Her blood burned, and the shades fled.
Fear and blood.
Issy tossed and turned in her bed as the memories and the nightmares assaulted her again, as they had so long ago now. Or not that long, by other’s measure, for she was still young. Wolves. Shivering during one bad night when she’d been forced to sleep outside, in the shelter of an abandoned door frame, and noting a howl on the edges of her hearing, although she’d been too young and too much a city dweller to know what it meant.
Something had brought these memories back. That trip to Theramore, the howls for the lost, the secret admission. The shock. The burning in her blood, however brief, and the lingering warmth it left. That still coloured her cheeks when she had gone to rest tonight. Wolves in her blood and down to her very soul, a curse she would never be able to shake.
And so the memories returned…feelings, more like. She had been so young, young enough she could not even recall when the infection had spread. Oh, she remembered the terrible events of the invasion, of the scramble and the horror and the flight to safety, but when *she* had fallen as the others had…it became so fuzzy, and then after a time she’d buried the feelings and the memories as best she could. But in dreams.
In dreams they returned.
She scrabbled around the streets as she always had, feeding on rats, dogs, whatever animals and scraps of meat she could find, along with so many others. Feral and wild and trapped, away from the forests because of the undead army marching over the wild lands. And then capture, and then a bitter, foul potion, and suddenly she could see, and feel, and be human again. But oh, it was so bitter. So very bitter. Whispers when the elves had so kindly brought them to Stormwind. All of them, the whispers said. Gilneas was utterly lost. A whole country, down to the last soul, turned into feral beasts. And she refused that. She was a *Gilnean*, not a wolf, and sheer stubborn will forced the beast at bay as well as she could.
It was always too strong for her in the end, though. That was the curse. For so long she fought, until…now. When himself was one, and spoke of it, of the pack and of the running. As if it was a good thing, in part, and finding some fierce joy out in the midst of the wildness. And so she struggled again, twisting in her bed, fighting with that old stubborness as the memories and feelings swirled around her.
She was Gilnean, aye, but…had she ever been human? Something deep in the blood and the bone, a different sort of wildness, keeping her alive on the streets. After all, the rumors about a terrible secret had crept through Gilneas in those days long before the invasion… sweat beaded her brow.
This was who she was. Beyond a curse, a birthright now. And there could be no shame in carrying the blood, in having the strength to survive and not control, but to live with and to accept. To accept? She could hear his words again, the look in his eyes, the scent. The low tone in the howl. Deep and steady.
Issy awoke suddenly, sitting upright and sweating still despite the faint chill in the air beyond her blankets. She was an urban sort of feral, she always would be, and in that moment she felt that tug again. A hint of that joy he had spoken of. She had this and she could claim it as her own, not simply as a Gilnean but so much more. A deep, shaking breath, and she fell back against the furs and mattress.
She would claim it as her own. For him, she admitted to the secret place in her mind. This will be my own.