The Oathbreaker, Pt XXIII

The creature threw back its head and laughed that strange, coughing yip.  “Oh, its desperation is sweet indeed!  It would truly promise such a wealth of misery, knowing how much it hurts to give up even one?”

“I just need a chance,” I said, ignoring the twist in my guts.  My mother believed in my cleverness- I had to, too.  “I had no choice, before, no way to… just give me a chance!”

It picked its tail up an examined is nonchalantly.  “One might be willing to do this.  One might be willing to give it a chance... a chance to win the right to keep its girl-child.  A game of chance!”  It cackled.

“Yes,” I said, glancing down at my daughter.  “Please, I’ll play any game you wish.”

The creature smoothed its tail and wrapped it neatly around its haunches.  “Yes yes, a game, a game.  A guessing game!  It will guess!  Such a simple thing!”  The sharp-toothed smile grew sly.  “It already knows what it needs to know.  The only thing as precious as a firstborn.  An equal trade.”

Precious as a firstborn?  Precious to the creature.  Something that would pain it for me to know, something I must have mentioned before...  my thoughts sped back over those three horrible nights, and suddenly I remembered.

“Your name,” I said, feeling cold.  “You want me to guess your name.”  The name that not even my mother, with her spirit-born powers, knew.

The creature cackled again.  “Clever clever!  Yes yes, such a worthy challenger.  One’s name.  One’s secret name, never told. If it can guess one’s name-”

“I’ll have power over you,” I finished.  “And you cannot take my child.”

“It sees!  It knows.  The old laws.  The old magics.  But how clever is it, really?”  The eyes caught the moonlight, gleaming and alien.  “Is it clever enough, to ferret out one’s most precious possession, to save its own?"

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