The Werewolves' Story

Healer and Hunter: Chapter Thirty-One


It had been the hardest thing he'd ever done, watching Thonyn come back into the bay, bloody but smiling, and not growling... congratulating her, like he was happy for her... not shouting at anyone about how unfair it all was. It was harder than leaving Zzandoren, because he knew he would always come back, and could talk to him, visit him, whenever he felt lonely or he was needed. Watching someone he liked-- most of the time-- doing something he desperately wished he could do, but was pointlessly denied... that was harder.

Ronan hadn't been very good company ever since Thonyn became Thonynde. He knew it, but he also couldn't stop, not for more than a couple minutes at a time. Maybe it was childish, maybe it was immature, but he didn't really care.

He didn't even envy her the weaponry and equipment, not as much as he could have: he prefered hand-to-hand weaponry to thrown blades and guns, really. Still, for someone who had to operate in secrecy, lest he be touted as a demon or monster himself, he would have given a lot for the shift suit. Even that, though, was less than the idea of just being included. Of bearing some mark or sign that he was just as worthy as his clutchmates, just as valued and honored, just as strong and good. Of being gifted with something, anything, useful and worthwhile that made his mission in life just as likely to succeed as anyone else's with the blood of the yautja in them....

So he was bitter. Jealous and bitter. What a wonderful thing for a supposedly "good" dragon to be. It just made him more angry and surly to think about it, but every time he looked at Thonynde he couldn't help but think about it. It was just a vicious circle, and one he needed to get out of.

So, when lunch was over-- and well-provided by the temple; Ronan thought me might actually miss some of the acolytes, too, now that they had no real reason to return-- he was planning to take his leave.

First, though, he had a conversation to have with a certain priest.

::Jestin,:: he said, catching the man's attention as he was cleaning the remains of the meal from his mandibles. Everyone else was busy-- Zzandoren discussing some herbal something with Dayna, the temple's actual healer-priest; Resham explaining irritably to a much amused acolyte why she'd been slipping bits of leftovers under the table to Shessyi; Rythri flirting with a newer priestess who hadn't yet seen him at his worst, with Thonynde eying them both jealously-- so he deemed it safe enough.

"If you're wondering about what you asked me," Jestin answered without looking up from the bread he was dipping into an oil-and-herb mixture that Ronan could smell even from where he was lounging, away from the tables, "I haven't had time to really look into it. It's going to take a lot of research and a lot of experimentation."

::Well, when are you going to have time, then?::

"Soon enough. If you really want to do something useful, come back here every couple months and check in with me. I might have news or something I'll need your help with."

Ronan eyed him curiously, and a little hopefully. ::Help with?::

"I said I'll need to experiment," Jestin explained patiently. "I can't experiment without you and your unique ability present, after all."

Encouraged, Ronan answered, ::I can't promise an exact time to check in with you, depending on what I'm doing at the time, but I'll do my best to come by regularly.::

"Good enough," Jestin smiled.

And then Zzandoren was getting up, starting to say his farewells. It looked like they were leaving.

Ronan had a couple farewells to say, himself, though he didn't feel quite as sad about it as he might have-- as he had a few minutes ago, even. He would be seeing these people, these walls, again, and fairly soon at that. He would be doing something useful, even when he wasn't trying-- and, sometimes, failing-- to hunt down evil-doers. That was more, he thought as he watched Thonynde get to her feet, brush off her gloves, and push back dredlocks, than some of the Blooded, pure-bred yautjadragons could say.

Not Thonynde, of course. He was doing his best not to think his bitter thoughts about her, in particular, not after she'd lowered her braided, newly-scarred head after the ceremony and apologized to him for doing what he wished he could. Just... the Blooded in general.

For the moment, though, he focused on the couple good-byes he felt like he wanted to give-- one of the burlier priests who had worked so hard to help him train for the week here and there he'd been under his tutelage; the reedier priest who had spent far too much time trying to teach him history and theology; the healer, Dayna, who looked after his bond so well. Jestin himself didn't get more than a nod; there wasn't much more to be said, between them.

"Be careful around anyone you think might be another Hunter," the lanky priest was telling Zzandoren, the two of them standing at the gate, the rest of the pack half-in and half-out of the temple grounds. "You're a bit of an exception, in some ways, but most werewolves are very territorial, and Hunters-types are much worse."

"I'll keep that in mind," Zzandoren nodded. "Thank you for all your help. --Ready, Ronan?"

And now he was faced with it. Leaving again. He scratched at the base of one curled horn. ::Ready, but....::

Jestin politely excused himself, and Zzandoren just smiled a bit. "But you're saying farewell to us, as well. I know. You have important things to do."

Ronan sighed, crouching down and letting his bond stroke the top of his head, since he could tell he wanted to. ::I just need to be on my own for a while. Remind myself that I can do good things, too.::

And maybe be less angry when we see you again, Zzandoren's thoughts suggested, though warmly and without blame. Not enough... not enough to assuage the hurt or douse the anger... but a lot.

::Maybe,:: Ronan agreed. ::I hope so.::

You will, Zzandoren thought at him fondly. You can do anything you set yourself to do, even conquer wild emotions. I know you can.

Embarrassed, Ronan rumbled wordlessly and clasped his big hands around the man's shoulders. It made him feel so big, seeing his hands next to Zzandoren's face, but he wasn't so hard and angry that he would refuse a little touch.

Like before, on their very first parting, Zzandoren kissed his forehead, right at the base of his horn. This time Ronan didn't wriggle uncomfortably, though he did wish he couldn't easily imagine the whole of the temple watching. "Be safe. And don't for a minute think you're any less good or worthy than any of those pups who the parent-yautja accepted for testing."

They parted on that note, Zzandoren and the pack heading west in the direction they thought the nearest werewolf might be, and Ronan heading north, on a lead from Dayna of bandits he might be able to route or destroy.

It meant a lot, that Zzandoren at least thought he was just as good as the others.


Chapter Thirty


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