Story inspired by Brother Bear, set in Unveiled Legends universe by Reel123
Previous Chapter: https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2187149-Gryphon-Paladin---Chapter...
Chapter 7: Human Again
Daniel was talking to Dr. Morris via Claire the next morning. There was a veil in the doctor's hand and a stack of clothes folded on his lap.
"You only ever used one veil before the change, so you SHOULD look like your old self," he explained. "As you already know, this WILL BE extremely painful, there's no way to avoid that. Just know that it won't hurt you, no matter how much it feels like it IS hurting you. Your body is strong enough to go through the change now, but that won’t affect the pain caused by it.”
"How long will it last?" Daniel asked via Claire.
"4 hours," he responded. "A little more potent than the 4 veils I'll give you later, it'll give you a chance to maybe buy some things in town and get used to using a veil."
The Gryphon shook his head. "I don't have any money."
"We'll discuss that more when we can speak directly," the man reassured him. "I'll lend you some money, you won't have to pay it back."
Daniel wasn't looking forward to his first human veil - being human again, definitely, but not the becoming part. The pain was so mind-crushing last time he literally couldn't think for the majority of it. His thought processes shut down, the agony was so intense. Morris reassured him it would be easier the second time, but he wasn't so sure. Regardless, however, he needed to get used to using veils, they were going to be an important part of his life from now on. The clothes were for after the transformation. Veils were infamous for destroying any and all clothing worn by the transformed - especially when a Mystic lost track of time and couldn't unclothe before they unveiled. They had brought in a full-size mirror - full-size for a human.
The Doctor looked at the veil for a few seconds. “The transformation will be very quick, roughly a minute.” He gestured to Claire. “We should give him some privacy.” He uncorked it and set the potion on the floor, then they left the room.
Daniel stared at if for a long time, then shrugged and thought, ~Moment of truth.~. He grabbed the vial carefully in his beak and tilted his head to a perfect vertical, allowing the liquid to rush down his throat.
The glass smashed against the floor as his body immediately spasmed, shifting all at once. It wasn’t as painful this time, he still had his bearings, but fuck it HURT! He gasped as his beak sucked back into his mouth, reforming into teeth, and his wings and feathers quickly dissolved. As promised, it lasted less than a minute, and he was soon lying on the floor. Ironically, his first thought was that he was naked and he immediately grabbed the clothes the Doctor got for him, arranged neatly on the floor. The shirt was 2 sizes too big and he barely squeezed into the pants, but the shoes and socks surprisingly were a perfect fit. Climbing to his feet, he almost instantly fell back to the ground, just catching himself on the wooden chair. His hips ached in protest, unaccustomed to walking on 2 legs again. After a few seconds he got the hang of it again, though his gait was wobbly, slightly hunched over. He couldn’t do anything more about it; the Gryphon mind WANTED to be on all-fours.
Finally, at long last, he looked in the mirror...and took a step back, almost falling over on his ass. He...was himself again! Even with the clothes, he looked exactly the same as he did as a human. Brown hair, dark-blue eyes, squared jaw...he even had the same scar, the one he got when that green dragon swiped at him that night. Ethan must've healed it so he wouldn't bleed out. That last thought sobered him immediately. He traced the long scar across the left side of his face in the mirror, 3 claw marks that stretched from his left temple to his chin. He remembered it bled a LOT when it happened, causing him to pass out...and he woke up tied to a chair.
He shook his head violently. He needed to put that part of his past behind him; he was never going back to the Hunters and had decided that BEFORE he found out he didn’t have a choice. He hoarsely called out to Claire, his vocal chords unused to talking. It was unintelligible, even to him, so he tried several more times and finally got the hang of it: “Hey, Claire!” His voice was a little deeper than he remembered, but just a little.
He received no response. For the first time, he heard voices shouting in the distance, probably just outside the clinic, and realization came to him: Hunters. ~Shit,~ he swore silently, starting toward the door. It was slow, but along the way he put a limp into his gait, to make the abnormality look semi-normal.
Claire glared at the assembled Hunters. Of all days, why today? They wouldn’t do a damn thing, not with 3 law enforcement officers with sidearm at the ready, but they were pissed off and looking for trouble. Deputy Matthews had been tipped off they were on their way and got there first, along with 2 other officers. The Hunters were armed and their demands were clear:
”Bring us the Gryphon!” their leader demanded. He held a hunting rifle with a scope - an ACTUAL hunting rifle. “That freak killed one of us, and we’ll see justice done!”
”And you killed almost a hundred of them!” Deputy Matthews countered, not lowering his sidearm. “In one night! Do you have any idea how many laws you’ve broken? This is your final chance: leave and never come back. Every single one of you has an arrest warrant out; we have 20 officers on their way as we speak. You take one more step and I WILL put a bullet in your head.”
”You’re protecting that freak!” the man hissed. “They’re animals, not humans!”
Matthews shook his head, unswayed. “I used to think that way, that they were just mindless animals,” he paused, “but I quickly realized they’re no different from us, they just look different. A man in the Department, a veteran and good friend of mine...he always carried a flask around on duty. His many years of service gave him leeway, even tho I confronted him many times for drinking on the job. He was always stone-cold sober, not even so much as a slur, despite the alcohol, and I eventually dropped it.” He paused again. “A week after the press release, he came to me with a confession: he was one of these ‘Mystics’, the flask he carried with him had veil in it. I didn’t believe a word of it...until he turned back into a wyvern right in front of me, having not taken veil just so he could show me. And ya know what? It didn’t change a goddamn thing, he was still the exact same person I knew him to be.”
There was a long silence.
Finally: “Fuck this shit.” He clicked the safety off and made to raise the rifle...
”Wait!” Claire heard Daniel’s voice call out. But she heard it clear as day, not a single chirp or...
She spun around and took a step back. Standing in the doorway...was Avery Daniels. Except for the scar on his face, he looked exactly like she remembered him. It took a second for her mind to register that it was Daniel, that Ethan had been telling the truth.
The teen walked past her slowly, a limp in his gait. She was afraid at first he had hurt himself during the change but then realized he was limping intentionally, to hide his unsteadiness on 2 legs.
The Hunters immediately lowered their guns as they saw the kid. “Avery...?” the leader asked, shocked. “You’re dead! We found...”
”You found my CLOTHES, not me,” Daniel cut him off. “The veil they forced me to drink finally wore off, I thought it best to hide until it did.”
Realization appeared on the man’s face. “That Gryphon was YOU?” Danny nodded. “So those sick monsters turned you into one of them as some twisted revenge?”
He nodded again. “As you can see, it’s worn off, but...I’ve decided to leave the Hunters. Permanently. These past several days have made it clear to me I just want to go home. I’ll live a lot longer that way, Jared.”
The older man was silent for a long time. Then: “If you won’t come back, well...”. He pulled out a wallet and pulled out a short stack of bills.
”You can’t bribe me to stay,” Daniel said shortly. “I’ve made my choice.”
“This isn’t a bribe.” Jared walked up to him and handed him the money. “It’s your pay - $300, your cut for the job, as you agreed to.”
Daniel looked, for a split second, like he would hand the money back, but he thought better of it. A curious expression crossed his face suddenly and he asked, “That’s odd...our agreement was $230, not $300. In fact, you refused to go any higher than that.”
Jared’s expression changed, becoming far more relaxed and less aggressive. Clearly, Daniel passed. “Consider the rest compensation for your trouble,” he explained, smooth as silk. “We won’t stop you if you want to leave.” With a signal to the others, he turned and left.
Daniel collapsed in the chair, breathing a sigh of relief - both from getting off his feet and that the Hunters were no longer after him. The respite was short-lived, however, as someone grabbed him by the collar and shoved him against the wall. He just barely registered who it was before Matthews yelled at him.
"Who are you?!?" he demanded. "Were you there with them that night?"
Daniel didn't know what to say. He knew he was going to have to tell the police eventually, but...
"Wait, he's not with them!" Claire called out. "He's one of us, a Mystic!"
The Officer hesitated, uncertain. Then revelation came to his eyes. "Daniel? That Gryphon?"
Daniel rubbed his neck, reflexively sliding to the floor. “Yeah,” he answered. “It’s a good thing I look the same in a veil, woulda been hard to step in otherwise.”
The officer held out his hand and helped the teen to his feet. “Are you going to tell me the truth about that house, then?”
”I didn’t lie, actually, about that.” He staggered against the wall, leaning against it for support.
”You shouldn’t force yourself to stay upright like that,” Claire said to him. “Your body is used to being a quadruped, the instincts are gonna put you there sooner or later, doesn’t matter how much you fight it.”
Finally, Danny fell to his hands and knees and instantly the pain stopped. “I can’t walk around like this, someone’s gonna notice,” he told her.
Claire shook her head. “It gets easier after a while. That reaction to a veil is perfectly normal - especially a Mystic’s first human veil.”
Matthews stared at them for a while. “Just how much of the truth did you tell them?”
Daniel shrugged, shifting to a sitting position. “I used to run with them, but I was forced to drink a veil. Been stuck this way ever since.” He paused. “I’m a Descendant.”
”if you ran with them, I should arrest you,” Matthews said, then paused, “but if you’re stuck this way then you’re in just as much in danger from them as any Mystic.” He glared at the bulge in Danny’s pocket. “You do realize that’s blood money, don’t you?”
He pulled the stack of cash from his pocket, eying it for a moment. “I almost threw it back in Jared’s face,” he admitted, “then I realized I desperately need the money and don’t have a single penny to my name.”
Claire piped up, “You can use it to buy veils. They’re not expensive, but that much money could get you quite a few.”
”And something to carry the vials in,” Matthews added, realization coming to him. “They’ll have been indirectly helping a Mystic and never been the wiser for it.” His aversion to using such ill-gotten funds ebbed. It was a good idea, Daniel DID need the money. “I know a place where you can buy a leg-strap. It’s basically a fanny pack, but it’s light, cheap, and perfect for quadruped Mystics.”
”We’ll need to find Luc for more veils,” Claire suggested, suddenly growing eager. “But I don’t know where he is.”
”One thing at a time,” Danny said, leaning on the officer for support. “I have a lot of time left on this veil, time to make good use of it.”
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