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Heart of the Wounded - Chapter 3 Part 3

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It turned out that Kotma’s friend did have an answer. It was contained in an ancient language that only he could read, but would pass on the information to Kotma for a small price.

“If you let me watch the outcome and study this wolf, I will be pleased to share the information with you.”

Kotma introduced his friend to Wolf. Wolf was slightly mistrustful. After exhibiting his transformation, Kotma’s friend dubbed Wolf a ‘freak of nature’.

“I don’t like that,” Wolf muttered.

I can eat him too. He’d be a nice nibble before that shaman, the Wolf Spirit decided. He was starting to take that line as more of a joke than something serious, because it slightly irritated the human.

“You know of the enforced transformation. That is the first step. If we force the transformation, and continue forcing him to switch, it might link the human spirit with the wolf spirit.”

“Might,” Wolf caught and brought it to their attention.

“Yes. I have heard that it has never been tried in my lifetime. You are different than any other.”

This was disappointing to Wolf. There was a slim chance that things would work. The pain of changing was intense, and they were going to make it happen again and again. “I’ll try it.”

“Splendid.”

The two shamans collected herbs and incense. They had Wolf lay on a mat and set candles up around him. The near proximity of the fire reminded him of something that he couldn’t place.

Kotma’s friend started chanting something in an ancient language. Wolf felt extremely edgy and uncomfortable. This seemed almost familiar.

“Do it now,” Kotma’s friend whispered.

Kotma jabbed his fingers into the spot. Wolf’s vision wavered as his body changed. The transformation finished but started back the other way. Once there, it started to change again. The world started to sway and fuzz. Wolf closed his eyes, but the sensation wouldn’t go away. His body kept switching back and forth between human and animal. Wolf thought he was going to die if he changed one more time. Then, it all stopped.

Wolf opened his eyes. The world was bathed in pale moonlight. He was sitting on a moss-covered rock in the middle of a slightly bumpy green landscape. Off to one side, he could see the largest full moon ever just coming over the horizon.

“Welcome to my land, human.”

Wolf looked straight ahead and saw the black wolf spirit.

“Is this where you go when I am…” Wolf couldn’t find the words to express what happened.

“Yes, this is my home.”

“I like your home.”

“Do you want it? I’ll give it to you for eternity if you let me out.”

Wolf shook his head. “I can’t do that.”

“Why?”

“There’s something I need to do. I can’t remember what that is.”

The Wolf Spirit laughed. Wolf’s eyebrows furrowed. There was something…

“Give it back,” Wolf demanded.

The Wolf Spirit stopped laughing. “Give what back?”

“My mind. My memory. Whatever it is that you took when we became one. Please, give it back.”

“I’ll trade you. Your mind for your freedom.”

Wolf shook his head then paused. “Not back to the darkness. Wait…” Wolf whispered, “You already have my freedom.”

The Wolf Spirit growled. “What?”

“You have my freedom already. You can’t take what I don’t have, and you already do.”

“Damn it, you’re right. I take it…”

“No, I accept.”

The wolf spirit growled. He glowed a soft pale light, just like the moon. The light fell off of the wolf like fireflies and flew to Wolf. They landed on his forehead and absorbed through his skin. Wolf remembered so many things all at once that he was unable to sort them out.

“There. Your mind, thoughts, memories. They are yours. Now it is my turn to be free.” The Wolf Spirit turned to leave.

“Wait Ma Lir.” The wolf froze. “You have been restless here, unable to sleep.”

“You know my name?”

“I remember it now. Oka, the mother goddess, said it. She said that you were lazy.”

Ma Lir growled. “What’s your point. I’m on patrol now, I can’t just quit. I need to get this over with so that I can go back home.”

Ma Lir, I will make a deal with you. You can stay here, sleep here, be as lazy as you want. I will take care of your mission for you. Just allow me to change freely. That’s all I ask.”

Ma Lir paused contemplating the human. “What if I refuse.”

“We will stay here forever. Neither of us will sleep, neither of us will leave.”

“Sounds boring.”

“Yes, it does.”

“I think I will accept your deal. You get me the Fire Lord’s head, I let you use my spirit form. And I get to stay here and sleep finally?”

“That’s the deal.”

“I accept.”

The moon and the land dissipated. Wolf jolted awake. He sat up and looked around. The candles that had surrounded him had all burnt out. Kotma was leaning against the wall, asleep. The other shaman was no where to be seen.

A deep pain filled his head. Wolf closed his eyes. I’d sleep now, if I were you. The worst is yet to come, Ma Lir’s voice echoed, shrinking into the distance. Grudgingly, Wolf moved to the bed and fell asleep.

……………

Wolf woke up, angered by the dream. His body was uncomfortable, but his mind was slightly hazy so he was unable to figure out why.

“No,” he told himself. “It’s not a dream and it’s not a nightmare. Dreams and nightmares do not exist, and never will. This came from the past, so it has already happened. So, it is a remembrance of the past, or a reflection.”

That decided, Wolf faded back into his sleep.

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Chapter 3 – END