Part 30

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Part 30

The wind will blow many seeds…

Kezia

Clouds kept passing over the moon as the wind whipped the grass around us. The fireflies were sinking lower and out of sight- there were other bright things to see now. Mostly eyes, red and yellow and green, snapping on and off.

Sorina had said that there had been a change in power, and I thought that I knew what she meant. There was a wild feeling in the air. Most of the things I glimpsed streaking through the grass around us had to be Blajini, but I was certain that not all of them were. I heard squeaks, groans, weird utterances. Suddenly the air was split by a loud, throaty howl.

“Restless spirits,” muttered Gabi, pressing one hand over me where I was tucked into the pocket of her smock. “The moon is nearly full.”

I felt the tension in her, too. In the pale moonlight her eyes were dark and shining within thin rings of electric blue. Something ran past us and she flinched.

That howl came again, and with it, a chorus of shrieks. A pale cloud seemed to rise from the grass before us with a whispering sound. After a moment I realized it was a swarm of moths, whirling and fluttering through a shaft of light towards the sky. A Blajini sprang up to snatch at one with its hands.

Gabi moved around them. She was not walking very fast, but there was a kind of liquid slink to her movements that had not been there before. The shadows in the grass gave way to her. I do not think they would have if it had been just me alone.

Gabi paused at the top of a grassy knoll, the wind making her skirt flutter.

“Look at that,” she murmured.

I pulled myself up higher in her pocket to look down into the valley below. The river looked like a gleaming, liquid snake. Nestled in the curve of it, the village twinkled with many little lights.

“It is pretty,” I said.

“It’s odd,” retorted Gabi. “Why so many lights? Why’re all the people staying awake down there?”

Now that I considered it, she was right. It was odd, another odd thing to add to this strange night.

“The people, they are frightened,” said a soft voice beside us. “They know now of the death seeded within them.”

A little person had come out of the grass to stand beside us- or rather, not a person as I thought of one, for she was surely not human. She was tiny, even shorter than Gabi, and had such exquisitely delicate features that it was almost hard to look at her. Her skin was so pale it nearly shone, and her eyes were white, too: completely white. She wore a pale green dress that looked as though it had been stitched together from leaves.

I felt Gabi shift her weight as she focused her attention on the stranger. I myself was a little awed. The spectre had wrists that Gabi could have circled her thumb and forefinger around, and her limbs all looked so spindly and fragile that I almost could not bear to watch her move. Her face was hollow and gaunt, but still lovely in a frightening way.

“A Zână,” said Gabi, perhaps for my benefit. “Well met, then?”

The spectre looked at her, and I thought I dectected a flicker of chagrin in her immaculate features.

“We are met, and we are not at odds, at least. I do not know if I would call that well met. But I have no quarrel with you, strigoi.”

“Nor I with you,” said Gabi.

Looking between the two of them, bright-eyed Gabi and the ethereal Zână, I deduced that they ordinarily had opposing natures.

“Many times I have gone to that village to give them my gifts and my blessings,” said the Zână. “But these past few nights, I have been unable to reach them. They ring the church bells, they salt the boundaries, they keep everything from the forest out. The good and ill-willed alike.”

“Do you know if the bannik is still there?” I asked. “Has he been able to protect anyone?”

The Zână turned her head slightly to one side, her white eyes fixed forward.

“The bannik?” Gabi prompted, her fingers tap-tapping irately on her thigh.

“I think he still resides there,” replied the Zână. “They cannot shut out what never leaves. But he has been unable to halt the curse that now lies on his people.”

“That being the white trees,” said Gabi.

“Yes,” said the Zână, slowly turning her head towards us. “How came you to know of it, strigoi?”

“I could hardly avoid the knowledge,” replied Gabi. “In any case, the village is not really my concern at this moment. I am looking for the black horseman that belongs to the great witch- have you seen him?”

“No concern of yours? But you are a strigoi, surely you must rejoice at the thought of such easy prey…?”

“I’m not hungry right now,” snapped Gabi. “Do you know where the black horseman is? I should like to be on my way.”

“If you are referring to the night-light, then yes, I have seen him,” said the Zână. She raised one slender, gleaming arm and pointed down towards the river. “The witch set him a trap of broken mirrors, and he has been caught there for days. Even the villagers have heard the sound of his lament.”

“Days?” murmured Gabi. “Hm. Well, if that information is good, I thank you for it.”

“I would not lie,” said the Zână, in a very magnanimously peeved way. “Fare well, strigoi, or at least fare. I feel that the witch will soon come to collect her prize.”

Gabi made a noncomittal sound in response, and watched the Zână retreat back into the grass, growing more translucent as she did so. When she had vanished, I tugged on the smock.

“Gabi, I do not think she was really talking about Kazimir… Sorina said that he only just stopped bothering her house, so how could he have been trapped for days? And the village- does it seem that-”

“Does it seem that things have progressed awfully fast down there? Yes, indeed,” said Gabi. “Though you ought to be happy. It means your little friend Crina is still alive.”

“It is not something to joke about,” I said. Now the sight of the pretty little lights below us made me feel wretched.

Gabi shrugged, sliding her smock and me up and down with the motion. “It wasn’t a joke. Anyway, I think she did mean Kazimir. I think we were in Sorina’s house rather longer than expected. The moon was a sliver when we entered.”

I tilted my head back to look at the fattening moon, and felt the light of it strike me like a great shock.

“You are right!”

“And not terribly surprised about it. I knew there had to be a reason there weren’t any windows. Time was strange in that place. Another trick to add to the lot!” Gabi shook her head meaningfully. “But we can do nothing about it. Let’s go and have a look at this mirror trap.”

She strode down the hill, setting a course that would take us well clear of the village. I noticed that she was flexing her left wrist as she walked now. Her palm was still red and scarred from drawing out the flowerbud.

I myself was still reddish-colored from absorbing so much of her blood. I thought I might be near as much blood as clay right now. It had made me so slick and muddy that I had left a crust all around the inside of Gabi’s pocket, though I was drying out again fast. It made me wonder if anyone would ever be able to take my free will ever again, I had so much of Gabi’s blood. It was too bad that I could not give some of it back when she needed it.

Gabi’s movement brought a dark shape flying out of the grass, fluttering and cawing: a crow.

“The witch!” it cried, circling above our heads. “The witch, the witch, the witch is coming!”

“Shut up!” replied Gabi, and stooped to pick up a rock.

“Do not hurt it, Gabi,” I urged. “Let it be.”

“Hmph!” she said, but she did not throw the rock, only swung her arm threateningly. The crow cackled and swooped low before us, and I saw that it had no eyes.

“Move quickly!” it said, rising once more. “Move quickly! The wind will blow many seeds across this field tonight!”

It snatched at Gabi’s headscarf, and she batted it away with a curse.

“Go away and leave us alone! There are many Blajini about; pester them!”

The crow gave a roacous croak, and voided itself in front of us before gliding in the direction of the river.

“Disgusting creature!” said Gabi, skirting that particular area in the grass.

“It seemed like it knew some things, though,” I said. “Maybe we should have spoken to it.”

“Creatures like that only repeat what they hear; it would only have taken our words and used them somewhere else,” retorted Gabi. “It’s no use paying attention to them- the words could have been from yeaterday or a decade ago.”

“Oh,” I said, though I thought that what it had said seemed very much relevant to our current situation. “What is a spirit like that called?”

“I don’t know! There are so many different kinds that people haven’t got time to think of names for them all, especially ones as useless as that… Oh, look there!”

We had come down close to the riverbank, and Gabi was pointing at something that was sticking up out of the water. It was flat and square, like a screen of some sort, and when we came closer I suddenly saw a reflection of Gabi in it.

“It is a mirror!” I said.

“Obviously,” was her reply. I noticed that her reflection was turning away- she was averting her eyes so that she did not have to look at herself. She crossed her arms and gripped her shoulders.

“What is the matter, Gabi?” I could see myself in the mirror, as well: a little round face peeping up from her pocket. I waved one of my arms.

“Nothing’s the matter,” Gabi said, though she still seemed to be having a hard time looking directly at the mirror. It was a large mirror, with an elegant wooden frame, and it was stuck right in the middle of the river. The moonlight that was reflected in it made a bright square on the water.

Surely this was the mirror trap for Kazimir that the Zână had spoken of. Yet I did not see how it was supposed to be a trap at all, nor did I see any sign of Kazimir.

I did notice, though, that since we had gotten close to the river all the sounds of the spirits cavorting in the moonlight had faded away. Even the wind had died down, leaving only the sound of flowing water- and from some distance away, the soft hoot of an owl.

Gabi inched forward almost unbearably slowly. I watched our reflections get larger in the mirror. It was tilted slightly so that it caught a bit of the cloudy night sky in the image as well. It made stars frame the top of Gabi’s head, and I noticed that one of her curls had yet again escaped her headscarf.

As I watched, her reflection halted, eyes focused downwards. Her expression changed to a deep frown, and finally, her eyes flicked up towards the mirror- to me.

“You would have fallen for this trap as well, Kezia,” she said, and one corner of her mouth twitched up.

“What? What trap?” I asked, looking over the mirror from corner to corner. I did not see any sign of danger, though I noticed that the wooden frame had pretty carvings of ivy on it.

“Stop looking at the mirror and look down by my feet,” she advised.

Reluctantly, I dragged my eyes downwards- and got a shock. Directly ahead of Gabi’s bare feet was a large, black, and bottomless-looking pit.

“What- how- where did that come from?!”

My incredulous tone made her laugh. “It isn’t magic! If you hadn’t been so fixated on your looks, my dear, you would have seen it.”

I realized that she was right. The mirror was tilted in a way that it reflected part of the sky and the sandy swell of the riverbank just above where the pit was located, giving the illusion that the ground continued on towards the water. Gabi had been right not to look at herself after all, though I wondered if she had really planned that all along.

I pulled myself out of her pocket and slid down the front of her apron to get a better look at the trap. The pit itself was not quite as wide as the mirror, and rough-looking, as though it had been dug recently. There were still spindly broken roots sticking out of the soil on the sides. I could not see the bottom for the darkness of it, but I could see some sharp-looking things sticking out from the walls.

Gabi squatted down next to me, her knees by my head. She was still holding the stone in one hand, and suddenly she winked at me and tossed it into the darkness.

“Gabi-”

I did not have time to scold her for the careless action, because as the stone vanished into the blackness the earth underneath my feet trembled, and a great, moaning cry drifted up from the depths of the pit. I saw a number of greenish flashes, as though a cadre of fireflies had all suddenly lit up at once near the bottom.

“And there he is,” said Gabi, sounding satisfied. “The question is, what is keeping him there, and how do we get him out?”

I gazed down into the pit: poor Kazimir! Gabi’s questions were good ones, because I could not imagine any bonds being able to hold him down there. Perhaps it was so deep that he could not climb out, but even that seemed doubtful given that he could change his shape.

Gabi was flexing her hand again, her eyes glittering.

“Oi, you down there! Horseman! Can you hear me?”

For a moment she was answered only by silence, though I listened carefully. The owl in the woods across the river hooted again.

Then, slowly, pale green light began to glow, tracing a slow outline of a prone horse far below us. It was lying haphazardly, with its legs bent in strange directions: it barely fit inside the narrow pit. The light illuminated other things, too: shards of glass that were embedded in rings within the pit’s walls, like circles of teeth.

“Is that the strigoi?” came Kazimir’s voice, and I saw the horse lift his head, nostrils flaring. “Gabi?”

“It certainly is. How on earth did you get yourself stuck down there, my friend?”

“I’m not your friend,” said Kazimir, and growled like a dog. He began to rise to his feet but cried out when one of the glass shards sliced into his flank, releasing floating spots of green light.

“Oh, go away from me, leave me alone,” he said, sinking back down. “I looked for you before, but it is too late, I am giving myself up.”

“You went down there on purpose, you mean?” said Gabi, and tutted. “You gave up! But why, you were free, weren’t you?”

“I can’t bear being alone any longer,” said Kazimir, in a miserable tone that I recognized. “While Zakhar and Pascha are captive, I have no one on this earth. Even Kezia is gone- thanks to you.”

I was about to say something, to tell him he was wrong, but Gabi covered my face with her fingers.

“Let’s give him a surprise,” she murmured, and when she withdrew her hand I saw she had a rather devilish look in her eye. I was not sure that this was a good sign, but then again, I was a little bit curious to see what she was planning.

“So why were you looking for me before?” she called down into the pit. “Surely not for companionship?”

Kazimir growled again, but it was a weak sound.

“I tracked you to the strange house, but you hid yourself well within. I could not breach the walls. I would not have sought you out if I were not desperate.”

“For companionship?”

“Not from you!” This came out with such vehemence that he spat green. “No! I wanted to see if you would help me to find a way to free the others from the Baba, but it is too late, it doesn’t matter, how could you? The only way I might be with them again is in servitude.”

“My, you seem downhearted. You even forgot to mention that I might not agree to help you even then.”

“Gabi,” I whispered, “stop teasing him. I want to talk to him.”

“One more moment,” she said, under her breath.

“Why do you keep muttering so?” called Kazimir. His light was dimming. “Why don’t you go away and leave me in peace!”

“Hm, not for the moment I won’t,” said Gabi. “Here’s a thought: what if I said that I would help you after all? Would you get yourself out of that pit?”

Kazimir seemed taken aback; I saw his horse’s body twitch and shudder like it had been covered in flies.

“You would help me…? No- you wouldn’t!”

“I decide that, I think. Wouldn’t you rather be free and have a fledgeling hope then go back under her yoke again?”

Kazimir shifted, his lights dancing, and his outline changed to that of a man’s, curled up at the bottom of the pit. When he sat up and tried to rise I saw the glass strike through his shoulder, shearing it nearly in two, and he cried out and spilled more green light from the wound. When he reached up his arm he was cut again, and cried out again.

“No!” he said, slumping back down. “What does it matter? Centuries we have been her servants. Why should it change? I was a fool to think that I was freed. I will never be freed without them.”

“A fool, indeed,” said Gabi, and her eyes flickered strangely. “Well, I think I still might be able to change your mind. I am going to give you a little present.”

He growled and shifted restlessly. Perhaps he thought she meant she was going to throw another rock.

“Here we are,” she said, lifting me from her pocket. I clutched her fingers, for she had extended her arm out over the pit.

“You are not going to drop me down there, are you?”

“Of course not! I’m just showing him,” said Gabi, with a little snort. Her fingers curled tighter around me.

“What is that,” said Kazimir, raising his head begrudgingly. I caught a glimpse of his lovely features, his smooth dark skin reflecting light.

“It is me, Kazimir!” I called. Gabi knelt to grasp the edge of the pit so that she could let her other arm dangle down. She was lucky she had not hit one of the shards of glass when she did so- no, from this new angle, I realized that they were not just glass. They were pieces of a broken mirror.

Beneath me, I saw Kazimir tilt his head up as far as it would go, his eyes wide and vivid green.

“It is I, Kezia!” I called, waving my arms. “I am not gone, I promise! I only look different because-”

“Kezia!” The sudden delight in his voice was like a leap. “Is it really Kezia? You are so small!”

“Yes, I know. But you see, Gabi did not harm me. You should not say unkind things to her.”

“Yes, it’s really you, all right,” said Kazimir, in a slightly lower voice.

“Isn’t it?” called Gabi.

“It is,” I emphasized, feeling a bit put out. “Kazimir, please, do not stay down there! We will help you.”

From far below I saw his lips part slightly, his tongue shining green.

“I… I cannot get out. The mirrors cut me to pieces.”

“Eh, then we shall just have to remove them,” said Gabi, and she withdrew the arm holding me from the pit, rolling her shoulder. “They aren’t stuck in there by magic, are they?”

“I don’t know,” said Kazimir. “I can’t touch mirrors.”

“Is that so? It would have been nice to know that before,” muttered Gabi, reaching up to stroke her neck. In her other hand, I kicked to get her attention.

“Gabi, let me go down there! I can pull out the pieces so that he can climb out.”

“They’re as big as you are!” said Gabi. “Besides, I’m not sending you down into a pit with who knows what sort of trickery-”

“But if you go down there, you will get trapped too! Or can you change your shape again?”

Gabi scowled at this, meaning that I was right.

“Pulling them out one by one will take an eternity. What if the witch returns before then? I won’t be able to get you back out fast enough, and even if I could, where can we hide out here?”

“You’re right,” came Kazimir’s voice, floating up from the pit. “You should just leave me and go…”

“Hush, Kazimir!” I said, making Gabi raise her eyebrows. “Gabi, you said that you did not want the Baba to get all three horsemen back, and I do not either. So let me go down there and help him. If the witch comes, I can bury myself in the dirt and hide. You should run away and find somewhere safe as well- Kazimir will bring me back to you.”

“That is all very neat-sounding, but I am going to reject it,” said Gabi. “I have no plans to go off and leave you by yourself…” She began pacing around the rim of the pit, her feet coming perilously close to the edge. A few clods of dirt tumbled from the sides.

“I tell you what, let’s go and find a long bit of cord, and I’ll tie one end to your waist, and-”

Quite abruptly she stopped speaking and jumped straight into the air. I had only a moment to be confused by this bizarre behavior before something burst forth from the dirt below us with a terrific snarl.

At first I thought it was Kazimir himself, for it was a great black thing, but then I realized it was not. As Gabi came down and stumbled back, the creature shook itself, spraying dirt and twigs in every direction, revealing a mass of filthy, shaggy fur. It opened its eyes and I felt a sickening stab: they were human. It was a pricolici.

“Oh!” said Gabi, sliding the hand holding me to her side, where it would be less obvious. “Don’t I know you? How’s that shoulder, eh?”

She laughed, and the pricoloci growled, taking a step back. As the fur on its shoulder moved, I could see a shiny crescent-shaped scar there. It was not just any pricolici, it was the one we had met before- the one that had been attacking Sorina’s brown cow.

“Now what are you doing here?” said Gabi, stepping forward. Again, the pricolici stepped back, and I marveled that it was intimidated by her little figure.

There came a loud hoot of an owl, startlingly close, and Gabi and I turned our heads. A large, rusty-red owl glided silently out of the night to perch on top of the mirror in the river. It turned its great eyes towards us, and I saw that they were ringed with blue.

“Oh, drat,” said Gabi, the bravado audibly evaporating from her tone. “Oh…”

She put one hand on her neck, and I realized that the owl had a black ribbon for a collar.

The owl raised its feathers, waddling sideways along the length of the mirror, and fixed its gaze on the pricoloci. The great wolf gave a little whine and lay down, putting one paw over its muzzle as the owl continued to glare.

Gabi moved very slowly into a crouch to set me on the ground during this little show, jerking her head towards the pit. She snapped back up straight when the owl’s head suddenly rotated in our direction. I flattened myself in the grass.

“If you ask me, a pricoloci is an inferior sort of thing to a strigoi,” said the owl, who was no longer an owl but a naked man, sitting on top of the mirror with his legs crossed. “They didn’t have the strength of will to keep a human shape after death… But this one serves me, so I would ask you not to bother him in his work.”

I stared up at the strange man from my position low in the grass. There was no question what he was, and I knew Gabi was certain of it too. She licked her lips and shifted her weight slightly, one had still brushing at her neck.

The man was long and lean, with pale skin, red hair, and an angular, arrogant face. Aside from the color of his hair and eyes he looked nothing like Gabi at all- where her features were rounded and petite, his were long and harsh, and his skin bore none of her endearing little spots.

I thought that sitting on the narror edge of the mirror could not be comfortable, or so easy to balance on, but the strigoi made it look effortless, putting his chin in one hand as he eyed Gabi.

“We’ve met before, haven’t we?” he said.

“I suppose we have,” said Gabi. She moved one hand behind her back to flick her fingers at me; I began creeping slowly towards the edge of the pit.

“Was it a year ago? No, more than that. You were a babe then, newly risen.” The strigoi grinned. “I taught you some of our ways, then, didn’t I?”

“You nearly tore one of my hearts out,” said Gabi, baring her teeth in a humorless way. “And I did learn, didn’t I? Which is why I’m curious to know why you’re this far from the den you were so protective of.”

“Don’t call my manse a den,” sniffed the strigoi. “Not after all the hard work I’ve put into making it what it is. Anyhow, I’m… doing someone a favor.”

“Don’t try to fool me,” said Gabi, drawing a finger across her neck. “You’ve been cursed by a witch, haven’t you? You’re doing her dirty work.”

“How did you know that?” snapped the strigoi, and he pushed himself off the mirror to land knee-deep in the river with a splash. He began to move towards Gabi in a way I think was meant to be menacing, but the way he waded to the bank was too reminiscent of the waddling owl.

Still, Gabi did draw back from him, and I hesitated, halfway between her and the edge of the pit. The pricolici took its paw away from its muzzle and squinted in my direction.

“Oh, don’t worry, I’m not in the mood for a fight,” said the strigoi, who was now standing naked and damp on the riverbank. He seemed to have made himself at ease again. “So it seems you’ve guessed why I’m here, and why I’ve trapped this black creature. I hope you never run afoul of a witch…”

“I would never be so foolish,” said Gabi.

The pricolici’s blue eyes were scanning the grass where I was standing perfectly still. But they were human eyes… surely it could not see very well in the dark.

The strigoi had spread his hands in the meantime.

“What can I say? The witch has a pretty little morsel- my little friend here sniffed her out for me. I didn’t realize until it was too late just which witch I was attempting to steal from. So you see, I’ve got to wait until she collects the thing in my trap to have my ribbon off. That’s how things stand, and it hasn’t been a hard job, not when you’ve got a wolf doing the digging.”

He cast a look over at the pricolici, which jerked its muzzle up towards the strigoi and licked its nose. In its distraction, I scampered forward and flung myself over the edge of the pit. I was lucky: I only fell a few inches before landing on the flat side of one of the pieces of mirror.

“Kezia,” came a soft voice, drifting up from the depths.

“Shh,” I replied, as quiet as I could make myself. “I will get you out, but it must be quiet…”

So saying, I pulled myself up and began to tear at the black dirt at the base of the shard. There was a strange rusty odor to it, but at least it was loose and yeilded easily. Support weakened, the shard began to tilt downwards.

Then I realized I had not thought through this very well, because the thing I was trying to remove was also what I was standing on. My feet slid on the polished surface until I managed to grab a root for support.

From above, Gabi and the strigoi were still speaking, though I could not see their faces from where I was, only a circle of sky and the reflection of one of the dirt walls of the pit in the mirror shard.

“So now I’ve explained my being here,” said the strigoi. “Now, my sister, I’d like to hear what you have to say, and why you seem so interested in this pit. Because I am very close to getting rid of this little ribbon, and I am not interested in receiving any… interference with that.”

“Oh, no, of course not,” said Gabi. I wished dearly that I could see her face- it would tell me if she was confident, or calm, or frightened. I was frightened. I had expected some kind of complication from the Baba, but not in this form.

I gave the tilted glass shard an experimental push with my foot, and it fell entirely in a shower of dirt, spinning downwards and knocking loudly against others. I was left clinging to my wispy roots. As the shard vanished into darkness Kazimir gave a cry, and to my horror I realized I must have cut him. But I had to bite back my apology.

“What’s going on down in there?”

The earth trembled from the approaching footsteps, and then I saw the strigoi’s face peering out over the pit.

I held perfectly still, pretending with all my might to be just another clod of earth dangling from the coarse roots. The strigoi’s eyes flicked over me, then down towards where Kazimir’s greenish light was beginning to shine again.

“You be quiet!” he shouted, and I thought his voice was a little bit shrill. “I caught you, and you’re going back to your mistress! That’s the end of it!”

He withdrew his head, and I heard the pricolici give a soft growl.

“Very impressive,” said Gabi.

“Oh, shut up. Why don’t you tell me what you’re doing here? I said I wasn’t interested in a fight, but I could be persuaded…”

“Calm down. I only came this way for curiosity’s sake,” Gabi said. “And I was looking for someone to inquire about the state of that village, anyway…”

“Eh, the village? Which one?”

“The one downriver. Surely you’ve heard about what’s been happening to the people there?”

“What are you talking about?”

Gabi sighed.

“I’ll explain…”

As she began to tell the strigoi about the white trees, I realized that she was stalling for time, and that I was wasting it. Quickly I pushed myself out from the wall and swung on my roots to the next mirror shard. The glass sliced my clay, but I was able to pull myself onto it again.

“Kezia,” came Kazimir’s soft, mournful voice.

“Shh,” I murmured. “I am sorry. Try to keep away from the glass when it falls.”

I tried to sound calm, but I was feeling a little frantic. How long could Gabi keep the other strigoi distracted? What if he attacked her? She was not at her strongest now, and she could not even change her shape…

As I ripped away at the earth surrounding the base of the next shard, something occurred to me. Was it not odd that the black ribbon was still around his neck? If the witch had bespelled him in the same way she had bespelled Gabi, he should have been able to put it on Kazimir and send him back right away. But he had not. Either there was some problem with the spell, like there had been with Gabi, or… maybe he was afraid of Kazimir. Maybe that had been the cause of the tremor in his voice.

This time, when the shard started to come free from the dirt, I was ready, and jumped for the next. The shining glass fell silently away through the darkness.

Two down. But before me lay a glittering spiral, large as a staircase to me, blocking Kazimir’s escape. What a cruel trap! It would take me a long time to dismantle it.

But the thought of Kazimir freed and the effect that it would have on the strigoi that had once hurt Gabi did make my work a little more pleasurable. I started digging out the next shard, listening to the sound of Gabi’s voice above, giving me time.

 

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About Koryos

Writer, ethology enthusiast, axolotl herder. Might possibly just be a Lasiurus cinereus that types with its thumbs.
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4 Comments

  1. You misspelled pricolici (as pricoloci, I think) once. Also, there wasn’t really any indication that Gabi and Kezia realized that it was Kazimir looking for them in Sorina’s house until this chapter, it kinda felt out of nowhere.

    That other strigoi sounds like a gigantic wuss even with the cool owl morph. I’m gonna relish seeing our dynamic duo plus horse friend take him down.

  2. Typo:

    “It’s no use paying attention to them- the words could have been from yeaterday or a decade ago.”
    ___________

    -have been from yesterday or-

  3. “would ever be able to take my free will ever again” ever…ever

    “yeaterday” yesterday

    “one had still brushing at her neck” hand

    “narror edge” narrow

  4. Our protagonists keep reuniting with this trio of not-exactly-horses, eh? I wondered before whether the story would move much, geographically, and at this point I suppose it will not, given how the plot insists on tying Gabi and Kezia to this place at every turn! Not that I will complain, as the conflict between these witches is one I’m quite interested in reading more about. I can only wonder how Muma Balaur will fit into the puzzle, as the other two seem altogether more intimidatingly powerful as well as more directly tied to the main plot at the moment. But I’m sure she’ll have her day too.

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