"I can't believe that woman!" Filipe gulped down cold water. I had him seated on the chair on the porch. He had regained his color and back to his usual snarky personality.
"Pray you know who you are about to insult," I cautioned him, glad for my own drink. "She's the ruler of the Dökkálfar and I just made an alliance with her."
I finished my drink. "Yes. Shit, indeed. She forgave our father, apparently. Now I just hope she has a plan."
Filipe rolled his eyes. "I am starting to hate non-human politics."
"I have loathed it from the start," I listened to Mat's family breaking fast. The sun had already set, but there was still light. "Filipe?"
He had gone silent, eyes wide open.
"So cold, so cold," he pressed his hand on his chest. "My heart's so cold."
Before my very eyes, Filipe turned the color of frost, his eyelashes coated with white snow, and his hands freezing in rigor mortis. My breathe plumed; I felt the ice of winter fill my lungs. Filipe fell into my arms. I felt his heart-beat against my skin: a slow slow beat.
I roared a curse at the Dökkálfar.
The energy caught Filipe full in the chest. The force was so great that my brother was lifted up into the air, slapped as if by an invisible force. He hung mid-air, arms limb beside his body. His mouth stretched in a silent scream of agony, his eyes wide, terrified.
“Filipe!” I shouted. The elf crone beside me placed a steady hand on my arm.
“It’s his path,” Sigurd said, her grip strong, steady. I couldn’t move, paralyzed by her force of personality and her voice.
Sigurd lifted a thin veined finger and placed it on her lips.
Now Filipe was enveloped by the energy, his entire body cocooned by the crackling power. It pulsated, seemingly to grow stronger and brighter, until it burst apart.
I started. “That is…”
“Yes,” Sigurd smiled gently. “Watch.”
The light cocoon had shattered apart to reveal a new Filipe. Slender neck, serpentine triangular snout and hooked claws. As the light faded, the dragon began to stir, glistening wings trembling before they spread. Like a butterfly, just fresh out of its chrysalis and fragile. Red and brown, the colors of the Sutherland clan, and interlaced with the black obsidian of something else, his other side, subtly complementing, oddly accentuating. His form was sleeker than mine, sharper and wicked. Faint memories of watching a childhood cartoon with a similar dragon seeped into my consciousness and I felt myself smiling.
The dragon opened his eyes and they were Filipe’s eyes.
“You should show him the joys of flight,” Sigurd urged kindly, and I did not hesitate, slipping into my dragon form, feeling the power in my body, my limbs. Filipe regarded me with surprise, looking down at his body and barely suppressing a shout of joy.
“What the --?”
“Welcome,” I said. “Welcome to the Sutherland clan.”
The dream again.
I started awake, hating myself for falling asleep. Beside me, Filipe slumbered in his coma. No amount of heat would warm him up. Even the bed-sheets he had touched had turned to ice. As I pulled the blanket up to cover his shoulders, a thin layer of snow cascaded to the floor like a powdery flour. It melted into water the moment it touched the floor.
It was still early, two more hours to sunrise. I could see lights in Mat's house. They would be up for sukkur. Already I could hear the soft Islamic verses from the radio.
What would Sigurd want from me? I gave her my word. She double-crossed me by hexing my half-brother. I was weary from all these hateful politics. My clan was part of all these bullshit. Drake, Vargr, the elves... we were part of this bloody business, because we wanted to make sure our own species survive and flourish. No wonder the Singaporean Myriad groups hated us. They hated us for bringing the politics in. No wonder Jan Xu had stopped talking to me.
My clan had themselves to blame. Arrogance. Pride. Power. Father trying to protect our clan also hammered the nail into the coffin.
I hated everything.
A lone howl broke the silence. The hackles on my neck rose. It was not a dog. We had a pack of strays who loitered around the area. But this howl... was not made by a mere canid. The only question was: which Lang pack did it belong to?