Series: The Colbana Files
Published by: Shiloh Walker. Inc
Release Date: 02/20/2024
Genre: urban fantasy
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords
Son. Brother. Friend. Lover. Husband. Father.
Throughout his long life, he has been all of these things. But before all else, he has been a protector. He has made friends, but more importantly, he has made enemies. One has stalked him through the millennia, centuries before he took the name Chang and long before he found a lost, orphaned boy who would one day become one of the most powerful Alphas in the world.
Take a step back in time and look through the eyes of the powerful being known simply as Chang .
Author note: this short novella is a series of vignettes throughout Chang’s life, starting in childhood and up to the years right before he came into Damon’s life, then connecting to the events at the end of Blooded Blade. It all ties together. There are no spoilers here, but you might find an answer or two…or maybe a few questions.
He was not always called Chang.
The man did not look old to the cubs playing before him.
It was only when you looked into his eyes that you had an idea that his young face hid the weight of eternity.
He abruptly shifted into a monstrously large feline, his shaggy hide a shade of dun dotted with spots and slashes of gray that let it blend in with the rock around them. The adults watching all grinned.
They knew what was coming.
So did the cubs, their small furry bodies curled up into quivering balls of fluff, all big eyes and expectant faces.
The bigger cat roared.
He muffled the sound, for this was play—play, yes, but also preparing them for what would come later. Yet it had to be fun for them, these small creatures who were the blood of his blood.
The smaller cats growled back and lunged, darting for the scraggly grasses that would hide their bodies, if not his.
The big cat slammed one massive paw down. Pebbles scattered under the strength of the blow.
“I think your father is in the mood to play,” a handsome young man murmured, wrapping an arm around his mate.
Her dark hair covered by a scarf that helped protect her from the brutal heat of the midday sun and her face was wreathed in smiles as she replied, “So it would seem.”.
They had come in from working the small piece of land they had cultivated, taking refuge while the heat of the day was at its worst.
The other families in the valley did the same, resting in the cool shade offered by the massive wall of rock rising in the east. By the time the sun fully crested and started its trek around the rim of the stone that surrounded the fertile green fields and streams where they had made their home, the worst of the heat would be over. At the point, as the heat eased, they would resume their work.
Then the sun would set and of those who could hunt the night…well, their work would begin at that time.
Their valley was a peaceful place, one that had been protected against the changing world outside by those who remained on guard outside the perimeter.
Each season, a squadron of fighters, both male and female, would leave, returning only when their rotation was over.
It is the way, the old man would say to the younglings as he taught them of their history and of the responsibility they would take up as they grew to adults.
For now, there were no lessons, though.
It was time to play.
The bigger of the two cubs, his coat a deep black in contrast to the tawnier shades of his relatives sprang from the grasses and bolted for the cliff wall.
Behind him, he heard his grandfather’s playful roar of rage but he did not slow.
His sister’s high-pitched yowl indicated she’d been caught but he didn’t look back as he raced onward, bounding onto a rock and using it to launch himself toward the cliff face nearby.
His claws sank in.
Behind him, Zipporah burst into giggles and shouted, “Go, Zimri! Go! Grandfather cannot catch you!”
He scrabbled higher and higher, leaping from one small outcropping to the next while below, Grandfather chased him, his much larger leonine form having to find an alternate route. He made mock-growls as he scaled the cliff, pretending to slide down and fall even as he leaped to paw at Zimri, claws sheathed.
Zimri, exhilarated by the game, made a lunge that was far too great a distance for his small body. Far below, his mother cried out and the small cub heard her panic even as he realized he might not make it. He strained, stretching his limbs, his claws—there!
Just as he started to scrabble up onto the lip, he felt his grandfather’s presence below him and he hauled himself over and peered down.
Panting, and a little afraid, he shifted back to his human skin. Pushing back hair the color of onyx, he grinned at his grandfather just as the cat’s body gave way to a man.
Grandfather did not much look like Zimri, his body tall and broad, hair a lighter brown and filled with soft waves, while his eyes were a piercing green.
But their scents were similar and Zimri saw much of his grandfather in his mother. Zimri’s cat looked more akin to his father’s than that of his mother and grandfather. But he was longer in form like his father, not petite like Zipporah..
“I made it,” he said to Grandfather.
“You did. And you scared your mother to death. Come, let us return so you can hug her and let her know you are in one piece.” He held his arms out to Zimri and Zimri let his grandfather scoop him up.
With a squeal of glee, he clung to Grandfather when the man leaped off the narrow ledge where they’d perched, plunging the distance to the ground, fast and hard so the wind beat Zimri’s face.
“Was it like this when you could fly on wings, Grandfather?” Zimri asked.
And Grandfather smiled. “A bit, my boy. A bit.”
If there was sadness in the old man’s eyes, Zimri could not see it.
They hit the ground with a solid thud, Grandfather’s sandal-clad feet striking the earth as his knees flexed.
Zimri went to leap down but his mother was there, scooping him into her arms. “You little wild thing!” she scolded.
“I am unharmed,” he said, looking at her with the dark brown eyes she’d given him.
“You will make my heart leap from my chest,” she chided him as Zipporah came running. With one last cuddle, she put him down and his sister lunged for him.
He caught her up in his arms. “Did you see how high I was?” He nuzzled soft, downy hair and turned to look up.
As he did, he caught sight of a distant shadow at the very top of the cliff. “Grandfather…Mother.”
He pointed upward, just as the horn of the watchers sounded.
The sound of it made his blood run cold.