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Morningstar: The Malaise - 55. New Perspectives

Someone to lean on....

Morningstar: The Malaise



Chapter 55



“I think he fell out of his shift,” Kellar said in response to Tobyn’s question.

“Is he all right?”

Kellar flickered as Fendral, laying on his side in human form, curled up into an almost fetal position. “He’s dead to the world, and he’s by no means healthy yet, but his colors are in balance. His aura is quite pale,” he mused. “I have no doubt the man is suffering from the malaise. He’s been isolated a long time, so whatever residual benefits there were from years of having an earth mate are long gone.”

“So that’s why he shifted? The malaise?” Tobyn asked from behind him, his warm breath floating along Kellar’s neck. The moon was directly above, full and bright.

He leaned back into his mate and sighed. Weariness was letting itself be known. “Now that he has no excess burnt umber, his body’s not strong enough to hold a shift. Human form is back to being the dominant one, so yeah, the malaise is the reason.”

“Cool. Right?”

“Yeah, I think so. I hope he feels it’s a good thing, when he comes out of his sleep.”

“Is he going to wake up like Connor did… all of a sudden?”

“No. No way. He’s in a deep state, and he’s way too weak to do what Connor did. That still freaks me out. Fendral keeps sucking up our mate energy, though. I’m surprised we still have any.”

“Why? I feel fine.”

“Really? You’re not tired?”

“Well, yeah. But not exhausted the way I’ve been in the past. So, what now?”

“We carry him into the house. He can’t weigh more than a hundred and twenty pounds.”

“There’s not much to him, is there? He used to be such a big guy.”

“No, he doesn’t look like the man in his photos. But, we’ll get him back to the way he was.”

“I knew you would do it. I could tell it was working because you were different when you began drawing energy from me again. It was smoother… steadier.”

“I’m not surprised, because I was in a way better state of mind the second time. You were the reason it was successful. Not only did you calm me down, but your idea about getting the process started first, and then reversing it, was exactly right. It worked like a charm. I was about ready to give up.”

“No you weren’t. You were frustrated, but you’d have figured it out. I’m your sounding board, doc, that’s all.”

They both stood, staring down at the wizened old man. Kellar turned to face his mate, pulling him into a tight embrace. “You are so much more than a sounding board. Don’t ever say that again, okay?”


“I’m being serious. I couldn’t face any of these healings without you.”

“I know you’re being serious. I won’t say anything like that again. I promise.”

“Good. Now let’s get my grandfather into a comfortable bed. I should be able to carry him by myself. Lead the way.” A hand on his arm stopped Kellar as he went to pick the frail man up.

“I’ll do it. You’re exhausted.”

“No, I can do this.”

“Kellar, stop! I said I’ll carry him. You’re practically staggering. Let me do my part, all right? You’ve already done yours. You lead the way and open the door.”

“Yes, dear.”

“That’s more like it.”


“Did he wake at all?”

“No, just like you said, he stayed asleep.”

“How long was I out for?”

“Four hours. I napped a couple of times sitting up.” Tobyn proceeded to rub Kellar’s sock clad feet as he sat on the end of the couch.

“Four hours? You were supposed to wake me after an hour.”

“I didn’t see the point. You were worn out. How do you feel now?”

“Fantastic. Damned hungry, though.”

“Grilled cheese coming right up.” Tobyn stood. “You want coffee… or tea?”

Kellar swung his feet onto the floor. “Sure. Tea would be good. I’ll help. Aren’t you tired?”

“Nope. I told you I catnapped. I feel energized, and the sun will be up in a couple of hours.”

“I’ll just check on my grandfather first.” Kellar went to the spare room, stopping at the doorway. The only light was from the hallway, but Kellar could see the still-sleeping man clearly. He looked small in his curled up position on the big bed. Flickering, he was satisfied with what he saw. His aura was about the same as those he’d seen at Morningstar upon his arrival. This man needed lots of mate energy, but physically, everything was back in order. How he’d be mentally, once he woke up, might be another story.


Kellar was beginning to think Fendral had slept long enough. The sun had made its appearance, and he was getting antsy. His grandfather needed to eat and drink. As far as they knew, it’d been many years since he’d last been in human form, and the healer in him wanted to be assured all his systems were functioning. Should he go in there and…?

Tobyn stirred, his head shifting in Kellar’s lap. His body went into a full-on stretch before his eyes opened. He smiled. “Hey, doc.”

“Hey, yourself. Did I wake you?”

“No, I don’t think so. I did feel your fingers in my hair, though, so maybe,” he answered, stretching once more. “I feel awesome. How is he?”

“The same. I heard him move around once, but his breathing hasn’t changed. I’m itching to wake him up, to be honest. If he was in a hospital, he’d be on an IV to counteract his depletion.”

“You know I love when you talk all doctory.” Tobyn sat up, leaning against the back of the couch.

“I know you do." He gave Tobyn a sly grin before continuing. "Anyway, he needs fluids and some food... I’d feel better if I could talk to him.”

“So, wake him then. The man’s been sleeping for ages. You started the healing in the afternoon.”

“Yeah, but sleep is good too. All his vitals are strong. I’m just impatient because I want to find out what he thinks about stuff.”

“Like falling out of his shift and being in human form again?”

“That’s the biggie. What if he didn’t understand what was going to happen with the healing? What if he’s pissed off and freaks out? Oh, I think he’s awake. Yup, he is.” Kellar practically flew to the spare room, and Tobyn was close behind.

“Good morning… Grandfather.”

Fendral was sitting up, his weight braced on his arms. His eyes traveled from his stretched out legs under the thin sheet to the two men now just inside the door. His mouth opened, but no sound came out. Frowning, his hand went to his throat.

“Are you having trouble speaking,” an anxious Kellar asked.

Fendral dropped his hand and stared at it, as if the sight of it was something alien. He turned it over and back before looking toward Kellar. He slowly nodded.

“I’ll get you some water, sir,” Tobyn said before rushing away.

Kellar found himself shifting his weight from one foot to the other, and willed himself to stop. “I don’t know if you remember our conversation, but the healing went well. I told you I would fix you up, and I have. Your colors… ah… I’ll explain all that later… so, yeah, your colors are back in balance, which is why you could regain your human form. Okay, I guess I should give you the basics. Every living thing has a signature pattern made up of hundreds of colors, and they’re all different, except for mates. They have matching patterns. That means, because I never forget a pattern once I’ve seen it, I can visit a pack and find mates for our own members, and that’s what happened with Vega, and why we have so many fated pairs now. There’s more, but it can wait.”

Fendral’s jaw opened and closed, but no words came out.

“It’s pretty cool, isn’t it? Ah, you might not be able to find your wolf any time you want for a week or two, and you probably won’t be able to stay shifted for long periods just yet, but it’ll come, I promise. Each day you’ll get healthier because of mate energy. Okay, so that’s an energy earth mates produce when they’re near someone who needs it, and other shifters absorb it. I can see it as well. It’s like a mist made up of hundreds and hundreds of colors. It’s what cures our malaise and keeps us healthy.”

Fendral gave no clue as to what he was thinking, but he was definitely listening. “I’m sorry. This is probably too much to get into right now.” What was going on in the old shifter’s mind right now? Tobyn appeared at Kellar’s back and handed him the water. He took it and walked slowly to the bed. “Do you want me to hold the glass while you drink?”

Fendral nodded once more, his face still expressionless. When Kellar sat on the edge of the mattress, the elder man struggled to sit up straighter. He was tempted to assist, but held off, raising the glass to his grandfather’s lips, thankful Tobyn had chosen a wide-rimmed, plastic one.

The old man began choking right away, but when Kellar went to pull it away, he reached for it. Trembling hands grasped the glass, so Kellar let it go, and supported Fendral’s back with one hand. It was slow going, with water dribbling from his mouth onto the white sheet, but he managed to get more and more of the water down. Eventually he had his fill, and Kellar took the glass back from the heavily-breathing man, pleased he was now somewhat hydrated. He was also relieved there had been, as yet, no freak-out. Glancing up at his mate, who was standing next to him with eyebrows raised with concern quite evident, he gave him a reassuring smile he didn’t quite feel.

“Would you like to sit back? I can pile the pillows up behind you if you want?”

Fendral’s breathing was calming down. He opened his mouth and this time a sound came out, but it was a half-bark, half-croak. Swallowing a few times, his Adam’s apple bobbing, he tried again. “Piss,” turned out to be the first word he’d spoken in years, and Kellar’s little grin was met with a curl of his grandfather’s lip. It was a strange attempt at a smile, but he knew what it meant. Mentally, his grandfather was doing just fine. There was no need to worry.

“We’re over the hump, babe. There’ll be no episode like with Arthur’s wolf.”

“That’s a relief.”

Kellar fought the urge to laugh at the sigh Tobyn expelled. They both supported the old man as he rose and walked to the bathroom, but he was essentially moving under his own steam. Other than a weakness one might associate with an elderly person, he had no real trouble despite his shuffling gait.

As with all shifters, nakedness didn’t bother Fendral, but the sight of his leanness in motion did affect Kellar. This man needed nourishment, sustained and healthy nourishment. A feeling of protectiveness washed over him. He wanted so much for his grandfather to survive and thrive. This man was family, and represented his strongest connection to his mother.

Not for the first time since learning of Miss Sybil’s vision, he wondered how his father must have felt the moment he realized he couldn’t save his own family. Roland died knowing his son was hidden in a ditch, alone and vulnerable. He pushed the unsettling thought away.

Moving over to wash his hands, Fendral seemed momentarily intrigued by the process, bringing the soap bar up close to his nose. Clearing his throat. “Still can’t smell much,” came out in a painful-sounding rasp, but he was easily understood.

“Were your senses diminishing?”

The man stopped his movements. “Was getting tough to hunt… Kellar.”

“Is that why you’re so thin? How did you manage to survive?” Tobyn asked

“Mice”—he cleared his throat again—“mice were about all I could catch, and they weren’t staying down most of the time.” Fendral looked at him, and his real smile made its first appearance. “Still with the questions, eh, Tobyn?”

Tobyn smiled too. “I guess I used to ask a lot of them. Your voice is sounding way better.”

“Just needed some oil. Good working order now. It sounds damn weird to my ears, though.”

Tobyn laughed and Fendral grinned before his eyes focused on the mirror in front of him. He held up the copper necklace, rolling it in his fingers.

“That’s for protection against hunters. Kellar’s brother figured out that silver—pure silver—pulses when a shifter is in the vicinity of it. If a human is paying attention, they can feel it against their skin, but wearing copper keeps the signal from happening. It’s the reason hunters could always find us so easily. Knowing this changes everything, sir. We all wear them now, so make sure you always have it on. That one should be the right size to fit your wolf.”

Fendral grabbed the edges of the sink, looking stunned. “Gigi had two sons?” His gaze met Kellar’s in the mirror. Apparently he had taken news of the copper in stride.

“Oh, no.” Kellar responded. “Sorry. Warren is my foster brother. He’s human, and it turned out he is Adelin’s earth mate.”

“I see,” came out with a note of disappointment. “Little Adelin?”

Kellar nodded, handing his grandfather a towel. “There’s a lot more to tell you, but it can wait. You need some clothes next, and then we have to figure out what to feed you.”

“Eggs,” he responded immediately. “I miss scrambled eggs.”

Tobyn chuckled. “Coming right up. I’ll go get us some breakfasts from the lodge. What else can you eat, sir?”

“Sausage. I’d love some greasy sausage, and you’re too old now to call me sir.”

Kellar nodded when Tobyn gave him a questioning look regarding the sausage. He was just happy to see the man had an appetite. It was a great sign about his state of mind.

“It will do him good, babe.”

“You’re the boss.”

“Since when?”

Tobyn ignored the smirk Kellar gave him, and turned his attention back to Fendral. “It might be a hard habit to break, but I’ll try, sir.” He returned the man’s little smile before he headed down the hallway.

Alone with his grandfather again, Kellar swallowed down some nervousness. “We’ll have to figure out something for you to wear, sir, something that will fit you.”

“Now you’re doing it.”

“Ah, sorry. Fen… ah, what should I call you?”

“You’re my grandson, aren’t you?”

“Yes… I am.”

“Then call me grandfather. Never been called that before.” He peered at Kellar’s face. “You don’t look like my Gisla. You don’t look like any of my relatives.”

Despite realizing it was ridiculous, Kellar felt a little defensive. “I know. I mean, I’ve been told, and I’ve seen pictures of your family.”

“It’s your family too, boy. You must take after your father’s side.”

“Miss Sybil says in the vision she had, I look exactly like my dad. Grandfather? Are you happy about being back in your human form?”

“I forgot how cold it can get wearing skin. Find me a robe or something, and I’ll think about whether I am or not.”


“Is all this good food going to come back up on me?” Fendral was sitting at the kitchen table in a too-big tee-shirt, and a pair of Tobyn’s oversized sweat shorts that only stayed up because of the string ties tightly cinched at the waist. At least the socks fit. His grandfather had rebelled at the idea of covering his feet at first, but gave in when Kellar insisted.

“No, Grandfather. Those cysts you had in your intestines are gone. They, and the inflammation they caused, were the reason for the vomiting. You should eat slow and stop before you feel full, though.”

The man sighed after he swallowed the first forkful of fluffy scrambled eggs. He wasn’t long in putting a second one into his mouth, and a third….

Tobyn and Kellar shared a pleased look as they dug into their own food. “Did anyone ask who the extra breakfast was for?”

“Nope,” Tobyn answered after he swallowed a mouthful. “Nobody knows Fendral’s here, but they’ll scent he’s around, for sure.”

“Not up to that, just yet. Let me get my bearings first.” Fendral’s eyes stayed on his plate and his fork kept moving.

“We expected that would be the way you would want it,” Kellar said, nodding his agreement. “It won’t hurt for you to rest a few days.”

“Suppose a lot of members aren’t too happy with me anyway.”

“You couldn’t be anymore wrong, sir. All the members….”

The elder man stopped eating and looked up, cutting Tobyn off. “Just leave it alone, son. I’m not proud of what I’ve done, no matter what others feel about me. I’ve faced that I let a lot of people down, including those closest to me. Besides, I need to wrap my head around not being stuck in my wolf form. It’s like riding a bike but it’s still strange.” He put down his fork. “It’s not easy for me to eat slowly either. I’ll answer that question now, grandson. I think I am… happy to be a man again. So, not that I’m in a hurry, but if I was to try to shift, I wouldn’t be able to?”

“Not necessarily. But, you are suffering from the effects of the malaise, so that is sometimes one of the symptoms, as you probably already know… not being able to shift anytime you want to, or not being able to hold it. The longer you’re in the presence of earth mates, like Tobyn and I, the sooner you’ll get better. Your senses will return to optimum, and shifting will become matter-of-fact again.”

Tobyn smiled. “He’s talking all doctory now. You’ll get used to it. He gets like this at least once a day.”

“Fine by me,” Fendral said, pushing away his plate. “My grandson is a smart one.”

Kellar couldn’t help being pleased at the comment. “You’re finished eating?”

“I’m hungry as hell, but my stomach feels full.”

“I’m not surprised. Do you want to lay down for a while?”

“Not really. I’d rather talk.” He squirmed in his seat and then settled. “It’s been a long time since I was able to, and I didn’t think I’d see much past today. Never expected I’d have a grandson either.”

“You weren’t too far off in your assessment. Is that why you came back here… to say your goodbyes?”

“Goodbyes? No, I couldn’t say any of those. I was looking for a place to curl up for the last time. Somewhere on these lands where I was born. My brain’s been getting foggy lately, but when I caught a hint of your scent, I thought I’d check on you boys first. Doesn’t feel foggy today, though.

“And yes, Tobyn, in answer to your question yesterday, I suspected you two were mates with the way your scents are combined, so I wasn’t surprised when you confirmed it. I wasn't all that confident of my nose, though. I only planned on a quick look before I picked out my spot. I thought it was right that it be known what happened to me, and I knew my old carcass would be found eventually.”

“So you were giving up,” Tobyn said softly. He put his fork down and pushed his breakfast away.

“No, son. I wasn’t giving up… I was dying, and my wolf knew it. I guess you could say I gave up once, but I would never do it again. I had a promise to keep, and wolfing out made that more difficult. I had to fight every day.”

Kellar wondered about the promise, but left it alone when his mate spoke.

“Why did you give up, sir, the first time? Sorry, that wasn’t fair,” Tobyn muttered, looking slightly ashamed. “I understand why you chose your wolf.”

“I’m sure everyone thinks they understand, but I’m not sure they do. They all thought I was depressed over losing my family, right?”

Tobyn appeared startled… and unsure. “I… that’s what was said. Weren’t you?”

“Hell yes, I was. But I was angry too, so angry that it even eclipsed the sadness. My wolf felt rage most of the time, and instead of controlling it, I let it take me over… first the anger, and then my wolf. It was easier, because then I could escape from what I’d done, at least for some of the time. Mistake after mistake after mistake. I certainly didn’t deserve to be alpha anymore.”

“Why not? What do you mean, Grandfather?”

Fendral studied the pair before looking away. “It doesn’t matter now,” he said in a tone that caused Kellar some concern. “It was a long time ago. I finally stopped hating myself, but by then it was too late.”

“Too late?”

Fendral had lowered his head, so Kellar answered for him. “I think he means he lost his ability to return to this form.” There was no response from his grandfather. “Am I right?”

The old man reengaged with a startling, unexpected smile, and it took Kellar a second to recognize the bitterness in it.

“Exactly right. It was a fitting punishment for alienating all my children, one after the other. First, I couldn’t save their mother, and then I couldn’t save them... and the pack was dying. I tried… for years I tried, but I lost faith. Regret ate away at me. I was a damn fool.”

“You had a lot of things happen to you,” Tobyn said with compassion. “I’ve never heard anyone call you a fool, sir.”

“What would you call a man who didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to his sons because he tried to control them? Because he tried to bully them. What would call an alpha who didn’t learn from that, and then did the same thing with the only child he had left?”

“My mother?” Kellar hated seeing the man upset, but he was curious about what he meant.

“That’s right. My little girl. My Gisla. I don’t blame her now… for leaving me, or for not forgiving me. She had no choice, and she was right to go. You’re the proof of that. I ignored what her mother asked of me, and deep down I knew how wrong I was. It’s why I fought to keep going… I couldn’t let my Esther down again.” He held up his hand when Tobyn started to speak. The man was fighting some inner battle.

“Do you know what he’s talking about?”

“I have no clue. Should we stop this, doc? What if he gets depressed again?”

“I won’t tell you I’m not worried, but he wanted to talk. Maybe he needs to get this out.”

“Okay. At least he trusts us.”

“I look at him and feel my mom. Maybe he looks at me and feels the same.”

It was as if Fendral had heard their silent conversation when he spoke again. “No one controlled your mother, Kellar. And the truth of it is, of my three children, she was the real alpha.” This time, the smile he gave held no bitterness. “She was a lot smarter than her father was.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because she didn’t listen to me. She didn’t let me keep her from her destiny. Now, that makes me proud. So, tell me about Miss Sybil’s vision.”

“Okay, but first can you answer something for me?”

“If I can.”

“Why didn’t my mother keep in contact with the pack? I mean, I was four and a half years old when she died, so she was gone a lot of years. She must have had opportunities to call in all that time. Did you ever talk to her after she left?”

A pained expression took over Fendral’s face. “It’s my fault she didn’t keep in touch. She didn’t call because I disowned her.”

“You what?” Tobyn blurted out the question, but Kellar had the same reaction.

“Why would you do that, Grandfather?” He tried to keep the accusation from his voice, but he wasn’t sure he succeeded.

“I already told you. I was a fool. I knew she wasn’t safe out there, away from the pack, a young girl I still saw as a child. It terrified me that she wanted to go out in the world all by herself… a world filled with hunters. I was angry and desperate, so I went on the offensive. Nothing could convince me she wasn’t going to die if she went on a search for her mate, but none of the arguments I made got through to her. Her brothers had disappeared doing the same thing she planned to do. She was the only family I had left, and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her. I ordered my daughter, as her alpha, to stay. I told her if she left, she would be turning her back on Morningstar, and we’d no longer be her pack. I insisted she obey me, and I actually thought it had worked, my forbidding her. I was a fool to think I’d won.” He suddenly seemed to age ten more years.

“She left anyway,” Kellar said.

“Of course she did. If you knew her—her pride and her stubbornness—I should have gone with her, but alphas don’t desert their packs.” The words were bitter. “Ironic, isn’t it, because I did it anyway, in the end.”

Kellar, flickering, became alarmed at the paleness of his aura. “We don’t have to talk about this now. If you’d rather, we can do it another time. You should rest now.”

“No, you asked me a question, and you need to hear this.” Taking a deep breath, he rallied. “Gigi left without a word. She was just gone one morning. We hadn’t spoken in days. She left me a message, though, on the kitchen table. It was a note that said ‘I have to do this.’ That’s it… nothing else. She always left me notes, practically every day, and they all were addressed to ‘Dad’ and she’d draw little pictures on them, like hearts and flowers and stick figures. And she always signed them as ‘your favorite daughter, Gigi.’ She’d done it since she was a little girl, well, except she used to sign them with ‘Gisla’ back then. Not this time, though. Just that one damn line. She disowned me too.”

He took another deep breath. “I can’t say I blame her. I thought of her as defiant and impulsive after she left, but the truth is, she was only being herself. I gained nothing with my threats… all I did was hurt us both. I would have given anything to be able to take back some of those words to your mother. Anything.” The remorse on his face echoed in his tone.

“That’s when I started relying more on my wolf. I went through the motions after that… the pack needed their alpha. Each year that went by, my hope I would hear from her, or see her, got smaller, until I reached the point it disappeared altogether.” Fendral stalled for a few moments, and his hand rubbed at his eyes. “The malaise got worse, our pack numbers kept decreasing, and I held onto my anger. The anger wasn’t at Gisla, though. It was at myself.”

“So, you wolfed out….”

“Yes. I didn’t really intend to. I fought, but every day, it beckoned. The only way to control my guilt and my shame was to shift and run. My wolf didn’t feel the pain the way I did, and that became my only relief. It’s an unbearable thing to face every day, believing your last child had died hating you.”

“My mother didn’t hate you.”

“You don’t know that, Grandson. You said it yourself when you asked why she didn’t keep in touch. She was alive all those years and she never called.”

“I do know that. She and my dad were bringing me to meet my Grandpa Fendral. That’s what she said to me just before she was killed.”

“By hunters, right?”

“Yes. Three of them. They rammed her car, and she hit her head. She died instantly, from what Miss Sybil saw, and then they torched the Jeep my parents were driving. My father… he tried to fight, but he was trapped. Look, Grandfather, I don’t know why she never contacted you. Maybe she was angry, or maybe she was in danger and didn’t want to worry you, or give you hope… I’m certainly no expert on families.”

Kellar hesitated, trying to calm himself. “I know my father was a healer, and he had some connection to a prophecy about a savior. They named me after the guy… a variation of it anyway. So, maybe they were in hiding because of that connection. All I know is my mother wanted me to meet my grandfather. She wouldn’t want that if she hated you.” Kellar felt out of breath when he was done. Maybe talking about this stuff would send his grandfather into a tailspin, and that thought scared the hell out of him.

Silence settled in around the table. “Does anyone want tea?” Tobyn asked.

“Tea can be a diuretic, babe, if you haven’t had caffeine for a long time. Fendral needs to keep drinking water to combat any dehydration.”

“More doctory talk. I told you,” Tobyn said with a grin, but it seemed to go unnoticed by the old man.

“You’re wrong,” Fendral uttered.

It took a few seconds for Kellar to clue in to what he must be referring to. “I don’t think so,” he responded. “You let go of being angry at my mom a long, long time ago. Why wouldn’t you believe she’d do the same?”

“I don’t mean about that. I already knew about her wanting us to meet from what you said yesterday. It’s what made me change my mind about leaving. I’m sitting here for her… and for me… because this is what she would have wanted. You were right, and I couldn’t let her down again. And maybe you’re right about her not hating me. No, Grandson, I’m talking about you thinking your father had a connection to Cahlar. You’re mistaken about that.”

Kellar raised his eyebrows in both surprise and question. “I am? You know about Cahlar… the prophecy?”

Fendral sighed. “I should. My mate was the many times great granddaughter of the man… the savior.”

“Esther? Holy crap! Why didn’t Morningstar know about the prophecy?” Tobyn asked.

Fendral sighed again. “I can only tell you what Esther told me. It was spoken of by some, here and there as a part of our folklore, but the identity of Cahlar’s line was kept a closely guarded secret. It was a family pact passed down from the savior’s first daughter, to each successive daughter. She didn’t even tell me until we started having children, and neither of our sons were aware of their mother’s lineage. Esther had some… abilities… she knew things. She wasn’t a seer because she didn’t have visions, but she had… something. She knew from their early ages that neither of our sons were the one.

“According to her, every daughter had to have a daughter until the prophecy was fulfilled. Some revered seer from the old highlands had a vision, and traveled far to reveal it to Cahlar. He was told he must send his daughter to the new world, and from her maternal line, he would be reborn when shifters needed him once more. But, the vision never said why he would be needed, or when it would be… only that the existence of our race would depend on it. That was the beginning of the prophecy, and his line took it very seriously.

“Esther said it was Cahlar’s biggest sacrifice, to send his only child away, because his duty was to stay in the old world. She insisted it was her duty to have a daughter like all the daughters before her. She wasn’t satisfied until Gisla was born. To be honest, I found it hard to put much faith in the whole prophecy idea, because things had been bad for a long time. Hunters were picking us off every time we left pack lands, the birth rate getting lower and lower, and the malaise was kicking our ass. But Esther believed, and I believed in Esther. I was never comfortable with her saying Gisla had to search out her mate, though. I wanted to do right by my mate’s memory, but after our sons disappeared, I couldn’t bear the thought of my daughter going anywhere.” The man groaned, and Kellar expected he might have had enough, but he continued after mere seconds.

“If Esther had lived, I would have handled it better, but she didn’t, and every single shifter who left to search out their mate, including our own sons, never returned. I thought if the prophecy was true, Gigi’s mate could just as well show up here. I was wrong to expect her to stay here and wait. I know that now, but losing your mate changes you. It… it distorts your whole world. If I hadn’t had our kids, I never would have survived losing Esther. I needed them, but I’m glad now that Gigi never listened to me, and I hope Esther somehow knows it was her daughter who produced the new savior.”

“Please don’t call me….”

“Doc, don’t even go there. No one is saying you are him, but you are his descendant.”

“Everything points to it, though, doesn’t it,” he said with some resignation. “And everyone believes I’m him. The prophecy says he would be reborn. My grandfather just said he heard it from Cahlar’s descendant, my grandmother, and in that painting our wolves were identical. You saw it same as I did, Tobyn. So has all of Vega, and now I'm sure most of Morningstar has heard about it.”

“You are not a reincarnation, so what does it matter what others think? In human form you look exactly like your dad—we know that now—so don’t take reborn so literally.”

“There’s a painting? I’ve never seen a painting.”

“Yes, Delia has it. She’s Vega’s keeper, now ours, and Hutch’s earth mate. You’ll like her. Anyway, it belongs to her pack, and it was one of their members who painted it from memory after he arrived in the new world. It shows a huge wolf with Kellar’s coat colors watching over an exodus of shifters who were boarding ships. It’s how we learned about Cahlar. About shining a bright light….”

“Into the darkness,” Fendral finished.


“So, Cahlar had that same strange pelt?”

“Identical,” Kellar repeated in a tone that drew his grandfather’s curious gaze.

“That cannot be a coincidence. I don’t think Esther knew about the coat. She would have told me something like that. Does it bother you, Grandson, to be considered the savior?”

“I don’t know… yes… I’m just me. I accept I’m part of the prophecy, but every time I hear the reborn part... well, it doesn’t sit so well. Shifters treat me differently, especially Vega members, and they even call me Cahlar. I can handle that for the most part, but I really wish it would stop. All I want is to be thought of as a healer.”

“Like your father.”


“What’s the difference?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, what’s the difference who you take after? Cahlar is your many times great-grandfather, and your mother sacrificed God knows how much to make sure you were born. I see now, the burden of responsibility she bore… how much all the daughters bore. I don’t know all you’ve done, but from what I gather, you are the culmination of all that responsibility carried by generations of your ancestors.” Fendral took a few gulps of water, and Kellar noticed a slight tremble in his hands as he set the glass down.

“Would you like to rest for a little while? We could continue this later if you want?”

“No. I am making a point I think you need to hear if you don’t mind?”

“No, sir. I love talking to my grandfather. I just don’t want you to tax yourself.”

“Being able to speak again is a blessing. Allow me to enjoy it.” Fendral smiled, picking up another sausage and taking a bite.

“I want to hear whatever you have to say,” Kellar reassured him, relieved the man no longer seemed in anguish.

“Good.” He chewed the rest of the sausage and swallowed. “You are a healer like your father. Maybe even a better one, because I’ve been around a long time and I’ve never heard of one seeing colors before. Anyway, that’s not the point here. Being a descendant of Cahlar doesn’t take away from who you are. It only adds, and you should be as proud of that as your mate appears to be… as your grandfather is.

“You have given this old man new purpose. I lost everything, but it wasn’t for nothing. You’ve cured the malaise, and figured out how to keep shifters healthy, and my daughter gave me a grandson who appears to have saved us all… one I want to get to know. I lost and I gained. We both did, don’t you think so?”

“I… yes. We both lost and we both gained.”

“And my daughter giving you your name tells me she knew who you were… who you would turn out to be. She would have died knowing she was right in her decision to leave Morningstar. I’m thankful for that.”

Kellar nodded. He pictured his mother running away from him, disappearing in the tall grass. Yes, she knew who her son was, and she had protected him at the ultimate cost.

“Here’s something else for you to think about. Did this Vega keeper, Delia, tell you Cahlar was a healer?”

“No, sir, she didn’t. She told us his story, but she never mentioned that.”

“And neither did Esther. Not to me, she didn’t. She referred to him as a leader and a warrior... not once did she say he was a healer. So, maybe you should stop being hung up on this reborn stuff, and see that you’re a combination of both your parents’ lines. Could you have accomplished all the things you have without being this new and improved healer?”

“No.” His gaze went to his mate.

“It’s been the key to all of this, doc."

“I guess it has.”

“Well, that about says it all then, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, Grandfather, it does.”

A huge thank you to my editor, Timothy, Robin to my Batman. And another thank you to all the faithful supporters of this story.
Copyright © 2017 Headstall; All Rights Reserved.
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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.
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Fendral has a story to tell. I am glad he overcome his anger. I feel a little with Kellar, that his direct connection to the savior is reveled. So much pressure it must be. But at he got a family member back and learned something about his parents. :2thumbs:

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It is so great to learn more about the history behind Kellar and the pack.! I am glad Fendral has been able to shift back and share information with Kellar and Tobyn. Thanks. Jeff

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GREAT CHAPTER! Yes, very intense indeed.


Ummm... you might want to avoid using the word 'shift' when describing movement such as: 'Keller heard Fendral shift in his bed' and 'he shifted in his chair'... It makes this reader think they are shifting into their wolf. After all, you've brought a whole new meaning to the word 'shift'. :)



Edited by Nahrung
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16 hours ago, dutch woman said:

I am dutch  and  can't express  my feelings about this story in Englisch as good  as the others but  I am impressed,a very good chapter indeed.

 The whole story is great . The humor, the realistic characters, (sometimes I forget that shifters don't exist), the unexpexted storylines, the construction of the story. I like everything of it.

However, I am afraid that the finale of the story in sight : 

“Well, that about says it all then, doesn’t  “Yes, Grandfather, it does.”




Hopefully not! I see your point, yes, but there is still so much which is left open AND there is this tantalising colon in the title between the name of the pack and The Malaise, which gives me hope that this is just book I of a longer foray into the shifter universe. I can easily imagine a trilogy. But perhaps this is just my wish to keep on reading ...

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Details! We love more details! 


I can see some of the combined pack going nuts over the new facts tying Keller to Cahlar. Some are sure to want him to produce biological heirs, in spite of his mate being male. You may have tied up some of the threads, but you have left the possibility of a whole new can of worms!


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So glad that Fendral has awoken; hopefully he will continue to fill in some of the information that Kellar needs to understand where he truly comes from and where he is going....

Edited by centexhairysub
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On 5/1/2017 at 7:10 PM, Wicked Witch said:

It is lovely to see Fendral at long last. It has been building up to meeting the mysterious figure for so long.

Thanks, Wicked. I'm pleased you liked meeting Fendral. He'a been skirting around the story almost from the beginning. I appreciate you leaving a nice comment... cheers... see you Monday... cheers... Gary....

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On 5/1/2017 at 7:11 PM, JayT said:

wow that was intense... good thing it's only Monday and not Monday I couldn't handle much more... did that sound sincere? 

Are you trying to confuse me, Jay? :P Yes, it sounded sincere... I think :) . I'm stoked you found it intense. Thanks for sticking with the ride, buddy... cheers... Gary....

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On 5/1/2017 at 8:39 PM, Lux Apollo said:

I agree with @JayT, this was definitely an intense and heavy chapter. Good stuff!

Thanks, lux. It was meant to be. I'm so glad you approve, buddy. See you Monday... cheers... Gary....

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