We are not like the single-shapes, even though we share their form. We are not like them, for they are without a partner. We are not like them because we are one with nature. We are not like them because we are form changers, and we shall always be.
Once, my people thrived in the thousands. Once, I believed we would always live in our ancestral lands, our partner forever at our side. Once, the clans were numerous. Once, we were a race that thrived. That is no longer how it is with form changers and our animal partners.
The single-shapes have been closing in on us slowly, destroying us one by one. My clan, once the most prosperous of any in my people’s existence, was devastated by the single-shapes. They destroyed our ancestral forest home, placing a dark stone path where once thousands of trees stood. They killed the deer and elk my people depended on for food. They destroyed everything they touched, never once realizing we were there.
Soon, only me, my sister, brother, parents, my father’s parents, and my grandfather’s parents remained of what once was a thriving clan. A few left from a clan of thousands. It didn’t seem fair, but in nature we learn that nothing is fair. All one could do was try to survive and live to see the next sunrise, so that is what we did.
For many cycles we wandered, never staying in one place for too long. We stuck to the forests for our own protection, but the forests where shrinking. Food became harder to find in the shrinking forests. Our people also becoming harder to find; the longer my family continued our journey.
The first few cycles we were not suspicious about seeing no more of our kind. Clans rarely met with each other, even when they lived close together. It only made sense that we would see few other form changers now that the single-shapes had started moving into our territories, at least that was what my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents told my brother and sister and me.
My brother had come up with a theory about the single-shapes not long after our ancestral home was destroy, but he was always silenced by our parents and elders before he had the chance to vocalize it. Now, ten cycles after our home was destroyed, my brother confided his theory with me and our sister.
“The single-shapes are trying to destroy our bond with our animal partners,” my brother theorized. “Why else would they be destroying the territories of the animals? If there are no animals, then we cannot find our partner, and if we cannot find our partner then we cannot change our form.”
We were called form changers because we had the power to change our form to that of an animal, but only the animal that we were partnered with, never another creature. One found their partner in their first few cycles, but changing one’s form did not occur until the body began to physically mature towards that of an adult. The bond between a form changer and their animal partner was eternal, nothing could break it. As long as one lived than so did the other, no matter how many cycles were in their lives.
I had only recently bonded with my partner, a male raven, when my family had been forced to flee our homeland. My sister and her partner, a male wolf, were just starting to learn about changing ones form and how it affected the animal partner, when the single-shapes destroyed our ancestral homeland. Our brother and his female hawk partner had already been changing form for over a cycle when we lost the clan.
“Do not speak such foolishness,” my sister exclaimed. “The single-shapes know nothing of our existence. Our parents and elders have already scolded you for thinking, not to mention speaking, of such nonsense. Forgive me, my brother, but these theories of yours are irrelevant. We have to focus on survival, not foolish theories.” My sister glared at our elder brother, a stern look upon her beautiful face. Her wolf partner stared at my brother’s hawk partner, obviously trying to intimidate the bird as my sister tried to do the same with our brother.
My brother was silent, but his hawk partner screeched, clearly showing the frustration they equally shared through their bond. “What I say is not foolish. I am finally twenty, sister. That means I am an adult and our parents no longer have control over me. You still have to listen to them for another two cycles, and our brother,” he pointed towards me, “has to listen to them for another four.”
“What do you mean by this?” my sister asked.
“What I mean sister is that I am old enough to take a mate. I will be leaving before the next full moon, at the start of the mating season. I will start my own clan and continue our people’s legacy.” My brother arose from the ground and turned away from me and our sister, his hawk partner quickly following after him.
I heard my sister mutter something under her breath, but I could not understand what she had said. A few dozen heart-beats later, she and her wolf partner storming off in the opposite direction our brother left. I was left alone with only my own raven partner.
By the next full moon my brother was prepared to leave, but his plans were in-explicitly changed. Our great-grandparents and their partners had died. Great-Grandfather’s possum partner and Great-Grandmother’s raccoon partner had both been killed by the single-shapes, forcing them in their state of grief and pain to end their lives.
My brother could have left after we properly buried our great-grandparents’ and their partners’ bodies, but he stayed. He knew that Mother and Father would lose themselves if he left, so he stayed, at least until the grief we all felt had subsided enough for him to go find his own mate. Sadly, only more grief and loss were all we experienced.
Barely three sunrises after Great-Grandfather and Great-Grandmother had been buried alongside their partners, Grandfather got sick. None of us knew what had caused his sickness, but his grizzly bear partner would allow no one, not even Grandmother, to get close to him. Once when Grandmother tried to get close to her mate, the grizzly bear partner attacked her. In the confused caused by Grandfather’s sickness, his grizzly bear partner mistook Grandmother as an enemy, and accidently killed her.
Grandfather knew his mate was dead when he saw his beloved mate’s red fox partner lying beside a tree with her skull cracked open. The injury was self-inflicted by the fox repeatedly running into the tree until she finally joined her partner in death. Grandfather lost control of himself. He killed his own partner for taking away his mate. Once he realized what he did, he ended his own life.
Father could not believe what his father had done. Hurting, let alone killing, one’s own partner was unthinkable, and yet Grandfather had done it. He had broken our people’s most sacred law, and Father broke the next most sacred law, he exposed himself and his abilities to the single-shapes.
At first it seemed like a normal hunting trip, until the single-shapes appeared. At that moment, Father changed from his animal form (an eagle) to that of the form so similar to the single-shapes. The single-shapes were shocked, killing him with one of their strange weapons that sounded like thunder and carried the smell of smoke.
Mother was the last of my family to die. She simply fell asleep and never again woke up. My sister found her lying beside her deer partner, as though she was only asleep. We buried Mother and left before any single-shapes could find us.
Now we are all that is left. I, my sister, my brother, and our partners are all that is left of our family. We three pairs of form changer and animal partners are all that is left from a clan of thousands. Still, we managed to survive. And we will continue to survive.
We survived the destruction of our clan. We survived the loss of our parents and elders. We survived because we are form changers, and the bonds we share with each other are eternal. It is those eternal bonds that have allowed my siblings and I to survive, and will eventually lead to the rebuilding of the entire form changers race. Until then, we shall remain strong and always remember the bonds we have forged with each other and our partners will last for eternity, and beyond.