Part 7 of 7.5
“That’s a harsh chance to ask us to take.”
Karida stared down into the pit at the witch, Amalie, Fiery, and Dor hovering nearby, Amalie’s song seeming to hang in the air. The witch stared back up at them, the hope leaving her face.
“So leave me here. Leave me in this pit,” she spat bitterly. “Leave me like everyone else has.”
“Talk like that and I will,” Karida snapped. She didn’t want to, though… but her company’s safety was at stake. “What do you know of what you are?”
“Freak. Monster.” She sat down hard on a pipe, her tail lashing. “I know I can purify water, purify food. I know this happened when I turned seventeen. And I know I don’t get older.”
“Have you ever made someone a promise?”
The witch thought about that one for a moment. “No. Yes. Yes, that I would keep their water clean if they didn’t attack me.” She hissed softly. “And then… then I could not stop. I couldn’t stop helping them, even when they took everything from me. Not until that kid threw a rock at me. I… I see.”
“You’re smart, good. Promise that you mean no harm to us or our company, that you will not betray us, and we will take you with us, and teach you.”
“That’s a lot to ask.”
“This is my family we’re talking about. And you’ve already attacked us once.”
The woman’s tail twitched, and she looked down at her fingers, at a broken claw, at her ragged clothing. “How did you get to learn what you were, to use it? How come you have clean clothes and family, when I have nothing?”
“Just lucky, I guess,” Dor answered, the spite out of his voice. “But you have a lot of life ahead of you. You can have all that, too.”
“Guys,” Amalie interrupted, “we still haven’t found anything to bring back to the company. Not enough, at least. We need to move on…” She hummed quietly. “We need to find the feast/to twist ‘way from the beast/to bring to large and least/to give to each, to each.”
The witch looked up at them. “I can help with that,” she said, with the faintest hint of a smile. “I can help you bring something to your company. If you let me out. And I can help you avoid the real monsters. The beast. I know this city. I’ve been living here for… for a long time.”
“Swear it,” Dor said sharply. “Swear that you mean us no harm.”
The witch sighed. “I, once-called-Sana, swear that I will do no harm to you four, to your company, to your family, unless you first harm me. I swear I will not betray you, if you let me out of this pit.”
“Good enough?” Dor asked.
Amalie frowned, humming. “I… Family and kin/under the skin/buyer beware/move forth with care?”
“Tricky,” Karida sighed. “We may have to try something else, but for now we can simply be careful. Once-called-Sana, what do we call you now?”
“They call me witch,” the woman answered, as Dor made stairs down to her. “I call myself Nightwalker.”
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