40.2% The Tiger Within / Chapter 281: Survivors

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Chapter 281: Survivors

The snow was cold underfoot, glittering with starlight on the trees and in a dusting over the roads. The earth was cold enough for the ice powder to stick. Kyera passed through the forest, white fur blending into to landscape. Silver stripes making it easier for her to disappear than ink black ones would ever allow. Each step stretch each muscle as she sprang forward off each foot.

Having changed clothes and skins at the Winter Rain Palace she had dashed out moments later. She had every intention of running to the forest edge and calling the elders. There was so much on her mind but she needed guidance. She wanted them to agree that this would be a okay choice for the clan as well as what she needed for her own happiness.

The path to the village was long but quickly traversed by her speed and stamina. All she wanted was an answer. Honestly she wanted a specific answer and would do what she could to achieve it. What she didn't expect was to smell blood as soon as she entered town.

That dark metallic fragrance warning her of danger. She slowed looking about. The village was full of life and happiness as it always had been. Yet she could smell sorrow and fear. Why was it so strong here? It had to have a source and that source had to be nearby.

As she followed it she was shocked to trail it to the door of the sanctuary. The paw print over the door was secretly hidden, a sign this place was a haven for shifters. It was a place they could hide and know their identities would be safe here.

Kyera used a paw to push on the doors. It opened easily and the noises of chattering within catching her ears. Sorrow and tears laced soft voices. Some were children. Kyera froze when she got her first glimpse of inside the sanctuary.

Healers had obviously been hard at work here only hours before. Roughly a hundred people stood, sat, and leaned inside the cathedral itself. Many looking as though their bodies had been battered and bruised by a unknown attacker. Shock couldn't even describe the reaction Kyera felt as she recognized the remains of her shifter brethren.

As she transformed to her human form, Talis limped forward and wrapped his arms around her. "Thank the Shadows for sending you here." he whispered tears in his voice. Kyera hugged him back her eyes still moving over the faces of men, women, and children who were looking to her with hopeful eyes. She felt insanely guilty as she realized she was their hope. She was their leader and her they were covered in battle wounds and Kyera herself was untouched.

"What happened? When did you arrive?" Kyera asked her voice weak and lost. Talos let her go and frowned.

"Princess, we have been here two days. We were trying to regain our strength and let any other survivors find their way before we sent for you." Talis offered a feeble explanation, but Kyera only heard one word.

"Survivors? Survivors of what?" she asked hopelessly. There was a heart wrenching fear as she looked at the faces around her. So many clans yet so few of each. This couldn't be what she had a feeling it was.

"A purge. The Eight Clans were destroyed, Kyera. Any who tried to stand against it fell. So many are dead or lost. We didn't know where else to turn." Daxin offered his face a mangled mess from claws or sword. She couldn't help but suppress a sob.

"The Darkness… they are back." Kyera whispered knowing the truth before the words ever left her lips. Talis nodded slowly.

"So it seems. Kyera we need your help. Please… I don't know what to do. Tell me what to do, tell us." Talis all but begged desperately. Tears rained down his cheeks as he stared at her. His eyes bore holes into her skin.

She looked from face to face, seeing them all watch her expectantly… what could she say? There was so much pain… so few alive. What was there to do.

"Trust me. That is your next move. Trust me and rest here." she replied regaining her regal demeanor. She knew what to do

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