Taria walked out of the front door. The door closed softly behind her. Her parents sat at the table looking at the door. Both of them looked concerned by neither stood to follow her. It was clear that Taria would need time to think. She had heard a lot tonight and it was quite a lot to take in. The story that her parents had told me was the same as what Great Owl had told me. He had spoken more though of what happened to me then Taria though. Great Owl hadn’t known what had happened to Taria, only that she had been hidden from the Queen.
I moved towards the door and wondered if I should simply sit beside Taria, give her some sort of comfort but I didn't know if that was what she needed. In a normal relationship between human and familiar at our age we would be able to simply tell what the other was thinking just by looking at them. Not growing up together would make things more difficult for us.
Taria’s mother stood from the table and smiled at me. I could see questions in her eyes but I would need to speak through Taria to answer anything she wanted to know. She gestured with her hand to follow her so I did. She led me from the front room and up some old stairs to the second floor. The home was cool and gaps in the old house allowed the cool evening breeze to slip through. It sent shivers down my spine. Taria’s mother opened a door, and said, “My name is Lia, by the way, and my husband’s name is Daniel. And this is Taria’s room. You can sleep in here tonight. I can grab some spare pillows to make a bed if you would like?”
I wanted to say yes please and hope she would understand but it was impossible. The only ones who could understand me were other familiars. I simply nodded, instead.
Lia smiled and walked out of the room, leaving the door slightly ajar. I looked around Taria’s room and found it simple. Many familiars I had met had told me that you could tell a lot about anyone from the way they spoke and held themselves, but a room filled with personal belongings could tell a story.
The room was a simple layout with a small bed, only big enough for one person; a set of draws, that no doubt held her clothing; beside that was multiple sets of boots, some were covered in mud while others were buffed and shined to perfection. Above the draws sat pieces of paper, all held images of arrows and bow designs. I didn't know much of human art but the images were neat and clear. Beside the only window of the room sat a large stack of books. All of them different sizes and colours, but all appeared to be well read.
I reached my front paws up onto the window seal and peered out. Beyond the fields of the farm was a clear view of the woods, the same part where Taria had found me locked in a cage. Before Taria even knew what I was to her she had saved my life, out of care for animals or curiosity, I didn't know, but I already owed her my life.
The door opened again. Lia entered with four pillows and a blanket in her arm. Beside Taria’s bed she laid out the blanket and then placed the pillows together. It looked rather comfortable, and just looking at it made me realise how tired I was. I smiled at Lia, but I doubt it looked like one. To her everything about me simply appeared like a normal animal reactions. Only Taria would understand if I was smiling or frowning.
I closed my eyes and bowed my head to Lia, hoping she would understand it as a thank you. She smiled at me and left the room, closing the door behind her.
I sat down on the pillows and found it rather comfortable. The soft pillows reminded me of my den back in the White Woods. Warm and comfortable. I tucked my legs beneath me and curled into a ball. It didn't take me long to drift off.
I woke to the creaking of the door. Blinking, I opened my eyes to find the bright morning sun flowing into the room and a small boy peaking his head in and looking at me. His brown hair was messy and his cheeks flushed red. It was clear he had only just awoken himself. He gazed at me with wide eyes, no doubt wanting to know why a big black cat was in his house and in his sister’s room.
“Gean! Get out!”
I snapped my head towards the bed. Taria was sitting up, her red hair everywhere and her grey eyes filled with fury.
“But I wanted to see the—”
“I don’t care. Get out!” Taria threw the covers off and marched to the door. She gripped the wood and forced it shut. Gean groaned in protest from the other side but he walked away. Taria sighed and slid to the floor. “He is such a nosy little shit.”
“Boys will be boys,” I said.
Taria gasped and looked up. She placed her hand over her heart and smiled. “Kara, you scared me.”
I smiled. It was rare I scared anyone. “Did you forget I was here?”
“For a moment, yes.” She returned my smile.
“Did you sleep well?”
She frowned. “Not really. Lot happening up here.” She tapped her forehead.
“I can imagine.”
Taria stood from the floor and walked over to the draws. She pulled out a shirt and pants and grabbed a pair of dirty boots. “I’m going to clean up and get dressed. I will meet you downstairs.”
I nodded as she walked out.
I stretched from my comfortable position in the pillows and headed to the kitchen. As I reached the main room, Daniel sat at the table loading a weapon. He spotted me and smiled. “Morning Kara.”
I bowed my head as a response and moved to the kitchen. I hoped they had something for me to eat. I was starving. In the small kitchen, Lia and Gean were cooking. Gean was placing ingredients into a bowl for his mother at her instruction. Gean spotted me and smiled. “Ma, does Taria have a new pet?”
Lia looked at me and thought for a moment. “Yes.”
Gean frowned. “Why don’t I have one? Can I have one?”
“No,” Daniel shouted.
Gean pouted and jumped off the stool on which he stood. He walked towards me and reached out his hand. I held still. I wasn't use to being around so many humans at once. I knew how unpredictable they could be. But Gean was still a boy. He gently placed his hand on my back and stroked me. It felt rather nice. I purred at the attention and he smiled. “It likes me.”
“She is a she, not an “it” and she has a name.” Taria entered the kitchen, dressed and ready for a day of work.
“Well, what is her name?” said Gean.
“Kara.” Taria took Gean’s place beside their mother and began helping.
Gean frowned. “That’s what you named her?”
I glared at the boy. What was wrong with my name? I liked my name. My mother had picked it for me. I growled slightly and Taria frowned at me. What did she expect? If I get offended I’m going to show my offence.
Gean huffed and said, “Well, if you were my pet I would have named you something like Shadow or...” He placed his finger on his chin and thought.
“You wouldn’t be naming anything. You have the same imagination as your father.” Lia tapped Gean’s head.
Gean looked confused. “What’s wrong with that?”
“What Ma means is that you have no imagination.”
“I do so have an imagination,” Daniel yelled from the main room.
“And so do I,” said Gean.
The girls looked at one another and laughed. Taria looked to me, she said, “Are you hungry?”
I nodded. “Do you have any raw meat? I can go hunting if you don’t.”
“Yeah, I have some rabbits out the back.” Taria walked towards the front door. “Well, that’s if Pa didn't feed them to the dogs.”
“I didn’t,” Daniel called as she walked out the door.
Taria and her family was a close nit of humans. You could hear the love and caring in the way they spoke to each, and they way they acted. Even though Taria called Gean annoying and nosy, she would walk past him and ruffle his hair. He would frown at her but his eyes showed happiness at the display of affection. And you wouldn’t think that Taria was adopted. She acts just like her mother. They have the same quirks and reactions. While Taria has no physical similarities no one could ever doubt that she was their daughter.
Taria returned with a dead rabbit which had been skinned. My stomach sung in delight. Taria held it out to me and I took it in my mouth. I looked around and decided it would be polite for me to eat outside. Humans didn't need to watch a panther rip into a dead animal. Taria held the door for me. She said, “Just scratch at the door when you’re done, and I’ll let you in.”
“Will do,” I mumbled over the mouthful of rabbit.
The morning sun was warm as I stepped off the porch. It was clear that the day’s heat would be fierce and deadly for some. I followed one of the dirt paths that led to the dog kennel. Inside were the two dogs. They eyed me and the carcass of the rabbit and stood forward. I growled and they stopped. I moved past them and into a small gathering of trees. I placed the rabbit on the ground and ripped into.
The soft flesh ripped easily as my sharp teeth torn off pieces. The rabbit was a day or two old, so it wasn't the freshes meal I had ever had, but it was satisfying none the less.
I made my way lazily back to the house. No need to rush the human’s into finishing their breakfast. A loud bang startled me. Taria came racing out of the house. Her boot covered feet pounded on the dirt ground. She spotted me and stopped. “A truck is on the way. You may want to get inside and hide.”
I frowned. “How do you know?”
“Can’t you smell it?” She gestured to the air.
I lifted my nose to the air and breathed in. Taria was right. The horrible stench from the day before had returned and was getting stronger quickly. The smell and taste of the rabbit had clearly overwhelmed my nose.
“What kind of truck?”
Taria walked closer to me, hands in her pockets. “Did you see the one that was here yesterday?”
“Same kind.” She stopped in front of me. “They are coming to collect the rest of the cattle.”
“Why do I need to hide? They couldn’t mistake me for a cow.”
Taria smiled. “No, but the drivers are guards from the capital.”
“Oh.” Fear flickered in my belly. I had never seen a guard but I knew if a familiar was wise, then they would avoid anyone from the capital. “Fair enough.”
“Ma, will show you a good place to bunker down until they are gone.”
Inside the house Gean and Lia were cleaning up from breakfast. Daniel had past me as I made my way in. He patted my head for a mere second. He didn’t seem to register that it was me. Most likely it was a response for the dogs. Whenever they would walk past he would pat them.
Lia spotted me. “Taria tell you what is going on?”
“Well, follow me.”
“Ma, can she understand you?”
“Um...” Lia looked torn.
They should simply tell Gean the truth but there seemed to be more. It’s not like I could speak up and say I am a magical animal that can talk because I can’t, Taria needs to do that.
Gean looked at Lia. Disbelief in his eyes. “Then why did you speak to her like she could?”
“Don’t question me. I’m your mother. I can do what I like.” Lia patted his head and walked out the kitchen. I followed Lia but noticed Gean roll his eyes.
Lia lead me to a door and inside was a simply storage cupboard. The amount of space in the cupboard wouldn’t even fit a newborn cub. There was no way I would fit. Lia didn’t notice my frown. She leant forward and touched something. The cupboard made a loud click and the back swung open. Lia pulled out a box.
“There is a room behind there. I already put some pillows and water in there. Taria will come and let you out when they are gone.”
I looked at the small room with concern. I wasn't a fan of being locked in small places that didn't have windows. It was like being trapped in a cage. There was no choice though. Taria and her family were trying to keep me safe, and I didn't want to cause any more trouble. I stepped into the small room and Lia smiled at me.
She said, “It shouldn’t be too long.”
I nodded. I hoped it wouldn’t be.ns 22.214.171.124da2