Most of my writing has been non-fiction, but I started with fiction about six years ago. I took a break from developing my novels to publish a dog training book, but now I’m going back to creating new worlds and stories.
I have always been in love with the idea of shapeshifters, the merging and blending of human and animal. It speaks to my own deep connection to animals and the wild.
When I was coming up with ideas for my novel, I wanted werewolves in it, but I also wanted something different. I wondered, what if the person wasn’t changing his physical form, but rather joining his soul to his animal counterparts. What would that look like?
And the lupine en-malat were born. I borrowed from the classic werewolf story – a Bite triggers transformation, silver allergies are a very real problem, but the human doesn’t get furry.
Huh? I’ll explain…
Some people live their entire lives and never encounter even a hint of magic. The Veil that divides the Earthplane from the astral realms of the Other is normally impenetrable, keeping the creatures of legend safely in their own worlds. But a few can come and go at will.
The en-malat are one of the few.
When a human is Bitten, a soul-bond is forged between the person on the Earthplane, and not one but two wolf-like creatures who dwell in the Other. This triad of siblings can freely Change places back and forth across the Veil. But, to an observer it looks like the human became the wolf.
New additions to the Pack are carefully selected by the Pack Leader. So Geremy St. Audlin is dismayed when his siblings, Giltaan and Gondar, demand that the sexy lawyer he’s hired be given the Bite. Further, he must claim her as his Mate! He might be next in line for Pack Leadership, but Biting and Mating Alisa Nelson would be considered treason and punishable by death.
Geremy’s already fighting to maintain his status in the Pack. His wolf sanctuary project is floundering and only Alisa can save it. So he and his siblings must keep her safe from the demonic saithe stalking her. Because she just might be the key to saving the whole world.
+++The rain here smells even worse! I did not think that was possible. +++ Giltaan grumped to his brothers beyond the Veil as he stalked through the steady drizzle, picking his way delicately between the deeper puddles. They glistened with an unhealthy-looking sheen in the streetlights and he shuddered to think of the oily mud at the bottom squelching between his toes. He wouldn’t mind the rain so much if it didn’t stink so. His undercoat kept him warm and dry, the water running off his harsh outer guard hairs in little rivulets. But the city’s cement walkways felt strange and cold under the sensitive pads of his feet.
Dead. It feels dead. Life is squashed deep beneath this cold human city, Giltaan muttered to himself, keeping his dismal thoughts away from his brothers. The streets and sidewalks separated him from the Earthmother and the lupus did not like feeling so cut off from Her. He leapt up into a large concrete planter filled with small trees and crouched under the branches just to feel real dirt under his feet and smell something with life in it. He glanced upward, seeking his Lady Moon, but he could not catch even a faint glimmer of Her light through the leaves and low cloud cover.
Giltaan patrolled around the building Alisa slept in, senses alert. +++ Not sure I could smell a summoning here, my brother, +++ he sent to Geremy in the Other, then sneezed as one fat raindrop rolled down his long face and into his sensitive nostril. He shook his head to clear it but it didn’t stop the burning from the human pollutants in the droplet. +++What is this place? +++
Geremy’s response from the Other side of the Veil was terse. +++It’s called Olympia. It is full of politicians. That’s why it smells so bad. +++ His en-malat did not like being stuck in the Other, but Geremy was not nearly as skilled at tracking or spellcraft as Giltaan. The lupus knew though, with their deep connection, that Geremy was fretting and tense because he could not be the one protecting his Mate.
Giltaan paused in the darkness of an overhang. This portion of the alley was so dimly lit that any passerby would be unlikely to see him. A demon though, would have no trouble spotting his huge shaggy form. Giltaan hummed and his rawllane rose to his call, weaving a cloaking spell that would hide him from any eyes, mortal or demonic. His power sigils glowed, twining gracefully around his forelegs and down to his front paws in a pattern of whorls and spirals. They flared a brilliant blue-white before dimming again to his regular fur pattern as the spell settled over him, blending him into the background. He set out again on his circuit, a deeper shadow gliding through the wet night moving silently from alley to concealing trees and doorways as he circled and circled, ever alert.
In the earliest morning hours, he spotted it. A smear of yellow detached from a pool of light and slunk down the alley. The demonling was still in the Other, its energies bleeding through the Veil and onto the Earthplane. It looked like a misshapen child with limbs that bent at awkward, unnatural angles. Were Giltaan alone, the thing would be harder to catch over there where its magical energies were naturally stronger. Luckily, he had reinforcements on the Other side of the Veil. Peeling his lips back, he bared gleaming fangs in a silent snarl and called to his en-malat siblings with the barest whisper of rawllane. He didn’t want to alert the minion to their presence. Yet.
+++ Geremy, Gondar! Draw nigh but carefully. Do not spook the demonling. We need to catch it, not scare it away. +++ Giltaan watched them, peering through the Veil to see his brothers crouch low and stalk the sickly yellow form. When they got in position, Giltaan let loose a howl that released his rawllane in a trapping spell he flung at the demonling.
Giltaan was fast, but having to cast through the Veil slowed his spell. The demon dodged and the spell splashed against the rocky landscape of the Other, dissipating in a cloud of bright blue sparks. The saithe minion paused to gloat, dancing in the fading glimmers.
+++ Now what you do, wolfie? Heh? Stuck there on the Earthplane, you can’t get through the Veil fast enough to get me! +++ The ghastly thing chortled. But in stopping to taunt Giltaan, it made a fatal mistake, forgetting that an en-malat’s siblings were usually close by in the Other. Gondar’s massive clawed hands closed around the demon and his snapping fangs cut off its scream of terror. The giant morphos spat out the demon’s head, tongue lolling between his long lupine jaws.
+++Nasty taste, +++ he complained, wrinkling his lips and nose so hard the broad expanse of dark sable fur between his wide-set eyes buckled into deep furrows.
On the streets of Olympia, Giltaan whined and sank onto his haunches, dropping his head between his forelegs. Gondar peered across the Veil, triangular ears perked and head tilted inquiringly, perplexed by Giltaan’s reaction. In the Other, Geremy reached up to pat his brother morphos’ thickly furred and muscled shoulder. His tall form was dwarfed by Gondar’s nine-foot frame.
Giltaan heard him soothe Gondar. +++ I think, my brother, that Giltaan would have preferred you to simply catch the saithe. Not kill him. +++ At Gondar’s wordless cry of outrage, Geremy amended his statement. +++ Forgive me. I meant, not kill the demon yet. +++
Gondar tossed the headless carcass aside, kicking it for good measure with one long-toed foot before sinking onto his haunches.
+++ Catch saithe. Kill saithe. +++ The morphos shook his head so hard, his ears flapped against his broad skull, then wiped at his jaws with taloned hands, still trying to get the taste of demon out of his mouth. Demon blood burned, and now Gondar was spitting and hacking.
+++ Must go wash this foulness away! +++ He rose onto his hind legs, striding away on toes that swept up to sharply angled hocks. He moved deeper into the Other where he would find fresher water than the stuff right here next to the Veil. The taint of the city bled through into the realms for a distance, making the normally pastoral Other bleak and desolate.
Geremy Changed places with Giltaan, stepping through the Veil and back on to the Earthplane. It would be easier for him to get back to Seattle from Olympia than a massive gold wolf the size of a small horse. His brother whined with relief to escape from the smells and filth of the city, following his morphos sibling into the deeps of the Other. Geremy felt like whining himself while looking at the brightly lit lobby of the Governor hotel.
His Mate was in there, sleeping safely now. He and his brothers had foiled another saithe attack.
This is Lupine, first in the Becoming Pack series. Many revisions and re-writes later I’ve got it ready to go. Publishing here we come!