Exterlude: Caspian and Aelfgar
If his current form allowed it, Caspian would have cackled with glee. Instead, he settled for a small squeak of joy as he danced under the lunchroom tables and around feet. This place Aelfgar had unwittingly brought him to – it was full of food. Absolutely stuffed to the gills with it. Scraps of real food fell to the floor to fill his small mouse belly, more scraps than he could eat, enough to slowly begin to shift form upwards.
More than the food – good food, calorie-rich and delicious, expensive food – was the emotional stew swirling all through the place. Teenagers! Teenaged ashanevaei whelps, just overflowing with all that teen drama. The girls, especially, and with Aelfgar bumbling through the place like he did, there was plenty of tasty confusion to be had.
He devoured, as was his nature, moving from table to table, down under their feet where they never looked. As he ate, sucking up their energy like a giant Slurpee, he grew, from a small mouse to a bigger mouse, from a big mouse to a kitten, from a kitten to a cat, although, of course, he was a cat with a long scaly tail and short, stubby wings. Some day he’d figure out how to correct that problem.
As he grew, he noticed that the silly ashanevaei were beginning to pass out, thumping to the floor. One, maybe, might just be stupid teenaged-girl hormones. Two or three, they might blame on Aelfgar. But Aelfgar was a half-breed warrior, not a Devourer. Sooner or later, they’d figure out that something was wrong.
But on the other side of the room – what was that sweet taste of nascent hunger? A baby Daeva, a real full-blood, not yet come into his appetite but close, so close.
It was hard to push him over the edge, stuck in a form with no vocalization, but there was fuel to spare. And in the chaos, the fantastic chaos, Caspian fed and fed some more.
These kids were all so wonderfully ignorant! As he stalked under the tables, purring at their distress and the confused panic, Caspian listened, and what he heard thrilled him. They knew only the bare bones about being Ellehemaei, and those who seemed to know more – well, they weren’t talking. He could taste the edges of a geas in their frustration.
Kids this ignorant, kids who hadn’t earned a Name yet and were beginning to taste their powers – he could grow fat and happy just skimming off the top of their emotions. A pity they were all half-breeds, but sometimes even the mongrels could be useful.
And when he got his form back, when he could grow big again, well, then, he’d hunt Aelfgar like a tiny little mouse, and he’d devour him.
Aelfgar shook his head, chuckling softly at the adorable Irish girl. Hard to believe she was Falk’s get – that temper, that hair, that beautiful face. The pup with his arms around her, too; it wasn’t in Falk or his sister to inspire that sort of snarling, desperate loyalty.
By the looks of things, Regine had done okay, though, with what she’d had. It was a bit funny, all of them in a school and yet seeming so ignorant. She had to be teaching them what they needed to know, he was sure – Regine was smart like that, and Tree-flower wouldn’t let her get away with bending the Law – but it tasted funny to him.
Speaking of the woman, where was she? This place had changed since the last time he was here – had to have been a while; the last time he’d seen his whelps, they’d been babes in arms. Now they were feisty, handsome, every inch his children. Get to be proud of – but, of course, that’s why Regine had put women under him. All of his get were to be proud of. The question was, were there any women here to put under him that weren’t either his daughters, or attached to snarling pups? He could take the pups, of course, but he’d never been one to steal what he could find freely given elsewhere.
Oblivious to the bedlam in the Dining Hall, he strolled through the school, looking for a sign or something to tell him where Regine’s office was.
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