Cassie closed her eyes tight, her mind too scrambled to sort out fact from fiction. Raising an eyelid slightly, she checked to see if Ignatius wasn't some freak hallucination. His golden eyes stared back into her blue ones, blazing with fire.

"'re...Ignatius," she said finally.

He nodded once.

"Can I call you Nat?" she said, chuckling nervously.

He shook his head.

" you're a wolf...that can talk?"

He nodded again.

"Okay I'm gonna sit down now."

Rubbing her temples, she plopped back down on the ground which had now formed to the shape of her butt.

She sat there for several, eyes closed, rubbing her temples and taking deep breath until Ignatius growled.

"Look, I'm trying to process this. Let me think."

"You're already thinking more comprehensibly. I haven't been able to reach to you for several minutes."

"Reach me?" she wondered aloud.

"You see how my mouth is not moving. I can only communicate with you telepathically."

"Nat say what?"

"It's Ignatius you twit!"

"Don't call me a twit, Nat."

"Look we don't have much time!" he exclaimed, casting a wary glance to sun. It was already dangerously close to the horizon.

"Would it help you if I changed into my human-like form?" Ignatius said, with renewed urgency.

"Why not?" Cassie said.

"I didn't want see it's rather painful."

"Oh just get on with it, so I can focus."

The wolf at her feet began to shake violently, as if it were trying to shed its fur. But instead of shedding, the shaggy fur shrunk back into the skin. Cassie watched in fascination as the tail of the wolf fused with his back, becoming the spine of the man Ignatius. Suddenly a series of cracks echoed through the forest. Cassie gagged but kept her eyes glued in fascination, sure she would never see such a display ever again. She watched as the bones impossibly lengthened and gasped when the nails of the paws became knuckles of the hands. She finally forced herself to look at his face. Even contorted by pain, it was immeasurably handsome. It was pale and translucent, unaccountably delicate and young. His hair was the same shaggy shade of sharp silver.

Cassie blushed deeply when he finally opened his eyes. They were the same enchanting golden shade. He looked surprised by her bashfulness. He didn't seem aware of the fact that he was stark naked.

Suddenly, he smirked. "Like what you see?"

"Hush up, or I'll make you change back into a dog."

"I am a wolf."

"I'm sure you are," she said suggestively.

He chuckled at her good humor. "You know, most people would be freaked out by what they've just witnessed, what they've just heard."

"I'm not most people then, am I?" she muttered, trying hard not to focus on the elegant contours of his bare back.

His eyes sparkled. "Elegant, eh?"

"Get out of my head, Nat," she said very seriously.

"Listen kid, after this night, no woman, man, or beast will ever know that you found my back attractive."

"What are you on about?"

"Well, if what I do to help you find your friend works, either you or I will be killed."