My mother is long of hair and leg, the quickest runner in the pack. Her fangs are ivory, her eyes are molten gold, and looked upon me with mixed terror and compassion the first time she beheld me. My adopted mother is a wolf...my true mother is a coward.
I was the squalling baby of a drudge-mother, one whom a wandering, drunk Rider had taken to his bed, and cast her out of the next day. I was an accident, she used to say to me-it's a wonder I remember those words; I can hardly remember her voice, her face..she was not a beautiful woman, far from it, but I am beautiful. My wolf-mother says it's because when I came to them, wolf life molded me into the sleek, quick creature I am now..When I came to them. Such a long time ago..I am nearly fifteen summers, many moons and suns old. My drudge-mother was fleeing, frightened, from her master, who did not want another mouth to feed. My mother was scarcely past my own age now, and, as I have said before, a coward..she did not want me, she wouldn't care for me, take me to a safe place where she could watch me grow. No, she ran far into the forest, hoping to leave me there to die..the wolves found her, and chased her..they cornered her, and in her desperation for her own life, she threw me to their mercy and ran back to the civilization of men.
My wolf-mother, terrified of my horrible noises, none-the-less came toward me, for maternal instinct took over, and she had lost her young pups not a sunset ago. She sniffed me over, and I quieted. She took me to live with her, and I grew up among the wolves. I am more wolf than human now, but perhaps that will not be so for long...
It was a night of Celebration for the beasts and demons of the forest I grew up in. The moons hung low in the sky, round and orange, their feminine grasp tugging at a fullness in my belly, making me bleed, making the male wolves of my pack, my brothers and cousins and uncles, sniff me over with interest, and I snarl at them to warn them back, for a mate is not what I want on such a night. I want to hunt, to run, with my pack, smelling the crispness of the air, hearing people laughing and screaming far away in the distance, feeling the mold and crackly leaves beneath my paws...hands and feet, so different from my mother. I could still run as fast, faster than my brothers, and I knew that a foot and a hand wouldn't matter to me on such a night, the night of All Hallows Eve, when spirits and devils dance and throw wild parties, and the humans in their villages tremble in terror and delight. Every year I long for the humans, and their parties, their sweet meats so good on my tongue. But I know that my brothers will bring me the sweet meats; they do every year, because they know how much I love human treats, even though it is a great danger to them...I love my brothers.
I look to the great black leader of my pack, and my heart swells with pride and love to see his sturdy figure, lifting his head to the stars and singing. The rest of the pack joins him, sweet chorus of tenor, bass, alto, soprano..my hoarse alto voice chimes in, slightly off tune, and I laugh, because it doesn't matter. My pack accepts me as I am, the slightly awkward, off-tune human-pup that they love, like I love them. The pack stops their wild, heart-dancing, blood-racing song, and their tails go up, their mouths open in canine grins, ears pricked. We are hunting, now, and our feet move silently over ground which a clumsy human would disrupt with shuffling, crackling noises through the leaves. I am so glad to be lupine!
Onelle followed her pack swiftly, her tongue hanging out. She was innocent of the gossip of human beings, all she knew was the tightly-knit family love of a wolf pack. But far away, in the human villages, the people there, so different in soul, so alike in form, spoke in hushed whispers, not reverent, but meant to frighten; they spoke of the wolf-girl, the most wild demon of them all. They told their children to be wary as they walked at night, for the wolf-girl and her evil, dark pack of wolves and devils, that obeyed her every word and worshiped the grass she stained red with her kills, would snatch up any naughty, straying children and take them to their laire, where the children would be eaten! Chills ran up and down the children's spines, and they giggled in fear, staying in large groups when they went anywhere, for fear of the demon-wolf-girl. They dressed in their Halloween splendour, and went door to door, screaming, playing tricks and gorging themselves on treats....
My brothers and I fed hungrily on the meat that our pack had felled. Every time they hunt, I have to wait, because my teeth are not so long, and I am not quick enough or heavy enough, or even bloodthirsty enough to overpower a moose or an elk. I am allowed to hunt rabbits; their bodies are small and easy to catch and sink my teeth into, and their soft white furs feel good against my skin..I am making a wolf pelt for myself, a white one, sewing it together with tough roots and a small needle of bone. My brothers laugh at me for it, but my mother understands my wish to be more like my family, and to feel at home in my own wolf pelt. I am nearly done with my pelt, and it will feel so good. I have softened the leather so that it will feel nice against my bare skin because it would not look so good with the fur on the inside.
After we were full, I felt a craving for the sweet meats that Halloween brought. I asked my brothers, but they said they were too tired, and that they would get me some later. The moons tugged and tugged at my belly, and I knew I had to have the sweet meats, lest I burst apart in my wanting.
I waited until my pack was asleep. I guessed that it would take me ten minutes to run fast to the village, two minutes to find a sweet meat, and ten minutes to run back. Twenty-two minutes; they would still be sleeping. I donned my wolf pelt, or what was done, and I kissed my mother's soft, furry cheek. I looked up at the moons, and I started running...the moons were near the horizon, and it would be morning in a few hours...
A young boy and his mother were walking from house to house. Onelle came nearer to the village. The little boy shouted the traditional "Trick or treat!", and received his treats. Onelle drooled as she smelled the chocolate, the gum, the chewy delicious candy in the shape of pumpkins and witches and black cats...and wolves. The boy and his mother walked across the street, to the next house. Onelle emerged, half-clothed in her wolf pelt, pale hazel eyes flickering in the half-light of the moons. Her dark hair hung over her browned shoulders and breasts. The boy walked down the street with his mother, tugging at her coat, the mother smiling down at him and petting his head lovingly...Onelle came closer, drawn by the scent of treats...the boy turned at a noise she made...Onelle's eyes widened...the mother screamed and fainted...Onelle whimpered....the little boy whimpered and soiled himself....Onelle hesitated....the boy cried out "It's the wolf-girl! Mommy, help!"...Noises from the other houses...lights on...people running out....guns, nets, knives...Onelle turned...everything seemed to be in slow motion....she tried to run.....her voice caught in her throat as she tried to howl to her pack....a rope caught around her ankle, and she fell to the ground, yelping as she hit, gravel and thorns scratching her....a man shouted in triumph!
I couldn't believe that I had been caught! I hadn't done a thing..I had only wanted to join in their fun, and have a treat or two...I tried desperately to howl, but my captor put a hand over my mouth..I bit him, and he yelled, and cuffed me. They put a gag over my mouth instead. They put me in a cage...I spent the night in there, worrying about my wolf pack...I couldn't understand the human language, and they couldn't understand my lupine language...I cried myself to sleep..it was a cold, frightening night..
"We caught the wolf-girl!" said a proud male voice. It woke Onelle from her slumber, filled with nightmares..she had hoped that her capture had only been a nightmare..but it hadn't been...
"I see," said a cold female voice. "Where have you put the poor girl?"
The 'jailor' stumbled. "We, well, uh, we, um.."
His wife answered for him. "We put the good-for-nothing in a cage, downstairs. Would you like to take a look, Cathairte?"
"Of course, madame. I would like to see her..." The Cathairte Inness followed the husband and wife downstairs..she gazed upon Onelle, who stared at her in obvious terror.
"The poor darling..you've frightened her half to death!" Inness's voice admonished the man and woman. The husband looked confused, and the wife looked angry.
"Now see here, Cathairte, this is a wild, bloodthirsty beast!"
"I don't believe it. She's no worse than my Amaroq." At the word, a big, black wolf with intelligent golden eyes came down the stairs. The woman gasped.
"I have a wolf with me? Yes." Amaroq stared intently at Onelle.
^It's alright, little one^ He spoke softly in wolfish. ^You are coming with us^
Onelle looked at him with surprise and relieved tears came to her eyes. ^Back to my pack?^ she asked.
^Not quite yet^ Amaroq replied, gently.
^Why?^ asked Onelle.
^Because^ replied Amaroq, ^We need you to speak to someone. And you need clothes for that...as sorry as I am to say that, because I see that you are a true wolf, like me^ Amaroq smiled at her, and Onelle felt better.
The wolf Amaroq and his friend, Inness, took me out of the cage, to their home. I really wanted to see my family again...but first, they put me in clothes, and taught me a few human words...I didn't fight it, but I knew as soon as this ordeal was over, I would escape again, and purposely forget it all..it was no better than being a prisoner..
Onelle sullenly followed Inness and Amaroq. She knew that they were there to be her friends and help her; they had freed her, after all..but she wanted to be with her wolves..
Inness took me to a Protectorate..I'm not sure what that is..it was called Kshau, and it was a Healing Den..it was all decorated in orange and black, blood red..the best part were the sweet meats! I ate many, and when I had to leave that room, I gave many more to Inness to carry for me.
A lady named Baeris came to speak with Inness. I didn't understand her..but eventually she came to me, and spoke in wolfish. I told her that I wanted to leave, and go back to my pack..
^Onelle^ Amaroq was stern. ^Listen to what Baeris has to say^
I stared at my feet as Baeris spoke to me.
^Look at me, child..I won't keep you here long. I have a present for you, see?^ I looked up, hoping for treats. I took the little orb in my hands, and looked up at Baeris.
^What is it?^ Onelle asked Baeris. Lady Baeris smiled.
^It is a dragonchen egg, Onelle^
^What is that?^ Onelle inquired, gazing at the egg in her palm. It was pretty, black and orange swirls coloring the smooth texture.
^A little creature will come out of it, and you will be able to keep it as a friend, and name it^ Baeris told Onelle.
^Oh^ Onelle still didn't understand, but she waited quietly while Baeris went to get her some meat. When she returned, the egg had already begun to shake. Onelle stared at it, frightened.
^Is it angry?^
^No, it's hatching. Wait. Watch^ Onelle stared intently at the egg. She was very surprised, when the shaking stopped..an orange snout poked out of the egg..soon an entire chen, the color of pumpkin rind, lay in Onelle's palm. Onelle gazed in delight at her new dragonchen.
^Mine?^ she squeaked.
^Yours^ said Baeris with a smile.
I left the Protectorate with Pampkin, and I hoped that then, maybe Inness would let me go back to my pack. Instead, she and Baeris had another talk at Inness's Cathair...I thought maybe they were talking about me, because my name was repeated..I couldn't understand the rest.
After Baeris left, Inness spoke to me.
^We are going to take you back^ she said.
I clapped my hands and got down on my hands and knees, howling for joy. Amaroq smiled at me.
^Come^ said Inness. Amaroq wagged his tail.
^Farewell, little Onelle. I will see you again^ he told me.
^You aren't coming?^
^No..I don't like to fly^ Amaroq grinned, and turned, walking down the hall to his home.
^Fly?^ I asked Inness. She smiled at me.
^Yes, Onelle. You are going to meet Edorth..^
Onelle followed Inness, a little bit scared. Pampkin dug her claws into Onelle's shoulder, feeling Onelle's emotions and reflecting them.
^Ouch! Pampkin!^ Onelle cried, a tear rolling down her cheek. Mini claw-points of blood stained her shoulder. Pampkin whistled in apology, and Onelle petted her.
The trio came out into the duo rays of light from the two suns of Danach. Onelle gasped as she saw a gigantic white replica of Pampkin. Inness smiled.
~Hello~ said the dragon. ~I am Edorth~
Inness helped me onto what she said was a dragon..the creature was huge, bigger even that my leader wolf, a giant among lupines. Edorth moved her wings, and we were in the air! I whined and whimpered..I was scared. Inness tried to comfort me, but I couldn't be..
Edorth landed in the woods...Onelle jumped off...
I ran. I ran from the dragon, I ran from Inness..I ran from civilization..I tore off my human clothes and ran, bare, with only the moons, spreading their wings of tender twilight upon me, to cover my nakedness..I would have to make another pelt.
I would not go back, I could not..how could I give up my life once again? Sweet meats could be forgotten if only I could become the wolf-girl again..
I searched for my pack..I found them...my mother-wolf ran to me, tears wetting her soft cheeks...my brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts..my leader..all came to rejoice at my safe return..
I am so glad to be lupine...
"Does she know?" asked Baeris.
"No...I hadn't time to tell her. She ran, quick and far..she is with her pack now," Inness replied.
"The poor child..she will have to come once again to our land..." Baeris trailed off.
Onelle looked with wide eyes upon the emerald-black dragon, Lupineth, who had chosen her. Lupineth was a runner..and a dragon who would grow to 20 feet in length.
Onelle lay dozing gently beside her dragon..she had finished her pelt, and looked strangely wolfen in its furry whiteness. Lupineth snored slightly, a deep rumble that tickled Onelle's humor and made her giggle in her sleep. Onelle's wolf pack had not been quick to accept the strange lizard-like being, but now they liked her as well as Onelle, and the lifemates were accepted as part of the pack. Onelle's wolf-mother snoozed, curled around Lupineth's neck, cheek to cheek with the emerald dragon, and the rest of the pack was not far off. Onelle sighed in her dreams, feeling comfortable and peaceful.