As the boys descended the staircase, easing their feet into slippers and pulling their heads through jumpers, the smell of toast and bacon began to noticeably waft through the lodge. They hastened into the breakfast and living room, where Mrs Wilthric stood over the table in a silk nightgown and slippers, her make-up preened. She held a sizzling frying pan as she served long rashers of bacon onto five blue-china plates.
'Thank you, Mommy,' said a high voice from behind her. Mrs Wilthric patted them on the head and returned to the kitchen at the back of the house. Sitting at the corner of the breakfast table was the youngest of the Wilthrics, Persephone, her small feet flapping against the bay sofa, clutching a crayon and doodling in a colouring book. She had hip-length blonde hair, the same natural colour as her mother's with a feathery fringe. Her face was adorably freckled, with rosy cheeks and unusually long eyelashes framing soft, green eyes. At seven years old, she was small enough for Will to easily pick up, but no matter how angelic she seemed, Andrel maintained that she was a nightmare.
'Hey Seph,' he said, yawning with a wide jaw and slumping down next to her, staring eagerly at his plate.
Persephone squeezed the red crayon to melting point, twisting her head to face him. 'Don't call me that!' As she did, Will caught sight of her entire face, and not wishing to be caught staring, turned away. He wanted to avoid the awkwardness of when he'd met her a few weeks back, when he hadn't listened properly to Andrel when he had warned him not to draw attention to her. Will had previously wondered why there was such little mention of the youngest Wilthric, but he had soon discovered that it was from fear of the discovery of her disfigurement.
Three pink scars ran in a claw pattern, marring the right side of her face, where stubbled black hairs grew. Whereas her left eye remained green, her right was frightfully yellow, the pupil slitted and sharp. Will had been naturally shocked to see this, and was ashamed to admit that he'd gawked, however the Wilthrics had been prepared, and had sat down with him one evening whilst Persephone had been sleeping.
On returning from the clinic a couple of miles away with newly born Persephone, whilst the twins remained at home, Mrs. Wilthric had been attacked by a creature lurking in the forestry; a wendigo. Hungry for flesh, it had attempted to kill them both, and though Mrs. Wilthric could defend herself with magick, she had been too late to stop her daughter from being wounded. The developed scratch had poisoned her with no known cure, and Persephone had grown up deformed, slowly becoming what could only be described as a wendigo hybrid.
Despite the money on hand for the Wilthrics, no physician knew how to cure her. Most had given up and expected her to die within the first month, whilst others cursed her as an abomination. For this reason, whilst Mrs. Wilthric and the twins rarely left the estate, Persephone never.
'So, what'cha up to?' Andrel asked his sister, peering over her drawing teasingly.
'Nothing,' she murmured, pulling her drawing from his view. 'Go away.'
'I'm only interested,' Andrel smiled, swiping the paper away from her before she could counteract. It was more than enough to trigger her short temper.
'No! Give it back, brother! NO!' Her voice was shrill, like the primal scream of a dying animal, and as with the walghvogel, Will subtly checked to see if his ears were bleeding or not.
'Andrel Wilthric!' exclaimed their mother, rushing in to calm her daughter down. 'Stop teasing your sister this instant!' Seph snatched her drawing back and dropped her head onto the table, beginning to sob. Mrs. Wilthric crouched down near her, rubbing her arm whilst trying to coax her upright. 'Come on, sweetheart. Nothing hurts, does it? Here...let me see your scar -,'
She tried to turn Seph's head to face her, but she squirmed and screamed 'no!' in her face. Shoving past, she ran through the hallway and up the stairs, slamming her bedroom door on the upper floor moments later.
'What's eating her this morning?' Andrel shrugged, spearing a fork into his bacon and taking a satisfied, gluttonous bite.