The Princess And The Wolf And The Tortoise

tortoise

‘Of course he would be handsome…’ Tortoise thought crossly, a disgruntled “hmph..” escaping his scaly lips and tightly constricted throat. “You may look now…if you dare…” Aurelian teased and Willa, having never peeked, obediently opened her eyes. Nothing could have prepared her for the vision before her, such beauty as this wolf-man possessed, was surely supernatural. She was even less convinced that he was human than before, that this being should be a Prince of this she suffered no doubt. Aurelian’s eyes were the same shade of wicked silver as they had been in his beast form. His eyelashes were black and thick, creating a startling and somewhat menacing outline around those icy pools. She could scarcely tear her gaze away from them but curiosity bid her do so. The wolves’ hair was of the same shade as his moonlit pelt only silkier and less dense, it fell over his naked shoulder’s untamed, savage in comparison to the tidy ponytails of the aristocracy. His physique was well-muscled, his flesh nearly alabaster, he looked like a ghost standing there with her black cape spilling over his hips.

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Willa was under no illusion that she was beautiful but her worth, she never doubted for her parents had never treated her unkindly and the servants were easily won by her gentle heart and indeed she regarded the wolf not with modest down-turned eyes but with childish curiosity. “Is your palace far?” Willa asked startling the wolf slightly for in this form he so often rendered women mute. “Yes…in the mountains…where the snow overtakes the cliffs…” He answered, tortoise was dubious no one knew what lay in the mountains and thus the wolves’ words were conveniently indisputable. “In such an uninhabitable land as that?” Willa cried, herself surprised as she had known of no man to travel so far into the mountains and survive. “The mountains are treacherous….no place for humans but for a wolf…it is paradise..” He said smiling arms crossed over his chest in what seemed more a presentation of arrogance than censorship of his bare chest.

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“Well I can’t possibly let you escort me wearing nothing but a cape and should anyone from the palace come upon us while you are in wolf form I hate to think of the misunderstandings…we will meet again Aurelian in three days..I will have something appropriate for you to wear by then…” She said matter-of-factly. “Oh thank God…” The tortoise exhaled sharply, it was in moments such as these that the reptilian chaperone was grateful that Willa was no ordinary air-headed princess. “What? Of course…you are right forgive me…then in three days time we shall meet again…” Aurelian responded, charmed by the young Princess for no girl before had ever left him to wait.

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“You don’t really mean to meet him?” The tortoise pleaded watching Willa carefully fold the clothing she had herself made for her travels with the Prince. Aside from clothes, she had a proper pair of walking boots for him and packed lunches. “I gave him my word…you wouldn’t have me break it would you?” She asked causing the tortoise to look down in embarrassment for the Princess was an honest girl and truly he would not wish her to be any other way. “Well as your chaperone I shall have to accompany you…” The tortoise said straightening himself or rather his neck for he was not otherwise flexible. “How do you expect to keep pace with us dear friend?” She asked regarding her companion kindly. “Never you mind that now…but rest-assured I will be coming along…it is my duty and just as I cannot expect you to break your word….you cannot expect me to betray my responsibilities…” He said and to his surprise Willa only smiled. “I knew you would say that…that is why I packed you a lunch…but is that all you require? Shall I fetch a wheelbarrow?” She asked the tortoise’s expression going from flattered to offended in the space of only a few moments. “A wheelbarrow? You can’t be serious…I would never be caught dead in a wheelbarrow with that ladies man pushing me around it’s unthinkable…undignified…humiliating…” He might have went on but Willa touched him on the head, stopping his onslaught of unhappy adjectives. “I will take care of it…I told you I wouldn’t slow you down…so if you’ll excuse me for a moment I must gather my things…”

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“What is that you carry tortoise?” Willa asked hugging both bags to her as the reptile plodded slowly toward the rendezvous point. “You forget Princess that I am enchanted as well…” He said looking around suspiciously to make sure that none would overhear. “Does that mean you can turn into a man?” She asked looking down at her companion with surprise. “Yes that is precisely what it means…believe me I would never transform if the circumstances didn’t merit drastic action…but I cannot in good consciousness leave you alone with that wolf…” He said clearing his throat a little too loudly. “But why on earth haven’t you transformed before? We might have played together! Well I don’t suppose you play but you know what I mean…” She said her answer causing the tortoise’s eyes to bulge slightly. “Of course I play or I did play when I was a child…and as for why not…well it’s not proper for an unmarried man and woman to be alone together…but we will not be alone…the wolf will be with us….” He said the last part quite bitterly. “I don’t think it applies to old men tortoise…” Willa said thoughtfully. “Old men!? Whose an old man?” The tortoise exclaimed and he must have been fiercely agitated/embarrassed for he almost never rose his voice. “Well I assumed you were I mean you are a tortoise and you’re so stuffy…” She answered honestly, another nail in the coffin for her guardian’s ego.“Yes well…appearances I thought I would seem more dignified…but I am not an old man…tortoises are very long-lived…I am perhaps only a few years older than you…” He answered looking back at the girl. “And what of your name then…it cannot be tortoise? And I am so embarrassed that I have called you tortoise for years never thinking you had another name…” She said apologetically. “Pfft….don’t worry about something as insignificant as that…I never told you my name that you should think I was a tortoise…but if you are to see me as a man I suppose I shall tell it to you now…Ira Mondragon…” He said gaze still on the girl as if curious what she thought. “May I call you Ira at least while you’re in human form?” Willa asked knowing now the mysterious bag contained clothes. “I suppose that would be reasonable…but otherwise I shall continue to be tortoise…”

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The pair traveled for some time, at a pace that was painfully leisurely given her excitement. When they arrived at the meeting spot Aurelian was there in wolf form, though he carried with him the borrowed mantel. “Thank you…” The Princess said taking the offered cloak and replacing it with the bag. “I hope they fit…I guessed on the measurements but I have good eyes…” She said and Aurelian smiled a pleased and sharply accented smile. “I am grateful for your kindness…tell me Willa are we to bring your guardian along or shall he wait here for us to return?” The wolf asked eying the tortoise as one might a rival. “I’ll be coming along…” The tortoise assured with an air of obvious satisfaction. “He can turn into a man…” Willa said smiling at Aurelian seemingly unaware of the tension or if aware unwilling to add to the drama. “Of course he can…” The wolf said dissatisfied but undeterred. With the tortoise around it would be harder to get close to the Princess, a romantic evening was certainly out of the question.

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I didn’t have much time to write today but I wanted to get another section. Thank everyone who has shown interest in the story it is encouraging