Kristabel sits patiently on a hard bench in the hospital’s waiting room. The bench is as hard as a rock, because, unbeknownst to her, it is actually a rock. Lana has sent this young girl to River, who is a magician that specializes in conjuration, but also knows how to craft illusions fairly well. The room where Kristabel sits is actually a cave; an old oaken table stands solidly in the center of the room. On it, an intricate symbol has been rendered using the blood of Zeeb, Detective Green, and a dozen rats. River provided the rat blood, but Lana provided the blood that would truly fuel River’s ritual. He will call King Bodon to this side of reality, and he will set the powerful demigod free.
“So, what do you want to become?” River asks Kristabel, who sees him now as a nurse rather than a hermit. If she saw his grimy countenance, she would not trust him as she trusts the beautiful nurse that stands before her; in fact, she’d likely run from him.
“I’ve been giving it a lot of thought; I’ve actually been considering it for over a year. I would like to have the appearance of a Tiger.” replies Kristabel with a gleeful glimmer in her eyes. River knows what to expect next, and wishes that he could just tell her to shut-up; he has observed that they all have the same routine and truly does not want to hear it again.
“Aside from being my sign in the Chinese zodiac, I have always felt like a tiger, you know? Like there’s a proud predator inside me, just waiting to get out.” Kristabel crosses her legs, mindful of her short skirt. River believes that she is getting comfortable, and that she wants to tell him more. He imagines her telling him of her harrowing life as an outsider that has felt like they were born in the wrong body. River finds the concept vulgar; he believes that humans weren’t meant to correct what they believed were God’s mistakes.
Now, after hearing saying those words, River feels guiltless for what he is about to do. According to his metaphysical outlook, he would now simply carry out the punishment that this girl deserves for wishing to be something she was not meant to be. As the nurse, he smiles and nods, listening attentively with a comforting smile. The illusion is powerful enough to fool Kristabel, but River has not invested the strength into it that would allow an additional person to be fooled by his illusion. It breaks when a snarling werewolf barrels down on him, pinning him to the ground.
River curses himself for letting his thoughts stray away from his task on hand. He grasps the growling man-beast by its head and closes his eyes. A resonating chant causes Tobias’ skull to reverberate; his vision blurs as sound waves rattle his brain. Kristabel screeches loudly when the illusion of a sanitary hospital melts away, revealing a dank cave filled with murderous tools. She stumbles to her feet; the ground rocks beneath her, the natural reaction of a human mind to the abuse heaped on it. Bile creeps into her throat as she stumbles into Minerva’s waiting arms.
River’s concentration and focus are unbreakable; his knowledge had passed through countless ages and cultures. River can feel the proud eyes of his spiritual ancestors on him as Tobias’ warm blood begins to spill. Warm, red, and filled with vital energy, the blood courses down River’s arms and pools on the table beneath him. The conjurer’s physical strength cannot compare with the werewolf’s thick, corded muscles. River clenches his teeth and a gurgling sound emerges from between the gaps.
Tobias’ clawed hands are made to rend and destroy; he can feel the bones crunching within his hands. The wolf-spirit inside of him urges him on. It sees the unrelenting wall of River’s will and rages against it like a tornado. The recesses of Tobias’ mind are haunted by the innocents whose blood has spilled on the table. He can see their faces and hear their pleading voices. His mind burns, and his eyes will with red, murderous intent.
Two of River’s molars shatter under the intense stress. He can’t feel his arms anymore, and would see shards of bone jutting out from them if he dared take his eyes off of the werewolf. Launching a red-streaked blob of spit into Tobias’s eyes, River says the words that pass through the layers of space and time.
“Ai! Ai, na-hil. Fah-shal, shal-bal, F’rahl Bodon” shouts River “Shut this bastard down!” Tobias rears back, slapping away the conjuror’s hands. Tobias reels backwards and feels his body shrink rapidly back to its human proportions. He can still feel the wolf-spirit in him as it is closed inside of a tiny, ephemeral cage. His body convulses with anger, his eyes lose their focus.
“What the hell did you do?!” explodes Tobias, balling his hands into fists.
“Don’t screw with me, buddy.” says River, his eyes beginning to smolder with balefire. “On second thought, try me. I could use a few more bodies to keep this connection running.”
“What’s going on?” asks Kristabel in a frightened tone. “This is supposed to be a hospital.”
“I’m afraid that you’ve been misled. This is the lair of a conjuror; he has opened a portal to another world and is feeding off of the power of an entity on the other side.” responds Minerva, feeling a ball of force filling her hand.
“What do we do?!”
“You leave and don’t come back. Maybe you should also learn to appreciate what you all ready have.” says Minerva, leaving the girl outside of the cave. Like a soldier marching to the slaughter, Minerva doesn’t look back. She had made a vow, but sometimes vows lose their strength. Each step she took brought her through her life.
“You need to do what you were put on this Earth to do. If you are a witch, there’s no escaping it. Even if you never use your talent, it will pace within you like a tiger itching to be free.” said Minerva’s mother on Minerva’s first day at school. “We weren’t put here to hide our gifts.”
“Fire, ice, earth, air, and the soul; these are the powers that rule the world. Control over them is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.” instructed Adrian when Minerva was thirteen. “You are most powerful when you use your power with a light touch; those works will survive the longest and do the greatest good. However, sometimes you need to just let go.”
“Call Him!” yelled Father Tolland ten years ago. “Bring His servants to this world! You are duty bound. What you do today, you will remember always; it is the most important act of your life.”
“I promise. Never again.” she said ten years ago.