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Part 1 of 1

Historical note to consider of the time period:

The Massacre of Sand Creek referred to throughout this story is sadly true and was perpetrated on or about November 29th, 1864 by men under the command of Colonel John Milton Chivington. Initially reported as victory in battle with Indian warriors by Chivington, it was later more accurately recognized as cold blooded murder of roughly fifty-three unarmed Indian men, and one-hundred ten Indian women and children when Chivington’s actions were reviewed by military superiors at his subsequent court martial and trial.

Chivington was allowed to resign and eventually died from cancer in October of 1894, stating to anyone who brought it up while he was still alive: “I stand by Sand Creek”.

In 2005, the City Council of Longmont Colorado renamed Chivington Drive to Sunrise Drive once they learned of the massacre and Chivington’s role in it.

Reader Discretion Advised.

Summer, 1878 / Near Goblin's Toe, Wyoming

Gillian Lovell paused, interrupted by the unmistakable sound of distant explosion. Up to his elbows in blood and guts of the white-tail deer that he properly chased and finally brought down, Lovell shrugged off what might have caused it. Unlikely something Indians could have done and even so, equally as likely none of his business in the passing.

Tall and lanky, Lovell had not survived by aggravation of distraction. The skilled tracker and woodsman would follow-up another time and at more convenience. He could almost hear the tick-tock of butchering that needed to be done.

Having retraced his route back several ridges to gather his mount and mules, Lovell rough quartered the animal and lashed wrapped sections securely for the trip back, trying to avoid a blood trail for wolves to stalk him while he travelled or made camp along the way.

Curiosity, untamed beast as it often was, caused an itch that Lovell scratched by directing his horse toward the general area of the explosion, just to be safe. Would not be any harm in case someone needed help or if injury were suffered and in need of aid.

The unmistakable odor of smoldering fire soon brought discovery of what little remained of the kraut’s hunting cabin. The German immigrant would be angry beyond native words let alone limited English to see the burnt wreckage from an entire spring of construction.

The place looked to have been empty with nothing and no one to save, squirrel or other rodent more likely a victim of its own accident and long gone, one way or the other.

Lovell was about to continue on his way when he heard the soft sound of a young girl’s giggle and tart laughter. He turned just fast enough to catch a flash of the Indian girl that often appeared in his dreams from a past that he tried hard to forget, an image of flowing black hair and painted buckskin.

That she was here now did not bode well. She had been dead for almost fifteen years and faded memory was all that was supposedly left of her, or so he thought. Her name was sadly lost to give when she was last alive to give it, had he bothered to ask.

Turning his horse, Lovell moved in the direction from where she appeared, still unsure of what he had actually seen or heard. But there she was ahead of him again, dancing from tree to tree, arms still covered in her mother’s blood, bare feet in dance-step as she moved.

A colonel of the Third Colorado had been responsible for the death of the girl and her mother along with their entire encampment, while Lovell missed a slim chance to save the little girl and suffered dearly for it with years of regret.

Passage of time and healing properties attributed to it made him realize that it had been a while since thoughts of Sand Creek and the heathen bastard Colonel Chivington had crossed his mind.

But here she was again, looking alive and sounding as happy as a dead youngster apparently could be in her condition, as if she even existed at all.

The mules followed slowly as his mount wound its way from the wreckage of the burnt cabin to wherever the Indian girl was leading him.

Suddenly Lovell stopped his horse, carefully reviewing the count of ammunition on his belt and wondering exactly how many shells were in his carbine or if he had even reloaded it after dropping the deer.

Damn if he could remember reloading or not.

He sincerely hoped that it would not matter, but might yet prove an issue. Cautiously he pulled the carbine out and laid it across his lap, easing off the safety, his unused colt still holstered for close action if needed.

To add ominous twist, the woods around him fell silent as if in shadow a brewed thunder-head.

Unmistakable slim curve of parted feminine legs, hip and rounded back side of a woman were clearly visible lying over a log ahead of him, displayed to hide nothing and beckon for activities not lost to his imagination. Not concerned about the little girl or her memory any more, Lovell worried about what he now found himself in the middle of.

He studied what he could see of the woman, the darker shade of skin made her out to be more Indian than white. Not that it really mattered in either case it only made it more likely to be a problem of his skin in comparison to that of hers.

“G’dammit ...” Lovell muttered under his breath.

Indians were often like ants, find one and you found a hundred. Lovell being white and she, looking more Indian than not, found in position as she appeared to be, would not bode well for any defense that he might try to use, particularly if armed braves of her tribe happened upon them without warning.

Memories of the merciless slaughter Chivington and his men dealt to the unarmed men, women and children of Sand Creek came to mind as a possible outcome for him now if he were not careful and attentive.

Lovell sat still in his saddle, thumb gently caressing the finished wooden butt and cool metal trigger of the carbine, thoughts of what might or might not happen long enough to feel that he had a choice to stay or leave.

“G’dammit to hell ...” he sighed, realizing the girl having appeared as she had, left him with little option other than to stay and help. Remorse mixed with regret at being unable to save the little Indian girl from her fate back then, weighed heavily upon him. He might just be able help this woman with her fate now.

Carefully, with attention paid to everything and anything around him, Lovell dismounted and cautiously approached the woman, rifle at the ready. Evidence of blood down her inner thighs revealed that whoever had left her there had made his way without worry for her survival with whatever it was that had been used to cause her injuries.

He laid a hand carefully upon her lower back to avoid the blood and found warmth still present to his touch. Without much other option, he straddled the log and quick-slid to the other side using it as a shield, looking for movement anywhere.

Carbine in one hand and at the ready with the log as brace for easy pivot, he gently snaked his other hand under the curtain of long dark hair that obscured the woman’s head. A flutter of pulse at her neck told him she was still alive, even if barely so.

Soft sound of the little girl’s laughter carried from somewhere nearby as Lovell made his plan. Blankets from the mules would allow him to wrap the woman up so she that would remain hidden from anyone that might wonder as to her condition and who had caused it. There was an old monastery near enough, with priests if his luck held and he got her there, if she even survived the trip.

Kicking himself into action, he hurriedly crossed back over the log and toward his mules.

* * *

Two massive silver-backed timber wolves watched the hunter through human eyes keen with interest as he laid blankets down and carefully lifted Running-Deer from over the log to lay her gently upon them.

Scent of fresh blood was keen even at distance to Nadia and Mikhail and their feral senses.

From the hunter’s reaction, Running Deer’s wounds appeared ghastly and serious. The hunter quickly pulled the blankets over her body for cover and roped her into them much like a native papoose.

Once the hunter secured the papoose over one of his mules, Mikhail moved to follow while Nadia turned back against a trail only they knew the scent of. Something seemed wrong about the scene their hunter had found while the trail of evidence offered other theories that she could follow-up on.

Nadia found her way back to a scene of burnt disaster to carefully make her way through wreckage of a cabin now nothing more than smoldering ruin. The bitter scent of kerosene indicated the cause of the fire and probable explosion. Even with that for cover, evidence of blood and other fluids did not escape her acute canine sense of smell as she checked the floor and doorway of the cabin.

This is where it happened.

Running-Deer must have been overpowered in a rush and then raped in the cabin. Two men had been involved, but only one had gone feral, the musky orange-peeled scent of bear seed mixed with blood and other feminine fluids from a human that left little to imagination as to how it got there.

That left the other man. It was entirely possible he was one of the Lycan Alpha’s men that had followed the deputy. It was probably he that moved Running-Deer safely away before doing whatever he had done to destroy the evidence, then mounting up to follow the man-bear from the cabin and away from where Running-Deer had been found.

Following the mixed trails from the cabin, Nadia discovered where the hunter had processed his kill in a low hollow where fresh testicles hung as hunter’s trophy for anyone who passed.

The man Running-Deer had been chasing appeared to use the Hunter as decoy only to have the Indian deputy turn and find her way back to the cabin where events had unfolded however they had unfolded.

With nothing left that might help them later Nadia reluctantly turned and ran full out to catch up to Mikhail and the hunter.

Worry for Running-Deer along with the blood and type of seed found left little to her imagination of the injuries that the hunter had seen and those that he probably would not want to.

* * *

Sheriff Augustus Poe was impressed, but not entirely surprised when his deputy found the chalk marks Running-Deer had left for them, leading them one ridge over reveal her horse as it quietly munched grasses and wandered in wait for their missing Indian.

“G’dammit, if I have told her once ...” Poe started with a sigh.

“You have told her at least a dozen times, for an old worn out white-man wearing a sheriff’s pin it would seem you should know better.” Cat’s deep laughter failed to lighten the mood as the massive Negro dismounted and walked the area looking for sign.

His profession as smithy hid massive bulk behind equally massive tools found throughout his forge. Few people knew his real name and fewer yet used it in public. Tyrone Montreal simply preferred the shorter and simpler name of Cat.

In jest Cat often explained the nickname by the absence of mice within his forge area and not everyone was entirely sure that he was joking until he broke a broad Cheshire like grin and his hearty, deep set laughter caused a rumble felt to the very core of their bones.

Poe was impressed the draft horse easily carried the Negro mountain without complaint of strain as Poe might have otherwise expected, the animal’s former profession pulling fully loaded logging sleds probably giving credence to the animals stalwart and muscled form and abilities.

With care to avoid damage to his leg brace, Poe also dismounted to check Running-Deer’s horse, the leg brace serving as reminder of his mortal limits having once chased a vampire into ambush and being shot in the process by one of his own men.

Poe’s long hair bleached white as it was, often misled people who saw the brace as that of a gimp until they saw the steel behind pearl-gray eyes that never held any hint of bluff as to his intention or steadfastness when he was serious.

The only good news was that his beard mixed more red than gray to hide the age revealed by skin dark and creased from days chaffed by wind and warmed by sun.

Sure enough, the saddle bags held Running-Deer’s city clothes and weapons or what she often referred to as the poorer choices white people had to work with.

It was the Indian she-brave that had found Poe, wounded and horse-drug raw from his injuries. After his proper recovery she followed as deputy to the town he became sheriff of and put up with the snide comments of the locals as she learned their ways.

“Cat, our Indian is stalking that man with just her bow and knives.” Poe announced evenly. “Should never have let her chase the bugger like I did, once native always native no matter how long you try to change their ways ... G’dammit!”

Leading her horse to his, Poe tied-off the reigns to his saddle before high stepping into the stirrup as he climbed back up and gestured for Cat to follow the chalk line. “Please lead your own damned horse. I am sure he finds himself big enough to think he would not have to follow the likes of someone as scrawny and white as me.”

“Sheriff ...” Cat replied, not taking his eyes off the trail ahead. “If I have ever told you once, I have told you a thousand times ...”

Poe finished for him as Cat’s voice trailed off, more mutter than comment.

“It is not the size of the man but the methods of choice that make the impressions on bad men and often good looking devilishly young women properly and in perspective of application and lay of land.” Poe sighed as Cat’s laughter rolled ahead of him. “No one likes a smart ass Negro, even one using a smallish feline name associated with pussy, kitty or Cat. Lay of the land my ass.” which only brought more laughter from the big man.

* * *

The monastery presented itself to Lovell as a simple cluster of sandy stone colored buildings protected from the wilderness by man-high walls, broken only by centered arch and gate. Made of worn bars of twisted iron, the gate was pulled wide in welcome as the mule train moved through it. Scant tail of white smoke from an assumed cooking fire rose from one of the small side buildings, while southern greaser style religious icons marked the walls and steeple of the main church building facing the yard.

An empty flat bed wagon sat unhitched while two pale horses were tied and snout deep with feed bags.

Without a soul in sight, or sound of approach near, Lovell sighed and pulled his colt, clicking the hammer before raising it high and firing off a lone shot toward the almighty sky above, re-holstering as he dismounted.

The worn, dark-oaken doors of the church crept open with a long need in-of-oil screech as a tall, scarecrow thin priest in monks robe with blond pate took in the horse and mules. “Men of God need not celebrate entry upon arrival, all are ... um, welcome.” With frightened cheer, the priest left the door and approached, uncertainty marked by quick swallow and fervent movement of his Adam’s apple.

Lovell untied the hidden Indian woman, his eyes steady on the priest. “Found a wounded Indian, not from any misdeed on my part.” Pulling her wrapped form from the mule, Lovell hoisted the Indian over his shoulder and moved around the horse and mules. “Have you a sick ward or some other place where she can be treated for her wounds unknown or delivered by me?”

The priest clearly hesitated, jaw opening and closing but not finding words other than to gesture toward the building next to the church. “Small room with guest bed should be fine. We can call for a local doctor from town to tend to her injuries.”

Lovell hesitated at the door, reflection in the window of the little Indian girl that did not exist passing in dance step behind him. His eyes closed, he opened the door and stepped into the room.

His damned curse of debt continued wherever it was leading him.

* * *

The Witch Clementine Blue felt relief, heated confusion fading as she and the young Doctor named Bracna moved away from town and hillside grave of her suddenly confounded sister Daniela.

Auburn-red hair tied and neat behind her, she kept a hand occupied with her favored sterling silver pendant that was not spelled with anything other than the convenient excuse to avoid embarrassingly tempted or casual brush against the good looking man beside her on the wagon bench.

Sudden spark of festered interest toward the doctor echoed in ways that she was not ready to address, somehow engineered by the irritating corpse of her sister who had never shown penchant for things magical when alive.

Clementine and Bracna had passed the trip with idle conversation and cheerful discussion when they heard a shot from close distance ahead.

“Pistol” he whispered, pulling the horses to a hard stop. Bracna motioned for her to climb behind him in the wagon. She was surprised that he did not claim the shotgun that she had seen butt high for easy draw next to him.

Clementine hoped Bracna knew what he was doing as she knelt out of site and felt fearful concern displace attraction.

* * *

Lovell had just begun to un-wrap the injured Indian woman when he heard the heavy beat of approaching horses and loaded creak of beleaguered wagon.

“Stay here” he advised the priest, not caring if it were his place or not to do so, hand upon the butt of his holstered colt, prepared to defend the cards dealt him beneath the blankets as he stepped out to face the visitor. Unlike a casual game of random poker play, he had no stake in whatever had happened to her, just the interpretation of how she came to be that way.

The priest turned in confusion, unsure as he was to follow or stay. With pained care he approached the bundle of blankets and began to carefully un-wrap the cloth.

Outside, Bracna looked from the holstered colt to the face of the man that stepped out from within the building. “We heard a shot. I am a doctor, was anyone hurt?”

Before he could answer, a pained wail came from within the building as another man in monk’s robes backed out, thin hands over his mouth only to vomit to the side as he fell to his knees and gasped in urgent prayer.

“Well, Doc, it seems fortuitous that you have appeared as sudden as you have. You better get in there. We have a badly wounded Indian woman in urgent need of your care. Truth be told, I found her as she was and did not have a dishonest hand in her getting there.”

The priest pulled himself to his feet. “I will get water and towels.” His voice hoarse with pained emotion, the priest moved off to leave them while the doctor reached for his medical kit before he jumped down with urgency to follow the other man into the building.

Abandoned and forgotten, Clementine Blue rose to carefully climb over the bench and dismount, left with only horses as company waiting for the scene to play out, wagon to be unhitched with feed applied.

Unsure of what had just happened, she moved toward the open door of the building to assist where curiosity brought her.

* * *

Nadia and her mate Mikhail gathered outside the monastery, feral paws clenching dirt as they pooled their information with gutted growl and made their plan.

Mikhail stood away as Nadia finished her change and rested upon her back, unkempt blond hair pooled about as sweat glistened over naked skin of her human form.

“Get to Poe before he and Cat find that log.” Nadia urged, knowledge of what clearly had not happened there and the affect it would have upon their sheriff.

Mikhail turned and leapt away, his mate left to roll and rise to her feet with shaken care. Urging her body forward, Nadia crept into the monastery to find clothing for her and Mikhail upon his return.

* * *

Not quite as surprised as he should have been, Cat sensed a Lycan nearby before catching sight of Mikhail standing amongst a cluster of pine ahead, naked and clearly exerted from recent change.

Mikhail waited for Poe to move up before stepping forward.

“Sheriff, please listen to what I have to say before you run off. There has been an accident.”

Poe moved closer. “With whom and with what did this accident involve?” He prompted.

“It was you’re ...” Mikhail turned to Cat then back. “Other deputy, the Indian, she is at the monastery with a doctor. We know with certainty that the man who found her did not do what might have been done to her.”

“Cat, get this man a blanket while I untie Deer’s horse. I doubt her cloths will suit him.”

* * *

Neither Bracna nor the Witch had let anyone inside the building once the extent of Running-Deer’s injury beneath the bloodied blankets had been fully exposed. Poe paced as well as his brace allowed him while Cat explored the monastery grounds for distraction as they waited.

The Priest they had come to know as Roylan shuttled water and fresh washrags to the Doctor as water boiled within the kitchen area of the Monastery.

With some reluctance but leaving out nothing from what they had found, Nadia and Mikhail filled Poe in and explained what had probably occurred where Running-Deer had been attacked and after, before the hunter had come upon Running-Deer as he had.

There was nothing to explain Running-Deer being found alive away from the cabin disaster other than probable human charity from the man the pack Alpha had sent.

Poe did not want to think about what might have happened otherwise.

All three turned to face the doctor as Bracna exited and closed the door behind him. Wiping his hands with a rag, he seemed to summon courage before approaching the sheriff.

“She is not in a good way, Poe. Not good at all.” Bracna started, not trying to hide the grim nature of his news.

“What can you say about the cause of her injuries, Doc?” Poe asked with unveiled irritation. “And where is the man that found her. I would like a word or two with him.”

“She took a hard blow to her face which probably put her ignorant of what happened after and thankfully in my opinion. As to the what, and how, I would defer for the moment until we fully clean her up now that her bleeding is under control and some of the damage curtailed.”

“Will she live?” Poe asked pointedly, cool anger growing.

Bracna looked awkwardly uncomfortable. “She was bit by something, bigger than wolf and probably a bear which means there is going to be more complication ...” Bracna looked from Nadia to Mikhail and back to Poe “than usual. A better answer may come after a few days of tended recovery.”

Nadia and Mikhail used the doctor’s inference as excuse to leave them and entered the building to check on Running-Deer.

Alone now, Bracna hesitated with concern before continuing. “He is camped up on the ridge and seems bothered about finding Running-Deer than he readily lets on. Go easy on him Poe, please. I sincerely doubt he had anything to do with her getting there.”

Poe nodded, looking down in thought. “Nothing is going to be easy about this.” He replied turning toward the arch and gate. “Keep her well tended Doc, just do us that favor and all may yet be well.”

Bracna stood alone, rolled his head and stretched his shoulders.

“Gonna give it one hell of a go as I can sheriff.”

* * *

Carefully climbing the ridge above the monastery, while studiously trying to avoid aggravation to his brace, Poe found the hunter Lovell seated by his campfire, eyes steady on the dancing flames with open whiskey bottle in hand.

Not waiting for acknowledgement, Poe settled nearby.

“I have to follow up with you on a few things.” he started with a sigh, Lovell’s features seemingly haunted by the dancing fire. “I am not besmirching your actions, just puzzled at the chances of a white man such as yourself finding a naked Indian woman half dead and defenseless in random passing.”

Lovell smiled, looking down from the fire before he handed the bottle over. “Never had an Indian woman, which does not mean that I have not had the opportunity thrown my way on occasion. Although it might appear differently, I had nary an intention of taking a run at her myself.”

Poe took a long draw from the bottle, holding it as silence descended upon the two men, broken by the odd crackle of burning wood. “What happened out there, from your perspective? We know you were not the one that made her like she was when you found her.”

“I was tracking the animal packed upon my mules and was emptying the guts when I heard the explosion from the Kraut’s place.”

“Kraut?” Poe asked.

“Square-head German immigrant named Zichner from out east, somewhere middle Minnesota or Illinois or some other god-forsaken place nearby. At least that is what I heard from him and his that offered to share in passing when they set up their new place.”

Poe offered the bottle but Lovell waved him off. “Had enough for the night, woods can be a dangerous place when liquored up.”

Lovell sighed, using a stick to poke the fire. “Truth be told, it was not her I found out there but a little Indian girl that has been stalking my dreams off and on since I rode with the First New-Mexico Volunteers way back in sixty-four. It was her that led me to your Indian.”

Poe exhaled as he connected the dots. “You were with Colonel Chivington at Sand Creek. Ugly place about that time, as Indian or White.”

Lovell’s laugh was laced with bitter irony in reply. “We arrived late to the carnage, after most of what was being done was almost over. Captain Soule filled us in on what they had witnessed. He refused to clean up once it was done, he or his men having had nothing to do with it other than letting it happen and not doing a damn thing to stop it, neither.”

Poe watched the man relive the events. “I have it on good authority that Captain Soule testified accordingly to that at the court martial of the Colonel before being killed himself later by parties unknown but likely related in some way or another to the Colonel.”

Lovell shook his head in sadness. “Chivington’s men were so liquored up that they killed a dozen of their own and wounded five times that many in the process. Ignorant Indians believed they were safe beneath the American flag flown in clear view and having sent their warriors out to hunt while leaving those too young or old behind as if they would matter. The Indians even managed to raise the white of surrender once they realized what was what. Chivington and his men ignored it just like the red, white and blue above it. Memories like that bring a thirst for certain things like no other.”

He paused, again waiving off the bottle Poe offered.

“Couple of us rode in to see what there was to see and that is when I saw her.”

“The Indian girl you mentioned.” Poe prompted, sensing the burden Lovell had carried with him.

“There was an Indian woman that had eaten a bayonet from the initial charge, ripped from notch to nip with a bullet for fun spilling her brains all over the dirt, as if there were undisputed need for it to finish her off.”

Lovell studied the fire, but did not seem to see it as he relived the memory. “Little girl was trying to put her momma back together, blood up to her little elbows as she stuffed innards back where they would not fit or belong anymore. Planned to pick her up once I toured the rest, wished to God that I had then and now.”

“Probably good thing Chivington paid the price that he has, run out of the military in public shame and into hiding from any that might hunt him down for the stink of his own pelt for vengeance.” Poe observed.

Lovell chuckled without humor at the remark. “Saw the Colonel after he fired his carbine into that little girl. Bastard smiled when I turned and he holstered his weapon to ride on. Told me in passing there were to be no prisoners as if he had the orders backing him up. Claimed nits made lice or some malarkey like that.”

Poe nodded, having read the reports of the massacre. “At least she did not suffer like the others.”

“Sum’bitch left her face down on her momma’s tit,” Lovell stifled a muted sob. “Tiny hand still mixed up in the warm guts of the woman. Little girl would be alive today if I had just picked her up when I first found her.” His eyes glistened, but not from heat of the fire.

Poe shook his head. “You would never have made it out of there with her alive, no way no how, and I think you know that as well as I do, Chivington being the bastard that he and his men proved to be.”

“Should have tried to save her anyway, G’dammit...” Lovell said softly. “Not sure if you are aware, but the Colonel was once a man of God before taking the low road toward his own heathen ways. After that day, I chose to stay away from things of faith given how it treated those Indians as unjustly as they were treated that day ... clubbed, crushed, scalped or mutilated with their heads smashed in by butt of rifle as if to make a point.”

“If I was a betting man, and I am not saying that I am, I do believe your debt to that little girl has been paid in full.”

Lovell looked him in the eye, sadness and regret still running deep. “Will your Indian live? She looked like someone took a serious run at her. I have seen others like that who suffered not by the hands of man, red or white but by their true nature.”

“So you know of the ... others.”

“Hard to live out here without, just learned to avoid them when they make themselves known. Most slip away with ignorance appreciated and probably warranted.”

“The two that showed up are good people, unlike those that found Running-Deer before you did.” Poe replied. “They will help see to her mending, along with the witch and priest, as odd as that may be to say as a tandem.”

“That sounds like more complication than I need. I am glad you have someone to look after her. From what I saw of her injuries she is gonna need more than a simple wrap and crutch.”

“You have not unpacked much, heading out?”

Lovell nodded. “In the morning, have to salt and pack the meat for winter. I gave the priest a flank for his trouble and to defray her care, just felt that I needed to. Folks like that would never ask otherwise. Hear it is gonna be cold as a witch’s tit ... no offense meant to you or your friend.”

Poe laughed as he rose to his feet and dusted himself off. “I am sure she would not be as easily offended as that.” Resting his hand upon the other man’s shoulder briefly as he passed, Poe leaned in. “Thank you, for my deputy, for me and the town of Goblin’s Toe, and for that little girl, choosing to speak for those that no longer can speak for themselves in appreciation.”

Lovell stayed silent as Poe made his way back to the monastery.

The little girl had not appeared the night before and with any luck she would leave him alone until Lovell ran into her when he found out what lay beyond this life and liberty.

Lovell planned to offer what apologies he could for the ways of his people toward hers, hoping and sometimes still praying that it would be enough to be blessed with her forgiveness.

He would be a lucky man indeed if it proved true.

* * *

Nadia moved to stand by the Witch Clementine, while Mikhail gave them some privacy with his back to the door.

“What is the doctor not telling Poe?” Nadia asked quietly, looking down at thick bandages that obscured much of Running-Deer’s face and shoulder, any damage kept well hidden.

“She appears to be pregnant from the attack.”

Both Lycan knew the implication of that statement as well as the Witch, keenly aware of the doctor’s awareness and his apparent purposeful absence while they talked. It was not a good sign.

“We need your permission to move forward with a possible solution to keep everyone alive until such time as she can change and hopefully heal.”

“Hopefully?” Nadia felt growing dread at the caution used by Clementine.

“We need to fashion a Hiram’s Collar with other lesser known modifications, and quickly. Cat could see to it, but we know how such a device is reviled by your community and much of ours in even simple form.”

Nadia gently placed the back of one hand against a covered arm of Running-Deer. “It must be destroyed once this is done, either way it turns out.”

“You have my word.” Clementine said evenly.

“Then do it, and pray that it works.” Nadia answered, turning to leave as Mikhail moved out of her way. He paused before following. “And pray the less understanding others of our kind never find out.” He added evenly.

Left alone with Running-Deer, Clementine calmed herself knowing what was to come would not be something for simple prayer to suffice.

The collar in question had killed more than it had ever been used to heal. Even with modifications Clementine knew of from faded memory, she found odds stacked wholesale against success.

She hoped this would be the first time that it made up for the bloody history of the collar, creator and usual misuse of his creation.

And she prayed that whichever deity was out there would listen.

* * *

The End

Copyright © 2011 by Robert L. Sellers Jr. All rights reserved.
Please do not use without permission of the author.

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