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The Changers {{AtN Progressive Story}}

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 27, 2012 09:22PM) (new)

“Natali?” Demeu whispered, putting a hand on her shoulder to turn her face from the earth. He had come upon her shortly after she had fallen, and though the danger of discovery was not as great now as it had been, there was still urgency to move on. The stars were still out, but dawn was drawing nigh. “Natali, deer?” Demeu whispered again in attempt to wake her.

Natali stirred uncomfortably, her arms tightening their embrace upon the small bundle she kept. She struggled for a moment before at last her eyes opened, though she winced and moaned.
Natali pushed herself up from the ground with what little strength she had and tears unbidden streamed down her slender white cheeks. Demeu assisted her that she was able to sit up. He could see that she was in pain and though he wished it otherwise, he knew his own exhaustion would prevent him from carrying her the final distance.

“We need to keep going, Natali.” Demeu prompted gently. “I have caused them loss of many of their hounds, but it is only a temporary blindness; they will have other methods of tracking us before long.”

Natali looked with furrowed brows up at Demeu’s face for a moment, then down at the bundle in her lap. She had then remembered the odd occurrence just before having fallen, and she wondered if she should ask about the odd little package. Yet she did not, and at length she attempted to bring herself to stand.

As painful as it was, with Demeu’s help Natali was brought back to her feet. Demeu lightened her load by taking the bundle from around her neck onto his own, then he helped her to lean on him, and at last they continued their journey toward the small town in the distance.

The two had walked for a time before they began to come upon fenced fields and asphalt roads. The latter Demeu had them mainly avoid, as though cars were seldom in the twilight hours, they still passed and it was in the interest of Demeu not to be seen at present by passersby of any kind.
Natali did not know where he intended to go, and she could just barely keep track of exactly in which direction they were headed. The best she could do to keep track of her surroundings was to guess at small landmarks or a potent smell in the grass; however, her sight often faded as several times along the way she nearly lost consciousness, and Demeu smelled too strongly of blood for her to be able to focus on any other scents. She knew at one point they crossed into the town and traveled on a street and then a sidewalk. They passed under the orange and yellow light of several street lamps, and sometimes very near Natali heard the clattering of small scavenger claws against metal cans. At length however, Natali gave up trying to reason a direction and had been wandering at Demeu’s side with her eyes closed when his pace suddenly slowed to a stop.

“This should do for the time..” Demeu whispered. He had come to his intended destination; the closest place he could think of which might provide some shelter for them to rest.

As Natali looked up, she saw the small modern house, which she assumed by the style of the fence and yard was on the edge of town, or else a lower-class home. At least this assumption, though she could not be sure, seemed to be correct in her mind… And then, there was something she could not really interpret which seemed familiar about the place.

“Where are we?” Natali ventured to ask, though she never quite received an answer.

Demeu had no trouble getting into the yard, and once in, he had no trouble getting Natali in. He brought her around to the back of the house and sought an entranceway. Neither doors nor any windows appeared to be unlocked, so at length Demeu changed and used his claws to brake the back door around its lock and finally gain access to the house.

After going into the home and making sure no one was present, Demeu came outside again and beckoned Natali. “Come on,” He said, “There’s no one here.”

Natali got up off the grass where she had been sitting with the bundle watching Demeu try to get in. She had the funny feeling that he should’ve looked for an unlocked skylight, despite all odds against that idea, but she never said anything about it.

Upon entering the house, Natali was greeted with many scents undeniably familiar to her, yet still she could not remember when or where she had smelled them before. The living area and kitchen were nearly the same room and both were extremely small.

“Here, sit down.” Demeu beckoned Natali to the couch.

“Where are we, Demeu?” Natali asked for the second time. As she gazed about the room, holding the small bundle against her chest, she found a feeling of frustration in trying to place together the broken puzzle in her mind. “I’ve been here before; I know I have, haven’t I?” She muttered to herself, drifting passed the room to the hall. She could remember someone coming down the stairs, she felt sure that up there only one room would be found with a small bed and cluttered closet... Her body still ached and she felt very stiff, and in that moment when weakness and frustration met, she felt as if she would sit down and cry.

Demeu watched her but said nothing until she stopped and stood for a time looking down the hall. “You have been here before; otherwise we wouldn’t be safe here.” He said after a time. “Come sit down Natali, Deer, you are hurt and you need to rest. We cannot stay here for long; dogs can track in streets as well as in forests.”

Natali hesitated only a moment longer before coming to sit where Demeu had bidden.
“I will watch for a time, you should sleep.” Demeu said softly as he crouched on the floor.

It did not take Natali long to fall to sleep. She had so many questions without answers, so many things to think about, yet in the moment she closed her eyes on that soft couch her mind did not wander long before she gave in.

Demeu stayed awake for awhile, listening out the door as the birds began to wake up and the fresh sunlight filtered through the curtains. Then he leaned back against a cabinet and slowly allowed the exhaustion plaguing his body to overcome him at last.


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 27, 2012 09:47PM) (new)

Clunk!

Demeu opened his eyes and looked around. All was as it had been before he drifted off, yet he was sure he had heard a noise. Standing from his crouched position, he looked around the room. Natali was still asleep on the couch, the bundle was still held firmly in her arms, and the back door was still opened a crack; nothing appeared to have changed. Then suddenly he heard something beyond the front door - footsteps! Springing toward the back door, Demeu closed it and put down the blinds! Natali would not be seen immediately from the front door, so Demeu would have to intercept the stranger before whoever they were came into the living room.
The clinking of keys could be heard in the lock now and Demeu decided the best move would to be to stand behind the door and wait. So quickly, yet quietly, Demeu crept to the entranceway and barely dared to breathe as the knob began to turn.

The door slowly came open and stepping into the house was a slender young lady with short silver hair. She carried two paper bags of groceries in one arm and a ring of keys in her other hand. Walking right in front of Demeu with her back turned, the woman pushed the door closed with her foot. Demeu did not move, nor dared he to breathe. The woman looked as if she would walk into the living room, but then she hesitated. Looking around and drawing breath, she seemed to notice now the odd smell in her home and the sickening feeling of being watched from behind.

It was then that the young lady turned around, jumped back and let out a shriek!

Natali was woken and alerted by the scream and sat up abruptly. “Demeu!” she called out in near panic when she did not see him in the living room! There was a crunch and the clattering of cans to the floor in the hallway before Natali heard the voice of a woman, again a strange sensation of familiarity washed through her.

“What are you people doing in my house?!” the voice demanded.

Natali gripped the bundle tightly in her arms and slowly stood up from the couch. Cautiously she peered around the corner into the hallway.

“We’re sorry to intrude we just needed a place to stay for the night.” Demeu explained.

The situation was not at all ideal; Demeu was standing against the door; a tall and strong statured man. His skin was dark, but his eyes were gold and glinted inhumanly from beneath his black brow. The sun light filtering through the window revealed that his arms and chest were covered in blood, some of which was his own. His tunic and trousers were muddy and still wet from the night’s events. Yet most evidently of his circumstance were the iron cuffs and broken links on his wrists and ankles.

“There’s a house two blocks down that’s vacant, and the night’s over besides!” the woman continued, “I don’t know who you are – if you need a house, fine, I don’t care, I won’t call anyone on you – but I would like to leave.”

Natali almost felt humored by this woman’s reaction, though she did not exactly know why; there wasn’t much humor from the opposite point of view. Yet something inside her nearly felt downright giddy at seeing this girl again… Yes, again, she had seen this woman before... But where?

“I’m not going to hurt you, neither is she, but I need to talk with you – it’s about the Selek,” Demeu said, putting up his palms in a gesture of surrender.

The woman shook her head at the mention of the name, but said nothing.

Demeu glanced toward Natali for a moment, then toward the bundle in her arms before returning his gaze upon the young woman.

Natali threw Demeu a questioning glance.

The woman standing between the two caught the silent communication, and hesitantly, she turned to look back at Natali. What was intended to be a brief glance captured the woman’s full attention; she looked as if her heart had leapt to her throat!

“Natalie?” She said with a gasp and an expression of pure astonishment.

Natali felt an overwhelming sensation of curiosity and excitement as she recognized the face of a dear friend!

“Amy!” Natali exclaimed!

“I haven’t seen you since they took off with you – and that was what, two years ago? Where have you been?” Amy said, hesitantly stepped toward Natali looking somewhat anxious.

Natali could not remember what Amy was referring to and simply shrugged before stepping forward to embrace her friend.

“I’ve been so worried about you!” Amy said with tears slipping down unnoticed onto Natali’s shoulder.

Natali looked up over Amy’s embrace and looked earnestly toward Demeu. Her eyes speaking the confusion and sorrow in her mind; she knew Amy, she loved Amy – why couldn’t she remember anything about Amy?

Demeu sighed, he knew he was unable to give her the answers she needed. Crouching down, he began to idly collect Amy’s groceries from the floor.

When at length Amy came from Natali’s embrace, she looked down at the curious wrapping held firmly in her friend’s arms.

“What is this?” she asked.

Again Natali shrugged, following Amy’s gaze. “Something for the Selek,” she replied.

“We were told that you had contact with them at one point, is that true?” Demeu asked, rising from the floor.

Amy turned to look at Demeu and a look of mild disgust crossed her face. “Why are you covered in blood?” she asked abruptly.

“We were running from the Hunts,” Demeu replied.

“Are they that close, really?” Amy anxiously glanced toward the window. “They’ll likely be here soon then, they’ve had my name and location for years now – they just haven’t had any proof.”

Natali raised a brow inquisitively just then. “Proof of what, Amy?”

Amy looked at her friend. “Proof that I can Change,” she whispered. There was a moment’s pause before Amy abruptly turned to face Demeu and demanded, “Who are you?”

“He has had me call him Demeu.” Natali replied ahead of her companion.

Demeu brought the subject around just then. “We have a few other companions whom are at great risk, we need your help. Do you know where the Selek have gone?”

Amy took a step back and furrowed her brows. “They didn’t tell me,” she said after a moment. “They left a few years ago; they left and cut off all communication with me. I thought Natalie was dead. I‘ve been living here alone working a night shift at a grocery store. I have no idea where the Selek have gone, the last time I heard from them was just after Natalie was taken.”

Natali was silent, looking between Amy and Demeu, still trying to piece together the mystery in her head.

Demeu sighed heavily. “Then we don’t know where they are, and coming here might have been a dead end.”

Amy looked down at the ground briefly, before looking back up at Demeu. “I’m sorry...”

A pause in the conversation followed as Amy drew a deep breath and bent down to get her groceries off the floor. “I want to pester you with questions, Natalie, but you both look terribly exhausted,” Amy said as she rose from her stoop. “You guys each need a warm shower and something clean to get into – I don’t even know what you’re wearing, but it doesn’t look comfortable. I can watch that wrapped-whatever-you-call-it while you get some sleep, Natalie.”

Natali smiled, the way Demeu pronounced her name and the Amy pronounced it were quite different. “That’s alright, Amy. Haven’t you been working all night, shouldn’t you get some rest too?”

“Nah,” Amy chuckled softly, “I haven’t seen you in two years; I don’t know where you’ve been, I don’t know how you’ve been, and I don’t know how you escaped – but I know better than to bedraggle anyone with questions when they’re already thoroughly bedraggled in body and soul. Besides, a Snowy Owl works ‘round the clock!” Amy winked and pointed down the hall.

Amy directed her two guests to get cleaned up, and since the small house only had one shower, she insisted that Demeu go first. She found a box of her brother’s old clothes in her closet and allowed for Demeu to have them, explaining that they had been “sitting up there in that cluttered closet for years.” Regardless however, Demeu washed his own trousers and tunic. As for Natali, she had a selection from Amy’s clothes laid out for her. Once all were washed and comfortable, Amy allowed them to sleep while she fixed a nice full breakfast.


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