4.07 Evolution

Tamarack stepped in her front door and dumped all of her gear with a loud yawn. "Ki?" she called out. "You home?"

Receiving no answer, she peeked up in the loft and looked under furniture and behind a few doors, knowing the girl's penchant for game-playing. Satisfied that Kianna was not home, she stepped out to look for her. It was getting dark, and she didn't like the idea of an adolescent girl running amok at all hours, despite, or perhaps because of, her own habits at that age. She had plenty of fears about Kianna, but Kianna turning out like Tamarack was one of the bigger ones.

Tam found Sniglet first, prancing about on its hind legs chasing mice with an improvised spear made of a knitting needle. It stopped with Tam's approach and turned to purr expectantly at her.

The dwarf squinted down at the catlike thing with suspicion. "What in all hells are you becoming?" she muttered, somehow incredibly disturbed by its use of a weapon. Whatever this creature was, it seemed to be quickly evolving into something more than an animal.

Sniglet responded by spreading its hands wide, as if to say "This", then slung the knitting needing over its back on a piece of yarn, approaching Tam slowly as though ready to dart away if necessary.

"You're getting pretty good with those little paw-hands of yours," Tamarack remarked. "Maybe I should teach you to clean my house." She smirked at her own wit. "So where's our girl, hmm?"

Sniglet pointed its nose toward the cathedral and set off ahead of Tamarack, moving with more grace that it aught to have for a creature so new to its present form.

Tamarack grimaced at the thing as it turned its back, but followed obediently.

Kianna had a small satchel filled, from the sound of it, with glass containers and was headed south when Sniglet caught up with her. She immediately stopped to make a fuss of her familiar, heedless of Tamarack's approach.

"Whatcha up to, kit?" Tam called out.

Kianna stopped and looked about in the fading light, "Tam!" she cried running offer to her to give her a big hug and a kiss, "I've been missing you all day"

Tamarack's worries faded just a little as she squeezed the girl in her arms. "Sorry I'm not around more."

"So besides brewing up dire warnings about Scout what else have you been up to today?" asked Kianna.

Tamarack blinked. "Scout?"

"That's what we called the Greater Curious Beetle you discovered down there, calling it the greater curious beetle all the time was getting tiresome."

"So you named it," Tam muttered. "Cute…. Anyway, we had some good times down there today. Made friends with a fire giant." She smirked to herself. “So what's in the bag?"

"Just got some supplies for Saite from Seline, mostly preservatives, but also something for her fever. I think she's been working way too hard particularly with her cold, I got some sleeping herbs to sneak into her tea but I'm not sure if I should use them."

"No sneaking, kit," Tam said in a tone of mild scolding. "I'm sure she'll be fine in a few days. If not, she ought to see someone."

"Seline already had a look, said it would pass in a bit if she took it easy, which she hasn't…"

"Hmm…" Tam mused. "On second thought, those sleeping herbs might not be a bad idea."

"So now I'm right back to where I started… thanks."

Tam tousled her hair. "Go do your thing, and meet me back at home. I want to talk some more."

"Ok," replied Kianna, smiling before skipping off toward Saite's.

Some minutes later Kianna arrived home discarding her jacket bellowing, "Tamtam, I'm home!" even though Tamarack was already seated at the table immediately in front of her.

"Want to have a seat?" Tam offered, pushing a plate of biscuits toward her.

Kianna nodded her mouth already to full of biscuits to respond.

"There are a lot of folk worried about them creatures of yours," Tamarack began, not beating around the bush.

"Folk will be worried about a great many things…" replied Kianna after swallowing.

"What does that mean?"

"Orcs, Gnolls, Ludimarites, mad Rittenratch alchemists, Demons, Devils, receding hairlines… folk around here worry about anything they catch wind of."

"Well… most of those can be very dangerous things, and people are right to worry. That's why the boys and me are here. Right?"

"Yes, but you're not the only ones looking out for the town, n'fact isn't Taylar one of the things everyone is flapping their gums about? All worried he's going to go nuts and get himself a nice body count one of these days?"

"Taylar can be a point of concern," Tam agreed. "He just needs a hand to guide him sometimes, to show him the right way. Maybe you do, too, kitten."

"You think because I've got some talents no-one quite understand that I'm going to forget right from wrong?" pressed Kianna.

"I'm not sayin’ that," the dwarf insisted. "I'm sayin’… people can be… confused. Ki, sometimes I'm sure you're a great deal smarter ‘n I am, maybe smarter ‘n most folk in this town. But those bugs… they change creatures. Sure no one quite understands any of it quite yet, but… people can get into dangerous places trying to figure out mysteries. You're just a lass. I don't want you to get… sucked in… by all o’ this. I don't want it to… change you."

"I'm nearly a woman, and I'm not confused, there's no danger here, I'm in control."

"A lot o’ people say things like that before terrible things happen!" Tamarack exclaimed, suddenly on the verge of tears. "I have these awful dreams sometimes… kit, I'm scared."

Kianna reached out to stroke her head, "You may not realize it yet, but soon I'm going to have the power to protect you from those nightmares, please don't cry."

Tamarack pulled away sharply, knocking over her chair. "What does that mean?!" she cried, wavering between being afraid FOR the girl, and being afraid OF her. "What is happening to you? You have to tell me!"

"I don't think I can put it in words" replied Kianna trying to be reassuring, "but I know I wouldn't let anything happen to you. Someday I'll be the one turning you back into flesh after a mishap or saving your bacon if you get in over your head. Don't run from me, I need you!"

Tamarack suddenly felt horrible for showing fear toward her own little one—the girl was obviously going through something no one could understand, and she certainly didn't need the one person she could really trust to shrink from her. "I'm sorry," Tam whispered, coming back to the table and hugging the girl tightly. "Seems like just yesterday I started lookin' after you. Now I think you're gonna be lookin' after me an awful lot. Promise me you'll always be my kit, okay?"

"I promise," she replied stroking Tam's hair. "That was intense eh?" she remarked after the moment had passed, "should I fix us some tea?"

"I'd like that."

A moment later in the kitchen, while Tam stared at the fire, Kianna furtively deposited some herbs from her pocket into Tam's tea.

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