Flashes of light crisscrossed the night sky and thunder rolled down the mountain where the village of the Wolf Clan lay. The rain fell down in heavy drops and turned the narrow streets into rivers of mud. The storm raged, hitting the stone houses with full force. But the people here were used to weather like this and so they slept peacefully, unfazed by the battle of nature forces outside their safe havens.
And in one of the houses, a small Wolf boy slept curled up on a large bed. His father had left in the evening just before the storm started, smelling the heavy rain in the air. He wanted to make sure their traps in the woods wouldn't get flushed out. The iron they used for them was a rare material here in the mountains, and the traders came only twice a year and only in the summer season. Now with the autumn hitting them full force and the winter knocking slowly on the door, there would be no way to get new ones until the summer started next year. And so he went and promised to come back before the first morning light.
The boy wasn't afraid for his father, for the man was strong and fast like all the Wolf males in their best years were. But he still felt a little lonely in the house, even with the fire burning cheerfully in the fireplace, lighting the interior and making it feel like home. And so he crawled into his father's big bed and curled up on the blankets.
He didn't want to fall asleep. He was a big boy after all, and big boys could wait for their fathers to come home. But in the end, the warmth coming from the fireplace overran his determination and his eyes closed. He slept. His body, half wolf, half human, rested.
His pointed wolf ears twitched, and his long silver tail wiggled unconsciously, hitting the bed a couple of times with dull thumps. He picked up the sound of his father's steps on the street. When the door banged open as the wind tore the handle out of his father's hand, throwing it against the stone wall, the boy was already awake, watching the big figure of his parent loom in the doorway. He smiled, showing his sharp teeth and jumped from the bed, his bare feet slapping against the cold stone.
His father managed to close the door in the end and shook a little, sending droplets of cold water in every direction. The boy laughed and his father turned to him, at first scowling at the fact that he was still awake, but then smiling gently at the upturned face that was showing such delight at having him back.
"Put more wood on the fire," the man ordered. "I've found something in the woods and we need to dry it off."
The boy complied without hesitation, his interest piqued. His father always brought him delightful presents. He took two pieces of dry wood and pushed them into the flames very carefully. He knew how burned flesh hurt, having learned his lesson when he was just a small cub. Seeing the flames flare with new life, he went back to his father who now sat at one of the chairs near the fire, his black cloak still on, covering something that he was holding to his chest. He gestured to his son to come closer.
"What is it, daddy?" the boy asked, whispering. He sniffed the air and his ears twitched again. There was something alive under the cloak. He didn' t recognize the scent so it couldn't be some animal living around the village. He was now wracked with curiosity.
His father smiled at his impatience, and very slowly pushed the cloak aside, watching his son's face for his reaction. He wasn't sure how his son would take this small surprise.
The boy's eyes grew large and his mouth turned into an O. Under the cloak, curled up against his father's chest, a little boy was asleep. He couldn't be any older than the Wolf boy, but where he was a Wolf with silver ears and long silver tail the other boy was... a little different.
The strange boy had pointed ears sticking up from his head too, but they were black and his tail was not bushy like his, but narrow and sleek, with shiny short black hair covering it. He was holding the Wolf father's leather jerkin with sharp claws that were sticking out of the tips of his fingers but when he twitched in his sleep, they appeared and disappeared into the flesh again.
The Wolf boy blinked, the ears standing straight up on his head. He looked down at the sharp claws on his fingers, claws he couldn't retract the way the foreign boy did. Strange. He sniffed the air again. The smell of the boy was pleasant, but it had undertones of sickness in it. The strange boy whimpered in his sleep, and tried to bury himself in his father's chest. The Wolf boy made a cooing sound and caressed the long black locks on the boy's head.
"What is he?" the boy asked quietly, when their new guest settled down again.
The man smiled, seeing his son's blue eyes fixed on the small bundle in his arms. "A black Jaguar. I think the Wood Cats on the other side of the mountain are black Jaguars. I found him in the woods, shivering, so I brought him home."
His son nodded seriously, and the man sighed in relief. The feline clans and the canine clans usually didn't get along well. But he couldn't let this cub die in the woods, and so he really hoped that his son's warm nature would accept the stray, even though it came from a different clan. And he was right.
"What will we do with him?" the boy asked, his hand still buried in the silken obsidian strands. The color and texture fascinated him.
"We will help him get well, then find his Clan and return him to his home."
The boy nodded and smiled when the cub in his father's arms started to purr loudly as he scratched his ear. "Can he sleep in my bed?"
The Wolf boy smiled happily, scratching one of the black ears again.
Some time later the man watched his son and the Jaguar cub curled up around each other on the bed, fast asleep. He wasn't afraid that his son could catch some disease from the stray boy since the boy would be immune to most sicknesses thanks to his Wolf heritage.
That's why their clan kept growing stronger with each passing year compared to the feline clans that kept falling in number, the man reminded himself. The feline Creatures were more prone to falling ill, and a single illness could decimate an entire Clan group.
The Wolf father bent down and covered the two boys with a warm blanket. He would have to fetch the healer and explain to the villagers that for the time being, they had a Jaguar guest in their midst.
But there was time for it tomorrow. Now he needed sleep just like his cubs.