Monday, February 11, 2019

The Shalafae Archives - Trick or Treat

"What the bloody hell are you doing?" Lord Shalafae's voice was shocked, his pale brows drawn together in a confused frown. He met his daughter's bright eyes in the mirror as she applied a ruby colored lipstick, and she grinned broadly. "And why are you a child?"

Morrigana giggled, finished with her make up. She spun on the stool to face him, kicking her small feet. He walked towards her, still frowning, waiting for her answer. Her voice was high pitched and girly. "Oh, Daddy, you said I'll always be your little girl. What's wrong with me being like this?"

She jumped off the stool, dashing to him, holding her hands out. Ulrin bent, opening his arms, and scooped her up instinctively. She wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him soundly on the cheek. "Would you like me to shift back?" Every word was cheerful, and he found himself smiling, despite his confusion.

Ulrin cradled her, his arms under her thighs, her body almost feather light. She wore a satin dress, and the fabric crinkled. Her hair was only waist length, the front half of it pulled into two tails. She smelled the same, her aura was the same, and yet his heart swelled in a different way. He had only raised her since adolescence, not counting their few mortal dream-lives, and had never held her as a small child. Until this moment, he didn't know he longed for that stage of her life.

"Don't change," he whispered, kissing her cheek. "Stay like this for a while." She laughed, squeezing his neck, and kissed him soundly on the mouth. Ulrin tasted sweets and cosmetics, and chuckled. "All right, my child, tell me why you're dressed up."

She hung in his arms, her teeth sparkling white against her dark lips. "When we were down on that planet, I found out about a fun little custom they have. Aunt Kyra says it's actually being spread amongst a whole bunch of industrial societies."

Ulrin frowned, remembering the smoggy planet in a pocket dimension, but had no idea what his daughter was talking about. "And what is this custom?"

"They call it trick or treating. Everyone gets dressed up, and goes through neighborhoods, collecting candy. It's mostly for kids, hence me changing. But young kids go with escorts, and I want you to come with me." Morrigana squirmed, and he let her down. "Dress in something nice, Father. Let's go." She spun in a circle, the black satin dress flowing around her.

He shook his head, staring in amazement. His girl rarely was this excited about primitive customs. Now that she'd named it, he recognized the old tradition. It had started long ago as a way to help youngsters to cope with death, to give it a friendly face. To think that mortals still did it astounded him. "And what shall I dress as, my darling?"

She shrugged, her pigtails bouncing. "I'm a witch. You're just my daddy. So a suit, I guess. Or one of your elaborate robes."

He laughed loudly. "Oh, no, I won't let them see those. A suit it is." Ulrin used his magic to create an approximation of an outfit the mortal men wore on the planet. It felt odd, but he would wear it to please Morrigana.

She came back to his side, and reached up to take his hand. Morri held an orange bucket, and her aura danced with joy. "Thank you," she whispered, then he whisked them back to a metropolis.

"Anytime, my love. Anytime."

They arrived at the edge of an expansive neighborhood, bare trees reaching for the moonlit sky. The air was brisk, almost cold, and the air buzzed with the voices of groups of kids. Ulrin squeezed her fingers, allowing her to take the lead.

Morrigana led him along the sidewalk, a few yards behind a group of early teen kids. The group turned left up a walkway to a house. Ulrin watched as the kids rang the doorbell, announced "Trick or treat!" and received candy in their bags. He smiled, chuckling to himself, amazed by these mortals. What other customs had they adopted?

Morri dropped his hand, and skipped to the door. The housewife was still waiting in the doorway, smiling over the girl's head at Ulrin. "Trick or treat!" Morrigana crowed at the top of her lungs. The woman echoed the greeting, and gave the youngling a double handful of individually wrapped candies. Ulrin arrived then, placing a hand on the back of Morri's head.

"Don't forget to thank her, sweetie."

Morri beamed. "Thank you!" She spun, heading back to the sidewalk.

The housewife smiled at Ulrin. "They're so adorable at that age. Is she your only one?"

Ulrin smiled deeply, and nodded. He couldn't tell this woman that Morrigana was his heart, that she was everything to him. She was more than just his daughter, and mortals couldn't understand that. Instead, he watched the black haired girl waiting impatiently at the sidewalk. "My one and only. She prefers it that way." He bowed his head slightly. "Thank you," and he joined his daughter.

He found himself smiling with pride, his heart aching with his love. She played to her role, laughing and excited, every inch a little girl. People were dazzled by her, commenting to Ulrin about her lovely hair, or her eyes, or just how precious she was. He accepted graciously, and could only smile deeper and deeper. He loved Morrigana, and would give her anything she asked.

The evening wore on, the girl's exuberence staying strong. Whenever the bucket filled, Ulrin would send the candy back to their castle. Her eyes sparkling brightly, Morrigana thanked him for letting her keep everything. "Why wouldn't I?" he asked, to which she only shrugged, and darted off to the next house. He shook his head, amazed that this tiny girl was really a lethal assassin.

And all his. Forever.

Hours passed, the groups slowly leaving, house lights turning off. Only then did Morri slow at all, her booted feet working slowly along the cement. Eventually the girl stopped, her hand chilled in his grasp, and she yawned.

"All done?" he asked, kneeling beside her. Her silver eyes were drooping, the black kohl dust smeared across her cheeks. Had she gotten so engrossed in being a child that she even tired like one? Mutely, she nodded, and wrapped her arms around his neck. Ulrin sighed contentedly, rising, and transported them home.

Morrigana was asleep in his arms, her cheek nestled on his shoulder, her breath stirring along his neck. He left her candy on an end table, then curled up in bed with her, Morri's tiny mouth parted as she snored softly.

Was it wrong that he wanted to ask her to stay this way? Kissing her hair, he didn't think so.

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