The Raven and The Wraith Chapter 11
I was not at all surprised when the cats kept their silence. They had only spoken to me once before, and that had been six years ago. When I had first met The Council.
Seeing them here, so far away from the city of my birth, made me illogically furious. For the first time since they had become part of my life, I seriously pondered killing them all.
As if they were tracking my thoughts, they all laid their ears flat against their skulls and bared their long, white fangs at me. Any normal cat would be hissing or growling loudly, but these seven were as silent as ever. I stared back, reaching behind me to draw my blades, already measuring distances and angles. Choosing my targets.
"What, exactly, do you think you're doing?"
I turned, feeling a surge of frustration spike up like a bolt of liquid fire running through my core, as Rhonda came striding towards me. She was glaring at my knives, and looking past me, to where the seven cats watched me warily from underneath a wagon.
"Hunting cats." I stated flatly.
Her earlier accusation in her words regarding Jewel and Keira was still ringing in my ears, and I abruptly found I had no more patience for her.
"What do you want? This is between me and the cats. It will go better for you if you stay away."
Rhonda folded her arms and locked her burning eyes on me, and I could see she had no intention of going anywhere.
She inclined her head at my throwing knives. "How much do you value those things?"
I flicked a glance down at them. They had been a gift to me from my birth mother. The Council had given them to me when I was ten years old. They were the only tie, the only connection I had to the faintest of memories of a happy, safe time. Of when my birth mother had been alive, of when she had held me close and taken care of me.
"More than you know."
"Then do not be so foolish as to dare to attempt to use them against those cats. They will be destroyed instantly. Those cats are not just simple earthy beings you can attack with steel."
I considered her words. Of course I knew these were not just black cats that followed me everywhere. But the urge to attack them anyway was still there. In fact, even as I considered it, that urge grew stronger by the second.
In a few moments, I found myself snarling under my breath and taking one threatening step after another towards the unmoving cats. Faintly, so faintly, I could hear Rhonda screaming my name. It mattered not.
Then one phrase she screamed got through my rage-soaked mind.
"They're part of you! If you destroy them, you will destroy yourself!!"
That made me spin in place, forgetting the cats for the moment, as I locked my hunters’ eyes on Rhonda.
"What did you just say?" I whispered, feeling like my voice was coming from a hundred miles away.
Rhonda took three quick steps back from me, and I could scent her fear lashing about on the shifting air currents. I could see the ward she pulled up, a faint, softly glowing green aura. I knew instantly it would mean less than dust upon a breeze to me if I were to attack her.
"Those cats...they're Kodell. They're your Kodell."
That blew away the anger inside of me like a hurricane would blow away fallen leaves. I gaped at her, my mind spinning about frantically as I tried to process what she had said.
"How do you know this?"
I wasn't comforted at all when she just shrugged.
"I can feel it. It's like, when I look at you and when I look at them, I feel the same way."
Deep in my heart, I knew she was right. But that still didn't stop the rest of my mind and entire self from rejecting the idea. How could I have Kodell? They could only be created by a mixed magical being, one that was of at least two different creatures. Wasn't I just human, as I'd always believed?
In fact, I'd never even heard of any human having Kodell. They were always the creations of some twisted, unnatural being that simply shouldn't exist. As if their mind were so fractured from the myriad power coursing through them that even their distinct emotions and thoughts took on a life of their own and became Kodell.
At least, that was what I had always thought to be the case.
"The ancient legends-" Rhonda began, but I cut her off.
"I don't want to hear your childhood stories! I want..." I trailed off, grinding my teeth as I struggled to understand what I wanted.
"Jewel told me Genevieve commanded her to come get you. And that you rejected her attempt to command you to obey her, you reversed it and instead had control over her. Did you know Jewel is Genevieve's half-sister?"
When I said nothing, Rhonda continued, her voice low and urgent. As if she were discussing life and death matters. Maybe life and death matters for many thousands, even.
"Jewels mother is the late Queen Anya of the land of Zhon." She paused, eyeing me as if that name should have enough significance that I should respond in some way.
When I stared blankly at her, she shook her head to herself and continued.
"Queen Anya was the undisputed most powerful sorceress in the last one thousand years with the Seventh Order magic. The power to command others. So...how is it you were able to reject, and reverse, the command of Jewel, her daughter?"
I shrugged. "I have no idea. But if what you say is true, why would Genevieve, and HOW could Genevieve, command Jewel to come get me?"
Rhonda's lips thinned at my suggestion that what she said may not be true. "You're just an ignorant street boy. Do not presume to doubt my words. Those that are under the command of another almost always succeed in their task. The only time they do not is when they die, or the one their task is involved with, dies. So Genevieve and Jewel must feel it's so critical that you go back to her that they worked together and put the command on Jewel. To ensure that she successfully brought you back."
"Yeah. That sounds like a stunt Genevieve would pull." I said, contemplating the willpower and determination it would require to willfully allow another to command you.
"The real question is why does she want you to come back so badly?"
I thought about Genevieve. I thought about the great black cat ordering me to return to her. I thought about the Council, my birth mother, and the seven black cats.
"I have no idea."
Rhonda looked in my eyes and her expression hardened. "I don't know what you're hiding, boy, but if you don't get guidance, the powers in motion here will erase you as if you never existed."
"If you had a really deep, personal puzzle that you could barely glimpse, from the corner of your eyes, and then only in dreams, do you think you could explain that puzzle to another, and how your mind knew there were connections but didn't know what they were?"
"Tad and I have studied magic and the ancient histories around it our entire lives. Come sit with us, tell us what you know, what you suspect, and how you're able to use and see magic so effortlessly, even without tens of years of formal training. We'll help you. You don't have to do this alone."
"You want to study me just like the Council." My voice was harsh and low, and I felt my hands curl into tight fists at my sides.
"No. I want to help you." Rhonda seemed unfazed by my tone and stance.
I walked away. Heading away from the camp. Away from the noise, away from the light. Away from the chaos that seemed intent on devouring me whole.
"You can't just walk away from this!" Rhonda called after me.
"Watch me!" I called back.