This Farseen Chronicles flash fiction takes place during the first half of Deceived. There are no spoilers in this story.
Mitch approached her with the confidence of a six-year-old addressing a trusted adult. Few adults would have interrupted her when she was growling over her laptop. Fewer would have asked a question.
Tempest looked up and smiled, “What’s the question?”
Mitch plopped down on the hearth; glad there was a fire in the outdoor fireplace. “Kevin, my friend at school, he said people have been growing taller since the beginning of time and everyone use to be shorter. But you’re tall, and you’re really old, so that can’t be right.”
“Mitchell Everett Taylor, did you just call Tempest old?” His mother asked in an appalled voice, looking up from her book to peg him with a hard look.
“No, he called her really old,” Seventeen-year-old Ryan snickered.
“Not helpful,” Sam’s grin belied his reprimand as he became visible. “Come on, Ryan, focus. You should be able to track me in light and shadow. Just because I’m invisible doesn’t mean you can’t see the changes around me… if you look properly.”
“Maybe that’s the problem. Don’t focus, relax your eyes and you should see a flicker of movement wherever Sam is.” Tempest turned from the training session and smiled at Asilia, “It’s okay, I am old.”
Old might not be flattering, but it was accurate. Tempest, although she appeared to be a woman in her late twenties, was one of the oldest shifters on the planet. Shape shifters were a genetic fountain-of-youth. Sometime during their late twenties shifters stopped aging. Shifters could and did die. Beheading was a time-honored way to kill a shifter, as was any strike that released blood faster than the shifter could heal. A properly placed bullet or knife strike would also result in death.
“I didn’t mean old in a bad way. I really didn’t. It’s just… you’re tall… and the oldest person I know.” Mitch tried again.
Asilia shook her head.
Ryan went off into a peal of laughter. While he was distracted Sam, once again invisible in the afternoon light, tackled his nephew. Ryan, no longer laughing, tried to push his uncle away. Since Sam outweighed him by a good twenty pounds and was a more experienced fighter, Ryan failed.
Keeping the combatants in her peripheral vision, Tempest explained, “The simple truth is humans haven’t changed their average height much over my lifetime. There are now, and always have been pockets of humans who were shorter or taller then their counterparts; but the average height really hasn’t changed, for humans or preternaturals. The so-called average has always hovered between five and six feet tall for most, with the fae being the exception. Fae males average over six and a half feet tall and female fae average right at six feet, which is normal for them. In the distant past, the fae were sometimes called giants by the humans.”
Tempest watched out of the corner of her eye as Ryan twisted, and as luck would have it, knocked Sam into a rock. Sam lost focus and became visible. Ryan shifted to his wildcat and pounced on Sam’s back, digging in with his claws.
“Owww, dang it Ryan. Get those claws out of me,” Sam snarled before shifting to his falcon and flying away.
He lost his balance when Sam shifted, but Ryan landed on his feet and licked his right paw in satisfaction.
Tempest hid her grin. “Any changes in height are usually associated with food resources. Good nutritional value in food choices impact height as well as health.”
She stood up and patted Mitch on the shoulder as she threw a log on the fire, “You are what you eat.”
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