for beautiful wolves, and I got the best." He said nudging her slightly.

She clearly blushed and averted her eyes ahead. "How about there." She then said looking towards the edge. "That looks good."

"That's a little close don't you think?" He gulped, she heard it.

"Aww…scared of heights?" She cooed, stepping ahead of him to sit by the edge.

"Yes, I am actually." He took another sheepish step forwards, eyeing up the long drop down. How could she be so calm?

"You know what? So was Scott, and we come up here all the time, it's an easy fix." She giggled. He took a shaky breath and sat opposite her, just trying to keep his attention on her rather than the drop a few feet away. The just sat there for a moment looking at one another, neither saying a word. Wolves mate for life, could this really be it? Sure, they could howl tomorrow night, or the previous night, but now the moon was full and glistened over them, it was perfect.

Meanwhile, Scott sat reading his book while every now and again throwing in a new log for the fire, he planned to wait up for Rosie just to see how she went. He was glad, it was good to see she wanted to start a life with someone, and he was glad it was Kit, so much respect that wolf did. He was good for her, could he be the one for though? Scott hoped all would go well, he was sure it was. He did worry though if it did, would he live with them? Which would be great, no worries. Or would they do what they Starnik weren't to do and move away together, find their own den somewhere. Even start a pack of their own…

But now he was getting ahead of himself, they were still dating after all, for now all he had to worry about was starting awake. He paused from his book and looked at the fire, it was getting low and it was getting hard to see what he was reading. He sighed and set the book down to the side and jumped to his feet. Usually he cut the wood around the left side of the den, there was an axe there too but lately it wasn't of much use, quicker and easier to just use his mind. He got there and focused, it came to be pretty easy at this point now, there was no need to be gentle this time. There was however a flaw…

Rosie had been gone a while now, a couple of ours at best. So, when Scott came to do the simplest task he struggled, his eyes changed as they always had, but the large log simply shook, vibrated even. Sure, this was standard, after a certain time away he was bound to become weak as Rosie would also, but this was too soon. "Huh…how strange." He shrugged it off, maybe it was just something new, or something he didn't see. He thought nothing of it. "Well, the old fashion way it is." He reached for the axe leant against the stone and gripped it firmly in hand. He positioned the log and brought it above his head ready for the swing. He paused, way was this requiring so much thought? So much focus? Oddly he began to feel a sweat form on his hairline, it wasn't exactly warm tonight. His hands grew clammy, tingly as well, spreading from first his finger and across his hands and soon his arms. Was that meat earlier cooked properly? Because all of this was topped off with a stomach churning feeling deep down, he didn't feel well.

Scott stopped and let the axe hang in his hand, he breathed deeply to clear his head. He didn't like this, he wanted to say he felt sick but it wasn't like any other time he had been, no, this was something else, something was coming!

"So, are you…um, are you ready?" Both Rosie and kit hadn't howled yet, this was mainly due to the young male who'd rather get used to one nerve racking moment before jumping head on into another and the reason they were up here. He did not have a head for heights, so they compromised. Rosie sat by the edge as she wanted but with her back to the drop so Kit could be a little further away. To be honest, Rosie, the view, the moon, it was perfect for him here.

"More then I'll ever be." She replied somewhat sheepishly, this was such a nerve wrecking moment, one where it would either go amazingly well or disastrously wrong. Together, looking deep into the other's eyes, they took a few deep breaths, they puffed out their chests and tilted their heads back. Kit made the first move, only…it was more of a yip then anything, Rosie didn't howl. She wasn't even looking at him, her eyes trailing off into the distance.

"Umm…Rosie, are you ok?" What was wrong? This sudden change in her was peculiar. She began shaking her head.

"I don't know…I just felt something. I'm sorry I didn't…" Suddenly, from the distance, came a faint howl, not of calling and not of love, this was pain. An instant, gut twisting sensation made her stand. "Something's wrong, I've got to find Scott."

"What?" He stood. "Are you serious? We were about to…" Kit began to protest, they spoke so much of this night and now she was bailing on him!

"I'm so sorry but I can't stay" She was going to hell for this, she knew it. "Look I'll talk to you tomorrow but I need to find him." She walked backwards as she said this, and as soon as she had she turned tail and bolted towards the hill and away. He was left in awe, all this fuss, all this planning and talking to lead to this moment and she runs away, for a human!

What drove her to run like this she didn't understand, or to leave Kit with the smallest and dumbest explanation. God… She would never forgive herself, how could he? But that was a minuscule thought in her head at this moment, only that something was wrong at home, more specifically with Scott. This feeling had only happened on a few occasions in the past, when something was wrong with the other, they would know, and this was it.

She made it to the den in what most likely could have been record time. The fire Scott always had was barely glowing, was he collecting more wood? Otherwise everything looked…ok?

"Scott!" She screamed. Surely, she couldn't have just bailed on Kit for some dumb instinct. It couldn't have been nerves, could it? She was excited! She wanted to howl with him! "Scott, where are you?" Her voice echoed around and out of their home when she peered inside. His scent was so fresh, he was her somewhere. "Where did you…" This was so stressful, if she could figure this out quickly maybe she could make it back to Kit before he left. If he hadn't already anyway.

She heard a cough, a wheezing, sickly cough from behind the den. Scott's or not she went to investigate. It was dark but her eyes saw clear enough. An axe on the floor amongst the leaves beside some logs, Scott's doing. So, he was stocking up for the fire! There was a rustle, it made her jump. Even more so when she didn't see it was Scott, but another wolf. This wolf was camouflaged almost flawlessly with the dark area, its fur coloured like the very sky above her. She didn't recognise it, not from this angle. A lone wolf perhaps? Did it know what happened to Scott?

"Oh my…Hey, are you ok?" She asked as she approached. It was hurt, it didn't move, and its breath was rigid and weak. "Listen, have you seen…"

"Ro, Rosie?" He spoke, she paused. Wait…

"Scott?" Surely not. Its scent, Scott's scent was all over it. Further observation showed the clothing she last saw him wear scattered around the semi-conscious wolf. She scurried around to his face and nudged it up. "Holy heck Scott. What happened? Who did this?" He blinked over and over as if blinded by something. There was no sign of injury, oddity, well… A lot more fur, four legs, a pointed snout and a tail. Otherwise, he looked a healthy wolf. Besides, her healing wasn't reacting.

It took a few minutes but eventually she got him around the front, here it was a bit lighter and a lot more comfortable. He marvelled at his paws, he felt over his elongated face and looked down his body. There was nothing about this in the stories of the Starnik. Rosie sat to his left side staring down in silence and awe, all other thoughts at this point were absent. "Did you eat some bad meat or something?" She asked. He looked at her dumbfounded.

"Are you serious?" He spat. "Look at me, do you really think bad meat did this?"

"I'm sorry." She said with flattened ears. "I didn't know what else to say."

"How about a way to fix this. Just no more stupid remarks."

"Fix it?" Standing on the other side of the fire from them now, almost above it. There, their "guardian angel" stood. "I, for one, think you look very dashing. A very handsome young wolf."

"Sarah?" Surely not… "Did you have something to do with this?" Scott growled, it was strange, feeling his vocal cords vibrate in a way with such strength.

"She's here to help Scott." Rosie scooted over closer to him, place a paw between his shoulders in a way to comfort her. "It's her job remember. Right?" She finished looked at him.

"You're right about one thing." Sarah said softly. No sign of fear or worry. "It is my job to help, and I intended to do that here."

"But?" Rosie knew there was one.

"But I did do this." She was shocked. Scott on the other hand was furious. He pulled his paws underneath him, his movements worrying his partner as he then begun to push. He feebly lifted his body from the ground, keeping his deathly gaze on her he then took two steps before falling flat on his chest. "Four legs honey, it'll take some getting used to." He let it defeat him, he laid there with Rosie cooing him in his ear sweetly. She continued. "I simply gave you both a gift, I didn't choose what it was."

"What do you mean didn't choose?" Scott asked.

"The Starnik were given very specific powers for certain reasons, the original Starnik anyway." She began walk around the fire slowly towards them. "They were given to fight, protect and save, I wanted to give you a gift, your destiny chose what it was. And it chose to give you the opportunity to run the wilds with my daughter." She now sat on the other side of him from Rosie, he still lay there with his chin on the floor.

"You turned me into a god damn werewolf." He mumbled. He didn't want this "gift". "I never asked for this Sarah. He looked up, only for her to slip her head under his chin.

"I know." She embraced him a moment. "And for that I'm sorry. But…" She then pushed him, taking him little by surprise. It wasn't often she was physical with them, something about rules she'd say that prevented her from physically interacting with them. She started to lift him up so with quick thinking he pulled his paws back underneath him. Rosie braced his other side to stop him from toppling over. "Like all your gifts, they all take some getting used to."

He was now stood on all fours, very wobbly, wide and unbalanced. Sarah took one dubious step back and Rosie lightened her supported but stayed in contact with him. His stance was that of a pup discovering what its legs were used for. "Do me a favour, what do you smell, what can you hear, what can you see?" She made little sense at this point. But hey, how can this get any worse?