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Hunt (part three)
Taking the catch back went easily enough, even though the net was a bit heavier than she was used to carrying underwater. The farther they carried the net between them, the more she found the urge to have a skin to fully pull on and be done with the in between stage. The whispers in her blood demanded the abandoning of hands, to feel the waters pass over flippers like air must with a bird's wing. She wished to use teeth to rip flesh, perhaps from the shark that had taken Mani's husband, and to nurse little ones after several years had passed – or stranger yet, and something that she could not remember seeing done for the pups – regurgitate for them. Kirsty suspected this too as part of her training, likely preparing her for long swims and building muscle, or perhaps it was a remnant of ancestral seal's needs that she did not yet understand. The more time she spent in the water, the more she felt her body changing to accommodate that and the more restless she became.
The preparation lessons she had been spared, as it was much the same as smaller fish, if a bit more of a process due to the size. Without either Nightfish or herself having sustained any injuries significant enough to warrant the Healers and their attentions, there was nothing new cropping up for her to learn on that subject either. However, one of the cooks, who also happened to hold Healer status, did give her an oral list of parts that were retained for use in medicines and their purpose. Kirsty dutifully memorized for trail of their veracity:
Liver and gall, or intestinal wall
When suffering Lack and vision falls.
Eye for eating and eye for treating
When scales suffer dimming pall.
Heart is courage and to incite
Whilst in a paste, sluggish appetite.
Eggs, if present there be inside
Fertility treatments several abide.
Glowing skin prepared just right
When needing to encourage might,
With brakenweed and scallson sting
Mixed with the stingmanta's wing...
There was much more of the song to memorize, every part having some purpose. The skin she was allowed samples of, as well as several other parts that aroused her curiosity as to potions applications she wished to test. Finally, they released her to return to the castle, after having passed below for a total of three doses of the changing paste to hold her form.
Kirsty swam slower than usual, and laid on the shore longer than was her wont once she regained her legs, shivering and looking up at the colder stars. Her limbs were heavy, and simply laying there she felt as if she were washing back and forth on soft waves, pulled between the land and sea. With great effort she finally got into the bushes where she'd hidden her nightclothes, pulled the water out of her hair and swimsuit, threw that to the lake, and pulled on the gown and robe.
Once warmly clothed, she promptly threw up, as was beginning to be a pattern with too little sleep and higher levels of activity. Unknown to her, gold eyes watched her process. These eyes sat in a dark, fur covered face, perched above a long snout with the requisite sharp fangs that usually went with muzzles. His fur was matted and unkempt, smelling of musk and long months of lurking about the forest unwashed save by rain. His skin beneath that thickly matted fur hung loose, not yet anywhere near beginning to fill out from the scraps that he got in one way or another from kindly students taking pity on skulking canines.
Kirsty hunkered a bit longer, weight on one hand while the other clutched her belly, recovering and occasionally dry heaving. The air grew colder where she was, though she was too focused on conquering her stomach and riding through the changing sugar levels in her blood, which provided an excellent mask. Finally though, she stabilized and stood again, feeling the unusual level of cold at last. She looked around suspiciously for the cause of what was beginning to fray at where bad memories were locked, and the movement of a sheet of darkness and cobweb further in the forest caught her eyes.
The sheet and webs trailed over the ground toward her, zeroing in quicker than she thought anything would be able to fly without boosts, sucking all the light into it. Something clamped over her mind the moment that she realized what she was looking at, and her muscles froze.
The growl in the bushes unfroze her muscles, just before the mangy black dog erupted from them toward the thing, and she was running for the castle, still operating in a thoughtless space where terror was the only thing that existed. Too terrified to change to a cat, she risked being seen by any wandering student out of bed after hours, ghosts, or prowling teachers, but she did not care. She only knew that, given the proximity to the water, and the scent that clung to her, the thing would take her if it caught her – provided that it didn't suck her dry before presenting her to the Ministry's Board of Halfhuman Affairs, or perhaps some worse Board or Department, Mara and the Lord of the Hunt forbid. The cold continued to chase, while cobwebs wormed further into her mind and teased out flashes of Finmen raids.
Then something furry knocked her feet out from under her. The darkness of the thing whizzed over her head, her breath freezing on the grass she lay on. Something dark and mangy placed itself between herself and the thing, though not as dark and mangy as what had been down by the loch.
IMP! She screeched in her mind, summoning her familiars, winged and watery, with blood and thought. There was the answering push back from her brown owl, but he was too far away to arrive in time. Simultaneously came the press from Imp, scurrying from his post in the Leomaris housing, likely on his way to rouse her aunt. BYRON! DAVID! AUNTIE! A THING! Each mental call was not so much a separate thought, as they were all at once and jumbled together, one yarn in the knit of thought. A pulse went through her, reaching out, and if she could have focused enough, would have felt it traveling through the water.