Uncle Lyall, being the type, made quick work helping her to extract herself from the remains of her costume.

Rue yipped her gratitude and bounded towards the officers’ residence.

“How on earth is she going to look through books without fingers?” Quesnel wanted to know.

“I take it once she touches one of us she is in wolf form and can’t turn back to human voluntarily?”

“Not that I’ve ever heard.” Quesnel was careful not to give anything away.

“Very intriguing,” said Uncle Lyall.

Rue bounded back, supernatural ears having caught the entire conversation. She crouched in front of Quesnel expectantly.

“Oh no,” said the young man, blushing tomato red. “Chérie, I couldn’t possibly. Not ride a lady.”

The corners of Uncle Lyall’s mouth twitched. He smelled like the pomade Dama and Uncle Rabiffano favoured. Guess it is more popular than I thought. He must import it at great expense. She sniffed deeper. There was also a hint of sandalwood and fresh linens, and perhaps smoked fish on his breath.

Rue growled at Quesnel. He smelled of boiler smoke and hot coals and a little lime.

Uncle Lyall said, “She’s right. Time is getting on. Best if I don’t go. If you’re caught, someone has to get you out.”


“But you’ve lost your wolf form.”

“Did I say I would need to fight? Dear boy, no, that’s not my style at all.”

Rue growled at Quesnel again.

With a sigh he slung a leg over and squatted on top of her gingerly.

Rue rose up precipitously.

Quesnel made a pathetic noise of discomfort.

Professor Lyall gave him brief instructions on wolf riding – how to lean forwards and tuck his feet up and back. Quesnel leaned, stiff and uncomfortable. It was a good thing he was relatively slight or Rue’s supernatural strength would have struggled to make up for the awkwardness of disproportionate mass.

“You have your father’s markings, little one,” said Uncle Lyall. “But, like me, you’re not so very big. Speedy, I suspect?”

Rue lolled her tongue in agreement.

“He’s as settled as he’s going to be. In future, you might consider training your crew in wolf riding.” Professor Lyall stepped away, not a hair out of place. Well, to be fair, it was very good pomade. He did not seem at all perturbed to be mortal. In fact, he seemed to be enjoying himself. Hard to tell – he was a master of the impassive. Rue envied him that.

Quesnel was as affixed as he was likely to get, so Rue took off. She got up a good speed, showing off for her Uncle Lyall, and leapt. The brigadier’s window was large and wide open. Being inside a military fortress and up a storey, the man clearly felt little need to take precautions. Well, there was a werewolf regiment nearby, and his wife was already missing.

Rue sailed through, landing softly in the sitting room.

Quesnel tumbled off, shaken. “Not quite like riding a horse, is it?”

Rue growled at him. Never liken a lady to a horse.

“Pardon, how crass of me. I do apologise. Now, what are we looking for?”

Rue nosed towards the bookshelves.

Quesnel perused the titles. “Mostly military history, how exhausting. This must be the husband’s collection.”

Rue left him to it and trotted off to look for other clues. She sniffed her way to the bedroom, following the scent of shaving soap and sweaty sheets. It was clear whose side of the bed was whose. One smelled like horse and leather; the other like violets and shaved metal. Also, one side had a monocle and a tin of snuff – In bed? Disgusting – and the other a pot of cold cream and a lace bedcap. There was a book under the cap, all about the mythology of India.

Rue barked softly and Quesnel came running.

Her nose was pressed on the book.

Quesnel looked at it doubtfully. “You sure?”

Rue growled.

Quesnel pocketed the small volume.

Rue heard clattering outside in the hallway. She charged back towards the sitting room.

Quesnel followed. “What? What is it?”

She crouched.

“Already? There are a few books over there and I’ve barely recovered from the––” Then he heard the clattering. Military never could move quietly.

He jumped onto Rue’s back and seated himself, although not quite as well without Uncle Lyall’s guidance. Rue wanted to tell him to hold on tight but she hadn’t the vocal cords so she simply growled again.

The door behind them burst open. “Who’s there?” barked a voice.

Several soldiers came crashing into the room.

Rue leapt out of the window, landed, and took off, Quesnel jostling atop her.

“Was that a werewolf and a ruffian?” she heard one soldier ask another.

“Sure looks like. Curses, I knew Kingair couldn’t be trusted.”

The soldiers attained the window. Rue knew this without looking because they started firing rifles at them.

She charged towards the side entrance, hoping Uncle Lyall would keep the pack from getting involved. Soldiers couldn’t catch her, but if the pack gave chase she hadn’t a chance.

Shots fired again. Rue dodged and twisted mid-leap.

Quesnel made a keening warble of distress.

For one horrible moment she thought he had been hit.

But then the wolds resolved themselves into: “My hat. My favourite hat!”

The rifles fired again. Quesnel flattened himself against her, modesty and hat forgotten. He wrapped strong arms around her neck. Rue was glad for her supernatural form or she might have been strangled. She dampened down worry by telling herself that surely his hold would slacken and she would smell blood if he were hit. Still, her best option was to get him out of range quickly. She put on a burst of speed – rifles continued to fire. She wasn’t going to make it to the doorway.

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