The snow-covered trees that filled the mountainside reminded Blanca of the forest behind her father's manor. She half-expected a dryad to materialize out of the birch to her left and wave cheerily. Wrapping her arms tightly around her waist, she sighed, the sight making her homesick.
Worry gnawed at her insides--time was running out. She would have to kill them soon. How she wished they wouldn't even find the slippers. Then she would be the one to die, hopefully.
The more she thought about it, the more nausea would threaten to empty the contents of her stomach. How could she kill them? Blanca took another deep breath, steadying her pounding heart.
She would kill them all, every last one. She had to. Even the new man who had joined them, the handsome one who had somehow gotten Verre to cry and hold him close.
Baen, he had said his name was. Blanca snuck a glance at the two of them snuggled together under a woolen blanket. Verre almost looked happy. Guilt squirmed inside of Blanca, knowing that she would rip that happiness away soon. She had never pictured Verre as one to marry, but apparently, she had been wrong. Don't think about it, she whispered silently to herself.
Her eyes fastened on the monstrosity that Baen had flown. It was some sort of contraption with a light metal frame and canvas wings. Apparently, it had flown all the way from Berth with Baen riding within. The thought was mind-boggling. Flying contraptions? It was almost absurd. Almost, but not quite, as she herself breathed poison, and her companions could do many other wonderous things as well. Once she considered that, flying metal didn't seem strange.
"Today we begin to search. We'll break into teams of two, remaining within shouting distance of each other, and a half-hours walking distance. Cerise will search on her own, as she can cover more ground in wolf form." Verre hesitated. "Cerise, have you figured out what Pan meant about detecting magic? Because that would be useful right about now."
Everyone turned to Cerise, even Blanca. The familiar hatred boiled up. Hybrid. She felt stupid for not having realized it sooner. Hybrids were the source of much of the pain the people of Allegora faced. The very sight of Cerise made her want to scream, scream loud enough to kill her where she stood.
For some reason, the thought of killing Cerise didn't bother her like the thought of killing the rest did. Perhaps that was because hybrids were the reason her own precious mother was dead and her father could no longer love. They were the reason her family was so utterly broken.
Cerise shook her head uncomfortably. "Sorry, I don't know what Pan meant. If I find out, I'll let you know."
"That's fine," Verre nodded, "just let us know if anything changes. Is everyone clear on what we're doing? Only spend a few hours searching because we have no idea when the temperature will drop. We have a shelter, water, and now meat which Cerise has provided, so there's no need to rush. We're going to save our dried provisions for as long as possible, eating fresh meat and any plants we can find first. So, is everything clear?"
Baen cleared his throat. "Can you please repeat that one more time, ma'am? I wasn't paying attention."
Verre rolled her eyes. "Does everyone else understand? I will be taking this fool with me, so it doesn't matter if he comprehends."
Everyone nodded, except for Baen, who replied indignantly, "Fool? I'm not a fool! I flew all the way here in my own invention, thank you very much! I am utterly crushed to think that my beloved darling would treat me in such a cold manner."
"Get used to it," Aura chuckled, "that's how she treats all of us." Blanca almost laughed at that, her giggles hard to contain at Baen's furious face.
YOU ARE READING
"Have you ever heard Red Riding Hood howl at the moon?" When Cerise, Verre, Blanca, and Aura are captured and forced to complete a near impossible task, it seems certain that their loved ones' lives are as good as over. "Or seen Cinderella kill a m...