Assured he was sleeping, Etsiyona rose from the bed and out of the room.  As she walked her body warned her she shouldn�t be moving; the two near misses with the toss and nearly going over the edge of the tree wrenched her back pretty badly.  Ignoring the warning, she wandered around the compound.  She was trying.  She really was.  If this group of humans and others were representative of how human society worked, she wasn�t sure she could merge successfully with it.  Not that she was a particularly rationale creature, but this group made her seem as logical as a gnome.

The Marksman.  Despite being exiled he risked his life *twice* to help them.  Exiled because he did what anyone did during a war � kill who he thought was the enemy.  Granted, he should�ve just fessed up when he discovered the person he killed was an ally, but exile? And, if he was exiled, *why* did he keep coming back to save them?  She sighed.  She knew the answer to that one.  Even if, for some reason, Ace made her leave, she�d still watch him from the shadows, protecting him from himself if need be.  Then again, The Marksman was Kal�dorei.  Etsi didn�t understand them completely either, but she knew how fiercely they protected their own or anyone or anything they considered theirs.

The Mosur still confused her, but his sacrifice she could understand.  What better way to fool an enemy than to fool your pack?  If your pack thought you were a traitor, then your enemy was more likely to believe it too.  She couldn�t honestly regret wanting to rip his throat out, but she was glad for her pack�s sake that she�d been wrong about him.  A soft whine escaped her throat.  Perhaps she should apologize but she wasn�t sure how to.  The Young Wolf too since Etsi�d upset her pretty badly.  She doubted rubbing their cheeks with hers or exposing her neck would suffice since he wasn�t wolf and Young Wolf didn�t understand the wolf within herself enough.  Yet another conundrum. 

She could *almost* understand why The Marksman was exiled.  She could definitely understand what The Mosur did and why he did it.  But why accept a mind-sick traitor back into their midst?  A traitor who killed people who worked for them *and* destroyed their home.  A traitor who would do it *again* if he hadn�t been caught.  For the health of the pack, for the sake of his heroic deeds in the past, for the sake of the memory of all the good things he�d done, for the sake of the traitor *himself*, they should have let The Marksman put an arrow through his heart.  A clean, swift kill to honor all he�d been to them in the past. A clean, swift kill to end the misery of his existence.  A shudder ran through her, making her wince as it aggravated her back; if she ever became so mind sick, she sincerely hoped Ace would put her down even if the rest of the pack refused.  She wouldn�t want to continue to exist if she was a danger to everyone she cared about.

The pain in her back didn�t subside, but instead grew steadily worse.  She made her way back to the Grand Marshal�s room, looking forward to the sleep that would stop her rambling thoughts and ease her aching back.  As she leapt towards the bed, her back locked up, sending her crashing to the floor.  Etsi yelped as her body hit the hard wood and wavered through the shift back to worgen form.  Ace sat up in his bed, reaching instinctively for his mace at the sound.

�Elli?�

She couldn�t help herself; she whined at both the sound of his voice and the agony lancing through her back.  

“Elli, what’s wrong?” Concern bled into his voice as he got out of the bed and padded around towards her. Instinct took over for her and, despite knowing he was a friend and would help, she growled at him, both warning and threatening.  Pushing back with her arms, she slid across the floor away from him until her body was hidden by the shadows in the room.  Amber eyes glowed at him from the darkness, pain, fear, and need reflected in their light.  “Elli, I’m not going to hurt you. Let me see what’s wrong.” Picking up a light globe, which glowed softly at his touch, he moved slowly and deliberately towards her.  

A whimper escaped her as the light reached into the shadows to expose her rigid body.  �Hurts.� She started to twist her head around to lick her back, but yelped again as the movement caused a spike of pain to run down the muscles.  Collapsing, she lay panting as she watched him approach, unable to move anymore.

“It sure looks like it does, Elli.” Setting down the globe nearby, he spoke to her gently, soothingly.  “I’m going to take care of that for you. Lie still.”  His hands began glowing a soft yellow as he rested them on her back. Feeling the knotted and strained muscles within, he gritted his teeth against the incoming pain and sent healing warmth into her.  Etsi whimpered again, lifting her head enough to lick his cheek while he bent over her. It only took a few moments, but the tenseness of his muscles betrayed the amount of pain he took from her as her back muscles relaxed and healed. Taking his hands from her back, he slumped against the wall breathing heavily. “Okay, that hurt. A lot.” He looked at her form and face, now without pain of any sort, and he added “But it was worth it.”

Etsi cautiously moved her body.  When there was no pain with the movements, she shifted over to rub her cheek along his and lick his face again.  He chuckled, gently pressing her face away from his. “Elli. I’ll be fine. Just need to sit here a moment.”

Eyeing him, her appearance wavered as she shifted from worgen to cat and back again.  Grunting in satisfaction at the ability to move between her forms without pain, she stood, then leaned over to pick up the Grand Marshal.  “Uh, Elli…” He protested then sighed as she picked him up. “I can get into my own damn bed by myself. You don’t have to do this.”  She looked at him, about to protest, before snapping her jaws shut and lowering him to the floor.

�Okay.�

“Now, when you decide to permanently cripple me like you keep threatening to do, then I won’t have a leg to stand on. Literally I think.” Climbing back into the bed and pulling the covers up, he turned on his side to go back to sleep.

Fangs glistened in the darkness as she chuckled and climbed in after him.

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