The gnarly coyote lay on his side groaning, a good ten feet or so away from me where he’d landed heavily. He seemed momentarily dazed but was recovering quickly. Whereas I had thought him a mean savage before, he was now upping the stakes to terrifying!
The assembled fauna seemed to appreciate the spectacle immensely. Their shrieks and woops rose to a deafening fever pitch. Keeping a safe distance around us, they were no doubt relieved they were not the focus of attention of this huge tormentor for once. They were baying for blood and began heckling the coyote cruelly.
“Why you little vixen!” the coyote growled.
His eyes narrowed to slits, his lips curled back, displaying a full set of jagged teeth. The hackles stood up on the back of his neck, making him seem even larger than before. He held his head still as he came towards me, eyes never wavering from mine.
My feet began tingling again …
In the blink of an eye he’d closed the gap between us and was just about to attack when a loud piercing voice from behind me stopped him dead in his tracks. His cold eyes darted to the source.
A strange hush fell over the pack.
The adrenalin was still coursing through my veins; I used the distraction to my advantage. I was so wrapped up in my own self-preservation, I didn’t care who the voice belonged to. All I cared about was defending me. Kill or be killed, it was as simple as that.
With the loudest hiss I think I’ve ever made, I struck out hard and fast with my right arm, all five claws fully extended. I went for his face. My razor sharp hooks connected with his long soft nose and dragged deeply to its cold, wet tip. The coyote howled again in excruciating pain. I’d landed a good one and was rewarded by a trickle of ruby red blood dripping from his nose.
He retaliated instantly. One massive heavy paw landed between my shoulder blades flattening me instantly to the ground and holding me down. The air was forced out of my lungs completely and I choked on the loose soil on the forest floor. His vicious growls were deafening. I thought my back was going to break as I bore his full weight on top of me and felt his hot breath on the back of my neck again. His jaws began to tighten around my outstretched neck. This was it, this time there was no escape …
“Ezran, I said NO!!” The authoritative voice boomed loudly again.
As I lay there on the ground, my eyes squeezed tightly shut, bracing myself as I waited for my neck to snap in the coyote’s powerful jaws, I heard another two grumbling voices approach. Swift feet accelerated towards me on the soft earth. I felt a sudden shift in the weight above me and heard a soft ‘ooffph’ noise to the side followed by the sounds of a struggle.
I opened my eyes with trepidation, not sure what to expect and was surprised to see two young strong coyotes wrestling with the large gnarly one. It took them a while to subdue him. He’d worked himself into a rage but finally they pinned him down. I could see the sheer loathing in his eyes as he continued to glare at me.
I looked behind me to see who my saviour was – my heart skipped a beat as I found myself looking directly into the eyes of another large coyote. My body sagged with fatigue; I did not have the strength for another fight.
However, this second coyote seemed different. He was not quite as large as the gnarly one, although not far behind. There was a completely different aura about him. I’d assumed ‘Ezran’, if that was his name, to be the alpha male. I thought he was the leader of the pack, a large marauding bully but apparently I was wrong.
The other coyotes rushed up to greet this new comer. They were excited, highly animated but very respectful at the same time. Some of the coyotes bounced close to him, others rubbed his nose with theirs. He allowed them to honour him with their greeting rituals and after a few moments he stepped forward to address me.
There was an almost regal quality about him. His coat was sleek, clean and well kept. I couldn’t see any scarring or cragginess about his body or fur. His legs were long and muscular, he held himself with pride and dignity. His whole manner commanded an air of respect. He was clearly very important, the pack leader I assumed correctly this time.
His honey coloured eyes were rimmed with black; he looked intelligent and wise. Just at that two small pups made their presence known as they rubbed themselves against his legs. They clearly adored him. He looked down at them kindly, nudging them gently out of sight with his nose before turning his attention back to me. The pups stared at me with avid curiosity from behind their mother, their eyes round with wonder and awe. I don’t suppose they’d met a familiar before, certainly not one as renowned or as captivating as me.
“I have orders to bring you to the Emperor. I must apologize for Ezran, he …”
The coyote paused and seemed to grope for appropriate wording but continued simply:
“… he doesn’t like cats.”
Too exhausted to speak, I could only manage a grunt in acknowledgement. An Emperor indeed! Who were these creatures and why was I here? I looked down at myself, I was a wreck. I smelled like the gnarly coyote and it made me sick to my stomach. I had to get that disgusting smell off my body. I noticed a patch of open earth just off the beaten track to my left. I couldn’t resist. I threw myself down with reckless abandon and cavorted shamelessly.
Forest soil has a wonderfully woody musky scent, perfect for eliminating unpleasant odours. Dried oak moss lichen from surrounding tree trunks peppered the ground in bushy clumps adding an exquisite sharp but slightly sweet and lingering base note to the fragrance. The aroma was sensual and heady. I was in absolute heaven, my brush with death all but forgotten in the throes of ecstasy as I rubbed every inch of my body into the ground.
The pack leader raised his eyebrows at such undignified behaviour but said nothing. I lay there for an extended moment or two, luxuriating in my dry earth bath. Inhaling the intoxicating aroma sparked distant memories of ancient temples and seductive sorceresses I’d once known. Despite the obvious physical exhaustion from my ordeal, I felt invigorated and alive.
My attention snapped back to the present when a tussle kicked off suddenly as Ezran finally broke free of his restrainers. Humiliated, he disappeared into the depths of the forest but not before he managed to hiss me a threat.
“I’ll get you for this bitch!”
I gave the fleeing coyote a sly sideward glance and began rubbing my fingers together. My damned fingers and toes were itching again. I must admit, weird though it was, it wasn’t a wholly unpleasant sensation. The tingles remained mild but as I looked down at my hands, I was surprised to see that they were glowing faintly once more.
The pack leader chuckled as I got to my feet.
“I don’t think you’ll get much trouble from Ezran for a while after the demonstration of your elemental prowess.”
My what? What was he talking about? Then it dawned on me. My telekinesis was returning. I turned my face to hide my smirk. I had not expected that. This life had suddenly become much more interesting.
Telekinesis. The ability to move inanimate objects at will. The coyote leader had assessed my ability quite correctly. My prowess, as he put it, was indeed connected to the elements: air, earth, water and let’s not forget fire. Simply put, it means that I have the ability to harness the power and attributes of the elements, to manipulate objects and situations around me using my mind.
I hadn’t meant to use it on Ezran, it just happened. Heck, I wasn’t even aware I had that particular power! I’d been acting purely on instinct. I’d tapped into the electrical charge present in the air due to the thundery weather and plunged it into his body. And very effective it had been too. Now the weird tingles and blue vapour made sense. I was quite literally manipulating lightning bolts … although I still wasn’t clear on how I’d done it. Meh, a miniscule detail. I’d get it. Eventually.
I’ve never experienced an electrical discharge before. Sure, I’ve set fires, summoned fog, and shaken the ground at will on many an occasion but I’ve never experimented with the element of air, never had to. If the coyotes and other forest inhabitants wanted to assume that I had full control over the elements then who was I to argue? I only hoped that my little demonstration would keep them all wary … enough to keep me alive.
The only cloud on the horizon, if any, to my new found ability was the realization that most newly acquired paranormal abilities, restored or otherwise, tend to manifest at times of extreme physical or mental stress. Especially in the beginning.
Did being pawed, licked and mauled by a vile and vicious coyote constitute extreme physical peril or mental distress? You bet it did! I chuckled at how fast I’d blown Ezran right off me. I sincerely hoped the next time we met, and should I feel the need for a few more lightning bolts, that I would at least know what I was doing with them!
I had no idea how long a full Restoration might take or even how many of my former skills I could expect to recover. I had some pretty special powers back in the day and, like old and influential friends, I very much looked forward to being reacquainted with them.
I’d mastered the manipulation of the other elements quickly and easily enough in the past; I didn’t doubt for a second that I’d master these lightning bolts given time and ample practice.
For the first time in a long time, I began to feel confident. And powerful. I liked it, I liked it a lot.
I returned my gaze to my new congenial host. I cast an appraising glance over him and, in as haughty a voice as I could muster I enquired, “To whom might I be addressing?”
Unperturbed at my deliberate lack of manners, the coyote raised a quizzical eyebrow and replied:
“You may call me Mikon. Now. If you’re quite ready, the Emperor is waiting …”