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At a secluded country house

Posted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:25 pm
by Rebecca
On a couch in the sunroom, the small, blond-haired girl opened her eyes. For a second, fear flickered there as she took in the unfamiliar surroundings, but the ritual markings disposed about her – among them marks for peacefulness, amnesia, and suggestibility – flared, and a dreamy look replaced it.

Imliss stroked the child’s forehead and life magic flowed from her hand, closing the ugly red gash that lingered there. With the last surge of magic, the traces of near-fatal evisceration on the girl’s belly vanished, too. Her clothing had been altered previously so as to suggest tears proceeding from thorns and stray branches rather than claws.

Imliss smiled reassuringly, and in her ritually-induced trance, the little one smiled back. Imliss dipped her mind into the inscriptions of the circle, drawing on it as she let her elven power build in her voice.

“You’ve had a bad dream. The sunshine was so golden, the smell of foliage so sweet… how could you not take a moment to rest in the grass? You fell asleep. That is why you are late home. You saw some frightening things, but those were only freaks of your imagination. They’re gone now. No need to dwell on them.

Close your eyes now. A guardian will carry your soul back to your body, and when he is gone, you will awaken and run home with nothing at all the matter. In fact, this is a very auspicious day. The forest has taken a liking to you.”

A syringe appeared in her hand. She found a vein, and injected the concoction of her own device that would make the subject’s scent unpalatable to this particular predator.

The girl sighed and subsided back onto the couch, her eyelids drooping.


Imliss rose. Now to have words.

She strode out, descending some flights of stairs until she reached the entrance hall. Where was he?

A shadow fell over her. She turned and stared into the feral yellow eyes. The beast snarled. As it stepped forwards Imliss seized its lower jaws in one hand. It could easily have wrenched her arm from its socket had it resisted, but instead it let her drag its face down to hers until it hunched over. It growled, but the sound was not so much one of anger as of anxiety.

“I told you not to attack the villagers. YOU. DISOBEYED. ME.”

The midari shuffled his feet.

“You will not sleep with the pack tonight. Or any night this week.”

“But I want-”

“You will reflect on what it is you have done. You will sleep in the garret, alone.”

The hulking beast threw back his head and howled his displeasure. Like other cani-forms, the midari were social creatures, very dependent on proximity to the pack for their well-being. Spending nights away from the moving mass of fur and snuffling noses of his siblings would be received as a harsh punishment.

“If your brothers had not been there to restrain you, you would have killed that child.”

“But it smell good… it taste good… I was hungry, so I find food…”

“I understand it is in your nature to hunt, and I understand that your need is for fresh meat. Though it causes me great sorrow to see you slay the other creatures of this place, who have done no wrong and deserve life, I permit it for that reason. But I will not allow you to attack the villagers. At the very least, I cannot keep you safe if you insist on representing yourselves to them as monsters.”

The midari stared at her sullenly. Then, hesitantly, he asked, “but I can still have… a bedtime story?”

Imliss looked into the yellow eyes. Beneath the matted fur and crusted blood, he was very young indeed. Only a child.

For a second she mulled it over. Then she said, “if tomorrow you can satisfactorily explain to me why you had to be punished… then yes. You can have your bedtime story.”

The beast threw his arms around her and hugged her tightly. “Thank you, mama.”