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Clearly, a week free from major encounters with the other villagers is just too much for the universe to take. A quick run to her house for supplies ends with Sonia nearly running into a clutch of girls, making their way back from their own supply run for laurels in the forest. She ducks around, head low to avoid the glares, but one girl, courage stirred by an armful of the protective flower, calls out.

"Where you been, witch? What you up to?"

The hunter answers without turning, holding up a string of garlic. "Well, Thialda, I been gettin' stuff from home. Not like it's your concern or anythin'."

"Of course it's my concern!" Thialda snaps, stepping forward, "I don't want to go home and find my baby brother cursed or changed for an imp. Witches like the taste of babies, don't they?"

"I'd like to meet the kinda witch that could live in a church," is the reply, through gritted teeth. (Idly, she muses that she likely has met that kind of witch, but nowhere in Transylvania.)

Not that you brainless cows even think about that... Way you be sleepin' during Mass.

"Maybe the kind that'd drive the priest away..."

Sonia stops short, half-turning. "Father Martin went down t' Veros for a while. He'll be back," she growls, "'Sides... he wouldn't run from anything."

"Even a witch with the Devil's child?"

She fully turns now, face red with horrified ire. "Say WHAT?!" One arm immediately drops to wrap around her swelling belly.

Thialda's smug grin and casual hand-on-hip contraposto combine to raise the rage level a few more notches. "Well, it ain't nobody here's, is it?" she trills, "and what kinda man would wanna get that close to a witch?" Sonia just stares.

"Olga saw her with a demon a while back," one of the gaggle volunteers.

Olga herself shrinks behind the wall of her compatriots, gripping her laurels. "He had blue skin..." she squeaks, "Din't dress normal- real fine stuff. Noble stuff."

As Sonia tries to breathe normally, Thialda's smile takes on all the warm tenderness of a cat with a sparrow in its grip. "Is that so... Dark Masses, then, Belmont? Wouldn't Father Martin be disappointed?"

"You shut your mouth, trollop!" Sonia spits, stalking forward, "I ain't done none of that!" The group takes an immediate step backwards; Angry witches aren't good to have nearby.

Thialda, heady with victory, stands her ground, though her armful of laurels raises a few inches. "Or maybe..." She glances toward the steeple, piercing the treeline. "Maybe it's one of the villagers after all. Maybe you been enchanting God's own servants..."

Any further speculation on Sonia's love life are cut off by a blur of right hook.

The hunter stares at the stunned village girl in a moment of eternity, eyes wide and chest tight. Her gaze snaps up to the other girls, who shriek and stumble backwards, and then to the side.

Trees. Shadows. Shelter.

Before the girls' cries fade into the air, Sonia's escaped into the untamed tangle of the forest.
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Sonia Belmont

February 2008

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