When it regained full consciousness, the wolf could tell it was no longer a wolf. It heard a dull roar and looked up as a plane flew overhead, low. The stars were no longer visible. Dawn wasn’t far away. Her muscles ached, but there was a lull in activity. Taking advantage seemed the thing to do. Lying on her back, she studied one hand, the other. “One, three,” she whispered,improperly enunciating, not really conscious of what she should sound like but trying nonetheless. She stared at individual fingers again. “Aon, trí—no!” She could speak, understood more than one language, knew what language was. It was just too difficult right now to make the words come out, or to think of words. Yipping and barking were all she’d known for so long.
Frustrated, she tried again, but nothing she uttered made any sense to her. She’d take inventory later, when things were clearer in her mind. After all, it wasn’t like she needed to talk to get around. She could always rely on things more familiar to her: her sense of smell and hearing. Yet she realized that these things weren’t as they used to be either. Before, the plane’s drone she’d heard would have bothered her, would have had her howling. As it was now, she barely noticed it.
She had to struggle to pick up her own scent, and couldn’t hear the wolves she’d left behind. She sat up, bothered by how different things were, and raised her head to howl. But her howl became a human cry that filled the woods around her.
The changes taking place now were subtle, and afterward, she had an entirely new perspective on what she had become, as well as what she had been. Now, she understood why she’d stayed the wolf for so long, knew it was the easiest way. At least, until now.
Having the curse was bad enough, especially when she didn't ask for it or want it to begin with. But as long as she didn't curse another, there was the possibility it could be lifted. She knew this because of what Joachim told her. Joachim had taught her much, but Joachim was no more. He had killed another, and his fate was set. She would never forget the tortured look on his face the day he met his demise.
She wouldn’t die like that. She would not die like Joachim. She didn’t want to live forever,knowing she would never see Heaven. Yet, this was her dilemma. While cursed, she couldn’t acknowledge the one thing she knew could ensure her eternal salvation. Having the curse meant that she couldn’t entertain such thoughts. Doing so might kill her, or at the very least, cause great pain. Joachim had warned her of that. Still, she had tried many times, and was making progress. And then, when the voice came, she knew it was; time to act on her long-held wish.
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