There are six periods of your life. The first two years of your life, you are an infant. Then from the ages two to five, you are a toddler. Then until you reach thirteen, you are labeled a child (even though most people feel they have outgrown that title by at least twelve). From thirteen to eighteen are your teenage years, which I have always found odd because isn't nineteen technically a teen? But I guess somebody decided that you become an adult at eighteen, because it seems that most every law is revolved around that age. For the rest of your days until you turn sixty, you are an adult, whether you act like one or not. No matter if you die the next day or live another forty years, you are considered elderly from that point on. There they are: infant, toddler, child, teenager, adult, elderly.
Even though the part of a child is the most preferred, and the time spent as an adult is the longest (at least most of the time; it's surprising how long some people can live as elderlies), the Amoveo believe that the teenage period is the most important. Why? Because it is on a child's thirteenth birthday that their animal comes out.
The Amoveo are humanoid, but not human. We have the ability to shift into animals. I have no idea why. Magic? A chemical reaction? It will always be a mystery.
Each Amoveo has one animal. Genetics plays a huge role in determining what that animal is. If your father could shift into a tiger, there is no guarantee that you will too, but it's more likely than not that your animal would be something great. There are four different "positions," or classes, of Amoveo. Puissants have the coolest animals. They can become sharks or lions or crocodiles. Pretty much any animal that you can think of not surviving in the same room with probably belongs to a Puissant Amoveo. Secondly, there are the Moyen. They are the cats, the dogs, the non-poisonous snakes. They could still cause damage in a fight, but any sane person would rather take on a Moyen than a Puissant. Apparently, third time is not the charm because the next one is the Faible. These Amoveo have the pathetic animals like hummingbirds or goldfish. Most Faible don't even bother with their animals. They would be considered the lowest position in Amoveo culture if it weren't for the Maudit. These were the poor souls who never got an animal. If you didn't shift into some sort of animal on your thirteenth birthday, you were most definitely a Maudit. There are no late bloomers among the Amoveo.
There were many cities that host Amoveo, some more than others. Many of them are known to humans. Houston has barely any, while Paris and Tokyo are ridden with them. The capitol of the Amoveo world, Evinily, is on the border between France and Germany. This is one of the most classist cities on the planet. Maudits are treated like lepers. Being in a relationship outside of your position is socially equivalent to adultery. It is technically legal, but highly frowned upon.
My parents were both Maudits, or at least that's what Mom says. I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Here, Maudits are greatly accepted among the other Amoveo. She was almost positive that I would be like her, so she thought she might as well bring me up in a friendly environment.
On my thirteenth birthday she made me my favorite breakfast: French toast. It feels like a fudge brownie when you chew it, but it tastes like a pancake! Who wouldn't love that? I always love to smother mine with butter and maple syrup (I realize that this plays into the whole Canadian maple syrup stereotype, but I can't help it). She thought that it would make me feel better when I woke up as a girl and not a sparrow. Even though she had always told me that I would probably be a Maudit, I had always dreamed about really being a Faible, or maybe even a Moyen.
I will never forget the look on her face when she glanced to her left and saw a moose in our kitchen. (Again, Canadian stereotype, but it wasn't my fault.)
"Ivy!" she cried. "You're a Moyen!" She ran over to hug me, but suddenly I disappeared. She almost fell over and probably would have squished me if she hadn't caught herself. She was looking at a little hedgehog.
I had been freaking out at that moment just as much as she was. I couldn't understand why I was suddenly on the ground and why my heartbeat was going a million miles an hour. I looked down and saw little brown paws instead of the massive hooves I was expecting. In a panic, I frantically ran in circles and made frightened squeaky sounds.
My mother grabbed me and cursed while my spikes (or is it quills?) poked her fingers.
"Ivory," she said sternly. "Listen to me. I need you to focus on turning into a girl, okay? We have to talk about this, so I need you to shift back into a girl. Can you do that?"
I nodded my little hedgehog head and she put me down. I stood there for nearly five minutes before I figured out how to shift back into a girl. When I did, a look of relief covered Mom's face. She grabbed a napkin to stop the bleeding on her hand and we sat down, the French toast forgotten.
We talked for hours. It was rare for a Puissant (if that's what you would even call me) to be born to a Maudit, and unheard of for even the most powerful Amoveo to have more than one animal. We tested it to see if I was limited to a moose and a hedgehog, but apparently not. I spent an hour shifting into all sorts of animals. Some were really hard. For some reason, I really struggled with orangutan. When I was a hamster, she put me in a bowl of water and we tried out the different types of fish. If our bathtub had been big enough, we probably would have tried shark and dolphin.
Eventually I grew tired, and we called it quits.
We both knew that if my secret got out, I would be a huge target for the royal family in Evinily. Yet for some reason, I told my best friend Lavender.
I was thirteen, okay? I was sort of in a "bffs" phase, but to my luck Lavender truly is best friends forever material. She didn't tell a soul. We were both Amoveo, her parents were Moyens while mine were Maudits. But who cares? We were both from friendly, accepting Halifax.