Prologue – Part 2
As Selvaria stepped through the gateway, a feeling of safety washed over her. She looked at the sleeping bundle in her arms. She had managed to bring the baby back to good health on the way, although there hadn’t really been anything wrong with the baby beyond malnourishment and being exhausted. The baby had been hidden for a while but was fundamentally healthy.
Selvaria hoped that the baby had not seen anything too gruesome and that she would forget anything that she had seen or heard. That seemed unlikely though, as the minds of psions worked differently than normal children. They understood more, and forgot less. They would also mature earlier and faster, given the chance and proper stimulus. Nevertheless she hoped the baby’s mind was still too young to remember.
Now what to do? They were relatively safe here, as this was a pocket dimension created by Selvaria, and thus was wholly under her control. It was connected to the outside by the gateway she had come through, and there was no other way to enter. The only other way to exit would require a lengthy magical ceremony. She looked at her home. It was a relatively large building with narrow pathways connecting to many other gateways that allowed access to other parts of the pocket dimension. She wasn’t the only inhabitant, but she was someone that kept the others safe.
“Home sweet home.” The androgynous voice came from her chest. Selvaria gave a small chuckle as she pulled a small silver colored pendant from beneath her blouse.
“So what are you going to do with the baby? I’ve never known you to be the motherly type. You could give her to be raised by one of your little pet projects.” The pendant hummed a bit as the androgynous voice asked the question, indicating that the voice was coming from the pendant.
“While that is a possibility, I think I need to do it myself. If she ever wants to leave this place, she needs to be trained or the angels will easily hunt her down. The people I’ve saved are all good people, but the reason I had to save them in the first place, was that they didn’t have the power or the skill to protect themselves. Most of them didn’t want to learn either.” Selvaria replied a little frustrated.
This pocket dimension housed an entire planet, albeit a small one, and a small sun. Selvaria was one of the few mages powerful enough to create something like it. She also had a habit of rescuing women and girls that were in desperate situation. Women that weren’t able to protect themselves, no home and no safe haven. Some of them had been slaves, some were forced to work as prostitutes, and some were simply beaten and battered to a point where they had already given up on life.
Selvaria helped these women, and brought them to this pocket dimension to heal mentally and physically. Some left after they found their bearings, and she tried to give them a new start in a better place, while most stayed. There was no danger here, simply peace and quiet, and that was what most of these women needed the most.
These women of various races formed villages and communities, farming their own food and hunting game. Selvaria would provide for them, but the women saw self-sufficiency as a form of healing. Something to regain their own place in the universe. Since men were most often the cause of the trouble Selvaria had saved them from, there were no men here. That was part of the reason why some chose to leave. These women would be able to help the baby grow, and would most likely welcome the presence of a child, but they would not be able to provide her with the skills she would need to survive outside this safe haven. Unlike the other women, the baby was a demon and would be hunted again.
“Can you do it? I mean, you are a powerful mage, and you aren’t a stranger to warrior skills, but that’s different from raising a psion.” The voice from the pendant asked.
“One would think you’d know better than to underestimate me at this point. I wasn’t one of the top teachers and researchers of the Assembly for nothing. I’ve trained a couple of psions before, and I know the methods they need to use to increase their power.” Selvaria replied a little insulted.
The Assembly was the third of the four factions involved in The War in Heavens. While the thirteen hells commanded those with demonic blood in their veins, and the angels of Paradisia commanded those with the blood of angels, the Assembly accepted members of any race with enough power to qualify. It was the most diverse of the four factions.
“Then we return to my original point. You’re not exactly motherly. I’m pretty sure she’ll die at some point because you got lost in some research or another and forgot to feed her.” The voice pointed out.
“I resent that implication!” Selvaria huffed. The voice was right though. She did have the habit of forgetting everything else while lost in the intricate problems that research presented. That was one of the reasons why she did it. That all-consuming focus allowed her to get away from the guilt that plagued her. It was also one of the reasons why the women she protected had wanted to become self-sufficient. They knew they’d starve otherwise.
“Maybe you should at least invite one or two of the women to live with you. They can help with the baby, while you can handle the training. I doubt you’re keen on changing diapers either.” The voice said with barely concealed mirth.
“Fine! Have it your way. If I’m such a bad parent, maybe I do need help! It’s obvious the poor me can’t handle raising a child, after all I’m only smart enough to be the best researcher in the whole Assembly! The simple act of raising a child is naturally beyond my abilities!” She huffed sarcastically. She did follow the advice though.
“What shall we call the baby? I doubt she’d be happy if we just use baby, hey, you, child and dammit when we talk to her.” The voice asked, trying to change the subject a bit, as it knew it had won that debate.
“We’ll name her Haydee. I always found that name beautiful, and it doesn’t sound too demonic.” Selvaria sighed.
“Dee or DeeDee it is then.” The voice said with finality, already solidifying the nicknames.
The next few years were full of surprises to Selvaria. She was happy and sad to discover that Dee had indeed inherited the typical psion penchant for having a much better understanding much earlier than normal children. Dee absorbed information like a sponge, even if she didn’t talk much. Selvaria could see the light of understanding in her golden feline eyes even when she was only few months old. As soon as Dee could manage it, she would prop herself up in a sitting position against a stack of books or something similar, and simply observed what Selvaria was doing. At first the girl had a look of confusion on her foxlike features, but soon it turned into understanding and curiosity.
Selvaria developed a habit of giving small explanations on whatever she was doing, and Dee seemed to understand and learn. While normal babies would either sleep most of the time, or stare at anything brightly colored, Dee could spend hours doing nothing but watching Selvaria work. Not that she was completely unlike normal babies in the fact that she too spent a lot of time asleep, but Dee seemed all too happy to forgo sleep if there was something interesting to observe.
She was almost excessively easy as a baby too. She never cried except to announce that it was time to provide some food, or to inform others of a mess she had made. Dee seemed to get some odd enjoyment from only announcing the aforementioned mess, when only Selvaria was there to deal with it. Apparently she realized that it made Selvaria uncomfortable, and was teasing her in a very basic way. She didn’t have anything against the women that were glad to help, but Selvaria was special.
When it came to her race, Haydee looked like a mix between a kitsune and a high ranking Rakshasa Rani. Normal rakshasa were magical feline demons with humanoid bodies and heads of lions and tigers. Sometimes their bodies were covered in fur, sometimes not depending on the particular type. Rakshasa Rani or Raja, depending on gender, were in general much stronger and powerful, and had four arms instead of two. Rakshasa usually possessed wicked intelligence, and were among the most dangerous mages and warriors among the various demons races. It made sense that whoever had been part of making Haydee had used a Rakshasa Rani as a base for further changes, since the race provided a strong base for almost anything.
Despite Selvaria’s attempts, she had not managed to discover anything further about changes made to Haydee, and would most likely be unsuccessful until those changes came out of dormancy. Currently Haydee looked like a Rakshasa Rani, except with the head of a fox instead of a lion or tiger, her body covered in snow white fur and she had a pair of fluffy little tails waving behind her wherever she moved. A year after starting her life with Selvaria, Dee seemed to discover a way to make her extra pair of arms appear and disappear at will, to the amusement of her and the intelligent pendant that had befriended the little girl.
Selvaria suspected that Dee would be able to change her form further once she got older, as that was one of the natural abilities of kitsune, and she suspected that that was one of the reasons someone had decided to use a little bit of kitsune to make Dee. Psions were different to mages and warriors in that they couldn’t generate mana or ki, and as such could use neither magic nor the techniques of the warriors.
However, they could use what were considered the inherent racial abilities of their own race, which in some cases bordered on magic. In that case they consumed their psionic power instead of mana as the fuel. Kitsune had the racial ability to change their form, and the more powerful kitsune could even control fire. The most powerful nine-tailed foxes could even rival elementals spirits of fire when it came to controlling that particular element.
If Dee would end up with those abilities, then that would make Selvaria even more interested in what else lay in her heritage. The pendant shared the same curiosity, but it also found the adventures of the little girl strangely fascinating. The pendant had grown a little tired of Selvaria who berated herself over the deaths of so many innocent people, and found the company of the girl filled with childlike curiosity a refreshing change of pace.
This lead to the two becoming friends almost immediately after Dee learned to express herself. She wasn’t exactly talkative, even after it became obvious that she had learned to speak several months before she actually said her first words in the company of others. However, the pendant was able to read her moods and thoughts fairly easily, and Dee was good at expressing her thoughts with small gestures and complicated looks. Even Selvaria gave a small shudder when she once became the subject of a look that dripped both sarcasm and pity, after making a silly mistake and trying to justify it with an excuse that immediately died on her lips. Dee had then calmly pointed out the right bottle to use in the alchemical experiment, instead of the similar looking one that had dissolved on the table.
Dee had seemed to take real interest in Selvaria’s experiments, especially those that had something to do with alchemy, whether it was potions and elixirs or poisons. Selvaria could see the gears turning in Dee’s head as she observed the experiments, but considered her too young to seriously learn the skills required. After all, the line between a strengthening elixir and a poison was very thin, and any mistake could lead to her death, as Dee didn’t have the power to protect herself from mistakes like the one Selvaria had made earlier.
Selvaria had started to train Dee’s psionic abilities as soon as she knew the child could understand and follow instructions, as she knew the importance of early development for psions. As she often had to leave on trips outside the pocket dimension, partially due to her work and partially to find other survivors like Dee, she focused on training Dee in the ways to form a good foundation and ways to independently train her power further in Selvaria’s absence.
Selvaria also knew there was a possibility that one day she might not be able to return, at which point it was important that Dee would be able to train by herself. It didn’t matter if Dee had a particular psionic skill or ability, as long as she was able to use her power to strengthen herself and cultivate further with confidence. The clever girl would figure out the specifics on her own. Just in case, she made several manuals and guidebooks for Dee and stored them within the silvery pendant that was now carried around by the girl.
The only problem in their otherwise happy life was that Dee could remember what had happened before Selvaria picked her up. Initially she had lacked the context to really understand what had happened, but Selvaria could see the understanding dawning in her eyes, as Dee read books on various subjects that filled in the pieces that had been missing. Reading was among the first things Selvaria had taught the girl, as that allowed her to learn many things on her own while Selvaria was otherwise engaged. Dee found stories and pictures describing angels and wars in the books and connected those terms with what had happened to her as a baby. The pendant had to finally give a more accurate explanation to her, just to stop Dee from forming the wrong idea about what had happened.
“I know there was a war of some kind, and the winged beings I remember won. But why would they attack the village? Did we offend them in some way?” Dee asked, talking abnormally long as she was agitated.
“Not specifically no. The angels just wanted to make sure that demons would never again rise to threaten them. There were also grudges built over the long war, which they are now taking out on people that aren’t really a threat. They all lost friends in the war, and now they are expressing their pain and frustration in the wrong way.” The voice tried to soften the effect a bit, not really detailing all the reasons that could lead to genocide like that.
“The books said the angels were supposed to be good and righteous! These are not the actions of someone good!” Dee yelled in tears forming in her eyes.
“You’re right. This might be a bit hard to understand, but the books often confuse light and order with good, and darkness and chaos with evil. It is not that simple. People are not that simple. Everyone has some goodness and some evil in them. The important part is, which part of your nature will you follow? Those people that attacked your village might be good most of the time, but allowed their evil natures take over. The consequences you know.” The pendant tried to explain. Sometimes it was hard to judge how much Dee would understand, as sometimes she seemed almost like an adult, and sometimes like the little child she looked like.
“And the angels were the ones that brought those evil natures out.” Dee mumbled to herself. The pendant knew it should say something, but it couldn’t deny the girl’s words. The angels had gone too far, and the pendant wouldn’t be able to blame Dee if she ended up hating the angels for it. Even if some day she decided to seek revenge, that revenge would be fairly justified. Especially since there was no law to judge the angels for their actions. The real worry was if that revenge would consume the girl, and where that revenge would finally lead her. The path of revenge could be cold and lonely, and could create even more victims and grudges.
After that, both the pendant and Selvaria could see a shadow in Dee’s eyes whenever the subject of the lessons had something to do with angels and the people and beings that served them. There was a trace of anger and hate in Dee’s heart. It was this hate that finally triggered one of the heritages lying dormant inside of her small body.
That day Dee had been particularly angry as the lesson had touched on the so called virtues of the angels, and the life under their rule. In a rare burst of emotion she had chosen to run out of the house instead taking it out of Selvaria. As she ran outside, she had fallen down some stairs and gotten injured. Suddenly she saw red, and could remember nothing of what had happened afterwards. As Selvaria had found her, she had almost thought that a monster had managed to sneak into the pocket dimension, but had seen the pendant hanging on Dee’s neck, still trying to calm her down.
Selvaria had used her magic to hold Dee in place and study her in more detail. Haydee had changed shape, partially to recover from the injury and partially to vent out her bottled emotions. Now she had the fierce features of a wolf in a humanoid shape, strange muscles showed on her small frame and a kind of madness and bloodlust gleamed in her eyes.
“A werewolf heritage of some kind?” The pendant asked almost calmly, now that Dee was slowly starting to calm down.
“Yes and no. How much do you know of the different types of werewolves?” Selvaria asked more intrigued than worried.
“Not much, you know that. Knowledge is not my specialty. I know there are several types but that’s about it.” The pendant said.
Selvaria sighed a bit. “There are roughly three types separated by their type of transformation. First type is what is often called the werebeast-type. It’s basically a humanoid with features from a wolf. Some more powerful ones grow fur on parts of their body, enlarged canines and claws, while the weaker ones only get some minor features. This type is where the name werewolf comes from. At the other end of the spectrum we have those that transform fully into a wolf. The stronger they are, the bigger and meaner they are. The third type is a bit harder to explain.”
She gathered her thoughts for a moment. “The third type is called Beowulf. They somewhat retain a humanoid shape while taking the features of a wolf-like being. They are fully covered in tough fur like wolves but they have the two hands and feet of humanoids. Beowulf are superior to other werewolves in almost every way, and are made for war. If they can retain their sanity, a Beowulf will have all the speed, strength and toughness of a werewolf and more to boot, but they’re capable of wielding weapons and lack many of the weaknesses that most werewolves have. If they can retain their sanity that is. They tend to go berserk every time they turn until they learn control. It seems our little beast doesn’t have that ability, at least for now.”
“So basically they are kind of like the pureblood vampires of the werewolf world?” The pendant asked.
“That’s not a bad comparison, except the Beowulf aren’t really the ancestors of werewolves. They are more like a more evolved form instead. It’ll be interesting to see if there are any changes when she turns back.” Selvaria said with some interest. This development really intrigued her as a researcher.
When she finally turned back an hour later, they could see that the effect on Dee’s looks had been fairly minor. Some of her features were a little sharper, but that’s about it. Selvaria tried a couple of experiments while Dee was unconscious. Dee’s canines grew and sharpened when stimulated and the claws on her hands did the same. She also tried making a small wound on Dee’s skin which healed immediately, so it looked like the regeneration ability of the Beowulf was retained even in her normal form, though maybe not to the same level. That would become useful and was most likely the purpose of using that particular race in creating Dee. Psions had more trouble healing themselves than mages and warriors, which was one of the things that balanced their versatile nature, so a regenerative ability would be very useful.