Chapter Seven

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     The day was waning

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     The day was waning. The rain had started again then stopped after it had soaked Meruself through to the bone. Now a chill wind blew from the north, determined to steal what warmth Meruself had left in her body. Wolf lay by her side, asleep and peaceful. The direwolf's fur was wet but the heat she radiated acted like a living breathing hearth and Meruself huddled close, thankful once again for her companion.

      Exhaustion settled deep into Meruself's soul. How long would she have to wait for the Norns to allow her to go home again? Meruself reached out and placed a cold hand upon the invisible barrier. Longing for home swelled in her heart and her throat tightened. Had she lost her home again? Would this little life she'd carved out for herself be forever lost to her, too? Meruself rested her weary head on her drawn up knees and closed her eyes.

      "Mother, Sister, Crone, when will you forgive me?" she whispered, refusing to weep. She refused to let the familiar pain gain purchase on the frail hope she still held in her heart. They had not interceded or helped earlier when she had prayed for the fallen warrior. If they had heard her prayers it was only because she prayed for another who had earned their mercy. He had won his reward with blood. Yet when it came to the succor Meruself so badly needed she was yet again denied. Here she was again denied her home. And yet again the Norns were silent. Meruself sighed and placed her hand on Wolf's neck, stroking the soft fur.

      Wolf opened her eyes and looked at her. The direwolf yawned, stood and stretched, then lay back down again. Wolf raised her head to the darkening skies, her eyes tracking a murder of crows as they flew across the cloud ridden sky. Once they were out of sight, Wolf turned to look at Meruself again.

      "It's time to go." The words of the direwolf were clear and definite in Meruself's head.

      Meruself's eyes opened wide and her mouth opened but no sound came out at first. "You can speak!" Merself exclaimed.

      "Yes."

      "Who are you? Where are you from? Who sent you to watch over me? Why are you here?" The direwolf studied her with its vibrant blue gaze, assessing Meruself as if it would see into the very heart of her. Meruself wondered what the direwolf saw.

      "The time will come when there will be answers to all of your questions, Meruself. However, that time is not now. Now we must be on our way."

      "So where do we go from here since we cannot go home? Or since I cannot," Meruself said, her voice flat. She stood and touched the barrier again, trying to will it away to no avail.

      "You were moved to seek out Saga. It is there that we will go."

        It was Meruself's turn to stare at the direwolf, wondering what forces were moving her in the direction of fate. She bent down to retrieve her satchel full of goods. The journey wouldn't be what she had expected it to be. The man in her vision was dead; her intention to save his life was like ashes in her mouth. And for now at least, her home in Hella Wood was lost to her. She looked at the grey skies, wondering if the Norns were pleased with what they saw. Somehow she felt they were not, and perhaps would never be.

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