Prompt Short Story: Trance (Of Wings & Fur 10)

The werewolves were restless. They’d seen–and smelt–neither hide nor hair of the pixies since their retreat, and that was worrying.

They had heard from Trina and Cherry, which was good–they’d driven the pixies off, wings furled in shame, and were on their way home.

Alfonse in particular was unable to sit still. His hair and fur prickled, whatever shape he was in. Something inside him itched. It was the magic, he supposed, either reflecting and magnifying his unease, or telling him to be on his guard–the hell of it was that he could never be sure which it was until it was too late to do anything about it.

Sofia had taken herself outside, in the large, grassy yard that backed onto thick woods. She scented the return of the two erstwhile fugitives, with those strings that connected her to her pack wherever they were, and she wanted to be here. Both to greet them, and to watch for any ambush or incursion. She was as sure as she could be that there were no pixies hiding anywhere near, and wolves prowled the warded and trapped perimeter of course, but it was still better to be safe.

The two emerged in the late afternoon, and collapsed on the comfortable sofas inside, their packs dropped on the floor beside them.

Once they had been fed and watered, Cherry told them in detail about their encounter with Cobalt and her squad.

“She thought I would still be the same,” Cherry finished. “Now she knows different. She’ll be much more careful next time she approaches.”

“What are the chances she’ll stop?”

Cherry thought for a moment, “If it wasn’t for the clan’s whole thing about not being allowed home until your task is complete, I think she might actually be willing to just let it go. But she can’t go home without me–dead or alive–and that’s going to keep her coming.”

Sofia nodded and sighed, “So we should expect them soon, then. Fortunately we have used the time you afforded us to get well-prepared. We’ve got wards pretty much everywhere–some to warn, others to damage. We’ve got weapons galore, as always. And our mage friends are currently enjoying our hospitality, in exchange for keeping the wards and traps and joining the fight–safely–when it comes. I’d say we’re as prepped as we could be. In the meantime, you two need to sleep. Go on–you’re both barely awake, and your packs will keep until later.”

Unable to argue, bone-tired as they both were, Trina and Cherry slipped into bed, barely able to appreciate the softness and comfort before they were asleep.


“What do you really think, then?” Alfonse turned to Sofia as they walked through their woods. Silence followed them as creatures of all sizes froze, holding their breath, hoping not to catch the attention of the two alpha predators passing by.

“I don’t know, Al,” she sighed. “I feel like there’s more happening than we know about. It’s making me twitchy. I can’t tell what’s happening if I don’t have all the info.”

“Is it time to ask Cherry to take a look?”

Sofia frowned and said nothing.

“Look, I know you hate that idea. She left them because they’d use her until she was drained dry. But that’s not this, yeah? This would be asking her to help us figure out how to keep us all safe by filling in the gap you know is there. And she can always say no.”

“Sure, but she won’t say no. And it’s dangerous.”

“No more so than waiting for whatever the fuck is happening to catch us furless with our thumbs up our arses.”

Sofia laughed, “I can always count on you to be decorous, Al. Alright. When they’re awake. We’ll need Trina on board with this too–she’ll make a good anchor point.”

“For sure,” Alfonse nodded, and pulled his shirt over his bald head. “Now c’mon, I smell food.”

Sofia grinned and raced him to pull off her clothes and change, racing through the woods, as much to enjoy the rush of clear thought that divesting herself of her human worries for a time brought, as it was to feed.

When they returned, naked, clothes balled up under their arms, Cherry and Trina were awake and waiting for them on the granite porch.

Sofia nodded to them, “How are you both?”

“Better,” Cherry smiled. “Good sleep in a proper bed was lovely.”

“Far fewer lumps and insects,” Trina agreed.

“Good. Are you both rested enough to discuss what we need to do next? Did anyone manage to feed you? Cherry, tell me you didn’t have to cook for everyone else.”

Cherry laughed, “No, but once I saw the state you all left the kitchen in, Brute took the executive decision to order pizza and promised to have it put right by tomorrow.”

“Good,” Sofia sat and motioned for them to sit with her. “Al, go in and keep this spot clear.”

Alfonse disappeared inside and the three of them pulled their chairs close together.

“You want me to try and look ahead, to find out why they haven’t been attacking,” Cherry spoke first.

Sofia nodded, “You got it. I know we’re missing some info that’d explain it, and help tell us how to move forwards, and that’s the best way I can think of to get it without alerting them. But Cherry, this is not the only way. I know it’s a danger to you, not to mention it’s exactly what they’d do to you until you dropped if they got hold of you again. I won’t order this of you. I’m not even asking as your Alpha. I’m asking as, I hope, your friend, which means my first concern is for you. Say no and I’ll go draw up other plans, and there will be absolutely no negative outcome for you.”

“I already thought about this a lot, Sofia. I would like to try. It’s hard to explain, but I get hunches sometimes, from my gift, and this one is strong. It’s telling me there’s something major happening which bears on everything. Our future and theirs. Which means I have to look.”

“But it’s dangerous?” Trina asked now.

“A little,” Cherry took her hand. “If I lose focus, lose my anchor to Now, then I can get lost in time. My body will be here, but my mind won’t, and I’ll just die, slowly and quietly. But if I have a good anchor–like you–and keep my focus, I can find out what’s going on and come home.”

“Well alright then. How do I be an anchor?”

“Talk Trina through it,” Sofia stood. “I’ll prep the basement for you, and tell that lot to keep their racket down.”

“Good luck!” Cherry laughed, and Sofia rolled her eyes good naturedly as she went inside.

“So fill me in,” Trina asked, squeezing Cherry’s hand.

“Yeah. You know I often get feelings–who’s coming for breakfast and what they want, a parcel is coming, a car needs to go to a mechanic, things like that. That’s just day to day stuff, like catching snippets of a show when you flip through TV channels. My real power is much deeper than that; it’s this my people would use me for. I can enter a trance, and direct my power towards whatever and whenever I want. If they had me, they’d send me out again and again and again until I got lost, or died, but doing it every so often is much safer, as long as I have a strong anchor to lead me home.”

“And that’s me.”

“It is. What I’ll do is sit in a circle of runes, and you’ll sit with me. I’ll enter into a trance, and you’ll stay alert. When it’s time, you’ll feel a tug, not here,” Cherry gripped Trina’s hand again, “But here,” she poked a finger gently into Trina’s diaphragm. “It might hurt a little, but it won’t harm you. When you feel it, I’ll need you to pull with your mind. Focus on me, and just yank. I’ll be doing the same, and that will bring me home to you. Hopefully with what we need to know.”

Trina nodded thoughtfully, “Tell me about the dangers.”

“The main danger is getting lost. If I can’t keep my focus, I can wind up adrift. Say I’m looking to move a little further up a stream: if I slip, I can wind up lost in an ocean. The second danger is not being able to pull myself back. The same thing would happen, but it could also pull some of your psyche with me, which would pretty much drive you insane. Not having my gift, you’d just be lost in nothing and nowhere. That’s where it gets to be a mercy to kill you. And me.”

“Okay…and the chances of any of these things happening?”

“Usually a farseer gets a few years of near-daily use before they break or get lost or something. They don’t get enough rest or food or anything, so they slowly turn into husks, whereas I’ll be doing it at full strength, so the chances I’ll lose focus are slim unless an outside force interrupts. Anchors go faster, but that’s usually because they don’t have a strong connection to the farseer, I think with you as my anchor the chances of that drop dramatically.”

“So you’re saying that in the basement with me is the safest you’ll get.”

Cherry smiled and cupped Trina’s cheek, “Anywhere with you is the safest I’ll get. So yes, both specifically and in general.”

Trina grinned and kissed Cherry’s palm.

“Hey lovebirds,” Brute came outside holding a pizza box, “I felt bad, us hogging all the food, so I made sure we saved you a little.”

Cherry took the box, opened it, and gave Brute a glare that quickly broke into laughter.

Trina looked around the box lid and saw a single piece of pepperoni inside. She reached in and gobbled it, winking at Cherry as she did, joining in their laughter.

Brute reached back in the door, produced a box containing actual pizza, and sat down. “Here you go. I know you’re waiting, so how about a story to while away the hours, or at least the time it takes you bothto demolish that,” he nodded to the pizza and waited fot them both to take their first slices.

Brute rarely told tales, he usually left that to what he called the more educated amongst them. But when he did, everyone listened.

“Cherry, it was before you came to us but you might have been old enough to train. Do you remember a day when the sky turned green?”

Cherry gasped, “Do I remember?! I thought the entire clan was going to shit themselves and we’d have to find a new home to get rid of the smell!”

Brute roared with laughter, throwing his head back, “Fuuuck, that was a good one, Cherry. Oh damn,” he wiped tears from his eyes and placed his elbows on his knees, leaning in. “Let me tell you why–and how–the sky went green that night. Some of us had gotten merry after having a cookout in our forest–one at the house we lived before you came, Cherry. We’d caught and cooked our own food, and drunk enough of the strong stuff to make even us tipsy–not an easy feat, you both know that! So Al decided it’d be fun to have a magical firework show. He only has a trace of magic in his blood, but he has a couple of tricks, and one of them is creating silent but beautiful light displays. So we got ourselves where we could see, and off he went. He can nake fireworks like you see anywhere, but he can also tell whole stories with his lights, and he was telling us one of the many legends of how werewolves came to be.

“This one involved a man who put his dog above the lives of his wife and children and was cursed with her dying breath for all his descendents to be part beast.” Brutus shrugged. “It’s as good a version as any of them I suppose, but you know well that it’s the telling which is important, not the truth of it. Anyway, he was just reaching his grand finale, keeping the show going while he prepared the final set of lights, and the daft sod tripped over his own two feet and landed face-first on the grass! As he went, the magic he’d been preparing shot outta his hand and up into the sky. But it wasn’t contained, so it just spread. Like knocking over a tin of paint! This green hue went across the sky for miles, and nobody could ever explain it. Mostly it’s been ignored as a weather phenomenon or cloud reflection. But nope. It was Al and his two left feet. And now, any time I want to bring him in line I can just threaten to tell the story again.”

Brutus sat back, enjoying the laughter of his small audience.

“Holy shit Brute, that was amazing,” Trina said when she could, though still swallowing giggles.

Cherry’s hands were over her face as she laughed, and her voice came out muffled, “Oh poor Al. No wonder he doesn’t want to do them anymore–he’s not done but one since I got here, I don’t think.”

“Yeah. And we all miss them–except you newer ones who never had them to begin with. But you should get to see them. Al doesn’t have much magic, maybe, but what he’s got he’s a cracker at. Anyway, that should’ve killed enough time for Sofia to prep the basement for you both. Head on down. I’ll have an ear cocked in case of any trouble, just shout for me and I’ll be through the door and down with you in a flash.”

As they rose to do so, Trina started to ask if he meant to open the door first, then stopped herself. Silly question. Of course he didn’t.

Enjoying the stories? Great! Don’t forget to share them, and buy me a coffee if you can.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.