Chapter 4--Dejection--

"Uncle Aiden. Watch this!" a young boy yelled out as he performed a spinning leap to a rock with great expertise. "Iíve been working on it all week. Did I do it right?" The boy looked about fourteen with deep black hair that hung in a short ponytail at the base of his neck. He raced over to the man he had been calling, another man with jet-black hair cut in a low ponytail. This man looked at the elated boy with gentle forest green eyes as he caressed a silver chain that hung across his chest. Hanging from the silver chain was a topaz amulet encrusted with golden spikes. The man quit stroking the necklace and flung his hand at his side, his eyes seeming agitated and hesitant.

"Thatís great Nicks. Youíre shaping up to be an awesome athlete," he replied with a wry grin. The boy he had addressed as Nick hopped off the rock and landed at his uncleís feet. He rocked on his heels for a moment and blushed in pride.

"Aw, youíre just saying that Aiden," the boy laughed, a content smile gracing his face. But as he looked up at the older man, his expression changed to one of mild concern. His uncle didnít look like he was playing but instead looked somber and unusually quiet. "Uncle Aiden?"

"Hmm? Iím sorry Nicks. I just have a lot on my mind today," Aiden responded, patting his nephew on the head.

"You look so sad, Aiden. Youíre never are sad. Whatís wrong?"

Aiden glanced at the black-haired child and then, with a languished motion, turned his head to the side and sighed. He rubbed his nephewís shoulder and motioned him to sit down on the grass. Nick obediently complied and dropped to the ground, scooting closer to the man, his face twisted in worry. Aiden sat upon the ground as well and pulled the topaz amulet from his neck, holding it up for Nick to see. "Thereís something I should tell you about me, Nicks."

"Oh youíre special amulet. But you never take it off, Aiden," Nick questioned as he tilted his head in puzzlement. He reached for the necklace and Aiden allowed it to fall into his grasping fingers. Once the object was secure in his palm, Nick gazed at it, tracing his finger across the whirlpool of orange lights in the center of the jewel. The item felt warm in his hand as a soothing energy rolled across his body. "Itís so beautiful."

"Yes, but its beauty comes with a heavy price. Thatís what I wanted to talk to you about," his uncle interrupted with a solemn tone. He tapped the solid surface of the fiery-shaded gem with his finger and stared deep into Nickís blinking eyes. "With this, comes grave responsibility."

"Youíre giving it to me? But Aiden..." Nick exclaimed, pulling back in shock as his uncle nodded his head.

"I have something I need to do for the next few days. I want you to return to your motherís and watch this for me while Iím gone, okay?"

"Of course, Aiden. But where are you going?" the young boy asked, his voice tinged with fear and uncertainty. Aiden offered him a reassuring gaze and then closed the boyís trembling fingers over the glossy relic in his hand.

"I have some business I did to deal with. A rival company, so to speak. Anyway, I promise to bring you a surprise when I get back."

"Really? What are you bringing?" Nick inquired, a glimmer of excitement peeking out beneath the distressed countenance in his eyes. He placed the amulet in his pocket and looked back at his uncle, hoping for a sign of some rich treat, perhaps a new fantasy novel or an exotic piece of jewelry.

"Hey! Do you want me to spoil the surprise already? But okay, Iíll tell you this much Iíve found a young boy who resembles you in many ways. I had hoped to introduce you to each other. But as Iíve said, it will have to wait until my return. Do you think you can amuse yourself until then? Iím sure Atina will love to have you over for a little while," Aiden remarked, stepping to his feet and volunteering his hand to pull up Nick.

But Nick refused the gesture and jerked his head to the side with a sharp, angry movement. He brought one knee close to his forehead and leaned against it, eyes flashing with resentment. "I donít want to stay with her! Sheís not my real mother anyway."

"Now Nicks, you canít treat her like this. Atina is a sweet lady who genuinely loves you and wants to help you. She knows she made some mistakes in the past but sheís been trying her best to make amends over these few years," the dark-haired man consoled his irate companion as he offered his hand once more.

"She doesnít care about me! How could she? She stayed with...."

"Look, Iím not having you blame her for that! Atina is your rightful guardian and I only agreed to allow you to stay with me on the condition that you see her on a regular basis. Youíve been neglecting our agreement and I think itís time you made good on the bargain."

Nickís cocky rebellion faded from him as he cringed under the harshness of the tone and wrapped his arms around his knees, a faint tremor going through his skin. He lowered his head and tried to hide his face from Aiden as he held back the sobs that were building in his throat. "Iím sorry I made you angry, Aiden. Iíll spend a few days with Atina. Just please donít send me away," he whimpered.

Seeing the pure terror that was overwhelming the young boy, Aiden fell to his knees and grabbed Nickís shoulders. He gave them a slight shake and placed his head on the otherís wild black locks. Bringing his arms around the other in a fierce embrace, Aiden hugged his nephew and whispered apologies into his hair. "My god, Iím so sorry, Nicks. I didnít mean to lose my temper, honestly. I just wanted to make sure you know how important it was for you to spend time with your family. But Iím sorry if I frightened you. Of course, Iíd never make you leave. I want you to stay here with me."

"So...you...youíre not...angry with me?" the miserable boy stuttered in an anxious voice, still afraid to raise his head.

"Of course not. Iíd never get angry at you," Aiden said with a sincere smile as he gripped his nephewís shaking shoulders and lifted him to his feet. "Now come on, we have to get you over to Atinaís so Iím not late for my appointment."

"Okay," Nick agreed, steadying himself on his legs and then looking back up at his uncle. The cautious and sorrowful veil had returned to the older manís eyes as he stared off into the distance. Wanting to break his from the disturbing train of thought, Nick reached up and grasped his uncleís wrist. "Aiden, youíre not going to be for very long right?"

"Oh. Yeah, Nicks Iím going to come right back and get you," Aiden assured him as he ran his fingers through the boyís messy black mane.

"Good Ďcause I donít know what Iíd do without out you. So you have to promise me to be back really soon, okay?"

" Donít fret Nicks. Iím sure youíd find a way to get by. But since you seem so concerned, yeah, I promise."

"Youíre the only person I want to live with, Aiden. Iím going to stay with you forever," Nick replied, pulling away from the man and dashing off ahead of him.

Behind him, the green-eyed man stared at the playful youth and breathed a restless sigh. "If only you could."

*~*~*~*~*~*

"Tyrell wake up! Itís Saturday and you promised weíd go to the attic and see if we can dig up some more information on the Chimera!" a commanding voice screamed into his ear, wrenching Tyrell from his dream. He opened his eyes to see his door creaking against the frame as Kat pounded on it without mercy. "I said WAKE UP!"

"Kat cut it out! Iím awake!" hissed Tyrell, throwing the covers off him and scrambling off the bed. He yawned as he stumbled over to the door and awkwardly tried to twist the curved handle with his slippery fingers. With a groan, the door swung open and Kat collapsed on top of him, sending both youths smashing to the ground in a frenzy of flailing limbs.

"What the hell are you trying to do!" snapped Kat; pushing herself from her twin and using the door handle to bring herself to her feet. Tyrell rubbed a tiny bump on the back of his head that had resulted from the collision and looked at her in exasperation.

"Must you do this every day?" he grumbled as Kat helped him up and then leaned against the doorframe.

"Well if someone wouldnít sleep so darn late, I wouldnít have to bother with all this," she pointed out, jerking a manicured figure at the digital clock which flashed 1: 30 in neon green lines.

Tyrell contemplated telling her about his dream but figured she would just use it as a chance to complain some more about him dreaming up the freakiest things. He shrugged his shoulders at the blinking clock and gave his sister a stern look. "Can I at least have some time to get dressed?"

Kat answered his request with a rough nod and then stormed down the hall, mumbling to herself about how it was beyond impossible for a person to sleep so long. After his sister had vanished, Tyrell shut his door and sat on his bed to rethink what had just happened inside his mind.

After returning from his ex-concert at about three in the morning, he had immediately fallen asleep upon reaching his room. He was surprised that he had accomplished such a feat, especially given the nasty telling-off that Maren had attacked him with during his hasty explanation the previous night. Cyrus had been too disappointed by the eveningís events and the fact that his leading guitarist had the nerve to stand them up on one of their biggest gigs so far to even bother tearing into the young boy. He had just sat on the chair, counting out all the money he would have to return to their guests, looking heart-broken for the remainder of the night. Gayle had tried her best to play peacemaker for the band, but in the end had retreated home in order to avoid Marenís enraged backlashes.

Tyrell doubted that any of his fellow members seriously bought his pathetic tale of being attacked by some savage animal while he was on his way. Even with the tattered appearance of his clothes as testament, all he had received during his narrative were a few skeptical glances and one highly pissed glare from his best friend. Maren seemed to believe that Tyrell had stood him up just to get back at him for getting him in detention or for putting up a fuss when Tyrell had suggested adding Gayle to their group. He had accused him of being stuck-up and self-righteous and had said that he would hold off on further practicing with the youth until he was given a real explanation for why he had ruined the performance and a sincere apology. Tyrellís usual ability to win people over with his puppy-dog eyes and his remorseful expression had failed to work on Maren that night and the band had dismissed, leaving him feeling alone and helpless. Even Cyrusís promise to find another gig for STRYFE by the end of the week hadnít done a thing to ease the tense mood of the group as they departed for the time being.

Still the betrayed mood of his band last night didnít hold a candle to his preoccupation with his dream this morning. It had been the first time he had ever dreamed of someone who wasnít him. Not only that, but the boy in his dream had looked almost exactly like the older youth that had always showed up in his regular reveries. Except for the longer hair, the young boy who had been known as Nick matched his other dream character in every way. This thought pestered Tyrell more than anything else did. If the kid in his dream had been so happy with his uncle, then why was he so morose and cold in his other dreams? It just didnít make sense. Had something happened to the loving pair to make the boy change so much?

Another strange thing about his current dream was that it had featured the same topaz amulet that he had seen around his wolfís neck. It had been in the possession of both the older man and his feisty nephew. Maybe it was possible that one of them was in fact the wolf who continued to follow him around. Something inside him seemed to lean more toward believing that it was the boy named Nick rather than his uncle that could possibly be the strange animal. But if that were the case, wouldnít the boy reveal his human form at some time. Perhaps, he was too traumatized by whatever had befallen him and his uncle to want to live his life as a human. This was worth some investigation. Unfortunately, due to his promise to his pushy sister, he could tell that further exploration of the link between his dream and the wolf would have to wait. Clearing his mind of the thought, he grabbed some clothes from his drawer and dressed himself as quickly as possible, wary of his sisterís wrath if he was late.

*~*~*~*~*~*

When he descended from the staircase, Kat was waiting in the kitchen wing, crunching on an apple, noisily. She noticed Tyrell and clutched the food in her hand as she raced over to her brother and pulled a rusty black key from her pocket. She displayed the object to her twin as if expecting some kind of reaction. But Tyrell just stared back at her and raised his eyes to show his lack of understanding.

"Whatís that supposed to be for?" he asked, steady emerald eyes flickering from the key to the half-eaten apple and back again.

Kat swore to herself and grabbed his hand. With one brutal motion, she shoved the key into his palm and ripped her garnet necklace out from her shirt. "You are such an idiot, Tyrell. This is the key to the attic. You remember, the one that you said we were going to do some research at today," she huffed as she rolled her eyes at her brotherís idiocy.

"Oh," Tyrell replied, averting his eyes so that she couldnít see the hint of embarrassment that was beginning to fill them. He tossed the key in his hand and turned to her, a perky smile taking over his perplexed frown. "Well, we should get right to business. After all, I have a few problems I need to check on later this afternoon." He walked up the stairs and over to the wing closet, Kat stalking behind him. Then, he reached up and grabbed the thin brown cord that dangled from the ceiling, pulling it down so that a broken-down makeshift ladder was revealed.

Kathryn pushed her way in front of him and scaled the steps, eager to search for Celeste's old diary. Growling at her impatience, Tyrell latched his fingers around the wobbly rungs of the ladder and hoisted himself up as well. He found her, tearing through the myriad of boxes and packages strewn throughout the dusty room. It was almost impossible to see a thing amongst the overwhelming darkness and walls decorated with the grotesquely beautiful drapings of cobwebs. Fumbling through the obscurity, he managed to locate another string that was connected to the small square lamp above the attic. He yanked on the string, allowing an abject stream of light to streak through the section of the room.

His sister seemed to be ignoring his actions as she busied herself in her investigation, nudging aside empty boxes and ripping open heavier ones to pillage their contents. With each box, she groaned and shoved it away from her as if she thought that it was hiding her coveted item on purpose. She had to admit that it had been a good six years since she had last read the diary, but she was sure it still had to be up here. It was just lost in this hideous mess. Stretching out, she caught the bottom seam of Tyrellís shirt with her fingers and wrenched him over to her.

"Why arenít you looking?" she demanded, dark blue eyes scanning her brother for some hint of reluctance.

"I am looking! I just thought we could use a little light before you trashed the whole place in your blind crusade," Tyrell argued, prying his sisterís clutching fingers from his shirt and moving to the side to began his own search. Kat looked as though she wanted to say something, but then changed her mind as she resumed her quest. Her twin bent across his knees and lifted a box from one of the farthest corners. The box was barely visible underneath all the dust bunnies and silky webs sticky to its sides.

Not wanting to get his sister excited before he knew what he found, Tyrell winced as he brushed the webbing from the cardboard and slowly peeled the ragged tape from the top. He shifted the boxís contents as he ran his hand along the sides, feeling for anything that resembled a hardcover book. He could hear Kat cursing behind him as all of her efforts proved to yield nothing. Then, his scrounging fingers came across something that grazed his fingers with its thin edging. Tyrell took a deep breath and peered inside the box, seeing a clump of faded papers that possessed the remnants of a glued seem. A few of them were falling from the rest and becoming lost within the cavern of the box but the others still retained their fragile unity. He reached into the box and carefully withdrew the packet, raising it close to his eyes so he could read it in the dim lighting. Flipping through a few aging pages, he came across words that struck a cord of memory inside him. Tightening his fingers around the packet, he held it up in the air and called Kat over to see it for herself.

Kat scrambled over to her brother, snatching the papers from his hand and giving a shout of glee when she realized that this was indeed the very manuscript that had entertained them back when they were young children. "Yeah Tyrell! Youíve finally done something right. You found it!" she exclaimed as she threw her arms around his neck in an enthusiastic embrace. She situated herself on her knees and centered the book so that it rested just beneath the pathetic beam of light descending from above. She skipped through a couple of pages, muttering to herself, then grew quiet as she reached the later entries. The girl ran her eyes across the smudged cursive script, having a hard time deciphering the majority of the writing.

"Find anything yet?" Tyrell questioned, trying to lean over his sisterís shoulder to see the packet. Kat swatted at him and focused her attention on the words lining the pages of the diary. But as she continued to sift through the pages, her eyes darkened and she released a sigh of frustration.

"Thereís not a damn thing in here to explain our current situation. All this talks about is some stupid Vincient that the old Shard keepers had to fight. It mentions the Shards but only briefly. Basically, all it talks about is how they can be used to control elements. It doesnít say why and it doesnít say what the deal with swords is either. Worse of all, thereís absolutely no mention of the Chimera."

"Maybe we could ask Dad?" her brother suggested, shifting his position to get a better view of the diary.

Kat glared at him and shoved him away again. "Yeah right Tyrell. Like Dad would tell us, even if he knew. Anyway, I think he's as clueless as we are."

"Well, it's worth a shot," Tyrell responded in a bashful tone. "Weíll just tell him that we want to know so we know how to defend ourselves against any future attacks."

"Dad isnít going to tell us a damned thing. Heíd rather us not mess with these guys unless they attack us first. If we want to learn anything, weíre going to have to find it out on our own."

"And just how do we do that?" the boy twin snapped, standing up and wiping the dust from his pants.

"Weíll just have to find someone else who knows," Kat remarked, flinging the diary to the ground and giving her brother a determined look

*~*~*~*~*~*

Elsewhere, in an empty room, a boy typed random symbols on a large computer screen as a complacent girl sat beside the monitor, kicking her legs under the long table. Leaning over, the girl stared at the computer screen with disinterest and looked up at her companion. "I donít see what the big deal is. Itís just a bunch of figures moving across a screen."

The other youth nudged one of the wavy strands of hair that hides the keyboard. Not stopping his typing, he raised his eyes to girl and gave a short laugh. "Shira, will you never understand computers?"

"Nope. Theyíre all so complicated," replied the girl known as Shira, with a slight grin. The boy shook his head and quickened his pace on the keys, straining to see the screen despite the lack of light. "You know you donít have to do this in the dark," Shira pointed out, motioning toward the light switch on the wall.

"Well, weíre not exactly supposed to be in her in the first place so Iíd appreciate it if you donít draw further attention to us, okay sweetie?" the boy spoke though the words werenít half as threatening as he had wanted them to be.

"How long is this going to take?" the girl whined, lying her head upon the otherís shoulder with a yawn.

"Come on Shira, it should only be a couple more minutes. Iím almost into the main system."

A loud screech emitted from the computer as both youths jumped back in surprise. The screen flashed a warning red light as the boy hissed and raced his fingers over the keys as fast as was humanly possible. Within moments, the caution sign faded from the screen but continued to leave error messages across the screen.

"Shira, get my laptop!" the youth on the computer ordered, jerking a thumb toward the book bag resting against one of the chairs in the back of the room. Without arguing, Shira slid off the table and retrieved the book bag, pulling a rectangular object from its depths. She handed it to her companion who yanked it from her grasp and worked to open the top. Once he had the laptop functional, he entered the start-up commands and tapped his foot against the ground, anxiously as the system struggled to boot up.

"Damn you blasted piece of crap! Load faster!" he raged as his friend stepped beside him to see what was bothering him.

"Whatís wrong?"

"Some freaking idiot is trying to access the same program as me and heís botching up the whole system!"

"So tell him to go away," Shira responded with a casual toss of her head as the boy shot her a half-hearted glare.

"What do you think Iím trying to do right now, precious? If I could just get this...Ah there it goes!" the other youth cried as the main screen of his laptop came into view. He gazed at the figures on the other computerís screen and typed some similar letters into his own laptop. As he did, a message system resembling an ICQ popped up in a separate window.

Wlf14: Back off!

Stunned by the audacity of the individual on the other end, the boy cursed under his breath and entered his response.

DaemonL: Who the hell are you?

Wlf14: None of your damn business.

DaemonL: It is my business if youíre interfering with my programming and screwing it all to hell.

Wlf14: So get off then. I was here first.

DaemonL: God, what a baby! Iíll have you know that Iíve been on for just under ten minutes. How about you?

Wlf14: Ö20

DaemonL: 20! And youíre still not in? Whoa, you must really suck!

Wlf14: Screw you! Now get off and let me finish.

DaemonL: Canít do that pal. Iíve got a job to do. And youíre seriously in my way.

Wlf14: Tough.

"Of all the selfishÖ" the boy snarled as Shira leaned over his shoulder to read what he was typing.

"Not very nice is he?" she noted, tapping the smooth screen with one silver-coated fingernail.

"Not at all. This oneís a downright jerk! Doesnít he understand hacker curtsey?"

"Apparently not. Why donít you try another way in?"

"This is the only way! Argh! Iím just going to have to find a way to reason with him," her companion groaned as he typed a short proposition into his laptop.

DaemonL: Look, neither of us is getting nowhere this way. And I do have somewhere to be later today. I need to finish this now!

Wlf14: SoÖ

DaemonL: I have a suggestion. Since youíre obviously inexperienced with this sort of thing...20 minutes! Sorry. Anyway, why donít you just let me break in for the both of us?

Wlf14: Iím not inexperienced! My computer is acting up. And how are you supposed to accomplish this plan of yours?

DaemonL: If you promise not to touch anything for about two minutes, Iíll crack the code and send you the access keys. Deal?

Wlf14: Whatever.

DaemonL: Good. Just donít touch anything! I donít need you to make this any harder than youíve already done.

Wlf14: Bite me!

DaemonL: Nice.

A hand touched the boyís shoulder and he lifted his head to see the girl glancing at the screen in curiosity. "So whatís going on?"

"Our good friend has agreed to stay off the comp while I finish breaking the code in exchange for the access keys," the boy answered as he waited for the numeric keys that signaled the other user had disappeared from the screen. "All right. I guess heís going to go with it." He focused intently on the operation at hand, sliding his fingers across the keyboard with stunning skill.

His sinewy bangs hindered his vision a bit but he ignored them as he ran his eyes over each chunk of digital figures. Finally, his eyes lit up in triumph as he found the one he was looking for. Not wasting a moment, he switched the figures around and entered the password into the error box at the side of the screen. The box blinked green for a moment before switching the background to one that was filled with access drives listing the entrance to a plethora of files. He clicked on the one that said "C Records" and was rewarded as the screen faded to one calling for personal information.

"Two official student records coming up," he snickered as he grabbed a disk that was sticking out of one of pockets on the book bag and slid it into the floppy drive. There was a faint buzzing as the blank page immediately filled with information pertaining to previous education, family, social security numbers, residence, and a variety of other miscellaneous items. Shira hopped up and down and hugged her companion as the files were saved into the main system.

"I knew you could do it!" she congratulated him as she squeezed him even tighter.

The boy flashed her a confident grin and worked his way out of her over-loving embrace. "But of course, I just needed a little more time. And thanks to our fellow hacker-wannabe, I got it. That reminds meÖ" he trailed off as he turned back to his own laptop and entered in the keywords. He waited a few moments and then smiled when he saw the received message.

Wlf14: Thanks

DaemonL: No prob. I knew you could be reasonable. Well like I said, Iím wasting time here. Hope to see ya around.

Wlf14: I can hardly wait.

Chuckling at the other userís last comment, the boy shut his laptop down and then duplicated the action on the main computer. He retrieved his disk from the drive and shoved it back into the book bag as he stood up, tossing the bag over his shoulder. Looking at his female associate, he pointed to the door and presented her with a mischievous smile. "We better hurry up. Donít want to miss our first day. I think weíre going to like Carthala." He wrapped his fingers around the girlís wrist and the two left the place in complete silence, serendipitously sneaking through the back door and locking it again with a pick before they disappeared into the campus.

*~*~*~*~*~*

After his fun day of exploring the attic with his sister, Tyrell just wanted to relax. He couldnít go and see Maren because heíd probably kill him upon arrival. That left Gayle and Cyrus out of the equation for the time being. Nadia was helping her mother with some bake sale so she couldnít spare any time to talk. Worst of all, his favorite place in the whole world, the city park, was currently occupied by a psychotic wolf, who just made his head hurt whenever he was around. No, all he really wanted to do was sit down and try to sort out the bombardment of thoughts racing through his head.

He decided to take a walk to the school to clear his mind. It might have been boring but at least it was the one place were bizarre things never happened. Trying to keep his mind focused on more pleasant things such as the upcoming dance at Carthala and the great teacher that he had for English, Tyrell turned to go down the paved pathway that lead to the front gate of Carthala. Of course, he knew he couldnít get in since the place was always kept under a tight lock-and-key, but he just wanted to stare into the building that represented security and most importantly, normalcy.

As he was crossing the road to the school, he thought he saw something zoom by the corner of the building. When he looked harder, he realized that it was a young man with dark blond hair, wearing a simple navy blue vest and a pair of plain denim jeans. He appeared to be looking for something, as he stood all alone close to the school. His head jerked from side to side as he examined the whole area. Then, his chestnut brown eyes fell upon the startled form of Tyrell. The blondís irises darkened as he realized that he was being watched from afar. Instantly, he whirled around on his feet and disappeared down the long stretch of road leading into the main city.

Too confused by the event to react, Tyrell scratched his head and sat down beside the brick wall that supported Carthalaís entrance gate. He rested his elbow on his knee and then placed his chin upon the palm, struggling to make sense of anything that had happened recently. After a while, it began to get dark as evening came upon the city. But Tyrell didnít care. His mind was alive with images of the menacing black wolf, the sadistic Lionelle, the botched concert, the mysterious Shards and their subsequent weaponry, and the odd dream with the uncle and his nephew. Nothing seemed to connect, as everything appeared to be part of its own separate puzzle. It was just so frustrating.

Kathryn wouldnít help him figure out anything since she was too concerned with her mission to find someone who would know about the Chimera. Angelique couldnít help because of the fact that they hadnít spoken to each other since he had yelled at her. His parents were completely appalled by the weekís events and refused to discuss a thing with him for fear that it would just lead to him jumping to some reckless mode of action. Aunt Celeste was keeping her distance for the same reason and Aunt Ciara was never much of a conversationalist to begin with. All this lead to one simple conclusion. Tyrell was on his own.

Not withstanding all his other miseries was the new realization that he could read the minds of others. This thought made him uneasy as he thought of the possibility of trying to read Lionelleís mind if he ever came across him again. Maybe it could tell him what the true objective of the Chimera was and why they were so set on wiping out him and the rest of his family. He wondered what Kat would think of that idea.

"Having a bad day, boy?"

The voice jarred him from his internal questioning as he looked over to see Lionelle beckoning him with one clawed finger. He was holding the whip in both hands so that when he noticed Tyrell was watching him, he brought the ends together with an echoing crack. Laughing, he started to approach the boy as Tyrell leapt to his feet, not wanting to be caught in the same situation as the other day. He looked around to see if anybody was near and then yanked his cross from under his shirt. Forcing the incantation from his mouth in a quick breath of air, he bit back cries of pain as the cross flared to life and became the mighty Divinity.

"Get away from me!" he yelled at the golden-haired man, eyes filled with fear as they gazed down at the thick whip curled in Lionelleís grip. Lionelle sneered and continued to get closer to the youth, tapping his whip against his thigh. Even the sword, which Tyrell held in front of his body, did nothing to ward off the Chimera as he lashed out the whip and caught the edge of the blade. Tyrell tried to yank his weapon back but it was too late as the man jerked the whip upward, tearing the sword from the boy and smashing Tyrell into the hard ground.

"Oh no, weíre not playing that game again. This time we play by my rules," he purred as he delivered a vicious kick to the boyís side, watching him cry out in pain.

Tyrell clutched his injury and tried to struggle to his feet, almost blinded in one eye by the blood that ran down his face due to a cut on his eyebrow. His left cheek felt puffy and bruised and he could taste the metallic flavor of blood inside his mouth as he tried to get up. Forgotten was the notion of reading Lionelleís head, he just wanted to get away. Without thinking his actions through, Tyrell swung one leg in a violent kick to the manís knee. Then, using the manís instability, he lunged at him, throwing him to the ground. Lionelle hissed in rage as the boy scrambled off him, scooping up Divinity and running through the dark alleyways surrounding his school.

Not watching where he was going, Tyrell made the mistake of taking the wrong turn and ended up in an alley that was blocked by a huge wall. Wonderful, the spot was deserted and there was nobody around anywhere. Gasping for breath, he stared at the wall in horror and turned to see Lionelle walking up behind him, effectively closing him in. He whipped Divinity through the air, sending a bolt of lighting careening toward the man. But Lionelle skillfully dodged the blow and flicked out his whip in attempt to catch the boyís sword once more. Tyrell recognized the maneuver and dipped the weapon; cutting through the whip as it lashed across his cheek and shoulder. He staggered back as Lionelle pulled back his severed weapon and stared at it in disbelief.

"Where is Kat when I need her?" Tyrell whimpered to himself as he pushed himself back toward the wall. His shoulder was throbbing in pain and his cheek felt as though it had been cut with a knife. Bewildered and suffering, he gazed at Lionelle with defeated eyes and began to claw his hand up the wall.

Lionelle snarled and glared at the young boy, his golden eyes slanting so that they seemed much more feral than they had appeared during the fight. "Fine, have it your way, boy. I have a much more entertaining way of taking you out," he growled, running his hands through his waves of burnt gold hair. Then before Tyrellís shocked eyes, his body began to change into that of a large cat. Fur sprouted over his skin as he bent down and his already sharp eyeteeth lengthened into those of monstrous fangs. His hair spread out until it fell across his chest in an impressive mane as his fingernails transformed into cruel black claws. When he was finished, all that remained in his place was the terrifying form of a wild lion.

<Youíre mine!>

Tyrell could hear the voice scream inside his head as the lion charged at him, roaring with a noise so loud that it hurt his ears. He raised his sword in defense as the beast caught him in the chest, blocking the sword with its teeth. The sheer weight of the lion forced Tyrell to the ground as the animalís teeth grated against the onyx surface of his weapon. Then the animal opened its blackened maw and crunched down hard on the blade of stone, wrenching it out of the boyís grasp and tossing it to the ground. The points of its claws sank into Tyrellís chest as the boy screamed in agony, frantically pushing at the hulking creature with his arms. He could see the aroused flash of hunger in the animalís eyes as it bared its jagged fangs and prepared to rip its claws through his flesh.

Tyrell was on the verge of blacking-out from the stunning pain as he noticed a black shape emerge from the shadows. His glazed eyes struggled to see what the object was as the form hurled itself on to the lion, making it rear back in surprise. As his eyes began to focus, Tyrell could make out the shape of large canine creature using all of its strength to yank the lion off his body. Fighting for breath, Tyrell blinked as he realized that the strange black form was actually his Wolf. Seeing Tyrell coughing hoarsely behind him, Wolf tightened his hold on the lionís back and forced it away from the boy. His jaws continued to lose their hold as the lion twisted and fought to escape from the wolfís iron-grip.

Raising one massive paw, it brought it down across the wolfís right foreleg in a brilliant flash of white. Wolf yelped as he was thrown from the lion and slammed against the ground. Blood streaked across his fur as he rolled to his feet and lunged at the lion again, burrowing his fangs deep into the catís upper shoulder. The lion yowled in misery and tried to shake the clinging animal off since it couldnít reach him with its paws. But Wolf held on, shifting his bite so that his teeth drove into the lionís thick-furred throat.

Horrified, Tyrell forced himself to his feet and grabbed at Wolf, pulling him off the shrieking creature. "Stop! You canít kill him!" he cried, tangling his fingers in the wolfís coarse fur as he attempted to hold him back from lunging.

<Stupid child! Get off! Heís going to kill you!> Wolf snarled, snapping at the slender fingers that gripped his fur.

"I donít care! Itís wrong to kill someone. Iím not going to let you fall to his level," Tyrell sobbed, throwing his arms over the wolfís shoulders, nearly crushing him in his hold.

<This is why Iím here. So pathetic creatures like yourself donít have to kill. Iím supposed to spill blood so you donít have to. Now if you have any shred of logic, youíll let me go!>

"No."

<Then run Tyrell. Escape! Get away from here!> Shifting his weight against his shoulders, the canine tried to reason with the boy as he continued to struggle for a way out.

"I canít just leave you," the boy argued, not loosening his steady hold on the raging beast. "Heíll kill you."

By now, the lion had managed to climb to its feet, blood staining its golden mane and making it unsteady on its feet from loss of blood. Wolf growled at him in a savage rumble as the lion stared at the boy and beast with unfeeling eyes. It was too weak to try for another attack and it was now out-numbered since the boy was capable of fighting him as well. A roar flowed from its mouth in a thin trickle of its usual power as it fought to remain on its feet.

Suddenly there was a rush of black mist and a feminine figure emerged from the smoke, her hair a fiery red and her eyes a jaded green. She stared down at the weakened lion in disgust and then grabbed a handful of its silky golden fur. Giving Wolf and Tyrell a quick withering glance, she raised her hand above her and vanished into the smoky gateway, taking the injured lion with her. Tyrell didnít know what to make of it as he realized that the very same woman who had taken him away after their first fight had just rescued Lionelle. Who was she? And what did she have to do with the Chimera?

In the midst of his musings, Tyrell failed to notice that his fingers had become lax around the wolfís pelt. Sensing the shift in his grip, Wolf gave a mighty pull and disentangled himself from the boyís protective grasp. He shook off his fur and flicked out his tongue to lick at the ugly claw marks across his foreleg. Then he turned back to the boy and growled in fury.

"Iím sorry, but I couldnít let you kill him," whimpered Tyrell as the wolf spun around and limped through the lonely alley, farther and farther away from the boy.

<Youíre far more pathetic than I could have ever imagined.>

The wolfís final denunciation hit Tyrell as if he had been literally slapped and he dropped to his knees in shame. He held his hand to his shoulder to ease the aching pain that was descending down his arm and laid his head upon the curled fingers. Ignoring the rivulets of crimson that drizzled through his fingers from his cut cheek, he squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block out the memory of what had just happened. He hurt all over and he was scared beyond all imagination. Not only that, his only protector had abandoned him claiming that he was too weak to fight.

Even the fact that he had managed to peer into Lionelleís mind for the brief moment that he was pinning him to the ground with his claws failed to satisfy him. He had read it and had learned nothing. Lionelle was crazy. His idea of fun would be to tear Tyrell to shreds and make him scream out in pain as he relished in the torture. He didnít care what his mission was; he just wanted to have a chance to make someone suffer. That was the extent of the knowledge he had received from the encounter. He was crazy and now he was determined to kill him. Even his school, a place that had once been like a haven, was unsafe. Where was he supposed to turn to now? And to who? Kat hadnít come so she must have either ignored the distress signal that she had instilled inside herself or she had simply not felt anything at all.

Tyrell looked at his torn clothes and held back a gasp. How was he supposed to explain this to his parents? They would never let him leave the house again. He touched the indent marks that lion had left on his chest with his free hand and shivered in fear. Lionelle had come really close to killing him or at least rendering unable to fight back for some time. His fingers came away sticky with his own blood as he became wild and rubbed them against his pants, trying to erase the red liquid from his skin. This whole thing was insane. He wasnít ready for any of this. Wolf was right. He was pathetic. Tears began to seep through his eyes as he leaned his body against the wall and cried in misery. By the time, Kat found him; he had fallen asleep at the side of the wall, tear tracks lining the side of his bruised face. Unsure what else to do, Kat gently shook him awake and then helped support his emotionally and physically exhausted body while they walked back home. For the first time in her entire life, Kat was at loss for words as she escorted her trembling sibling into his room and watched him curl himself up on his bed. Tyrell buried his face into the thick white innards of his pillow and forced himself to sleep.

As her brother slept, Kat sat on the edge of the bed watching over him and cursing herself for not being there when he needed her. She knew that his tears lay far beyond just the fight but didnít understand what other complexities had lead him to this current state of depression. Though she had sensed his danger ahead, it had taken her forever to find him amongst the pitch-black atmosphere of the night. Now she felt bad for ever making him feel that he should wander off while she contented herself to quest for something that just wasnít going to be found. She made herself a promise that as soon as he woke up the next day, she would make a better attempt to find out what lead to his brief mental breakdown.

Meanwhile, outside the youthís home, another figure watched over the sleeping boy in the window, his violet eyes narrowing in concern. Wolf seemed somewhat remorseful as he gazed up at the window. He had hoped that he could protect the boy as he was now, but fate had clearly indicated that there was another path to be set out for him, a path that he had dreaded for some time.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Comments: God Tyrell is such a drama queen! But I do like my cute computer scene with Wlf and Daemon. Youíll learn more about them in the next chapter.

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