Ten years later…
Faolan let her face rise to the sun as she rode along the lonely country road. It was summer, and the sun was warm and nice. It was still early in the season though, and the grass still sprung up bright and green at the edges of the roads and in the fields. Raul's coat shone in the sunlight, sparkling and beautiful as she clip clopped along the dusty dirt road.
She was missing Raleigh, as she always did while on Circuit- he had a job with the Cartographers in Haven, mapping out the unexplored regions of the mountains around the borders of Valdemar, though not anywhere near Karse. He and Faolan always managed to arrange their home times to match up and spent most of their time while she wasn't on Circuit cloistered in their small house in Haven.
"I hope this next town doesn't have the same pig problem," Faolan said casually to Raul as they moved down the road, past farms and patches of forest.
There was an answering snort and a feeling of amusement from the Companion, and she said, :I think we can safely say that was a singular event…For this Circuit anyway.:
"Faolan," there was a raised voice from behind and the Companion Noland pulled up from a canter beside Raul. A crazy haired blond sat upon his back, and Christopher Alaska grinned at Faolan.
"What now?" she asked, glancing behind him.
"Noland says next time we go on Circuit," Alaska started, looking slightly dreamy- the war had made him more serious, but he still never quite seemed to be paying attention, "We should bring along a whole batch of that cure-all herb. Can you believe the number of summer colds around here?"
Faolan chuckled and shook her head, "Maybe we should report that the area needs more Healers…."
A sudden, high pitched howl broke the afternoon quiet. Raul stopped, her ears pricked forward, and she sent a questioning, :Faolan?: to her Herald.
"Go," Faolan whispered to Raul, and the Companion mare moved forward again, now at a brisk trot.
The howl wavered on the highest note, then fell down into silence. Raul hurried, and then turned down a dirt path into a patch of trees. They emerged suddenly into a clearing, where there was a small farmhouse and a woman was hanging up damp laundry on a series of lines to dry in the warm summer sun.
She looked up, startled, at the arrival of a Companion and Herald. Faolan frowned, looking around- wondering if she had been mistaken about the howl. But then a small pup peered out from around the laundry basket, bright blue eyes staring up in wonder at Faolan and Raul. Fao dismounted quickly and walked over- meeting the pup, who was stepping out curiously, halfway. She knelt down and reached out a hand. The pup sniffed it carefully then snarled playfully and leapt on Faolan's arm.
"Sara!" the woman reprimanded, still looking shocked at Faolan's sudden appearance, but gaining composure, "That is no way to treat guests!"
"What pack are you part of?" Faolan inquired, looking up at the woman as the werewolf pup pointedly ignored her mother and kept wrestling with Faolan's arm.
"No pack," the woman shook her head with a smile, "My husband Keenan was from a pack, but I was raised a farm girl, and we decided to stay farmers after my parents passed away. These are our lands, and someone has to farm them."
"Oh," Faolan said, surprised- she hadn't heard of werewolves living outside a pack.
"We have some cousins living in town," the woman said, "And visit them often. Sara likes to play with them."
Faolan stood up, giving Sara a pat on the head. The pup then proceeded to attack Faolan's boot with a playful snarl. Fao gently stepped around her and held out a hand to the woman.
"Herald Faolan," she said with a smile, as the woman took her hand.
"Jean Dumphrey," the woman answered, then paused and said, "Aren't you the one…"
Faolan nodded, "Sorry you recognized me. I'm really just another Herald who happens to be a werewolf- no special abilities or great magics."
Jean smiled indulgently, and invited Faolan in for lunch. She declined- they had distance to travel before nightfall, and a Waystation to find. She spoke a few more minutes with the woman, gave Sara one last wrestle, then left, mounting back onto Raul and trotting off.
As she rode back to the road, where Christopher Alaska waited, she felt a curious feeling of contented happiness settle over her, and she realized Valdemar was changing, and Faolan's mindset with it. She smiled, and let out a small howl- because Valdemar was her pack.
A/N: There! It's OVER! Can you believe it??? I certainly can't. THANKS TO ALL MY REVIEWERS WHO HAVE EVER REVIEWED THIS STORY!! And also thanks to those who read and enjoyed this and never said a word to me- I hope you DID enjoy it because that, of course, was the point of writing this story. To those who reviewed the last chapter I put up...
StormyPhoenix- Yay! I mean not that you were sad, but that it affected you so powerfully. As the writer I CAN enjoy my work but it is hard to look at it from an outside point of view and know if it is actually good or total crap. :)
SwiftShadow- Well, as it is now the end of the story, I can truthfully tell you I don't know how Faolan dies! This story was all she ever told me... after this little epilogue thingy I have no idea what happens to her! She probably has kids with Raleigh- werewolves of course and maybe later she becomes a teacher at the Collegium... I can imagine she would be a great teacher after all she's been through and all she knows. Just not right away of course. Fifteen is too young to teach and she didn't really want to at that point anyway.
Rickmer- I certainly hope to be a professional writer someday! Possibly even with this story, if you've been following the reviewer/author conversations down here. :)
ginalee- Thank you so much for reading and reviewing!!