It was the first emotion Shard felt upon waking up the second night, and it was so overwhelming, even in this form, that all she could do was flatten her ears and curl her blunted claws against the ground, riding it out as she did the increasingly frequent shockwaves that had been occurring for the past few days.
She had hoped that a little bit of sleep, fitful as it turned out to be, might have dampened this feeling, but apparently it had only intensified.
Why? Shard demanded silently of the far wall. Why? /Why/?
Tunare was still protecting him. After everything he had done, and everything he intended to do, after 'freeing' himself of her, he could still use her power. He had healed the wound she'd caused him right before her eyes, and she had recognized that power, and that aura, because she had seen Xannis use it many times before, and because, deep down, it was intimately familiar, something she had known long before she had ever met Xannis.
A small logical part of her knew that it was ridiculous to react this way, but it felt like a personal betrayal, somehow far more personal than anything Xannis himself had done so far, as if, by healing him, she were emphasizing just how much more she valued him, even fallen, even like this, over Shard herself.
Ridiculous. Tunare didn't personally dip down every single time Xannis used her healing. She certainly hadn't done it this time.
She was still granting him power though. Power that Shard had only ever felt a fragment of in her younger days. Power that she had taken away from her a long time ago.
And a tiny, tiny part of her admitted, if only silently and only to herself, that she had hoped Xannis had lost that power with his change for reasons far more personal and selfish than simply making it easier to fight him.
Why? Why is he so special to you? Don't you care about the rest of us?
Was Tosta right after all?
The wolf bared her teeth at the unresponsive wall and curled her head inward, against the bed. She could both feel and hear Vinka shifting in her sleep, tossing and turning as she had infrequently for the past twenty four hours. She waited, utterly still, until the movement ceased.
No, Shard decided, she wasn't waking up yet. Not yet.
Wake up, Vinka, Shard found herself willing, even as she settled back and sought sleep again. Wake up. I don't know what to trust anymore.
The sound of movement teased her ears and pulled at her groggy consciousness. Shard brought her thoughts slowly, reluctantly to the surface.
The squeak of bedsprings. But she couldn't smell anyone but herself, Vinka, and the faint trace of Arinanth, and so she sunk almost immediately back toward the long sought for sleep. Vinka was tossing and turning again. That was all.
A hand gripped the fur at the base of her neck. Shard's ears snapped forward, her muscles tensed and tightened like a ready spring, even though her eyes remained stubbornly closed.
But the touch was familiar, and a moment later, with a rumbling almost-growl of acknowledgment--and gratitude to whoever had decided to listen to her silent request, be it Vinka or higher powers--she turned her nose toward the arm that was attached to the hand, sniffed once, and then bumped her head against it.