A howling wind kept the clouds skidding across the surface of the waxing moon. Geraint could barely see, but stumbled on until they were back in the alleyway that led to the underside.
“Big Z’s pulling out the big guns. I told you I still had some useful friends,” she muttered into his ear.
“Is he –”
“Wind God, yeah. Pretty handy to have on your team. He’ll tear this place to the ground if we need it.”
Doubt was fast growing across Geraint’s shoulders, she must have sensed something as she put a hand on his arm and smiled. “He can’t get inside there though, I need you for that.”
“We should stop here, I won’t be much use when…the wolf – after he’s gone.”
She nodded and squatted down on her haunches in the damp shadow. “I’ll stay here with the rest of you.”
The wolf appeared. This time though, Geraint didn’t lose control. He could feel the wet pavement under his paws and could smell her scent, it drew him forward. The wind blew a heavy gust into his face and the wolf blinked.
He was untouchable, not quite solid as he passed through into the unseen part of town, trotting along the cobbled street toward a huge grey, stone house.
She was inside. He could sense her.
A huge clatter came as a large chunk of roof blew off, the sound of the wind then screamed at him, hounding in his ears to keep going, to find her. There was shouting coming from somewhere inside and the smell of burning. The house was deserted and he slunk along, unnoticed until he reached the heavy wooden door. In the corridor outside, the gnarled fingers were waiting. They clutched and grabbed and scraped at him until his flesh crawled with desperation. Pulling him down into the grim depths of their cold dungeon.
As he was sinking down into the darkness, he pictured the deep brown pools of Lila’s eyes and all at once he turned fluid. In one motion, he shook off the goblins’ grasps and slithered through the gap beneath the door.
Hope sat on a tabletop in the centre of an otherwise empty lounge and he used his nose to knock the glass jar she was being held inside onto the floor. Before it hit the carpeted floor, out she skittered, circling up into the air above him.
Geraint found he couldn’t look at her directly, her wings were made of pure white light.
Hope fluttered in the air above, lighting the way back until together they reached the outside.
When Lila caught sight of the two of them, she put an arm round his wolf’s neck.
The wolf stepped forward and Geraint felt as it merged and flowed back inside his body until they became one again.
Calm restored as the wind abated, leaving a stillness in the air.
“Hadn’t we better wait for your friend?”
“Z, you mean? He never sticks around. It’s not in his nature.”
A breeze swept over their faces like a gentle caress and Lila whispered something he couldn’t hear into the air.
The lake was just in view when Lila stood still. “It won’t stop, you know. Not till he’s driven me out.” She gave a heavy sigh. “I wish time would stop, just for a bit. and we could be plucked out of it to be alone together.”
Then she looked up toward Hope and over at him with a sad smile.
“What are you going to do?”
She gave a little shrug. “Find another lake, a new home. Start again.”
She wasn’t inviting him to join her and he wasn’t asking her. One last look in the dim moonlight and he headed back into town.
His wolf still brought him her way some of the time. He’d dream of the forest, of her, and wake up beside the lake once again. More often than not he was alone. But sometimes, he’d wake up and she’d be sitting there, cross legged on the damp leaves, watching him sleep. Often he wondered if she was happy.
More than once he asked whether she would allow him to break her self-inflicted isolation, but she would always shake her head until her hair whispered ‘no’ into the silent night.
“Shh, let’s just enjoy tonight.”
Sometimes, his wolf would travel miles into the night and she would appear out of the darkness, sometimes with Hope floating just above. Together they would roam the dark depths of the countryside, accompanied by the moon, their eternal friend.
Want to read more?
Or if you’re in the mood for a murder at a garden party, there’s A Cold Shiver On A Sunny Day.