“Never again,” Riversong chanted, rocking back and forth and clutching the raw wolf hide around her like a hooded cloak. “Never again. Never again.”
Foxsly traded a worried glance with her soul-brother Crest; they sat with Riversong between them. “Dearest, Longbird was the wisest of old wolves, but we all knew those old bones of his pained him, and that he wouldn’t last the winter.”
“Dying as he did, snug and warm in our den – that was the best thing for him, what with all this snow coming down,” Crest said.
But Riversong rejected their reasonable words, as she had now for more than a day and a night since they’d woken to find old Longbird dead in his sleep. Longbird hadn’t been Riversong’s first wolf-friend, but he had been her partner now for nearly four decades. Riversong wasn’t the most sensible of elves at the best of times, and now, in her grief, she was beyond consolation.
“Never again,” Riversong wept. “I’ll never bond again. Never. I can’t replace him. Ever.” She clung to the age-silvered hide, and pressed her face against it so that the fur soaked up her tears. “There’ll never be another wolf-friend for me. And I’ll never part with him. I swear it. Never.”