Weeks passed by without much change. Akascha began to feel at home there. She had met the other townspeople and they had been very nice. They had welcomed her and accepted her with ease. She was often out to help someone or was invited for dinner. At first, Lestat or Shaniya came with her, just in case something went wrong even though it wasn’t necessary. She couldn’t blame them and she didn’t mind their company, so she hadn’t really had a problem with it. Eventually, when they saw they had nothing to worry about, she was allowed to go alone and she was happy that she was accepted like this. She had never imagined that this would happen and especially not this quick. She became friends with their son Wade too after he came back from the stay at his aunt. They even developed a routine, talking about his day at school and the things he had learned there. Akascha really felt like she had been accepted into the village and more important, into the family of Lestat.
But even though it was really nice and fun living with them, there was one little problem. Lestat asked her or rather demanded that she wouldn’t change into her wolf form, because they didn’t know the consequences and more of that nonsense. She explained that she had transformed more often and that there was nothing to worry about, but he was inexorable and he held his ground. And now, because she had listened to him as she didn’t want to cause a problem, she had collected more energy than she could use. So after about two weeks, she was literally jumping up and down the walls. After nagging and begging him for a very long time with some cute, sad looks in between, Lestat finally caved in. He promised he would go with her on a long run in a few days. She just had to wait a few days. She accepted it with reluctance but she knew he wouldn’t go any sooner than that. She didn’t complain about the date in those four days she had to wait though her eyes stood more animal-like every day, her teeth grew sharper and the wolf inside of her was raging to set itself loose. But after those four days, she caved into the pressure of the wolf and promised it she would find Lestat now. She would tell him to come now or let her just leave on her own, it wasn’t that big of a deal. She went to look for Lestat and found him eventually at the rest place. He was talking to some traveler, or at least she thought the person was a traveler, he had a dirty robe and a hat on. She stood a meter away and waited a bit impatient until Lestat would be finished talking. After a short while, Lestat turned around and asked if there was something important she wanted to talk about. ‘It’s not really hard to guess what I have to say, I’m not going to even wait an hour, if you want to go with me so bad for my so called safety, go with me now or just stay home.’ Her voice was hard and annoyed, you could easily see that she wouldn’t change her mind so Lestat sighed and pinched his nose bridge. ‘Can’t you even wait one more day, just one… ?’ ‘Not a change in hell.’ She didn’t spoke it but rather growled it. ‘Not even an hour, your choice, so choose quickly!’ To try to calm her down a bit he said in a soft sweet warm voice: ‘Just wait one more day. Then we can bring food with us and that sort of stuff.’ He had laid some magic in his voice, the kind of magic that makes you fall asleep if it was applied correctly. And she did relax a bit, but not in the way Lestat had wanted. She still wanted to go run so badly that it felt like her skin would be torn apart by the raging wolf inside, her hands itched because they wanted to do something and she couldn’t even hear herself think because of the howling wolf in her mind. But now because of the magic of Lestat, she felt like she was pinned down, that she couldn’t express what she felt anymore. She turned around and started to walk to the edge of the town. She heard him mumble something against the man and he followed her quickly. ‘Akascha, slow down a bit. Let’s first pick up some stuff. And if you don’t want to stop for that, stop for Shaniya. She would be angry and worried if we would leave without saying goodbye.’ She growled and changed her directions to the house of Lestat. They found Shaniya in the house, cleaning the living room, and Lestat quickly talked to her, glancing towards Akascha who was waiting impatiently by the door. When Shaniya slowly went towards the kitchen to make something to eat, Akascha growled. She started to walk out the door, stopping for a moment in the doorstep. ‘When you are done, catch up with me.’ She said really annoyed this time. Before she had walked far though, Lestat had catch up to her without any stuff. He muttered something about impatient little brats but she didn’t take notice of him. When they were out of the village, Akascha started to run faster and faster before she took a big leap. She changed into her wolf’s form in her jump with a flash of light. It was nothing like a normal change. Her change caused an outburst of magical energy which lit up around her whole body. Her skin looked like it was snapped open and was then replaced by black fur, only her paws were white. And when her paws touched the ground again, the change hadn’t taken more than two seconds, she howled out of joy. She picked up her speed even more, longing to run at full speed in the open plains. Lestat had watched her change with a mix of surprise, relief and concern. He smiled when he heard her joyful howl. It was not right to cage her up so long like that he thought to himself, though it was a necessary evil. He changed himself too though he changed with a controlled outburst of magical energy. He increased his speed to keep up with Akascha and soon he was running beside her. And so they went on their run into the wilderness, without any plans, food or sense of directions, like two madmen.
A whole week passed without the two of them returning and everyday Shaniya had stood by the place where they had disappeared in the wilderness for an hour or so. But finally, after a week, she saw two wolves in the distant. One small black one and the other who was almost three times as big as the other. Shaniya smiled, she was happy to see the two of them return safely. She knew it was Lestat and Akascha because she had seen Lestat in that form before. Lestat, the big wolf of course, was walking at an easy pace, but Akascha was still jumping around, making circles around Lestat and sometimes biting at his paws though he ignored it. Suddenly Elijah and the hooded man stood besides Shaniya, watching the two come closer. When the two wolves arrived, Lestat changed into his human form and hugged Shaniya, kissing her forehead. He nodded as a greeting to the two men, looking serious. It was never a good thing if Elijah mends into your business. Akascha was already somewhere else, chasing a bird that kept flying low to the ground instead of flying up in the sky and out of reach. The chase ended when the bird flew up while Akascha just missed it. She walked back to the group who were waiting, she was still cheerful and full of energy. She didn’t really walk, she rather danced or hopped. She stopped between Lestat and Shaniya and Shaniya bent down to pet and cuddle or rather smother Akascha. She responded with a sad howl as if she wanted to say ‘Help me I’m getting cuddled to dead.’ Lestat smiled and shook his head but stopped when Shaniya looked up, he knows how Akascha was feeling. Then Elijah asked a few things and they all listened what Lestat had to say for an answer. ‘Everything went fine, we crossed the desert in all the four directions, ‘he smiled ‘so in total we have crossed about 500 km and that little crazy wolf over there is still not tired.’ You could see he was a bit tired, black lines underneath his eyes. He didn’t have the condition for this, though he doubted anyone would have the same condition as her. ‘Maybe we should continue this conversation elsewhere?’ Elijah said with his annoying serious voice. Lestat responded apologetic: ‘I’m sorry, but I didn’t sleep or eat for a week, first I’m going home with my wife and to a warm bath and meal. Maybe tonight, but if not than certainly tomorrow.’ Elijah nodded unwillingly ‘ Fine, until then.’ He disappeared between two houses and left the hooded man behind who followed them when they were walking home. ‘Getting a bit out of shape I see?’ The man noticed amused. ‘I’m getting old yes, but I’m still way younger than you old man so don’t push it.’ He said it jokingly and he winked after finishing his sentence to Shaniya, who apparently knew the man too. ‘And besides,’ Lestat added, ‘ I can still keep up with the youngsters.’ Akascha made a sound that looked like a laugh, it was not really practical to laugh in wolf-form. Not a chance in hell he could keep up with me, she thought. She had slowed down for the old man so he could keep up,. Shaniya and the man laughed when Akascha made such noise and jumped away when Lestat tried to poke her which failed miserably. They arrived home, Lestat letting himself fall down on the couch. Wade popped out of a room too, first hugging his father before he hugged the wolf, telling them how he missed them. She rubbed her head against his shoulder as a sign of mutual affection and finally she saw the face of the man with the hood. Once, when he was younger, he had to be handsome, but now his face was old, you could clearly see the signs of hardship and fights. He was clearly an old friend of Lestat, they seemed so familiar with each other. Almost like they were father and son. But for now she didn’t really care about him, she walked to the bathroom and saw what she was looking for: her clothes. She transformed to her human form with a small glow before she changed her clothing and refreshed herself by throwing some water in her face. Her eyes were still a bit animal like, her teeth a bit too long and her legs felt a bit shaky. She had to get used to walking on two legs again. She walked out the door and almost immediately she heard Shaniya ask what she wanted to drink. Akascha smiled. ‘Water please.’ Akascha said before quickly adding, ‘Should I help you?’ ‘No no!’ Shaniya said cheerfully ‘Not at all dear, you go take some rest in the living room with your feet up!’ Akascha shook her head smiling. Shaniya was nice, but she never could be something like her, so… obedient, a good housewife with other words. She walked into the kitchen, took the glass of water which Shaniya had already filled and hovered above the cooking pan for a second while her stomach growled softly. Shaniya hushed her out of the kitchen and she went into the living room where Lestat and the old man were talking. When they noticed her, the old man stood up and walked to her. He stretched out his hand to her and she stretched her own hand to shake it. ‘It’s a pleasure to finally see you, I have heard a lot about you, and you are quite notorious in the wolf world you know?’ He didn’t wait for an answer. ‘But where are my manners, I am Alec, the mentor of Lestat, though I’m not really needed anymore.’ She smiled after realizing she could talk. ‘Nice to meet you, I’m Akascha as you apparently already know.’ She wondered for a second about the comment of Alec. When he released her hand, she sat down next to Lestat who wrapped his arm around her waist. ‘I hope you had a nice run, I heard from him,’ he nodded to Lestat, ‘that it was a long and tiring one?’ He looked at her interested and she was wondering why. ‘It was a good trip, though if it was up to me it would have been a longer one. If someone hadn’t complained so much about it.’ She glanced to Lestat with a smile, on the sixth day he was complaining they should go home and unfortunately they did go home. It still took a whole day to come home, but it was still too short for her taste. ‘Maybe getting too old for this kind of thing?’ She said innocently. Lestat ran his hand through her hair and said: ‘Hush you, I’m not too old for that.. I just turned 63.’ Akascha mouth fell open in surprise. ‘You are that old?! I thought you were 30 or something.’ She turned her gaze to Alec. ‘And how old are you?’ He smiled. ‘I’m a 105 years young.’ When she still had a face of disbelief and surprise. Alec started to explain. ‘When you’re in your wolf form, you don’t grow older. So if you stay un your wolf form once a week, you will age slower than normal humans. since we have been in that form often, we look like this though we are a lot older. It will probably be the same with you, though we don’t know for sure of course...’ ‘Why don’t you know that for sure? Is there a difference between people?’ she asked curious, she had no knowledge what so ever about the wolf thing, she only knew that some people could change into one. ‘Because you are a woman.’ Lestat said hesitant, not wanting to talk about this subject. He glanced to Alec with a warning in his eyes. Akascha sighed annoyed. She had noticed earlier that Lestat was not saying things to her that she should know, but she hadn’t pressed the matter. She had hoped that he would tell her by now. But since he didn’t and he was not the only one who knew about the matter, she would finally get some answers. ‘Can you finally just speak the whole truth? You are hiding things for me for a while now, just spit it out for crying out loud.’ She said annoyed. He opened his mouth though he didn’t really look like he knew what to say either, but before he could try it, Alec intervened. ‘Let me do this, after all I know more about the subject than you.’ Lestat nodded unwillingly and Alec continued explaining. ‘Do you know that the first man-wolf was a woman?’ She shook her head. ‘ I know nothing about my history and such things.’ she said, a hint of sadness in her tone. She felt like she was alone in a strange world she didn’t understand sometimes. ‘Right, sorry..’ Alec fell quiet for a second and Lestat moved uncomfortably in his seat. ‘Well, the first person who changed was a woman. If you want the whole story, you can ask Lestat or someone in town, it is a wide spread story. After the first wolf/man was created there came more of them, but almost everyone was male. Eventually, after a lot of years, there were no females left. And with female I mean a person who is a female in both forms. So there were still females out of mix breed, but they were not pure and not as powerful as the original females. You have to know, they were the strongest of all, no man could beat them. Not that they ever thought about that, they were so beautiful that no one would get it into his mind to hurt them. But that’s another point. Another problem was that magic was being used less often because there weren’t many people anymore who could practice it. We don’t know the reasons for this, there are people, including me, who are desperately trying to find the reason behind the disappearance of the females because our breed is becoming weaker over the years. You can’t imagine what it was like in the old days. We were with a lot more and we were the kings of the world. The kings of the countries were man/wolf.’ He took a sip from his glass. ‘But enough about the days of glory. That is the reason why people are so interested in you Akascha.’ He looked at her in the eyes. ‘You are the first female wolf in hundreds of years and you transformed so young, yet you don’t seem to have much problem with it.’ He fell quiet for a while and Shaniya came in the room with two hot plates of soup. ‘Don’t worry, ‘Shaniya said cheerfully, ‘this is just a starter.’ They both started to eat and between the bites Akascha asked Alec: ‘So basically… I will become some kind of guinea pig in the future?’ The two men fell quiet for a few seconds, not wanting to react. Finally Lestat answered: ‘No of course not! You are a living person.’ Lestat said with a not so convincing voice and a bit of sad face before diving in his soup to hide it. He looked a bit starved. He finished his plate in a record time and licked it clean. Then Alec cleared his throat and said honestly: ‘That is the goal for people like Elijah, trying to create a pureblood wolf and hoping by studying you they could find a way to create female wolves.’ Lestat looked Alec straight in the eye with a warning in his eyes. It was clear he didn’t want Akascha to know any more than she did know. Alec shrugged his shoulders. ‘She’s a smart girl, she can figure this out on her own, why not make it open for discussion?’ Akascha smiled grateful to Alec before finishing her soup. ‘You know he’s right Lestat. And besides.. How can I trust someone who is hiding things from me?’ She spoke serious, though she didn’t mean to insult him or anything. She trusted him, but she didn’t like the fact he held things from her, things she had the right to know. She felt connected with him in some way, one of the reasons she had trusted him so far. Akascha was thinking further about that strange connection, how it felt like every time she looked at him or when he spoke to her when Lestat brusquely intervened her thoughts. ‘Akascha!’ ‘What?’ She asked a bit confused, he sounded impatient. ‘Didn’t you hear what I said?’ he asked a bit insulted. Her cheeks flushed a bit. ‘Sorry no… What did you say then?’ Lestat rolled his eyes and sighed dramatically. ‘I asked if you don’t trust me then.’ He looked in her eyes with a serious look on his face. Even Alec looked very interested in the question, though she didn’t really understand why. She sighed and rubbed her forehead. ‘Yeah, I trust you…’ She didn’t want to add more but when she saw an arrogant look on his face she couldn’t help but to add some more. ‘Though you haven’t giving me any reason to trust you. You hide things behind my back and lie about it or come up with some sort of excuse when I ask about it. So get that relieved arrogant look off your face, before I change my mind!’ Her voice had gotten a sharp edge in it and she hoped the message came through: I trust you though you haven’t earned it. The smile on his face did falter, luckily for him she thought, but it was Alec who spoke first. ‘Why do you trust him then?’ She looked at him with an annoyed look in her face. Not because of them or their questions, but she hated having feelings she couldn’t explain herself. They were irrational and completely out of line. ‘It’s a bit difficult to explain..’ she let her voice trail off and she sighed. I hope to god it is a wolf thing she thought to herself, or else I have to do some soul searching. ‘Try us,’ Alec said. He was interested too, which was a bit strange. Instead of giving him an answer she asked: ‘Why are you so interested? I understand why Lestat would be interested, but this has nothing to do with you.’ ‘Just explain it first, maybe I can explain myself then. But I’ve got a hunch.’ ‘Fine,’ she sighed. ‘ I have no idea.’ She fell silent. Told him it was difficult she thought. There was an awkward silence.’ ‘What do you mean by that?’ Alec asked confused with an eyebrow raised. ‘Just as I say. I’ve got no idea why I trust him. Like I said earlier, I don’t have a real reason to trust him. Still I’ve got an irrational feeling I can trust him. Very annoying actually…’ She ran her hand through her hair. There was another silence. ‘And, was your hunch right?’ Akascha asked, so she would feel less awkward. ‘Of course it was, my hunches usually turn out to be right.’ He went silent for a while with a little smile on his face. ‘Well, are you going to say it or are you going to smile?’ Akascha asked a bit irritated. ‘Yes yes, don’t stress so much. I’m old you know.’ He took a sip from his drink. ‘Well, to begin with. It is a normal feeling, most young wolves have it. In fact, if you didn’t have it you won’t stand much chance of staying alive. Young wolves bind to someone, usually an older family member. For example, Lestat bounded to me when he was young and I bounded to him in response. That means basically that I have become his mentor, a sort of a father figure, his teacher. It depends how strong it is per person. When you get older that bound decreases, but it will always remain. And it isn’t something you can control. The wolf inside decides who you chose and usually it is a male who you are close with or someone who did something special for you in times of need, which is your case probably. But I don’t know for sure that you’re binding, but that is what it looks like.’ He was done talking and waited until she had finished processing it. It made sense what he said she thought. The unexplainable feeling of trust and the safe feeling she had, or better said, the wolf had when she was around Lestat. But she was annoyed by the fact the wolf got to choose. She sighed mentally. It can’t be helped now, why worry about it. She looked at Lestat from the corner of her eyes. He didn’t look very happy. During the entire conversation he had said nothing and didn’t even look at her! He had just stared down like he was thinking about something troublesome. Great, she thought to herself, he doesn’t like it. The wolf inside howled sadly and it filled her with grief too. Stupid mutt, she thought, if you pick someone pick someone who cares. ‘But why does the wolf pick a person? Why does it want to bind with somebody?’ Akascha asked, shoving the wolf's feelings away. ‘Well, we can never know for sure, but wolves are pack animals. They live and hunt in packs. They need the companionship or else they are weak. It is a sort of a survival instinct I guess.’ She nodded understandingly, it made sense. ‘But are you dependent on that person? For example, if that person would die, would it have consequences for the youngster? Of course sorrow and such feelings but anything else?’ She wondered how it worked and by asking questions, she didn’t have to talk to Lestat who was still deep in thought with a frown on his face. She ignored the wolf, who was pleading to talk to Lestat but she ignored it and she ignored her own feelings. She was feeling sad too, but she was insulted. What was so bad about it, what was bad about her? Alec was starting to speak again so she focused on that. ‘In some cases where it happened, it had even physical influence. The youngster became weaker and faded away eventually. But that are special cases. Some rob their lives because of the grief, but that’s only when the bound is extra deep and the youngster doesn’t have anyone around to be comforted by. The binding mostly involves unexplainable trust like you said and the older wolf will teach his ways to the youngster, but that’s it. He turned to face Lestat. ‘So why are you looking so troubled and deep in thought Lestat? We might get the wrong idea about what you are thinking. And your insulting Akascha for not listening to her.’ Lestat looked up a bit confused. ‘What are you accusing me of this time old man?’ Alec smiled. ‘You’re looking all troubled and you’re ignoring us. God knows what you’re thinking about. So, little boy, where were your thoughts?’ Alec grinned and Lestat answered that grin with a big smile. ‘Sorry if I was ignoring you two, I was thinking about the future.’ His stomach rumbled. ‘But first this problem.’ He said laughing, indicating his hunger. He looked to the kitchen. ‘Hey sweetheart, is the food almost ready or do you need a hand?’ A few seconds later a cheerful voice answered back. ‘You could give me a hand by decking the table? And you three should sit over here, if you want anything to eat at all.’ Lestat stood up and vanished into a room to find the plates while Alec stood up. Akascha wasn’t really hungry anymore. She stood up anyway and when she walked passed Alec who had stopped, he stopped her by laying a hand on her shoulder. She looked at him questioning, she wasn’t into games or something now. ‘Is there something wrong?’ She asked with a sigh, you never know with him. ‘There’s nothing wrong with me, but there is something wrong with you.’ He looked into her eyes. ‘I know Lestat for a long time. He is not really good with his feelings and he thinks about stuff that isn’t really relevant at the moment. And I don’t know what you think at all, though I might have an idea. So don’t think so negative about this, about his reaction. He might surprise you with his real thoughts. I thought I should tell you this since you’re going to be together for a long time if I’m right. It’s up to you what you want to do with it.’ He turned around and walked into the kitchen, leaving Akascha with answers and new confusion. Lestat came out of the kitchen with a smile. ‘Are you coming or are you going to stay here staring at the wall?’ He held his hand out as an invitation. Akascha sighed and then smiled, pushing her troubles away. She would see what his thoughts were and how things would go from now on. ‘Don’t worry, I’m coming. You’re still starving?’ Lestat laughed nodding yes and he wrapped an arm around her waist while walking to the kitchen. ‘Of course I’m hungry! I could even fry you for a meal, though I doubt I would get much meat of you, look how skinny you are! You’re way too skinny!’ He poked softly into her side. ‘Besides, aren’t you starving or something?’ Akascha rolled her eyes and sat down. ‘I’m a bit hungry yes, I don’t need as much food as you do apparently.’ Now Shaniya mixed into the conversation. ‘You do have to eat more Akascha, you don’t look really healthy.’ She said on a half worried half motherly tone. She already saw Akascha as a child of hers and acted like her mother. And, of course, Alec had to say something too. ‘I think if a little bit of wind would rush by, you would be blown away like a leaf.’ He smiled and they all laughed. How different the environment is now in comparison to just five minutes ago. She looked at Lestat and then to Shaniya. This will be my home for now. She smiled and felt a warm feeling in her chest. Home…