Dark Moon (Chapter Fourteen)
However, the resemblance was there
"The icon isn't mine," I repeated.
"Odd." Will continued to peer at the plastic and frown. "Talismans are representations of spirit guides.
Ojibwe folklore says that those of a particular clan are descended from that clan's animal."
I recalled the information from Jessie's report on the wolf god. According to Native American legend there were several totemic divisions: bear, eagle, moose, wolf, and so on. In the old days, each clan had a specialized task. While one governed, another made war. Members could not marry within their own clan – the ancestral link to the animal or bird made their blood too similar.
"In that case," Will continued, "I'd be descended from a wolf."
"No wonder Edward doesn't like you," I said.
"Didn't go over too well when he heard it, that's for sure."
"What happened?" I asked, though I had a pretty good idea.
Will tilted his head, and his golden earring swung free. "He shot me with silver."
"No ill effects?"
"I didn't explode."
Will rolled up the sleeve of his T-shirt. A bullet-shaped scar marred the smooth cinnamon skin of his upper arm.
"Sorry about that," I said.
"You didn't do it." He let the material fall back into place. "Besides, chicks dig scars, don't they?"
"You better hope not, unless you want a high body count when Jessie gets hold of them."
Will laughed. "She's something else."
"Yeah, but what?"
He considered me for a moment with a bemused expression. "You two are a lot alike."
"Me and Jessie? I don't think so."
I was like no one I'd ever encountered, but that was beside the point. Jessie and I were as different as day and night, new moon and full, human and werewolf.
I slanted the icon until the light caught the jeweled eyes and sparkled. "What's your opinion?"
"Not sure. Usually, totems are made of stone, bone, something of the earth."
"And this is plastic."
"Which would make me think it's nothing more than a child's toy, sold in tourist shops to folks from away.
There isn't an Ojibwe alive who would create a spiritual symbol from plastic."
His gaze lifted from the wolf to my face. "Except this appears to have been made to represent a specific wolf. You."
"Voodoo is an amalgamation of ancient African tribal symbols and the Catholicism the slaves were baptized into upon their arrival. This totem, however weird, is Ojibwe. But the only time I've seen talismans that simulate something more specific than a generic clan animal is when they're shamanic."
"Shamans use talismans to aid them in assuming the form of their spirit animal. To do that, they often construct a totem to resemble themselves in some way: hair color, eyes, distinctive facial feature."
"I'm not a shaman."
"Technically, anyone with the right stuff can transform."
"The right stuff being… ?"
"Mystical connection to an animal."
"Got that," I said dryly.
"A shamanic totem."
I jiggled the wolf like a tiny martini shaker. "And?"
"A sacrifice to imbue the totem with power."
My hand froze mid-shake. "What kind of sacrifice?"
I thought of the flayed rabbit and muttered, "Hell."
Will's gaze shot to mine. "What?"
Quickly, I told him exactly where I'd found the icon, then I told him the rest. About the totem shifting, spilling silver light into my mind, and the instantaneous change.
"Bam, you're a wolf?" he asked.
"Pretty much. You think that's what's been happening in Fairhaven?"
He blinked, frowned, considered the tiny wolf again, then shook his head. "They'd have to fashion talismans that represent a particular person. Seems like too much hassle. And really, what's the rush?"
Once bitten, the victim would shift within twenty-four hours – rain or shine, sunshine or shadow, full moon or new. Even the dead would rise. They'd heal, then run and kill as a wolf. The first time, the moon didn't matter.
"Besides, we'd have found tiny totems strewn all over the place. Once you're a wolf, no pockets."
My lips curved at the similarity in our thought processes. "So what's going on?"
"With you or with Fairhaven?"
I shrugged. "Pick a mystery."
"There hasn't been a disappearance since we arrived. My theory is that whatever the werewolves were up to in Fairhaven, they're done and they've moved on."
"Or they saw Edward – "
"And they moved on." Will nodded. "I would. According to Jessie, we'll have to leave soon, as well.
There are werewolves busting out all over the country."
"What about the mystery of me?"
Will pointed at the icon. "If that was left for you, and I have to think it was, what did they hope to accomplish?"
"Why do shamans transform?" I asked. "What do they gain from the process?"
"Becoming one with their spirit animal gives them the power to complete a quest."
"What kind of quest?"
"A journey, knowledge. Whatever is most important to them."
"The cure," I murmured.
"Maybe." His forehead creased in thought. "But if they meant to help you, why not just hand you the thing?"
"Yeah, why not?"
"The place blew up," he said slowly, "and then you found the talisman?"
"Were they trying to kill you or not? I can't decide."
"Join the club."
He ignored my attempt at humor. Jessie was no doubt a whole lot funnier than I was.
"If they meant for you to die, then the icon being where it was didn't have anything to do with you."
"But – " He broke off, and his dark eyes met mine again. "If they wanted you dead, then why the talisman that resembles you in wolf form? Coincidence?"
"I don't think so."
"Me, neither." Will appeared as stumped as I was.
"How did you manage to be outside when the place went up in flames?"
"The test wolves went ballistic. Howling, snarling, hiding, then attacking. They were behaving as if – " My eyes met Will's. "They were trapped by an enemy."
"But which enemy?"
I spread my hands wide. There were so many to choose from.
"I guess if we knew that," Will continued, "we'd know who blew up the compound and maybe even why."
"It's never that easy."
"Never." Will indicated the totem with a flick of one finger. "May I?"
I hesitated. If the totem had turned me into a wolf – wham – who knew what it might do to Will? Then again, who better to find out?
In the end, he snatched the thing from my hand and nothing happened. But this icon didn't look like him.
Will studied the tiny wolf with a single-mindedness I admired. "You've told me everything?"
There was one thing I hadn't, one thing that disturbed me more than the rest.
Will's gaze flicked to mine. The seriousness in his dark eyes seemed magnified by the wire-rimmed glasses. "You can trust me."
Edward always preached: Trust no one. Ever.
Of course Edward led a life of paranoia. He had good reason to.
I'd lived so long inside a stone compound, I wasn't sure whom to trust. But if I was going to put my faith in anyone, especially with information on the totem, Will would be the one.
"My hand changed," I blurted.
I made hooks of my fingers and growled.
"You were able to transform one body part and nothing else?"
"I've never heard of a werewolf being able to do that before." Will offered the talisman. "Show me."
I stared at the tacky white wolf for more than a minute before I took it. Closing my eyes, I thought of the moon. I waited for the icon to heat, shift, maybe whine. What I got was –
"Nothing." I opened my eyes. "You think I'm crazy?"
Will contemplated me without any expression at all. "I think it's daytime."