Her head looked to the sky, black smoke billowing over the tree tops; she felt her heart drop as she picked up speed, running through the branches that whipped against her skin. She came to the clearing to stand among nothing but death; the trees were burnt to a crisp, the smell of corpses and burning flesh lingered in the air, not even the buzzards circled this place. Her mind’s eye saw it as it had once stood; luscious trees and gardens, the cots filled with people caring for their young or fixing supper for the husbands that had left on their hunt. Now as she stared out into the distance all she could see was ash. She didn’t want to budge, she didn’t want to see what had happened to this place; she tried to let her senses smell something living, but was clouded by the power of rotting family and friends, though there was a faint musk that caught her attention just over the hillside. Her heart raced as she ran across the burnt earth, scanning the ground to try and find where the smell was coming from, her tail swaying behind her as if to engulf herself in the musk. She searched in the wreckage of fallen rooftops to smoldering houses, but whatever it was wasn’t there. She found the den where she once had lived, the door seemed to be standing on it’s own as the cot around it had fallen. She ran her fingers against the wood, taking in the many smells that lingered on it. Blood, ashes, and oak wood were all she could catch, but there the musky scent had picked up, a little stronger this time. Her heart seemed to pick up speed as she tore the door away, lifting the roof and scanning the ground; nothing but shattered plates and torn bedding lay underneath. She sighed and sat to the ground, picking up the dirt and letting it blow in the wind from her loose fist. Just before she felt hot tears form under her eyes, she heard him. “Lucian!” she scrambled up and turned, trying to find him, “Where are you?” Her heart pounded so loudly she almost couldn’t hear him. “Over here.” A voice whispered towards the trees. She raced in that direction, looking through the trees like he were hiding behind one of the large trunks, only to see nothing, “I don’t see you…where a-…” She turned her head to look down at the bottom of the hill; he was lying there, broken and bleeding. She shook her head as she couldn’t hold back tears, falling to her knees at his side. She picked up his bloodied hand and nuzzled her cheek against it, trying to find words but could do nothing but be overcome by sorrow and tremble. He smiled weakly to her, he had enough strength in him to prop himself up, letting her slide in behind him, “I knew you’d come.” She curled her arms around him, “I didn’t want to believe him…it was too much to be real.” Lucian looked up at her, “Yet you came, there was something that he said that made you believe.” She shook her head, “I came because I didn’t believe…” she pressed her head against his, holding him close, taking in rasped breaths, “I-I guess seeing is believing...What happened here?” Lucian sighed, “Damian, mostly. I hold nothing against your brother Sola; I want you to feel the same. Desoto shunned him the moment he shifted to a pale walker, and he wanted so much to be seen as a true son to the tribe.” Sola tilted her head looking down at him, “What are you talking about?” He smiled lightly, “It’s a long story.” She smiled and pet her fingers through his hair, “Tell me if you can.” So Lucian told her what happened after she had left.
Damian was the first born, the rightful son to take over after Desoto passed on to be reborn. Desoto loved Damian as his own, until he turned 18. Damian had only one form, a vampire, and that didn’t mull over well with Desoto, “You are no son of mine. You have to be a fool to want to be the living dead, get out of my sight.” Damian hissed at his father, “We have choices of our own to be made; we can’t all be bred into the same ideas as you are, you’re hand fed these beliefs and you take them like you know them. There is only one thing you know father and that is greed, in your lust for power you will lose everything that is near and dear to you, and I’ll be the one to witness your downfall, you’ll be the one begging me to come back to you as your son, the one you supposedly loved what seems so long ago.” Desoto spat at his feet, “Those were merely moments of lies, had I known you chose this path before you shifted forms in front of me I would have cursed you from your first breath and never given you the chance to know my love, more so I would’ve killed you as a child had your mother not grown attached to you, I find this an easier relieve on her part now that she too knows what you have become.” Alice stood off from the path; Damian looked into her deep blue eyes and saw no hatred for him, only the sorrow she did not dare shed in front of her bull-headed husband. Damian growled at her as he read her thoughts, “He won’t apologize to me and you cower from him like the proper she-bitch you are…” Desoto landed a mighty blow to Damian’s cheek, knocking him to the ground and dug a small path in the dirt, “You talk to her in that way again and I’ll rip you to shreds. If you weren’t my son I would’ve done it without warning…now leave.” Damian spat blood before he hissed at his father, his body shrunk and sprouted wings; becoming a bat, Damian flew off into the night, away from the setting sun. Alice shook her head as she watched her son take flight, “You shouldn’t have been like that to him, he’s the rightful heir to our tribe, and you can’t deny your own son to-…” Desoto cut her off, “I said it to him as I say to you now…I have no son. That thing is an abomination; as long as I live our blood will not run cold with the taint of pale walkers. He can rot in the hell he’s chosen for all I care.” Alice sighed and wandered off, looking over her shoulder only a moment before taking off in the night.
Alice found Damian perched in the trees far off from the boundaries of their home. He looked down at her with piercing red eyes, “What do you want mother?” She called up to him, “Please come home, your father is just having a hard time to adjusting to the fact his son is a vampire. He’ll learn to accept you.” Damian flew down in the shadows, landing on his feet with his wings folding over him into a cloak, “He isn’t going to accept me, you know that, and I know that. You came here for nothing and I won’t take your apologies over his. If he comes to me and asks forgiveness…then perhaps I will come back, but there are things I must prove if I want his respect.” Alice shook her head, waddling forwards with a hand on her stomach, “You don’t have to prove anything to him, he cares about you just as he did before, and he just needs some time; just give him more t-…” She was cut off by a shadowed fist that shot out at her in the midsection, “Will you just shut up?! He isn’t going to need ‘time’ he isn’t going to ‘think things over’ or ‘apologize.’ You know how bullheaded he is, that stubborn asshole isn’t going to be any different than the way he was tonight, and if you try so much as to come at me with another word I will do more harm to you than good.” Her body trembled from the blow, eyes welling up with tears from pain and sadness for her son; she rubbed her swollen stomach with worry, “I hope you get what you deserve from this world,” her voice shaky. Damian sneered and vanished into darkness, leaving Alice to return back the way she came.
Desoto was pacing inside the cabin. Alice slipped in the back door and shut it quietly behind her. “Where have you been?” Desoto called from the front room. Alice jumped and laid her back against the door, “You startled me…I was just out on a walk.” He growled, “You did more than that, I can smell your lies from here now tell me, where you went?” She sighed, “I went to try and bring Damian back home.” Desoto roared in rage, “You did WHAT? I banished him to keep him away from this family, not to bring him back…Why do you disobey me?” Alice had always been kind and thoughtful, never quick to anger, but something in her couldn’t take holding back anymore. She stormed into the other room and slashed a hand across his face leaving a long scar from his left brow to the right side of his nose, “He is part of this family. I stand by as you rule over MY people, you are only chieftain by right that you are my mate, but I will not stand any longer as you try to rule like this is your own. I took you in when you were dying, I fell in love with that man, but now in your power and greed you have turned into a monster.” Her eyes welled with tears but she did not falter, “I should have a council meet against you, to banish you and bring my son back, he is more true blood to our people than you can ever try to be. You have become your father Desoto, you swore on your life you would never be anything like that, never sink to that level.” She reached a mirror that hung between the rooms that stood; shoving it close to his face, her eyes were changing from their bright blue to a solid black, “Do you see him Desoto? Do you…I see him more and more every day, and I’m tired of pretending everything is okay, I’m sick of you trying to be the mighty one, the strong one; we can all do fine on our own without you fucking everything up. Look at it!” The mirror shattered to the floor as she fell to her knees; her body trembling with all the welled up anger, her hands covering her face as he stood in utter shock. He turned to the pieces on the ground, looking at his reflection through many bits, his face looking distorted in the cracks. He picked up the pieces without saying a word, throwing them into the bin and just heading up the stairs to bed as Alice sobbed in the living room. Desoto sat on the end of the bed, his mind boggled as he couldn’t think of anything to say; he was shocked at her outburst, confused for words to comfort her, and angry still that she went against him, even if she thought it wrong. He growled and pulled the covers up over him, rolling over, and trying to get some sleep.
Morning seemed to arrive quickly. Desoto found it difficult to wake himself up from the tiring night before. He looked around to notice that Alice was nowhere in sight. He figured she had just slept downstairs or in one of the other rooms and thought nothing of it, though a strange feeling lingered with him most of the morning. He headed out and noticed a commotion going on in one of the huts; the door was shut but a few shadows could be seen dancing on the wall by the fire light. He stepped inside to find his wife in labor and the elders gathered in assistance. Desoto came to her side with mixed emotions of surprise and confusion, “Why didn’t you tell me you were due?” Alice groaned and glared at him, panting from hours of heaves, he turned his attention to the elders, “You’re right, ask questions later.” One of the elders came forth, a soothsayer that told of the child coming into this world. She gasped and growled backing away, “Abomination!” Desoto looked at the soothsayer confused, “What do you mean? What’s wrong with him?” She shook her head, “Nothing physically is wrong with him, he will grow and prosper into a strong man, the only fourth born I’ve seen through all my years. His choices will lead him to a path of death but rebirth, his purpose will abandon him. He has chosen a life of pain and suffering, you will come to realize what he is to become when the last leaf has fallen.” He growled, “I don’t understand, stop talking in tongues and just tell me what’s wrong with him.” She hissed, “It is not of our era, we have no name for it except sin. His love will be of his own kind.” Desoto looked away a moment trying to think of what she was saying, he’d never heard of such a thing before. Alice gave a final push before the babe entered this world.
Bright green eyes blinked at the strangers around him as he was placed in the arms of his mother. Alice smiled, brushing her hand along the silky black hair, “Such an angel…that’s what I’ll name you…Angel.” The boy smiled at her and giggled, looking at the many faces. Sola had stepped in and seen him, “He’s so cute.” Alice, who was tired and exhausted handed the baby to Sola and rested. Desoto stepped outside, puzzled and trying to figure out what the elder had meant. Sola took the little one to play with her three pups; they played and wrestled until they became tuckered out and dozed off in a pile, wrapped up in each other’s warmth. Sola came to her father as he stood outside, “What’s the matter papa?” Desoto shrugged, ruffling her hair, “Just trying to figure out what the elder meant about Angel...I don’t understand what she means by ‘he will love his own kind.’ It’s confusing, does she mean shape-shifters or different entirely.” Sola blinked a moment and turned away, Desoto turning his gaze to her, “What?” She shook her head, “It’s nothing.” He quirked a brow looking at her, “You know what she means don’t you…what is it?” She shook her head backing away from him, “It doesn’t matter.” He grabbed her shoulders and gave her the stare down, “What does it mean?” He growled, “Tell me!” She shouted, “It means he’s homosexual” turning her head away. He blinked, “A what?” Sola looked at him a bit surprised, “You were once from the city papa; you should remember what that means.” He growled, “I didn’t spawn a son that doesn’t like women, seriously, what’s it means.” Sola just shook her head and walked off. Desoto was left in a fitted rage, he couldn’t believe that the heir to the fourth born was gay, “how could this have happened,” he thought. He came through the door to Alice to see if she was awake to talk him through what was happening. He got to her side as she looked peacefully resting, brushing his hand against her cheek only to be taken aback; her skin was cold as ice, “Alice…” he called quietly, touching her shoulder, it too, felt cold and losing the warmth that she always seemed to have, “Alice!” He shouted, shaking her to wake her from her slumber, hut she did not wake. “Alice!” He howled, holding her to him as the elders heard his yell. The soothsayer woman did not need entry; she stood at the entrance and calmly said, “She is with us no longer.”
The day seemed too perfect for such a sad scene. The sun was bright, seeming to resonate like the soul of the woman come to pass. The sky was cloudless and blue as her eyes that lay closed as she rested to the platform of wood and branches. Incenses were burning from each corner of the boards as all the tribe-folk sang their song of mourning. Once the final note had been sung Desoto came up with the torch, setting the branches alight. Sola watched, finding herself without tears; she stood with Angel in arms and her young in the arms of her mate Lucian, the oldest clinging at his knee. The smoke billowed higher, blackening the sky as they watched. The elders spoke in tongues around the smoke as images played in the blaze like magic, a girl dancing in the embers until the wind blew the ashes away. When everything was said and done they left the sight, heading back to their homeland beyond the hills and back into the trees.
Seasons past, autumn came, and the leaves began to fall. As Desoto watched the leaves drifting to the ground, the final leaf made something inside him snap. He tore through the house and up the stairs, taking Angel from his crib and taking him outside. He set the child in the middle of the yard and left him there in the cold, none of the tribe-folk said or did anything as the babe cried out in the cold. Sola had just seen the incident coming over the hill from her usual morning stroll and took Angel back inside, “What were you thinking?” She looked at Desoto with Angel in her arms, “Why did you leave him there?” Desoto growled, “You know damn well why. That thing is no son of mine. It’s an abomination and that thing is the reason Alice is dead. I refuse to sit idly by as that creature grows into something that will never be accepted here.” She growled, “You don’t have the option of how he lives his life, it is his choices to make. So what if that she-witch told you of what he is to become, you should be proud of the fourth born son and be thankful for what you have, or are you too blind in your power to see those around you?” She held the infant tighter as Desoto came towards her, trying to grab at Angel, “Give him to me Sola, he is not your problem.” Sola gave a hard slap across Desoto’s face, “How dare you say my own brother is not my problem, he is family just as Damian and Tonks is to me, you can rot in this so called ‘family’ you have here. Damien was right; you have changed in your power with greed and hatred.” Desoto shifted in his anger, transforming to his lycanthrope form, “You dare strike your father and leader of this tribe?!” She snapped at him, her eyes flickering hazel to topaz, “You come at me like this then you’re nothing but proof you’re a monster.” She walked out on the beast in his fortress. He changed back to his human-self, “I forbid you to take care of that thing, it is banished from our lands, you hear me, Banished!” She paid no attention to him as she went to her house beyond the hill, out of his sight. The tribe-folk all around started to whisper, muttering to themselves as if nothing happened. Desoto sneered and slammed the door behind him as the sun began to set.
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