Cynder ran almost blindly toward her alley. The heat of the summer night weighed oppressively upon her as she cut through the crowds. She struggled to make sense out of what had just happened. The last few minutes seemed more like a bad time on the seeds, but she knew better. It was all horrifically real.
She knew something was wrong before she even reached the temple. Since winter, she’d gotten to where she could sense the lama before she actually saw him. Sometimes, he was reaching out to greet her, which she found comforting. This time was different; there was only silence. A cold void she could not traverse no matter how hard she strained.
Slowly, like static, the thoughts and emotions of the others whom resided within the temple walls began to seep in. It was like a sort of subdued bedlam; something terrible had happened, but no one was quite sure what to make of it. There were questions of calling the authorities or covering it up. Riding as an undercurrent to it all were the sensations of overwhelming sadness and fear.
She reached the muraled room where she often met the lama and almost screamed. There were webs everywhere. On the floor was a set of robes covered in ashes save a desiccated skull with two puncture marks through the scalp.
Eclipse’s voice grabbed her attention. There was a sense of desperation to it, which bordered upon panic. Concentrating, Cynder reached out.
…Good! Cynder good. Come! Come now…
And she was running, following Eclipse’s mental calls. This was important. The desperation was still there, but Cynder sensed other emotions as well; loss and an almost blind burning rage that burned hotter than the night winds.
Poison and Eclipse were waiting in the alleyway. Eclipse was crouched down, hugging her lower legs. The sadness was obvious in her amber eyes. Cynder wondered in that moment if hunters cried. She reached out, but was greeted with only the absent flicking of a tongue.
“Eclipse? What happened?” She asked.
“Our simian,” Poison hissed, his anger barely contained.
He was standing next to Eclipse, his arms folded squarely across his bare chest. It was from him that Cynder sensed the rage. His purple eyes seemed to blaze in the low light, the scowl on his face bordering upon demonic.
“Our simian,” he said again. “Not food! Wrong!”
“Who did this?” Cynder asked. “And why?”
“Feral,” Eclipse replied softly. “Kills simians. Simians not food. Wrong.”
“Cynder come,” Poison said, reaching out with to her. “Danger. Come now.”
“Wait,” she said. “I want to know who this feral is. I want to know why.”
“Cynder come,” Poison hissed, his impatience becoming apparent.
“Answer my questions first.”
“Stupid simian!” Poison snapped. “Leave you! Let feral feed!”
“Enough!” Scarecrow snapped as he emerged from the shadows.
“Scarecrow, can you tell me what’s happening?” Cynder inquired.
“Feral,” he replied. “Malice.”
“I don’t understand. Not completely”
Scarecrow crouched in front of her, locking his gaze with hers. Slowly, images and sensations began to play out. The ones hunters called feral were often lone ones of their kind whom decided they wanted a particular territory. In order to do so, they needed to be rid of the other hunters. The quickest way to draw another hunter out was to go after its respective simian. This is what was happening now; a feral had come to the city. The lama was its first obvious target, meaning Cynder was next.
“Now understand?” Scarecrow inquired as he pulled away, and she nodded. “Good. Come. Keep you safe.”
“But if I’m with you than this feral will come to you,” Cynder protested.
There was something like a chuckle behind her. It was wild and maniacal. She turned to see Poison. He was smirking.
“Hope so,” he said.