"It was just a dog or something."
"Come now," he muttered with an obvious roll of the eyes. "Don't be so boring."
He put two fingers to her lips to stop her from talking. "Did you see that it was a dog? No. You added an 'or something.' Did you sincerely believe that it was a dog at the time? No. If you had, you wouldn't have been so quick to reply that it was one. So please, just tell me what happened without hyperbole or understatement, thank-you-very-much."
With that, he folded his arms across his chest, waiting expectantly.
She sighed. "I woke up and there was something sniffing around nearby. That's all."
De Winter narrowed his large, green eyes. "As you wish," he growled, turning on his heel and stalking, catlike, around the side of the house.
Fern did not know why, but she felt a compulsion to follow him. She jogged after him around to the front of the hut.
Cedric did not seem to have recovered yet. He was now sitting on a rock with his head propped up between his knees. His uncle approached him and put a hand on his back.
"I think I'm going to be sick," the boy admitted, glancing up at him.
"I didn't realize the sight would affect you quite this much. If I had, I would have tried harder to stop you from going inside."
Cedric shook his head. "I was fine with the sight. It was the smell that got me. It's still in my nose. Rezyn, it's awful."
"Yes. It smelled like rotten meat...and something else. Something...I don't know...something..." His face turned even paler and he shuddered violently. "Something old and musty and...dead."
De Winter creased his brow in concern and bemusement. "That's strange. All I smelled was blood."
"I think...I think it was the smell of whatever it was that killed her."
"Perhaps," his uncle mused. "But why did I not notice it?"
Cedric shrugged, wiping cold sweat from his face with the sleeve of his tunic. "I...I...don't know."