Level 27 ~ Vixie

Vixie couldn’t stop crying silently, all the familiar smells of home muddied with the pervasive acrid stench of too much blood had destroyed everything she’d thought her homecoming would be and left the tatters blowing in the mountain wind. Naomi had already wiped out the fiendish-half-troll army and healed the villagers, even raising some dead, by the time the rest of them had made it out of the woods to Vixie’s house.

And Taecendar had taken it surprisingly well when he learned that Vixie, Layla and their mom were were-leopards. He’d been surprised, but actually very accepting. He never seemed scared or angry, or any other response typical to discovering a lycanthrope let alone three. And now he was staying close, supportive, as Vixie knelt by her dad’s bed—holding her dad’s hand in both of hers.

Leave it to dad to have gotten up from his deathbed to grab his axe and go another round with the monster that inflicted the unhealable wound on him. Vixie sniffed as she looked quietly into her dad’s tired eyes. He managed to smile weakly, but she knew he couldn’t see her in his state so she squeezed his hand tighter.

“Vixie… I’m so glad I got to see you again, one last time.” Her dad coughed, “You’ve made me so, very proud to be your father. You might even succeed me as warleader for the village if what I hear about your fighting skill is true.”

“Oh, dad!” Vixie sobbed, “Why can’t the healer cure your wound? It can’t be your time to die!”

Naomi had her hood up and was standing across the bed from Vixie, examining her dad’s wound. “It’s not the wound that’s the problem. They’ve tried treating him for injury, illness and even poison… But without first removing the curse on the wound, of course nothing worked.”

“Eh? What’s that?” Vixie’s dad turned his head in the direction of Naomi’s voice.

“Can you heal him?” Vixie asked hopefully.

Naomi closed her eyes with a smile. “Of course.”

Naomi laid one hand on Vixie’s dad’s wound, and exhaled as she traced out a few quick patterns in the air with the fingers of her other hand. A cleansing scent of rain washed through the entire room like a summer storm along with a gentle pulse of light. Then Vixie’s dad was sitting up, blinking incredulously.

“Dad? It worked?”

“Hah-hah!” Vixie’s dad slapped his thigh merrily, “Well I’ll be! You’ve got some friends, Vixie!”

“I sure do.” Vixie shared a smile with Naomi.

Pretty soon Vixie’s mom and little sister came in to share in the joy of her dad’s literally miraculous recovery. Vixie grinned broadly as her family gathered around her; this was more what she’d imagined coming home would feel like. Of course, depending on Taecendar, they might not be able to stay in Calon anymore after this. Her dad knew about the lycanthropy, but no one else in the village did. Vixie wasn’t sure yet if Layla would have as much trouble controlling her transformations as she herself did, but there was a good chance Layla was going to need to leave home for a while. Actually, it could be kind of fun to travel with her. Vixie wasn’t really ready to stay home yet, no matter how nice it was to visit again.

Then she noticed Cen had slipped out of the room. She’d better talk to him; if nothing else she owed him an explanation.

“Hey,” Vixie stepped up next to Taecendar, “Everything okay?”

Cen flashed his usual grin, “Yeah… We probably need to talk a little, but honestly it makes a lot of sense that you and Layla have a literal cat side.”

Vixie laughed with relief, “I love after all this time we can still just understand each other!”

“And I love you.” Cen pulled Vixie to him by her shoulders and looked into her eyes.

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