Almost Winter 1.12

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It felt like a very long walk.


I have no idea how long it took me. By that point I had pretty much lost track of time completely. I didn’t bother with casting another seeking spell, or even going toward where it had told me Garrett would be. I felt confident that he would be looking for me.


As it turned out, I was entirely correct. He made no effort at concealment. He knew that I would feel him coming long before he was in range, or else maybe he just didn’t care anymore. After all, his grand scheme had already reached fruition; at this point there was nothing left to do but die.


Of course, he would be trying to make sure I died first.


Anyway, when he came he didn’t try and hide it. He just strolled right down the path toward me, a massive black wolf that stank of demon. I thought he’d actually grown since the last time I’d seen him; his shoulder had to come halfway up my ribcage.


He sat down thirty feet away and stared at me, his eyes glowing an unearthly orange. That was new. He, like Erik, met my eye without fear. Unlike Erik, I knew exactly why he was doing it; it was a challenge, a statement of raw bravado. He was offering me the advantage, out of sheer confidence that it wouldn’t matter.


I didn’t take the opportunity. I was pretty sure he was right. I couldn’t hope to take him down the same way I had before.


Instead, I kept walking forward at a steady pace. When there were twenty feet left between us, he stood up, growling mockingly. I casually flipped open my big belt pouch as I walked. At fifteen feet he charged, eerily silent now. He covered the distance unbelievably fast, faster than anything should be able to move.


Fortunately, I’d been waiting for exactly that move. I dove out of the way, simultaneously pulling the water balloon out of the pouch and throwing it.


I’d mistimed it slightly, and most of the water splashed off of him. Enough connected, though, to bring him to a stop, looking very confused about what had just hurt him.


I’d had a friend bless the water the day before. Faith hurts demons, even when delivered by a water balloon.


I rolled to my feet, having traded places with Garrett, and immediately pulled the second water balloon out of my pouch and hurled it at his face. He was standing still, and this one hit square, getting holy water all over his face. It must have hurt almost as badly as the handful of silver dust I’d thrown in the female werewolf’s face earlier.


Unlike her, he didn’t even pause. He flung himself directly at me, unnatural strength propelling his bulk across the ten feet between us without touching the ground. The move caught me off-guard, and I had to fall backward to avoid it. His rear claws passed within inches of my face.


I scrambled to my feet and spun to face him, leaving my last water balloon lying in the dirt. Garrett had too much momentum from his leap to stop on a dime, and was still recovering. I managed to raise my shotgun to a reasonably good position and get a shot off as he turned to face me.


It wasn’t an accurate shot. Most of the silver probably missed him completely. At least a little of it hit, though, clipping his hind legs. He didn’t even appear to notice. He seemed to have learned his lesson; rather than charging he moved forward at a slow stalk. I backed up, aiming and firing again.


He blurred sideways, probably literally faster than a bullet. Rather than his face, the buckshot hit him in the side.


It did hit him, though; I could smell the blood. He’d just taken a direct hit from a ten-gauge shotgun loaded with charged silver, and it didn’t even slow him down. “Immunity to pain” was starting to sound like a pretty weak description of this thing. It was like the Terminator on steroids.


I let the shotgun fall back against my chest—at this point it was pretty clear that a headshot was the only thing that had a chance of killing him quickly, and there was no way he was going to let me get one. Instead, I slipped out the heavy vial that was in the last section of my pouch, the secret weapon that made me think I had a prayer of winning this.


It was made of fairly thick glass, thin enough to break but sturdy enough that it hadn’t done so yet. Or, hell, maybe Alexander arranged matters so that it wouldn’t break until I wanted it to or something. I had no idea what the limits of a wizard’s powers were.


In the near-dark, it didn’t look remarkable, a small glass bottle filled with a clear liquid indistinguishable from water. In Alexander’s lab, well, that was a different story. There, I had been able to see that it had a sheen to it like an oil slick, and when I held it up to the light it had refracted light like a prism.


I threw it hard at Garrett’s chest. As I’d expected, he didn’t bother dodging. The glass shattered spilling its viscous contents across his fur. I kept backing away, waiting for the potion to take effect.


At first I didn’t think it was going to. He kept coming, moving a little faster now, sure that he had me on the ropes—which he did. Then his steps got to be a little uneven. He shook his head once, again.


My heart sank. It was working, all right. Just not fast enough. I would be dead by the time it had done enough to Garrett. Alexander had warned me this might happen, but I hadn’t really believed it until that moment.


I kept moving on autopilot, backing away from him and pulling my next trick out of another pocket. It was a simple web made of a couple strands of prayer beads, hung with several pieces of blessed jewelry from my tub. I threw it forward, catching Garrett across the face. One of the strands looped around his ear, and several more crisscrossed his face. He shook it off casually, not breaking stride.


And then I stumbled. It was inevitable, walking backward downhill on uneven ground. Actually, I was a little surprised it had taken this long. It wasn’t a big thing; my left foot traveled a fraction of an inch further than I had anticipated. I recovered my balance in less than a second.


Garrett had been waiting. It was enough.


He went in an instant from his slow prowl forward to another blindingly swift charge. His head caught me in the middle of the chest and flicked me up and back with as little effort as it took to throw a piece of rice across the room, sending me flying through the air. I managed to land fairly well, but it was still disorienting. I felt a flash of pain from one ankle, which actually helped me focus again, but it was already too late.


By the time I figured out what had just happened, a black werewolf was staring down at me from less than six inches away with glowing orange eyes. Slaver literally dripped from its open jaws onto my throat, disgusting and terrifying at the same time. Maybe, if I could have drawn my knife, I could have killed it. Even if I could somehow strike Garrett before even his unnatural speed got him out of the way, though, there was no way I could get at my knife.


Well. I supposed I would be settling back on my first tactic after all.


I think he actually wanted me to, because he could most certainly have killed me before I recovered my wits otherwise. I won’t ever know what his motivations were—curiosity? arrogance? a desire for death?


Whatever the cause, he made no effort to stop me from meeting those mad orange eyes and working the same magic I had before.


Disconnection. A sensation of rushing wind without movement. And then…


Remember all that stuff I said about how insane Garrett’s mind was? Forget it. Compared to its current state, that was stable. Now it was insane.


It still felt like a battleground. Before, though, it had at least had discrete sides. Now those were fragmenting. Both the human and wolf components of the original werewolf were breaking down, pieces of each conflicting with each other. The human still held dominance, but now it seemed to be fighting itself as well as everything else. Of the real wolf, the only clean presence in that mire, I could find no sign.


The demon, for what it’s worth, felt exactly the same.


I didn’t bother trying to fight. I’d seen the futility of that last time, and the situation had only gotten worse since then. Besides which, the only way I’d won the first time around was with the last-minute intervention of the wolf, which clearly wasn’t on the agenda today.


Instead I went for the suicide mission which I had, in some sense, been building up to this whole fight.


Here’s the thing. All along, Garrett had controlled the demon rigidly. The way he had bound it to himself, like the arrangement he had made between himself, his wolf, and the wolf he had murdered, had been designed to put him in the dominant position. Even now that his mind was starting to collapse, it was under control thanks to the way it had been bound.


But his control was obviously weakening now. What’s more, the more he drew on it, the more influence it gained. I’d inflicted enough pain with the holy water alone to send even most werewolves running. Add in the silver wounds, the charges and leaps and dodges, and…well. He’d been calling on the demon’s power a whole lot tonight.


Then I hit it with Alexander’s potion. I wasn’t a wizard, nor even a particularly well-educated druid, so I didn’t know the details of how it worked. But the idea was that it would release a coordinated spike of chaotic energy that would degrade the ordered structure of the shamanic magic that governed how the possession worked.


So, long story short, the walls holding the demon in place were very weak already. I threw myself at them, expending magic recklessly in an effort to rip them down. Garrett had obviously been unprepared for that tactic, and in his current state it took him a while to organize a response. Eventually he managed it, though, and began to metaphysically tear into me from behind. I ignored his efforts, focusing on the boundaries around the demon until eventually—




They fell.


The demon, which was now both the most powerful and the most coherent entity left, roared out of its enclosure with a howl of glee that, had I actually possessed a body at the time, would have given me the worst goosebumps of my life.


I had been expecting it to eradicate me, and Garrett as well, and then take the body on a rampage. The most I’d been hoping for was that it would give the fae some small reason to believe what Conn would try and tell them.


Fortunately for everyone concerned, I’d underestimated the extent of the demon’s hatred for the one who had bound and constrained it for so long. It swept over Garrett with as little concern as the ocean has for the grains of sand on the beach, smashing the pieces of his fragmented personality together into a single misshapen whole, man and wolf together.


It held him—them?—like that for a long moment, casually blocking every attempt they made to break free. I sensed its regard on me, and only my sheer and absolute exhaustion kept me from trying to run away from it.


We know your kind where I come from, it whispered into my mind. Unlike pretty much every other mental communication I’d ever heard, it took the form of a distinct voice. A voice reminiscent of snakes gliding over stone, true, but nevertheless a voice. Thanks. Tell you what, I owe you one. When you need a favor, just call. There was a sense of laughter, all the more horrific for the genuine amusement it conveyed. I’ll hear you. Goodbye, for now.


Then, without doing anything to me at all, it vanished, taking Garrett with it.



I floated, exhausted, in that quiet not-space where Garrett used to be for what felt like a very long time, except that time also had only a very loose relationship to the state I was in. I might have floated like that until my physical body died if it weren’t for the last piece of the mind I was inhabiting.


The wolf did not use words, unlike the demon. It’s simplest to express the communication between us in them, though, so here goes:


Wolf: What happened? Did the evil thing go away?


Me: Yes. I couldn’t feel you here earlier.


Wolf: I hid. Hid for…very long time. (pause) What will happen to me now?


Me: I don’t know. I don’t think there’s anything I can do to keep you alive. (hesitation) I think you might have died a long time ago.


Wolf: …Yes. I remember. (memory of being tied down; great pain, then darkness. The next thing it knew was its captivity here) Will that happen to me again?


Me: I don’t know. I’ve never died.


Wolf: I’m afraid. I don’t want to die again.


Me: I know, but we all have to die someday.


Wolf: …Yes.


Me: Goodbye then.


Okay, yeah, that sucks, but you get the idea. I wanted to stay, offer any pathetic comfort I could to the poor, doomed wolf. But I could feel the not-space we were occupying already beginning to collapse around us, its structural integrity decaying without the presence of the mind that had created it, and knew instinctively that if I were still here when it faded completely I would be as dead as Garrett was.


I stretched my mind back toward my body, shocked at how hard it was, and eventually managed to get back where I belonged. Then, suddenly, I realized what I could do.


It was insane, and not in that oh-that-was-awesome way. It was stupid. It was a bizarre trick that should have been impossible, especially because I was doing it spur of the moment without any practice.


But, somehow, miraculously, I made it work. I found the last fading connection between my mind and the not-place where Garrett’s used to be. I stretched out with the last of my power and held it open. It felt like I was being ripped apart. But I held, and beckoned.


And, just before my strength gave out, the wolf slipped past me. Thanks to the things Garrett had done to it, it was more a creature of mind than body, and thus this mode of travel was as natural to it as walking now that it was no longer bound to him.


I released the connection with a sort of exhausted, agonized relief. I could feel, in the instant between my releasing it and it fading completely, when the not-place that had been Garrett’s mind collapsed. Without a connection to my mind it was bereft of any support, and it imploded faster than thought.


So died Garrett White, a man who became something both more and less than that. His reach exceeded his grasp, and too late he realized the price that the power he sought would exact. At the very end of his life he was nothing more than another victim, but for all of that I can’t find it in myself to regret the fate that he found.


Chance made him a werewolf, but it was by his own choice that he became a monster.


When I came to, we were lying on our back on the ground. Garret’s body, unmarked but nevertheless very dead, was lying on top of us. We shoved it off, the effort taking all our strength, and managed to climb to our unsteady feet.


We had not been as lucky this time as the first time I went toe-to-toe with the possessed werewolf. He hadn’t torn our throat out, but at some point he had apparently raked our body with his claws. The leather jacket had kept him from ripping our guts out, but we had a couple of long gashes on our chest and legs, deep and bloody. We had apparently sprained or broken an ankle in the fall as well—for the moment it didn’t matter at all which—because we couldn’t put any weight on our left foot at all.


I paused. Then, focusing through the pain, I thought hard, You’re welcome here, but this is my mind. We are not going to become the same screwed-up thing Garrett did. The wolf was momentarily confused, then there was a flash of understanding and it receded somewhat.


I—what a lovely pronoun, I— twisted—painfully—and pulled out the last thing I would need from beneath the jacket: a flare gun, into which I loaded the green flare I was carrying. I wasn’t sure if there was anybody left alive who would recognize the prearranged signal for Garrett’s death, but I had to do something. My fingers were shaking so hard it was a struggle to perform even this simple action. Eventually I managed it, and then fired the flare straight up.


I didn’t stop to watch it as I hobbled over to the nearest tree and collapsed against it. Logically, I knew that if I stayed here in my current state I would die.


Practically, I knew that there was absolutely no way I could manage to walk out. I was utterly drained, physically, magically, and emotionally, and if I started back toward the parking lot I knew I would collapse long before I got there. My best chance for survival consisted of staying here, where they would hopefully know to look thanks to the flare. Even if I were found by an enemy, it would be no worse than trying to walk out.


Fortunately this coincided with my powerful urge to just collapse. I’d been pushing so hard for so long, it felt incredibly good to rest my legs, even with all the injuries I’d sustained.


Our last thought before my eyes slipped closed was that, really, the forest smelled very nice at night.



I was unconscious for a lot of what happened after that, so this is the best reconstruction I can make from what I heard in the aftermath.


At some point Dolph, who was every bit as capable of logic as me, worked through Garrett’s plan and changed back to human form. The fae and the pack were both enraged by that point, but he was still Conn’s son. He was dominant enough to back down every werewolf in the pack, including Christopher, and he had been active in supernatural political circles to one extent or another for a couple of centuries. Enough of the fae recognized him that he managed, somehow, to convince them that the pack weren’t their enemies.


He was helped in that endeavor by, of all people, the same wind fae that I had threatened to kill and driven off. She—it turned out that strange insectile face was female—had been very confused by my actions. Incapable of continuing to fight anyway, she had gone to confer with the pack, not realizing that the Alpha was in the same place she’d just left. When she found that most of them were out in the forest hunting the same target the fae were, it didn’t take her long to put two and two together.


Getting a binding oath from a fae is in many ways similar to the problem Garrett had commanding Erik. If they give their word they will keep it, guaranteed. However, they’re only required to obey the letter of their oaths. That had turned out to be a very lucky thing this time, because nothing she’d sworn to me prevented her from sending messengers back to the scene of the combat.


Apparently, rather than getting pissed at me for assaulting and binding her, she was amused at my tenacity, impressed by my willingness to risk my life for a stranger, and grateful for my helping her see what was going on. That was good news for me, because Val told me later that her voice carried serious weight among the fae. Like, Twilight Court level weight.


Which means that these days I’m owed a favor by both a powerful demon and what I am coming to believe is in fact a Twilight Prince. I’m not quite sure which one is more trouble, but I know it’ll be dark days if I’m ever desperate enough to call either of those markers in. One of the lessons I learned growing up was that the only thing worse than doing a favor for a fae is accepting one, and I’m pretty sure that goes double for demons.


Unfortunately, it took quite a while to make peace between the two groups. Before Dolph and the Twilight Prince managed it, nine werewolves and two of the fae had died. Michael was one of them, ambushed by another fae before he ever made it to Christopher.


Logically, I knew that my efforts had a very important influence on the Twilight Prince, and had been integral in preventing more deaths. Emotionally, well, emotions are not noted for their logic. I felt like a failure.


Kyra, thankfully, didn’t get in a fight with a fae at all. She had been the first one to find one of Garrett’s wolves, the one that I never encountered at all. She’d dislocated a shoulder and broken her forearm in the fight, and her chances of survival had looked pretty grim until Aiko showed up with another member of Christopher’s pack and drove her attacker off. After that, well, she was in no condition to fight. She changed to human—moving with a damaged arm is easier than with a crippled foreleg—and hightailed it back to the car without sustaining any more injuries.


Aiko and her backup pursued Garrett’s wolf. The werewolf with her, whose name I will probably never know, was attacked and killed by another of the fae. Aiko, as a nonwerewolf, had apparently been ignored by the fae much the same as I was, and managed to catch her target.


I don’t know how the fight went. But I do know that Aiko came back uninjured, and the werewolf didn’t come back at all.


Anyway, not too long after the fighting ended—and after all the participants managed to understand that the fighting had ended, which took considerably longer—Dolph saw the green flare. He insisted on going to check it out personally. Luckily Garrett’s body was lying in the path, impossible to miss; otherwise I think Dolph would have run right by me, and I was too unconscious to attract his attention.


He says that if I were anything other than what I am, I probably would have been dead before he got there. I’d lost a lot of blood, and between that and how hard I’d been pushing myself I was in bad shape. He gave me rudimentary first aid at the scene, and then carried me three-quarters of a mile back to the lot.


Apparently I was important in breaking off the fight then, too. Both some of the more outspoken fae and a sizable majority of the werewolves were in favor of making common cause against their enemy. Although the idea of fae and werewolves tag teaming Garrett’s pack is admittedly a pretty awesome concept for an action movie, I was just as glad that Dolph could convince them that with Garrett and at least three of his abominations dead, it was more important to get out of there and tend the injured. I can see how having my bleeding, unconscious body on hand would help make that point.


My partially-werewolf nature kept me alive long enough to reach the hospital, and my something-else nature kept me from dying of hypothermia or frostbite. My reserves were too low to actually mend the damage, though, and I spent almost a week in the hospital hooked up to an IV before I woke up.


I didn’t object too hard to that. As far as I was concerned, it was a small price to pay.


My injuries were fairly substantial. I had two heavy gouges to the chest, four and six inches long respectively and both about an inch deep, and another slash across my right thigh four inches long and two inches deep that missed my femoral artery by a fraction of an inch. My pouch of silver dust had apparently spilled all over my left hand when I passed out, and by the time Dolph found me it had inflicted a moderately severe burn. It didn’t help that he couldn’t really clean it off until we got back to Aiko, who was the only one aside from the fae who could touch silver with enough physical control to clean it without injuring my burned skin further. My left ankle turned out to be broken, as did at least three or four ribs from where Garrett hit me. I’d slammed my head into the ground when I landed—which explained the disorientation I’d experienced—and the doctors were blaming my unconsciousness on a severe concussion.


Personally, I was pretty sure that it had more to do with being magically overdrawn, but I wasn’t arguing. So long as the docs had something to blame that wouldn’t point them at werewolves I was perfectly happy with the situation.


That’s one of the many reasons I don’t use blood magic unless I’m absolutely desperate. It’s easy to think that, just because you can use it to fuel magic the same as your own power, it works the same way. It doesn’t. When you draw on that source, you’re pulling power from the same well of energy that keeps you alive.


I hadn’t taken enough power out of it to outright kill myself, but I’d still drained it by a dangerous amount—not that there’s really a safe amount to take. It’s generally agreed that weakening your own life force by any amount is a Bad Idea. Small amounts, it’s true, mostly have minor effects. You might have a headache for a while, or feel exceptionally lethargic. Take more and worse things happen. A coma like the one I’d been in was very close to the point at which organs start shutting down.


The other key difference is that the power blood magic lets you tap doesn’t replenish itself the same way a person’s magic does. When I’d fought Garrett the first time, I’d only used my personal power, and although I’d been exhausted, I was completely recovered within a couple of days.


Your life force, on the other hand, takes a long time to recover from heavy use. In my case, for example, it took a week to replenish enough to even support consciousness. It was over a month before I was back at full strength.


Apparently—although I only found out about it after the fact—there was initially some suspicion over my injuries. Probably because several of them looked like the recent murders, and I seriously doubt that even Dolph could come up with a sane explanation for them.


I would have expected Christopher to take care of that, but he never needed to. Shortly before I woke up the problem went away, with no explanation.


I was pretty sure I knew what had happened, but I didn’t explain it to anyone. It was none of their business anyway.


The day after I woke up Enrico came to visit in the hospital. He didn’t make any mention of having pulled strings to get the police to stop asking questions. We had the socially acceptable conversation for any person in those conditions—you know, the old “How do you feel?”, “Are you getting better?”, “How the hell are you not dead yet?”, that sort of thing. Then, very quietly, he said, “It was a werewolf, wasn’t it?”


I nodded slightly, glancing at the open door.


Enrico took the hint and closed it. “You haven’t told anyone?” I asked nervously.


He shook his head. “I don’t know about this, though, Winter. If they’re killing people…I can’t stand by and let that happen, you know?”


My lips twitched in an anemic smile. “Obviously I can’t either, eh?” I said, gesturing vaguely at my surroundings. “I wouldn’t think about it like that, though. The werewolf who did this isn’t going to be killing any more people ever again. I can promise you that. And it was other werewolves who made sure of it.” I paused. “Look, Enrico…what he did? It’s nothing a human couldn’t do, is it? I mean, sure, he ripped people to pieces instead of just shooting them, but that doesn’t change how dead they get. And I know there are humans who have murdered more people than he did.”


Enrico pursed his lips. “True. And you’re sure the other werewolves wouldn’t kill somebody?”


“Not unless he needed killed. Like this crazy son of a bitch did.” I shivered slightly, and it wasn’t as much of an act as I would have liked; it would be a long time before I forgot the feeling of that demon-infested mind.


He nodded once, decisively. “I can live with that.” He stood up and walked to the door. “I’ll see you around, Winter. Hope you’re feeling better.”


And that was the end of it. I was released from the hospital a day or two later, having made a follow-up appointment I already knew I wasn’t going to be keeping. My injuries went down as just one more suspicious note in a file that already had plenty. I made the tabloids for a day or two before they moved on to juicier targets, and I was forgotten as fast as they could print the new headlines.


It was, at least for the moment, over.



In one of the few cases of poetic irony I could really appreciate, Garrett’s efforts to undermine werewolf-fae relations turned out to have exactly the opposite effect. Conn, long since an M.D. with a focus on spin, used the near-disaster at his meeting with the Twilight as an example of why a good relationship and open communication between the Twilight Court and the Pack were important.


With that as a backdrop, the measure passed unanimously. It was decided that the werewolves would reveal themselves first, with Conn having total discretion as to when that happened so long as it was within a year. He’s still waiting for a good opportunity to go forward with it. I’m enjoying the interval of relative peace; once he does I’m expecting a lot of excitement for a while.


And, as always in the aftermath of a crisis, life goes on. Between chasing Garrett and my hospital stay I’d missed most of a month of work. Without asking me—because he knew what my probable response would be—Dolph arranged for Conn’s pack to pay for both my medical bills and the missed work.


I wanted to refuse, but the truth is I really needed the money. And, in some ways, I suppose he did owe me. So I grumbled a bit and took the cash.


I’d spent a long time evaluating my life, both before and after the fight with Garrett. And, without much hesitation, I’d decided it was time for things to change.


I’d spent way too long hating myself. Hell, I’d spent too long hating life. It was one thing to recognize that some of the things I’d done weren’t the right things to do. But it was time to move on. Not just from Catherine—although that was a big part of it—but also from my own status as an outsider. I was sick of refusing any social contact just because I couldn’t be a werewolf.


I’ll never be human. I’m not going to pretend I’m suddenly okay with that. The truth is that some part of me will always wish that things were different. But these days I’ve stopped paying so much attention to it. I think maybe it’s time to accept what I am rather than keep fighting it. It took me years to realize, but the truth is that what you are is what you are. You can kick and scream all you want, but you can’t change it. Or, alternatively, you can accept that this is the hand you get and make the best of it. Nobody can tell you which you should do.


But I know the choice I made, and I believe it was the wrong one.


I’ve been spending a lot more time with my friends. Well, trying to at any rate. The habits of a lifetime aren’t easy to shake, and the honest truth is that I never did have any social skills to speak of. But I’ve been making an effort, and they seem willing to tolerate it no matter how badly I screw up.


Kyra, of course, is high on the list. I saw a lot of her in the hospital. Her own injuries weren’t nearly severe enough to require a stay there, not for a werewolf, but broken bones heal slower than flesh wounds and a waitress with a broken arm is pretty useless. She had plenty of time to visit me. Thanks to the deaths in the fight, she’s currently the second most dominant wolf in the pack—the first female to ever hold that position as far as I know. Conn initially thought he should send someone out to replace her, but I talked him out of it.


As far as I’m concerned, she’d make a better Alpha than most. And, hell, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that to happen a little just so I could see the look on Conn’s face.


Aiko and I have also been getting along surprisingly well, considering that we only met due to a macabre coincidence related to her friend’s death. Actually, considering our respectively bizarre psychologies, maybe it wasn’t that surprising after all. I’m still not quite sure how to take her mood swings and eccentricities, but then I don’t exactly have good social skills myself.


Anna and Enrico still don’t know a lot about what’s going on. In fact, as far as I could tell Enrico had kept his word not to tell anyone about the werewolves, including his sister. That makes things harder, but I’m looking forward to the day pretty soon when the things I’m hiding from them are public knowledge. Until then I make do with lying to my friends, the way I have most of my life. The sad part is that it really does get easier with practice.


And that’s that. Before I’d even woken up Dolph flew back to North Dakota. He has his work cut out for him preparing the world for werewolves. I have no doubt that he had plenty of situations just as bad as Garrett waiting for him. Honestly, stuff like that isn’t as uncommon as we could wish; this one just happened to affect me.


It didn’t take a very long time for my world to change completely. Before this started I had pretty much left my heritage behind. Now, well, some of my best friends are a werewolf and a kitsune. I have Conn’s number saved to my phone, and Dolph’s as well. The day after Dolph left I called Edward to apologize for treating him so badly the past decade or so. He took it pretty well, by which I mean that he made it to the second, pathetically awkward sentence of my apology before he collapsed in laughter.


I paid off my debt to Alexander, as did Dolph. Since then I’ve started taking lessons from the wizard. He’s not the easiest teacher in the world, but he knows his stuff, and I don’t. It’s only an hour or two a week, but I’m still learning quite a bit. And, let’s be honest here, that’s probably the most either of us could stand of the other.


The events of that last, hectic night suggest that I have the potential to be a lot more badass than I’ve ever given myself credit for. I’m starting to think maybe it’s worth the effort to develop that potential. Not that I’m planning on getting into brawls with demonic werewolves again. As far as I was concerned, one round of that was enough for a lifetime.

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One Response to Almost Winter 1.12

  1. Emrys

    This is an author’s commentary written after the completion of the series. Spoilers are in a rot13 cipher; if you aren’t familiar with that there are a number of very easy deciphering websites to use. These spoilers may cover the full series, not just this book, and they may make reference to major plot points and character development. You have been warned.

    This chapter would really have been better off split. The section at the end is a huge shift in tone and focus, and would almost make a better epilogue than a regular chapter. Coming in the same chapter as the climactic fight it just feels sloppy. The fact that it’s yet more clumsy exposition doesn’t help.

    That being said, the actual fight worked well. I’m fairly satisfied with how that turned out. It has some good action and tension, it feels plausible, and it had a pretty satisfactory conclusion. On the whole this chapter has some rather grievous technical errors but is, ultimately, not terrible.

    Guvf vf gur svefg vafgnapr bs gur jubyr “Fb qvrq K” sbezng, juvpu V hfrq n ybg guebhtu gur frevrf. Guvf jnf nyjnlf sbyybjvat gur fnzr gurzr, jvgu Jvagre gnyxvat nobhg fbzrbar ur’q xvyyrq jub ur qvqa’g srry unccl nobhg xvyyvat. Gurer’f nyjnlf n ovg bs pbzzragnel nobhg jub gurl jrer naq ubj gurl qvrq.

    Nyy bs guvf jnf gb frg hc sbe n pbhcyr bs irel fcrpvsvp pnfrf bs gur sbezng va gur ynfg gjb obbxf.

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