The quiet of the forest is a very soothing sound, the soft sounds of animals scurrying above, the small crunch of grass as a mother rabbit ventures with her little hord of babies. Young Rea Hill, was just eighteen with long brown hair and bright honey brown eyes. She was dressed in rags, but she didn’t care. After all, the forest was not a place to dress up. She sat, in a small clearing of the trees of her hidden home. She loved her home. It was peaceful, but it was also lonely, if it wasn't for her best friend, Scout she would be lost.
And as if being summoned by her thoughts, a golden barn owl fluttered from the trees somewhere and landed upon her shoulder. The bird nibbled her ear in welcome.
“Yes, hello to you, Scout,” Rae replied. “What did you catch me?”
Scout plopped a mouse in her lap looking very proud of herself and Rea laughed, “Oh you spoil me,” she said shaking her head. She took the mouse, and pocketed it, she’d give it to Scout later when she was hungry.
“Rae,” a gruff voice called through the quiet of the forest.
Scout fluttered her wings, “Yes, I agree, he’s too loud,” Rae sighed getting to her feet. “Shall we see what Grim what’s,” she asked.
Scout took flight, flying ahead as Rae slowly made her way to the house they called home. Grimlee was a rough looking giant, that would probably scare the bravest men, but what people didn’t know was he was more like a kitten, at least that was Rae’s experience. “I’m here, Grim,” she called as she drew closer.
Grimlee was twice as tall as Rea, and three times as big, he had a gnarly dark beard with streaks of gray, silver and white, his small beady eyes narrowed as she drew closer. He was working in his smelt, the hot emers spraying out as he finished a pair of horseshoes. “Where you been girl,” he huffed, tossing the shoes in the water to cool, before banging them out.
“Out with Scout,” Rae shrugged watching. “Does Charley need new shoes,”
“When doesn't that old ass need them,” Grimlee sighed as he finished the shoes. He looked them over and nodded his approval. “I need you to hold him while I reshoe him,”
Rae smiled, “Of course,” she said. She followed the man who raised her to the little barn. They had a few animals, just enough to keep the two of them from heading into town (something Grimlee hated). Rea pet Betsy, their cow on the way till she reached Charley’s stall. Charley was a good looking stallone, but his stubbornness made him more like a grumpy old man who hated to be bothered.
“We're gonna need a few things from the market,” Grimlee as he prepped.
“Can I just go,” Rae asked hopefully as she petted Charley, mostly to distract him. She fed him hay and snuck him some sugar cubes as Grimlee worked. Grimlee didn’t talk as he made quick work of cleaning, removing, treating and reshoeing Charley’s feet.
When Grimlee was done, he straightened up and whipped his hands, “Are you sure, Rae. cause that market…,”
“I know how you hate the market. I can do it, Grim, please,” Rae begged.
Grimlee chuckled, and shook his head, “Alright. But Scout,” he called. The little owl flew out from the rafters of the barn in which she was hiding. “You look out for Rae, protect her, you hear me?”
As a response, Scout nibbled his nose, this made the big tough giant laugh. He petted her gently with his big rough casslised hands, “That’s a girl,” he smiled. “Alright, I need to get the list and the money.
“I’ll get changed,” Rae said. A girl in rags often got turned away even if she had money. In fact it was a good way to end up in the dungeons, for stealing. They both made their way into the house, the one Grimlee custom built for his large size. It had all the basics, everything the two of them needed. It was a castle in Rae’s mind, though she only read about castles. But this far up north of Armonía mountains, the nearest castle was a three day ride, where the capital sat.
After a short moment, Rae came down in a simple green dress, her wild hair, braided, and bag upon her shoulder. She put on her good boots as Grimlee slid her the list and money. “Now, listen here, only get what we need. If there is a little extra, you may go to the bookshop,”
Rae smiled as she put everything in her bag. It sat in front of her, where she could best keep it safe. “Thank you Grim,” she replied.
“Come back in one piece,” Grimlee asked.
Rae had to laugh, she been to the market plenty of times, but it was always the same. Grimlee worried when she wasn’t in the safety of their home. “I shall return,” she promised. She whistled for Scout, and made her way to the barn to saddle up Charley and attach his cart to carry the groceries.
There was a burning feeling of running, that propelled Marrok Flint to move forward, taking in the smells of the rich forest before him, the sounds of the forest were all around him, but all he could hear was his own beating heart as he pushed himself faster then he had ever gone.
Marrok was a shifter, cursed as far as he knew, he preferred the shape of a wolf better than any other, his wolf form had black with swirls of brown and grays fur, he was sleek, a bit muscular where he could hold his own if he must.
He came to a stop as he felt his mistress calling for him, he looked out over the valley of green, a puff of smoke emulating just off in the distance, he wasn’t aware of anyone living out here, but then again this was the farthest he traveled beyond his home. The call came again, and this time pain as well. His mistress was not a patient woman.
With a heavy sigh, he turned back for home, running at full speed. It didn’t seem to matter how far he went, she would always find him. Back inside the cave they called home, Marrok transformed back into a man, he was rugged looking with a shadow of a beard and had wild black, brown and gray hair that he kept tied back. His body was fit, with a bit of muscles, the only thing he wore was tight shorts to hide his manhood, it was best to be as naked as possible when changing into animals. But now home, he threw on a pair of slacks, and slipped his feet into some old leather loafers.
“Where have you been,” came the cruel impashion voice of his mistress. “You weren’t hunting, obviously,”
“No, just needed a run,” Marrok said, lowering his head as he put on a gray shirt.
He wasn’t permitted to look his mistress in the eye unless she wanted him to. She was a cruel woman. Karti was beautiful in an unnatural way, she had pail white skin, long white hair, piercing blue eyes. She always dressed like she was a queen, in bright colors, today she chose dark red.
“A run,” Karti asked, she hooked her nails into his chin, and forced him to look at her.
Marrok felt a chill run down his spine. He had belonged to Karti for as long as he could remember, there was no life before. She had saved him from being killed and that was why his life was now in her cruel hands. There was a coldness in her eyes that he could not escape.
“Forgive me,” he whispered, afraid.
Katri released hin, and licked his blood off her nails, “We’re going into town,”
“Another demonstration,” Marrok asked. He hated going into town. Then moved a lot throughout the kingdoms, he would terrorize small towns, and Karti would convince the people that only she could deal with a monster such as him. She would get paid with whatever the town could spear and they would move on to the next.
“You know me so well,” Katri smiled throwing her cloak on, “Why don’t you run off ahead,”
Marrok sighed and nodded, kicking off his clothes till yet again, all he wore was his shorts. He transformed this time as a bird, a hawk. Taking flight into the sky, to see what this little town looked like before deciding how best to terrorize it.
Rea made her way into the market of the little village not far from their home in the forest. She always wondered why Grimlee preferred to live in the forest as to living in the village. Sure he was big and whenever he did come to town, people always gazed.
The town was always bustling, it was a small town, but everyone worked together to support each other, as well as thoughts who traveled in and out, trading goods. She tied Charley to a stall, before making her way into the market with Scout on her shoulder.
“Grim gave us quite a list,” Rae said to Scout as they made their way. “Where shall we start first,”
Scout fluttered her feathers and hooted quietly, and Rae smiled, yes, she was a little crazy for talking to her owl as if she understood, but who else was she supposed to talk to? So she made her way into the market to start down Grimlee’s list.
She was about half way through when a growl came behind her, turning quickly, she saw a wolf, it’s hair sticking up in the wild, it’s eyes were red, glowing with a blood lust. Rae screamed, backing up. Causing Scout to take flight. As the wolf lunged, she kicked out, cating it’s muzzle as Scout swooped down, clawing at the creature's eyes.
Now as it was distracted, Rae hurried away, causing other people to become aware of the wolf. Knights drew their sword, chasing off the wild creature. But Rae collapsed, shaking with fear.
“You alright, miss,” a guard asked, placing a blanket upon her shoulder.
Rae nodded, “I just need a minute,” she said, petting Scout, thankful for her for intervening.
“Well, that wolf won't be coming back any time soon,” the guard nodded and left her to catch her breath.
Rae hugged Scout a moment longer before getting to her feet, “We should get the rest of the things, I don’t want Grim to worry.”
Scout hooted quietly, and nuzzled her, nipping her noise playfully.
Rae giggled, “Yes, I love you too.”
Rae finished up her shopping trip and then made her way home, telling Grimlee of her adventure. Grimlee looked amused as she told her story. When she was done he chuckled and shook his head, “You must of been dreaming, girl,”
“I'm serious Grim,” Rae said desperately. “Scout tell him,” she said, looking at her owl.
Grimlee laughed even more, “You want the bloody owl to tell me about some adventure you had. You really have lost it,”
Rae sighed in defeat, of course it was silly to ask Scout, but she was desperate for Gimlee to believe her.
“Will you get started on dinner, unless you wanna tend the fields,” Grimlee offered.
“No,” Rae said. “I’ll do dinner,”
“Good girl,” Grimlee nodded and headed out.
Rae looked at Scout, “I suppose your not going to help, will you,”
Scout cocked her head, and hooted.
“I know,” Rae smiled. She washed up before getting dinner going, humming to herself quietly.
“What happened,” Katri demanded pacing back and forth before Marrok. He was cleaning himself off as best he could the owl nearly clawed his eye out and that girl, she had a mighty good kick, his jaw still hurt. He hadn’t been looking to hurt her, just scare her but still it threw him off guard.
“I don’t know,” Marrok whispered quietly.
Katir slapped him hard, “You don’t know,” she hissed. “Listen to me, you ungrateful flea. You’re mine,” she sneered. “Now, tell me what happened.”
Marrok rubbed his cheek, “I went to frighten a girl. She kicked me and then an owl attacked me,” he told her reluctantly.
Katri raised an eyebrow, “A girl,” she said and laughed. “A girl, come now, you can be any beast known to man, and a girl did this?”
“And an owl,” Marrok said, defeated.
“If it’s true, I wish to meet this girl,” Katri said with a smile. “Find her for me,”
“Why,” Marrok asked, frowning.
Katri raised her hand to strike him, “Do not question me,”
Marrok lowered his head quickly, “Forgive me, I-- I’ll find her,”
“Good boy, and don’t return until you find her,” Katri demanded.
Marrok made his way out of the cave, still rubbing his face, he was scared for the girl’s sake what Katri would do.
Perhaps he could find this girl and warn her, no doubt Katri would become inpatient and try to find her herself. It wasn’t gonna be easy but he would try to protect this girl. He slowly made his way into town, staying human, it was easier to find the girl. He could casually ask about her to the patriots of the town, hopefully someone would know who she was.
Marrok poked around, but no one knew who the girl was, till he happened upon a guard, “The girl who was attacked, she lives in the forest, just east,” the guard said. “Why are you looking for her,” he added.
“My boss wanted to write about her incident today,” Marrok lied quickly. He knew just where the guard spoke of, he’d seen the smoke earlier that day. Quickly before the guard could ask more, Marrok made his way out of eyesight. Where he striped to his shorts and sprouted feathers, taking to the sky. He knew he could get to the hidden house faster by flight on hawk’s wings then wolf paws.
He swooped down as he neared the house, but then an angry scratch cried above him, before he could see what made it, the same owl as earlier attacked him as if she knew he was who attacked the girl. On the one hand, he was in the right place but on the other, he was in trouble.
He swooped away from the crazy owl, getting down to the ground, transforming back, covering his head as best he could, “Please, stop… I came to explain,” he begged.
Rae made her way to feed the chickens when the sound of Scout made her pause, she was attacking a man, he wore only shorts and because of Scout’s sharp talons, she was cutting him up real bad. “Please stop… I came to explain,” he begged.
“Scout,” Rae said in shock. She hurried and grabbed the owl, getting scratched in the process, “Scout, cut it out,” she demanded.
The little barn owl calmed, and hooted at her in protest, as if trying to tell her side of the story. Her bright eyes on the poor man as he gazed up at her, still in a defensive position.
“Behave yourself,” Rae demanded setting Scout on her shoulder. Then she turned to the man, “I’m sorry about her, she’s never behaved like this… come let me tend to those wounds,” she said offering her hand.
The man slowly relaxed, that's when she saw the fresh scar on his face, just above his eye, just like the one Scout gave the wolf… but no, that wasn’t possible, was it?
“Forgive me,” the man said standing slowly. “I needed to see you,”
“Me, why,” Rae asked. She made her way to the laundry line and pulled down one of Grimlee’s shirts. It would be huge on this man but it was better than letting him run around half naked (though it was tempting to look) and bleeding.
“Because I attack you,” the man said quietly. He raised his hand when she raised her eyebrow. “I’m a shifter, your owl saw that as soon as she saw me,”
Rae looked at him a moment longer but nodded, giving him the benefit of the doubt. “COme, at least let me clean you up. You can tell your tale,” she offered.
After a short bit, Rae was patching Marrok’s as he told her about his enslavement to Katri and what she made him do to small towns like her’s. “And you see, I know that witch. She has something evil in mind for you,” Marrok told her. “I’m afraid of what she may do.”
Rae looked up at his scared face, despite his disfiguration, he was still handsome, but he was also very troubled. She could see the years of terment in his eyes. “What can I do,” she asked. “Scout is tough, but even she has her limits,”
“And she’s tough,” Marrok sighed looking down at his new wounds that Rae had binded. “I would say to get out of this town. Katri won't go anywhere near the capital.”
“But what of Grim,” she asked.
“Grim,” Marrok asked.
“My guardian,” Rae replied. “He’s taking his weekly bath,”
“Well, I’ll talk to him if it helps,” Marrok said, rolling up the sleeves of the huge shirt. It occurred to him, this shirt was too big. “Umm, who's this, Grim’s?”
Rae nodded, “He’s a giant. He took me in as a baby,”
“Wish my guardian took such care of me,” Marrok sighed sadly. “Katri, she’s cruel.”
“Perhaps you can come with us. Get away from her,” Rae offered. Slightly hopeful, already liking this handsome, but torchered man.
“She’d find me, no matter where I went. It only puts your life more in danger. You best go with your guardian, or better, on your own. The less I know, the less likely Katir will find you,” Marrok told her.
“What of you,” Rae asked quietly.
“Honestly, if she were to take my life, i’d be happy. There’s not much more she can do to me,” Marrok sighed. He patted her hand, “I’ve been through worse.”
Rae was going to say something, when Grimlee came up upon them. His hair wet, as he attempted to dry it. “What’s going on?”
Rae opened her mouth, looking at Marrok, unsure where to start. “You know how I told you about that wolf,” she decided. “This is Marrok.”
“Hello sir,” Marrok said bowing his head respectfully.
“I-- why is he wearing my shirt,” Grimlee asked.
“Well, I thought he’d look silly in one of my dresses,” Rae said rolling her eyes.
“When I shift, it’s easier without clothes,” Marrok explained.
“Shift? As in,” Grimlee asked.
“As in any beast known to man,” Marrok replied. “I can demonstrate… that is if Scout won’t attack,”
Rae looked about for the little barn owl, “I think she went off for a hunt, your safe.”
Marrok nodded, he took off the ruined shirt, “I’ll replace this by the way,” he promised.
“Don’t worry about it,” Grimlee grumbled, crossing his arms, waiting for whatever Marrok was gonna do.
Marrok concentrated before transforming into his wolf, it was the form he was most comfortable with. Rae smiled upon him, but the big tough giant jumped in surprise. Marrok changed back, raising his hands as he put the shirt back on, though it was huge on him, it was better than strutting around with nothing.
“How-- how long have you been like that,” Grimlee asked after a minute.
“All my life,” Marrok shrugged unsure. “As I told Rae, my mistress, Katri saved my life, and for that my life is in her hands. She wishes to have Rae… for what reason, I don’t know but it’s not a social visit,”
“Well she’d have to get by me,” Grimlee grunted, rolling his sleeves in a threatening manner.
This surprised Rae, Grimlee wasn’t the violent type. But then again, it was a threat against her, and he loved her as if she was his own. She patted his big arm, “I love you, Grim,”
Grimlee grinned, “I love you too, Rae-Rae,”
“As tough as you seem, Katri could snap you in half with a snap of her fingers,” Marrok said in a warning manner. “Honestly, your best bet is heading far from here,”
“This has been my home for nearly fifty years,” Grimlee grumbled.
“This is about Rae,” Marrok reminded them.
Rae looked at her folded hands, on the one hand her life was in danger, but never before had she left home, been on her own. “I-- I need to sleep it over,”
Marrok nodded, “I understand,”
“Come,” Grimlee said standing. He patted Marrok on the shoulder, “I’ll get you a cart for the night,”
“I could honestly fall asleep anywhere, must be the dog in me,” Marrok smiled.
“It’s no problem,” Grimlee insisted. “Off to bed missy,”
Rae nodded with a yawn. “It has been a long day. Night,” she said. She made her way up to her little room. Scout was sitting on her dresser, she hooted in greeting, fluttering her feathers.
“Are you alright,” Rae asked, sitting beside Scout and petting her feather’s gently. “I want you to be nice to Marrok, okay?”
Scout cocked her head, hooting questionly.
“He never meant to hurt me,” Rae insisted. She sighed, thinking of Marrok. “In fact, I wish there was a way to help him.”
Scout tilted her head the other way, blinking her big yellow eyes.
Rae smiled sadly at the little owl, “You're my best friend, Scout. Thanks for just listening,” she said. She kissed Scout on the head before crawling into bed, it was then she remembered she still had the mouse, “Here, you forgot this,” she said tossing it beside Scout.
For a moment, Scout watched over Rae, protectively as she swallowed up her mouse. Then she took off into the night, fluttering her wings against the dark night sky.
Scout flew determanly through the night into the dark caves where Katri laid lazilly, eating grapes. The witch sat up as the owl fluttered before her, and blinked in surprise, “Gyan,” she asked in a whisper.
Scout hooted impatiently, clicking her beak in response, Katri smiled, “Well, this is the last thing I suspected, what brings you here?”
Again Scout hooted. And Katri laughed, “Oh, very well,” she said. Snapping her fingers.
The owl changed, falling to the ground, not used to her human body. Her long golden brown hair fell in tumbles around her round face, her eyes much like her owl self. She hugged her naked form as she looked up hatefully at Katri. “Amused, hm,” she asked in a rough hoarse voice. It was dry, so long had she been unable to speak her tongue.
“A bit,” Katri said, getting up in a lazy fashion. She dropped a cloak on the woman. “How have you been, Gyan?”
Scout or Gyan as was her true name, wrapped the cloak about her, “Things have been fine until your dog put Rae in danger.”
“Rae?” Katri asked and then smiled, “You mean your daughter, the reason why you're cursed.”
“The agreement was you’d leave her be as long as I bore wings,”
“That was till my dog got hurt,” Katri shrugged carelessly.
“I hurt him, I bore my talons into his eye to protect Rae. It’s bad enough I’ve been unable to raise my daughter, she has no powers I swear,” Gyan begged. “I beg you, leave her be,”
“And what will you do, hm,” Katri asked, tapping her chin. An evil smile upon her rubby lips.
“I’ll do anything, just don’t hurt Rae,” Gyan begged, hanging her head helplessly. “Take my life, if it pleases you,”
Katri laughed, “Ohh how tempting that would be,” she purred. “But for now, you shall stay as you were. I can’t have you going off and telling everyone. Marrok can’t speak animal, isn’t that amusing, a shifter, that sounds like an animal but doesn't have a clue what other animals are saying,” Katri chuckled.
“I’m glad you're amused,” Gyan said dryly. Ohh how she wished to fight Katri, end all of this but she wasn’t strong enough, not yet. “Just call off your dog,” Gyan asked.
Katri looked as if she was truly considering it, “Hmm, no,” she smiled. I’ll have him stick around, for now. I am curious about your daughter, promise or no promise.“
“But…,” Gyan started.
“Ah, I shall not hurt her, that was the agreement,” Katri said with an impatient wave. “Now back the way you were, you're growing to annoy me,” she added. With a snap of her fingers the cloak fumbled to the floor.
The golden little barn owl struggled to get out for a moment, hooting at Katri in anger before fluttering her wings and taking off into the night.
Katri watched for a moment as the owl disappeared, before calling upon Marrok.
Marrok sat up on the couch he slept on, before the warm hearth. He had been in such a deep sleep, that for a moment he was confused where he was, but after a minute he recalled and slowly got up, stretching his back. Katri had grown impshiont before he had time to hide Rae, this was not good. He’d have to stall somehow.
Pulling off Grimlee’s huge shirt, he transformed into a wolf and made his way back to the cave. Katri was awaiting him at the entrance. SMarrok started bowing his head, “You see the girl… she’s no one special…,”
“Ohh I know everything, I was just curious why you were there playing house,” Katri said with a snap. “I asked you to find the girl and bring her here,” she continued. “But things have changed,”
Marrok looked up briefly before his mistresses confused before remembering to bow his head, “Changed?”
“Yes, I want you to stay close to the girl. Watch her for me,” Katri nodded. “I just found out her mother was once a very powerful souress, it’s possible she may have powers too. Even if they’re dormant.”
Marrok didn’t bother to ask how Katri could possibly know who Rae’s mother was, he knew enough to keep his mouth shut. He only nodded obediently, “I shall do as you ask,”
“Good boy,” Katri chuckled. She glanced couriusly at Marrok, “Ahh, I think I know why you didn’t bring her in. you like her, hm?”
Marrok shook his head, “I barely know her… I just…,” he couldn’t think of why he wanted to protect the girl other than the fact he did. “I didn’t want to see her hurt…,,” he sighed.
“Ahh, nobility,” Katri chuckled. “You don’t have a noble bone in your body. Your just a mut,”
Marrok bowed his head deeper, biting his tongue.
Katri sighed in a bored fashion. “Be gone. Report to me if you see magic for this girl,”
“Yes mame,” Marrok nodded. He transformed back to a wolf and made his way back to the cottage, exhausted, he made his way back to the couch when he saw Scout fluttering about, “What are you doing,” he asked rugging up his hair as he fought a yawn.
The little barn owl hooted as it tried to handle a quill and inkwell. This was weird, owls couldn’t write, but on the parchment, even messy, was the letters Kat.
Marrok looked at Scout, “Katri?”
Scout hooted, dropping the quill. She fluttered up to the rafters, hooting again.
“What do you know about Katri,” Marrok asked, shaking his head confused. “You're gonna wake the house.
The owl swooped back down to the little writing table, and got the quill in her break. She shifted her head one way or another till she wrote out Rea’s name.
“Yes, Katri sent me to watch Rea. I won’t hurt her,” Marrok sighed sitting down, rubbing his head, fighting another yawn. “It’s late, I’m tired.”
Scout hooted softly as she ruffled her feathers, and Marrok wished he understood what the crazy owl was trying to say. “Rea is safe for now,” he promised as he lasid back down, falling fast asleep.
For now, Scout was just a useless owl, again. So she made her way to Rae’s room, watching over her daughter.
Rea woke regressed for the day, she rubbed her eyes as she sat up, “Morning Scout,” she greeted. Her little barn owl fluttered in her lap and nibbled her ear affectionately. Rae giggled, “Yes, I love you too,”
Rae petted Scout for a moment before getting up. “I want to go to the market today. Marrok needs clothes that fit him,” she said, washing up with her wash dish. “But first breakfast,” she smiled.
She tied up her hair and hurried down to the kitchen, Marrok was snoring softly upon the couch, the hearth had gone out in the night, so the kitchen had a slight chill to it. Rae got to work, rekindling the fire and getting it going again, before pumping water into the kettle and getting it to warm up. They would all need coffee for the day ahead.
Rae was nearly done with breakfast when Grimlee came out of his room, stretching and yawning, “Morn,” he greeted.
“Morning Grim. I got breakfast,” Rae greeted.
“We still have our guest,” Grimlee mumbled sitting in his big chair.
“Yes,” Rae blushed. “Could you wake him,” she asked.
Grimlee nodded, going over to the couch, “Hey, wake up,” he said gruffly.
Poor Marrok jumped with a snort, off the couch, landing hard on the ground, “What?”
Grimlee laughed as he returned to his chair. “That wasn’t nice,” rae said shaking her head.
“I thought so,” Grimlee grinned.
“It’s alright,” Marrok said getting up and stretching. “I’ve had harsher wake ups.”
“Well, sit, breakfast is ready,” Rae said.
“Smells good,” Marrok nodded. He looked over at Scout who sat on the writing desk, watching. “Ohh your owl was acting weird last night.”
Rae looked up serving breakfast to Grimlee. “What, Scout. She seemed fine this morning,”
“Well she wrote,” Marrok said grabbing the parchment, “See,”
Grimlee cocked his head, “Owl’s can’t write, your pulling my leg,” he laughed.
“Seriously, she wrote that,”
“Kat,” Rae asked, squinting her eyes at the first word.
Marrok sighed, “Yeah, she… she owns me. Katri,” he replied.
“You told us yesterday,” Rae nodded. She finished serving breakfast and sat. “I wish there was something we can do,”
“Ahh, don’t worry about it,” Marrok shrugged as he got started on eating breakfast. “Mhhm, good,”
“She wrote my name too,” Rae added, looking up at Scout.
“Yeah, I think she’s just worried I’ll hurt you,” Marrok nodded. “I assured her I wasn’t.”
“I still can’t believe Scout wrote this,” Grimlee said.
“Maybe she could make another demonstration.
Scout hooted from the writing desk and picked up the quill again. She carefully dipped the quill and set to writing something out. “Well would you look at that,” Grimlee snorted. He whipped his chin and stood to see what Scout had written, he froze at the word Gyan.
“Who’s Gyan,” Rae asked beside him.
“Your… your mother,” Grimlee said, sinking to the chair at the writing desk. It was too small for him and broke under his weight. Grimlee didn’t even seem to notice as he sat on his rum. He was too busy looking at the owl. “Gyan?”
Scout bowed her head once, and looked up at him, blinking her big yellow eyes.
Rae too was stunned, Grimlee said he didn’t know who her mother was, and yet, here he said he did. And it was Scout. She had the same question, how.
Scout shook her feather’s frustrated she couldn’t talk, since she been transformed, this was the closest to feeling human she ever felt and yet, she couldn’t quite transform back to herself. Scout fluttered, trying her might, nearly having it, until, poff. There she was sitting before two men and her daughter. She blinked in surprise as she covered herself as best she could.
“I’ve been trapped,” she muttered.
Grimlee pulled off his shirt handing it to Gyan, who gladly wrapped it about her. “I thought… I thought you were dead, when you begged me to watch over Rae, you were sure you would be,”
“I might as well have been,” Gyan sighed. She pushed her hair out of her face and smiled at Rae. “But I came and I watched and I befriended you, and I do love you so much.”
Rae blinked back tears and hurried to hug her mother. She had so many questions but right at this moment she didn’t care, she was hugging her mother.
“Katri? She did this to you,” Marrok said, putting it together. “Last night she told me to watch Rae, because of you. She said you were once a powerful sorceress.”
Gyan nodded, “Katri was jealous of my powers. She threatened both mine and Rae’s life. That’s why I asked you to watch her Grimlee,”
Grimlee nodded, “And I did the best I could,”
“You did great my friend,” Gyan smiled, patting his cheek. “Rae is a beautiful young woman.”
Rae blushed as she beamed up at her mother. “Well, you helped,”
Gyan chuckled, “I suppose I did,”
“So what now,” Marrok wondered.
“Katri has to be stopped once and for all. Marrok, you're stronger than you think,” Gyan told him. “That’s why she puts you down and treats you cruelly.”
“She has a hold on me, can call me at will,” Marrok said.
“You can find a way around her hold. That is if you wish to be free of her hold,” Gyan nodded.
“I do,” Marrok nodded. “I’m tired of her abuse,”
“Then help me take her down,” Gyan said.
“I’ll help too, no way I’m losing you now,” Grimlee said.
“Me either,” Rae nodded.
“Alright. It won’t be easy but the four of us can end Katri,” Gyan nodded.
The first thing Rae did was go to the market, to get Marrok and Gyan some clothes, one outfit for each seeing money and time was tight. Grimlee prepped his little blacksmith area, and made weapons with scraps of metal he could find. Marrok assisted as best he could so Rae and Gyan could work together.
“Now, this is a very basic crash course in magic,” Gyan said, sitting with Rae in a little clearing. She now wore a deep blue dress that Rae had picked out for her, and brought out the honey color in her hair. “Magic comes from the energy all around you. If you close your eyes and relax, you can feel it,”
Rae did as instructed, closing her eyes, she felt the slight little buzz she always felt when sitting out in the quiet forest, she could feel all of the energy all around her. “I think I’ve always felt it,” Rae said, opening her eyes.
“Of course you did, it’s in your blood,” Gyan laughed.
“Mom, who was my father?”
The joyful look left Gyan’s face, “He was a soldier for Armonía. He was a very brave man, but he died in battle before you were born. You were his last gift to me,”
“Ohh…, I’m sorry,” Rae modded.
“It’s alright to be curious,” Gyan nodded. “He would have loved you, I know it,” she smiled.
“How’d you know Grimlee,” Rae asked.
“Ohh he was a very old friend. He was like a big brother in some ways. I met him when I was about six. Some men had captured him, hurt him real bad, and were going to kill him. I was just learning magic from my mother at the time, so I caused a very big diversion, more than I meant and set him free. Grim’s been by my side since,”
“He’s the best,” Rae nodded.
“I wouldn’t have trusted no other to raise you, now, shall we continue?”
Rae nodded, following her mother’s instructions. Magic was dangerous to use, if you didn’t know what you were doing. You had to be aware of not only yourself but everything. If you drained out your own energy, you could die.
By supper time, Rae could do four spells, a fire blast, an electric zap, levitation, and smoke screen. “These are the best weapons I can give you in such a short time,” Gyan said wrapping her arm lovingly around Rae.
“I’ll be safe,” Rae nodded.
“I made some rabbit stew,” Grimlee announced as the girls came in.
“I caught the rabbit’s,” Marrok grinned, rolling up his sleeves of his new tunic that was smudged with soot from working in the smithy shop. He rubbed his hands on his pant legs out of a bad habit.
“Of course you did,” Gyan smiled. She patted the young man on the head, “Good puppy,”
“Hey,” Marrok frowned as everyone chuckled. “I’m a wolf,” he added with a smile.
“A handsome wolf,” Rae blushed.
Grimlee and Gyan shared a chuckle as the two youngsters looked awkwardly at each other before sitting down to eat. “Lets go over what we’ll do tomorrow,”
“Right,” Grimlee nodded.
“We attack early,” Marrok said breaking some bread he got for them at the bakery. “Katri is not a morning person,”
“Right, hopefully we catch her off guard, and end this quickly,” Gyan nodded.
“Why can’t we go do it after we eat,” Rae asked.
“She’s strongest at night,” Gyan answered. “She has a connection to the moon. We definitely wouldn’t want to fight her around a full moon. That was when she transformed me,”
“We just had a new moon,” Grimlee said.
“Yes, she’ll be at her weakest,” Gyan nodded. “But I want you to be at your strongest Rae. That's why we do it in the morning.”
“So, get a good night's sleep,” Grimlee nodded.
“Ohh where will mom sleep tonight,” Rae realized.
“I think your bed is big enough,” Gyan said tucking Rae’s hair back. “I may not be owl sized any more, but I think I can still fit,”
Rae chuckled and nodded, “Of course,”
“You could sleep in my bed, I just throw Marrok on the floor,” Grimlee offered.
“I’m afraid I’d get lost in your bed,” Gyan said patting Grimlee’s arm, “But thank you. Rae’s will be fine,”
“It’s just for a night. Once it’s over, you can always make better accommodations,” Marrok added.
“Very true,” Gyan nodded.
Grimlee nodded, “I just was trying to help,”
“I know, thank you,” Gyan nodded.
The four of them ate, cleaned up and got ready for bed. Rae laid next to her mother, resting her head upon Gyan’s shoulder. “It be nice having you around,”
“Believe me, I look forward to it,” Gyan smiled. “You like Marrok?”
Rae shrugged trying not to blush, “He’s… nice,”
Gyan laughed, “Ohh I know you like him. It’s okay, your nearly a woman yourself and he is very dashing. But please be careful. I love you so much,”
“I love you too,” Rae said hugging her mother tight. With that, the two drifted off into the night.
At dawn everyone prepped, Grimlee shouldered a bow and arrow along twitch tying a sword upon him. He would cut down Katri if he had to. Marrok had a sword too with a few throwing daggers, and if all else failed, he had tooth and claw too.
Gyan and Rae only had pouched with herbs, these were just in case they needed some energy. They also put on cloaks, took keep out the morning chill.
Marrok led the way to the cave where Katri lived, they hoped that because this would be a surprise, she would go down fast. They entered the cave, ready to fight but there was no sign of Katri.
“Where would she be,” Grimlee asked, looking about, raising a lantern.
“I don’t know, she hates leaving unless she must,” Marrok shrugged. “She should of been here,”
“That’s because I was awaiting my company,” Katri sneered. She appeared out of the shadows, producing flames between her fingers, “Thought you could sneek up on me?”
Marrok lunged at her, and she snapped her fingers, causing him pain and to miss his target.
“Your mine, have you forgotten that,” Katri smeared.
“Leave him be,” Rae cried, zapping Katri.
Katri blocked most of the attack, “Well, I see you do have magic,”
“She’s my daughter after all,” Gyan said.
“Well, well, well, found a way out, hm?” Katri asked.
“You weren’t very strong the other night, so I was able to fight free,” Gyan nodded. “Now you can surrender or fight,”
Katri threw the fire at them, “Fight,” she screamed. “Kill them,” she ordered Marrok.
Marrok struggled on the ground for a moment until fur burst from his body, he didn’t turn fully into a wolf, he was more like the lesions of werewolves, something in between. “No,” he snarled, lunging at Katri again.
Katri threw fire at him in an attempt to escape his sharp teeth. But then she found Grimlee, lunging his big arm at her, knocking her flat on her back.
Gyan stood over Katri, “If you had just left me alone to raise my daughter,” she said looking down hatefully at Katri. “You hate the world and abuse all you can to get what you want,”
“I hate you,” Katri said meekly, throwing fire at Gyan. “I love Luke… I love him,” she cried.
Gyan sighed not knowing what to say, “How could he have known. You were cruel to him,” she asked.
“I… I….,” Katri whimpered, shaking her head. “I hate you,”
“After all you done, I should end it, but perhaps, we can come to an understanding,” Gyan offered as she reached to help Katri to her feet.
With a flick of her wrist, Katri produced a knife, plunging it into Gyan, “That’s where you’re weak,” she sneered.
“Mom,” Rae screamed. She threw lightning right at Katri, more then she ment in her anger, collapsing weakly to her knees.
“Rae,” Marrok cried, hurrying to herside. “You need this,” he said opening her pouch, taking out some of her herbs.
“My mother,” Rae said attempting to crawl.
Marrok lifted her, and put her beside Gyan.
“Is the witch dead,” Grimlee asked. Coming over, ripping his shirt to try to help Gyan as she gasped and bleed.
“I think so,” Marrok nodded. The woman was fried, laying quite still. So he turned his focus to Gyan.
“Hold on, I’ll heal you,” Rae whispered. She chewed the herbs, trying to get the energy as quick into her system as she could. She knew the concept of healing a wound but hadn’t had to try it yet.
“Don’t…,” Gyan whispered. “You’re too weak,” she said.
“Here,” Marrok said reaching out his hand, “Use mine,”
“And mine,” Grimlee added.
Rae took both the men’s hands and looked down upon the bloody wound, watching as it stitched itself, until there was no evidence of the wound (besides the blood). “There,” Rae said, collapsing beside her mother.
Both Grimlee and Marrok did the same, “We couldn’t lose you, Gyan,” Grimlee said smiling meekly.
Gyan sniffed as she hugged Rae tight, “It’s over,”
Marrok nodded, “It is, she can hurt anyone anymore,”
“Let's get back to the house,” Grimlee said, attempting to get up, only to fall on his rump. “Okay in a minute,”
“Agreed,” Rae whispered safe in her mother’s arms.
Rae loved her forest home, and now she had her mother, who could change in and out of her owl foarm, they would play together, most of the day when they weren’t chores to be done.
Marrok became a part of the family now too, as he and Rae courted, going out into town for dates, or just roaming the forest together. They planned to get married in the spring.
With Gyan’s encouragement, Grimlee left the house more, going into town, at first people treated him as he feared they would, but with Gyan’s gentle encouragement, they got used to the big guy and soon he opened his own smithy shop in town.
The new house could fit all four nicely, with a few extra rooms for when Rae and Marrok had kids, eventually.
“Not too soon now,” Gyan chuckled.
“No, not too soon,” Rae giggled.
“Maybe a puppy,” Marrok suggested.
“That could work,” Grimlee nodded.
“We’re family now,” Gyan smiled.
“Forever,” Rae nodded, hugging her mother.
Gyan squeezed Rae, before turning into a barn owl and fluttering off in a playful manor.
“Hey, get back here,” Rae laughed, chasing after her winged mother.
Grimlee laughed as he watched. He and Marrok joined in the game.