tagNonHumanFondest Dreams Ch. 09

Fondest Dreams Ch. 09

bylilgirlsix©

Written by lilgirlsix and Archangel_M

Edited by Doctime


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lilgirlsix: I really do love writing for Zsálya, and am so sad it has almost come to an end. But this story has been a joy to write with my friend AA.

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Archangel_M: The music suggestion for this chapter is "On My Way Home" by Enya.

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{Language Note: Hungarian dialogue is in plaintext, <and German dialogue is in carrots.> Thanks once again to Fräulein Anne for her help with the German!}

September 27, 1859 (nearly twelve months later)

The two white-uniformed figures who strode into the Werewolf Council chamber were expected. The six dozen large, angry werewolves who followed them were not.

All but two of the Councilors were visibly confused and worried by the presence of nearly every alpha Were in Europe. <If they cannot keep their ears to the ground properly, that is not my problem,> Rudolf Metzger thought behind a thoroughly impassive expression. Guillame Bertrand did not seem at all surprised, he noted, which was curious. Rudolf spared a moment to wonder why, but quickly dismissed it as unimportant. It would have been worrying if it had been any other Councilor, but Bertrand was still very young and very new to the Council. He had little real influence as yet, and even fewer connections of any value. He was no threat to anybody.

Rudolf had known for some months that the thrice-cursed Blue Stars had been sniffing around the Council's business interests, and he knew that they would find many of them objectionable. Their so-called Order, with its foolishly idealistic sense of "morality," seemed to exist for the sole purpose of preventing great men like himself from conducting their affairs.

No matter. Rudolf had carefully nurtured the Order's lax attitude towards Weres for decades, keeping things calm and peaceful on his own behalf and that of his Sardinian... associate. Both his associate's enterprises and his own had thrived in the absence of enforced "morality," but nothing lasted forever. His associate understood that, and had taken pains to ensure that Rudolf understood it too. When word of the Order's probing had reached the Council Chairman, he had immediately taken steps to withstand the coming recriminations.

One of the Blue Stars at the other end of the table was a Helsing, Rudolf saw, and the members of that family were even more divorced from reality than the rest of the Order. This boy Wilhelm and Rudolf had loathed each other from their first meeting. The boy was here to burn him at a metaphorical stake, Rudolf knew, to expose him as some sort of "villain" and turn his own subjects against him. Rudolf could see it clearly in the human's vivid blue eyes as they stared at each other down the long table. He was welcome to try.

While they were expected, the visitors had not given the Council a formal notice that they were coming. Therefore, Metzger was not out of line when he asked them to come back later. He did so out of a sense of self-importance, and also simply to twist the Helsing lad's tail. It was difficult to spot the signs of Wilhelm's emotions, but Rudolf was a master at reading body language and enjoyed the tiny twitches that told him of the human's anger.

His enjoyment stuttered to a halt when Bertrand spoke up from the far end of the table, pre-empting Helsing's reply. "<I am curious to know what has brought so many Alphas to our door. Let Monsieur von Helsing speak.>"

The Chairman's gaze bored into the junior Councilor, taking in every little detail as he tried to discern what the younger Were was playing at. Before being sent to Hungary two years ago, Guillame had fairly worn his heart on his sleeve. However, since his return barely a month ago he was a complete cipher, as if his emotions had vanished. Was it possible that he knew something that Rudolf did not? No, that was not possible... but if it was true...

Rudolf began to worry.

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It took nearly two hours for Wilhelm to lay the Order's accumulated findings before the assembled Weres. He was calm, almost emotionless as he methodically reviewed each charge and piece of evidence. He started with the minor crimes, working his way up through financial misconduct, involvement with human criminal enterprises, abuse of power, and finally the enslavement of Were females. The fury of the assembled alphas increased palpably, and it was a testament to their self-control that none of them shifted and attacked the Council members outright.

"<These are the findings of our investigation,>" Wilhelm concluded at last, closing the last of the folios he had brought and setting it neatly on the pile before stepping back from the table. The pile was only about a foot tall—rather small to document such crimes, everyone thought.

Behind his ice-blue eyes, Willi was keeping himself under the most rigid of control. Every fiber of his being urged him to slay Rudolf as quickly and messily as possible. However, this was not possible, even now that the little Hund was damned in the eyes of his peers. Treaty obligations and Order principles both dictated that the Werewolves must be allowed to manage their own affairs.

Inside that same body, Zsálya's human-self was fighting hard to keep her wolf-self under control. Though the human was equally upset, she took her example from her beloved and stayed as calm as she could. The wolf could not understand the reasons to stay quiet, though, and it was only Zsálya's human-self that held her back from trying to tear Rudolf apart. Not only would that create a conflict between Zsálya's soul and Willi's (which would probably destroy them both), but the wolf would also disrupt Willi's self-control. That control was strong but brittle, Zsálya knew, and she used what concentration was not taken up by her wolf to send Willi feelings of calm and peace. She hoped it helped.

All three were looking intently through Willi's eyes and listening with his ears, waiting to see how Rudolf would try to wriggle out of this.

The room was deathly quiet for long moments as Rudolf turned his gaze on each of the other Councilors in turn. He just looked at each of them for a moment, his face locked in a thoroughly blank expression. "<How can you possibly excuse these crimes?>" Rudolf asked at last, his tone full of disappointment and controlled anger. He was speaking to the other Councilors, pretending that Wilhelm's revelations were news to him!

Every mouth in the room fell open at Rudolf's audacity as he began to remonstrate the Council for committing "<these shameful, dishonorable actions.>" Before he built up to the point of shouting, though, he was cut off by one of the alphas.

"Discúlpeme, Señor Metzger, <but do you expect us to believe that these crimes were committed without your knowledge?>"

"<Whether or not I expect it, Herr López, it is the truth.>"

"<So you accept no responsibility?>" Sandalio López's tone was very dangerous indeed, made somehow more threatening by the graceful flourishes his Spanish accent put on the harsh German words. Several other alphas growled in agreement.

"<I am the Chairman of this Council,>" Rudolf conceded, "<and therefore bear some measure of blame for not discovering and stopping this... barbarism. However, I will accept no direct complicity, for they were conducted entirely without my knowledge.>"

"<Rudolf, you snake!>" one of the other Councilors burst out. "<You lying, gutless sack of goat shit! He did not merely know about these enterprises, he ran them with an iron fist,>" the Councilor went on, now speaking to the assembled alphas. "<We are all guilty, yes,>" he admitted, "<except perhaps for Bertrand there, but Metzger is the guiltiest of all!>"

"<With respect, meine Herren, our investigation has produced nothing to indicate Herr Metzger's innocence, and much to indicate his guilt,>" Willi stated, his face still calm but his blue eyes burning with the rage of not one but three angry people.

"<I do not believe that any Councilor, let alone all of them, could do such things without Monsieur Metzger's knowledge,>" Guillame concurred. "<I have found him to be very interested, not to say intrusive, with regards to other people's business.>"

Rudolf began to indignantly rebut the charge, and several people began speaking—well, shouting, really—all at once. This would clearly take some time to resolve, Wilhelm thought with tremendous satisfaction. He caught Rudolf's eye for a moment and gave him a tiny, triumphant smirk before he and his colleague left the Council chamber. There was no more for him to do here, and as much as he wanted to watch Rudolf's disgrace and execution, it was something that the Weres needed to handle for themselves.

In any event, time was running very short for Zsálya, and Willi had an appointment to keep this night.

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Alas, Rudolf Metzger would not fall from power for another century and a half. Though the rest of the European Council (excepting Guillame Bertrand) were found guilty and executed for their crimes, Rudolf managed to create just enough reasonable doubt to retain his position as Council Chairman.

Even Rudolf did not realize that he was aided by subtle magics, woven by those who used his Sardinian 'associate' as a cat's-paw. Though they were unable to sink their mental hooks into the any of the new Councilors, their pawn remained at the head of the table. They were content with that. For now.

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The great golden eagle banked and descended towards a small clearing in the heart of the Black Forest. This entire area was a hunting preserve, seldom used by the human family that owned it. It was a perfect place to let a confined wolf run free for a little while.

Willi landed gracefully on the soft grass, catching his breath and focusing inwards for a moment. I will let you use my body while I dream, he told Zsálya's wolf. As always, you must promise that you will return control without a fuss in the morning.

Since Zsálya had begun sharing his body, Willi had made sure to let Zsálya's wolf loose like this at least once per month. He didn't have to do it, and both Zsálya and her wolf knew that, but it just wasn't in him to make life any harder than necessary for the beautiful creature.

The wolf was almost pathetically grateful to Willi for this chance, as she always was, flooding his consciousness with love, gratitude, and the image of a little black wolf licking his face. Her joy increased tenfold at what Willi told her next.

This land is rich with game, and you have my permission to hunt and kill one animal of your choice tonight. This was quite a change from usual—the only animals on Thule were livestock, which Willi had emphatically forbidden the wolf to harm when he let her run around the island.

Without further ado, Willi reached out and tapped into the wolf's sense of her body, her sure and certain knowledge of its size, shape, and structure. Magic swirled, and he shaped his body into that of a lovely black wolf—how strange it felt to have a female body! Only this time he made a change. Willi made the wolf body more than twice the size of Zsálya's petite lupine frame—nearly the size of an alpha male! If the wolf was to hunt by herself, he reasoned, she might as well be equipped for it.

With the new body settled, Willi turned control over to Zsálya and slipped into the dream-world.

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Wilhelm let the blackness of his unformed dream caress his eyes, and breathed a long sigh of relief. Though neither he nor Zsálya would admit it, it was nice to have a break from each other. His love for her had not diminished in the slightest, of course, but having her cohabitating in his brain was the functional equivalent of locking two people—three people, really—in a small room together for weeks on end. No matter how much they might care for each other, it became oppressive after a time.

There was no avoiding it, of course, and Willi had come to value Zsálya's counsel highly. Though her mind lacked his capacity for raw memory, she was sharp as a blade and a remarkably creative thinker. She would have made a most admirable Blue Star, he thought, had she lived to have the chance. It might have been argued, though, that in helping Willi, Zsálya was in fact functioning as a Knight of the Azure Star. She was now privy to all manner of the Order's deepest, most dangerous secrets, simply from seeing them through his eyes for a year—not to mention what she'd gleaned from her lover's memories. She had even learned Chakobsa, the ancient language of the Order and one of its most closely held secrets.

That was truly the most remarkable aspect of sharing a brain: Zsálya had quickly learned to access Willi's memories while he was awake! She claimed that it was remarkably like reading a book, and likened Willi's mind to the vast libraries of Schloss Helsing. He could have blocked her, of course, but there was no reason to do so. No matter how many secrets Zsálya learned, whom could she tell? Amazingly, her perusal of his memories did not interrupt his thinking in the slightest.

Observing closely when Willi was doing something interesting, and learning from his memories when he wasn't, the naïve little werewolf had rapidly become an astute and remarkably wise student of life. What might she have accomplished if she'd been allowed to live? Willi wondered for a moment.

Shaking off the melancholy that the thought triggered, Wilhelm turned his attention to the task at hand: negotiating terms for the salvation of his beloved's soul. The fact that he had to bargain for it would have enraged a lesser man, but Willi was merely resigned. Angels were his only remaining avenue and, though they were not malicious per se, they did not fulfill mortals' wishes for free. Tonight, Willi would be meeting with an archangel.

A meeting such as this deserved a proper setting, Wilhelm decided with an inward smile. A few moments of concentration shaped the black 'nothingness' surrounding him into the inside of a massive structure, with marble, stained glass, and precious metals everywhere. It seemed that every square inch of the place was adorned in some fashion, and Wilhelm took some pride in his ability to replicate it all exactly. With the environs complete, he thought himself some civilian attire; since, by making a contract with an extraplanar being, he was disobeying one of the Order's more important tenets, his uniform seemed less than appropriate.

"<You may as well come out now,>" Wilhelm told the empty building, his voice echoing faintly from the vaulted ceiling far above. "<I know you are here already.>"

"<Oh very well, spoil my grand entrance,>" a melodious voice replied in good humor.

Wilhelm turned to regard his guest, who appeared as a humanoid figure approximately six feet in height and clad in a simple robe of gleaming white. However, the being's sapphire-blue skin, white-feathered hair, and glowing gold eyes marked it as decidedly not human, even without the massive pair of white wings framing its body. "<Guten Abend, Archangel Zadkiel.>"

"<Greetings, Sir Wilhelm,>" the archangel replied. "<Saint Peter's Basilica? Really?>" Zadkiel asked, its beautiful, androgynous face adopting a wry smile.

"<Is this not God's house on Earth?>" Wilhelm asked with a chuckle.

"<You know as well as I that Our Lord exists in all of time and space in equal measure,>" the archangel replied calmly. "<This structure was built to glorify man as much as to glorify the Lord.>"

Wilhelm shrugged. "<I leave such judgments to others. Shall we proceed to business?>" he asked, turning and strolling slowly down the nave towards the Basilica's high altar.

Zadkiel fell into step beside the human. "<Surely.>"

"<I want Zsálya conducted to the Endless Forest. She is a pure soul, so I already know that you will accept her. The only question is what you require of me in return for doing your job.>"

"<Your service,>" the archangel replied simply, ignoring Wilhelm's barbed comment.

The human's blue eyes flashed. "<I will not become a paladin.>"

"<You will contract to perform a specific service for a finite period of time. The service is to be performed on another world, so there is no question of betraying your Order's interests. You will be repatriated to Earth upon completion of your assigned task. A very fair offer, no?>"

"<What task, and for how long?>"

"<You will act as secular counselor to a spiritual leader. The assignment will last one thousand earth years.>"

"Was?!"

"<Your body will not age while the contract is in force. When you are returned, only ten years will have elapsed on earth and your natural aging will resume.>"

"<You ask much.>"

"<And you will comply.>" Though its tone had remained calm and reasonable throughout, Zadkiel's words cut Wilhelm to the bone. Both of them knew that the human would do anything to save Zsálya's soul. The archangel had him by the short hairs, and was only treating this as a 'negotiation' for politeness' sake.

Wilhelm stopped walking and gazed up at the Basilica's vast dome. <One thousand years of service,> he thought, already knowing that he would agree. His little black wolf was worth every moment of it. Given that Zadkiel and his superiors surely had far more dangerous and demanding uses for a being of Wilhelm's power, he reflected, the stated contract was actually very generous. Wilhelm took a deep breath and let it out slowly before turning to face the archangel. "<Zsálya's passage comes first. As soon as possible.>"

"<Of course.>" Most beings would have gloated to some extent. Zadkiel did not. "<How quickly can you reach Basler Münster?>"

"<Tomorrow noon.>"

"<Two of my paladins will meet you there.>"

"Sehr gut." Wilhelm held out a hand stiffly. "<I accept the terms of your contract, Archangel Zadkiel.>"

Zadkiel shook his hand solemnly. "<So it shall be recorded, Sir Wilhelm, and so it shall be done.>"

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While Willi spoke with Zadkiel, his little she-wolf was enjoying her freedom in the Black Forest. She spent over an hour just running, feeling the wind on her fur and the earth beneath her paws. It was glorious! Then she settled down to the hunt.

It wasn't as much of a challenge as she would have liked, but the end result was quite satisfactory: a big, healthy doe lay dead at Zsálya's feet, its blood on her muzzle and its scent in her nose. It seemed to Zsálya that she'd never tasted anything so delicious. Her large body required a large amount of food, and she began to gorge herself on her kill.

Some time later, Zsálya heard a faint sound and looked up. Her bright blue eyes caught a smaller pair of yellow eyes at the edge of the clearing. The newcomer was a female fox, the wolf saw, which looked very much the worse for wear. She was far too thin, and her red fur was dull and scraggly. Just an animal, not a Were, but her feelings were clear enough: desperation and hope that she might share in Zsálya's kill.

Zsálya's wolf-self would have none of that. She'd waited over a year for this kill, and she was going to enjoy every last bite. A low, warning growl made that very clear to the little vixen, who seemed to wilt before Zsálya's eyes. Her head sagged, her tail and ears drooped, and she turned slowly away.

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