Evelyn howled with her mind far enough that some of the neighbors heard, William! Derek!
Derek snapped back, What?
Evelyn growled. “One of you is to blame for this, I know it!”
“What are you going on about, woman?” William asked.
“There’s a puppy in Cheryl’s crib! And Cheryl is gone!”
Derek said, “What? I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
“You did this, didn’t you, William. Where is Cheryl!”
William laughed again. “I’m definitely not to blame!”
Derek came running in, and he stared.
“Where is Cheryl!” Evelyn said.
Derek stared. He reached out his hand to touch the animal, and the pup started to nibble and lick at his fingers.
“Damn you, William!” Evelyn yelled. “Get up here!”
“It’s broad daylight, woman! Cheryl is right there,” William said.
Derek said, “It’s more of a wolf pup than a dog, honey.”
“What!” Evelyn howled.
William scryed in on them, and spoke very quietly, “She’s a shapeshifter.”
“Our daughter is a dog?”
“Evelyn, that is clearly a wolf pup,” Derek said. “Look at the long legs and pointy ears. Her paws are bigger than a coin.”
William said, “Be glad her first form wasn’t a poisonous snake.”
“Of that, I’m surely glad,” Evelyn said.
Derek asked, “Are you going to feed her? She seems hungry.”
Evelyn stared wide eyed at Derek. She spoke very quietly, “William, how do we make her turn human again?”
“You intend to make an infant do something? Will you threaten to take away her toys?”
“Goblinque may know,” Derek said.
Evelyn whispered, Goblinque…
Goblinque was silent for a moment. Finally he said, Are you finally prepared to go to war?
“No, Goblinque,” Derek said, “I have, however, perfected a ward for stopping lead and silver bullets.”
“Lead and silver? What difference does it make what the bullet is made of?”
“I haven’t perfected an iron bullet yet, but I suspect an iron bullet will be key to penetrating the wards I’ve been using.”
Evelyn cried out, “Our daughter is a dog!”
Goblinque laughed then quickly replied, “What breed?”
“She’s a grey wolf pup!” Derek said with a wide smile. “A timberland wolf I’d say.”
“Make her change back, Goblinque!” Evelyn cried.
“She’ll change back when she wants to,” he said. “Be glad her first form wasn’t a poisonous snake.”
Evelyn asked, “How often does that happen?”
“Depends on the baby. Shafeshifters born to mortals rarely see the end of their first year.”
“She’ll live three hundred years easily, if not four hundred,” William said.
Evelyn breathed a deep sigh of relief that bled from her heart into lungs with a pressing glee.
Goblinque said, “The wards, Derek.”
“Yes. You must first imagine flat strips of steel about a quarter inch across. Then the strips must be woven together with slight gaps like a basket is woven together. You need three layers, and they must be at least a foot by a foot of shield for the weave to hold together. The layers should be about an inch apart.”
“When will she turn back, Goblinque?” Evelyn asked.
“There’s no telling,” Goblinque replied. “Shapeshifters aren’t telepathic, but some travel with dark knights or master vampires. I’ll see if one is nearby and can journey there. A shapeshifter may be able to convince her to shift.”
“How am I supposed to feed her?”
All three men laughed.
“I’m serious!” Evelyn yelled.
Derek smiled at Evelyn. “Try it, Evelyn. It may work fine.”
“That thing has teeth!”
“They’re fairly sharp, too.”
“You’re not helping!”
“I’ll pass on your ward to all the dark knights and master vampires,” Goblinque said. “Many of them want war you know. It has been many generations of mortals since there has been a real war. The warlocks have been out breeding us over the centuries, and it’s time we culled the herd. They outnumber us, so it’s time for extinction.”
Evelyn glared. “I’ll raise this child, Goblinque. I’ll not pawn her off on some surrogate. You have to wait.”
“We can wait. Cheryl will grow strong, and she’ll join forces with us.”
Derek said, “We don’t want her to go to war, Goblinque.”
Goblinque smiled. “She’s a shape shifter. She can be extremely useful in war without ever getting near a sword or arrow. She’ll decide as all children do.”
Evelyn sighed. “We’ve learned that lesson painfully enough over the years, Goblinque.”
Cheryl barked and wagged her tail back and forth. Then she barked again and again. Derek said, “She’s hungry.”
Evelyn rolled her eyes. “Then let her change back into a human.”
“She may stay like that for weeks. You may be eternally cursed in that she may never learn to shift again,” Goblinque said. “She may be a wolf forever.”
Evelyn said, “Don’t even say things like that!”
“I’ve always wanted a wolf,” Derek said.
“At the price of our daughter?”
“Well, of course not, but it’s obvious there’s nothing we can do. Let’s make the best of it.”
Goblinque nodded. “I shall beseech a shapeshifter to assist you.”
Evelyn said, “Thank you, Goblinque.”
William said, “Cheryl might be able to eat meat if you cut it thinly enough.”
Evelyn looked the pup over again. She was a fine specimen of a canine. She had the biggest eyes you’d ever see on a pup, and her coat was well formed. Evelyn said, “I’ll feed her.”
“Splendid,” Derek said. “Can I get you anything, Evelyn?”
Evelyn said, “Yes. Go to the market and get broccoli and asparagus.”
“We’re not having broccoli and asparagus for dinner!”
“No, we’re having chicken, but I want broccoli and asparagus too,” Evelyn said.
“You know how I feel about broccoli and asparagus!”
“I don’t care, Derek. I want them!”
William said, “Get some turnips too, Derek. I’ve a craving for turnips!”
“Get your own damn turnips!” Derek screamed.