For a moment, all I could do was stare at Edgar. He smiled at me, as if this was all perfectly normal. Even though I hadn't exactly lived a normal life for the past six months, that didn't stop me from trying, and let me tell you that what was happening right now was not in any way shape or form normal.
“Come with me," I said at last, and turned and walked towards the nearest exit. He followed behind me willingly. I burst through the doors, and had to take a moment to readjust to the overwhelming amount of sounds and scents that assaulted me. Cars roared and honked at each other on the nearby road, and I could smell their fumes and the scent of burnt rubber- not to mention the large number of students lounging around the courtyard as they ate their lunches. But I wasn't stopping here. I immediately turned right and led Edgar around the back of the school where the stench of garbage wafted out of the dumpsters, making me want to hurl. Once I was sure we were out of any nosy students' line of sight, I spun around and glared at Edgar with all the anger I could muster. The glare of a werewolf is enough to make even the strongest of men get goosebumps, but Edgar merely looked at me expectantly, as if waiting for me to explain why I'd brought him back here. I bit back a growl of irritation.
“Okay, start explaining," I snapped. “Why are you here?"
“It's quite simple really," he began, pushing his glasses up his nose again. “I'm here to keep you safe from those that would cause you harm."
“Be a little more specific," I hissed. “Who would want to cause me harm in the first place?"
I narrowed my eyes, trying to look as threatening as possible, “Obviously, but why?"
“That," he said, raising a decisive finger, “is on a need to know basis."
“I'm the one who needs to be protected, apparently," I snapped, jabbing my own finger into his chest. He wasn't very strong, I noticed, as he stumbled backwards when I poked him. “I think that means I need to know!"
“Sorry," he apologized, smoothing the wrinkles out of his shirt. “But I have my orders."
“Orders?" I echoed. “So, you're not the only one involved in this?"
“Need to know basis!" he said quickly, diverting his gaze.
I stood there for a moment, and then leaned my back against the wall, pressing my face into my hands as I tried to keep my temper in check.
“You know," I said at last, “you're the one who might need protecting soon if you don't stop being so cryptic."
Edgar shrugged, “I can't disobey my orders, Amber."
With an exasperated groan, I pushed myself off of the wall and looked at him again.
“Fine, then. What CAN you tell me?"
“Not much," he admitted. “Just that my name is Edgar, I'm a wizard and battle mage, and that it's my job to protect you."
I rolled my eyes, “Yeah, we've been over that. What about the guy who attacked me earlier? The Octopus?"
“He's a warlock," Edgar answered. My heart began to beat faster. Finally, I seemed to be getting somewhere.
“No," Edgar clarified. “I'm a wizard. A warlock is someone who does illegal magic."
“Illegal magic?" I echoed.
He shrugged again, for what I'm sure was the hundredth time today, “It'd take way too long to explain right now. All you need to know is that he's out to get you, and that I'm here to protect you from him."
I looked him up and down. Short as a third grader and without an ounce of real muscle on him. He looked like he'd be more at home in the chess club than a battlefield.
“Yeah," I said wryly, “that's a lot of comfort."
Edgar beamed with delight, and I resisted the urge to facepalm again.
“So," I said, “what now?"
“You just keep living your life like you normally would. I'll be there to keep an eye on you."
I felt a chill go down my spine, “How close of an eye?" I asked.
“As close as I'm ordered to," he said simply.
Images I had no desire to see appeared in my mind of all the places Edgar might decide to keep an eye on me. I shook my head angrily.
“Well, do us both a favor and back off!" I shouted, putting my hand on his chest and pushing him away. My poking had put him off balance, but my shove put him flat on his back on the ground.
“Amber, I can't do that!" he protested, scrambling to get back up. “I have my orders!"
“But they're not your orders, are they?" a new voice asked.
I spun around to see that another man had come to join us. He was the polar opposite of Edgar: tall and muscular while still lean. His long raven hair fell down to his back regally, and his black business suit made him look strikingly out of place standing next to a dumpster. In his hand, he held a scepter just like Edgar's, except that his was gold with a ruby gem.
“Victor!" Edgar exclaimed, taking a step backwards. It was the first time I'd ever seen him caught off guard.
“What are you doing here, Edgar?" Victor asked calmly, but I could detect the inaudible menace that his voice carried. Whoever Victor was, he was not a man to be trifled with.
“I'm just- I came to- I just wanted to…" Edgar sputtered.
“You were specifically instructed not to involve yourself in this," Victor interrupted. “This is my department, not yours."
“I wanted to help," the young man said sheepishly, but I didn't miss the quick glance he sent my way.
Victor' eyebrows lowered in disapproval, “This again?" he demanded. “Must you always lose your senses when you see a pretty face?"
This time, it was my turn to take a step backward. This scary man had just called me pretty, but I was far from taking it as a compliment. The way he looked at me, you'd think I was a stray dog his son had brought into the house.
“So," he said, now speaking to me, “you're the new Silverblood everyone has been talking about."
“I'm the… what?" I asked, taking another step back. Victor hadn't made a single threatening move, but he still made my skin crawl. There was just something about him that I didn't like- at all.
“I would be more than happy to answer your questions," Victor said, and he took a step closer, “if you would just come with me."
The moment his foot touched the ground, my vision went completely red. I have no idea what was happening, but I no longer saw Victor and Edgar standing by the back wall of my school. I was in a cage, with a shadowy figure looming over me.
“Still not resilient enough," the figure said, it's voice sounding dull and faraway. “Pump another dose of silver into it."
Then there was pain. Intense, indescribable pain. Like somebody was shooting fire into my veins. But through it, I could still make out another shadowy figure standing at a control panel, pressing buttons.
Suddenly, I was back in front of my school, and my vision was normal again. It seemed only a moment had passed, not even long enough for Victor to take another step. I backpedaled away from him, slamming into the brick wall.
“Stay away from me!" I screeched.
Victor paused, seeing my reaction, and then raised his scepter.
“Please calm down, Amber," he said, and the gem on his scepter began to glow.
I shook my head wildly, “No, no, get away from me!"
And then it started. Even in my frenzied state, I had a feeling it would. I felt my body begin to swell. It was like I was a balloon somebody was inflating as my muscles grew larger. Within seconds, my clothes no longer fit, and began to tear at the seams. My senses became even sharper as brown fur shot up all over my body, and my bones cracked, reshaping themselves to my other form.
“Amber, stop!" I heard Edgar shout, but then my vision turned red again as a bolt of red hot energy shot out of Victor's scepter and struck me in the chest. It flung me onto my back, but didn't keep me down for long. By the time I got back up, I had to stand on four feet. I gave an agitated shake, throwing the tattered remains of my clothes off of my body.
“Leave… Me… Aloooorgh," I said, my words turning into an unintelligible snarl as my face pushed forward into a muzzle, leaving me 100% wolf for the second time in less than a day. I saw Victor raise his scepter to blast me again, but I didn't give him the chance. I turned tail, literally, and ran.
On a full moon, I kind of black out when I turn into my wolf, and my instincts take over. It's rare that I can remember anything beyond a few fragmented pieces of the night- like trying to remember a dream after you wake up. When I change any other time, though, I stay in control. It happens when I get really scared or angry. I'd only done it twice before today.
“We can't let the Silverblood get away!" I heard Victor exclaim behind me. I felt the fur on my back tingle as another magic blast flew over me, almost hitting me. I put on an extra burst of speed and rounded the corner of a nearby building, breaking his line of sight.
In wolf form, I can run much faster than I can on two feet. Like, ridiculously fast. I didn't stop to count, but I'm sure that I passed at least three cars that were going in the same direction as me. I was heading for home, but my fear had worked its way into my brain, leaving me with nothing but sheer panic to guide my steps. I ran for half an hour before realizing I was nowhere near my street, and did a U-turn. Within minutes, I was racing down my road, utterly convinced that my tail was about to be lit on fire. I got to my house, and even in my terror-crazed mind, I knew it would be bad if anyone saw my mom let a massive wolf in through the front door. So I ran to the backyard, where I'd come out of the forest just this morning, and frantically began scratching at the back door like an oversized puppy.
My mom came to the back door, obviously thinking one of the neighbors' dogs had gotten lost. When she saw me, she froze. It wasn't often that she actually got to see me in my wolf form, and I don't know if she even recognized me at first. Fortunately, she got the clue and opened the door. I streaked inside, straight to my bedroom, and leaped onto my bed, curling into a frightened wolfy ball.
“Amber!" Mom shouted from the kitchen, coming after me. She stopped at my bedroom door and looked inside. She was afraid to come inside, not sure if I would bite her head off or not. “W-what happened?"
Naturally, I can't talk when I'm a wolf, so I just looked at her and let out the most pathetic whine I could muster. Now, I know I've been pretty hard on my mom since I introduced her here, but to her credit she took my being a werewolf far better than I'd expected. No matter what I turned into on the full moon, she was still my mother, and at no point did I realize that more than right now, as she tentatively made her way to sit down on my bed. She reached down and took my big head in her hands, stroking my head like a dog, and then wrapped her arms around my neck in a comforting hug.
“It's okay, baby," she murmured. “Don't be afraid. It'll all be okay." She spoke to me as if I were a two year old scared by a thunderstorm.
And you know what? Just this once, I didn't mind.
NEXT TIME: Aaw! There’s nothing like being shot at by a mysterious grouchy wizard to bring a family together, is there? Too bad whoever’s after Amber is still out there, and she also has a certain incident with a certain little girl to worry about…