Disclaimer: Highlander and the characters in this story belong to DPP, but the concept of werewolf immortals is my extrapolation from the white wolf in the 1606 "Prophecy" flashback and mention of the gray wolf as General Darius' emblem in the HL pro novel SHADOW OF OBSESSION by Rebecca Neason. Despite the presence of a werewolf beta, there were no human betas used in the process of writing this story in accordance with the regulations of Lyric Wheel.
There should not be a gray wolf in her garden. She had buried the gray wolf in her heart long ago.
Cassandra remembered the last time she had seen him. Darius had taken the quickening of the old one at the gates of Paris, and become other than what he'd been. He'd abandoned his armies. That much was recorded in official histories and in the account written by his Watcher. His life as a wolf had remained hidden. So his desertion of the wolf pack that he and Cassandra had ruled as alphas was a profoundly personal tragedy that had been unchronicled throughout time. And now Cassandra was the only one left to mourn.
The pack had refused to accept Grayson as their alpha, and she had refused to take Grayson as her mate. All the wolves had turned as one on Darius' beta and run him off snarling and nipping at his heels. Grayson had slunk away desperately humiliated with his tail between his legs. She had known that Grayson would plot and scheme, and that he'd eventually seek to avenge himself, but in the depths of Cassandra's grief for the wolf who had been her mate, it hadn't seemed important at the time.
Yet Darius did come in wolf form to their mountain refuge one final time in farewell. She had thought that she imagined his scent on the wind as they were returning from a hunt, but suddenly he was there loping through the snow-laden pines toward the pack. Their alpha had returned and the wolves all howled in a chorus of joyous welcome. He had playfully butted heads with the other males as they capered around him, but the lone white she wolf who was Cassandra had stood her ground waiting for him to come to her.
Cassandra wanted to forgive Darius for leaving her. She had long and bitter experience of betrayal. So many had savagely trampled on her affections over the centuries. She always had managed to pick up the jagged fragments of each broken life and start over again, but this betrayal had been too recent and had wounded her deeply. When Darius approached, she turned from him and led him into the cave that was their pack's sanctuary. The rest of the pack respectfully guarded the cave's entrance to allow their reunited alphas some privacy.
Once within the roomy recesses of the wolf den, Cassandra and Darius wordlessly changed into human shape and quickly donned the fur lined winter robes that were stowed in a corner along with other necessities of their alternate existence when they walked the world of homo sapiens. Neither had ever troubled to appear ordinary. She the powerfully gifted sorceress and visionary, and he the genius of military strategy consumed by his ambitions for world conquest had reveled in their triumphant individuality. But now Cassandra felt bereft of her magic as if it too had been swallowed by Darius' total transformation into another being. She felt raw and utterly vulnerable in the presence of this new Darius. She did not know what to expect of him.
"Grayson said that you have become a Christ priest. What are you doing here, Darius, and what do you want from me?" Cassandra demanded, going on the offensive so he would never know how shattered she felt inside.
"I know an apology isn't enough, but I still say that I am sorry, Cassandra. I am sorry that I can never again be what you want and need."
He extended his arms to enfold her in a comforting embrace, but she shoved him away.
"Damn you to your Christian hell, Darius! Just leave me alone to remake my life. I don't need your pity."
"Pity is not what I feel toward you," he said softly. "I adore you, Cassandra. I always have and I probably always will."
He seized her hand and raised it to his lips, kissing it tenderly. She angrily reclaimed her hand and slapped him with all the strength of her accumulated rage and resentment. He staggered back and rubbed his cheek.
"I deserved that, and a good deal worse from you," he admitted.
"Oh I'd call you a son of a bitch," she said with steely mordant laughter, "but that would be an insult to every wolf who ever lived. Wolves are loyal. They don't know the meaning of the word betrayal. You have turned your back on everything that you were. If I had a sword in my hand now, I swear I would take your head."
Darius went to their cache at the rear of the cave, and retrieved an ancient iron blade that he'd carried to victory innumerable times as the head of a Goth war band. Then he tossed it to Cassandra and knelt at her feet. "Then I shall give you the chance to take it. That is what I came here to do."
"You came here to offer your head to me?" she asked looking at both him and the sword incredulously.
"If that is what you wish, if that is what you need to do."
"You can't want to die."
The Darius that Cassandra had known would fight for his life with the intense ferocity of a cornered wolf. He had never given up--no matter how outnumbered he had been or how desparate the circumstances. She had considered him the ultimate survivor. If she had asked for a demonstration that Darius had changed, nothing could have been more convincing than this abject surrender.
"In truth, I do not wish to die," he said bowing his head. " I have given my oath to Jesus Christ. I belong to his Church and I live in hope to see the holy ground once more. But I owe something to you, Cassandra," he said raising his head again to look into her eyes so she could see his sincerity. " If I must pay my debt in blood, then so be it."
Cassandra raised the sword then stabbed it into the earthen floor of the cave, fell to her knees and wept.
"Oh my dear," said Darius taking her in his arms. "I have made you wretched."
This time she did not resist his embrace. She allowed him to hold her as she continued to sob disconsolately. He had broken her heart, but she could not kill him.
Cassandra's memory wound itself back to the present. She found herself outside her cottage in Donan Woods with a gray wolf standing in her garden beside the pool, but the wolf did not cast a reflection in the water. Instead she saw an image of Darius in the brown robe of his order lying beheaded bathed in blood on the floor of his own church. She then knew that the wolf was his spirit coming to say farewell as he had all those centuries ago. Her vision dimmed with tears as the wolf faded.
"Goodbye, Darius," she said. "I think I'll always love you."
Then she cast a spell to take her cottage between the worlds, so she could mourn her dead love without disturbance. In the form of the white wolf she ran through the astral Donan Woods and howled out her grief. Whether he was the warrior or the peacemaker, the alpha wolf or the Immortal man, there would never be another like Darius.
The lyrics that inspired me to write this story were sent to me by Dame Mehri.
You're the girl that I adore
If readers are interested in another Cassandra werewolf story, please e-mail me at JDChronicler@aol.com. I have written an as yet unposted story about Cassandra and Nick Wolfe as werewolves called "Wolfe Sanctuary."
It is archived on this site by permission of the author.
Background and bar graphic courtesy of Northern Dreams.
|The Book of Darius
(This page last updated 04/06/2005)