34.A Werewolf's Pain.34
Rebecca hadn't come back. After her anger took over, she stomped off while growling, her fingernails elongating. Sven shot me a grim look before running after her as she shifted, the two of them disappearing into the woods. Behind me, my dragon companion was nuzzling my frozen form as I stood in shock.
"She's right," I mumbled to Kai, "I don't have any idea of what it's like being a Darkblood. I don't know anything. I don't understand any of this, so why was it me?"
My eyes watered, forcing me to rub them furiously. I was angry with myself, and ashamed. Some part of me must've been absolutely stupid if I thought a werewolf would be okay being surrounded by Lightbloods. A loud hiccup left my mouth as I continued rubbing away tears, trying to calm my shaking hands as Kai rubbed his head on my shoulder. The dragon purred, exactly like a cat, trying to calm me down. It wasn't long until my wings and other appendages shot from my skin, curling around me as I tried to comfort myself.
"I have to find her and make this right. I need to fix this," I decided, forcing back my tears. I shouldn't be the one crying, I thought, climbing up in Kai's back, carefully tucking in my wings.
"Can you follow her scent?" I asked the dragon, reaching out with my mind. I could feel Sven, but Rebecca had closed herself off. Determination surged through my veins as Kai's answer rung through my mind.
Already on it.
I grimaced as Kai shot off, sprinting through the camp like he knew it by hand. I frowned, glancing over my shoulder.
I thought Rebecca went into the forest.
Kai's grin was all mental, but just as smug. She looped around. She's in this kind of building, he answered, projecting a form of memory into my mind. It looked like a child's sketch of the main townhall, and my head whipped up. In the center of our path was the exact building. I hunched over, letting the wind pass overhead as Kai sprinted the last bit, skidding to a stop right outside the door. I was panting as I dismounted, running inside with Kai's words of encouragement in my mind.
Even I, with my zero experience in tracking, could follow the scent of the werewolf, and somehow sense her distress. It trailed to the room I'd been in, with Darkblood legends forever remembered with their faces covering the walls. I opened the door slowly, stepping through while surveying the room carefully. I'd never dealt with an angry, upset werewolf, and didn't want to have to fight for my own safety. Not against Rebecca, especially when I was in the wrong.
However, I didn't need to be cautious. The second I entered, I heard the sobs of the girl with her head on her arms as she leaned on the table, uncaring of the sound her sobs made. Her body shuddered each time she paused before another bout of crying began, her hands clenched into fists.
"Have you," she paused to sob, "come to laugh? To point your f-finger at me and o-order me around, Lightblood?"
I winced, but refused to let myself crumble. I needed to be level-headed, to apologize, but I couldn't take her lashing out at me to heart.
"I'm sorry, Rebecca. I didn't realize what I was asking of you," I apologized, taking a shaky step toward her. She whipped her head up, staring at me with golden eyes and long, pointed teeth sticking out of her mouth. Parts of her face were already being taken over my fur, and I could see the shape of her ear trying to mold into a wolf's. "I-I still don't. But we can use this to our advantage. If they mock us, then they mock us. But we are better than them by trying to bring the two together."
"No," the werewolf snapped, her voice deeper. "We're not better than them because we're trying. We're better because we're stronger. As a Lightblood, you should know that. You should know what it's like to be at the level of a Lightblood, then shoot to the level of a Darkblood."
Rebecca tilted her head, getting to her feet. "How can you even trust me not to hurt any of them, Cloud? They're so weak -- I could easily turn on your plan and do a noble deed for my people by killing at least a few."
Her cheeks glistened in the light from her tears, her shoulders hunched as she remained halfway into the transformation into a wolf. I wanted to cringe, but held my ground.
"You were hurt by them, I get that now. But if you try to lay a finger on any one of them who willingly went to a party where Darkbloods would be," I began, stepping toward her until we were chest the chest. "I will stop you. In front of everyone. I will do it over and over again because that is what my job is."
No, she thought, sending it with a ridiculous amount of force. My hands went to my temples, trying to soothe my mind as pain radiated through my head. It was enough time for her to shift, the wolf easily knocking me down before I could comprehend what was happening. I had gotten rid of my Darkblood form coming in here to try and remain unthreatening, but now that I was on the floor, I wasn't sure if bringing out my wings would help or cause me pain by breaking them.
You don't know what it's like, Cloud, the werewolf thought it my mind, balancing on me. Her backfeet were on my thighs, her front paws on either side of my head. She held her muzzle right above my throat, waiting to clamp down. You don't know the pain of hiding. Of having nowhere to go, of having to lie and then get caught for it. My parents were killed by Lightbloods at the age of seven. But you want to know somethin'?
The wolf howled, throwing her head back before she kicked with her back leg, slicing through my thigh with her claws.
I was expecting it. I knew my parents wouldn't survive. We were Darkbloods trying to live among Lightbloods in a small town. They were killed in the center of our hut, right before the hunters came to get me. I shifted, and that night, I made my first three kills. The other four that helped take down my parents are still out there, and one day I plan to kill them.
Her anger radiated off of her in waves, suffocating me as I thrashed, blood pouring from my thigh. If it wasn't for superhuman regeneration, I would have begun to lose hope.
After that, I pretended to be a lost Lightblood girl. I never shifted. Never showed signs of magic. Slow, stupid, clumsy. Everyone thought I was hopeless, but no one suspected me of being Darkblood.
That was until some Lightblood girl wanted to use me for target practice. She was a huntress, with the gift of heightened sight. Her eyes could see things the way an eagle could, but she would always just miss when I was the target. I had knicks on my sides, from top to bottom. Even ones on my head.
That happened on a daily for four years straight.
I stopped thrashing, opening my eyes to look into Rebecca's. Her anger had begun to mellow, replaced by sadness. Pools of gold were blurred by tears as the wolf began to speak softly in my mind instead of harshly.
Until one day, she actually missed. The shot went through my arm, and the pain caused my wolf side to explode. It was hard enough keeping it into control. The second I shifted, she shot at me for real.
That was my fourth kill.
The town knew by then, but the parents I had couldn't believe I was a Darkblood. They advocated to keep me alive but imprisoned, while everyone else wanted me dead.
And your lovely kingdom decided to improvise.
The wolf stepped off me, glancing at the scratch on my thigh as I panted, rolling over and folding in on myself in pain as I waited for the rest of the story.
Three years. Three years of having rotten things thrown at me. Years of being brought down from a cage hanging into the middle of town only to be beaten by children who were learning about exaggerated Darkblood monsters. Years of being ridiculed and damaged.
Rebecca crumpled, her form melting away before she became a broken human girl sitting on the floor, her eyes holding a faraway look. I pushed myself up, watching her watch nothing.
"The tattoos," she began, meaning the marks she and Sven had on their arms, "are to cover up the bad scars that never faded, even with werewolf regeneration. If I was meant to bear them forever, I was going to at least bear them in a way I wanted."
My shoulders slumped forward as I exhaled.
"I'm sorry," I told her, this time pouring my heart and soul behind it. "I think the world has it wrong. Lightbloods are the monsters."
Rebecca shrugged, pulling her knees up to her chest. She rested her arms on them before putting her chin on her arms, staring at the floor.
"I don't think so. There are some good Lightbloods, and some good Darkbloods. But both sides have many, many monsters."
Her eyes flicked to mine, then my leg, then back to my own eyes.
"That's where we've always been equal."