One skill Aedim picked up after learning to meditate was something elves called “Star-Whispering”. Apparently stars are deities and spirits of the old, leaving their mortal coil, they went up there and now they spend time looking down at us and talking. If you are very capable in magic and you have the aptitude, you can listen in to the whispers of those gods.
When Aedim first heard the faint whisper she freaked out a bit. She tried to shut off her thoughts and instead expand her perception like I could. My inhuman senses were amazing, so she couldn’t achieve as much, but it was enough for her to hear almost inaudible words spoken up in the heavens.
Once she realized what she did, she began training. She couldn’t understand anything at first, but after a while she realized that the words didn’t matter, they were most likely in some old forgotten tongue. What did matter was the meaning behind them. She would turn her attention upwards and she could gain some insight about the world. She learned of some white-walkers being born in Far East. She heard of how much of disgrace the king proved to be. She heard some whispers of adultery and rape in the demon country.
She could hear many things, many of which were of little importance. Some whispers spoke of things to come. Something dark was born to the far south-east of the continent. It stirred and waited. Man, some foreshadowing right there.
Aedim would sometimes spend her nights looking up to the sky and gazing at the stars. I thought it was ironic, how Aedim with her void-like eyes would gaze up into another void. In my head I was wondering which would win, the void within the girl, or the boundless emptiness beyond the world. I never really got the answer; they never tired of looking at one another.
Aedim also gained a bad habit as a consequence. At night she might wonder off to find a quiet place lacking the cracking of the fire and rustling of our clothes. As she would block out almost every stimulus other than the whispers from above, she could be extremely vulnerable. She assured me she was perfectly safe, but I warned her. I could feel something bad would happen if she was careless.
I used my training differently. With my senses and meditation, I could expand my perception for miles around. On some rest days, I would sit and listen in on heartbeats of some special people. Off to the west, there were three little hearts that drummed day and night, pumping blood without stopping. Such feat often took a toll on me, as the time would flash by in an instance and afterwards I’d need proper rest. But Elaya would often be glad to hear that others are alright, their hearts spoke louder than words.
About three months into our first shift, something bad happened. I was fast asleep, with Meriden standing watch. Aedim walked off somewhere as she usually would. I had dreams of some women from my previous lives. I clearly remember a red head, a white haired elf and a blue haired loli. They were arguing about something and I just stood there with a baby in my arms.
My dreams were cut short by sudden thunder. It was like being in the middle of a massive thunderstorm, with lighting strikes meters away from you, time after time. “Du-dum! Du-dum! DU-DUM!” If was deafening.
I didn’t even realize what happened until I was galloping across the grass plain in my beast form, charging somewhere to the east of us. I knew something happened.
It took me fifteen minutes to cover the distance of what we would need to spend 4 days walking usually. My muscles ached and my bones had some cracks, but it was nothing compared to the headache I felt because of the thundering drums in my ears.
I appeared in at the edge of a human camp. It was about a two hours walk away from the edge of our usual patrolled area. Humans seemed to have learned boundaries of our patrols.
It took me an instant to clearly see what happened. There were cages, which meant slavers. Cages were filled with various women, some as old as their late thirties and as young as four or five year olds. All of them were nude, most of them were bruised and beaten, deadpan expression on their faces.
There were elves and what I think were dryads there mixed in with humans. Some teen girls were out of the cages and sprawled on the ground, bound by their hands, some dirty rags in their mouths to keep them from screaming. I could see tears gushing out of their eyes, they were clearly in pain. Whatever was deep inside them could only be described as hell. Atop them were some human shaped piles of filth. They were not worthy to even be considered alive.
And then there was one more thing I remembered. There was Aedim on the ground, gagged by some filthy cloth, with two hooded figures hunched over her. Last thing I could see were their hands trying to get her pants off and to get below her shirt to caress her chest. The loud, thundering sound was coming from the very chest they wanted to defile.
Elders all feared that I would lose control during Rites. Their fears were unfounded, I always controlled the beast. What they should have been afraid of was me losing control of myself.
Whatever happened next only came to me after the fact, in flashes. I never truly knew what carnage I unleashed then.
With my very first move I charged the five hundred meters separating me and Aedim. By bones broke with that leap, which was the first time since my tenth birthday. The force generated was too great for a normal body. My sharp claws were meant to neatly cleave through flesh, leaving behind smooth wounds letting my prey bleed to death. They were never mean to be used with such force.
In an instant I appeared behind what used to be two men, my claws already passed through them. In the next moment they both exploded into blood and gore, showering the entire area around them with blood, bits of their intestines and brain matter. I was already somewhere else, smashing someone’s skull or decapitating someone. Perhaps whatever happened was too fast even for me to comprehend. All I can remember now are some images of blood showering everyone present, taste of blood and brain on my tongue and sounds of screams that ended way too fast.
Within ten minutes, around two hundred people lost any resemblance to anything other than minced meat, truly a monstrous display of power. Perhaps human king was right to fear us; perhaps darkness did overtake the people of Val. The filth never got a chance to fight back, in their panic they didn’t understand what happened until they were all dead.
Two hundred dead bandits and slavers, little more than fifty broken steel cages, and I sat there, with Aedim in my arms hugging her with enough force to break bones. Thankfully, it was my bones that were broken. I passed out with her still in my arms, both of us covered in what used to be men mere minutes ago, my body broken and mingled through its own effort.
I didn’t come to until three weeks later.