I curled up in the thick undergrowth. It was slightly damp and dark; all in all it was quite comfortable. I was swept away in sleep once again. My last conscious thought was about Bronwyn and where she was. Then I was sleeping once again.
It was sunset when I woke. I crawled through the leaves and twigs, emerging from the bush to see Bronwyn sat cross-legged on the ground in front of a small black shadow-flame. Her back was to me. When I got out of the bush, her shadows came to examine me. They swarmed around me and slipped through my hair, cold against my long-dead skin. For the first time in three and a half centuries, I shivered. I went and sat next to her, leaving the shadows behind me.
I felt them tugging at my heels as I walked. I sat down and they vanished back into the dark ring on Bronwyn's finger. She opened her eyes and looked at me. The blue in her eyes was so dark it looked black in the small light. It felt like her eyes were staring into the empty cavern where my soul used to reside.
"Are you ready to learn?" she asked simply.
"I am," I replied.
"Give me a strand of your hair. A full one right from the root." I didn't know why she wanted it but I did as I was told.
I carefully tugged a hair from my head and handed it to her. She took a handkerchief from her pocket and wrapped it around the strand. And she vanished. I didn't know where she was, I didn't really care. I needed to get chained up before the sun actually went down.
I would just have to wait until Bronwyn got back. Her shadows would have been strong enough to hold me in my true form. But she wasn't here. I'd just have to fight it until she got back. I watched the light fade as the sun set and just hoped to whatever god there was that I was strong enough to fight myself.
I felt the skin on my back pull taught as the monster wanted to break loose. I wrapped my arms around myself and curled into a small ball, rocking back and forth.
"Hurry up Bronwyn," I muttered under my breath.
I closed my eyes and stopped breathing as if that was going to help at all. I heard a pop in the air and an arm wrapped around me. Then the arm was hauling me up and taking me to a tree. They propped me against the bark and I felt shadows slip around my wrists. Then I let myself go.
The skin on my back tore apart. It slipped off my arms –through the shadows – and off my head and down my legs. The monster that no longer really was me kicked off the skin and roared. Then I remembered nothing else of the night until I woke in my normal form in the mid-morning light. Bronwyn came over and threw a blanket of shadows over me to stop my naked body being burned in the sun.
She helped me up and slowly took me over to a bush. I crawled into it and she threw my clothes at me. I caught them and she went away. I put them on and fell asleep in the cold undergrowth.