When I woke up, Mother and Father were already gone. They usually left early for their work, but I was used to this. I dressed in a simple dark blue dress. Then I walked through the city, which was just awakening. The vendors were readying their shops and people hurried through the streets. I lived on the edge of town, while Rochthalion lived right in the center. Her parents were both members of the Merchant Guild, so they had to be close to their shop.

I knocked on Rochthalion's door. Her little brother answered. I thought he was adorable, but Rochthalion always went on about how annoying he was.

"I am here to see Rochthalion," I said, smiling. "Can you let me in?"

He nodded and opened the door wider. I walked inside the house and up the stairs to Rochthalion's room. Her parents were probably gone, and knowing Rochthalion she would be sleeping. I pounded on her door.

"I am here!" I yelled.

"Daelen," I heard her mumble. "I thought wolves were supposed to be night animals."

"And I thought horses were supposed to be day animals," I said. "Yet here you are sleeping through this beautiful day."

I heard her shuffling around to dress. Then she opened the door and walked out, yawning. "I have to eat breakfast first. I am starving. What about you?"

"I am hungry enough to eat a horse," I teased.

I heard her brother gasp and run away.

"Whoops," I said. "I was only joking."

Rochthalion snorted. "It is all right. He already thinks you are terrifying. He says you smell bad. I like to say that if he is mean to me I will tell you to eat him."

"That is insulting," I sniffed. "And you may tell him that he smells delicious."

"Well I hope porridge will suffice," Rochthalion said, spooning some from a large pot.

"It is fine," I said, digging in.

When we were finished with breakfast, we walked through the city. It was now midday, and the city was bustling with life. I saw a Gûlanna making a wooden bird fly around and a group of Pergwaith children running around changing mid-step from animal to human. When we reached the outskirts, we grinned at each other and changed. My wolf self had a pure black pelt while Rochthalion's horse self was a sorrel. Together, Rochthalion and I trotted through the plains.

"You promised we could go into the forest today," I reminded her.

She nervously tossed her head. "Yes, I did."

"Are you too afraid?" I teased her.

"I am not afraid of anything," she said boldly, turning and galloping off towards the forest.

I followed her, letting my paws carry me across the plains. I sniffed eagerly when I reached the forest. The smells were always so mysterious and enticing to me. Rochthalion and I entered together, both of our ears pricked. The cool felt good, and the dark did not bother me. I saw Rochthalion was shaking.

"I smell my mother," I lied. "I would like to see her. Would it be all right if I met you later?"

I could see Rochthalion's relief. "That sounds fine. I shall just go to the stream."

I watched her trot away. I felt bad, but she did not want to be here and I did. I hoped she would not tell Mother, who said I always had to be with someone. I pushed these thoughts away and concentrated on my surroundings. As I went further into the forest, I could see strange things that I had never seen before. There were mushrooms that glowed in the dark and strange birds with leather wings.

I saw a flash of movement behind me, and I whirled around, my fangs bared. I saw to my surprise it was one of the Taurëdhel. His skin had the green tint all Taurëdhel did, and he had their bright green eyes. He looked young, but the Taurëdhel looked the same all their lives once they had reached a certain age. He wore a brown tunic and leggings that looked like they were made of deerskin. He looked at me curiously.

"You are far into the forest for such a young Pergwaith," he said.

I changed back so I could talk to him. When I was a wolf, I could speak the language of all animals. I could always understand it, but when I was a human I could not speak it.

"I am Daelen," I said. "I was just exploring."

"I am Ornedin," he said. "I can understand that. The forest is a marvelous place, but many are too frightened to see that. But do not be afraid. It just so happens that you came at a very lucky time."

"I am not afraid," I said, trying to cover up my confusion. "But I had better go. My friend will be wondering where I am."

He nodded and disappeared into the trees. I changed back into a wolf and trotted back the way I came, following my scent path. When I reached the edge of the trees, I saw Rochthalion waiting at the edge.

"Where were you?" she snorted. "I waited and waited. I had almost made up my mind to go in after you."

I looked over and saw that the sun was already starting to sink. I had not known I had been in there so long.

"I was just talking with a Taurëdhel," I explained. "His name is Ornedin."

She widened her eyes. "He must especially like you. The Taurëdhel are very secretive."

"He seemed friendly enough," I said.

"I think I am ready to go home," Rochthalion said. "I am starving."

We trotted toward the town, and then separated at the edge with the promise of seeing each other the next day. I could not get my thoughts off Ornedin. Why had he chosen me to talk to? And would I see him again?