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“Arvesse! Arvesse! Drat it, where is that girl?”
Overhead, concealed within the branches of a bushy tree, Arvesse giggled. The young hybrid demon could reach places her Ussaan governess could not. She twisted around a thin branch and dropped quietly to the ground. Not quietly enough though. Catching the sound, the governess turned.

“Arvesse!” she snapped. “Where have you been?! Just look at you! I suppose you’ve been climbing trees again, haven’t you? And what do you think you’re wearing? Go home and get decent at once!”
“Oh, don’t be such a bore, Irsha. I really can’t get about in those stuffy frocks you make me wear. This tunic’s fine, it allows great freedom of movement.”
“Freedom of movement indeed!” Irsha snorted. “You shouldn’t be climbing trees in the first place. It’s your father’s fault, that worthless squirrel, with his “Don’t stifle the girl!” Really, it’s enough to drive one quite mad!”

“I wish,” Arvesse said to herself. Putting on her most charming smile, she began to back slowly away. “You worry far too much, really you do! You don’t need to follow me everywhere, I’ll be alright, you know that. Besides, I have my trusted friend to help.” She turned sideways, allowing Irsha to see the sheath hanging loosely on her hip. The governess visibly paled.

“Arvesse! I’m shocked!! A sword!? That is most improper and unladylike! Arvesse?” she said again, noticing her charge edging away. Arvesse broke into a run. “Arvesse, get back here, now!” Irsha chased after her charge, shouting all the while.

What a pain, Arvesse thought. Seeing her governess closing, Arvesse leapt upward. Flipping easily over a low branch, she continued her escape at a more leisurely pace, knowing Irsha could not hope to follow her through the trees.

Irsha stopped, but Arvesse could hear her voice long after. “Arvesse, you hear me? Your poor mother will be beside herself! There’ll be no supper for you tonight!”

Arvesse laughed. She knew how to survive in the forest.

Friday, 4 July 2003.
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© Ben Boyle 2002