The world you are about to enter is one similar to yours, but where there are such things as 'totems' that share the body of their hosts. The following is an extract from the father of a friend of mine:
"Totems appear as animals, and are classified into general groups, dubbed 'T-Classes' four of which are:
- T-Omicron: the most well known T-Class, T-Omicrons are totems that take control of their host at certain times, and can take control of their host when there is strong emotion present.
- T-Phi: the most common totem, it exists only as a voice inside its host, and converses with it.
- T-Sigma: the second most common totem, it projects an image of itself near its host, and can converse with them only.
- T-Theta: this is a bit rarer, but has T-Phi and T-Sigma qualities along with the ability to change form into the animal the totem represents. T-Thetas usually have common animals, such as birds, dogs, cats, and such. A T-Theta that uses an extraordinary animal is considered few and far between, and is treated with awe.
Totems are extremely intelligent, usually more than they let on. Once a totem is evil, it can find ways to influence its host more, and that host becomes what I call T-Omicron+, a form of T-Omicron where the totem is in complete control.
Totems become bad for a number of reasons, so it is hard to pinpoint its exact cause. Hopefully, though, my totem and I will find a suitable treatment."
- Doctor Finnicks
"The Study of Totems and their Habits" was the name of the unfinished manuscript found on the Doctor's table which this excerpt was taken from.
Chapter One - Eva
They slaughtered all the Dragons, every last one, for the evil they were. And when the Dragons were no more, the Phoenixes rose, and ruled over Seremet in the form of a Council.
"The War Between The Great Families" - Gregory Luthrian
I peer below me at the cars on the street. They look like ants from way up here. I take a deep breath, and jump.
As I fall, I can feel my body change. My limbs are shortening, feathers sprouting, until I am fully formed. I am a bird, a jackdaw, and I pause for a while to savour the feel of flying, before flying north-east.
"Took you long enough," Jackie comments drily. At times, she can really act mean, but then I guess I would too if I didn't have a body of my own. "Anyway, are we going to the cave?" she continues.
"Yeah," I confirm. "I've been having this dream, and I need to sketch it out."
"Why are you still drawing those things?" Jackie demands inside my head. "If someone from the House saw them, you'd be in some serious trouble."
"I don't think I'd be in that much trouble," I say to her, unconvincing. I know what she says is true, but I just can't stop when that's the only way I feel sane.
"Sure." Jackie is silent for a while, and I glance down to see what we're flying over. It's the House, like a jewel amidst all the dirt that is Kamira. "I wonder, if they had spent the money they used on the House, on the people of Kamira, would the people feel gratitude towards the Council?" I ask Jackie.
"Not a chance," Jackie replies. "It might have lessened their hate towards the Council, but there would never be gratitude for something that is rightfully theirs."
I fall silent as I think of my own home, reasonably well-furnished, much better than these run-down homes we were passing over. That's our reward for working for the Council willingly.
"Hey, watch where you're going," Jackie says, waking me out of my reverie. "You're deviating from the course."
"Oh," I say, adjusting it. It's another five minutes before we sight the hill where the cave is. I alight on the soft green grass and change back into my human form, lying down and closing my eyes. The sun is bright, and I can still see it through my eyelids.
A shadow blocks the light, and my eyes snap open. It's a guy, and I scramble up quickly. I mentally thank my dad for developing material that can morph with me; otherwise I'd be naked.
"T-Theta, huh?" the guy says in a deep voice. He must have seen me change into a human. "Are these yours?" he asks, holding out the drawings I kept in the cave. I snatch them from him, and give him an annoyed look. He laughs, as if I'm batting my eyelashes at him.
"Didn't your mother tell you not to touch what isn't yours?" I ask him.
"I take what I want," the guy says arrogantly. I scoff and start walking to the cave mouth. "Wait," the guy calls after me. "I'm Connor."
"I'm leaving," I call back, entering the cave.
Examining my belongings in the cave, I'm relieved to find that there seems to be nothing missing. "Don't you love men with deep voices?" Jackie asks.
"Not particularly," I reply. "I don't particularly like hearing about them either."
"I think you're going to want to hear what I'm about to say," Jackie says smugly. "But first you have to admit that he's a looker."
"What kind of a bargain is this?" I mutter. "Okay, you win, he's gorgeous. Now tell me."
"You know how dragons are extinct and all?"
"What if I told you that wasn't true after all?" Jackie asks.
"You mean…" Realisation begins to set in. "Is he…" I trail off.
"Connor's a dragon." Jackie sounds even more smug. "Don't you love how I can tell other people's totems?"
I'm still in shock. "A dragon? Are you absolutely sure about that?" I ask Jackie, hoping that she's wrong.
"Absolutely. Are you questioning me?" Jackie asks, annoyed. "Go ask him yourself if you don't believe me."
"No, it's not that I don't believe you, it's just…a dragon?"
"I think he's still outside if you want to cross-examine him," Jackie says drily.
I stop talking about him immediately. Instead I start packing my things into a bag in the corner, making sure I leave nothing behind. "What are you doing?" Jackie demands.
"I can't come here anymore if someone else does," I explain. "Especially someone that's supposed to be extinct."
"Are you afraid?"
I'm surprised that Jackie has picked up the real reason why I don't want to come here anymore. "Yes I'm afraid," I tell her. "You know the stories about dragons. What they did. The reason they're supposed to be extinct."
"You mean the stories the Council told?" Jackie asks. "I'd discount anything they had to say, personally."
"This conversation could get us into even more trouble than my drawings would," I say, uncomfortable about what Jackie just said. "I think it's time to go back now."
"Yay, walking," Jackie says sarcastically.
"As if you're the one doing it," I retort.
"I can't wait for your dad to develop something that allows bags to morph," Jackie mutters. "Can we at least not go through the slums?"
We end up taking the long way, around the slum area, and don't arrive home until two hours later. "Have you heard?" my sister Liz asks animatedly from her bed when I visit her room. "They're cleaning out the area around the House."
"The slum area?" I ask in disbelief.
"It was in a newsletter," Liz says. She points to my left, to her desk. On it is a white sheet of paper.
I pick it up, and skim through its contents. As I do, I grow concerned.
"See?" Liz says, and coughs.
"When did you get this?" I ask her.
"A few hours ago. Eva, what will happen to the people?"
"I don't know, Liz," I say worriedly. "I don't know." I take a deep breath and try to compose myself. Putting on a smile for the sake of my sister, I ask, "Have you taken your medication?"
"Dad's still at work, and he was supposed to bring some more,"" Liz replies. "I think he's going to arrive soon."
"And how do you feel?"
"Same as always - sore throat, sore stomach." Liz grins. "It's okay, though. The meds keep the worst of it off."
I hug my sister carefully. "Take care of yourself, ok?"
She nods, and I wave goodbye as I exit her room.
"Her totem's dying, you know," Jackie says.
"Of course I know what's happening," I snap at her.
"You don't," Jackie replies. "It's accelerating. At the current rate, all she has left is about a year."
I halt. "A year? Are you serious?" I demand.
"At the current rate it's going," Jackie says. "I'm sorry."
I walk on in silence, and as I turn a corner I bump into my dad. "Dad," I say in surprise.
"Eva," he greets me. I can tell something is on his mind.
"Dad, Jackie's picked up something wrong with Liz's totem," I tell him. "She says that the rate at which she's deteriorating is speeding up. Now Liz has only about a year left."
Dad looks worried now, and I wonder whether I should have told him or not.
"Also, Liz said you have her medicine?" I phrase this as a question.
"Oh, yes, of course." He sets his briefcase down and removes a small bottle from the side pocket. "It's a new formula," he tells me, and hands it over. "Give it to her."
Without another word, he picks up his briefcase and walks past, going into his office.
"Right," I mutter, clenching the bottle tightly.
"Got your medicine," I announce, entering Liz's room. I measure out a teaspoonful, and help Liz take it. Capping the bottle again, I set it on her desk and tell her, "It's here if you need it later, ok?"
"Thank you," Liz says as I make my way out.
I go towards the kitchen now, which is where I was headed before anyway. I'm greeted by the sight of Gwinwa, our caretaker, cooking something that smells delicious.
"What're you cooking," I ask him.
"Water lily stew," he replies. "It's your dad's favourite."
"Is it almost done?" I ask.
"Almost." Gwinwa adds a generous amount of some spice, and turns the flame off. "Now it's ready."
I take a bowl and sit down while Gwinwa takes Liz's food to her.
The waterlily soup is as delicious as it smells, and I'm onto my second bowl when Gwinwa finally comes back. He takes a bowl and hunches over it while eating; at least he looks like he's hunching over. I can never be sure, because he's a hunchback and all. So maybe he just hunches over all the time.
As we eat, we talk about what Liz had told me. I debate on whether I should tell Gwinwa about the dragon totem of Connor's. I decide not to. He might tell my father, and who knows what would happen - I'd probably be signing Connor's death warrant, since my dad would have to tell the Council.
I can't believe I'm trying to protect a dragon.