Madelyn

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-17-

Madelyn’s mind awoke before her eyes would open. She tried to lift the lids several times before she gave up and just relied on her ears and nose. Her surroundings had changed while she was sleeping. Using what limited experience she had with smelling so much more, she determined she was no longer in the forest, but she was not at home, either. The room smelled of freesia and rose, the two delicate scents played with her nose as another nagged at her. She’d smelled that before, but place when or where she’d smelled it.

Frowning, she tried her eyes again. This time, the lids lifted slowly, her vision blurry, but she could make out that the room was bright, with big arching windows. The light sheer curtains were moving in the cool breeze that also ruffled her white fur.

As her violet eyes came into focus, she could now tell that the walls weren’t white, as she had originally thought. They were muted shades of very light blues and pinks and tans, so light that before her vision returned to normal, she couldn’t make them out. Scenes were delicately stenciled with shades ever so slightly darker than the others. There were scenes of oceans and mer-folk playing in the waves.

Another scene showed unicorns galloping through a meadow. Yet another showed a little girl sitting in the grass by a stream, a wolf nearby, standing guard over her. She focused on that scene, wondering how it came to be part of the images on the walls around her.

Hearing a noise outside the room, she closed her eyes quickly, slowing her breathing to try to make herself appear to still be asleep.

The person came into the room, setting something on the table beside her. She felt a hand on her neck and resisted the urge to snap at them.

“It’s no use trying to pretend you’re asleep, Madelyn,” a gentle feminine voice said softly to her. “I know you’re awake. Open your eyes now, please.”

Madelyn complied and looked up into the face of her captor. The woman had long, curling blonde hair and violet eyes. Her face was soft and gentle, with a slight smile turning up the corners of her lips.

“I would appreciate it if you would change back now, darling,” the woman said to her, in her gentle and soothing voice.

Watching the woman warily, she moved into a crouching position on the bed, not changing just yet. She’d prefer to stay in her wolf form, the form she knew she could protect herself better than she could in her human form.

The woman sighed softly.

“I guess you’re not quite ready to know more about why you are here,” she said quietly. “When you are ready to change back into your human form, Madelyn, we will tell you why we have brought you to Sa Sakor, but not until then. In the meantime, I have brought you food,” she indicated the tray on the nightstand. “You’re welcome to eat it at your leisure. Please do not fear about it being laced with anything. We are a peaceful people and I was not pleased when I learned that you were drugged to bring you here.”

Madelyn’s ears perked at that. ‘Drugged?’ she thought to herself. ‘No wonder they were able to get me here so easily, without waking me from my nap.’

The woman turned to leave the room, but paused at the door, as if she wanted to say something more. Changing her mind, she continued through the doorway, the door having retracted into the wall on its own as she approached it, and now returning to its original place after the woman moved through.

Madelyn realized she was hungry, so she sniffed at the food. It was mostly fruit and vegetables, but there was also cheese and a large portion of grilled fish. The cheese and fish both smelled delicious, but the fruit and vegetables didn’t seem all that appealing to her. It surprised her. She’d always loved fruit and vegetables. Maddy supposed it was all part of her change into the werewolf that she had become, and started debating whether to eat in her wolf form or to change back to her human form.

Looking around the room for the first time, she noticed a wardrobe in the corner. It was colored much in the same manner as the walls were, s it didn’t surprise her that she’d not noticed it before now. Moving off the bed, she padded over to the wardrobe and nosed it open to find several long, flowing dresses in light, airy fabric.

Backing away from the wardrobe, she decided to go ahead and change back to her human form. It took her a moment to remember how to do it, but finally she stood on human feet, trembling softly. Moving back to the wardrobe, she selected a dress in a very light lilac color and was surprised to discover that it fit as thought it were made for her.

“I wonder...” she started to whisper, then stopped herself, not sure she really wanted to wonder anything further. Returning to the bedside, Madelyn took the handles of the tray into her hands. She’d noticed a pair of French doors leading to a small veranda off the room. It had a table and three chairs positioned around it and she took the tray to sit in the sun while she ate.

Everything on her plate was simply divine, from the fish to the cheese and she even ate some of the fruit, the first bite of which tickled her sweet tooth as it was very ripe and very sweet. She remained on the veranda after finishing her meal and just stared across what she could only describe as a city. Only, it wasn’t like any city she’d ever visited. The buildings were flowing works of art in and of themselves. All of the entryways were arched and one could never call any of the lines on the buildings angular. They flowed with the forest that not only surrounded the city, but also stood within it. It was like she had stepped into a Mediterranean village, but in the middle of a forest.

It had been about a half hour when she heard the door slide open and someone move into the room.

The one who entered was not the woman who visited earlier, but rather was the one whose scent she smelled earlier. Distinctly male, though she wasn’t sure how she knew that, she could hear him approaching her.

“And the sleepyhead returns to the land of the waking,” he said jovially. “So, how is the elusive Madelyn doing?”

She looked up at the man and was startled to find herself staring into what could be her face, if she were male.

Madelyn stared at him, her mouth open slightly, disbelieving what she was seeing. Brian had said her brother was dead, but this man couldn’t be anyone but her brother. How could it be? A tear slipped from an eye as she sat there, uncertain of what to say or do.

He helped her with that.

“Hello, Madelyn,” he said gently to her as he went to one knee beside her chair and took her hand gently between his. “I have been watching you for a very long time, with my Grandfather’s approval. We wanted to come for you much sooner, but circumstances took that beyond our control, and we were forced to wait for you to return to your former home in the wood before we could fetch you and bring you to where you have belonged your entire life.”

He paused to allow her to take that in before continuing, “Madelyn, I am your brother, Rinion.”

“No,” Madelyn said suddenly. “No...no!” she didn’t know what else to say and it took her a moment to gather her thoughts. “My brother is dead, Brian told me so. Our mother gave birth to him and she died, and he did, too.”

“No, Made...” he started saying gently. A rustle behind them made him stop and look toward the doors to the room she’d awoken in. He rose to his feet and backed away, still smiling gently to Madelyn.

“No, Madelyn,” a soft voice said. Madelyn turned to look upon the woman who was here earlier. “We are not dead, my love. We are very much alive.”

Madelyn stood up, pushing the chair away as she moved to stare between the two people standing before her. Could it be true? They looked so very much like her. She opened her mouth to talk once, twice, but no sound would come out. Her breath became short as her mind spun with everything that had happened to her in the past several days and before anyone could react, she blacked out, falling to the floor.

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