"Oh Nature! What happened, Zuri?" Ice grabbed my waist and arm as I pretended to stumble.
"Quieten down, Ice, it's nothing really," I whispered back, trying to pull away but she held on tight.
"Nothing?" Ice exploded, "You're covered in blood, Zuri! And you smell of were-wolves," she added wrinkling her nose delicately. We were passing Papa's study now and I could sense Papa in there along with two other, visiting, Council members.
"Be quiet, Ice!" I snapped quietly, "I'm fine, really."
"You told me that you were just practising with your gifts," Ice hissed, "You told me there was nothing more than th-"
"Zuri!" Papa called. Ice and I looked around to see Papa standing behind his desk, looking alarmed. The two sitting Council members mirrored his expression. Then Papa saw the blood and darted out the study with the two others close on his heels. "What happened to you, Little Nature?" Papa demanded to know. I sighed.
"I was just asking her myself, Father," Ice piped up. I glared at her. She glared right back. "Tell us now, Zuri," Ice insisted. I sighed again.
"A few were-wolves ambushed me. They were trying to prove they were tough. I only got hurt because I was taken by surprise. I spent the night in my private place to gather my strength again and practice with my gifts. It was just a little cut."
"Slash more like," Ice murmured tightening her hold on me as I tried to pull away.
"That explains the wolf smell and blood but it does not explain the..." Papa sniffed then his eyes widened, "The Kistune smell."
I shrugged, trying to seem casual but I felt my face harden, "They seemed to be in a terrorizing mood. Maybe they caught up with a Kistune before they caught up with me and transferred the scent of the Kistune to me." Papa seemed to buy it. Before he could speak, Ice interrupted.
"I was just going to take her up to her room, Father, and make sure she really is alright and healed properly." Papa nodded in approval.
"OK, Ice, love, you do that," he said, clearly dismissing us. Ice hastily dragged us to the staircase and 'guided' me up the stairs to my room. She sat me on the bed and closed the door, locking it. I braced myself, waiting for her to begin. It was like waiting for the end of the world. My world. Ice would think of something horrid and I'd have to obey because I owed her and my personal world would be miserable and dark.
Finally, she faced me with a wicked grin. I took a deep breath and met her eyes, waiting... Ice always made me wait... she knew waiting was almost as bad as the actual thing. With Ice, I was always waiting... waiting for her to pounce.