Coming of Age Ch. 06bywhitesabretooth©
Author's note: All characters and companies mentioned in this story have no existence outside the imagination of the author, and have no relation whatsoever to anyone or anything bearing the same name or names. Events portrayed in this story are pure invention and have not been based on any events that have happen in real life. All the characters involved in any sexual acts if their ages are not mentioned beforehand; are over 18 years of age. Enjoy.
I hope you all had a happy holiday season. I hope you enjoy the latest chapter and I will warn you now... there is one of my signature cliff hangers... sorry... too good a place to let go.
Thanks as normal goes to my editor and to you the reader.
Serenity and Crystal pulled their bikes into the driveway, and turned to grin at the girls riding behind them. Jasmine and Sky grinned back, enjoying the freedom of the bike ride home after classes. Jasmine took her helmet off as she stood on her suddenly shaky legs. "How do you get used to the vibrations?"
Serenity grinned, "try doing it with a piece of metamorphic jewellery piercing..."
"Don't want to know!" Sky exclaimed cutting into Serenity's sentence.
Crystal and Serenity laughed. "Goddess of the moon you are such a human." Crystal said in a teasing manner.
"Dah!" Sky answered which caused more laughter. A deep timbered voice joined theirs and everyone turned, Crystal and Serenity were instantly alert. Serenity willed a dagger into her right hand.
The gentle fall of hooves had both women relaxing as a large reverse palomino Centaur made himself known. He had the golden body which gave his kind their looks only he didn't have a white tail or mane, no his were midnight black which gave him a beautiful unique look. A beautifully crafted black, red and green phoenix ran up his right arm onto his chest, ivy crept up his back, snaking around his body as if it had grown, using his own muscles to direct where the vines were. The last, the smallest, tattoo sat just under his left ear, a stylised quill and ink pot with a symbol either side of the quill marking him as a master artist.
"Nhor!" Sky cried out and ran to him. He smiled and scooped her up when she reached him, giving her a big hug. He put her down and cupped her face his eyes searching hers for a moment before he kissed her forehead.
He turned to Crystal and held out his hand, "thank you for protecting her." Serenity made the dagger in her hand vanish as she dismounted.
Crystal smiled and took his hand giving it a firm shake, "she's my friend and I protect my friends. Have you been waiting long?"
"About twenty minutes, I didn't know if anyone was home, I didn't see any cars so..." He said with a shrug as everyone went to the front door. Inside Rayven paced, just outside the range of the light coming through the door, she had heard the visitor but didn't know what to do and if what Serenity had done extended to open doors.
"Rayven, the doors and windows if left open won't harm you, test it if you like." Serenity said as she walked in. "Just don't let your hand or body go past the frames and you will be safe."
Nhor paused at the door which suddenly was big enough for him to enter when moments ago it was normal sized. He walked in hesitantly his eyes focused on Rayven, he knew of her, in fact he had only heard good things about this Death Walker. "Rayven Swift-strike."
She bowed in reaction, "Master Nhor." She said in informal Centaur greeting. "I would help you with your bags but they need to be inside first."
"It is okay, I have it I just need to know where I am staying." He said as he leant down and grabbed two bags and walked them in. Crystal grabbed another two as Sky grabbed a box and followed him in.
"We set you up here in the house, on the ground floor." Serenity said leading the way.
Nhor frowned as he glanced around, the house on the outside seemed normal and unaccommodating to a Centaur's size. However on the inside everything was bigger, the doors the rooms the ceilings, it confused the hell out of him.
"Yeah we are still getting used to this..." Sky said as she interpreted his look correctly. "The triplets altered the internal proportions of the house to Centaur standards the night before, they even put a lift in so you can get to all the floors."
"Benefit of being Ancient." Serenity said as she opened a door to a massive room which was simply furnished, a large desk was before the window, a set of drawers nearby for any art supplies he had brought and a large art filing cabinet to store his work. In a corner there were padded walls and a padded floor for him to sleep on and through another door was a Centaur bathroom.
"Very nice, all I need is a tattooing chair and this room will be perfect." He said as he glanced around.
"Picture what you want and where and I'll make it happen." Serenity said as the others put his things down.
"Just like that?" He asked as he studied Serenity, his eyes picking up the ghost of a tattoo to come on her right forearm.
She nodded and waited.
"May I see your right forearm?" He asked, she nodded and offered her arm to him. He studied her arm for several long minutes turning it over, seeing the pattern and design on her skin, it was like nothing he had seen before but it had him itching to bring it forward to help her show it off. "It's beautiful, may I bring it forward?"
"Sure. Where would you like the chair?" Serenity asked as he released her arm.
He glanced around and pointed as he pictured the chair he wanted and some of the other equipment he would like. Serenity made the chair appear and the other things he had pictured. He walked over and studied the equipment with a pleased smile.
"Thank you," he said as he started to unpack, as a male Centaur he had nothing in the way of clothes since he simply didn't need them. Instead his bags were full of the tools of his trade.
He placed his drawings in the filing cabinet and several on the desk.
"We'll let you settle," Serenity said as she turned and gestured the others to follow her out.
"You can stay, I want to start Sky's first tattoo." He told the room as he picked up the box and placed its contents on the bench near the chair.
"I thought you were going to wait until I was older." Sky said as she walked to the table.
"Technically you are old enough." He answered.
Crystal came closer, "Centaurs believe that you are not a complete person without displaying your soul on your skin."
"But I am not a Centaur," Sky replied.
"You are my fosterling." Nhor replied, "and a Centaur by that association." He said firmly.
Sky grinned, "so that means I have to change my identity card race to C." She said jokingly.
"Actually," Serenity said, "yes because a Centaur is not an adult until they turn a hundred, by becoming his fosterling you have become his responsibility until you turn a hundred and effectively a Centaur by adoption."
"Has a human ever been fostered by a Centaur before." Sky asked a little overwhelmed by that statement.
"Once... a very long time ago," Serenity answered, "They found him in a forest, alone and they decided since they found him he was meant to be theirs. They named him Thais."
Nhor frowned, "how do you know his story?"
"Ancient remember, he knew our great grandmother, she told us stories of the man who could talk to animals, who was one with nature, who knew more about all the animals in the world than any of the best zoologists of this age. The human with a Centaurs name having lived a Centaurs life, with a name so old and rarely used that Centaurs of that age had forgotten its meaning. All they knew was that the name was his, his soul screamed that name at them and they listened." Serenity explained. "Ma had the same feeling when she held Thais and thought about his name. Said that the name best fitted him, recently she confided that she thinks her Thais is the same Thais as back then, that Thais is his true name, the name branded into his soul."
Serenity paused, "Although no one knows what happened to him all they know is he didn't survive the flood."
"He died trying to save the unicorns." Nhor answered.
"How do you know that?" Crystal asked.
He thought about it for a moment as he placed everything he needed out. "My family can trace their line back to the stallion and mare who adopted him." He turned to Sky after plugging in his equipment; ink was placed in little wells. "Every descendant is given the verbal history of our blood line and his story was one of my favourites. He was such a selfless being and in a way it was fitting that he died the way he lived, with the animals he loved." He explained, "Can someone plug in my autoclave?" He asked as he nodded to the device, Jasmine did the deed for him.
Although he put the box of gloves on the bench he didn't go to pull a pair on, he was clean and he knew Sky was.
"Are you going to adopt her?" Serenity asked as she looked at the gun.
"I believe that is something we have yet to discuss," he answered firmly.
Serenity shrugged and stepped back.
Nhor watched Sky and waited for her. "I need your shift off," he prompted and caused Sky to blush as she lifted her shirt and dropped it to the ground. "Relax, this is all about art and everyone here is a woman." He told her and watched as she settled back in the chair, "I can show you if you like." He grabbed a rolled up piece of paper and opened it showing it to Sky. "It's a phoenix and a lion," he said pointing out the two animals in the jumble of swirling lines. "It starts on your left hip and snakes its way up your left side and finishes on your neck.
"How long will it take?" Sky asked.
"If you give me an hour or two a day I should have the outline done in about two days, the shading completed a week after, lucky for you there are no colours, just lines and shading. Once I'm done you need to heal for a month or two then I'll go over it again and make the lines darker." He explained as he cleaned the area where he was going to work, his eyes focused on the pattern hidden just beneath her skin as he turned the gun on, its buzzing a soothing sound to his ears.
"Try not to flinch," he warned.
The week seemed to blur as it slid into a routine, they went to school, came home and either studied or read or in Sky's case went and had more added to the tattoo which was quickly snaking up her body. At night they would eat together and wonder if tonight was the night that the Vampires would attack and everything would end. The humans would go to bed - Sky going without a shower each night as directed by Nhor, which was annoying her more than the pain of the tattooing - and the others sharing watches through the night.
"I wish they would just get it over with," Temperance said as she rubbed her face, a full week had passed since that night and the wait was grating on her nerves.
"I don't," Jasmine said as she pushed away her second helping of desert, "man I need to start working out before I can't fit in my clothes anymore."
Myth chuckled, "you know we have a gym in the backyard shed, help yourself."
"I think I will."
"Don't use the weights," Thais said firmly his eyes twinkling, "you'll hurt yourself."
Jasmine watched him for a minute then nodded.
"Hey Myth... I was... watching..." Rachel said a little hesitant, "is it hard to shoot like you do?"
Myth smiled, "I am a Ranger and a Ranger without a bow is like... a vampire without fangs. Using a bow requires constant practise until everything you do becomes instinct. I will practise with my bow until I die... and since I am half Fae that means never, I can't die."
"Could I learn?" Rachel asked, there was something beautiful about the weapon Myth used, the way it took the entire body to draw back the string in a fluid motion only to release it in a flurry of speed.
Myth thought about it then shrugged, "be up at dawn and we'll see."
Rachel nodded vigorously, looking forward to the lesson.
Rayven walked in with her guns, she had gotten in a scuffle last night with a daemon who had attacked and killed a junior. When she stepped in to stop it she got a swipe of claws and a growl to back off, which she had done because you simply didn't get between a daemon and its victim. Red welts still scored across the left side of her face from where his claws had bitten into her, although when she came home before dawn they had been nasty wounds which Nhor had patched up before he went to sleep as the sun was up.
"Going after the daemon?" Crystal asked as she took the other gun and started to take it apart.
"Kind of have no choice, he killed a Junior last night and ate it's heart, I have to at least know why to tell his maker." Rayven said as she started taking apart the other gun and giving it a good clean.
"Ate its heart!" Crystal exclaimed.
Rayven nodded, "but I don't know any daemons which eat the dead beside a Reaper but it didn't look like a Reaper and it didn't try to take a chunk out of me."
"Succubus?" Crystal asked.
"They only consume the energy of the living, not the flesh and they tend to avoid feeding from the dead because it doesn't sustain them." Rayven answered.
"Perhaps the Junior crossed a Fury," Thais told the room.
"A Fury!" Rayven whined, "I don't want to deal with a Fury, those things are evil."
"Wait... back up..." Jasmine said, "daemons are real?"
"Yes but as you are human you don't see them." Serenity explained.
"That doesn't reassure me..." Jasmine said her voice rising in pitch a little towards the end.
"They aren't what you think they are," Temperance said trying to calm her down. "Oh they do personify all things that are evil and they derive their power from humans but generally they just want to feed and be left alone. They aren't out to destroy the world or anything like that."
"The Junior may have done something in his human life to provoke the wrath of a Fury, talk to it before taking action." Crystal suggested.
"If it is a Fury I am not going to piss it off again, it is more of a matter as to why." Rayven said animatedly as she started to put her gun back together and loaded a clip with special bullets made from Bloodstone, the green with red speckles stone was one of three stones, all of them of the Jasper variety, which could disable a daemon, disable... not kill as there was a completely different process to kill a daemon, although she hoped to not use her guns at all.
No one knew why Bloodstone worked on daemons, some believed it was the red iron in the stone that made it effective as iron was slightly toxic to Daemons. Others believed that it was the very nature of the stone itself which made it effective as Jasper was a healing stone, a soul healing stone.
"What is that?" Sky said as she picked up a bullet and studied the bullet.
"Bloodstone," Rayven answered, "it is one of three stones which will disable a daemon."
"Bloodstone?" Sky asked.
"Green jasper with iron stone flecks, it is a healing stone, Jasper heals the soul and iron is a little toxic to daemons." Serenity explained. "If you ever get to meet Ghost ask to look at his necklaces, he has two, a silver one and a carved piece of Bloodstone in the shape of an ancient Native American Wolfs head. He wears both in memory of the mates he has lost but also because the bloodstone is helping to keep him focused and centred."
Nhor stretched, "Serenity, time to start on your tattoo."
She nodded and stood from the table.
Crystal sighed, wishing Nhor would tell her he saw a tattoo beneath her skin begging to come out but he had yet to say anything.
"Start and finish if you like, I'll probably fall asleep while you do it." Serenity told him before glancing to Crystal, "Dog watch right?"
Crystal nodded, she had been rotating who did what shift and who got the night free to sleep through.
"Fall asleep?" Nhor asked as he followed her, he had never had someone fall asleep on him.
"Ancient, I don't feel pain if I chose not to." Serenity explained.
Sky pulled a face as she carefully stood, her body ached and sharp pain shot from her ribs, it wasn't until later that Nhor told her that rib tattoos could be painful.
"Night," Sky said more than ready for bed.
"No shower." Nhor called back.
"I KNOW!" Sky called back with a hint of anger.
"See you before dawn if not sooner." Rayven said as she took her gun from Crystal and holstered it and its pair at her hips. "Now... to find a Fury and tell it, it needs to move on."
One week stretched to two then to three, everyone was beginning to get on edge, the longer the vampires held off their feeding the closer they would be to Feral state when they finally decided to attack. It meant that the fight to come would be a lot harder. Crystal started drilling everyone in the house in what to do when the attack finally happened. Rayven was getting just as frustrated, after kindly telling the Fury to leave her jurisdiction and not come back, the daemon had just nodded and left without so much as an argument, she had gone back to work hunting the Rogue tribe. However, it was as if the rogue tribe had just vanished, no one knew anything and she believed them because they didn't want or need that kind of publicity or the scrutiny.
"Couldn't they have just... moved on?" Jasmine asked as they again sat down to a meal, Jay and several of their friends joined them for dinner tonight as the house was considered the only safe place to socialise.
Jay glanced to Crystal, as an Elemental he knew the answer but knew Jasmine wouldn't believe him. He finished drying his hands, before dinner he had gone over the wards, checking them for weakness and strengthening them.
"Doesn't work that way." Crystal explained.
Rayven nodded as she sipped at her coffee. "See," she said putting her mug down, "once a vampire tags someone nothing else will do, they have to have that person, no other person, no other blood will do, and having smelt you I understand why they chose you."
"How do we smell?" Sky asked curious.
"You smell... it's hard to put into words, you just smell good, not all humans smell nice, in fact some just stink. Humans eat with their eyes, Vampires eat with their noses." Rayven said faltering a little in her explanation.
"How does that work now since they can't eat humans?" Jasmine asked.
"It isn't the body we are smelling but the blood, we all prefer a certain blood type, those of us who have taught ourselves to drink animal blood have our preferences as well." Rayven explained.
"I really like elk blood, but will drink horse blood because that is all I can get here." Crystal explained.
"I don't mind horse blood, but I like bear better." Rayven explained, "but I try not to impact on numbers. So I don't get to drink bear often in this area."
"So... what do you think? Familiars are helping them." Crystal asked.
Rayven nodded slowly, "It is the only explanation, the fact they haven't attacked means they are getting blood, they might not like the taste but it is helping them remain in control."
"Which means we now have to be looking out for humans as well as vampires," Crystal groaned.
"Wait... so a Familiar is?" Sky asked.
"A Familiar is a human servant to a Vampire, generally hoping to be turned if they can prove themselves... dedicated. Back before the conclave decided on the suitable treatment and duties of a Familiar, they were forced to do many disturbing things, sex slaves, food, and much more. Now days a Familiar is only allowed to keep house, they are not allowed to be glamoured..."
"Glamoured?" Jasmine asked.
"Mind control," Rayven explained and got instant reactions from the three women who had experienced it firsthand. "They must have free thoughts and are allowed to choose just how much they want to do for their Vampire master."