"For what?" I say, feeling foolish.
"To rebel!" Her eyes shine. "To overthrow King Torr, to finally be free! Once we are free, we will be able to fix the thread. And once we do, it will ensure the Destiners' survival." She smiles, though it doesn't quite reach the pride in her eyes. It seems painful, forced, tinged with sadness.
"Are you all right . . ." I falter.
"Rencia," she tells me. "I know we have only met a brief moment before, so forgive me if you do not remember."
"I remember. I remember you," I state quickly. It's true . . . I have encountered her on several occasions. "You are Forenzo's niece."
"Yes, yes I am, Jeran." She bites her lip and doubles over, holding her stomach. It does not surprise me.
I have seen many young Destiners crying, terrible spasms racking their bodies with shivers. Once they are my age though, they have completely morphed into monsters, beasts of terror. I am the oldest unfledged one -- a reason others of my kind avoid me. One as old as I, yet not gone into Ascendance is considered a witch, a betrayer. No one has ever been like me. Not since four hundred years ago.
"You are going through the Ascendance," I say, taking her arm and dragging her back up. I see the soft sheen of scales rippling across her skin. They match her body's tone and color, almost unnoticeable, unless you peer closely.
"Pray that you do not undergo such pain, Jeran. It is a terrifying, yet exhilarating experience . . ." Once I see the malice in her eyes, I know that she is just about ready to become one of them in a month's time. I see her teeth sharpening, her features growing inhuman. The Ascendance is at work. "Pray that you do not have to."
My mind automatically screams that I will not go through the Ascendance, that I will resist it, even though I have not felt the signs of it at all. I think that I shall probably never go through it, although I have no idea what will happen to me by the time I am an adult.
To change the subject, I deftly go back to the topic of the revolution. "Why have you called me here, Rencia? What part do you want me to play in the protest?"
"The ruler thinks you are a disgrace to the Destiners. You have not changed; you are still young and free. In other words, you are disobeying the king's will. You are opposing him by never shedding your form," she explained fiercely, voice ringing with awe.
My heart sank. "So I am used for slogan? For commercial? Your mascot?" It was hard enough being shunned by my own people . . . But this? This was outrageous.
"You will be the face of our rebellion." Rencia moved her hands in large, sweeping motions. The tips of her fingers were becoming pointed. "You are what King Torr fears most."
I agreed. I made the deal with Rencia, swearing on my honor that I would appear the day the strike started. That was what the humans called it -- strike. Refusing to do what you're assigned to and protesting for your rights. It was practically the same thing as our little, makeshift group rebellion. Except it was much, much more than that.
The day the rebellion came, it seemed that all hell had broken loose.