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A Forest Cat, Chapter four, Confrontations, part 1

Danash stared dispassionately at the flow of fresh blood that ran from the woman’s throat. She had screamed, whimpered and had finally begged him to spare her life. It had appealed to his demon nature but had left his human desires unsatisfied. In a sudden surge of rage he twisted her once beautiful head until he heard the crack. It made no difference to her since she was already dead but at least he could vent his frustration without having to find another victim.

More than a week had past since he had been trapped in this frail human shell and even though it had provided him with some amusement, he had come no nearer to the completion of his task and the return of his true shape. All his fury was directed at the young woman who had managed to trap him. He was livid with himself for falling under the spell of that despicable mortal female who dabbled with forces she hardly knew how to control. The fact that he still had not broken loose of that feeble control, angered him even more.

Suppressing his rage with difficulty, Danash turned abruptly and left the room without sparing the dead woman another thought.

The inn keeper looked at him uncomfortably as he ordered ‘demon water’, the strongest liquor the country could boast off. His brooding eyes challenged the inn keeper as he downed the drink in one determined draft and ordered another.

“The price of drowning your sorrows in that is hardly worth paying, mister.” The inn keeper warned him good-naturedly.

Danash bit back a harsh reply and managed a wry smile. “I will remember that.” He promised heartily and mentally reminded himself to control his anger and wear the mask of friendly customer.

“Tell me, my good man, although I have given up hope to hear what I so desire to hear, have you seen my friends perhaps?” He managed to convey just the right amount of despair and disillusion in his voice and smiled inwardly, impressed by his own skill when the inn keeper gave him a pitying look.

“What do these friends of you look like, my friend? Perhaps I may have seen them.”

Danash sneered inwardly at being called ‘my friend’ but gave the inn keeper a sad smile. “Like I said, I’ve given up the search but I will tell, just one last time.” He looked thoughtfully at his drink and finding it empty, held his glass out to be refilled before he continued, “they are two and although I do not know the man, I do know the girl.” He looked wistfully at the inn keeper. “The girl, you see, she is my niece,” he confided further, “only ten years old she is. Lost her parents in some horrible village raid.”

The inn keeper nodded in sad comprehension. “The times we live in, mister. Most horrid indeed.” He picked up a tankard and pretended to clean it with his apron, moved by the sad tale of this sympathetic stranger. “There was one man and a girl here, only two days ago,” he mused thoughtfully, more to himself than to Danash and therefore missed the eager flicker in the stranger’s eyes.

“Her eyes, did you see the colour of her eyes?” Danash tried hard not to show too much excitement.

“No,” the inn keeper responded with regret. “But I saw his eyes, though, the man’s eyes. I remembered because I thought to myself, ‘well you don’t see those eyes around here often’.

Danash repressed an impulse to pull the inn keeper by his throat over the counter and said instead with studied enthusiasm, “And what was that colour?”

“Bright golden they were, like a cat’s.”

Danash breathed deeply and said triumphantly, “Perhaps, my good man, you have changed my sorrow into happiness.” Bending over towards him, he lowered his voice and added with undisguised menace, “and for that, I just might let you live.”

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