The moon tugged on Daaren’s attention. Around this time of the month, time seemed to slow, and the world to come closer, right under his skin.
It is… peaceful, he told himself.
Though part of that might be just that most of the others had already changed and left over the last few days, first of all the youngsters, who wanted to roam longer and further. When the topic had come up, Daaren had volunteered to take over some of their work. It had surprised Marrik, who was more used to rebukes for lack of responsibility from him, but a moody reply of, “You feed yourselves, it saves work here”, had shut him up, and kept him from badgering Daaren about reasons.
Another night until full moon. Maybe I can manage another night.
Daaren woke up well before dawn, sore and restless. Resisting the change wasn’t worth the effort any more, so he went outside, and gave in. The aches got worse as his muscles and bones stretched and shifted – like teething all over your body, he’d hear someone say once – but ebbed as soon as his body settled into its other natural shape.
Once more he adjusted to the clarity of his senses. The humans-and-animals-and-fields smell resolved itself to the point he couldn’t only tell who last walked past that spot, but also have a guess at their mood and health. He could hear the calm breath and heartbeats of sleepers through the windows left open to the summer night.
The breeze carried complex rumours in sound and smell into the village, and he went to investigate some of them.
It was peaceful. You might drink in the world, following instincts, roam until the new moon pulled you back from senses to mind. Leaving civilisation would have been an option a few months ago, but now, Daaren would feel guilty about having let down people who cared. At least he hoped they cared.
It was a start.