Chapter 6: Important Reveals
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Dinner was brathering with potatoes. Alena had cooked up the herring while Lukas cut and boiled the vegetables. It was getting late when they finally sat down to eat; the two had needed to wait for the brathering to finish cooling off before they could start their meal properly.

Things were a little tense. Neither Lukas nor Alena were looking at each other. Alena seemed so tired; Lukas was fidgety. She was worried for him. He just seemed to look worse with every passing day. And he was still wearing that heavy cloak for some reason.

“Lukas, is something wrong?” she asked.

Lukas took a deep breath, but didn’t respond.


“I saw one of the guards who came to our home today,” Lukas said. “I think he was following me.”

“Was it the tall one or the one with gray eyes?” Alena asked.

“The tall one. Claus, I think his name was.”

“I saw him the other day, following me.” Alena frowned. “This must be my fault. People know what I’ve been up to. Torben must have sent someone to keep an eye on us.”

Lukas nodded and turned his attention back to his plate. They continued their meal mostly in silence. At a couple of points, Lukas looked like he was going to say something, but always closed his mouth and looked away. Alena wanted to ask him what was going on, but she was just so exhausted from this past week.

“Alena, I have something to tell you,” Lukas said, fidgeting in his seat. “It’s very important. Promise me that you’ll hear me out before you say anything, alright?”

“Yeah, sure, of course,” Alena replied. “What’s been bothering—?”

A soft knock on the front door cut her off. Both Alena and Lukas turned pale. Alena’s breathing was shallow as Lukas stood up and walked to the door. He placed his hand on the handle, but glanced back to Alena with a question in his eyes.

Alena gulped and nodded. Lukas hardened his expression and opened the door. Standing there was a very young woman with sharp green eyes.

“Alena Kappel,” the woman said, “the Resistance requests your presence at headquarters.”

There was a long pause before Alena asked, “What?”

“The Resistance leaders would like to meet you,” the young woman said, turning away from the door. “Follow me if you’re interested.”

Alena stood up and walked over to the door as the young woman started to walk away into the night. She and Lukas exchanged a look before slowly following her out onto the street. Alena kept her eyes peeled in case there were guards in the shadows waiting to ambush them.

“Where do you think she’s taking us?” she whispered to Lukas.

“I have no idea,” he replied.

“Why are your eyes so shiny?”

Lukas blinked and his eyes went back to normal.

“Must just be a trick of the light,” he replied.

The young woman brought the two of them down several winding roads, careful to avoid the nighttime patrols, until they ended up in a nicer district. The houses here were big, way too big for the families that owned them. It frustrated Alena that they were relegated to such a small hovel in a crowded district when buildings like this were barely occupied.

“Come inside,” the woman said, opening the gate to one of the large homes and slipping in.

The interior of the home was nice. The walls were made of smooth brown stone and the furniture was clearly bought from out of town. But there were signs of trouble. Some of the wood furniture was cracked. It was clear that nobody had been cleaning and dust was piling up. There were spaces on the walls where artwork had clearly been taken down. Whoever owned this home had fallen on some hard times.

The young woman opened a pair of double doors leading to an office, announcing, “Ursel, I’ve brought the woman you wanted.”

Sitting behind an old desk was a tall woman, whose thin lips curled into a smile as she sat aside the document she was working on. Alena grit her teeth. It was the woman who had challenged her earlier today in the forum. What was this about?

“Thank you, Irma,” Ursel said, standing up and walking around the desk. “I’d like to speak to them alone.”

Irma nodded and stepped out of the room, closing the doors.

“Miss Kappel,” Ursel said, stopping in front of her. “I was hoping that you were everything your reputation promised. I was impressed by the dedication you’ve demonstrated to fighting tyranny. I believe that you have what it takes to help the Resistance, and I would like to introduce you to some of its leaders who are here tonight.”

Alena grabbed Lukas and pulled him to the side, asking him, “Do you think it’s a trick?”

“I mean… this is what you wanted, right? People to oppose Torben by your side?”

“Yes, but that’s the point: it’s perfect, suspiciously so.”

“I guess you’re right. But Torben wouldn’t go to these lengths to mess with our heads, would he?”

Alena thought about it for a moment, then admitted, “I suppose not.” Turning back to Ursel, she said, “We’d like to meet some of the other members of your group.”

Ursel nodded and gestured toward the door. She brought them down the hall to a large meeting room, where five people were standing around and sipping drinks. Irma was there, but Alena’s eyes were drawn to a dark-skinned woman with long brown hair wearing nice clothes. That was Fadia, Torben’s assistant. What was she doing here?

“Is this everyone?” Alena asked, looking at the pitiful gathering.

“For security reasons, it’s pertinent that nobody knows the identities of more than a handful of other members. We have colleagues scattered around Marusta, people who have been harmed by Torben or his father before him. Make no mistake, we may work from the shadows, but we are not a small group.”

She gestured to a woman with short blond hair and large eyeglasses, saying, “This is Therese, one of our leaders. The man next to her—” The man in question had bushy eyebrows and large brown eyes. “—is Gernot. They’re two of the other leaders of the Resistance.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Therese said.

Gernot grunted.

“You know Irma,” Ursel continued, “And Fadia was the one who recommended you to us. And this is Dovid.” A foreign man with thick curly black hair nodded. “There are a few more people I’d like you to meet soon, but we rarely gather as a full group.”

“So why are we here?” Alena asked.

Therese responded, “One of the big difficulties we have is getting relevant information to our members across town. Your family has contacts everywhere, making it easy for you to move between the districts and deliver documents to drop-off points without raising too much suspicion. With your help, we’ll be able to better coordinate our efforts.”

“What can I do to help?” Lukas asked.

The three leaders shared a glance before Gernot mumbled, “I’m sure we’ll find a use for you, since you’ve involved yourself.”

Lukas started to blush.

Alena turned to Fadia, saying, “I’m surprised to see you here.”

“I’ve been smuggling information from the Prefecture Estate for a few months now, whenever I have the time. Working for Torben is… awful. He is a terrible person and I’m happy to be working against him.”

Ursel added, “Fadia has been working for us for several months now. She has been a tremendous help.”

Dovid handed Alena a glass of wine, saying, “We’ve had limited success stopping Torben from passing new edicts hurting people like us: women, immigrants, queer folk. But we have hindered the guards’ abilities to enforce the worst of those edicts and we’ve gotten vulnerable folk out of the city.”

“We’ve spent a lot of money getting those people out,” Irma added. “And most of them are waiting for the day it’s safe to return. We need a decisive victory against the prefect soon if we’re going to stop this town from being completely entrenched in his toxic beliefs.”

Ursel asked, “Alena, are you willing to help us?”

Alena took Lukas by the arm and pulled him toward the door.

“This could be very dangerous,” Alena whispered, “especially if that guard really is following us.”

“Yes, it could be,” Lukas replied, “but having friends would be very useful if Torben is plotting against us, right?”

“If we’re caught, we’ll be killed. Are you really willing to take that chance for me?”

“I’ll support you no matter what you do, Alena. But I don’t think we have a choice in the matter. Torben isn’t going to stop until he has you, and I know that there’s nothing you wouldn’t do to prevent that.”

Alena nodded, then kissed Lukas softly on the lips.

Turning back to Ursel, she said, “We’re willing to help.”

“Very good. We’ll be in touch.” Then Ursel asked Irma, “Would you take the two of them home again?”

“Of course.”

Irma led Alena and Lukas out of the house, stopping only briefly at the front gate to make sure no guards were around. They walked quickly; fortunately it was dark enough to make out the glow of lantern light from far away. It still took a while to get home, and Alena was awfully tired when they arrived. Irma said goodbye with little more than a nod before taking off into the darkness once again.


Lukas and Alena didn’t bother to light a candle, simply stripping out of their clothes and climbing into bed. Lukas, afraid to let Alena touch his body and discover the changes, stuck close to the very edge of the bed. His mind was racing over what he’d learned tonight.

“I’m not going to be able to focus on work tomorrow,” Alena said softly.

“Me neither.”

“I wonder what they’ll end up asking you to do for them.”

Lukas nodded in the darkness. Maybe if he practiced his magic some more he could find a way to use it to help the Resistance. Of course, that would mean committing further to the transformation.

Alena continued, “It just feels so good to finally be able to strike back at that bastard after so long. I bet he thinks we’re completely helpless. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he’s removed from his position.”

“Hey, Alena, can you put a candle on?”

“Huh? Sure, why?”

“I have something I need to tell you and I need you to be able to see.”

“Uh… okay.”

Alena got out of bed and lit a candle, barely illuminating the room. Lukas sat up, making sure that the blankets were still wrapped around his shoulders to hide his body. Alena was watching him with a curious look.

Lukas took a deep breath and said, “I lied to you. There was no magic dust in Gunter’s lab. I bumped into a table and something fell into my bag: a small stone eye. When I tried to inspect it later, I absorbed it and that’s why my eye is red.”

Alena got back into bed, asking, “Why did you lie to me about that, Lukas?”

“I was worried about how people would react. Then things got weird; I started seeing an animal-like specter that told me I could use magic now.”

Alena raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. Lukas ran his fingers through his long hair, letting two wolf ears pop up. Alena’s jaw dropped.

“I can change my body. There’s other stuff I can do, but I’m still practicing. But also… the magic is… it’s having other effects.” With a deep breath, he let the blankets drop. “It’s… turning me into a girl.”

There was a long pause before Alena asked, “W-Why?”

Lukas didn’t answer right away, his ears folding back.

“Lukas, why is it doing that?”

In a very small voice, Lukas admitted, “Because I’ve always secretly wanted to be a girl. Even when I was a child. I’ve been hiding it my entire life.”

Alena nodded slowly, looking thoughtful. Lukas lowered his gaze. This was it. Everything fell apart starting now.

“That explains a lot about when we were kids,” Alena said. “Didn’t you ask me at one point if magic could be used to make you into a girl?”

Lukas felt heat rising in his face as he nodded.

“This is a lot to take in,” Alena continued.

Again, Lukas nodded. Then, to his surprise, Alena leaned in and grabbed Lukas in a hug. His vision started to get blurry and Lukas sniffed.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Alena said. “Let it all out. I’ve got you.”

Lukas started to sob. Twenty-something years of pent up frustration poured out of him all at once. He’d finally told someone his deepest secret.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t want to be this way. I thought I could just hide it forever. But now I’ve ruined everything.”

“Sush. Enough of that kind of talk. Look at me. Lukas, look at me.” She cupped his face in her hands and forced him to obey. “I’m not being clear: my boyfrie—girlfriend, I suppose, has magical abilities and that’s kind of amazing. And if this magic is helping you with what you want, even if that is being a woman, then I support you.”

Lukas closed his eyes and began to sob harder. She wasn’t going to leave him. His life as he knew it wasn’t over. He wrapped his arms around Alena, holding her tightly. Eventually, his sobbing gave way to sniffles.

“Hey, Alena?” he asked.


“Can you help me keep this a secret until I’m ready to let more people know?” Herbert had reacted very poorly and Lukas hadn’t even told him the whole truth. “I’m not sure that a lot of people will understand.”

“Of course. I’ll help you however I can.”

“Thank you.”

Alena snuffed out the candle and the two curled up in bed, closer than they had been for a very long time. Alena fell asleep holding Lukas’ hand. He leaned forward and gave her a kiss on the forehead, nuzzling Alena as he drifted off.

That's so sweet, isn't it?

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