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    Headstall
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Morningstar: The Malaise - 18. Chapter 18 A Day of Reckoning

Choices and changes....

Morningstar: The Malaise

 

 

Chapter 18

 

 

A reflective and anxious hour had elapsed by the time Elinor and Denver came back into view. Kellar hadn’t moved from the front seat after Tobyn had taken his abrupt leave. At first, his mind went in circles as he replayed every word his friend had spoken, until finally, he concluded Tobyn was reacting to his foundations being shaken… big time.

It pissed Kellar off at just how out of his element he was, interacting with others. Three years in self-inflicted solitude had left him unprepared. One realization he’d come to pretty quickly was Tobyn did deserve some warning. He accepted now, he’d made a mistake, and recognized it had something to do with not fully understanding… not taking into account the bond between mother and son, and that son’s fear, irrational or not, of losing her. It had been only the two of them for many years, and Tobyn was a man who’d put himself under considerable pressure and took on a lot of responsibility; now there was a stranger on the scene who was instantly enmeshed in their lives. He had been blindsided, and Kellar could have prevented that from happening. He should have seen this possibility because he was well aware his friend did not like change.

The strong aversion to mates though, was a difficult one for Kellar to comprehend. He knew the logic behind the man’s deep-seated fears, but why couldn’t he see the good far outweighed the bad? And how many mates could misinterpret the signs of finding theirs, like Tobyn seemed able to do? Was it because he didn’t want to see them?

The new, hand-in-hand couple stopped, kissed, and embraced upon reaching the front of the truck. Kellar tried not to watch as they continued to talk after the hug. He thought it a beautiful thing, and his eyes were drawn back to the scene before him. They looked serenely happy. He flickered his vision, and saw further dissipation of the husky man’s depression. The healer in him catalogued it away as he took note of their increasingly vibrant colors. Mates strengthened each other immediately. That was one of the answers he’d been looking for, and he was no longer confused. If he was to guess, that was not the only benefit.

His thoughts returned to Tobyn. His friend had changed in the same ways from the time they met. His senses were improved, his colors were closer to optimum, and he could shift and hold it substantially longer. Each day his overall vitality improved. Now, Kellar was certain of the reason. Right from the beginning, when the beautiful blond man was on the highway in front of his cabin, he’d seen Tobyn’s color pattern was identical to his own. It had blown him away, but everything about Tobyn had done that. He hadn’t had a clue what it meant… earth mates had never been part of his vocabulary or understanding at that point… so he’d kept the mystery to himself. He couldn’t waffle in his own head anymore, though, because the proof was standing right in front of him.

He and Tobyn were earth mates. The sandy-haired man was the other half the great mother had seen fit to gift him with. His pissed-off other half. The half that wanted a wife and lots of children. The half that had free will to make his own choices… his own decisions. No matter what, Kellar was determined to respect his wishes because his mate had to want this as much as he did… but he did have one more theory to test before whatever happened, happened.

Elinor and Denver had made their choice, and it certainly appeared there would be no turning back. It was a great thing for the pack, in Kellar’s mind, but would Tobyn come around to his way of thinking? He wouldn’t say it, not to his friend… my mate…, at this point in time, but it wouldn’t surprise him if Elinor could and would have more children now. That was assuming they wanted them, and he couldn’t imagine they wouldn’t. His eyes returned again to the pair as they advanced a few feet closer.

“I’m going to pack up now, my sweet. I’ll see you in four to five hours,” Denver said as they prepared to separate.

“All right, you charmer,” Elinor said with a girlish chuckle. “We won’t get there much sooner than you because we’re taking Kellar to pick up his truck. I can’t wait to introduce our new mechanic to the pack.”

Kellar could see the twinkle in her eye as she glanced at the windshield. He could also see it dawn on her Tobyn wasn’t there, and she frowned for a few seconds. Kellar averted his eyes from her questioning look until she turned her attention back to Denver.

“So, I’m just the new mechanic, huh?” The man showed a nice open smile as he took joking umbrage to her comment. What a difference from the surly man of a year ago.

“We’ll see after you take me on our first date,” she replied.

“Will dinner tonight count?”

“Oh yes. I haven’t been to dinner with a handsome man in a long time. I look forward to it, Denver. I look forward to so many things.”

“Me too, Elinor. I can’t believe I’ve been given my life back.” The playfulness had ended, and Kellar wished the windows of the truck weren’t open because he felt like he was eavesdropping. Wolves could tamp down their hearing, but only to a point.

“My dear, sweet man. I feel the same way, and that was the best run I’ve had in... maybe ever.” They kissed again, this time with a little more passion than Kellar wanted to witness. “Now, where the devil has my son gone to?” She walked over to the open window and asked the same question.

“Uh, yeah, he went for a walk. He should be back soon,” he said with a certainty he didn’t feel. But, he could scent him closer. Kellar wasn’t going to tell her why the man had disappeared, so he felt immense relief when Tobyn arrived at that very moment, sauntering along his own side of the half-ton as if he’d just been on a pleasure stroll.

“Are we ready to go, Mom?” he asked with a surprising cheerfulness Kellar wondered about. Tobyn glanced over at his friend with an expression that gave nothing away.

“Yes, we are. We just have to say our good-byes to Denver.” There was a message in her words and her tone. Kellar let out a held breath when Tobyn, picking up on it, walked over to the waiting man and shook his hand. Kellar got out and followed him to do the same. He saw Tobyn’s shoulders tense briefly and then relax upon Denver saying he would see them all later at the compound.

The mechanic’s tools and much of his other stuff were already packed because he had apparently been about to move on from the rented garage in the next few days. Kellar mentally shuddered at how close they’d come to being too late. The impending move from a thriving business, coupled with his serious depression, indicated Denver had been at a potentially tragic crossroads. He checked his colors again just to verify the improvement was ongoing. Meeting Elinor might have saved this troubled shifter’s life.

The polite conversation between the men over with, Kellar shook Denver’s hand and retreated along with Tobyn to let the mates say their temporary good-byes. Kellar went to his side of the truck to wait, not really looking at his friend. Mate.

“Hey.” Tobyn, after hesitating at the front of the vehicle, walked over to him. “I was a jerk, and I’m sorry. You were being cautious, and I get that. It was a tough situation for you, and I was the one who asked you to be there. I know this is a good thing for my mom, and the pack, and I’ll get used to it. I would be an idiot not to see how happy she is, and it’s going to give Morningstar a boost to have a pair of true mates.” His voice was barely above a whisper. “Am I forgiven?”

Kellar lifted his gaze from the ground, feeling an enormous weight leave his shoulders. As long as Tobyn was okay, then he was okay. “Yes, of course. You were right… I’ve been thinking about what you said; I should have told you, and I’m sorry for that, but we still need to talk….”

“Come on, boys. Let’s get back on the road. Is everything all right here?” Elinor looked from one to the other.

“Sure,” Kellar answered.

“Absolutely. It’s been a good day, Mom.”

“It’s been a great day, Tobyn.” Elinor grabbed Kellar in a hug. “Thank you for what you’ve done for me. You’re like this good luck charm for Morningstar.” She held on tightly, and Kellar looked over her head, happy to see the smile on his own mate’s face. Damn. How was Tobyn going to react to that disclosure, if this morning’s had thrown him so badly? He would wait until they were alone, and tell him all he’d figured out so far, and hope Tobyn was ready to hear it. Elinor finally let him go, and they all piled back into the front seat to begin their journey to his cabin.

They didn’t have to deal with any awkward silence because Elinor chatted continuously, to the point of it being amusing. The men exchanged smirks a few times over her constantly moving head. At one point, when she said she missed Denver already, Kellar understood exactly what she meant, but he didn’t dare look over at her son.

When Tobyn drove up the driveway to his cabin, Kellar felt a pang he couldn’t explain. This had been a lonely place at times, but it had also given him much peace. His life was so much simpler a few days ago. He looked over to see Tobyn watching him. Would he be returning here alone someday soon? Would his earth mate spurn him for the life he’d always envisioned for himself? Have faith, Kellar. He loves you. Remember waking up this morning. “You guys can go ahead. I won’t be long.”

“We’ll wait,” Tobyn responded. “Do you need help with anything while we’re here?”

“No, thanks. I’m just going to grab a bag of clothes. I need to do some laundry soon. Really, there’s no need to hang around,” he said as he got out of the truck.

Tobyn looked over at him. “That’s okay, we’re in no rush.”

Elinor, who’d been staring at Kellar’s home, spoke up. “I love it. What a lovely place you have here. It looks so inviting… would you mind showing it to me?”

“Not at all. Come on. I’ll give you the grand tour.” And he did.

She remarked favorably on virtually everything and Kellar felt pride blossom at her compliments. He was caught off guard when she asked him an out-of-the-blue question. Tobyn was, at that point, sitting on the front steps. “Is everything okay between you two?”

“Tobyn and me? Yeah, sure… we’re good.” He couldn’t stop the nervous swallow.

“I might have been a chatterbox on the way here, but I’m not stupid, my dear. Whatever is going on, you need to communicate. I know my son, and something is bothering him, and it’s not just about me suddenly finding my earth mate. He’ll get used to Denver. I’m not going to interfere, but there is something very special between you boys, and you need to protect it. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Oh my God! Don’t you dare call me ma’am. I feel like a young girl again, so there will be none of that,” she said with a blazing smile, and Kellar could see years had indeed lifted from her face already.

“Fair enough, Elinor. I’m very happy for you and Denver.”

“Thank you, dear. I’m happy for anyone lucky enough to find that special person.” The stare she gave him caused him to squirm. Did she know? Had she just given her blessing? Appearing to take pity on his inability to come up with a coherent response, she carried on. “Do you have everything you need? Denver awaits.” She giggled. “Oh, and I must call and let the pack members know we have something else to celebrate.” She giggled again, and Kellar laughed, mostly out of relief they’d moved on to a different topic.

 

Tobyn led, and Kellar stayed about a thousand feet back. If he tried to drop further behind, Tobyn would slow down until they were close again. He wondered if the man realized he was doing it. Kellar certainly understood it for what it was. The more distance between them, the more unsettled they both felt. It was another test that hammered home what he already knew.

Arriving at the lodge, he was astonished to see Denver’s big truck already there. The man had obviously hurried his packing and closing up, because their own trip had been a quick one. He was also caught off guard to see the number of people waiting as he pulled his pickup in next to Tobyn’s. He, his mother, and Denver were in the center of about a dozen people, some of whom Kellar was already acquainted with, and some he wasn’t.

There were lots of excited greetings going on, and he was brought into the midst of them as soon as he stepped out. He met the other two members of the governing council, Ingram and Maynard, for the first time, and was made to feel quite welcome by them amongst all the chaos. Their devotion and happiness for Elinor came through clearly.

This was a huge deal for the pack, and it showed in how they crowded around the newly-united earth mates. Everywhere he looked, Kellar saw joy and hope on people’s faces. That included Tilly and Adelin, who were standing together wearing matching smiles. Denver might have been mildly uncomfortable, but it didn’t keep him from grinning ear to ear as he held Elinor’s hand in his. Kellar flickered and watched the effect the mates had on those around them. At the same time Tobyn arrived at his side, Elinor called for everyone to enter the lodge.

As they all crowded through the doors, Kellar momentarily reeled at the number of people inside. It must have been damn near the whole pack, so there had to be very few people manning the businesses. He shouldn’t have been surprised; this was the biggest thing that could have happened to Morningstar. At least, so far, he thought.

Tobyn soon found him again in this new throng, but it was impossible to have the needed conversation surrounded like they were. As tempted as he was, he wouldn’t ask Tobyn to leave his mother at a time like this. Besides, he was fascinated by what was unfolding before him. His healer mind was in overdrive.

Elinor moved to the upper level, still hand in hand with her mate, one step up at the back of the dining area. She called for everyone’s attention. Some sat, and some stood, watching her and the newest member.

“This is a wonderful day, not just for Denver and I, but for the entire pack. I trust this will give you all as much hope as it has me, for our future. The earth mother has not deserted us as some have feared. We’ve had the miracle of Adelin this week,” she said with a smile at the girl who was seated near the front, “and I have found my mate. He still needs to court me, though.” Elinor winked at the crowd. There was a lot of chuckling at that, especially in seeing the large man blush when she kissed his cheek.

“There’s one person responsible for both of these things, and that is Kellar Haylan, our new healer. My son found him for us, so he shares in the credit,” she said with a pointed grin at Tobyn. “Maybe soon, we’ll find the cure for the malaise that’s been affecting Morningstar. I see this as a day to truly appreciate the positives.

“Kellar, would you like to say a few words, if just to greet everyone? I know I’m putting you on the spot, but so many have been asking about your healing, and what it means to see colors, and I’d rather you explain it than me attempting to. We’re all friends here, dear.”

“No, that’s okay.” He could feel himself flushing as all eyes turned to him.

Tobyn nudged him. “Go ahead. She’s right. You’re a hero,” he whispered, smirking.

Kellar looked at all the expectant faces… kind faces. Sighing, he looked at the man at his side. Maybe it was time for the entire pack to know what he was seeing. “Will you come with me?”

Tobyn nodded, and they made their way through the tables to the far side, stepping up, and joining Elinor and Denver. Turning to face the people, he found he wasn’t as nervous as he would have expected. It helped that the blond man was close to his side.

“Hel… hello, everyone. I’ve already met some of you, and I want to thank you for how welcome you’ve made me feel. Ah… my healing… it’s pretty simple, but I’ll try to explain to you what the colors are about. From the time I first shifted, I could see these colors in all living things. I never understood why, until Miss Sybil told me I carry the name of a line of healers, so I guess it might be a part of my DNA. When a person or animal is ill or injured, the colors are affected. I’m able to spot a color that doesn’t belong; its shade and location tells me what I need to do to fix whatever is wrong, and I use plants with the same shade to assist me.” He smiled at the crowd, and many of them smiled back. “Anyway, about the colors I see in each person… we all have this signature pattern, which I always thought was unique to every individual. I never forget a pattern once I’ve witnessed it, so I remembered Denver’s when I first met Elinor, and saw hers was identical. So, long story short, I verified today that earth mates have the same colors in the exact same pattern.”

Kellar was surprised how engrossed people seemed to be in what he was saying. “You’re doing good,” Tobyn whispered loudly, and there was laughter throughout the crowd. It helped him relax a little more while giving him confidence to continue.

“I probably left a lot out, but that’s the condensed version,” he said with another grin. Making a quick decision, Kellar became serious again. “There is something else I’ve been trying to work out, and today has helped verify other suspicions I’ve had as well. I guess now is as good a time as any to say I’m pretty sure I know what the malaise is, and what we need to cure it.”

As expected, Tobyn was especially startled at that, and Kellar heard his sharp intake of breath over the excited murmurings of the crowd. “Please bear with me while I try to give you my observations on what’s been happening, and remember I’ve only worked some of this out in the last few minutes.” The incredulous sounds quieted immediately. “As a healer, my instincts kept telling me from the beginning this malaise was some form of deficiency. I wasn’t raised in a pack as some of you know, but Miss Sybil, who I don’t see here, was a great help in educating me about the fact we are a magical race created by the earth mother. I believe our magic, which gives us all those things that make us unique, needs energy, and I think she’s provided us with that energy in her own special way, by giving us our earth mates.” That caused more whispering in the assembled group, and he faltered. Looking to a very intense, very attentive Tobyn, he received an encouraging nod.

“Okay, so think of the colors I can see as energy. All of your color patterns are dimmer than they should be, but there are no signs of disease. In my opinion, we get some energy from all living things… possibly, humans do as well... but it’s not nearly enough for our kind, and the energy of the pack is not being adequately replaced. Over time, the depletion is causing this scourge that weakens and sickens us. It’s why shifting is difficult for many of you, and of course it has severely affected the birth rate.” Kellar watched as that mention had an especially sobering effect.

“Today, watching these new true mates move around among you, I’m convinced I’ve seen where the energy we need comes from. You all know that mates make each other stronger, but something magical also happens when they are around other pack members.” You could have heard a feather fall in the lodge it had gotten so quiet. “While I watched Elinor and Denver’s patterns, I could see their colors reach for one another on an almost constant basis, and join, and when they separate, something is released. It’s really hard to describe… it’s not a mist exactly… think of the dust you see sometimes in a shaft of light. There’s thousands of little specks floating and slowly moving. What I see is like that, except the dust is made up of a multitude of different colors.” Kellar stopped and looked around. He had everyone’s attention, and he started to feel a little embarrassed again.

“What does the dust do?” Elinor asked, breaking the silence.

Taking a deep breath, Kellar started speaking again. “I don’t think the dust actively does anything at first. I believe the colors, or energy of people in the area attract it in some way and draw it to them so they can absorb it. When it reaches someone’s aura, it disappears. I can actually see little streams of it absorbed. And then it does its work, which I’m convinced is to provide the energy we need to have optimum health as shifters. It gives us back our magic. I know it probably sounds crazy to someone who can’t see it, but….”

“So, are you saying having a pair of earth mates will save the pack?” an excited Adelin interrupted.

“No, Adelin… I really don’t think so. The malaise was becoming an issue when the pack had Fendral and Esther. That alone proves their presence didn’t have a big enough effect. There is only so much energy released from a single set, and from what I understand, our decline coincides with packs closing in on themselves and not actively searching for their true mates. My belief is, while the mates will eventually defeat the effects of the malaise for themselves, there isn’t enough to achieve that for the whole pack.”

“How do you know that? Elinor and Denver have only been back with us for half an hour.” It was Tilly asking the question.

“I, ah… I’m speculating.”

“Oh, okay.” She smiled. “So, we need another pair?”

“Two won’t do it either, Tilly. Remember, our energies have taken decades to deplete, so it makes sense it will take a lot to replenish us to healthy levels. There isn’t enough energy produced with a couple of pairs to reverse the malaise. It will help, but in my estimation, there needs to be many more earth mates feeding the pack, like in the old days.”

“Are you speculating again?” Tilly asked.

“Yes, but I’m pretty sure I’m right about this. I guess you could say I see the supply and demand, and they are vastly different.”

“Kellar?” Elinor asked. “How do you know Denver and I having the same color signature isn’t just a coincidence? Maybe we’re the only ones like this?”

“No, you’re not. It’s not a coincidence.” Kellar stopped, realizing what he’d just said. Shit. What had he just done?

“So then this isn’t the only time you’ve come across identical patterns? Is there anyone else in the pack that has a match to their signature colors?” Hutch had entered the discussion now, and Kellar wanted to crawl in a hole… but first he wanted to throw up. He’d done this backward.

Kellar turned to Tobyn who was looking at him oddly. “I screwed up, man,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry. We need to talk.”

Tobyn whispered back. “What are you talking about? You’re doing fine. Just answer the question.” Kellar couldn’t believe he hadn’t clued in.

“So, is there?” Hutch persisted.

Kellar pulled his eyes away from Tobyn. “Ah… yes, but there’s no reason to discuss them here and now.”

“Them?” Tilly directed a knowing smile toward Tobyn. “You and Kellar are mates, aren’t you? I knew it. It’s so obvious, but why are you guys keeping it a secret? I think it’s wonderful. Tobyn, you must be so happy….” She was gushing until she stopped to look at her childhood friend… the one she knew so well… better than anyone else, Adelin had said. Kellar was mortified by what was happening as he watched her expression change to one of dismay. “Am I wrong? Oh my god. You didn’t know? I thought it was impossible not to know… Kellar, I’m so sorry. Tobyn?” Tilly covered her face with her hands when he didn’t respond, but the damage had been done.

Everyone in the room was frozen in place. Kellar finally dared look at the blond man at his side. What the hell just happened?

Tobyn was stunned, and it showed in the expression of shocked disbelief. His eyes traveled around the room at the equally astounded people before they landed back on him. “Kellar? Is it true… what Tilly said? Do our colors match? Have you seen this dust from us?”

Kellar struggled to find his voice. This was the worst situation imaginable, following on the heels of the earlier blindside. It wasn’t the way Tobyn should have been told. Why didn’t he just say no when Elinor asked him to speak? All he could do was try to explain, and hope his mate understood. “Our patterns are the same, Tobyn… not as much dust as from your mom and Denver, but I have seen a few small displays of it. I haven’t figured out….”

“But we’re men. Men can’t be earth mates… can they? I’ve never heard….” He stopped, appearing horrified at the thought, and Kellar experienced pain that had no match in his memory.

Needing to find his voice again, despite wanting to escape from that look, he did. “According to Miss Sybil, they can. It’s happened in our histories. Tobyn, I….”

“Miss Sybil? Are you telling me you’ve known since that visit?”

Kellar felt the rapt scrutiny of the pack members and he hated it, but the only thing that mattered now was Tobyn and what he was thinking.

“No, I didn’t. Please understand. I only suspected. I didn’t know anything for sure until today.”

“But you knew our colors matched… that it was possible we were mates… you talked to Miss Sybil about it, and you didn’t talk to me,” he said so softly Kellar could hardly hear him. Elinor put her hand on her son’s arm, and started to speak, but he shrugged it off. “Not now, Mom.” That was all he uttered as he walked through the silent crowd toward the front entrance of the lodge.

“Tobyn, I tried to tell you before we left Denver’s, but…,” he called out to the man’s retreating back. His words were wasted as the door shut with a slam magnified by the lack of any other sound.

Kellar looked at all the people staring, most of them sympathetically, and felt like he was going to break apart. He managed to say, “Excuse me,” before he made his own way to and out the same door. Tobyn was nowhere to be seen, and Kellar had no idea what to do… or what to think. He’d never felt so defeated… or so inept. Twice in one day. Fuck!

A big thank you to my editor, Timothy M., and to all those who support this story. I have so much appreciation for you all.

Copyright © 2017 Headstall; All Rights Reserved.
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So much ache... definitely a rollercoaster chapter. Tobyn isn't just stubborn, he's the type who needs time and space on his own to process things. Where is Sybil? And is Tobyn going to her, or off on his own once again?

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Yeah, yeah, poor old Tobyn needs time, sorry but what about poor Kellar. Apparently he doesn't get any time to contemplate or think or process what he has seen and heard. Booted out of his family, living alone for years and in a few days has met more of his own kind than he can cope with, saves a young girl from death, has enormous pressure put on him to save the future of the pack, his alleged friend runs away at every problem and now Kellar is forced into public speaking, and embarrassed into revealing something he wanted to discuss privately because Tobyn the Dense told him to answer the question even after Kellar tried not to. Where is the understanding about that? Tobyn sucks, and not in a good way.

 

deep breath... Thanks for the chapter ;)

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FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Gary...I can sleep a little better now that Tobyn knows....Kellar never had an opportunity to tell Tobyn what he suspected....before they talked to Miss Sybil Kellar could write it off as a coincidence....after they left Miss Sybil's he had to check over the children, then the whole blow up between Tobyn and Tilly (on Tobyn's side not Tilly's) and Tobyn's being butt-hurt afterwards.....then they had to deal with getting to Denver's then Tobyn got all butt-hurt again and had a temper-tantrum....finally, they get back to the pack and there's a huge party going on.....Kellar simply never had the chance to say Oh BTW I think we're earth mates...Tobyn would've freaked his freaking freak and would've probably said and done things that would hurt Kellar and he wouldn't have been able to take them back...now it's out there in the open and guess what??? Tobyn is butt-hurt again (I can't wait till he is literally butt-hurt oops didn't mean to say that out loud)....Great Job Gary....Mondays don't come fast enough for me and these guys

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Now see, this is why you are an actual author and I am just a reader. I LOVE the explanation of the malaise. It fits perfectly. It sort of screams, 'The Earth Mother created Earth Mates for a reason and y'all have been ignoring her gift!' But then the reason they did so, initially, is still there isn't it? We have no proof that human hunters no longer exist?!?!
Damn humans. Always so scared of things they don't understand or can't control!
I love the cute Denver! I am so happy for him and Elinor!
Tobyn...he will get there in the end. I keep telling myself that. It's like a mantra.
I was a bit worried when Kellar said that their connection was not as evident as Elinor and Denver's but then Elinor and Denver are both living in their connection. They are knowingly committed to it.
It was good to have some indication of the size of The Pack. Kellar hasn't previously met a lot of people at one time. I was worried that it was a smallish Pack but when they went into the Lodge there was some indication it wasn't as small as I was worried about.
Thanks again. See you next week :)

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Very surprising and original. This extensive useful power of earth mates on a whole pack's health is new to this type of shifter story. The boys continue to be dysfunctional and not fully communicating or realizing the consequences of their actions. If Tobyn wants answers I bet he has to visit Ms Sybil to hear for himself what is going on. He needs time and a wise, trusted expert. Kellar has to be going crazy. One barrier might be removed by Kellar's explanation. If Tobyn accepts Kellar as his earth mate, then he can strengthen the pack and fulfill his duty. More problems lie ahead--Kellar has a theory( Is it all true?). Can they find more earth mates and return ( no who has left has returned until Tobyn). What about the danger from hunters or bad guys who want to kill the shifters?

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Really? I mean, really??? Tobyn is a moron or his head is so far up his own ass he can only see himself.
I'm glad people are seeing him for what he is. He sleeps with Kellar, loves it, smells him, can't be away from him but it's only Tobyn's feelings that matter? He knows but doesnt have the balls to admit who and what he wants. 'But we're men' .. well no technically you're not a man, you are some kind of magical creature but still, really??
So when the truth comes out, Kellar feels all guilty and Tobyn runs away like a spoiled child. Kellar should let him go and go home. And when Mr. I'm-a-whiner finally grows a pair, he can go on bended knee to the man/wolf that he loves and admit to being an ass and ask for forgiveness.
But before that I hope Elinor and Miss Sybil and Tilly give him a slap.
Nice chapter.

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I'm with Bucket...poor Tobyn my butt!!! What about poor Kellar? He's been under enormous pressure and thrust into situations he certainly wasn't expecting or ready for. Toby really needs to get off his high horse...don't ask the question if you don't want to hear the answer!!! Obviously Tilly isn't dense or stupid!!!

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Wow! What a chapter! I agree with everyone else as far as not feeling sorry for Tobyn. I once thought it was because he was under so much pressure as far as the pack goes. I now realize Tobyn is a self centered ass. Even though they're earth mates, Kellar deserves better than a man-child that only cares about his own feelings. Good thing Kellar brought his truck. I would load up and haul ass out of there if I were him!

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Thank you so much for sharing your stories with all of us it makes my Mondays.
I'm going to have to give Tobyn a pass here. The guy is stuck in a greif loop. There is the man he wants to be the man he thought he had to be his whole life but that man just keeps dying. I don't think he doesn't see Kellar for what he is to him he just never gets to the acceptance step of the five stages of grief. We've seen the first four stages denial, anger, bargaining, and depression but each time the him he thinks he needs to be dies he just seems to reset and starts all over. Kellar or someone is going to have help him with the last step. In a way Kellar isn't helping in an unknowing way he's the one hitting the reset button. Every time Kellar tells Tobyn he isn't leaving Tobyn gets to keep Kellar and puts the him he hopes to be back on life support even though that him is brain dead.

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So everyone already stated my exact reaction toward Tobyn at the end of this chapter. Yes that was neither the time or place for him to find out about it. But that's the second time in a day Tobyn has thrown a temper tantrum and stalked off to go brood and act like a jerk. Bucket put it perfectly, Kellar has had just as much if not more to cope with and process in as many days. At this point Tobyn needs to do much better to be worthy of Kellar's time. Bond or not. It's been all about Tobyn and how he feels about everything and what he needs.

 

I've said this a few times, this pack has been giving the hard sell to Kellar since his first 5 minutes dealing with them. But despite that he has been given no reason to stay. It's been that Tobyn doesn't want him to leave, that the pack need a healer. What needs of Kellar are being met? None as of yet. Kellar doesn't owe any loyalty to this pack at all. He's helped them out and that can easily be that. I'd kinda like to see him hop back in that truck and head back to his actual home. The pack pretty well saw Tobyn give him every reason to leave. Tobyn can come ask him to come back, and they all need to give him a reason to stay as far as I'm concerned.

 

So... more please! :)

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Things were going so well in this chapter...then it falls apart with the 'outing' of our guys' status as earth mates. I can understand Tobyn being upset, but here's the thing: he can't have been clueless as he's had the same symptoms and feelings as Kellar, however much he tried to avoid them. The only change now is that it has been confirmed through the example of Eleanor and Denver.
Your dream of helping the Pack through breeding with Tillie wouldn't have succeeded even if you were straight--just not enough children to offset natural attrition, apart from any additional mortality from the Malaise. You need more members, not just breeding of those already present.
Poor Kellar, he's found a mate who refuses the connection, and now feels betrayed that it was hidden by the man he wouldn't admit to loving anyway. Grow up Tobyn...this wasn't Kellar's fault, he's been holding back for your sake and that of the Pack, putting his own interests last.
Aggravating and angstful, but I'm hanging in there, G-Man. :)

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So, we get an explanation to the malaise. To have the whole "The earth mates are necessary to save the pack" is romantic but it would make me kind of depressed if I were a shifter in that pack. Mates are incredibly rare and where before other relationships were probably viewed as a good thing, now instead they will almost be an act of selfishness. Kellar implied one or two pairs wouldn't be enough. So anyone who doesn't go out to search for their mate is somehow not doing their thing for the pack. Also, how will the already 'married/dating but not mates' couples feel about this? With the fear of being killed while looking for other packs/shifter looming over them, it's also a lot of Mother Earth to ask of them. Maybe it's my belief that there are not one but many Mr/Mrs Right for each of us that colors my perception. To have only one true love would mean any previous relationship was somehow less of a love. I don't think that's true. Perhaps this is something for the forum...

 

Tobyn should really learn to listen before he takes off, but having your world repeatedly put on end could test anyone's maturity. Also, Kellar could have just said "I won't discuss this now" and let it be the end of it.

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Well damn.... the timing of that forced reveal sucked. I know Keller feels terrible about this coming out publicly, but he was shoved up there to speak to the pack and was painted into a corner with all of the questions. I know Tobyn was blindsided, again, but he really needs to stop dealing with his problems by walking away. At the very least he could have asked Keller to meet him at his place to talk, instead of leaving the guy hanging... again.
I do understand where T is coming from, but HE needs to do a better job of understanding K. K isn't used to packs, or even having a family. He hasn't had to explain himself to anyone in a long time.
Another wonderful, rant worthy chapter, my friend. Biting my nails, waiting for next Monday. ;)

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AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!! So while Tobyn says he's all about the Pack it seems it's really more about him and what he wants. Boohoo, you didn't talk to me first, that's not right even though every time you mention earth mates I act like a non-believer or the fact I keep throwing denial in your face when our attraction becomes obvious ... IDIOT!
I know you're several chapters beyond this one. I really hope Tobyn can extract his head from his arse before that ... breathe ... Nice chapter.

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On 08/16/2016 09:41 AM, Lux Apollo said:

So much ache... definitely a rollercoaster chapter. Tobyn isn't just stubborn, he's the type who needs time and space on his own to process things. Where is Sybil? And is Tobyn going to her, or off on his own once again?

Hey, lux. Yeah, he does. Not to defend him, but he's only 20. and he has a lot to learn. Kellar, at nineteen, does as well. We''l find out where Tobyn went in the next chapter... thanks for sticking with me... I'll try to make it worth your while... cheers, buddy... Gary...

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On 08/16/2016 10:27 AM, Bucket1 said:

Yeah, yeah, poor old Tobyn needs time, sorry but what about poor Kellar. Apparently he doesn't get any time to contemplate or think or process what he has seen and heard. Booted out of his family, living alone for years and in a few days has met more of his own kind than he can cope with, saves a young girl from death, has enormous pressure put on him to save the future of the pack, his alleged friend runs away at every problem and now Kellar is forced into public speaking, and embarrassed into revealing something he wanted to discuss privately because Tobyn the Dense told him to answer the question even after Kellar tried not to. Where is the understanding about that? Tobyn sucks, and not in a good way.

 

deep breath... Thanks for the chapter ;)

Hey, B. Yeah, deep breaths. I don't blame you for being angry and frustrated... I expected it... just remember, we are only getting Kellar's POV here. I feel Kellar has to learn to stand up for himself more... he needs some confidence, and to stop blaming himself for everything. Thanks for hanging in... I'm interested in what you'll think of the next chapter... cheers, buddy... Gary....

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On 08/16/2016 10:39 AM, Kitt said:

Oh good lord!

He he. I know, right? Hang in there, Sis... we have a journey ahead... thanks for the review, and for your support, my friend... cheers... Gary....

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On 08/16/2016 10:47 AM, Geemeedee said:

I agree with Bucket.

LOL. Me too, sort of. I love writing Tobyn's character though. He marches to his own drummer, and he's a little out of step. But I think he's a good man... who needs to grow up a bit... I'm not going to defend his reactions, but it's only been four days, and there's hope he'll get better at processing. Next chapter soon... thanks for your support and the review, Geemeedee... much appreciated... cheers... Gary....

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I know that Kellar's hurting here but I kinda see where Tobyn's at. Everything he believed was proved wrong and the life he envisioned for himself started to seem less possible now. I know that the story is mostly based on Kellar's POV and readers would probably sympathize with him as well but I would see Tobyn in a different light. I believe he would come around albeit a little slowly. Such things wouldn't happen immediately. Kellar is not the one to be blamed for the situation but Tobyn is not responsible either. I have been in several situations as Tobyn and I relate to him well :) besides, if Kellar's 19, I'm sure Tobyn isn't much older. So, he's pretty much a young man and young men don't understand things very well. I have some theories about Tobyn's problems but they're better discussed in private because I don't want to give out any spoilers if one of them turn out to be actual story :unsure:
Anyways, an interesting and emotional chapter overall, thanks for the story Gary :hug:

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On 08/16/2016 10:56 AM, JayT said:

FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Gary...I can sleep a little better now that Tobyn knows....Kellar never had an opportunity to tell Tobyn what he suspected....before they talked to Miss Sybil Kellar could write it off as a coincidence....after they left Miss Sybil's he had to check over the children, then the whole blow up between Tobyn and Tilly (on Tobyn's side not Tilly's) and Tobyn's being butt-hurt afterwards.....then they had to deal with getting to Denver's then Tobyn got all butt-hurt again and had a temper-tantrum....finally, they get back to the pack and there's a huge party going on.....Kellar simply never had the chance to say Oh BTW I think we're earth mates...Tobyn would've freaked his freaking freak and would've probably said and done things that would hurt Kellar and he wouldn't have been able to take them back...now it's out there in the open and guess what??? Tobyn is butt-hurt again (I can't wait till he is literally butt-hurt oops didn't mean to say that out loud)....Great Job Gary....Mondays don't come fast enough for me and these guys

You're welcome :) . Yeah, it's all out in the open, and we know what the malaise is, and how it can be fixed. Sure, Tobyn feels left out of the loop, especially on a personal level, but he missed the boat on just what Kellar has achieved for Morningstar. Nobody likes to get blindsided, and Kellar's lack of confidence kept him from taking Tobyn aside and just laying it out there like I would have, but he tried to do it his way, and it's not his fault it backfired like it did. He couldn't forsee Tilly's faux pas. LOL to the "butt-hurt" hehe. Kellar needs to take his future into his own hands and not let Tobyn decide, but he is who he is, so we'll see how he handles all this. And we'll see how Tobyn is processing... thanks for saying I did a great job... I really tried, and I'm happy with how it's going. This one definitely has a life of its own. Cheers, my friend... thanks for the support and the great review... cheers... Gary....

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On 08/16/2016 11:03 AM, Buz said:

Now see, this is why you are an actual author and I am just a reader. I LOVE the explanation of the malaise. It fits perfectly. It sort of screams, 'The Earth Mother created Earth Mates for a reason and y'all have been ignoring her gift!' But then the reason they did so, initially, is still there isn't it? We have no proof that human hunters no longer exist?!?!

Damn humans. Always so scared of things they don't understand or can't control!

I love the cute Denver! I am so happy for him and Elinor!

Tobyn...he will get there in the end. I keep telling myself that. It's like a mantra.

I was a bit worried when Kellar said that their connection was not as evident as Elinor and Denver's but then Elinor and Denver are both living in their connection. They are knowingly committed to it.

It was good to have some indication of the size of The Pack. Kellar hasn't previously met a lot of people at one time. I was worried that it was a smallish Pack but when they went into the Lodge there was some indication it wasn't as small as I was worried about.

Thanks again. See you next week :)

Thanks, Buz. I love this review. I'm so glad you like the explanation for the Malaise. I'm doing a little dance, because this was the most important part of the chapter for me and I was worried it had gotten lost in all the drama. I think Kellar showed the pack it's time to pull their head out of their asses. Their fear has been the reason... but because the damage has been so slow, and generations have passed, the pack, with no keeper and a seer without her abilities, has lost focus... they are just surviving and that won't do. So glad you liked Denver... there's something about how love can turn a nasty dog into a cute puppy lol. Ther are still more things to be learned... this is not a short journey... as far as pack numbers... sixty years ago, there were 70 shifters... now there are only 38... barely enough to keep Morningstar running... these numbers are in an earlier chapter. Thanks for having some faith in Tobyn despite him making it difficult... and thanks for a wonderful review... cheers, my friend... Gary....

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On 08/16/2016 11:15 AM, scrubber6620 said:

Very surprising and original. This extensive useful power of earth mates on a whole pack's health is new to this type of shifter story. The boys continue to be dysfunctional and not fully communicating or realizing the consequences of their actions. If Tobyn wants answers I bet he has to visit Ms Sybil to hear for himself what is going on. He needs time and a wise, trusted expert. Kellar has to be going crazy. One barrier might be removed by Kellar's explanation. If Tobyn accepts Kellar as his earth mate, then he can strengthen the pack and fulfill his duty. More problems lie ahead--Kellar has a theory( Is it all true?). Can they find more earth mates and return ( no who has left has returned until Tobyn). What about the danger from hunters or bad guys who want to kill the shifters?

Thanks scrubber! I'm so pleased you find it original. Dysfunctional is a good word for the boys... as much as they are in sync in many ways, they are not that way in others. I'm sure Miss Sybil will have something to say about what has transpired, and Tobyn just might get an earful. Tobyn is off to God knows where, and Kellar is feeling pretty devastated. I think this all is becoming too much for him, but you're right about a barrier being removed. Tobyn needs to figure that out. There iis so much more to the story, so I can't comment further... thanks for an awesome review, buddy... cheers... Gary...

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On 08/16/2016 11:19 AM, Mikiesboy said:

Really? I mean, really??? Tobyn is a moron or his head is so far up his own ass he can only see himself.

I'm glad people are seeing him for what he is. He sleeps with Kellar, loves it, smells him, can't be away from him but it's only Tobyn's feelings that matter? He knows but doesnt have the balls to admit who and what he wants. 'But we're men' .. well no technically you're not a man, you are some kind of magical creature but still, really??

So when the truth comes out, Kellar feels all guilty and Tobyn runs away like a spoiled child. Kellar should let him go and go home. And when Mr. I'm-a-whiner finally grows a pair, he can go on bended knee to the man/wolf that he loves and admit to being an ass and ask for forgiveness.

But before that I hope Elinor and Miss Sybil and Tilly give him a slap.

Nice chapter.

Hey, tim. He he... yes, he is... his head is definitely up there, and it has been for the last four days. I won't defend his actions, but I do understand the guy, and he has what some would consider flaws. He's a different character to write... that's the trouble with having no keeper in the pack... he has this warped opinion of earth mates... almost childlike in his resentment of them, and never considered the possibility men could be mates. Well, his eyes have been opened now. It's time for the boy to grow up and accept he's been wrong in his outlook... and yeah, they are magical creatures, but completely human before their first change :) ... just saying... I understand the anger and frustration... almost everyone is feeling it, but I hope you don't give up on Tobyn or the story... there is so much more to come... thanks for the great review and your support, buddy... cheers... Gary....

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