Raul lay spread-eagled on the lawn of the Loup, the cold from the ground seeping into his bones uncomfortably. He didn’t move, however. The tension in the Loup was rising steadily, and Darcy was beginning to snap. Raul didn’t know how he’d survive with her for the next few weeks, breathing fire down his neck. After all, Devin had probably gotten lost or something. Why did Darcy think it would only take him a few days to find people? If they were that close, surely they would’ve stumbled onto the Loup, or vice versa. All the odds were against them, and if Raul knew that, everyone did.
The group had voted Tynan the job of knocking some sense into Darcy. At the very least, they had to teach classes normally. It would be chaos if the kids were undisciplined all day, wondering and worrying about what had Darcy so stressed. After all, Darcy was the master of keeping cool. If she couldn’t control her nerves, who could?
Raul gazed up at the stars that were slowly appearing in the sky. Raul resented the fact that he wasn’t smart enough to teach his own class. No one said that to his face, but it was true. So what if Raul didn’t think as fast as Darcy? He came to the same conclusions, eventually. Sometimes better ones. Besides, any fool could figure out that two plus two equaled four without Darcy shouting it in their face.
The grass beneath Raul was prickly and damp. He breathed in deeply, drowning in the smell of the earth. Raul always felt crushed by the Loup; the looming stone walls and moldy dungeons weren’t his definition of home. Not that he had much to compare it to. Raul closed his eyes and listened to the rustling of the Proie behind him. Surely it wasn’t natural to be cooped up in such a gloomy place all your life?
It was then that Raul heard the footsteps.
They weren’t even footsteps, really, more like the sound of eight paws thundering against the ground. Wait— eight paws?
Raul sprung to his feet and strained his ears. Yes that was definitely two creatures, not one, running towards him. He sniffed the air delicately, this time searching out the scents of two breathing animals, but they were still too far away. Raul stared hard at the horizon, willing the form of Devin to appear. Maybe even running alongside him was another werewolf, from another place, to prove that there were others out there.
Raul’s instincts urged him to run inside the Loup and alert everyone, and then they would all go hide in the Proie like they did every time someone approached the castle. But every other time, the people that had come had stood on two legs; no one knew if they had the ability to transform or not, but they always came in human form. Whoever was coming was most certainly an animal. Besides, Darcy would kill him if she found out he had them all hide in the woods at Devin’s arrival.
Finally Raul spotted two specks in the distance, slightly lighter colored than the darkening sky. One was twice the size of the other. As Raul watched, they grew slowly bigger, and finally he caught a whiff of them.
One of them was certainly Devin; he had the distinct smell of someone who cooked their meat, and also that slightly piney smell that must have come from all the time Devin spent in the trees.
And the other… it was definitely someone from the Loup, as Raul recognized the scent. It still smelled of someone fresh from the toddler huts, but Raul couldn’t place exactly who it was. No one had left with Devin!
Raul caught the whisper of a sentence, huffed through a panting mouth. It was Devin.
“…Rolf… see someone… Raul?”
Rolf! Of course! The little kid who had disappeared around the same time as Devin. Darcy had dismissed it, and waited for someone like Arnulf to admit they’d killed him. Usually when someone disappeared, a few days later the word spread that he was dead.
Raul waited and watched as the specks grew into the wolf forms of Devin and Rolf, sprinting faster than he’d seen any kid run in a long time. As their shapes grew larger and took on riser, Raul felt his excitement rising, threatening to break free. This was monumental, he knew. They'd actually taken matters into their own hands. Raul didn't know what the future held, but was now sure it wouldn't match his past.
Finally Devin and Rolf skidded to a stop in front of him, bent over, gasping for breath as they transformed back. With them, surely, was a cloud of answered questions.
“Let’s go to Darcy,” wheezed Devin, “We’ve got… news.”
“What? What is it? You found somebody?”
“Darcy… should hear first.” Devin replied.
Raul felt a growl growing in his throat, but refrained from snarling at the two. “Well,” he said, turning on his heel and walking briskly away, “Let’s go.”
Devin and Rolf hurried to follow, and continued to catch their breath as Raul led them into the castle. Of course Darcy should know first! Because she was so important! Because Darcy knew best!
Darcy was on her feet in the common room, screaming at Tynan, when Raul entered. She whipped around when she heard him. For the first time in his life, Raul watched with glee as Darcy was rendered speechless.
But she found her voice quickly enough.
“You’re back?” she screeched, loud enough to put Raul's hair on end. “Well? What did you find?”
Devin opened his mouth, but too slowly. “Well?” Darcy said, snapping her fingers. She looked faintly wild; her hair stuck out in all directions, her mouth still open in surprise, her eyes darting back and forth quickly between Devin and Rolf. She appeared to have forgotten she’d thought Rolf was dead. She ignored Raul. No surprise there.
“We found a village,” Devin began, “A day’s hard run from here. Southeast. It’s full of people, who don’t transform and don’t have wands. They’ve never heard of us either.”
“That’s it.” Devin shrugged. “We found the village, walked in, and scared the hell out of them. Never seen anything like us before. We left, then snuck back in later, and talked to a boy who told us we were nothing like he’d ever seen. But,” Devin paused, “There’s a lot more out there. The boy told us to find answers in a place called, er, Edinburgh. Four hundred kilometers to the south.”
“Edinburgh?” Darcy said excitedly, “So that’s where we go for answers?”
“We’ve got the most important answers, Darcy,” Devin said wearily. “We’re alone. No werewolves out there. No magic wands. Just people who speak differently.”
“How so?” Tynan asked.
Devin was trying to figure out how to imitate Calder’s strange speech, but Rolf beat him to it, speaking for the first time. “Aye, we’re just culchies.” He said, actually getting the odd accent out fairly accurately.
“Odd indeed.” Tynan said.
“Whatever,” Darcy snapped, “We’ve got to find Edinburgh!”
“Darcy,” Devin said coolly, “The people at the village tried to kill us when they saw us. We can’t run four hundred kilometers just to be chased away, or worse.”
Darcy brushed his comment away. “We can overpower them easily. From what you said, they’re as weak as JP without his wand.”
“Darcy, I don’t know what else there is to know! The Master has plans for us. He knows what we should do in the real world. Maybe we should just tell him what we know.”
“Already done,” a grave voice announced from the door. The Knights whipped around to see that just outside the common room stood the Master, trembling with rage, wand drawn and pointed straight at Darcy’s heart.