“So who are you?”
Justin was sitting, cross-legged, in the mist. The gray wolf, barely visible, stood just outside the edge of the world that Justin could move about. No matter how far he went towards Daldion, he remained the same distance away. So he sat. Accomplishing without action.
“I am you.” The wolf was withdrawn. He didn’t seem to want to speak, but was unwilling to leave the conversation.
“And you are Daldion.”
The steady gold eyes regarded him blankly. “You know the answers to the questions you ask.”
Justin smiled. His body was far beyond outside help. Beyond the reach of Amber and Francisco and the English voice. Here he was in control—over his own life and death. And that, it seemed, gave him control over Daldion.
“Then I will ask different questions…”
Justin opened his eyes. He was sitting in a small cave—more of an overhang, really. The shelter kept off the wind, but not all the cold. The ground he sat on was wet, but the sheet still wrapped around him kept him warm enough.
He was cross-legged, his palms open on his knees. A classic meditating position.
It wasn’t meditation—but it was fascinating. He felt rested, like he had slept. But he had been fully aware, fully mentally active, while in his dream state. And it wasn’t fading. It was as real as the biting cold. And in his dream, he had been cold.
Justin stood and shook his arms and legs, trying to work the blood back into them. The pain was brief as warmth moved through him, and then he sat again, staring out into the dark forest.
Something changed—like a shift in the idea of the storm, the very essence of it. It was refocusing. Justin stood again, his eyes wide, searching. The wind was changing.
The first blast of sleet nearly knocked him off his feet. His shelter was no long shelter. Now it was a frozen tomb.
Justin stumbled through the wet snow. The sheet was gone—ripped off the by the wind. His mind was fogged now. The cold as overwhelming it, taking away the calm and centeredness he had felt.
He fell facedown in the snow. Snow. Snow was better than ice warmth-wise, but it melted. He was wet now—but then again, he had already been. He didn’t move, feeling his breath melt the snow as the storm blew over him. He was shielded from that at least.
Justin’s body faded.
“This is no time to rest!” The words of Daldion were strong. He floated at the edge of Justin, but still was unreachable.
Justin shook his head. In his mind he was tired. So much for fully active. “Let me be. I need to rest. To sleep.”
“No you do not!” Daldion thundered. For the first time Justin looked at the wolf’s mouth when he spoke. It didn’t move. But the voice was clearly emanating from Daldion.
“In this place you are who you are—or who you wish to be.”
Justin waved a hand. “Self improvement. Mind over matter. Heard it before.”
Daldion stepped into Justin’s space, his furred body ruffling with blue light as crossed the plane he walked directly to his human host. “What happens here affect what happens there. That much is true.”
For the first time he was not hidden by the mists. For the first time Justin really saw him.
Daldion was varied shades of gray across him body—like many other wolves Justin had seen in pictures. But his face was streaked at the brow with silver-white fur, almost as if in a design. And the golden eyes… Old. Wise. Dangerous. Intelligent.
Electric blue light winked at the edges of his coat.
“You have asked the question. Now it is my turn. I will ask myself. Who am I? I am Daldion, son of Tolg. I am the Prophet of the True Pack. I am the Wolf of Vision and Sorrow. And I am you!”
Justin looked up. Daldion seemed to be growing.
“Your mind and body are fading, Justin Kobe son of Michael.Dying.”
The mist was fading. Irony. Could mist fade? He wasn’t thinking, wasn’t focusing. But he tried to hold onto Daldion—to focus on the wolf.
“Join me! Become me! We are Wolf and we are Man.”
Daldion bent his head towards Justin, lowering his golden eyes.
Justin blinked. As once he could see himself, laying the snow, blood dripping from his cold-scorched face. Arms spread. Clothes soaking and encrusted with ice.
He turned to Daldion. He put out his hand and, after hesitating for an instant, placed his palm on Daldion’s head, covering the design.
All faded to white.