Welcome to our second post! Please enjoy!
They crowded around the squalling child, moving with inhuman grace as they gathered in a solemn circle. The girl wailed, her chubby fists waving indignantly in the air, her breath frosty in the chilled morning air. The eldest stepped forward, his eyes gleaming in the faintest rays of sun, his nostrils flared.
“This one,” he said slowly, his tongue wetting his lips with a sharp, flicking movement, “has much Potential.”
“Indeed,” his bonded said, running her ruby fingers across his arm as she leaned forward to examine the girl.
“Unheard of in a human child,” another said, sniffing disdainfully, casting a glance towards the rising sun. “Simply unheard of.”
“An anomaly,” said another, his green eyes sparking with curiosity. “Maybe humans have begun to evolve?”
“It could sustain us for another millennia, my love.” The first mused, moving his hand to cover hers. She nodded, moving closer to him, her cloak softly sweeping the ground.
“A power that will only grow with time,” she murmured, casting a questioning glance towards her bonded. He looked at her, reading intention in her eyes.
“Indeed,” he said equally softly.
“Can we manage this?” She asked, running her fingernails over his forearm.
“Of course, Sasal, my dear.”
“What in the world are you talking about?” The green eyed one asked, stretching languidly as he watched his brother with idle curiosity.
“We will raise this child,” the eldest announced. “When her Potential is fulfilled, we shall again be reborn.”
“Yes, Faline,” the green eyed one said mockingly. “Yes, brother, you will raise a human child undetected in a world overrun with them.”
“It can be done,” Sasal said quietly. The green eyed brother snorted before turning away with a flourish, his form rapidly vanishing into the dawn. The rest followed his lead, melting away like shadows.
“So we have a child, my love.” Faline mused, gazing down at the wriggling child.
“Yes,” Sasal said, her eyes gleaming.
And so the child grew, as any child would grow. She took a special delight in the sky, the stars, and all things wild and free, her black hair in tangles at the end of each day as the wind would tease it into a thousand knots.
“Kesrael, what have I told you about taking your braids out?” Sasal sighed as she tugged a comb through her daughter’s hair. Kesrael wiggled impatiently, sighing in relief as her hair was finally untangled. Sasal gave a small smile as she rested a cold hand on her daughter’s shoulder, looking at her with an unnatural gleam in her eye.
“So you turn five tomorrow, don’t you?” Kesrael hummed a yes, snuggling under her quilted covers. Sasal glanced back at Kesrael shoulder as she walked out of the room, flipping the lights off before joining her husband downstairs. In her dark room, Kesrael closed her eyes, only to jerk upright as a slight scratching noise echoed from under her bed.
“W-who’s there?” She asked, frightened.
“Child,” a voice said softly, with an almost echo like tone. “You are in danger.”
“Who are you?” Kesrael demanded, her eyes darting wildly around her room. “Mommy!”She wailed, her breaths coming in fast gasps.
“Don’t scream, little one. I’m not here to hurt you,” the voice said soothingly.
“Mommy!” Kesrael screamed again, curling against her mattress. “Go ‘way,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
“You are in danger,” the voice, fading as footsteps pounded up the stairs.
“Kesrael!” Sasal shouted, throwing open the door. “Baby, are you all right?” She asked, rushing to the bed. Kesrael said nothing, just grabbing her mother in a tight hug, trembling on the bed. “Oh honey, what happened?”
“A m-monster, under m-my bed,” Kesrael gasped in between sobs.
“Oh darling,” Sasal murmured a she rubbed soothing circles on Kesrael’s back. “Never let the monsters scare you. They can’t do anything to you, not while your father and I are around to protect you.”
“I promise.” Sasal said, before smoothing Kesrael’s covers back over her. “Now get some sleep. You have a big day tomorrow.” Kesrael nodded before laying down again, glancing anxiously at her mother’s retreating form. The door shut with a quiet click and Kesrael squeezed her eyes shut, her heart beating so loud she was sure everyone could hear it. She waited with baited breath, listening. When she heard nothing she gave a small sigh before falling asleep.
“Danger,” the voice whispered softly under bed. “The child is in danger.” Kesrael heard nothing, already drifted off into whatever dreamland young children visit at night.
“She is ready,” Sasal said quietly to her husband.
“Good,” Faline said. “And when shall our rebirth begin?”
“I think,” Sasal murmured into his ear, rubbing gentle circles on his shoulders, “that we should take the child while she is sleeping. No need for her to be aware what is happening.”
“Of course, my love.” Faline responded, standing with a quiet groan. “And none too soon, I can feel an ache settling in my bones.” Hand in hand, they crept up the stairs, coming to stand in front of Kesrael’s door. It opened with a click.
“The child is in danger,” the voice hissed at the sudden intrusion of light. Faline and Sasal recoiled momentarily, stepping cautiously into the room.
“Leave, shadow.” Sasal commanded, her voice brittle, like glass.
“The child is in danger,” it responded, sliding out from under the bed. Its form was almost liquid, a liquid blackness that moves protectively in front of the bed.
“Move it.” Faline snarled. The shadow stayed in place, Kesrael stirring in her sleep.
“Mommy?” She asked sleepily, rubbing her eyes before bolting upright, staring with wide eyes at the amphormorpheous blob in front of her. “Mommy!?” Kesrael shrieked, windmilling backwards.
“Baby,” Sasal said in a low voice, holding out her arms. “Come here, sweetie.”
“Daddy?” Kesrael asked, her voice quavering.
“C’mere baby girl,” Faline said. “You’ll be safe over here.”
“Child,” the shadow murmered. “Let me show you the truth.” It made an odd, jerking movement towards Faline and Sasal, a cold chill passing over the room. Their eyes blurred before settling in a feline gold, their canines elongating into knife edges, their bones angular and jutting out.
“M-mommy?” Kesrael stuttered, staring at her parents.
“It lies,” Sasal said, hushing her child. “It’s trying to fool you, can’t you see that?”
“The child isn’t safe,” the voice murmered. Kesrael scuttled off her bed, pressing herself against the wall between the shadow and her parents. She looked at the shadow, then at her parents, and back again.
“Come here, Kes.” Faline said, holding out his hand. “It’s not safe.”
“Come, child,” the shadow murmered. Kesrael shivered, darting past the shadow and into the safety of her parents’ arms.
“Be careful,” the shadow whispered before gathering into itself like a turtle withdrawing into its shell, vanishing. Kesrael looked at her parents before stumbling back a pace, her wide human eyes meeting their golden feline ones.
“You should have listened,” Sasal hissed.
“Should’ve listened,” Faline echoed, drawing close to the child, his face already smoothing out, wrinkles vanishing as he grew ever closer to Kesrael’s Potential. The child stumbled back, sinking to her knees as they drew her Potential from her, vanishing when they were renewed,
They found her, wandering around the town, a vacant look in her eyes and a stutter permanetely hovering in her throat. She couldn’t even tell them her name.