Dion’s expression as he watches Ky’Elli fills me with amusement. I invite him in for breakfast, the smell of bacon and coffee drawing us back to the kitchen like a beacon. Ky’Elli waddles along behind us, stumbling from time to time over her own feet, her voice filling my head, “Kiri, what is that smell? I like that smell, Kiri.It smells like food. I think I still need food.”

I look back at her over my shoulder, one brow arched, “I think you have had more than enough, mikros. Look at your belly. You can barely walk.” She grumbles as she settles at my feet in the kitchen.

Dion watches her with a mix of confusion, bemusement, and consternation. “Seriously, Nem. I have never seen anything like it. Where did you find it?”

Ky’Elli turns to face him and hisses, her tail fluffed up, exposing long, sturdy feathers at the base and along the edges and tip of her tail that I had not noticed earlier. Her wings flare and shift back as she postures. Her small tufted ears lying flat as she exposes teeth, that even as small as she is, are intimidating. She lets out a soft growl that very nearly resembles language. 

I set a cup of coffee before Dion, careful not to make contact with him, keeping a tight rein on my power. “She is female, Dion and I do not think she likes being referred to as ‘it’.” Ky’Elli grumbles her agreement, her gaze locked on him.

Dion blinks again and then gives a slight bow towards the small creature. “My apologies, my lady.”

Amusement fills me once more as I watch Dion perform the courtly bow. I think the shock of her has caused a fracture in his defenses and I have caught a glimpse of the true Dion this morning. I know of his faults; of course I do. It is as if they are written in ink on his skin. There is plenty to see, but at his core, Dion is not cruel and he is not uncaring, regardless of the facade he shows the world. This morning, I am seeing his wonder at something unique and his gentleness with something new and young. For there is no doubt that Ky’Elli is unique, new and young.  I am coming to realize that, for all my power, I have stopped looking farther than the surface of most beings. 

Ky’Elli accepts Dion’s deference as her due and then nearly loses her mind when I pull the bacon out of the oven. She tries to climb the cupboards, her wings flapping furiously as she attempts to get to the countertop. She is begging for the meat so loudly that my still tender head rings with it. I hurriedly plate the bacon and set it on the table. She unceremoniously climbs Dion’s leg, much to his consternation and grunts of pain as she digs her claws into his thighs. She perches on his lap, her front feet on the tabletop and her wings batting him about the head and face in her excitement. She chomps down on a piece that still steams it is so hot, seemingly unconcerned with the extreme temperature. She grumbles happily until Dion goes to reach around her for a piece of the meat, then her happy monster sounds turn into ferocious snarls. The clicks and shrieks are reminiscent of a pissed-off badger. The sound makes the table vibrate and prompts Dion to quickly pull back his hand. He sits with his arms out to his sides, afraid to touch her. Her wings stretch forward to enclose the plate in jealous greed. She glares balefully at him over her shoulder with eyes tinged red.

Ky’Elli eventually returns to her treat, keeping a suspicious eye on Dion the entire time. Once she finishes her bacon, I transfer her to the floor. Dion and I sipping our coffee as she waddles about the room, mumbling and grumbling to herself and keeping up a running litany of questions and comments in my mind.  She pounces on shadows and stalks Dion’s shoes, causing him to yelp when she attacks and “kills” them. Magic seems to leak from her, vapor curling above her body as she goes about her baby monster tasks.

Dion sits with me, watching her as I fill him in on the night before. 

“I do not know exactly what happened last night, Dion. But it was unlike anything I have experienced before.”

He nods quietly. “There has been a lot of new things happening since we all returned. Have you seen anything like her, Nem?”

I let out a quiet sigh and take another sip of my coffee, pulling my feet up onto the seat of the chair before answering. “Not exactly like her, but I do remember a realm, back at my beginning, when the world was new and magic was all that existed.  Something we hunted, something that we drove out. Something that left and locked the doors.” I turn to look at him. “We have forgotten that there were reasons we separated from the mortal realm, Dion. Reasons that many other realms decided to not have anything to do with us and us them. I think it is clear that we are rousing things that may have been best left where they were.

Dion looks at me, a wry quirk of his lips. “Well, Nem, things are always complicated with you. It somehow makes sense that you would get drunk and come home with a bacon-addicted demon creature from another realm.”

Dion left soon after.  We did manage to get some bacon, but we had to fend off Ky’Elli in order to do so.  She kept trying to attack Dion, and yelled at me that he was eating all her food and he needed to die! 

I take a quick shower and wash off the remnants of my hangover. Ky’Elli invades the enclosure and splashes happily through the spray of water, flinging droplets everywhere as she flaps and spreads her wings. I pull on a robe and settle in a patch of sunshine with a dry towel. Ky’Elli rumbles with contentment as she settles onto my lap and I towel her dry.

Ky’Elli, do you know where you came from? You are very young. Do you have a family? I am sure that someone, somewhere, is very worried about you.”

My heart clenches painfully at the thought of giving her up, an ache that takes me by surprise. I have known her mere hours. She should not already be so important that she would have any impact on me. And yet, there was no denying the deep sorrow and near panic I feel at the thought of having her leave my life. 

Ky’Elli peers up at me with her swirling blue eyes. “Do not be sad, Kiri. I will not leave you. I cannot leave you. We are Kirir. I was hatched soon ago. I was not supposed to leave, but the door opened and you were lost. You were not with me where you were supposed to be, so I had to come to you. I will miss my family, but you are mine.”

I study her, concern filling me. I slide the towel over her head and gently pat her wings. “What doorway, Ky’Elli?”

“We were sleeping and a doorway opened. The air that came through smelled of you and something else, but mostly you. The other hatchlings were afraid…I was afraid. But it was you and you are mine and you were lost. So I found you,” Ky’Elli responds with pride. 

I run a hand over her head, tracing the lines of blue that flow beneath her fur. “Ky’Elli, where did you come from? Do you remember, mikros? What are you?”

“I came from my home, Kiri. I am Ky’Elli, but the Drannan also call us Adralan,” she says as she lifts to my hand, her eyes closing in delight.

“Do you remember the name of your home and where the doorway let you out?”

“My home is called Deoti and the doorway led to the forest.  I was scared when I came through and I couldn’t find you at first. But then you were there and it was good,” she responds eagerly.

Worry fills me anew. What had happened last night?  I remember the rave and I remember drinking Demeter’s brew. The embodiment of sunshine and growing things, the heat of that power coalescing with my own cooler magic that created a vortex that drew me in and down. I remember just feeling for a while. Longing and hope blooming inside of me as I faced the reality of what my existence had become. And then I remember releasing it and my power sweeping over the land, and then there was only one thought and near panic strikes at me.

“Oh, Chaos…what have I done? What have I released?” If Ky’Elli was able to come through, what else had followed?”

I stare at Ky’Elli, my gaze meeting the otherworldly glow of hers. The soft voice in my head as fearful as my own thoughts, “Kiri, are you afraid of me?  Kiri, why are you so afraid?”  

I shake my head, “No, mikros, I am not afraid of you. I am afraid of what I might have let into the world. We need to get ready, mikros, we need to head back to the forest.  I need to see these doorways.”   

I sit with her for a bit, stroking her hand over the silkiness of her feathers, learning the texture of them. My gaze focuses inwards, my mind loops, questions and answers coming and going. I do not know why or when it began or if it had always been this way for me, but nothing I contemplate, nothing that I take on, in thought or deed, seems to be simple. And this situation, there is nothing easy or simple about this situation. Maybe it is a consequence of time and age. I am ancient; nothing is simple because I have seen too much, have experienced too many possibilities, and have way too much knowledge.  Who I am, my powers and their consequences, the wrath that I bring to all beings. The simple truth is, I do not have the luxury of simple.

Nemesis (Aisling MacKay)
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