Kenempti arrived at the University and felt glad for the break from her worries, but the class that morning was as empty as an opened bag of bar snacks, and those present seemed hardly motivated enough to stay awake. The only girl who dared to sit on the front row had her pastel-pale face slumped into her folded arms; a doll with her strings cut.
“Good morning class!” Kenempti thought she should at least try to be enthusiastic. Someone had to be. She placed a box of artifacts onto the front lectern and smiled at the assembled few. A sluggish “morning” drifted back to her as if from a broken fog horn. “Today I want to finish talking about the locations of the pyramids that we began to discuss last week. Do you remember? I hope that you will be able to see that there is more to the Egyptians than first meets the eye. Much about them is still unknown, but what we have uncovered in their tombs has given us more than a good idea. I have brought with me today, some examples…”
She liked to give the class something to look at each lecture, as she thought it held their interest better than her prattling on for an hour. However, she had heard the rumours swarming around the faculty lounge that the students only took her class for the prize example of a woman who taught it. Apparently, it did not matter what she did, but lots of bending over was preferred. This made Kenempti self-conscious when she thought of it, so she focused on the teaching and tried not to get annoyed about the school laws that banned the use of magic in an attempt to keep supernaturals in the closet and all their students in human form – even the presumptuous ones.
She removed the objects from the box anyway. First, a curious figurine of an eagle angled in mid- dive, followed by a miniature sarcophagus. What followed next was the wolf pendant. Kenempti had brought it with her, along with a few books she had thought important in the matter, so that she could continue her research between lectures, but had not meant to reveal it in class.
As she raised it over the cardboard corner of the box, it caught a ray of sunlight in its empty sockets. The shiny brass reflected the beam in such a way that it dazzled the conscious students sitting opposite on their raised flip-down seats. So, they did not seem to notice when a dart cracked through the window and struck the blackboard behind Kenempti’s head. It missed her by mere centimetres.
The favoured lecturer reeled from the attack, and then started towards the window. She glimpsed a figure jumping from a tree with unnerving grace. Her students watched, bemused, but now awake, as she wound open the old wall-sized glass panels and undignified in her long skirt and summer-tied blouse top, clambered over.
“Start your reading on page 67 of your texts and I will return to test you,” she said before running after the would-be-killer.
He had a good head start, but could be seen running by the Applied Sciences building. Kenempti hoped that she had the advantage of knowing the territory better than her prey.
She cursed herself as she tried to run. “Why on earth did I decide to wear this long skirt?”
The man disappeared behind the building, but she knew it was quicker to go through the facility. Or over it.
As she jogged, she recited an incantation under her breath. She could soon feel a rush of energy through her and with a gentle flourish of air, excited by the charge, she was lifted off the ground.
The gust placed her safely on the graveled roof of the habitable obstruction, and she ran to its far edge. From this high viewpoint, she saw the man force his way through a crowd of students gathered for the cause of some Chinese earthquake victims. He was over a hundred feet away, and she had to catch up somehow.
She gripped the silver ankh that hung around her neck and called out in a language alien to most of the world. With a crackle of energy and a splinter of bone and sinew, her sand-blonde, slim figured, human form dissolved, then reformed into the sleek, feathered frame of an eagle. As quickly as this had happened, about a second or two, she dived upon him, picking him out from the students.
He cried and batted at his attacker.
Once he burst free of the crowd, Kenempti, with the body of an eagle but the mind of a millennia old being, could target him more efficiently. She raked his flesh with her claws, pecked, and shrieked with her beak.
He fell to the ground, and the bird landed on his exposed chest, becoming Kenempti again.
“Talk! Who are you?”
Yelling and whimpering, the man took a second to feel the weight of the woman on top of him, then, realising the bird was gone, he replied to her question.
“Fuck you, besark!”
“Less of the language please. We are in company.”
Kenempti gestured to the humans around her. Most of them huddled in small groups whispering to each other, some had a frightened look in their eyes, while others yelled in excitement. A few of the bigger lads shouted at Kenempti as if she had brought some curse upon them.
“Now, please tell all,” she prompted her straddled victim.
He reached forward, desperately trying to clutch her throat and strangle her, but she had him utterly pinned.
His movement allowed Kenempti to glimpse something. She grabbed his wrist with her spare hand and twisted it to get a better look, forcing another curse from the man’s lips.
She should have expected it, but the revelation still came as a shock. How stupid could she be? You never get involved in another tribe’s business. They were still hunting her, after all this time.
She looked down again to make sure she was not dreaming. The mark on the man’s arm was a tattoo of a rotting wolf head.
Kenempti started to sob and then she screamed like a wild animal, deep and feral. Sweat seeped from her, even though it was a mild morning, and she clawed the grass and dirt with her hands.
Then the power within her ran unchecked. Her hands rapidly transformed between human, ape, bird, wolf and many others.
The assassin, in fear for his own life, and out of sudden realisation, threw the flailing pile of limbs aside and flipped onto his feet. He took one look around at the dispersing crowd and ran for his life.
The magic eventually subsided to leave Kenempti exhausted and in a foetal position, amongst torn clothes. Her head buried deep in her hands, she sobbed herself dry.
Since she had first met these wolves, she feared them more than anything, not only for what they did to her, but most of all, for what they did to him.