As time for our eleventh birthday closed in on us, most of the preparations were complete. Elders added some people who would wield whips to make my life sweeter. I had to really examine my inner psyche to reevaluate how much I enjoy the S&M. Apparently not that much, pain didn’t do me any good. But I was still dumb enough to go through with it.
Meriden was thoroughly set on completing the Rite. She believed with all her heart that we would succeed. Failure was not an option. If I say it truthfully, I feared for what would happen to me if I would succumb to the beast.
The trial itself was just a little more difficult then the previous one. I still moved slowly across the bed of cinders. It now was eleven meters long, just to symbolize our age. And to make my life just this much more enjoyable.
Stick and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me. That’s a lie actually, nothing may break my bones and whips are truthfully a pain. But still I persevered, walking through the burning trail, my eyes locked with Meriden’s not blinking once. As I made it to the end, I was showered with boiling water once more, but there was no blood to wash away, only some fruit juice from something somebody threw. My eyes never averted away from Meriden’s.
As I stood in front of my fated, she quickly slashed her wrist just like Elaya a year ago. She raised the dagger above our heads to show off the blood on the blade and then threw it on the ground. She had no doubt she would remain unharmed.
I dropped to my knees and held her hand with mine. Such strong sense of d?j? vu. Inhaling the scent of her blood, my inhuman senses showed me so much more then before. The scent was sweet, it made me want to drink it all up. Truly, if I didn’t know where it came from, I would drink every last drop.
Not wanting to waste any of the sweet crimson liquid, I raise her hand up to my mouth and lick every drop that ran down her hand and her fingers. It was swift, and after her hands are clean, I take in the blood from her wound. Even before my transformation began anew, her wound began to close.
This time my form flickered into my werewolf self instantly. There was a slight sound of my pants ripping, as I worn nothing more, learning from past experience. I stood there, high above the Meriden, with her hand still in mine.
Her taste was divine. With my senses beyond any mere human, I could truly feel her essence. It was sweet, much like Elaya’s yet different. There was slightly more taste of iron and little bit of coppery aftertaste. I didn’t think it was possible to taste all that in blood, but it was there assaulting me.
As the heat once again ran through me, my flesh began to boil. Strangely enough, I didn’t grow bigger, instead I even shrank down about 20 cm. My form became wider, my arms and legs grew more muscly and massive. As before I looked like an agile predator, now I was an unmoving mountain of muscle. My snout shortened and became something average between a bear and a wolf. My fingers on my hands were truly big, I could now easily cover Meriden’s head with just my palms.
Feeling transformation complete, and having no signs of rising bloodlust, I decided to play a little joke. I quickly threw Meriden high in the air, caught her and bit into her side. People looked at us with shocked expressions, warriors drew their weapons. They stood like that, until Meriden began so squirm and giggle.
“Stop, it tickles.”
I withdrew her from my enormous maw and placed her on the ground. She gave me a big hug, trying to fully cover me with her arms but to no avail. I was too darn big.
People began to cheer, their expressions relieved. Once again a feast would be held. People began to speak and I stood there with Elaya on one side and Meriden on the other. Both of them could barely get their arms around me.
As I stood there I once more looked within. There, my soul was now encompassed by two separate flames, indistinguishable from one another and melded seamlessly, yet I could feel them both. With little effort I concentrated a bit, and shrunk the one fire that made me want howl at the moon, leaving the one that wanted me to eat some honey. Should I change my name to Winnie-the-Pooh?
Ripples came running through my form and I shrunk even more. Now I wasn’t half way between a bear and a wolf, I was a ten out of ten parts werebear. People looked at me with excitement. Now, I could not only shift between my human and my best form, but I had more than one beast form. I had three to be precise. I tested it, by quickly shifting from one to another, and then shifted into my human form.
Once again I changed. Even beforehand I looked more developed than I should be at my age, now I looked as if I was halfway through my teens. My shoulders were broad, my muscles were bulging, my hands were bigger. My form clearly radiating power. My eyes remained yellow colour as in my lupine form, but my hair darkened to fit the fur of a grizzly bear.
People cheered on, I was given a cloak, and celebration began. I walked around a bit, showing my once again greater strength, by carrying both girls on my shoulders. They sat to both sides of my head and squealed happily and I spun around, holding them in place by their legs. Other princesses also came to ask for a ride, but Meriden and Elaya defended their rightful place on my shoulders. Now our private time would include Meriden, be it bathing or doing jobs. Three of us were now as one. Others would have to wait for their time.
Regardless, every one of them was excited. They began to talk amongst themselves, speculating what each of the remaining four would give me. The three remaining beast girls were chatting happily, when I notice strain on the face of a usually cheerful succubus.
“Why so serious?” I asked once I came close to her.
She looked at up at me, with the height difference of almost two heads between us now. Inside her eyes was turmoil, just like in Eleanor’s before her.
“I don’t know. Everyone is so joyous about your beast forms and what will happen later, but you know as well as I do, I carry different kind of power.”
I nodded in agreement. Lilith was a descendant of the Gargoyle, dark God of the past. His blood twisted mortals and he did horrendous things when he was alive. The girl with crimson hair was worried if I could withstand such power. She had doubts.
“Lilith, I won’t lie and say I know I will prevail. I am no God to know such things. But what I do know, is that I will do my damnest to pass every Rite. You know that you will be my last, so we still have four years to prepare. I honed this body to wield it like Meriden wields a blade, now I tell you I will hone my mind and my soul to withstand any corruption that your blood may carry.”
Perhaps it was mean to talk about Lilith’s blood as of something vile, but it did the trick. She never denied her demon heritage, she embraced it and bathed in the glory of being part demon. She was in fact very proficient in dark arts, which was somewhat frowned upon by most, but not by me. I supported her no matter what and accepted her for what she was.
Her expression changed to show a somewhat relieved smile. She knew she could count on me.
“But what will you do?”
“I will spend every waking hour I have to spare to train my mind. ’Discipline your inner self to overcome anything from outside’. I will meditate to strengthen my spirit, I will force myself to train till my bones break and I will steel my resolve until nothing can make me stray away from my path.”
My speech was overly dramatic, but I would make sure to follow through with every word I said. It really helped Lilith, her face lit up with a smile and her eyes showed happiness.
Unnoticed by both of us, the rest of the group stop talking and listened in on us. Aedim had a curious expression.
“What did you mean by ’meditate’?”
Such practice was rare in this realm, only monks in very Far East did meditation. Aedim learned of such practice from books, where there were mentions of this. It is said to greatly improve ones inner strength, help spell casting and even allowed one to surpass limitations of the body by utilizing some hidden power within. There was also mentions of way of harnessing such hidden power for other uses. Basically it spoke of Ki and it’s benefits.
Naturally I had such knowledge as I spent many lifetimes as monks, clerics, warriors or any other practitioners of the art. It would benefit one greatly if you used it, so I learned many different ways and even came up with my own exercises.
In this world I often meditated, starting as early as when I was in the womb. There was little else to do, so I turned my gaze within and looked at my inner self. It also helped me in my training. Perhaps now was the time to share this practice with my fated ones.
“Meditation is practice of training, just like the ones we do with Frez, but it focuses on training your mind and your spirit. It allows you to see your inner conflicts, your strengths and weaknesses. You learn to turn your gaze onto the landscape of your soul and to expand and improve your inner workings.”
“You truly know such practice? Can… Can you teach us?” Aedim was clearly captivated by this prospect.
“Yes, I wish to have the power to resist the darkness within.” Even Lilith could see merit in practicing meditation.
“If such thing can improve the Warrior’s spirit, I too wish to join you.” Meriden always sought strength, so she too was tempted.
After this there was a discussion of the practice and how to do it. We decided together to spend time each week just to meditate. Everyone wanted more power, and for once they will be receiving it from me, not the other way around. From then on, I gained six awfully cute pupils and one dainty old pupil in the way of Frez, who also wished to participate.
Our practice was hard at first, but soon it began to bear fruit. Frez and Meriden were able to unlock hidden power of their bodies. Aedim used it to improve her magic. Lilith and Eleanor used it for inner discipline and to sort out their feelings. Lilith was able to resist inner darkness better and Eleanor expanded on her feelings of love. Elaya did a bit of everything, improving herself, hoping to be strong enough to stay by my side. It was truly admirable.
And Leah… She did extremely well, doing all of those things and more. Now she could use greater capacity of her inner self to plan her little jokes. Greater control over her body and magic proved useful, but her newfound state of expended consciousness proved to be my undoing. Her pranks became flawless, too hard for even me to notice and diffuse. Entire tribe of Val became her playthings. Mere mortals had no chance against the monster I created. She took great joy tormenting all those weaklings…
Strangely enough she also practiced self-control and self-restraint. She was able to show some affection to me, without pouncing on me like a bitch in heat. Her words, not mine. It was lovely to see her be kind and gentle towards me for once. It was sweet.
Ultimately, we adopted the practices I taught and they managed to surpass their limits. It was somewhat terrifying to have six princess capable of such feats, but it was what had to be done for the training. It proved invaluable in the future.