The beargirl stared at the dog, this strange dog who had spoken in the tongue of the humans while still retaining its dog's shape. It was hurt, she could see, but she did not know what to do.
"Why do you wish the mages? They have bad magic. They turn me-bear-into human," she told it. The dog rested its head on the ground and let loose a faint sigh.
"I must warn them. There is...much afoot that they must know..."
The beargirl ventured closer, emboldened; this creature did not seem dangerous, and the wound had weakened it. She knelt and touched its flank; the dog flinched, and closed its bright green eyes.
Irresolute, the beargirl stood and regarded the dog. It was urgent that she return to her den, and find the boy; if he had fled, then her plans would be ruined. But she could not let this strange creature die. She would feel...guilt.
This was a another new thing. When she was herself, purely herself, she had not felt this strange, hot emotion that gnawed at her insides and would not let her find peace. She sought a way to appease both her wishes. The boy was a mage; if she took the dog to the boy, then she could perhaps check on him and also please the dog? Perhaps the boy could also stop death. The beargirl smiled to herself, pleased with this, and stooped to pick up the dog. She could not carry it in her mouth as she would a cub, and it was awkward to carry as she had carried the mage-boy, across her arms; in the end she slung the creature over her shoulder, and scampered away into the moonlit woods.
Her den was waiting for her, unchanged, but in the darkness she could not tell if the boy remained in his prison. She laid the dog on the grass and stepped closer.
"Boy," she called. "Boy. Awake?"
Her nose twitched, but this human organ was useless and she could not smell him. She went closer, peered inside-roared with anger.
"Boy gone! Boy gone!" she screamed, stamping her foot as though she were a child denied a toy. She swung round and pointed at the dog.
"You know where boy gone to?" she demanded. The dog opened one green eye.
"I smell him," it croaked. "I will show you..."
The beargirl smiled.
"Good dog-creature," she crooned, and picked it up, cradling it as though it were a baby. Dark blood stained her hands from the arrow-wound; it looked as though it festered already. The beargirl wrinkled her nose; soon she would have to get help for the dog, or guilt would eat at her until she knew no peace even as a bear.
Padding swiftly through the forest, following the dog's whispered directions, the beargirl thought about what she would do to the boy when she found him. She would not kill him. That would render him useless. But she would not be kind. She wished only to return to her true shape, and it seemed he did not wish this for her, which was intolerable. So she would not be kind.
But just as she thought this, she saw someone she hated even more than the boy.
"BEAR KILLER!" she shrieked, and rushed towards him, only the dog in her arms preventing her from tearing him apart on the spot. The woman with the shining hair had lied! The hated Bear Killer still lived!