A Wolf's Bane

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1: Hide-n-Seek

Waning Crescent Moon

Waning Crescent Moon

The summer sun warmed her back as Karin knelt in front of the patch of earth and withdrew her water bottle and a small packet of seeds from her backpack. She planted the seeds in the dirt and poured water on top. She then shut her eyes and extended her focus out to gather the abundant, free swirling energy from the trees and plants of the forest and let the energy seep into her body.

As the energy flowed into her hands, she pressed them down into the ground and recited firmly:

"Tiny seeds and earth

Add water to grow swiftly

Wildflowers blossom"

As the energy flowed out of her hands, they became cool and she stowed the remainder of the energy back into the core of her body. She opened her eyes to see tiny wild flowers sprouting out of the earth and grinned as the flowers started to grow at a quicker pace until they were fully in bloom. Then, she carefully plucked them out of the dirt and placed them in the empty seed packet.

"T-that's preeetty." A child's voice spoke out of nowhere.

Karin glanced upward to see a thin, bony girl with fair skin and long dark brown hair. Her delicate pale blue eyes were bright and curious despite her fragile appearance. Karin noticed the girl's slight spasms as she approached with her little walker.

The little girl was none other than Amaris Baines of the Baines Pack.

"Hello, Amaris!" Karin smiled gently and stood up from her crouched position, but Amaris shook her head and Karin watched carefully as the seven-year-old girl made her way slowly but surely toward her.

It had been three years since Tala Baines first brought her daughter to the flower shop and Karin had grown terribly fond of the child. Sometimes Karin pretended that if she had a little sister, she'd want her to be like Amaris. Karin had always wanted siblings, but it was just her and her mother, Matsuko. Her father had passed away when she was very young that she hardly remembered him, and Matsuko never found anyone else.

From what she had inferred, it was likely that Amaris wouldn't be able to shift into a wolf like the rest of her pack. Karin wasn't sure how much the girl's cerebral palsy affected the ability to transform or if she would be a late bloomer like her brother, Radley. The youngest in their pack was four-year-old Willow who had her first shift during the last full moon.

"H-hi, Care-inn. D-don't tell No-ah I'm here. I'm playing hide-n-seek with him."

"Do you want to hide in a tree?" Karin suggested.

Amaris's eyes widened with shock but excitement. "C-can I?"

When the girl finally joined Karin's side a few minutes later, she helped the child sit down and watched her large eyes dart around the forest.

"How we gon climb a tree?"

"We won't. You're not afraid of heights, right?"

"I wanna be up high!" Amaris giggled.

Karin smiled and told the girl to pick a tree. Amaris pointed at a black cottonwood tree a few paces away and then stuck her hand out toward Karin. She took it and led the child to the tree. With the forest's energy still coursing through her, Karin laid her palm against the bark and spoke aloud an impromptu haiku spell:

"Branches build a cage

Cottonwood descend then rise

Treehouse in the sky"

Branches rearranged from above, startling Amaris, but she watched in awe as the branches started to entwine into a lattice structure to form a cage. Then the tree trunk started to descend to their height, causing the ground to tremble and crack. She then lifted Amaris into her arms and let the girl crawl into the makeshift branchy cage. Karin followed with Amaris's walker and her backpack. Afterwards, they were lifted slowly into the air and Amaris poked her head out a hole in the cage.

"We-th, blech, up high!" she shrieked with excitement, spitting out a leaf. "No-ah won't find me now."

Karin laughed as the tree returned to its original height. "Sorry, Amaris, but I'm afraid I disturbed the forest when I made the tree come down so Noah will find us soon."

"But he won't be able to get up." Amaris smiled mischievously.

"Aren't you cheeky?" Karin chuckled.

Amaris pulled her head back into the cage and turned around to admire the sunlight peeking through the branches and leaves.

"Hey, Care, can I have a flower that you made? It pretty," Amaris asked without a hint of shyness.

"Of course you can, just a moment." Karin took the flowers out of the seed packet and handed one to her. Then she started to weave a crown for Amaris with the remaining flowers. After she finished, she placed it on top of Amaris's head and the little girl beamed.

"How do I look?"

"Just like a princess." Karin answered with a smile.

"Lea tell me that too!" Amaris giggled.

It took a moment for Karin to realize that Amaris was calling her brother by a nickname. Then, she smiled thoughtfully. "Your brother is right."

"He also tell me he think you pretty and nice like a flower."

Karin was taken aback by the statement and burst out laughing. Karin had no idea what Amaris was talking about since Radley had made it his personal goal in life to irritate her senselessly after they had drifted apart.

"That's silly." The words left Karin's mouth before she could stop herself. "Radley and I aren't even friends."

"Not silly!" Amaris sounded annoyed and frowned which frankly Karin thought was adorable. "You are! You and Lea good friends. Lea say so."


Edited: 04.07.2020

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