“You’re the most wicked thing I’ve ever met.”
There was a squeal beside me, and I startled, ripping off the blindfold and losing my place in the book.
“What are you doing?” I yelled, leaping back from where a mouse twitched and twisted on the ground beside the cage.
Scouvrel had broken the creature’s neck.
“It was going to kill me,” he said calmly.
“The mouse was.” My tone was dry as a tomb.
“Of course. They hate me.”
“It’s a mouse. It doesn’t hate you,” I peered at the mouse. Its ears were small and it’s tail stubby. This kind of mouse lived in the tall grass on these high plains.
“It hates me – as all mortal creatures do – because it knows I want to eat it.”
“You want to eat mice.” I kept my tone dry as dust. He was just trying to get me to react because he loved the drama. I could almost see the twinkle in his eye. “Are you part owl?”
“I want to eat everything.” His grin was predatory. “I want to eat the whole world like a wheel of cheese. Feel it crumble under my tongue and melt in my mouth.”
“Eating that much cheese will just make you sick,” I said, but a thrill of fear shot through me.
Think you could craft the perfect bargain?
Our journey reminded me almost of threading through the trees with my father as we set our traps. Even at this speed, I could see the little trails in the grass that ran across the path – evidence of rabbits. Larger trails with good deer sign. A rub on one of the trees. An old scrape. There was game here and plenty of it. Without thinking, I began to whistle my father’s favorite tune.
So did the unicorn.
After a moment, I realized everything had frozen from the birds in the trees to the insects buzzing between the leaves and in the long grass. My whistle faded in the growing breeze.
“No music,” I sighed. “Can you truly not make music, you glorious above-me Fae?”
Music was one power I had that Scouvrel didn’t. But what did freezing them matter if I couldn’t get out of the cage?
Scouvrel cleared his throat.
“We can’t make beautiful sounds. Only true sounds. And you don’t want to hear our hearts. Our hearts sing the everlasting scream of nothing.”