“What time is it?”
Morgan dragged his gaze away from his new pet to see that the healer was stirring. She’d passed out in his favorite chair after healing and Changing Black, barly managing to pull her clothing back on before exhaustion claimed her.
“It’s almost dusk,” he replied absently as Black nuzzled his hand, demanding that he resume scratching his chin. He smiled and did so, surprized but pleased when his new pet began purring raggedly. “He’s a cat!”
“So it would seem,” Megan agreed. She yawned and stretch before climbing out of the chair. He watched as she shuffled over to Black’s bed—not that he would be using it much—and pulled a piece of chalk out of her waist satchel. Black stopped purring, causing him to look back at his pet. The new shifter’s eyes were locked intently on the healer. Not threateningly, but not idly, either. She was drawing glyphs in a long line on the wall above the bed.
“What are you going, Meg?” he asked cautiously.
“Warding this section of your apartment. The moon with rise shortly and Sir Jarod will be forced to begin his first change. There’s not enough time to remove him to the dungeon—”
Anger flashed in Morgan’s eyes. “He’s not going to caged like an animal.”
Megan huffed and tossed an exasperated glance over her shoulder as she worked. “He is an animal now, my lord. Or, he will be in a few minutes. The first several weeks will be very difficult. He won’t retain any of his humanity when the moon is up and will be operating on pure animal instinct. I’m providing a safe place for him to be during those times.”
“How will that work?” Morgan started to move closer to see what she was doing now that she was working her way down the wall. Black started struggling, so he stopped.
“You should unbind him. Being in a forced position like that could kill him once his first change begins. We know he’s a cat but not what kind or how large he’ll be.”
Morgan looked uncertainly at Black, who was not acting like a he had any control at the moment. “Are you sure that’s safe?”
“Yeah, just don’t get between him and that meat you have on your night stand,” she said distractedly as she finished drawing on the wall and began on the floor. “Set the platter in the middle of the floor and unbind his feet before doing his arms.”
Morgan hesitated another moment, but did as she suggested. She didn’t seem at all concerned about letting Black lose and she would be the one to know if it was safe. Black, clearly having understood he was both being freed and fed, held perfectly still until the last binding was removed before pouncing on the large pile of meat.
“Your right,” Morgan murmured, shocked at the ferocity the formerly urbane knight was tearing through the food. “He’s not showing any traits of a man.”
“He’s not a man anymore. Strictly speaking, anyway. In time, he’ll be able to mimic a pure darlikling again, but he won’t ever be one again.” She paused her work to watch her patient thoughtfully. Then, which a shrug, she continued her warding. “He seems to be integrating with his beast very well, which is a good sign, but be warned. Once the moon starts to rise, he’ll become crazed. The first few changes will be excruciating for him ans his darkling magic and his new shifter magic fight for control.”
Sudenly, Black stopped eating. He froze for an instant and then his back arched sharply. A blood curdling scream ripped from his throat.
“Damn! The moon is already cresting and I’m not finished!” Meg shouted. “Quick, get him to the warded area!” She was scribbling as fast as she could, but by the look on her face, Morgan knew she didn’t think it would be in time.