The prospect of being eaten by a blind wolf wasn’t any more appealing than the idea of being devoured by a sighted one. I watched as he stalked through the version of my room that existed on the other side of the mirror and wondered if I could escape from him just by knocking the mirror down, or throwing a cloth over it.
Where would he be if it wasn’t my room in the mirror anymore? And, following that line of thought, where had he been before he “came into my room”?
“We can be of assistance to one another, little witch,” the wolf said.
He was old, or at least big. Definitely not a wolf puppy. I knew I shouldn’t be fascinated by him, I should be running and terrified, in that order. Seeing him on the other side of the mirror though wasn’t like watching a nature documentary. It wasn’t even like watching an animal in a zoo.
There’s was nothing caged or distant about the wolf I saw before me. Animals in the zoo may be aware of you but they don’t focus on you. You’re just one of hundreds of people they see walking by their cage every day. From how he stared at me, without even being able to see me, this wolf felt different.
He sniffed the air and stepped with slow care closer to the mirror’s edge, stopping with each pace to listen and feel out his environment. He wasn’t in a rush, and he wasn’t distracted. He was searching for me, deliberately and carefully.
“You need a guide if you are going to travel to the Goblins’ Deeps,” he said.
I didn’t want to answer him, didn’t want to give away where I was but as he got close to the mirror’s surface I lost the battle to keep myself quiet.
“What do you want?” I asked, hoping to at least stall him from coming over into the ‘real version’ of my room.
“Only what you have,” he said and crept closer. “I want to run free as you do, I want out of this place.”
The words formed a reasonable request but letting him out of the mirror seemed just about the farthest thing from reasonable that I could imagine.
“What are you going to do when you get out of there?” I asked.
“I had a life,” the wolf said. “It’s waiting for me still.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“It means that what we want is aligned and that we can help each other,” he said.
“But you’re a wolf.”
“And you’re a witch.”
“How do you know that?” I asked.
“You walked through a mirror, and you don’t seem to be casting a reflection anymore,” he said.
I twitched in surprise and looked into the mirror again. He was right. The wolf was prowling around the reflection of my room but there wasn’t a reflection of me in it!
“How do we know you won’t eat us as soon as we get to the Goblin Deeps?” September asked.
“You are both too little to eat,” the wolf said. “I need bigger game to sate my appetite.”
“He might still eat us for a snack,” September said.
“And you might lead me off the path,” the wolf said.
“How would that be as bad as you eating us?” I asked.
“There are places on the road to the Deeps where the path is all there is,” the wolf said. “If you leave the path, there are much worse fates than death that await you.”
I thought about walking through a place like that with a wolf. Then I thought about walking through a place like that alone.
“Maybe traveling together wouldn’t be so bad,” I said.
September looked at me with his eyes growing wide, but didn’t say a word.
“We need to get there quickly though,” I was speaking to the wolf, but my words were mostly for September’s benefit.
He was right to be scared, and I knew I was crazy to be going after my shadow, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that she needed me.
And maybe that I needed her.
“If we work together, we can get to the Goblins’ Deeps,” the wolf said. “But it will take as long as it takes. If we rush and wind up elsewhere it will not go well for any of us.”
“Then do you promise not to eat us?” I asked.
“If you promise to lead me from cursed realm,” the wolf said.
“That’s not eat us ever,” September said. “Even after we leave the mirror realm, you can’t do us any harm.”
“That’s too broad a deal to strike,” the wolf said. “There are some many things that might harm you.”
I saw what he meant. Leaving us alone in the Goblin Deeps might do us harm, even if it was exactly what I wanted.
“Then any harm you do to us, you agree will come back on you three times as bad,” I said. It sounded like a magical kind of thing to say and even if I wasn’t casting spells, this seemed like a magical enough situation for it to work. Or at least for the wolf to think it might work which would be all it would take for him to leave us unharmed. I hoped.
“Only if you will swear to the same,” he said.
“I do,” I said. I wasn’t planning to hurt him and wasn’t sure that I could even if I wanted to so it wasn’t a hard promise for me to make.
“Then we have a pact,” the wolf said.
“You’ll lead us to the Goblin Deeps and we’ll lead you out of the mirror world, and neither of us will harm the other or it comes back three times as bad,” I said, just to make sure we all agreed on what we were agreeing to.
“Can I be included in that?” Rosie asked.
She was bobbing outside my window, and she was sitting on the handle of a familiar looking broom.