A man sat amongst the ruins of the Nexus Islands, a leather-bound journal opened on his lap. The letters that made up the language of Hawk Haven's, now Bright Haven', language were not foreign to his startlingly blue eyes.
The journal was his secret prize, something that he would never be able to share with his dear Firekeeper, who already had her suspicions as to the origins of his new and not-so-improved defenseless, bipedal form.
"It's a nice morning, isn't it, Blind Seer?" The horse-eared Derian Carter asked, surprising the former wolf. As a human, even Firekeeper's once mock-able sense were far more refined than his own. It was one of the things he knew he would have to sacrifice, but the difference never ceased to astound him, all these moons later.
Closing the journal and rising to his feet in one swift, distinctly inhuman, motion, Blind Seer nodded. The reflexes of a wolf, thankfully, had not been lost to him, and each movement he made was as eerily supernatural as the wolf-woman's.
"It is, Derian. Warmer, as well."
Derian grinned. The carter had become plenty more amiable since he had come to terms with the lingering effects of his bought with querinalo. "Miss your fur coat?"
"Plenty," Blind Seer admitted. "As you would miss those ears, and Eshinarvash, now that you have had life with them."
"I think Firekeeper misses it, too," Derian said, hoping to get off the topic of himself. He had gotten used to his "new" life, and in some ways, that thought alone made him uncomfortable.
Again, Blind Seer nodded. It was a habit he had acquired while still a wolf, while the citizens of Hawk Haven – and the rest of the world – were getting used to the idea of a sentient animals that had previously only been the stock of legends. He hadn't seemed to lose it, even though human speech was now afforded to him. "Firekeeper is a wolf, denied a wolf's shape," Blind Seer said, explaining what anyone who had come to know of the feral woman and her strange upbringing already knew. Sometimes, re-stating the obvious was a comfort.
"As are you," Derian replied.
"I chose to be so, Firekeeper did not," Blind Seer corrected. Of all people, Blind Seer thought that Derian would sympathize more with Firekeeper than himself. After all, querinalo's transformation wasn't exactly something the carter had received with grace.
"Intrinsically though, you two are the same."
Blind Seer raised an eyebrow, which managed to blend all the colours of his former coat into a harmonious mix of browns shot through with a few silvers. The same scheme applied to his long, if not a bit unruly, hair that was pulled back in the fashion of the Hawk Havenese court. He parroted the last two words, his inflection turning them into a question: "The same?"
"The same." Derian confirmed as he left the ruins, though not before he heard Blind Seer mutter to to himself;
"Hm. The same."
Firekeeper didn't understand. Why would Blind Seer give up everything he had, for a lousy human shape with no natural defenses?
All the winters she had envied his thick coat, the nights where she would have starved had it not been for his (and the pack's) swiftness and fangs, all the dangers they had avoided because of his ears, nose, or even eyes. Why would he give that up?
She simply couldn't understand.
And then there was the whole matter of ihow/i.
iHow/i had he acquired such a form? She knew what the querinalo had revealed to him, but in her simplistic, stubborn way she refused to believe that such a power, one that was abhorred by both her people and that would have lay dormant within him had they never traveled west of the Iron Mountains could have ever become tempting enough for him to act upon them. In her world, it made more sense for this transformation to be the result of the Meddler's efforts, or even something the wolf hadn't wanted to happen. But it was not so. At least, she thought it wasn't.
She had been too confused, too infuriated, and too heartbroken to actually question Blind Seer. So she was left with many, many questions, and no answers.
There was also the matter of blood. Her own intuition had taught her that blood enhanced magic. There was no doubt that for results such as what Blind Seer had attained would have necessitated a lot of blood. To her knowledge though, none of the Nexans had mysteriously died or fallen ill since, or even before, Blind Seer's transformation.
Why, and How.
Those two questions plagued her, gnawing at her gut like a starved cousin on the meagerist of bones in the dead of winter.
That evening, Firekeeper skipped dinner.
Wolves sang to the moon for a variety of reasons; To announce a successful hunt, to claim territory, to bemoan a death or exalt a birth within the pack, or, simply because she was a pretty thing in the sky, that had caught their attention.
It only made sense then to the two wolves, strange in shape though they might have been, to spend the better part of the night, when most humans would be comfortably nestled into their bed and involved in a pleasant dream, that they would be outside, hands cupped to their mouths, voices raised in a song that only they could understand.
That only they could hear. The packs on Misheemneekuru were too far away to hear their cries, and none had traveled through the gate to join their strange pack.
Their song ended, their voices coming untangled from the harmony, and Blind Seer looked over his shoulder at the woman by his side. With the grin that could only be described accurately as puppyish on his face, Firekeeper felt her suspicions melt away.
He offered his hand to her. "Come, dear heart. Let us hunt, hunt as we did before all this began. Before we ever set foot, in a strange land."
She took his hand in her own, roughened from the years it had spent as a paw, and accepted.
It would be nice, to hunt freely, once again.