Karida let out a whoop as the creature they were fighting landed in a puff of dirt and dust, and then a quiet whimper as the sight of blood and, worse, bone caught her eye. “Shit,” she moaned, and stepped back. She didn’t want to faint into the pit. Dropping yourself on your enemy was a poor tactic.
“Got you,” Amalie murmured. “Here we go. Jasfe tlactl Karida,” she murmured, and sang the rest, “jasfe tlacatl Karida-my-kin, jafse tlacatl βραχίων.”
“Jasfe,” their captive murmured, and the air rang. “Jasfe tlactl?”
“That’s it,” Amalie hummed happily. “There you go, Karida, good as new. And seems our new sister is a healer.”
“Wonderful.” She flexed the healed arm and muttered a quick repair on the sleeve, as well; she wasn’t that good at those Words, but good enough to not have the cloth flapping around. “So we have something in the pit, do we? Dor?”
“I’m working on it. There’s some pretty impressive invisibility Workings going on. I didn’t know monsters could work.”
“Some monsters snarl/ and some monsters hiss,” Amalie hummed, “Some monsters know/the way the world is.”
“That’s one of Mom’s,” Dor complained, and then, with an oof, sat down on the edge of the pit. “Come look.”
“Coming.” The four of them looked over the edge of the pit together, at the image Dor was slowly forcing into existence. Foot-long claws. Tusks, like some sort of goblin in the old stories. A long tail like a dragon, lashing back and forth angrily. Hooves like a goat.
Fiery was the first to speak. “Witch,” she grunted. “Witch-woam.”
“Witch,” Amalie hummed, getting the feel of the song. “Tell me again, Fiery-sister?”
“Witch-woam,” the girl repeated. “Sundown.”
“Sundown,” Amalie repeated. “There we go. The witch, they said, lived in the dusk/ the witch they need but cannot trust./The witch who brought their water clear/ the witch who kept their lives so dear.”
“Nasty people,” Karida swore. The creature in the pit was, fangs and tail and hooves aside, a woman. A witch, perhaps, an Ellehemaei. But was she monster or foe? “They traded services with her?”
“That’s the tune that’s singing to me,” Amalie confirmed. “Sundown, you better beware/If I find you’ve been sneaking ’round my back stair… Mmm. I see.”
In the pit, the witch hissed and snarled.
“Some monsters hiss?” Dor offered. “If she was doing Workings for them, she can’t be feral.”
“And probably isn’t a monster.” Karida looked down into the pit. “If you don’t fight us, we won’t fight you. We aren’t looking for a war.”
“Nasty humans,” the witch-creature spat. “Let me out.”
“Human?” Dor laughed. “No more than you are.” He muttered the beginnings of a working, shaping stairs into the pit. “Did they kick you out, the way they kicked Fiery out?”
“What do you care, scrounger trash, trash-scrounger?”
He stopped the Working, stairs stepping down but ending above the woman’s reach. “If you don’t care, then I don’t either,” he answered tightly. “But it seems the sort of thing that our company might take note of… scrounger trash or no.”
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