A sharp cry hit the girl like an arrow, and a streamlined blackbird dove from the air with lightning talons, its grasp whipping the parchment cleanly out of the girl's hand.
The woman's reaction was fast, and her hand moved with a blur to stop the thief. But the bird ripped free, leaving a few feathers behind but escaping smoothly into the heights of the trees.
The mother screamed in frustration and stooped for a rock to hurl. But the blackbird was long gone, it's cry distant and its wing beats inaudible. The girl, attempting to dodge any blame, turned silently to inspect the sailboat once more. She picked it up in her hands, and as if the boat knew that its sole purpose had been failed, it fell desperately apart. A crack flew across its hull, the mast tipped sorely to the side, and the sail fell to tatters, draping itself miserably over the tiny instruments on the deck.
The girl dropped it in disgust, and it hit the water with a splash, sinking hopelessly beneath the surface and drifting into the weeds at the side of the creek. Then the girl turned to face her mother.
Her mother was livid. Her mother was passionate. And above all, her mother was suspicious. An arm as tough as an oak branch swung at the girl and lifted her clean out of the water. Then the woman dragged her daughter across the grass to the base of the willow tree.
"Those of the wild have taken your mind," she spat. The girl grew suddenly afraid. Her mother continued. "They could not touch the boat for it would burn their skin. So they made you touch it. They made you their slave, and they made you take the scroll. Now: adrift!"
The girl fell to her knees and then slumped to her back as her mother's voice entered a crystalline song with a thorny tongue. The spell worked its way into the girl's mind, and then the woman's voice grew softer and softer until the girl's eyes flew open.
"I took the parchment of my own free will," she said.
Her mother jolted backwards out of shock. Her eyes were wide and her mouth open in a ghastly expression of horror. "You are surely possessed!" she cried in a shrill voice.
The daughter shook her head and rose to her feet. "No. I was curious. So I took the parchment."
Her mother went steely. "You have no right to take my daughter!" she cried, slapping the girl across the face. The girl fell backwards, stunned.
Then she looked up, a hurt expression in her eyes. "Mother," she whispered. "See for yourself."
"Daughter," responded the woman, "What can be meant by such a demand?"
The girl stared her mother down with a sincere and urgent face. "I am not possessed. He who would possess me would be deep in concentration. And yet he stands behind you with an able mind."
The woman spun around, a distraught fear taking her senses in an overwhelming grip. A tall man stood directly behind her, his cold eyes passing over them with amusement, and the blackbird on his shoulder staring ahead with intelligent red eyes.