Wolfsbane: Part Six
Ludwig's voice came out as a croak. "…we were ambushed during a territory patrol."
"Ambushed?! By who?!" You snapped, voice high pitched with anxiety as you stroked Gilbert's silken head gently. He stirred slightly, eyes fluttering beneath his eyelids, but that was the only response he gave. Other than that, he lay limp in his brother's arms.
"By…cloaked figures…" Ludwig said slowly, arms trembling slightly. For a moment you wondered if it was because Gilbert was too heavy, but then you remembered that the younger of the two brothers was practically a body builder on top of being a wolf Shifter. And when you looked up at his face, you were shocked to see tears shining in the corners of his eyes.
"Cloaked…figures…?" You repeated slowly, not being able to exactly comprehend.
"Ja…" Ludwig nodded miserably, still trembling. "And when Bruder demanded to know who they were…they attacked without warning…und their powers…they must be some of the strongest Casters I have ever seen…and Bruder didn't stand a chance. He made us leave to go back home to protect you, because…" He paused. "…(name)…"
"What…?" You whispered, the urge to up and run with Gilbert in your own arms coursing through your veins still. Ludwig's tone and his words just added to the sensation, as well as even more anxiety.
Ludwig's next words made you want to throw up once again.
"They said that the reason that they were here…was because they were looking for a human girl by the name of (first name) (last name)."
Three days passed. You refused to leave Gilbert's side. He had yet to become conscious, and you and Elizabeta were constantly taking care of him. The rest of the pack was in a state of dismal gloom—no, the entire house was. No one smiled. No one laughed. The only thing on your minds was Gilbert's health. Ludwig and Vash would constantly go back out to the area where they fought with what was definitely a group of Casters, but each time they returned, the news was the same—nothing.
And you couldn't help but insist deep down that it was all. Your. Fault.
What Ludwig had said about the Casters wanting to see (first name) (last name)…you…and then they had attacked Gilbert…it was your fault, wasn't it? Maybe somehow they had found out that you were trying to break the albino Alpha's curse, and they wanted to get rid of you…something…maybe that Natalia Braginski woman wanted to kill you…
You just didn't know. All you knew was that you were NOT going to leave Gilbert alone until he woke up. You owed him this much. He had brought you to the dog shelter, let you technically become part of the pack, and had pretty much saved you from a life of poverty. Yes, he acted like such an arrogant prick at times…but you knew he was one of the kindest people you had ever met. Even when he was dealing with his own troubles, he still worried about you.
And for some reason, those types of thoughts just made your heart race a million beats per minute.
On the evening of the third day since Gilbert and the other wolves getting attacked, you were lying beside the unconscious white canine dozing. Your hand did not relent in its constant stroking of Gilbert's furry white coat, which was now free of any specks of crimson thanks to you and Elizabeta giving him a bath as soon as you had gotten him in the house. You couldn't imagine all the comments he would make about that once he finally woke up.
(E/c) eyes drooping as you squirmed closer to Gilbert's warm side, you pressed your face in his furry neck and sighed shakily. "…I'm sorry, Gilbert," you whispered quietly, knowing that if any of the other wolves were within ten feet of the bedroom they would be able to hear you. "This is all my fault, isn't it? Because I'm trying to break your curse…maybe I should leave here, so none of the other members of the pack get hurt…but where would I go? I kind of need you with me so I can break the curse…but you're hurt now…and I can't do anything but sit here and…"
You broke off as tears welled up in your eyes, and you bit your lip as a sniffle threatened to arise. For some reason, ever since Gilbert had come into your life, a little nagging part of you constantly demanded to be at his side. You wanted to see him smile with his human face—that cocky smirk in most of the pictures scattered around the house turn to a tender, affectionate grin aimed just for you. Those ruby orbs staring into your own (e/c) eyes, saying more things than any words could…
In short, you just wanted to be with Gilbert Beilschmidt. You wanted to laugh with him, make him happy…and your heart just felt like it was shattering to pieces as you watched the wolf beside you sleep, an occasion tremble going through his body or a twitch of the limbs accompanied by a soft groan-like whimper coming from that muzzle that had licked your face so much already…
Face flushing slightly as unfamiliar emotions raced through your brain, you clung to Gilbert's side carefully so as to not irritate his wounds (most were healed already being that Shifters had a fast immune system, but the internal damage done by the Casters' magic may still be in effect, according to Vlad—he was the pack's self-proclaimed magic specialist), you sighed and forced the tears away. In a soft voice you mumbled, "I want you to wake up soon, Gilbert…so I can fix you and your pack can return to normal. Please," Your grip on his fur tightened, voice sounding a bit bleak with desperation, "don't leave me…I need you, Gilbert. I need you. I don't know why, but the thought of a life without you…isn't a life at all. Please…wake up…come back…to me; to Luddy; to Liz; to everyone. Please…"
You could have sworn you heard a faint mumbled "(Name)…" come from Gilbert's mouth, but you were suspicious it was just your sleep deprived mind playing tricks on you. You had probably gotten a total of eight hours of sleep for the past three days, being that you were constantly at Gilbert's side talking to him, reading to him, or just being there for him.
But now, with the sun slowly lowering in the sky, your body completely exhausted, and Gilbert's warm, furry mass pressed so closely to yours, you couldn't help it. You slowly drifted off to sleep, immersing yourself in a dreamland.
A dreamland that made you feel utterly terrified.
You were standing in darkness. A low pressure flitted across your body, like an air tight lock that prevented you from moving. You felt like you were being watched from all angles, and it was almost like the darkness that surrounded you was…moving. Like they were shadows embodied with some sort of element, alive and conscious and watching your every move.
You closed your eyes tightly, willing yourself to wake from this nightmare and go back to Gilbert. You'd rather be awake and utterly exhausted than sleeping and in this hellish nightmare. Terror coursed up and down your body, and really, all the dream consisted of so far was darkness.
But it was an animated darkness that seemed to be fear itself.
And then you heard a voice.
You stiffened as the voice curled around you, almost like it was manifesting in one of the shadows. It was a female's voice, dark and sinister sounding, of some sort of accent you could not quite place. It was heavy, a bit like a Russian's, but not quite so. Whatever their nationality, the woman speaking sounded dangerous, like there was storm of slight insanity raging behind a thin sheet of calmness. A very thin sheet.
"(Name). (First name) (last name)…I finally found you."
"W-who's there?" You stammered, swallowing thickly. "S-Show yourself!"
A laugh, one that sounded like knives grating on a chalkboard. "My, my, telling ME to show myself? You're quite the fearless one…though I can taste your terror right now, dearest (name). And it's quite delicious~"
You were about to demand for whoever it was to show herself again, when suddenly she did. Like she stepped straight from the darkness, shadows coiling around her like obedient dogs, a woman stood before you, lips pursed in a deadly sneer. She was actually quite beautiful—but it was a malicious beauty, almost like a snake. She was a bit pale, and had long platinum blonde hair and violet-blue eyes that glittered with wickedness. She wore a dark purple dress and black boots, colors that just seemed fitting for a presence as evil as her. Instantly you knew who this woman was—Natalia Braginski, the Caster who had cursed Gilbert.
Natalia smiled again, a harsh and cruel gesture as she stepped forward. In her pale hand, a shadow slithered up from her arm and slowly materialized into a long jet black staff, the end point sharpened so that it was almost like a spear made directly of darkness. She held the staff out, the sharp point brushing against your cheek and making you shiver slightly, but otherwise you kept silent, (e/c) eyes set in terrified determination.
"So you're the human girl that idiot Gilbert enlisted to help him…" Natalia murmured as she looked you up and down, subtly shifting the staff so it ran through your (h/c) hair, barely grazing your ear. "It's pointless, you know. My curse is full proof. It cannot be broken by a simple human girl such as YOU." Her words were harsh, bitter, cutting into your heart with each syllable.
"W-What are you—but Gilbert said you told him the blood and tears of a normal girl would fix him!" You stammered out, lips trembling slightly.
Natalia blinked her dark indigo eyes rapidly, before throwing her head back and roaring with laughter. "Vot durak!" She snarled, eyes glittering. "That fool! He left out something, do you know? He's so desperate to get back to normal, he left out the fact that you have to fall in love with him in order to get the cure to work properly!"
Betrayal and confusion instantly shot through you like a knife. "…what…?"
The Caster giggled with malicious glee. "Da, da~ That glupyĭ volk—that stupid wolf…he is so arrogant, is he not? He wants to have his human body back as soon as possible. Can you not tell? He did not tell you the last part of the cure so you would involuntarily fall in love with him, and once you make him all better, he will just leave you to find another wolf Shifter to mate with~"
Natalia paused, gauging your silent shock as you stared down at the darkness below you. "But there is something I did not tell HIM," She added in a wicked manner. "The girl who is to cure him must be his lifemate—the one destined to be his since time began. And no wolf Shifter has found their lifemates in centuries; Gilbert Beilschmidt will be the same. You are just a silly little human girl, thrown into a web of complication too much for your little bitty brain~"
This was just too much for you.
"WHY DO YOU HATE GILBERT SO MUCH?!" You exploded at last, body bristling with rage. "WHY THE HELL DID YOU CURSE HIM TO STAY IN HIS WOLF FORM IN THE FIRST PLACE?! JUST FOR FUN?!"
The Caster narrowed her eyes dangerously and waved her staff once. Instantly shadows coiled around you like rope, squeezing until you choked aloud as the air was squeezed from your lungs. The shadows were cold, so cold they almost burned—like you were being wrapped in a blanket of black ice made of terror.
"Did he not tell you? The wolf refused to assist my precious brother in a deal that would ensure peace between Casters and Shifters for at least a century, maybe even more." Her face stiffened with hatred, teeth gnashing angrily. "If Gilbert Beilschmidt had agreed to give my brother just a few acres of his land—just a few!—our kind could put aside our hatred and animosity for a while. But nyet," she spat out viciously. "he was an arrogant, prideful idiot who sealed his own fate! And so…I cursed him…for he made my brother angry and sad."
She looked up, eyes meeting yours with a crazed gleam. "And all who hurt my brother must be PUNISHED." She giggled then, a cracked grin stretching across her pale lips. "And so I gave Gilbert a punishment fitting for one who is such a narcissistic bastard as he is~ To never again be in that so-called 'handsome' human body of his that he loves so much. He must spend the rest of his life as a wolf!"
She threw her head back and roared with triumphant laughter. "And eventually he shall lose all memories of ever being human…his humanity shall disappear within the soul of the wolf—he shall be merely nothing but a wild animal! It is truly my greatest work…taking the gift that the gods bestowed upon his ancestors so long ago and making it so that the beast within him is the only existence he has left~"
You felt sick. Utterly, absolutely sick. Your palms were sweaty, you shook violently, and all you wanted to do was throw yourself at this deranged woman and claw her eyes out. But unfortunately you were still trapped in the freezing embrace of the shadows, and even if you weren't, Natalia Braginski would most likely be able to kill you with a flick of her finger.
…but why hadn't she killed you just yet?
And…what about the group of Casters who had attacked the pack on their territory lookout?
Swallowing back your acidic bile, you said in a quiet tone, "What do I have to do with all of this, then? If I'm just some stupid human girl, why am I a part of this? And why did you send those other Casters after me, the ones who hurt Gilbert?"
Natalia blinked in confusion at the last bit. "...other Casters…?"
Suspicion flared in you. "You mean…you DIDN'T send them? The ones who attacked Gilbert so badly that he's in a coma now?" You grit your teeth. "Don't lie to me!"
The Caster's eyes widened. "…nyet. I had nothing to do with that. This is the first I have heard of it. Gilbert Beilschmidt will not wake up, you say?" A venomous smile spread across her face. "…this is wonderful. Everything is turning out much better than I had expected it to. But other Casters after you…that concerns me."
"And why?!" You snapped bitterly. "You want me dead, don't you?!"
Natalia scoffed. "Nyet, of course not. You are much too entertaining to watch. I want to watch over every step of your failure, so I can laugh at your utter agony when Gilbert is nothing more than a savage beast, ready to rip that pretty little throat up~"
She suddenly waved her staff, and the shadows constricting around you slithered away. Immediately you collapsed on the solid darkness, shaking and rubbing your arms in an effort to start the blood flowing again. You looked up at Natalia, shocked to find that she was slowly flickering back into the darkness, like she was turning into the shadows themselves.
"It is time for me to take my leave. I enjoyed meeting you at last, Miss (name). And because I don't want this enjoyable but pointless quest to end so quickly, I will give you a hint to continue with it."
Her voice faded just as her body disappeared completely.
"Take Gilbert and go to his birth land. It is not here in Germany, as you think. It is where another nation with close ties to the Germanic people once stood…the kingdom of Prussia."
And with that, she was gone.
Immediately you shot up in bed, body slick with a cold sweat and chest heaving as you gasped for breath. The constant grip of terror you had experienced in that dark dreamland was slowly fading away, leaving you with a sense of emptiness and dread. If what all Natalia Braginski had said was true…then Gilbert had lied to you. But as much as that hurt, you could not let it bother you.
Because if Natalia was correct, then soon he would not be Gilbert Beilschmidt anymore.
You looked down at the sleeping white wolf beside you, scratching his ear absentmindedly as a frown pulled at the corners of your lips. You were shaking still, but now that you were awake with Gilbert at your side, things were starting to feel a bit better. You were completely worried, however, about how you were going to help him now…you certainly weren't his…lifemate…or whatever it was that Natalia had called it. Especially not if the wolf Shifter population didn't have any—or just could not find theirs. Dismay gripped your mind as you sighed heavily, shoulders slumping in regret.
"…Natalia said to go to Prussia…wherever that is. It should give us some clues…but I can't take Gilbert there when he's like this! I've never even heard of Prussia—does it even exist, or was that bitch just messing with me?"
As soon as you said the words "go to Prussia," you felt Gilbert shift beside you. A bit more than his usual twitchy movement. You shrugged it off as him just getting more comfortable, but suddenly a sleepy, raspy and utterly familiar voice mumbled out, "(Name)…?"
You stiffened, looking down.
Gilbert was staring up at you, doggy face slack with sleepiness and crimson eyes slightly glazed over. He grunted, shaking his head slightly and trying to get to his four feet, but he just slumped into the bed and groaned, leaning against you tiredly. "Mein Gott…why do I feel so drained…?"
"…Gilbert…" Your eyes widened. "You're awake…you're all right…G-Gilbert…!"
And then suddenly you were hugging him, face buried in his shaggy fur and body shaking with relief, clinging to him and trying not to cry. "I-I thought you were never going to wake up…I-I was so scared…O-Oh, Gilbert, you're all right…I'm so sorry…it's my fault those Casters hurt you…I'm sorry…I'm sorry…I-I'm sorry…!"
Gilbert was obviously not prepared to wake up to a blubbering (name). He squirmed nervously, stammering out, "(N-Name)?! What's wrong?! What happened?! I don't…"
You pulled away, tear filled and relieved (e/c) eyes meeting his positively confused scarlet ones. You smiled strainedly, sniffling and wiping your face before any further waterworks could ooze out of you.
And then you promptly smacked Gilbert on his furry wolfish head, causing him to yelp in painful surprise. "W-What the hell—"
"DON'T YOU EVER WORRY ME LIKE THAT AGAIN, YOU HEAR?! I HAVE ENOUGH ON MY PLATE OTHER THAN DEALING WITH YOU BEING UNCONSIOUS FOR THREE FREAKING DAYS! YOU'RE AN ALPHA, RIGHT? SO BE ALL STRONG-ALPHA-MALE AND STUFF, AND DON'T GIVE IN SO EASILY AND GET YOURSELF KNOCKED OUT LIKE THAT!"
You shook, clenching your fists as you lowered your voice, avoiding looking at Gilbert's shocked canine expression as you slid your arms around his warm, muscular and fuzzy body, pressing your face into his neck.
"…and don't…leave me like that again, please…because I don't know what I'd do if you did…"
Gilbert was silent, before his body rumbled with his raspy "Kesesesese" laugh, and his tongue gently ran across the top of your (h/c) hair in an affectionate canine kiss. "Can't live without the Awesome Me then, (name)~?"
"…don't ruin the moment, you asshole. I have my own frying pan and I WILL use it."