Hilde pauses before the arch. She raises her hand and presses her palm to the stone. She bows her head. Her lips move; whispered words slipping from them like raindrops in a storm.
She raises her head, wiping tears from her eyes. Unconsciously she wipes her damp fingers on the cold stone. She steps through and into the dim forest.
Unlike any who have come before her, Hilde does not sneak or rush. She simply presses forward, one step at a time.
There is a crashing through the underbrush and a oncewolf leaps onto the path before her. He growls, his eyes narrow. His legs tense as he prepares to leap at Hilde.
She gives him a stern glare.
"No, sit," she commands.
The oncewolf falters, confusing showing in his shifting body language. His ears perk while a snarl also raises his lip.
The oncewolf whines but he sits. Hilde approaches him, her hand out, palm down. The oncewolf's nose twitches and he snuffles at her. A small whine escapes him.
"That's right, you're a good boy, aren't you?" Hilde scratches behind his ears. "That's right, you don't want to attack, you just want to be friends."
Hilde stands back up and looks around.
"I"m sure you have more friends around here. If we come across them they can join too. Come along." She motions for the oncewolf to join her. He falls in behind her, occasionally growling softly and then looking guilty.
By the time Hilde finds her way to the center of the forest the whole pack of wolves is following her, tamer, calmer. Hilde gasps as she catches sight of the golden flower in the center of the clearing. The golden honey petals are an exact match for Tiane's hair. After years of raising Tiane, brushing her hair, watching the light bounce off it, Hilde can mistake it for nothing else. She begins to step into the clearing.
Across from her a displaced appears. With a ghostly trill, it rushes toward her. As one, the pack behind her reacts, growling and leaping forward to stand between her and the displaced.
"Stop!" Hilde's voice is clear and ringing. The oncewolves and the displaced stop and look at her, almost quizzically.
"Nevermind this rivalry or what have you. I'm not here for that nor am I interested in it." She looks to the oncewolves. "You don't really want to fight the displaced."
The wolves cock their heads, a few looking down to the ground.
"And you don't really want to fight the oncewolves." She addresses the displaced. "I'd be willing to bet that you just want to go back to who you were, before all this."
The displaced seems to deflate. A shadow of sadness passes over it's features.
"Right, then let's see if we can fix the situation for all of us then."
Hilde nudges her way through the pack of oncewolves and strides to the flower. The displaced and the oncewolves gather around her in a circle.
Hilde reaches for the flower.