Interlude: Petty Treason

July 16, 2011

The fever burned her. She remembered the same thing happened when she lost her other paw, and then reached for the dirty dish of water— thirsty, so thirsty— but she was a tree without branches, she was a worm crawling forward, she was a mouth and tail and feet. She lapped from the bowl and half-drowned in it. Weak, too weak. She would die.

There was a village beneath the abbey, all shadows coming and going in the dark and through her fiery dreams, like the house in Redwall City before Selendra came for her. Selendra wasn’t like them. Selendra didn’t hurt her and tumble coin in her lap for the joy she took. After she’d taken the knife in her arm the old madam brought her to the school. The bitch ransomed her body for the last time. She learned how to make teas and ointment and purge instead, and how to touch someone with an innocent blind paw.

“Is she alive?” Selendra lived. Let her live longer. “So you left.” Yes, packed skirts and stays that smelled of her lover’s pale, sawdusty fur.

“Who told you? Who told you to go?”

“Please,” she said. Her world was red and wet. “Everything I know…”

“Who was it?”

“Help me… help me.”

“Who?”

The kitten. Bless her, save her, but she said it. They stopped hurting her. The old rat stitched her wounds. Rigg cradled her the way the beasts in the brothel did. They washed her with wine; they fed her; once somebeast mopped the sweat from her brow. Berend wept and burned in the dark.

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