The air was that certain cold, so cold it smelt of new metal and felt so taut that a touch could shatter it. Beneath Tiadora's feet, the snow crunched and swallowed her legs as she walked behind her mysterious savior. She didn't, strangely enough, feel any fear.
The man who had been a wolf did not speak, but simply held onto her hand—he gave off a wondrous amount of warmth for one so scarcely clothed—and led the way across the icy wilderness. In the silence, she again gave thanks for the rescue from something she knew nothing of, and allowed her mind to wander back to that morning, when her world had been stolen from beneath her.
Carmela was late again. No matter that Tiadora had made sure to tell her to show up a full twenty minutes before she was expected. No matter that Tiadora had warned her how important this interview could be. No—Carmela wasn't there, and it was eleven-forty-five. Fifteen minutes.
Tiadora shot a furious glance at the large silver clock, which hung on the lilac wall opposite her desk, as if it was responsible for the catastrophe. There was no way Tiadora could pull Carmela out of the frying pan this time. All she could do was hope, and continually glower at the clock. She attempted to concentrate on writing the letters she was to send out, but her mind kept wandering, fuming at Carmela for messing up their chances at a new job—a new life. Since before she could even recall, Tiadora had made due with limited resources, made due with the oppressive, overcrowded city. Now, they –she- had a chance to begin again.
Tiadora could not stand simply sitting there, a calm façade, seething inside. She had to go outside, just for a moment, and cool off. Think things through. She left the letters sitting in a box under her desk, and exited into the corridor. In the dingier, main part of the building, Tiadora's crisp pale blue blouse and tan slacks felt very out of place. There had to be something she could do, Tiadora reasoned with herself, after all, no problem exists to which there is no answer.
Then, out of the blue, a man approached her. With a slight feeling of unease, Tiadora nodded as he got close.
"Tiadora Delverre?" His voice was low, gravely.
"Yes." She waited hesitantly, but when he offered no further conversation, the hair on the back of her neck prickled. She decided it was time to head back to the office, no matter she hadn't cooled off yet. This was not a good feeling.
But as she turned, something whooshed by her ear—and she fell down, down into a dark, dark well.
She awoke to a heated discussion—about her.
"No," it was a female voice that spoke, sharp and cold as iceberg shards, "we can't. She has enough, she's the one."
"But how can you be so positive this girl is the last one he will ask for?" The second voice belonged to a man. Tiadora attempted to open her eyes, but as light shone on her, sharp pains prickled at the inside of her eyes, forehead, and temples. A small moan slipped from her lips.
"Grundun," the woman said, "our guest has roused. Please, make her more comfortable." Her voice was silky with malice, and amusement.
Heavy footfalls approached, and again Tiadora squinted, trying to gain a view of her captors.
All she could make out through gray dizziness was a very tall, thin woman, all white, like an icicle. And then she felt a cloth shoved under her nose and over her mouth; for the second time that day, Tiadora was consumed by darkness.
His grip had tightened on her hand. Tiadora looked up, with blinking wide eyes, she felt the cool snow fall and melt upon her lashes, like little tears. She shook her head, to clear her mind of the memory.
Her breath made swirling wreaths of white smoke, and she noticed that she couldn't see his breath at all.
"Why?" Tiadora gulped, and made her voice stronger. "Why did you save me?"