The Yellow Cat.

The corridor was dark and quiet, the doors that lined it shut fast; behind them, adolescent mages lay wrapped in dreams of sorcery and ultimate power. There was no-one about to see the yellow cat slink through the shadows, find the only door that hung ajar, slip through the gap with a flick of her tail. And if there had been, they would not have cared. It was only a cat. Many of the students had pets of one sort or another, several of them far more unusual than a mere cat. What harm was one yellow-furred feline?

The room behind the door was empty, moonbeams sliding through the open window bathing it in eerie silver light. The cat's eyes, glowing green, stared with some contempt at the jumble of clothing and miscellanious items that was strewn across the floor; she picked her way fastidiously over to the unmade bed, leaping up to stand on the pillow.

She seemed to grin as she flexed her claws in the rough material, then shook herself violently. It was hard to tell in the crepuscular moonlight, but it seemed as though sparkling powder puffed from her fur, hanging for a second in the air before drifting to settle exactly where Drakon's head would rest, if he was not at that time fidgeting on a stool in the healer's room. But he would come later; and then she would have him.

There was much power in a Vagari shapeshifter's fur.

Her job completed, the cat stretched luxuriously and glided over to the window, slipping soundlessly out into the night. She had more work to do before the night faded. Drakon was important to her, but the beargirl was important to her superiors, much as she despised them. They thought only of their circus; they did not realise her potential. They could use her for so much more than merely collecting exhibits...

But it suited her, for now, to stay with them. And that meant finding the beargirl.

It shouldn't be too hard.

Shortly afterwards, a yellow shadow padded silently out of the main gates, allowed out by a gatekeeper who would wonder, later, quite what caused him to open the gate at that time in the evening. It slid into one end of an alleyway...

...And an elegant black-haired woman, olive skin patterned with gold-painted scars, emerged from the other. Smiling a tiny, secret smile, Khoreia headed back to the Pig and Bee. The man who wove stories of weeping girls in the forest would be getting a visitor...and would undoubtedly sing like a canary-bird. Eventually.

But as she stepped into the tavern, her chocolate eyes caught sight of something quite unexpected. It was the beargirl, sitting at a table, head hanging over a cup of the fine wine this otherwise scummy tavern was famous for.

It had to be the beargirl. Khoreia cursed herself for not noticing her before; from the looks of her, she'd been sitting there for a while, and drinking wine for most of it, and the unmistakable smell of enchantment should have tipped her off immediately. She could have caught her and got her out of the way before she pursued her other goal...and it might have saved her the bother of poisoning that warrior-man. This uncharacteristic stupidity made her hiss between her teeth, furious with herself; but it was unprofitable to remain angry, and she still had a chance. Even more of a chance, now she thought of it; the wine would have dulled the beargirl's instincts. Without the buffer of alcohol, predator would recognise predator straight away, but with it...deception, not violence, would win the day. And Khoreia was violent only when completely necessary.

Padding over, she slid onto the bench next to the girl and touched her lightly on the arm. Her tousled head jerked up, and she gave the shapeshifter a suspicious look. Khoreia smiled, and it was a smile that held nothing of her true nature, apart from the fact that it was as smooth and deceptive as poisoned honey.

"Hello, sweetheart..."

The End

364 comments about this story Feed