Epilogue

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Winter, 1878 / The Farm

Clementine Blue sat quietly, as she hovered just above the man made forest floor with hands out and palms up; her concentration focused on keeping her nerves as calm as she could.

Any sign of fear would be her enemy; something Running-Deer could easily sense and react accordingly to while in bear; particularly so when around her children.

The ruins of the original cabin used for Running-Deer's care lay nearby, covered in weeds that had begun to grow through to reclaim them.

High above, Leviticus LaRouchette and the farm manager watched through one of the narrowed viewing slits. Rubicon's abilities to maintain and prepare things had impressed him when they'd initially arrived, even when she'd allowed the witch to direct other modifications that had also been made.

But then again that is why he'd not hesitated when Rubicon had named her price so long ago.

Near as tall as he, her black hair and light skin offset his own fairness when compared. Three long jagged slashes ran across her face, the pupil of her right eye white in line with one of the slashes that had crossed it.

"Is she safe?" Leviticus asked.

Rubicon shrugged her narrow shoulders. "Probably safer than anyone else might be where she is."

"And the ... children?"

"Amazingly enough ..." she observed, "... they are doing far better than might have otherwise have been expected ... particularly when one considers that if your witch had not gotten everyone out when she had; there would have been far more chance of serious injury or fatalities ... for everyone on both sides."

Leviticus sighed. "She does appear to have some sort of an idea of what she's doing."

Below them Clementine smiled, as she'd heard every word. The bubble of protection was spelled and ready but she didn't think that she'd need it anymore.

When she'd first seen the oubliettes that had been built she quickly chose the largest and deepest for their patient. Having the workers layout dirt for a forest floor along with bushes and trees they quickly converted punishment and containment to forested comfort assisted by her magical helping hands.

The small cabin had also been her idea, meant to give comfort if Running-Deer were to have regained consciousness before or during the birth.

Unfortunately, she'd simply managed to completely underestimate both Running-Deer and her condition.

First it had become quickly apparent there were two children rather than one and even then her pregnancy had moved along much faster than even the other lycans had expected.

When the spells and other calming methods that Clementine had used to keep their patient sedated began to fail, she also realized that the birth would not go quite as smoothly as they had hoped or planned.

A saving grace indeed had been her decision to order the caregivers to leave; which had probably saved their lives as she protected herself and moved out to wait nearby, covered by the strongest protection spell that she could muster.

It happened so fast that even she was startled when the cabin walls blew out to reveal the largest grizzly bear that she'd ever seen.

The real shock had been that the fur was black and not brown. Not quite human eyes looked around at the surroundings and inspected the only other living creature near them.

Two newborn cubs also looked at her from beneath the bear as she sniffed the air for danger.

Clementine hadn't moved as she waited to see what would happen. When Running-Deer seemed comfortable, she gently herded the cubs into the nearby brush and disappeared.

Over time, as Clementine spent more and more time observing them while they played or explored, she was able to determine that one cub was male while the other appeared female.

Now, as she patiently waited, one of the cubs came out alone to check her out; having moved just close enough to brush his snout against the fabric of her skirts. When she looked up she realized that Running-Deer herself had also come out and was still very much in bear form.

Ever so slowly, she ambled forward and nudged the cub back to join his sister before the both disappeared once again.

Clementine felt that she'd passed another test of sorts while further ventures to visit the new family would be in order in the hope that they could begin to somehow communicate with Running-Deer.

She and the other lycans agreed that any introduction of wolves would have been more threat than help. Even the one man who might have been considered for the adventure explained a male bear would be even more threat that wolves from his experience.

That seemed to leave Clementine and her attempts to become familiar to the trio.

Slowly she levitated up toward the roof hatch until she was above it and the assistants closed it beneath her.

As she gently landed on both feet, she stood next to LaRouchette.

"That seemed to go well." he mused.

"Yes, it most certainly did." Clementine replied with much relief as she tried to loosen what tenseness that had crept into her muscles from her nerves. "She also seems to trust me more and more with each visit."

Rubicon moved to gently rub Clementine's shoulders.

LaRouchette looked down at the forest below.

"Are you certain that you have chosen the names that you want to use for them?"

Clementine nodded.

"It's their private garden, and Adam and Eve seemed as appropriate then, as they do now."

LaRouchette simply smiled.

"Oddly enough, I would agree that they do in fact seem the most appropriate in this case."

"Not so sure your Indian would understand the reference, but I'm sure that eventually she will come around." Rubicon mused.

"Trust me ..." Clementine said with relief. "She will approve and we will work to figure this out. I'm just glad that she survived everything and no one was hurt."

LaRouchette turned to study her as the young witch's work continued to impress him.

"As a first, so are we." he observed with a smile.

"Now to figure out when or how they will learn to turn human." Rubicon suggested.

"Perhaps that will be a line we will cross when we come to it." Clementine sighed as the woman's cool fingers brought well appreciated relief.

"That could be a very bloody line," LaRouchette agreed, having looked back down upon the forest below them. "But then again all blood-lines seem to start that way, hence the blood." he mused.

"I made a promise to Poe, and I mean to keep it." Clementine said evenly.

Blood-line or no blood-line she vowed.

~//~

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