I think I’m finally done, y’all. All that’s left now is the editing. And I’m about to plow through that ish, cuz I wanna get on to the next story…meantime, please enjoy this unedited snippet from the beginning of the story. I hope you like this little taste of demon life. – SS
Time passed. Lucky had just celebrated his seventh month. It was a special milestone, and as was custom, his brothers and sisters threw a small party in their hut. He sat in the middle of his family wearing a crown made of leaves and twine, his fat cheeks creased from smiling and his chubby hands clapping as they sang the family birth song.
He laughed and laughed, joyfully accepting their pats and kisses and squeezing hugs with his usual aplomb. Lucky never cried, not even when he hurt himself. A few tears might fall from his big yellow eyes, but he never made the ugly sounds other cubs did when they couldn’t get their way.
Sucire suspected it was because he didn’t need to; her son always got his way. Neither family, villager nor animal could say no to his winsome smile.
When they finished singing there was a scratching at the door. When Sansone peered out he saw nothing. Assuming it was the wind he went back to the celebration, but the scratching came again. This time he threw open the door.
A gurine sat there, a rurfer between its long, sharp teeth. The creature laid the animal at Sansone’s feet and let out a roar.
Lucky heard it and toddled over. His family watched wide eyed as he wrapped himself around one of the creature’s powerful legs and hugged it, speaking in a language none of them knew but that the creature seemed to understand.
Sucire gasped when the animal bared razor sharp teeth and gently picked Lucky up by the leg, carrying him out laughing, dangling upside down into their courtyard where a coterie of forest animals had gathered, all bearing gifts, nuts, berries, sour fruit from the yhust tree.
“Sweet Tunoi,” she whispered. “Sansone, look. They are celebrating his birth too.” Whatever next?
Of course none of this was a hardship. The Queen by hereditary right, and the village leader because of her hunting prowess, strength of will and keen problem solving ability, Sucire’s not inconsiderable favor tripled when word spread that she had given birth to a blessed cub.
She took it all in stride, acting as though she knew exactly what was afoot, when she really knew nothing. This was proven just a few weeks later.
She and Lucky were in the forest. She was teaching him how to track, just as she had all her cubs, when a red manoi walked out of the forest, burbled at her, bowed, then picked Lucky up, and before she could stop it, leapt into the trees carrying him out of sight.
She screamed for Sansone, screamed for Yasun the best tracker in the village and his faithful gabo with its most sensitive nose. They all came running, aghast when she explained the red manoi had snatched Lucky and vanished.
Yasun grabbed her and Sansone’s hands, shoved them into the gabo’s face so he could catch their mingled scent, from which he could extrapolate Lucky’s, and they were off. They tracked the child miles into the forest.
Then with no warning, the red manoi appeared, Lucky toddling after it, smiling and waving when he saw his parents. He was dragging a small, twine sack filled with berries, and his mouth was stained red from eating them. He turned to burble at the red manoi, perhaps saying thank you for the adventure, then toddled to his mother, handed her the sack and fell asleep at her feet, not unlike he usually did when he’d run too much during the day, and was too exhausted to stray far from her loving care.
Sucire sank to the forest floor and pulled his small body into her lap, examining him for injury and finding none. The red manoi appeared, and she hissed at it threateningly. But the creature bowed low, its furry paws out palm up and open in a supplicating gesture. Behind it three others marched, each holding a large leaf filled with water for them to drink. There was even some for the gabo.
Not wishing to cause offense, they drank. Then the red manoi that had snatched Lucky in the first place approached Sucire, who hissed at it again, to let it know not to try anything. But the creature slowly reached out its stubby fingered paw, ran a loving hand over Lucky’s sleeping head, then vanished into the trees.
“It was like a mother saying goodbye to her cub,” Sucire told her husband late that night when they were abed. “We have to do something. The next time one snatches him, they may not return him.”