Wren glanced at where Adam sat in the corner of the room. He was human for now. Renee had been very clear about what would happen if he shifted without permission. Not that it mattered. With a single spell, Renee could teleport Adam back into the vicinity of the talisman. He wasn’t going anywhere, and it was clear he knew it.
The talisman was more powerful than she’d initially realized. It had apparently jumped up Adam’s own magical ability. Whatever gift he’d had initially had been replaced as he’d adapted to the shape-changing. Renee had dangled the talisman between her fingers as she’d discussed its power. Then, almost casually, she’d held it over a flame.
Adam’s scream had been so intense he’d damaged his throat. For nearly two days, he’d been all but unable to speak even after she’d healed him. He was bound to the glimmering stone. Unless it was kept by a witch, it’s magic would begin to decay. Within a few days, it would be rendered inert. And Adam would die. Adam himself couldn’t touch the thing without blacking out, and the tiniest trickle of magic through it was enough that he could not disobey a direct order against the one holding it. He was trapped.
Renee had made such talismans before. Adam was the first to have not been rendered a drooling wreck by the process. Wren was certain it was his own gift, the magic that had allowed him to adapt to animal forms, that made the difference more than her own assistance during the process.
She looked down at the talisman in her hand, then back up at Adam. He stared up at her, his face devoid of expression. “Focus, girl.” Renee’s voice came from behind her.
Her will concentrated behind the talisman. She closed her eyes, and felt Adam’s presence. Despite his empty expression, she could feel the emotions beneath the surface. Anger and despair were waring with each other. Hatred for Renee and… She swallowed when she realized that while she could sense his love for her, there was hatred now as well. And fear. Adam was scared of her. You don’t have to be afraid.
A moment of confusion in his mind, and then a response. I wish I could believe that.
“Shift him.” Renee ordered.
In her mind, she formed the picture of a dog. No, not a dog. She shifted the picture to that of a wolf. Then she exerted her will. Connected to Adam’s mind, she could feel pain course through him, though it was slightly disconnected. The sensation of it was a heady rush that sent a shiver through her. When she opened her eyes again, a gray wolf sat where he’d been a moment before. “Done.”
“Good girl.” Renee smiled. “Now turn him back.”