tagNonHumanFondest Dreams Ch. 01

Fondest Dreams Ch. 01

bylilgirlsix©

Fondest Dreams – Chapter 1
Written by lilgirlsix and Archangel_M
Edited by Doctime

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An extra-special thanks to our wonderful beta readers: Cookie, Dragonflight, Guy, Katgoddess, and Wolfheart!

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lilgirlsix: When I wrote Destruction of the Vlkolak, it was an emotional time when it came to killing off Zsálya. I had come to love the character and enjoyed writing for her. I wanted her to find happiness as much as Archangel did, but maybe not quite for the same reasons. However, I had sealed her fate in Wolf's Pet and I couldn't see a way out of it. So when Archangel suggested this storyline, I jumped at the idea, and at the opportunity to write for this special character with a special friend.

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Archangel_M: As you know, I've had the privilege of being Lil's editor for some time now, and now I also have the great pleasure of co-authoring with her. I must admit that I'm a bit nervous, since this is the first story I've published on Lit. I hope I can measure up to my co-author's reputation.

The story you are about to read is a potpourri of my writing and LG6's. We have each improved the other's work, and we have vetted all dialogue and actions for our respective characters with each other.

It is my custom to offer music suggestions to my readers. The suggestion for this chapter is "High Spirits" by Vedrim.

For any new readers, you should have at least read LG6's story The Destruction of the Vlkolak first if you want to understand this one. Ideally, you should read the whole Baxterverse. The proper order is: Wolf's Pet; The Twins Take Over; The Destruction of the Vlkolak; Out of Darkness; and Remembrance of Things Past.

More notes at the end of the chapter. Enjoy!

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Glossary:

- waldeinsamkeit – German – the feeling of being alone in the woods.

- mage – English – a practitioner of magic who did not gain his/her power by contracting with an angel or demon.

- truesilver – English – Peculiarly strong, lightweight metal, extremely rare and only found deep in the Earth's crust. Truesilver is prized for its beauty and its affinity for magical enchantments. Also known by its Dwarven name: "mithral."

- schwachenhund – German – "weak dog"

- Frauen! – German – "Women!"

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{Language Note: Hungarian dialogue is in plaintext, <and German dialogue is in carrots.>

This is for the sake of simplicity, since there is much more Hungarian than German spoken. The occasional bits of actual German in the dialogue are merely for flavor. Actual German on its own is not in carrots.}

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December 30, 1857

The only aspect of dreamwalking that was actually bad, Wilhelm von Helsing maintained, was that the experience was impossible to describe to normal people. The reason was simple: normal senses went out the window in what he thought of as the In-Between, and therefore all the words people normally used to describe experiences were moot.

He was currently moving through the In-Between, observing countless amalgams of imagination and thought, each of which comprised one person's dream. Over the fifteen years or so since his ability had manifested itself, Wilhelm has walked through the dreams of all manner of people. Most were chaotic and made no real sense, but with experience they gave fascinating insight into the mental and emotional state of their owners. But that was not Wilhelm's goal tonight.

Tonight, as he had for the past fortnight, the second son of the von Helsing family was testing just how far he could travel in the In-Between. He had begun to theorize that, in the In-Between, the distance of various dreams relative to the dreamwalker's physical location remained constant. However, there seemed to be no concept of direction. For instance, traveling two hundred miles outwards from his home (which was roughly in the middle of the North Sea), Wilhelm was equally likely to encounter sleepers in the British Isles, Scandinavia, or Denmark. He was quite a bit further away than that at the moment, but how far exactly was a mystery.

Wilhelm's solution was simple: he would stop and ask somebody where he was.

In execution, this was not nearly as simple as it sounded. Entering any one of the dreams around him was as easy as breathing, but communicating with a dreamer was tricky at best. In a very real sense, any person is at his or her most powerful when dreaming. Each dreamer creates his own personal bubble of reality and can shape it to his every whim. Most people, however, are not aware when they dream, instead letting their wild imaginations run amok.

The bottom line to a dreamwalker like Wilhelm was that simply popping into a randomly chosen dream was rather useless. Most people in a dream state would not comprehend a simple question like "where are you," even without a language barrier. To combat this rather annoying set of facts, Wilhelm had learned to look for dreams that were relatively organized and stable. This usually indicated someone who was aware within his or her dream, and who could therefore answer questions.

He had met all manner of fascinating people in this way. Some had been quite friendly. Some had tried to kill him. One vampiress had taken great delight in attempting to traumatize him with as much disturbing imagery as possible. Wilhelm was in no danger; though a dreamer could marshal the very fabric of his personal bit of reality to destroy an intruder, a dreamwalker could simply wake up at any time, instantly and completely returning to reality. But doing that meant 'losing his place' in the In-Between, which Wilhelm preferred to avoid.

<Still, he who risks nothing must lose everything in the end,> Wilhelm reminded himself. <Ah, there is a promising dream.> It appeared very stable, with a sense of peacefulness to it. There was an odd sort of darkness hovering around it, though. For some reason he could not explain, the darkness reminded Wilhelm of a thick blanket, poised and about to be wrapped around the face of a murder victim. <How very odd.>

Hovering doom aside, the dream appealed to the young man very much. His decision made, he moved towards the pocket of reality and slipped inside.

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<Beautiful...>

Wilhelm took a very long moment to simply stare at the dream world he'd entered. He was in a pine forest, the green needles glazed with hoarfrost by the winter's ice and snow. The cold shook him back to his senses—deep, bitter cold. It was then that he realized how compete and... well, normal this dream was. Its owner's mind was either highly disciplined or naturally gifted. Was he or she even human? Parahumans, as magical scholars called them, seemed to have more control over their dreams than typical humans. Well, he would see soon enough.

As always when first entering another's dream, Wilhelm was stark naked. He would look exactly like himself to the dreamer when they met—every soul knew what its body looked like—but he had no wish to shock the dreamer with his nudity. Accordingly, the first step was always to 'think' himself a suit of clothes. Wilhelm imagined a thick woolen tunic of deep green hue, thick black trousers, and black leather gloves and jackboots. To combat the cold here he imagined his socks being doubly thick, as well as his blue hooded cloak. No sooner had he pictured the clothing he wanted than he was wearing it. In a dream, reality bent to the whim of the mind, and his clothes would stay until he either he or the dreamer sought to change them.

Now guarded against the cold, Wilhelm made his way through the forest. His booted feet made all the proper soft 'crunching' noises in the fresh snow, and once again he marveled at the distinct detail of this dream. This must be a real place, he surmised, and the dreamer must know it very well.

Another interesting fact is that one hour in the waking world can be as many as five or six in a dream. Wilhelm therefore took his time walking through the sleeping forest, enjoying the waldeinsamkeit. He soon reached the edge of the woods, looking out at a large meadow.

Then he saw her.

A black she-wolf was running across the field. Rather, "frolicking" was a better word, Wilhelm decided. She was playing, purely and simply enjoying herself. And she was definitely the dreamer of this dream.

Though Wilhelm had little psionic aptitude, it was quite easy to feel another's mind from inside her dream. He was limited to empathic contact rather than true telepathy, but the wolf in the middle of the meadow clearly had human emotions within her. Alongside her human "twist" of emotions (as Wilhelm thought of it) was another "twist," simpler and stronger, that he recognized even though he could not read it.

She was a Werewolf.

Wilhelm had met Werewolves before, and he rather liked them. In his experience they were plainspoken and fair-minded, with a strong belief in live and let-live. Many humans could learn from that example. Weres also tended to react badly to being surprised. Though he moved quietly by force of habit, Wilhelm made no attempt to mask his scent or to shield his presence. She would notice him soon enough, he was sure.

In the meantime, the young man leaned against a tree and really looked at the dreamer for the first time. There was a simple beauty about her that made him smile, and the joy she was feeling right now was infectious. It was the complete abandon of a person who usually held the weight of the world on her shoulders and suddenly found it lifted. Wilhelm's brothers were the same way on the rare occasions when they got drunk. The young female before him, though, had a purity of spirit that he had never before seen in a mortal being. She reminded Wilhelm of nothing so much as an angel.

A beautiful black-furred angel, playing in the snow.

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Zsálya loved the time she spent alone here. It was so different from home and her everyday life. Here there were no visions of darkness to haunt her, no father or grandmother worrying over her. This was her freedom, and she reveled in it. And winter was her favorite time of year. Or at least until spring burst forth with new life. And then of course there were summer and fall. But for now it was winter, and she wanted to play in the snow. She loved the feel of the ice on a fresh layer of snow when her paws broke through for the first time. She loved the taste of fresh snow on her tongue and the coldness of it on her nose.

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Time slipped by and by, but the little black angel, as Wilhelm had begun to think of her, still did not appear to notice him. Perhaps she didn't know that her snowy sanctuary could be entered. Perhaps she had seen him and simply didn't care. Wilhelm was torn between his desire to keep watching her at play and the thought that he should make himself known. For one thing, he had come here for a reason, but he was also feeling increasingly guilty for watching her like a common voyeur. Squaring his shoulders, Wilhelm decided to introduce himself.

No sooner had he reached the edge of the meadow when the she-wolf froze, her emotions changing from joy to stark terror, with a thin undercurrent of despair. She was facing away from him, though, so Wilhelm knew that it wasn't him she feared. Following the line of her gaze, he saw another black Werewolf emerging from the tree line on the opposite side of the meadow.

Zsálya had had the feeling she was being watched for quite some time. The same black wolf that stalked her dreams each night was back. She hoped that someday he would leave her alone, leave her to her joy and fun. But no, he always found a way to send her screaming into the waking world. Maybe she could outrun him, just this once. Maybe she would elude him, just this one time.

Where the angel's fur was a glossy, shimmering black, this newcomer's fur looked matte-black to Wilhelm, sinister rather than sensual. He had black eyes too, a sharp contrast with the little angel's sapphire orbs. The expression in those beady black eyes, though, made Wilhelm's blood boil. He had seen that expression once before, in the eyes of a rapist about to take a victim in a back-alley in Hamburg.

Wilhelm didn't need to think about what to do: an innocent was in danger, and he had to protect her. The well-trained young human was already sprinting across the snowy field, his feet scarcely touching the ground as he streaked past the little she-wolf and charged her assailant. The intruder reacted with a bellowing snarl, raising his hackles and baring his teeth. Though he was not a live person—no emotions, either wolf or human—he seemed somehow more substantial than normal dreamstuff.

Zsálya had expected the black wolf, despite hoping she would be wrong... but a human in her dream? She had never dreamt of a human before. And he seemed to be protecting her! Could it be? She watched in fascination as the human went on the attack and faced the other Werewolf. She was spellbound, her eyes following his every move. Was he someone she had seen in the forest? She didn't remember ever meeting a human.

Putting his observation to the test, Wilhelm focused his thoughts on the he-wolf as the two circled, eyeing each other warily. The rapist wolf was not. He did not exist. Wilhelm's mind narrowed upon that point, trying to think the he-wolf out of existence.

No effect.

Normal dreamstuff would have simply vanished. Wilhelm had never encountered anything like this before, but such things were written of in Res Inter Somnia, an ancient text about Dreamwalking that he had read. The cause of such things had not been stated, but the tome was quite definite that the offending entity must be engaged and destroyed on its own terms, within the context of the dream.

Sehr gut.

He would deal with this rapist as he had the human one in Hamburg. Smiling grimly, Wilhelm willed his hooded cloak away and cracked his knuckles. <Now then—>

The he-wolf roared and leapt for Wilhelm's throat.

Wilhelm reflexively thought a longsword into his hands as he sidestepped, bringing his blade down like a cleaver on his opponent's suddenly exposed flank.

The would-be rapist bellowed in pain but landed well, jumping back a bit and growling low in his throat. The bloody wound began to close before Wilhelm's eyes, leaving only a line of blood-matted fur behind.

<You are fighting a Werewolf, dummkopf!> Wilhelm chastised himself. A moment's concentration, and his sword changed from tempered steel into mage-wrought truesilver. "<Care to try that again, schwachenhund?>" he asked aloud.

The intruder obliged, leaping with incredible speed for the human's vulnerable throat.

In one smooth motion, Wilhelm knelt and braced his arms, keeping his sword vertical directly in the wolf's path. The razor-sharp blade gutted the wolf from chin to groin. Innards spilled from its belly as the corpse impacted the snow with a sickly thud. The sizzling sound and sickening smell of the truesilver's effect on the Werewolf's body turned Wilhelm's stomach.

Wilhelm von Helsing stood, and turned to make sure the little angel was unharmed. He had half-expected her to flee—indeed, it would have been the sensible move on her part. However, she was still standing in exactly the same place as she had been when the he-wolf appeared. She was staring at him, unblinking, her beautiful blue eyes very wide indeed. She radiated shock and disbelief.

It is... dead. Zsálya stood rooted in place, looking at the still body and then back at her savior.

<At least she is not scared of me,> Wilhelm thought wryly. Suddenly remembering that he was holding a silver sword drenched in Werewolf blood, he thought it away. Glancing over at the smoking corpse nearby, he tried once more to will the he-wolf out of existence. This time it worked—the corpse, its gore, and even the sprays of blood all vanished, leaving no evidence of the intruder but an area of trampled snow.

It was as if the corpse had been the force holding the little she-wolf erect; when it vanished she collapsed onto her side in the snow, breathing hard and making piteous whimpering noises. Reaching out to her emotions again, Wilhelm found that she was feeling pure, unadulterated relief.

Unwilling either to impose upon or to abandon her, Wilhelm sat in the snow right where he was, a simple thought keeping his clothing warm and dry against his skin. As he watched the little black angel recover herself, he thought back over the incident, which had lasted less than two minutes. The lady hadn't even tried to run, just watched her attacker approach with a sort of fatalistic dread. He surmised that this might be a recurring dream for her. But why? None of the books that he had read provided an answer. Wilhelm decided to hunt down any other texts on dreams that he could find when he awoke.

After a shorter time than Wilhelm had expected, the little wolf stood and shook herself, sending snow flying every which way. Then she walked very slowly towards the seated human, eyeing him with a mixture of gratitude, wariness, and simple curiosity.

Wilhelm held out his hand, palm upward, for her to smell. In the British Isles, this was the polite way for a human to allow a shifted Werewolf to register his scent. Hopefully the custom held true wherever this she-wolf lived. She was a beautiful creature, he thought, with a remarkable grace of movement. And such fascinating eyes—bright and kind, but holding a very deep sadness like he'd never seen before. Wilhelm felt a sudden, powerful urge to take her in his arms and hold her tight. He suppressed the urge, barely. Getting bitten by an incensed Werewolf was not on his agenda for this evening.

The she-wolf finally reached the human male and sniffed daintily at his offered hand. Her shoulders, which had been tensed, suddenly relaxed and her head and eyes both dropped towards the snow. She radiated disappointment, resignation, and un-surprise, in addition to the relief and gratitude.

Wilhelm wondered what she had expected—or hoped?—to find. With a mental shrug, he very carefully and slowly raised his hand and rested it on her shoulder. <Mein Gott, her fur is soft!>

Her head came up in surprise, her blue eyes locking with his. Her other emotions settled, until only gratitude and curiosity remained.

"<Gutten tag, mein kleinerwolf. My name is Wilhelm von Helsing. It is my pleasure to make your acquaintance.>"

The angel cocked her head to the side and kept staring at him.

Zsálya had held out a tiny hope that this would be her mate; that he had somehow come to her now, instead of on her eighteenth birthday. But no, he was not. She had a moment of sadness, but still, he was so kind to her. Even though this was but a dream, maybe he was a friend. She had never had one before. She was surrounded by family, but those in the pack who were not family were afraid of her, and left her a wide berth. It would be wonderful to have a real friend, even if just in her dreams. But what was the language he was speaking? This was her dream; why couldn't she understand him?

"<And of course you do not speak German. Wunderbar. So, what do you speak?> English? Francais? Español? Italiano? Russiky? Polska?" He went down the list of languages in which he could at least make himself understood. The lady didn't respond to any of them, so he moved on to ones he didn't really know at all. A few names in, he got a definite response to "Magyar?"

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