My writing and art! Main @cjadewyton and polished work on @jade-wyton

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There was a shout, and the crowd looked up to watch as protectors strapped Ashta to Caller Ziat’s judgement stake.

He had finally been caught while stealing poultry from the people of the Red Forest. A pathetic crime to end his reign of terror.

But at least it was ended.

Fearful gasps and mutters rippled through the gathering as Ashta slowly raised his head and the nameless one pushed her daughter, Inntin Sky Watcher, safely behind her back and away from the evil man’s gaze. Luckily, his glare didn’t fall on the nameless one or her family. Instead it dug into Caller Ziat’s own scowl.

‘Ashta of the Low Mountain,’ Caller Ziat spoke loudly, their voice projecting over the cliffs so that those standing lower would hear. ‘You stand before the five hundred and eighty-three leaders of the Lim’tar tribes and their people, at the peak of Caller’s Mountain where the Ancestor stars may pass their judgement. There is no tribe on Lim’tar that you have not wronged. Your crimes are many, and you have yet to deny a single one as your own. Do you wish to deny them, now?’

Ashta responded with a snort and turned away from the Caller. The crowd flinched as he looked them over, and the mutters started again.

‘You have left deep scars on my people,’ Caller Ziat continued, their voice a hiss. ‘Scars I can never forgive. You understand what is to happen to you?’

‘I’m not scared of the Taking,’ Ashta smiled, now. ‘There is nothing you could take from me that could kill me. Not truly. I shall live on, forever remembered. Forever feared. A whisper parents tell their children to keep them placid. I will have power. And I will have legacy. Strip me of my belongings, and strip me of my flesh. Strip me of my life. I will never die.’

She's a lesbian, Dale.

490 words

‘We know Zoey,’ Anna chimed in. ‘Trish and her went to uni together.’

‘Oh, perfect!’ Ashleigh put an arm around Penny and grinned. ‘So nobody is without a buddy!’

‘Some of us are a bit more than buddies,’ Trish elbowed Anna in the side before wrapping an arm around her and pulling her into a tight hug.

Dale’s heart skipped a beat.

Was Trish talking about him and Talia? No. She couldn’t be. There was no way for her to know he liked her— Unless Gavin had told her? But … Gavin had promised he hadn’t told anyone. And Dale trusted him with that. Besides, he was almost completely sure that if Trish found out about his crush, Talia would know within the day.

Maybe she just meant that her and Anna were roommates? Or— Ah! It was probably because they were best friends!

‘Earth to Dale!’

A pillow slammed into Dale’s face and he was tugged back to reality. ‘What?’

‘I said “Happy Birthday”!’ Zoey threw another pillow, though Dale caught this one. ‘Twenty-eight! You’re so old!’

‘Twenty-eight isn’t old!’ Talia huffed and rolled her eyes, though Dale could see her grin. ‘I’m twenty-eight!’

‘Exactly. You’re old,’ Trish replied. ‘Pretty sure you’re the oldest one here!’

‘Actually, Penny’s thirty,’ Ashleigh corrected.

‘WHAT! No way!’

‘Y-Yeah, I am,’ Penny managed, pulling one of the thick, heavy blankets over herself. She glanced around the other girls before shrugging. ‘I have a good skin-care routine, that’s all. … So, party games?’

‘Party games!’ Ashleigh echoed. ‘Yes! What do we start with?’

‘I’d suggest paper, scissors, rock, but I always end up picking scissors because, well,’ Trish winked at Anna. ‘You know.’

‘Nasty!’ Zoey threw another pillow, this time hitting Trish so hard she toppled backwards out of the nest of blankets she’d made herself. ‘Dis-GUST-ing!’

‘Hey, come on,’ Dale raised a hand. ‘There’s nothing wrong with having a preference! I always pick rock. I know it’s a losing strategy but that’s just part of the fun.’

Zoey hesitated. Then glanced to Anna and mouthed something Dale couldn’t make out. Then, when Anna shook her head, Zoey let out a laugh that was even louder than Trish’s and flopped onto her side.

‘Am I missing something?’ Dale asked. ‘Because it feels like I’m missing something.’

‘Nobody tell him,’ said Trish. ‘He’s gotta figure it out himself.’

‘Figure what out?’ Dale asked, much to the amusement of the party. ‘What am I missing?’

‘You’ll get it one day,’ Ashleigh pet Dale’s shoulder and grinned before turning back to the others. ‘What about truth or dare?’

‘Oh, FUCK yes!’ Trish exclaimed. ‘I LOVE truth or dare! Zoe, pass us that bottle!’

The girls all began to shuffle into a circle, clearing the blankets from the centre of the floor, and Dale was left sitting in stunned silence.

What was he supposed to be figuring out himself?

‘What was their name, Q?’ Coi’Lili lent heavier on the fence, leaning forward so he could look Jaisa in the eye. ‘You are smiling now.’

‘Its name is Batni.’

‘Its, Q?’

‘Yes, that’s its pronouns,’ Jaisa responded, a humoured snort escaping through xer gills. ‘We don’t all use xie and them, you know. The whole point is we’re not some sort of binary. He, she, fae, hir, sie, ve, its. … There’s hundreds of options. Xie and them are just common and easy to use in front of land-dwellers, that’s all.’

‘I see,’ Coi’Lili gave a nod and ruffled his feathers. ‘And xie is what you prefer, Q? There is nothing else, Q? Because if there is something else I am more than happy to use it for you.’

‘Yeah, nah,’ Jaisa shrugged. ‘Xie is fine. I don’t think you could pronounce my pronouns in Seces.’

‘I am part avio, my sweet lovely one,’ Coi’Lili responded. ‘And I have my speaker. I would be able to pronounce anything. Maybe even better than you.’

Jaisa let out another gill-snort before turning to Coi’Lili. ‘Alright,’ xie said. ‘Try this one, then.’

A short whistle came from xer gills, echoing like it was being whistled twice as xie opened and closed xer mouth. Then xie clamped xer gills gown down with a wet slapping noise and grinned.

‘That is your pronoun, Q?’ he opened his mouth and the noise echoed out of him, perfectly mimicked. ‘That is not to hard to say, my dear.’

‘Works as both personal and possessive,’ xie said. ‘But I doubt the wolvens around here could pronounce it without bordering on offencive, so I prefer to just use xie and xer on land.’

‘If that is your wish, I will respect it,’ Coi’Lili gave xer a gentle nod. ‘But if you change your mind do not hesitate to let me know. It is nothing hard for me and I am more than happy to do it.’

‘Thanks,’ Jaisa replied, resting xer chin on the fence and staring into the pond longingly. After a moment xie eyed Coi’Lili. ‘Do you think I would get in trouble?’

‘For your pronouns, Q?’ he gasped. ‘Oh, no no no! Queen Distro would never allow that!’

‘I meant if I jumped into the pond,’ Jaisa clarified. ‘Do you think I would get into trouble if I went for a swim?’

‘I think if I’ve learnt anything, it’s that Gavin likes food regardless of flavour,’ Dale joked. ‘I think he’d eat clay if you’d let him.’

‘He used to,’ Talia replied, the edge gone from her voice. ‘He didn’t grow out of it until he was eight. Eight years old and he was eating dirt.’

‘To be fair, I think I can recall you doing the same!’

‘Oh please; it was the worms I was interested in, not the dirt.’

‘Do you want my honest opinion?’ Dale asked.

‘Yeah, sure. …’

‘Evan’s an arsehole.’

Talia was expecting more. For him to continue. To say Evan was just a kid when it happened, and it was unfair to expect him to give up his life and his future. … To say what everyone else seemed to say, over and over and over.

But then he didn’t. He didn’t say another word, and they both sat in silence until Talia sniffed and swallowed and finally managed, ‘Is that … it?’

‘Yeah,’ Dale confirmed. ‘My whole opinion. Evan sounds like an arsehole.’

‘Y. … Yeah,’ Talia agreed. ‘Yeah. He was.’

‘And you deserve better than that,’ replied Dale. ‘So, if you know where he lives I’m more than happy to break into his house and shred all his socks.’

[A Man Worth a Million - Chapter 10]

[A Man Worth a Million - Chapter 2]

(300-word excerpt)

It was quiet. For a moment Dale wondered if he could knock Talia down and drive off— But then he heard a car door slam somewhere in the lot and decided against it.

‘Which is yours?’ Talia asked, passing the heavy-looking plastic bag from one hand to the other. ‘I don’t see any spy cars around, Bond.’

‘Ha ha,’ responded Dale, flatly. ‘It’s the blue sedan.’

‘Open it.’

Dale frowned. ‘You’re not getting in my car—’

‘—Yes, I am!’ Talia snapped. ‘Unless you’d rather I scream. Help. Someone. I’m being kidnapped. That sort of thing.’

‘I’m not kidnapping you,’ Dale snorted. ‘If anything, it’s the other way around!’

‘Open the door,’ Talia repeated.

‘Are you crazy?’ asked Dale as he unlocked his car and watched Talia settle into the passenger seat. A sigh, and he joined her. He adjusted his mirror, avoiding eye contact with her, and then slammed his hands into place on the wheel and let out an exasperated groan. ‘I could be a murderer, you know! What about that son of yours?’

‘You’re too much of a pussy to kill me,’ Talia responded nonchalantly. ‘If you were that tough, you wouldn’t have pissed your pants in the ally.’

‘I didn’t piss my—’ Dale cut off halfway through and turned to the windscreen, scowling. He let out a long, frustrated breath as he turned the ignition in the car. Then he drove in silence, not daring to even glance at Talia as he made his way through the quiet streets.

‘Who’s Richard?’ Talia asked. ‘You steal his wallet, too?’

Dale slammed on his brakes. ‘Get out of my bag!’

‘Why? You went through mine,’ Talia shrugged and, as if to make a point, noisily unzipped the next pocket and stuck her hand in.

‘MUM!’ Gavin called from his room. ‘MUM, CAN YOU HELP ME?’

‘I’ll help,’ said Anna. She made her way to Gavin’s room, then hurried back in. ‘Apparently not. He needs you specifically, Tally.’

Sighing, Talia pushed herself off the couch and made her way to her son’s bedroom. She found him showing Jacob the new soccer ball he’d gotten on a shopping trip with Dale.

‘Hi mum!’ Gavin grinned.

‘Hey honey, what did you need help with?’

‘Nothing,’ responded Gavin, his grin growing wider. ‘I just wanted to see if I could make you come in.’

‘Gavin!’ Talia snapped.

[A Man Worth a Million - Chapter 7]

Talia rolled her eyes. ‘Any more surprises I should know about?’

For a minute, Dale bit his lip and thought. Then he clicked his fingers and let out an excited exclamation,

‘Right! Richard wants me to teach you how to use a gun!’


‘Well, it’s a long story,’ Dale rubbed the back of his neck. ‘But to cut it short, I’m the reason he limps.’

Talia put her face in her hands. ‘So let me get this straight: you shot Richard—’


‘—And he wants you to be the one to teach me how to use a gun?’ Talia let out a long sigh as Dale gave her a confident nod. ‘Is he sure about that? Or is he actually wanting to end up in a wheelchair?’

[A Man Worth a Million - Chapter 6]

[A Man Worth a Million - Chapter 8]

(400-word excerpt)

Talia sniffed, rolling over and pulling her face off the couch cushion as the clinking of cutlery filled her ears and the smell of cooked meat wafted her into the waking world.

‘Why is the pillow sticky?’ she muttered. She shook her head as she realised it was her makeup, not the fabric, and frowned. ‘When did I get home?’

‘About ten minutes after you fell asleep,’ Dale’s voice laughed from the dining table.

Talia snapped her head up and looked at the group of people sitting in her apartment. She stared at them for a moment, taking them in. Dale. Gavin. Richard. Trish.

‘Anna’s not back yet?’ Talia yawned.

‘It’s only nine,’ Trish commented, taking a bite out of some very wet-looking, off-coloured bread. ‘Good beef. Try it as a sandwich. Tastes like heaven.’

‘I like it with the potatoes!’ Gavin giggled.

‘Potatoes?’ Talia asked. ‘I didn’t think I made potatoes?’

‘Dale did,’ Richard commented. ‘We were waiting for you to wake up, so we made some extras to pass the time. Then Patricia came in and started eating, so we figured it wouldn’t be too rude to begin without you.’

‘Of course she did!’ laughed Talia. Then she sat up and stretched. ‘How’d I get upstairs? Oh— No. Dale? You didn’t—’

‘—HE DID!’ Gavin shrieked. ‘He carried you! All the way up!’

‘It’s three flights!’ Talia exclaimed.

‘You’re not too heavy,’ said Dale, sipping his drink. ‘Though I almost dropped you at one point. I don’t envy the me from the universe where I did.’

‘Yeah, nah. He’s dead and you know it,’ Talia snickered. ‘So, what else did I miss?’

‘Gavin took his meds,’ Dale commented. ‘And a bird flew into the kitchen window while we cooked. Scared me so much I accidentally threw a carton of juice into Richard’s face.’

‘It went everywhere!’ squeaked Gavin.

‘Kind of like your lipstick,’ Trish commented, pointing to her own mouth and wiggling her finger. ‘Might want to go wash your face.’

‘Christ,’ Talia muttered, slipping off the couch and hurrying into the bathroom. She dared a look in the mirror and was met with the ugliest version of herself she’d ever seen. ‘Frick!

Another scene from A Man Worth a Million; but this one is from the first draft, not the final. It's chapter 26 of the first draft but, we'll see how much content gets cut/added and where it is in the final, eventually.

Talia meets her ex in a supermarket. She's pregnant again, wearing real gold and diamonds in a dress that costs more than a car (coming home from a VERY fancy party), and eating whip cream directly from the can. Because she's Talia, and Talia does what she wants.

600 words.

‘So … how’ve you been?’

Talia managed to swallow the whipped cream.

‘How have I been lately, or how have I been over the last twelve years?’ Talia asked bitterly. She felt the whip on her cheek, but didn’t wipe it off as she stared down her ex. He looked … well. Better than he had in high school, Talia thought. Though he still dressed like an arsehole. …

‘Look— Talia— I’m sorry,’ it came out as a sigh, and Talia almost believed it was genuine.

‘Yeah, imagine facing the consequences for your actions,’ Talia scoffed. She didn’t feel like talking and squirted another glob of whipped cream into her mouth.

‘I’m sorry—’

‘—I don’t accept your apology!’ Talia snapped, mouth still full. ‘You’re a coward who ran away and left me to clean up your shit, and I don’t have time for someone like you!’


‘You ruined my life!’ Talia growled. ‘So you didn’t lose your chance to play football!

‘It was wrong of me!’ Evan blurted. ‘And I really am sorry. I’ve felt so bad about it. …’

‘Then why didn’t you contact me sooner?’ Talia snorted, spraying another lot of cream into her mouth. ‘Oh, wait. It’s because you’re too much of a coward to actually face the people you’ve hurt.’

‘N-No, I didn’t know h-how,’ Evan stammered.

Talia didn’t budge. ‘Huh, well it’s weird that everyone else knew how to find me. Did you miss the memo? I wasn’t exactly hiding.’


—Coward,’ Talia hissed. She downed the last of the whipped cream from the can and threw it in the trolley with a loud clang.

Evan shuffled as Dale came out of the bathroom and put an arm around Talia, kissing his wife, laughing, and wiping her cheek before glancing to her companion.

‘Who’s— Oh,’ the drop in his tone was telling. He recognised him from the photo.

Gavin grabbed his mother’s hand and looked from her to Evan, back to her. ‘Mum? Are you okay?’

Evan shifted even more awkwardly at the sight of Gavin, and awkwardly rubbed his cheek to hide his face from the child. ‘I suppose I should be going.’

‘Alright. Bye then,’ Dale said dryly, turning away with a wave of his hand. He put his arm around Gavin and quickly pushed his family away, only turning back to grab the trolly, dropping his voice as he glared at Evan. ‘Have a fun life, arsehole.

‘Was that my dad?’ Gavin asked. ‘Like, my other one?’

Talia sighed. ‘Yes.’

‘Dale’s better,’ Gavin shrugged. Then he looked to his mother and frowned before spinning around. ‘Dale’s a better dad than you’ll ever be! YOU’RE STUPID AND EVERYONE HATES YOU!’

Talia scoffed a laugh and shushed her son. ‘Gavin, don’t yell.’

‘But I have to stand up for you!’ Gavin declared.

‘I can defend myself,’ she told him. She glanced up and saw Evan staring awkwardly back. ‘He’s just a dumb coward.’

‘COWARD!’ Gavin shrieked.

Shush!’ Talia repeated. ‘You win by being better than him!’

‘But I want to win by yelling at him!’ Gavin declared, drawing looks from the surrounding shoppers. ‘He made you cry! I wanna make him cry back!’

‘Gavin,’ Talia sighed. ‘I’m sure he’s cried enough already.’

‘Then I’ll— I’ll break his legs instead!’

‘You will not!’ Talia snapped. ‘You will behave yourself and get in the car without any more yelling.’

‘Come on, Gav,’ Dale wrapped his arms around Gavin and heaved him over his shoulder. ‘I’m her husband. It’s my job to beat up people who make her cry.’

Talia shook her head and rolled her eyes, huffing loudly. ‘You boys, I swear. I can’t take you anywhere!’

Gavin had been chatty the entire drive home.

To be expected, Dale thought, with the day he’s had.

Glancing into the back of the car as he pulled into the apartment’s parking lot, he couldn’t help but sigh. Talia looked too peaceful to wake up. He wasn’t sure he’d have the heart to do it.

‘Told you she gets tired,’ Gavin gloated. ‘Are you going to carry her up the stairs again?’

‘Don’t think I have a choice,’ Dale laughed his response, clambering out of the car and walking to the back seat to retrieve Talia.

She didn’t seem to notice as she was hefted into the air, and simply lay heavy and limp in his arms. She didn’t even give a mumble of protest as Dale used her head to push the car door shut.

‘She’d be so mad if she knew you did that!’ Gavin snickered.

‘Well, don’t tell her,’ Dale replied.

[A Man Worth a Million - Chapter 10]

*slides another excerpt at you, this one’s actually cute*

”Geoff” is mispronounced as “jee-off” because his mother’s deaf and learnt the name through sign language from visiting humans!

Also oof context: I’m aware Geoff’s speech isn’t realistic for a human toddler. It’s done deliberately because he’s part avio and they process speech differently!

‘What?’ Scaychie was taken aback. ‘You want me to … babysit?’

‘Yes. I would appreciate it,’ he said sweetly, nipping Scaychie’s cheek. ‘It has been quite a few nights since Eish’lee and I were able to be alone together. Setani’Selina is asleep in her resting place, try not to wake her when Geoff’Selulu gets tired.’

‘Why me?’

‘No other girl is making milk,’ Tru’man replied with a shrug. ‘At least, none I trust with my children. … And I thought you would enjoy a night away from Linzor.’

Scaychie couldn’t argue. A night away from the Orange Beast sounded like a gift from the gods. …

‘Milk!’ two voices cried out from Scaychie’s arms, and her gaze shot down to look at the wiggly little boy.

‘Oh, yes, he’s figuring out how to use his speaker,’ Tru’man chuckled, nipping his son on the nose. ‘You’re very talented, aren’t you? Behave for kekik Scaychie.’

‘Yalfit!’ Geoff’Selulu responded, his voice echoing as if he was speaking for two people as he tried to grab his father’s hair. ‘Kan!’

‘Yes, kekik Scaychie will let you kan,’ Tru’man dodged his son’s tiny hands and grinned at Scaychie. ‘He wants to eat.’

‘I’ll feed him,’ Scaychie reassured. ‘You go.’

Tru’man nodded and turned, putting his arm around Eish’lee as they wandered into the distance.

‘Kekik?’ Geoff’Selulu’s voice broke. ‘Kekik kan? Milk? Kekik going?’

Scaychie tapped the bump on his throat gently. ‘Scaychie gives you kan.’

‘Milk!’ he said, in his usual voice. Then he opened his mouth wide and a second voice, higher than before, escaped him. ‘Meelk!’

‘Yes, milk!’ Scaychie replied.

‘Milk!’ Geoff’Selulu cried out before nuzzling against Scaychie’s shawled-covered chest with enthusiasm. ‘Now!’

Honestly it must look wild to get all my excerpts for DLH out of contenxt because they always have different characters and are in different places, but I SWEAR they all tie into the same series and make sense together djfjdhd

cw: drowning / biting / blood / abuse / kidnapping

Scaychie barely heard their calls as her wings gave out and she spiralled towards the ocean; a motion so familiar she felt like she was losing herself in a memory.

There was an angry shriek that lit up the sky like thunder and lightning— Then she was underwater.

The thrashing, stormy undertow caught her and yanked her down. Again and again. Opening her eyes she saw three others— But only for a second as the wave dipped and her head was pulled above the ocean.

The cold air shocked her. She took in a gulp of air and seawater and realised she was drowning. She was drowning again.

She tried to scream— But instead sunk under.

Something gripped her shoulder —a hand— and she was pulled to the black, stormy surface of the ocean again. Then she was dropped, and another gulp of saltwater choked her lungs.

Struggling and thrashing, trying to figure out which way was up, Scaychie let out a scream of bubbles and watched her sisters sink into the deep sea.

Then the hand grabbed her again, too many hands, and she was yanked above the ocean into the sky.

She saw a flash of a familiar face, then teeth plunged into her shoulder and within moments the clouds had parted to reveal the sky, blue and clear on a bright day.

‘Carry her,’ Gala’sha ordered, wiping the blood off his lips. ‘Ali’ka will be furious if we lose her!’

Scaychie blinked, staring down at the now-calm ocean. Her heart squeezed with anxiety as she shook away what she had seen. Her sisters. Drowning. The storm.

It had all come back to her. After so long it was still so clear.

‘Why won’t you fly!’ Gala’sha hissed as the harpies hefted Scaychie higher and dug their talons into her arms.

‘Stop it!’ Gaitami shouted. ‘She’s scared of the ocean!’

Gala’sha let out a snort, and kicked Scaychie upright. ‘We all are, you hakalika kaka’li. Stop making it into a drama!’

‘Did you see them?’ Scaychie asked, glancing to Gala’sha as she was tugged upwards again. ‘Tell me you didn’t see them.’

‘See who?’ Gala’sha growled. ‘Who is they?’

For a moment, Scaychie’s head spun. Then reality hit her, and she realised who she was talking to. She yanked herself out of the grip of the harpies and rightened herself. ‘I dare you to dive and see who I mean.’

Gala’sha hovered in place for a long, long moment. Then he shook his head and snarled. ‘Balak hal'kaka! Don’t try and make me out as a fool! There’s nobody!’

‘How would you know when I was the one to see them?’ Scaychie asked. She knew now there was nobody; what she had seen was just a horrible memory. But Gala’sha didn’t know. Maybe she could have him drown.


It's REALLY hard to pick my favourite jokes from my own writing when the entire goal of my work is "make myself laugh repeatedly on every reread." Sorry that it's all in images I didn't want to mess up the format (YOU'RE NOT BEING VERY ACCESSIBLE, JADE) but these are all my best out-of-context quotes from the script I'm attempting to write!

The premise of the story is "There are lots of movies about animals like cats/dogs/mermaids turning human and falling in love. But what if it was an absolute bastard of an animal, like the Australian seagull? How would that go?"

Anyway it's called My Girlfriend is a Seagull and what I've written so far is on my website.

(Sorry if the formatting is funky, I still need to get used to how multi-image posts work here)

A small collection of random short funnies from my book series. I wanted to add more clips but they were longer and required context, which (unlike my twitter followers) nobody here would have

‘Come on, Ka,’ Distro shouldered Ka’harja and grinned. ‘It’s going to be fine. I haven’t coughed in ages!’ ‘Three days isn’t that impressive,’ Ka’harja said tentatively. He didn’t mean to be so weary, but he was scared to be optimistic. ‘And tomorrow, it’ll be a full week,’ Distro snorted. ‘So it’ll become impressive— Ah, fuck hold on.’ For a second Ka’harja wondered what his mother was doing as she leapt off the bed and headed for the caravan door. She yanked it open and made a guttural snort like she was sucking something out of her throat— Then she spat. ‘AH, DISTRO! That’s feral!’ cried Lif. ‘It didn’t hit ya!’ Distro called back. ‘Get over it!’


Distro you are disgusting...

Ka'harja's Journey, Chapter 8

A scene from about ... book 8(?) of Don’t Lose Hope. Luana stands up to the ghost of Kay’oten. Mild warning for gore(??)


Slowly, she shook her head. ‘No.’

‘What did you say to me?’

Luana took in a deep breath, setting her jaw and trying to stand tall as her trembling legs threatened to give out on her. She hesitated, holding her breath just long enough to hurt her lungs before slowly letting it out in an exhale that quivered in the dark silence.

Then she met Kay’oten’s eye and the spirit understood.

She inhaled slowly; closing her eyes and folding back her ears as she did.

Luana took a step back. Should she walk away? Now seemed the time to leave. But she felt something as Kay’oten’s too-long breath slowed to a stop. A dark feeling that tickled the feathers along her arms as her gut wrenched sideways as if to leave the alley on its own. She took a step back, ready to follow it—

Then Kay’oten’s eyes snapped open and Luana realised it was too late.

The screech was so loud Luana hardly heard it. She might have thought it was silent, if not for the sudden ringing in her ears and the shattering of windows above her.

Rats fell from their hiding places along the alley’s walls; convulsing in silent pain as cold blue blood sprayed from the place Kay’oten’s head used to be.

It spattered into Luana’s face and mouth and Luana realised she was screaming— Then it stopped. And Luana found herself stumbling in place, too shocked and hurt to collapse.

The ringing in her ears faded as quickly the cold blue glow that had filled the alley only minutes before, and she finally managed to breathe again.

‘Look what you’ve done!’ Kay’oten hissed, her headless torso swinging around to face away from the young girl.

Luana watched, frozen in place, as Kay’oten retrieved a strange ball from the ground. It took Luana a moment to realise that Kay’oten’s voice had come from the ball and not her body— And then another to realise it wasn’t a ball at all.

She stumbled back with a gasp when she realised what it was.

‘Don’t you dare run away, Luana,’ calmer, Kay’oten straightened, and slowly placed the lump of bone and flesh back in place.

Nothing happened. Not at first. Then, slowly, the crushed skull began to realign itself, and Kay’oten turned to glare at Luana; herself again.

‘If you run, I’ll kill you. I will come after you, and not even your mother will be able to stop me.’