A Forest Cat, Chapter two: The Summoning, part 2
The pale morning sun shone cheerfully through the leaves of the forest. Tennela stole a furtive glance through the half-drawn shutters and gasped at the sight of the man who sat motionless on a treestump before her tiny hut. Clad in nondescript brown clothes, he still radiated the same power and arrogance that he had while wearing nothing at all. It was a handsome man, if you could forget his true form and she had found his intimidating smile extremely confusing. He had glared at her as if he could read her every thought, eating away at her confidence with every look that he gave her, every smile that he flashed. He had listened stoically as she had begun to explain his task to him.
“Listen carefully and do not interrupt. I seek a descendant of an old race. So few have survived over the ages, falling victim to hate and persecution, that they are almost extinct. Their blood has thinned, their abilities have weakened. Their powers have diminished, lost in the mingling with common man.” Both Tennela and the demon-man wrinkled their noses in an unconscious gesture of distaste, united in their contempt for human kind.
His mocking smile had not left his face however and he made a slight gesture as if to applaud, sneering softly. “You have been practising this speech to perfection. Do go on.” Tennela’s cheeks flamed an angry red but she only took another breath before continuing.
“I speak of the Phealites, catpeople as the common folk call them.” This time the mocking smile left his face and he said musingly.
“The Phealites! I know of them, mortal woman.” His voice betrayed his respect for the race and he frowned at her. “What would you want with one of their kind?”
“That is none of your concern!” Tennela snapped. “I told you not to interrupt.” Her angry remark received a cool calculating smile that pulled her out of her momentary anger. Concentrating on the task at hand, she continued. “It is not any descendant that I require but one specific one. A girl, already passed her tenth year, of slender built, straw-coloured hair and, of course, golden eyes.”
The demon-man frowned again, annoyance flashing in his eyes. “Am I to track this world and the next for such a one as you describe? You would have been better off calling on the aid of a human tracker. I’ve heard they enjoy these dull tasks.”
Tennela managed a teasing smile in return. “If you thing this task is beyond you, demon, you just might have to become used to that mortal body of yours. As it is, I have sent such a tracker, and a very skilled one at that. But if you think he is better equipped for the job than you…”
The unfinished sentence hung menacingly between them. Finally the demon-man asked coldly. “Do you have more specific information as to her whereabouts?”
Tennela pushed back a triumphant smile before answering. “She was last seen at the edge of the forest of Farden at the time of the raid of her village, just two weeks ago.” The demon-man narrowed his eyes. “You are sure she survived that raid?” Tennela’s smile did break through this time. “I have very reliable information as to her survival of that particular incident. Now proceed to the task I have set you. Bring me back this Phealite girl, alive mind you, and I will consider your task fulfilled.”
But instead of setting out, here he still remained, comfortably installed by her outdoor fireplace. Why had he not set out to perform his task? Frantically she tried to remember if she had forgotten another vital detail that detained him there. Quickly throwing her cloak over her shoulders, she stepped outside, pausing near the doorway to gather her courage to approach him.
“It’s about time you got up, Tennela.” The casual familiarity of his voice knotted her stomach into an ice-cold ball. Gritting her teeth, she stepped in front of the man, who regarded her unconcernedly.
“You should have been gone for hours! I did not think you wanted to spend forever in that body.” The man’s eyes narrowed and she took an instinctive step back. He watched her steadily as he said with deceptive calmness. “Are you telling me how to hunt?” She suppressed a wave of panic while she tried to return his stare, shaking her head before she could stop herself. He got up without haste, not releasing her from his stare but holding her rooted to the spot while he closed the distance between them until he was only an inch from her face. In a soft voice, he pronounced each word clearly. “I will find my way to freedom, woman, and then…” He smiled a chilling, evil smile. “… then I will find you.” Without another word, he turned and disappeared into the forest.