Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Instincts - Part Six
Mareian sat next to the sleeping Jeran, unable to put the
syringe away, yet unable to move her hand forward and give him the Werelupe cure.
Lost in a mental fight with herself, she bit her lip nervously. A sudden thought
of what would happen if Jeran woke, and found her halfway bent over him with a
long needle in her hand tore her out of her reverie.
It was a chance for him to not be trapped anymore,
to be able to do what he wanted instead of what others expected him to do. You're
a logical girl, she scolded herself. What would happen to Jeran if you
didn't give him the cure? Think he'd live in a land of sweetness and delight?
Life is hard, especially out here.
What if Illusen was wrong? What if he did die?
If she had to choose between Jeran as a Werelupe, or no Jeran at all... Mareian's
heart froze. Life without him was unthinkable. He obviously recognized her,
why else would he have followed her all the way though the forest, carefully
carrying the one thing he knew she liked? The woods here were relatively safe,
far from any farms or towns. Chances were, he'd never hurt anyone.
Until someone hunts him down, her more
cynical side pointed out. Remembering his horror at becoming a Werelupe, Mareian
braced herself, and injected him before she lost her nerve. Jeran twitched;
Mareian quickly put the lid on the syringe's sharp end, stuffed it into her
pocket and curled up like she'd been asleep the whole time.
Raising his head, Jeran looked around the clearing
with his glowing scarlet gaze. He growled, then gave her a comforting nuzzle
and dropped back to sleep. Mareian breathed a small sigh of relief. All she
could do now was wait. As she drifted off to sleep, the last thing to run through
her mind was Illusen's voice, "Twenty five percent..."
Jeran woke slowly. His body felt like he'd been
run over by a wagon. A very big wagon, pulled by Unis in major need of a diet.
Groggily, he realized some parts of him had woken before others. And one side
of him was much colder than the other. Opening his eyes, he realized why; during
the course of the night Mareian had decided to use his arm as a pillow, cutting
off blood to the rest of his arm. He carefully worked his arm out from under
her head, and tried to figure out why he'd be waking up with her in the middle
of the woods.
Memory hit him like a ton of bricks, fully waking
the Lupe instantly. Werelupe bite, transformed, met her in the woods... Oh
sweet Fortunes, please don't let me have hurt her!"
He scrambled to sit up, jostling Mareian in the
process. Blearily the pirate Lupess raised her head and looked at him. "Oh good,"
she mumbled, still half asleep, "you're not dead."
Jeran blinked. While he wasn't sure what he had
been expecting, that certainly wasn't it. Mareian shielded her eyes. "Either
move to the other side so the sun isn't right behind you, or lie back down."
As sore as he was, Jeran wasn't sure he could manage standing at the moment.
"So what happened?" he asked, trying to sort
his jumbled and confused memories. "I've got a rough sketch, but I'm not sure
it's anything like what really happened."
"Well, after Danner and I left the solitary area,
you apparently fell asleep and woke up as a Werelupe. That night, you pulled
the bars out of the window, climbed out and frolicked about in the forest until
you followed me here. After you fell asleep last night, I gave you the shot
to cure you."
Jeran started. "Mareian, those bars are solid
She gave a dry chuckle. "So Danner noticed; it
rather unnerved him. So what do you remember?"
Jeran was silent for a moment, trying to sort
though the images and memories he had. "I remember waking in the cell," he said.
"I was confused, because I couldn't remember how I'd gotten there, and why I
couldn't get out. I remembered you, your scent at least. I was so angry when
Danner grabbed your arm, and so proud of you when you told him off. I didn't
know your name, but I knew as long as you were there, everything would be alright,
so I fell asleep." He paused, swallowing hard. He probably shouldn't tell Mareian
about the homicidal impulses for Danner, the blue Lupe decided.
"When I woke up, you and Danner were gone," he
continued, "so I went off to find you. I followed you to Illusen's, but after
you didn't come out for awhile I went down to the creek to get a drink and try
to catch something to eat. I didn't manage to catch anything, fortunately. I
caught your scent again in the morning and found you feeding a petpet. I got
too close and scared it off. I felt bad about scaring it, because you obviously
liked having it around, so I caught it and brought it to you to say sorry."
Mareian probably also didn't need to know about
his idea of the two of them starting a pack. Granted it made sense at the time,
but the situation was a little different now.
"So you're sure you didn't bite anyone?" Mareian
grinned at him, relief showing in her hazel eyes.
Jeran nodded. "Other than you, I didn't really
see anyone. It's probably a miracle, considering how much area I covered."
"And how late it was when you traveled from the
dungeon to Illusen's." Mareian sat up, picking up the still sleeping Ganuthor
kitten with a grin. "Look, she stayed."
Cuddling the kitten, she continued, "Illusen
packed some clean clothes for you in the basket with food, she said you would
probably need it. There's breakfast in there too, just don't touch the food
wrapped in the red cloth."
Digging though the basket, Jeran pulled out the
forbidden food. "What's wrong with this food?"
Mareian grinned. "It's drugged."
"That's the last time I try your cooking."
Mareian stuck her tongue out at him. "Illusen
made it, silly. In case you wouldn't go to sleep. You needed to be asleep for
me to be able to give you your shot. I'm glad I didn't need it, though; I have
no idea how long it would knock you out."
Mareian had chosen a good spot to camp for the
night, Jeran realized later. There was a stream nearby that gave him a chance
to clean off before changing into the considerably less tattered clothes. Simply
getting a bath made him feel infinitely better. Getting up and moving around
helped with his stiffness too. By the time they'd walked back to Illusen's house
he felt almost normal.
Almost. His sense of smell was still sharper
than it had been before; whether that was from his nose actually getting any
better, or just because he was more aware of it now, he didn't know. Most likely,
Jeran reasoned, it would gradually go back to what it had been before. If not,
Jeran figured it wasn't a bad exchange for being himself again.
They took the long way back, with Mareian collecting
herbs they found along the way for Illusen. Some of them were ones the pirate
Lupess knew the earth Faerie was running low on, others Jeran suspected she
picked simply for the pretty flowers. The Ganuthor kitten rode along with the
herbs in the wicker basket; since she was too young to be on her own, Mareian
decided to keep her.
"Do you have a name for her?" Illusen asked curiously
when Mareian gave the earth Faerie back her basket, sans kitten.
"I'll think of something, I've had other things
on my mind lately." She grinned up at Jeran mischievously, then turned her attention
back to the scrappy black ball of fur. Illusen had brought out a long stretch
of yarn, and the two women were taking turns playing with the kitten, who jumped
and leap after the twitching and twirling string.
"I can't believe those two," Danner groused.
The Wocky was apparently irritable about Mareian going off on her own with Jeran.
"They were both worried sick about you the whole time, and now that you're back
to yourself again, all they care about is some kitten."
"Well," Jeran explained to the blue Wocky, "I
think I figured out what the little kitten there has in her favor."
"Jeran!" Mareian protested, looking up from the
kitten's attack on the string, "It's not that I don't think you're --"
The pirate Lupess stopped, narrowing her eyes
and pinning back her black tipped ears. "Nice try, but fishing won't get you
anywhere that easy. You're going to have to work a little harder than that."
Illusen burst into laughter at Danner's baffled
look, while Jeran spread his hands and gave his Lupess a wry grin.
"Jeran," Illusen managed between giggles, "it's
good to have you back."