[I know, it’s been days since I posted a section from the fantasy novel. They’ll come a bit faster now as the novel at approximately 300pp, is essentially finished. I’ve got enough material swirling around in my mind for at least an entire sequel but for now, it’s going to be “the big edit” for a day or so. I still need to design a cover, then learn how to publish on “Smash Words” I think it’s called. Meanwhile, enjoy. If you’ve lost the thread, previous sections are here on the blog. Enjoy! Feel free to comment, ask questions, point out discrepancies, whatever!]
Start section 15 (fifteen)
They played with each other for a while then remembering their quest, went galloping down the trail in search of Lo’s scent. The trail was wet and very slippery and in places cut through with rivulets created by the mega storm that would now be but a memory if not for the many broken branches and dislodged stones that lay across the trail. They hardly paid that any mind, intent on their quarry and the pleasant sense of their togetherness and the thrill of the night hunt.
After a two hour run which to them was nothing but a short romp they smelled Lo. Crouching, moving forward silently, they inched up on his hiding place and shelter. They listened and sniffed. He breathed normally and the accompanying packs indicated that his journey had been a success. The wolves backed away and silently retraced some of their steps up the trail until they saw a shooting star across the skies. Normally the wolf wanted a moon to howl at but it was the she-wolf who stopped and began to howl, then yap, then howl again. This was her first night and she was laying claim to her hunting territory and pity any other hunter who disregarded her warning. Wolf gave his own guttural howl as an additional warning. At those sounds all night noises fell silent except the cascading tumbles of storm-fed streams.
They touched noses and leaving the trail plunged eagerly into the broken countryside, simply to enjoy their freedom and the wilderness that was theirs this night. At critical points in their apparent rambling, both Wolf and his mate left scented signals of their passage. ‘You may pass through here but you may not hunt without our permission’ is what it meant. Their signalling would be strictly obeyed and they knew it. It was the law.
Some time later a hare shrieked, then another. Sated then, the wolves continued to explore their territory, once in a while bumping playfully into one another then chasing each other over rocks, streams and fallen trees. They breathed deeply of the night air full of animal joy until the time came to return to the cave and each transform back to their previous state.
Nal was already up and standing outside the cave when she saw the two wolves emerge from the shrubbery. She saw the monster black werewolf with a mane that made him look twice the size he normally was and the sleek light-grey she-wolf trotting lightly beside him, playfully nibbling at his ear. Some moments later Deanna rose from behind a boulder, stunning in her human nakedness and fullness of life while the grey wolf, turning his head but once trotted away to disappear behind a talus.
“Good morning, Nal! How are you today?”
Nal noticed a strange animal scent on Deanna, and her hair spread wild and disarrayed but nevertheless extremely attractive, giving her an animal sensuousness. She reached for the tall girl and encircled her waist, then stood on tiptoe, raised her face to hers and kissed her to share in her wildness. She knew this was a rare moment and such would end much too soon. Plus she missed Lo and was now confused by her feelings, something she had not been a couple of days before. Deanna took her in her own arms and lifting her off the ground, held her up to kiss her also. There was no fear, no shame, nothing to indicate that any of this was in the very least unusual.
‘Go with it, flow with it’ thought Nal. That made it all right and she knew that Deanna or whomever this creature now was, would never again experience any of the deep human sensations of love, shame, sorrow or regret. For the woman she-wolf Elven sorceress was now but imitating human likeness and human feelings; they did not belong to her any longer.
“Would you care to get dressed, Deanna?”
“Dressed? Oh no, thank you. Much too constricting. I’ll wait until Lo arrives, he’s on his way but has quite a load to carry and mostly uphill. Or we could head down and meet him halfway or so and help?”
“Yes, I’d like that. I can’t think straight now anyway and I wouldn’t know what to do. I know I should go hunting but we’ll probably sight something along the trail. I’ll pin something then.”
She stuffed and tightened her pack and weapons and carefully placing them down through the entrance, she slipped through, loaded up, and joined Deanna.
“You’re going to go down naked?”
Deanna had appeared pensive and far away in her mind. “Am I? Oh, yes I will. It’s so much more comfortable this way. Does it matter?”
“Yes, no, I mean fine. I don’t mind. What were you thinking of?”
“It’s selfish. I was following Wolf and thinking about tonight. I’m rather between worlds, Nal and today will be a difficult day for me to focus on anything. I’ll get better at it, I promise. Just give me a few days to adapt. From this vantage, it’s a big revelation I’ve just received and a big step I have taken.”
“That has to be the understatement of the age, girl. From being a normal daughter of a servant woman in a fortified village about to be given in marriage to some lout and no say in it, then captured, raped, tortured and left for dead, to becoming a human Alaya, then discovering she’s after all an alien from a different world, an Elven woman, then deciding to become a shape-shifter to become a she-wolf to roam the wilderness at night with a werewolf of her own creation basically? Hm. ‘Nothing to see here?’ I think there might be. While we’re walking and talking, I need to know, how did you manage to ‘see’ our Betrayers in that far south country?”
“Actually that was very easy. Once I decided that the storm was artificially driven, I focused my projection energies unto its far edge to locate those energies that drove it. I followed those to their source and there were your two very bad people. By the way, did you know they are very ugly? In my opinion anyhow. I watched them so to speak and I could see the sparks of energy that fed the stream that grew and pushed the storm. They were working intensely at that.
“I don’t know anything really about the Alay but I’d say their powers have dwindled, not expanded. What they’ve lost of their natural energy heritage they’ve replace with various aspects of hate, using fear and torture to get information, adherents or sycophants and to drive armies to their death. I didn’t observe them long, I didn’t know at what point they’d notice my energy floating near so I withdrew once I had the information you needed. Plus I’m sorry but I had other things on my mind by then.
Mockingly “Trying to cheer me up again, Deanna?”
Seriously, not catching the drift, “No, I was stating facts. You wanted facts, I gave you facts.”
“I guess my friend and lover Donna is truly lost to me, and also to Lo now, hey?”
“I’m sure I don’t follow. I’m here aren’t I and we are going to meet with Lo and help him with his load? Is it because I’m naked as a human, without my fur that you…”
“Oh, forget it. I’ll find some non-emotional method to communicate with you, she-wolf.”
“I like being called that. Thank you.”
Nal snorted, partly in frustration, partly in disgust and partly in sorrow at the emotional loss of an intimate companion who now chose a wolf to wander with. ‘I guess that’s what comes of mixing worlds. None of us non-Earth aliens should be here; none should have ever been able, or allowed, to come here. We just don’t belong and no matter what choices we make, either nothing will come of it or if something does, it will always go wrong!’
It was in a very down mood that Nal and Deanna encountered Lo. The sight of the naked Deanna, whom he still knew only as Donna, quite surprised Lo.
He looked at the young woman standing in front of him and asked, “Is there something I should know, or someone might wish to tell me?”
Before Nal could make a reply, Deanna said, “What would you like to know, Lo?”
“What’s going on? Why are you naked? Aren’t you cold?”
“Three questions. Many things are going on, as always. I am undressed because I am in my human form and I did not like the tight clothes I had to wear and I can’t be in fur when in human form. I am not cold.”
“Oh, Lo. So much has happened in the three days you were gone, I don’t know where to begin. Donna is not Donna. Her name is Deana at the moment, but she is now a shape-shifter and she spends time as a she-wolf roaming the wilderness with another wolf whom she transforms into a werewolf. She accidentally discovered that she is not human either, but a cross over from the Elven worlds and at least her father is an Elf. When we shared Alaya energies, her own Elven nature awakened very abruptly and she developed powers I have never seen.
“Her mind is quite different today, caught up in the wolf world but she thinks she will find a way to re-balance herself. As to clothing, she may, or may not wear any unless forced by circumstances as she is more wolf than human now. I’ll tell you more as we return to the cave, we should keep moving to get there before nightfall.”
Lo gave Deana the clothes and boots he had purchased for her along with her share of the load. He had thoughtfully bought her a trail pack similar to their own, a mid-sized but light sword with a wonderfully flexible blade and a good dagger that was already stuck in its sheath in the left boot – he’d noticed that she favoured her left hand. Deanna tried the boots first and liked them. She tried a shirt and jacket and found she could stretch in them. She was truly thrilled to discover that he’d gotten her a leather kilt rather than pants. How had he known she hated pants? The kilt had a large wide belt that held loops for staff or stick. The sword of course had its own sheath and a body harness to hold it on back or side, so as not to clash with a pack. She put the kilt on and did a lively dance, feeling the freedom it gave her legs.
“Oh, thank you Lo, I can wear these, I can.” She approached him and kissed him lightly. “I do love you, I do. I love all of us. I love this land, this world, everything! I’m in love! Crazy in love, Ah-oooh!” she yelled into the hills to hear them echo her call back to her. “It’s all so wonderful!”
She gave her wolf imitation again and there was a reply from above them. They saw the grey wolf looking down at them and both Nal and Deanna waved at him.
With Lo shaking his head in wonder they stepped lively back up the trail to the cave. The wolf was sitting down in his usual place waiting for them, far enough to be safe if the humans threatened him. With Deanna there however he didn’t feel threatened, just a bit jealous. But night was on the way. He nodded his big head and trotted off.
“So that is your friend, Deanna?”
“He’s my mate, Lo, not my friend. He’s Nal’s friend, she introduced us two days ago and we hit it off. He’s wonderful, so young and alive. Wait ‘til you see his werewolf shape, so big and powerful with eyes that literally glow in the dark. In his werewolf shape he will speak the inner language to you, but not the thought forms. There is no danger of being overheard and he doesn’t say much. We use a very simple and specific language.”
They eagerly set to sharing the new rations, and the story of the storm was told. Lo was filled with gratitude to Deanna for discovering the current whereabouts of the Betrayers as he and Nal called them. That name would stick. Bits and pieces of Deanna’s story came out during the meal and he thanked her also for making the water baskets when he drank from her new one. Then he said to her,
“Before you go off with your wolf mate, could you demonstrate for me your powers of projection? If possible, would you share them with us?”
“I will show you and of course I will share them with you if you are able to absorb them and use them. See?” She stretched her arm, opened her left hand as if she were pushing something and some distance away a pile of rubble exploded in all directions. The large old stump that had held the rubble was gone, vaporized.
“That Deanna is truly impressive. I exhausted and it’s getting dark. You will want to go off with your mate, and I certainly want to spend the night with mine. Tomorrow morning, when you return, can we try the transfer?”
“Yes certainly. Now let me shed my clothes here and I’m gone.”
Nal picked up the pile of clothes, the boots and the pack and while holding them began to cry again. Lo came over to her and held her.
“I think I understand. I feel heavy too, as if we’ve lost her, but it’s a part-time thing. She’ll be with us for a while yet, she will not back down from her promise to help us. But I love her and so do you and this is a heavy loss which of course she cannot feel nor even notice. I gather she no longer shares our feelings and emotions. But girl, we have each other do we not? More for us then!
He picked her up, carried her to the entrance, lifted her through the opening and followed. She placed Deanna’s belongings on one of the many rocks that lay around the cave, stirred the fire and joined Lo in their bed.
The earth turned for the two of them as it had done over millennia and for hundreds of millions of times. Satisfied finally they went into a deep sleep.
They were awakened in the early morning by the naked Deanna whistling as she threw an armful of dry wood into the cave, slipped in and stoked the fire. Nal and Lo got up reluctantly and after standing by the roaring fire for a time while holding each other with their eyes closed so as to feel each other more, finally got dressed along with Deanna.
“I’m sorry but in all the things happening to me, I forgot to give you my little bundle of laurel roots to take to the village. I can’t find them now. The storm must have washed them away.”
“It did not. I remembered and took it with me. Your old friend was very grateful and he says thank you and to make sure you do take good care of yourself. It’s fine, he promised not to tell anyone that you were alive and leaving. ‘Right good move that.’ he said. ‘She’s much too smart a girl to let her heart die in this place. I wish I could be with her, but I wish her well.’ he also said.
After the attempted transfer of energy, and time would tell how well that worked, as they stood and hugged by the fire they decided the cave had served its purpose and to leave that morning, heading the way they’d come back to the cottage. The packing was swift and efficient. Deanna did hers also in record time; they said goodbye, thanking the stones, the land, the waters and the air for according to Deanna it’s how the wolves did it, and they moved on quietly and swiftly with their augmented speed. Once in a while the grey wolf showed himself as if to assure the travellers that they were being watched over and protected. Deanna would raise her hand and wave a certain way and the wolf would nod his head and disappear.
One night and two days on the trail passed without any incidents and they arrived at the cottage late one afternoon as the sky was darkening with clouds again. Deanna had decided to remain human for the entire coming stay at the Cottage, or as she said, at least hoped she could contain herself that long, explaining to Wolf that she would not be shape-shifting and doing any hunting with him for some time. She also warned him to remain carefully hidden for there were wolf hunters and hounds here and she could not protect him.
‘Stay far enough away to be safe but give me the inner talk in my head at night, and let me hear you howl. Try not to be too lonely. Find some friends, play, hunt, enjoy. We will be together forever very soon. Our time here is coming to an end and I will be taking you home where you will be recognized, accepted and loved. Remember also about the ordeal I mentioned and that I will need your help and protection soon. Practice to be your werewolf self. Learn what powers you have and use them. I love you, always.’
The grey wolf did not understand ‘time’ or ‘always’ but it didn’t matter, he understood ‘love’ and that was enough. They touched noses and she held his big paw in her hand then let him go. He vanished, blending in with the low shrubbery.
End of section 15 (fifteen)