Status: Will be updated once to twice a week, until I catch up to what I have written.

The Quest

Chapter Sixteen - Magnolias

Tom walked into a big cavernous area with a sword at his side. He looked at the sword, an inscription on the base of the blade. No matter how much he tried to focus on it, he couldn’t make it out. He heard struggling ahead of him, making him move further into the cavern, sword at the ready. He tried to make the sounds come in clearer, but couldn’t. Why weren’t his ears working? He passed a mirror-like rock that allowed him to see his reflection. Tom stopped as he saw himself gaping at the image. He didn’t have his wolf ears or tail. He was completely human.

He shook his head as he moved forward. Must’ve been a magic rock, he reasoned with himself. There was no reason he’d actually be human. He moved forward, holding the sword in front of him, ready to defend himself at any moment.

A cry of pain moved him forward, his heart in his throat. The sound was familiar to him, but he couldn’t place who it would be. Finally, he could see a figure on the floor, sobbing on the ground. Their dark hair was covering their face as they crawled towards the tunnel he was in. Tom looked around to see who was attacking the woman in front of him, but couldn’t see anything. “Tom!” the woman cried out to him. Her black dress was dragging on the ground. She seemed hurt. Was that a trail of blood behind her?

“Tess?” he heard his voice ask. What? That couldn’t be Tess.

“Tom!” the woman cried again, before screaming a heart stopping scream.

Tom sat up in his hammock covered in sweat, his breathing coming in short, quick gasps. Just a dream. Tom sank back into his hammock. “Just a dream, just a dream,” he repeated to himself, as he wiped the sweat from his forehead. The dream had been so real.

“Mr. Tom?” a voice asked after a few moments.

Tom sat up in his hammock to see the young werewolf that Tess had out-mopped on their first day. “Right here, Rune,” Tom answered, swinging his legs out of the hammock so he could stand. “Are we getting ready to dock?”

Rune nodded, then bounded back up the stairs. Tom wasn’t sure, but he thought Rune might be a little scared of him. Wilkolaks were the strongest of the werewolf species, but he didn’t think he had given any sign that he’d hurt the pup. Unless... his birthday was coming up. Since his father passed, he might get his Alpha's senses early. That would be a reason for intimidation... even Destru seemed a little uneasy with him. Destru would have no hopes of being Tom’s alpha, unless Tom allowed him to be his Alpha. That was the way of the Wilkolaks.

Tom shook his head, chasing the thoughts from his head as he took a quick sip of water from the bucket by the door. The dream was still haunting him. If that was Tess on the ground in his dream. How had she gotten there? Was she taken from him? Why did he look human? Was there a way for him to give up his werewolf powers? He didn’t think so. Many had tried to remove their lyncontrophy, but nobody had succeeded that he was aware of. He also had no desire to be human. The dream was ludicrous.

“Tom!” Destru’s voice called from the top of the stairs.

“Coming!” Tom called, then bounded up the stairs to help with the docking.

----

It had taken little time to dock the ship. Once everything was ready for the evening, Destru allowed Tess and Tom to go on an adventure on their own. They had to be back before the moon was high. Tess skipped ahead of Tom as they followed signs to a magnolia grove. She remembered to bring her herb pouch, so she could gather other random herbs she found on the way.

“Look at this lavender!” Tess squealed, getting sidetracked. “It’s so healthy and full!” She plucked a few sprigs of it, leaving some for the plant to continue prospering. “This trail has so many herbs!” Tess turned to Tom, who gave her an amused grin at her excitement. She always got excited about herbs.

“I thought you were looking for Magnolia flowers,” Tom teased. He continued to walk past her, pretending not to notice the herbs.

“You know I always get sidetracked with herbs.” Tess ran up to him, only to run ahead once more upon finding another herb she could use. Tom shook his head, knowing what should be a half-hour walk was going to turn into a couple of hours. The sun would be set by the time they made it to the grove.

It took some coaxing, but Tom could convince Tess to look at the herbs on the side of the road on the way back. They saw the beauty of the grove with the sunset enhancing the hues of the pink, white, and yellow flowers. “You’re right,” Tom started, putting an arm around Tess’ shoulders. “They’re pretty.”

“I told you,” Tess beamed, then ran forward to a tree, only to be stopped by a nymph. Tom got ready to defend Tess if need be.

The nymph adjusted her glasses as she took in Tess’ excitement for the flowers. “What can I help you with?” the nymph asked.

“I was hoping to have a couple of blossoms,” Tess explained as she eyed the nymph. She hadn’t forgotten their last encounter.

“I tend to these trees, so I’d be able to help you find the best blossoms for your uses,” the nymph suggested. A splashing sound came from their left, a water nymph rose from their puddle. “Wisteria, how is the watering going?” the tree nymph asked, as the water nymph moved their arm to a tree and allowed water to run along its trunk.

“Well,” the water nymph replied, not paying them any mind.

“I was hoping to enhance some of my potions with a few petals.” Tess turned her attention back to the tree nymph as Wisteria moved onto another tree to water.

“Do you have a certain potion in mind?” the tree nymph asked, her mossy eyes looking at Tess and Tom.

“Unfortunately, I do not,” Tess admitted, her heart sinking. What were the chances a tree nymph would allow her to take blossoms when she didn’t have a specific purpose for them.

“Well, I rarely let just anyone take blossoms,” the nymph pulled their glasses off and cleaned them. “But I have a larger harvest than I originally expected. Let me get you some.”

Tess looked at Tom excitedly as the tree nymph walked off to gather blossoms for Tess. Nearly ten minutes later, Tess had a large bag full of blossoms that were as big as Tom’s paws when he was transformed. “What are you going to do with all this?” Tom asked, as he took a few blossoms that were getting ready to fall to the ground.

“I will find a use,” Tess beamed. She hadn’t expected to get so many of them. The pair continued on their way, making it back to the boat before they knew it.

“Lass, I thought you were just getting a few dinosaur blossoms,” Destru exclaimed. Tess sat a pile of blossoms on the deck after they had made it back to the ship.

“The nymphs were really nice,” Tess beamed. She found an empty barrel and transferred them in it for the time being. “Is this okay for now?” she asked, looking towards Destru.

Destru opened and closed his mouth a few times before nodding his head. The flowers were bigger than the grove they had passed earlier, and he wasn’t sure where else they would’ve put them. “Best get some sleep,” he finally said. “We have a few more days before we make it to your stop.”

Tess looked at Tom at this news. She saw his jaw tighten. He had been fighting his emotions for the past few days, but he always put a brave face on when she was around. She couldn’t wait for the next few days to be over so they could move on with their lives.