Authors: Crymsyn Hart
Awakening the Beast
Awakening the Beast
Copyright © December 2013, Crymsyn Hart
Cover art by Mina Carter © December 2013
Formatting by Bob Houston eBook Formatting
Charlotte, NC 28227
No part of this e-book may be reproduced or shared by any electronic or mechanical means, including but not limited to printing, file sharing, and e-mail, without prior written permission from Amira Press.
She was running. Her feet pounded over the pine needle and leaf strewn forest floor of the home she had left behind. Thick black smoke permeated the forest and weighed heavy on her skin. Flames consumed everything they touched. No matter how much she tried to control them and make them understand her, the fire spirits were too large and focused on destroying everything in their wake. The cacophony of raven caws and wolf howls filled her ears and made it difficult to concentrate. Intermixed with them were echoes of other birds and screeches from animals she did not recognize. But underneath all of that there was some sort of melody that she could not discern. Even when she tried to listen to the tune, it was just out of her reach. Somehow it seemed familiar and called to her. The viscosity of the smoke stole the oxygen from her lungs. She had to warn everyone. A large tree fell barring her way and sending showers of sparks all around her. Tinder fell upon her clothes, burning the fabric, and searing her flesh. Intense pain encased her, but before she could put herself out…
Illiana awoke in a cold sweat. The heat of the fire remained on her skin and her lungs still burned from the smoke smothering her. The song she had heard lingered in her mind. When she sat up, Ohanzee mumbled in his sleep and Belik opened his eyes, slipping his arm around her waist. He pulled her closer.
“Everything okay?” he asked.
She ran her fingers through her hair and the tune disappeared completely. The strands were matted and sweat made it stick to her scalp. After drawing in a few cooling breaths, she was able to rid her body of the burning sensation she had in her nightmare.
I’m safe and in the house with Belik and Ohanzee
. Her mate kissed her cheek.
“It was another dream.”
“You’ve been having them on and off for six months and they seem to be getting worse. Do you think everything is okay?” Belik asked.
She nodded. “They’re intensifying. My instincts tell me something is wrong.”
“Are you sure?”
The three of them had settled into their lives. The tribe had accepted her, and people came to her door asking for help accessing their abilities or even their animals. Ohanzee’s condition was not a singular phenomenon. Her dreams were sporadic, but in the past two months they had become more frequent. Illiana had asked Ranolo about them, but he said they might be portents or they could be just dreams. “I don’t know.”
“Do we need to go back?”
Part of her wanted to say no, but another part, eating away at her, wanted to say yes. What if the dreams were only that—dreams. “I don’t know. We have to wait and see. If I have any more, then maybe.”
Belik drew her closer and comforted her. “I’m sure everything’s fine.”
She tried not to think about what might be happening to her aunt and her mother, or what might be going on with Christopher and the home she loved. But dark thoughts continued to plague her as Belik’s heartbeat tried to ease her fears. Finally she drifted off, but her dreams were still troubled. She was awoken by someone banging on the door. Illiana roused the two men to see who was there. Standing outside was Ranolo with a limp form in his arms covered with a blanket. Long black hair spilled over his arms, and she assumed it was a woman from the hair and the shape she could discern underneath the blanket.
“Quick, bring some water.” He rushed inside.
Ohanzee got the water. The shaman laid the woman down on their bed. Ranolo grabbed a cloth and dipped it into the water. Her father removed the blanket and dabbed at the woman’s face to remove the dirt. Illiana gasped and backed away.
“What is it?” Ohanzee glanced at her.
“It’s my mother,” she whispered.
“Illiana.” Her voice came out as a cracked whisper. Her black eyes were troubled, her pale skin was red from sunburn, and her lips cracked from thirst.
“Your mother!” Ohanzee gasped.
She glanced at Ranolo. “Where did you find her? How did she get here?”
“Lelana was on the outskirts of our territory. I saw her on the ground where she had collapsed. The elements alerted me that she was still alive. She was moaning your name and I recognized her after a moment. I’m sure you can imagine my shock.”
“Yes.” Illiana stared at the woman, still not believing her mother was here.
“Illiana,” her mother croaked.
“Shh…you need your rest.”
Lelana grabbed her arm and brought her closer. “No. You don’t understand. You have to listen…” Her words diminished into a fit of coughs. Belik offered her the water, which she sipped at. She pushed the cup away and tried to sit up. “The flock….”
“What is it?”
“It’s…” Lelana tried to get out more, but collapsed back on the bed and slipped into unconsciousness.
Illiana backed away. When her back hit the wall, she slid down until she hit the floor and covered her face with her hands. How had her mother found this place? How long had she been flying? What had prompted her to leave the flock?
Maybe my dreams are true. Maybe we should go back. If I do, what good could I do there? What dangers have come to the home I love? Is Christopher okay?
“We need to let her rest.” Someone touched her arm. She glanced up and saw Ranolo offering her his hand. It took a moment for her to get up and leave the room. Once he closed the door, her father sighed.
Her world still reeled. Belik guided her to a chair as she tried to make sense of it all. “I have to go back.”
“First, your mother needs to recover. We can’t run off without any information on what prompted her to come here,” Ohanzee said to her. He handed her a glass of water which she sipped at.
What her mate said was true. They had to wait and see what her mother said. If they set off to the forest without knowing how erratic things were and the environment they were walking into, then they could be in more danger. In the end, she already knew her decision. She had to know if Christopher was okay. How would Christopher react to her having another man in her life?
He probably already has another mate and has forgotten about me. Seeing me will probably be a shock. I can’t think about him. Mother has to get better first. I hope when she’s coherent she can tell me if he’s all right.
Christopher was never far from her thoughts. Ohanzee and Belik filled her heart with so much love sometimes her past was a dream, but then she remembered the marvelous few months that Christopher had been in her life.
So much had changed.
She studied her mother. The lines had eased on her face as she sunk into sleep, but those wrinkles were like the cracks in their relationship that had never truly mended. The resentment she felt toward the woman burned her heart. Maybe this was a second chance for them, but deep down it felt like they would always be at odds. Ranolo touched her arm and pulled her gaze away from her mother. Her father was paler than normal. Worry darkened his gaze and his drawn features made her heart sink.
“She’s in pretty bad shape. I hope she’ll wake up.”
“What do the spirits tell you?” Ohanzee asked.
Ranolo gave him a half-hearted laugh. “Nothing. They don’t always answer or reveal the future. No matter what road you walk down, the spirits can lead you into the dark.”
She would never understand the cryptic words that her father said about spirits. He was trying to teach her about them though, amongst other things about her abilities. “I can try to heal her.”
“You’d have a better chance than I would. Your connection to her is stronger than mine. And I don’t trust myself around her. I…”
Her father called her an elemental and a mind healer. Her great-grandmother was the last one in the tribe because she could control all four elements and bend the air. He had been trying to teach her how to heal by using the elements inside of a person to help them recover from injuries. Illiana had been successful with some, but she was not comfortable using her abilities on anyone without guidance. Normally, her father or one of her mates had helped draw her back to herself, and it left her exhausted for several hours, or days, depending on what she was doing.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea. Sometimes it doesn’t work and I don’t want to hurt her.”
“I’m not asking you to slip into her mind. I’m only asking that you try and heal some of her wounds. It will ease her pain and hasten her recovery. I’ll be with you and so will the others.”
She glanced at Ohanzee and Belik. Both nodded. It was the best course of action so her mother would be out of pain. Illiana got up and took a deep breath, remembering what she had learned. Her mates followed her back into the bedroom. She placed her hands on her mother’s head and at once the fire element flared through her and she shivered. It raged within her mother. She had never figured that her mother’s element was fire. Illiana trusted her feelings and was still learning how to balance what elements were lacking in a person. Because she could tap into all four elements, she had to make sure they would not control her.
“Remember what I said, probe lightly first before determining what’s wrong with her.”
what’s wrong with her. She’s been flying for days on end without stopping and she’s exhausted.”
“Please try, Illiana. She’s your mother. We both want to know what’s going on with the flock.”
It did not matter if part of her still had not forgiven the things her mother had done to her. Over the years, Lelana had put the flock before her. Whenever she needed her mother, she was doing something for the Corvi. Lelana had gone against her when she wanted to mate Christopher. Granted, their joining was not sanctioned by the laws of the flock and the pack because the two species could not intermarry. The elders were afraid that a child born of the union would be furry and have feathers all at the same time. Her mother had raised her to be raven and withheld Illiana’s true nature.
What did it matter now?
Her mother was here and something was wrong with the flock. She had to block all of that out and focus.
When Illiana closed her eyes, she felt the enflamed fire raging through Lelana. It blazed from her mother and into her, trying to take over her body.
. She summoned the water element within her, envisioning the cooling effect it would have and pushed it into her mother. The fire flared along her and fought against her. She touched upon the water that was inside her mother. She tried to call upon it, but the water was not cooperating. Illiana pushed deeper into her mother’s head and found the raven inside her. It was near catatonic. Illiana knelt down and scooped up the bird, holding it close to her heart. The animal stirred and slowly melted back into the human form of her mother within the mental landscape. The woman smiled at her, a soft smile. The fire flashed again, Illiana was able weave her own elements around her mother. They waited for her instructions.
“Breathe. It will be okay. You have to take control of them,”
her father whispered in her mind.
Illiana took in a breath and knew her father was correct. She was afraid. She had healed fevers before. It was a matter of finding the right balance. Could she do it now with her mother? Even with the elements cocooning her mother, all she could think of was all of the disappointments she associated with Lelana.
I have to put that behind me and focus.
Illiana felt the elements once more. They fought against her for a moment, but once she had them in her grasp, the cocoon around Lelana slowly began to dissipate. The elements were fusing together and coming into balance with her mother’s. The fire struggled to gain control, but she pushed back with water until the flames were extinguished. Air rushed around her and when her mother opened her mouth to breathe, a whoosh of it went into her and at once, Lelana breathed easier. Illiana sensed the other injuries that her mother had sustained in her own limbs. There was nothing major, just bruises, exhaustion, and dehydration. She treated what she could and pulled out of her mother’s mind.