I love trees!
And I love Dark Lady Maw-ther who is a tree and also my maw-ther!
Sometimes I get so excited when I see her, I turn into a dog instead of a dog-ter…
Dark Lord Paw-ther decided he had to give her lessons too! We both need to learn how to human better…
“Primrose, are you paying attention?”
“She’s a good girl too, Dark Lord Paw-ther,” I said. “She’s listening to you and the birds, oh yes she is!”
We learned everything Dark Lord Paw-ther had to teach us! But it took Dark Lady Maw-ther a really long time to learn how to say even one word, even though she understood everything like “sit” and “stay” and “food.”
But she knew she was my maw-ther right away!
And she held me for hours and hours without ever saying, “My arms are tired, Velvet!”
I had a whole family: a maw-ther, a paw-ther and a dog-ter…
And I barked at Dark Lord Paw-ther until he let Dark Lady Maw-ther sleep in his bed where she belonged!
Dark Lady Maw-ther gave me lots of presents.
When it got really cold and snow fell from the sky (I love eating snow!), Dark Lady Maw-ther stayed with the plants in the glass house.
Snow melted and rain came instead, and then flowers bloomed all over (and I ate some of them), and then leaves fell and I rolled around in them, again and again…
And then I got bigger, but Dark Lord Paw-ther and Dark Lady Maw-ther stayed the same size.
But Dark Lord Paw-ther grew fur on his face, even though he called it a “beard.”
“Velvet, down, you’re much too big for that now–”
“Will you be gone a long time again? Will you? Will you?”
“I…I’m not entirely certain, but it’s likely. Stay close to Primrose, understand?” He scowled. “And don’t venture far from the house. I’ve heard rumors of my arch-nemesis slithering around nearby.”
“But you have seven hundred and thirty-three arch-nemeses,” I said. “Which one?” I sniffed the air, trying to find a strange scent, but I just smelled the usual birds and squirrels.
“Seven hundred and thirty-two,” he corrected me. “One drunkenly fell into his oversized cauldron while brewing a remedy for back hair and that was the end of his miserable worm life. As for his identity, you’re better off not knowing–now be a good girl.”
I walked on two legs while he could still see me and went to find my maw-ther. She was near a tree, because she loved trees even more than I did.
“Dark Lady Maw-ther,” I said, “may I go hunting and catch Dark Lord Paw-ther’s arch-nemesis? May I? May I?”
I always left presents on my paw-ther’s bed for when he got home from his long trips, and he’d probably like his arch-nemesis even more than another bird or a frog.
“…” It always took her a little while to find the words she wanted, especially after I surprised her. “Hadrian…” she said. Her voice reminded me of dry leaves rustling against each other in the fall. “Grimsley…Ravensbane…said…”
“But you’re my maw-ther and that means you can give me permission too! Can’t you? Can’t you?” When she hesitated, I added, “It’ll make him really happy, oh yes it will!”
“Oh… It will…?”
A smile slowly spread across her face. “Then…yes. I want him…to be happy.”
“I love you! And he loves you too!”
But I had no time to answer, not with a hunt to go on!
Back to the hunt!
This place was new to my nose. It smelled like recently-dug dirt and bones and worms (the slimy kind squirmed when I ate them, not the kind my paw-ther hated).
Dark Lord Paw-ther would like this place.
And my nose was picking up something interesting…ashes left in a hearth? A male wolf when a nearby female wolf was in heat?
“Are you lost, or just stupid? This is a necromancer’s lair.”
“I’m hunting,” I said as I hopped up on my hind legs. My only legs. “Aroooooo.”
“Not another damn werewolf,” he muttered. “And it isn’t even a full moon. Get lost, before I burn you alive.”
But Velvet Petalpaws Ravensbane’s nose was too good to get lost.
“Eleven hells,” he howled. “Valerian! HELP.”
A new smell! Bones and dirt and worms and books.
“I do hope you can justify claiming any more of limited research time, Rexxanathostrazor’mol,” came a low, dry voice. “But thus far, I fail to observe a pressing issue.”
“Maybe if you looked up from your damn book–”
“And waste additional time and energy? I think not, particularly if I plan to publish my research within a reasonable timeframe.”
Hmm, which one was Dark Lord Paw-ther’s arch-nemesis? Or neither?
“It’s clearly a werewolf,” said the one who smelled like ashes. “She barks, Valerian. Barks.”
“Highly unlikely,” said the one who smelled like dirt. “I was forced to teach a semester of Lycanthropic Studies until I failed the entire class. She exhibits none of the other defining traits of a werewolf, such as extreme amounts of body hair. However, I do detect a powerful note of unusual magic.”
“There’s a shameful epidemic these days, you know,” Mr. Ashes said. “I overheard a couple of crones in the animal husbandry department gossiping–lonely witches and warlocks transforming their familiars for ‘unintended purposes.’ Pathetic–they should burn.”
“Ironic, coming from a demon currently on disciplinary leave for fraternizing with his students.”
“I can’t help it if the school’s policies discriminate against those with incubus heritage.”
“You might consider wearing a shirt–or looser pants.”
“My flesh burns them off. It’s a skin condition, Valerian.”
“Highly improbable,” said Mr. Dirt, “but your class enrollment and retention rate is admittedly impressive.”
“I’m a dog-ter,” I volunteered. “Velvet Petalpaws Ravensbane.”
“Has no one ever taught you to avoid giving your full name to a demon?” Mr. Ashes said.
“If only she were a corpse,” said Mr. Dirt. “She’s useless to my research otherwise, and we’ve wasted a considerable amount of time today.”
But my paw-ther was always worrying about me becoming a corpse.
Maybe I should go home!
But I liked their smells. I hoped I could smell them again…I never got to smell many people aside from my maw-ther and paw-ther.
And maybe they could help me hunt!