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A Spitfire for Christmas

TeknicolorTiger
Merry day-after-Christmas!  I hope you were able to spend time with the ones you love.  Last year, I gave you a passage with a birth, but today I have one with a death.  What follows is the first chapter of Spitfire, only edited for spelling and continuity.  I'm not sold on the format yet, so I'd love to hear opinions.  Enjoy!

Smoke filled her nostrils.  Eunice sucked in a deep, deep breath, clicked her teeth together to make a spark, then let out one last fiery blast.  The final ceiling beam came alight.  She cradled the few valuables small enough to carry that she had gathered from the first floor in her apron.
"I think that should be sufficient," Lavinia told her, pressing the master's face further into the cushion.  He was no longer struggling.  
"The Wilkinson's will be able to see it presently," Eunice said, surveying their handiwork.  She looked at the master on the floor.  "We must leave tonight, mustn't we?"
"It is a pity," Lavinia said, nodding and rising from her haunches.  "We were fortunate to find a placement together.  I fear we may not be able to find a similar situation for some time.  And the pond provided such fish as I have not tasted in ages."
Eunice nodded.  "I think that we can take Gilly as far as Edmonton," she said, loping in long powerful strides out the parlor door into the hall.  The paper curling off the walls in shining embers gave her yellow-green eyes a hellish glint.
Lavinia snorted and a puff of smoke came out her nostrils as she followed her sister in kind.  "If you can catch her."
Eunice's lips parted in what, to her, was a grin.  To an outside observer, it would have looked like she was baring her pointed teeth in a jawline that stretched much wider than a normal girl's.  "As long as I come from downwind, I can hold her still long enough for you to get a leg up."  She slipped off the apron and tied the objects into a bundle, then handed it to Lavinia.
They stalked out of the house and towards the stable.
---
The bell rang.  Eunice presented herself at the door of the parlor.  The master was seated in his chair by the hearth.  The mistress was seated in a rocker opposite him.
"Eunice," the mistress said as her knitting needles clacked in her lap, "the master has asked that you make yourself amenable to an examination by himself.  He wishes to make a report on the extent of your injuries and the peculiar pattern of healing that you exhibit."  
The master appraised her over the papers before him on his writing desk.  His eyes, close together even for that of a human, glowed with the light of triumph in addition to that of the fire in the hearth.
Eunice felt her crest try to stand up beneath her bonnet.  Her gloved hands, folded in front of her apron, squeezed each other.  She stifled a trill.  "Madam?"  she croaked.
"The master has been unable to gain admittance to the Pennsylvania Society of Naturalists and Medical Observers.  His record of your condition will be the key to his acceptance."
Eunice blinked, a rare occurrence.  She clenched her jaw to keep her blue-black forked tongue from flicking out to taste the tension in the air.  Her head bobbed from side to side ever so slightly as her rasping voice spoke.  "What is it you would ask of me?"
"A mere trifle, really," the master spoke at last.  "I make a medical examination of you and record my observations."
"And, if I may ask, what parts of me would you be examining?"
The mistress made a small noise in her throat and rested her work in her lap.  "Eunice, it is a medical examination.  There is no indecency in the scientific eye to one your age.  He would have examined your sister's wounds as well, but yours are more pronounced, and she is a woman eligible to be wed.  I will be present throughout the examination so that there is no sense of impropriety."
Eunice shifted her weight on her feet to keep from falling over.  In her shock, she had nearly leaned too far forward.  "I see.  When did you plan for the examination to take place?"
"If you would stay for one or two hours after your duties are complete tomorrow, that should be sufficient time," the mistress said, resuming her work.  "You may go."
---
The wind was in their favor as the two sisters stalked in to the stable.  Gilly, the largest of the cart horses, was near the door, but they still had to pass Hux and Pox, the twin carriage horses, to get to her.  As soon as the pair of geldings caught the carnivore scent of the sisters, their eyes went wide and they began to kick at their stall doors.  But Eunice was quicker by half, and had her clawed hand around Gilly's halter before the first snort.  Gilly started bucking as Eunice unlatched the door and led her forward.  Lavinia took two loping steps and bounded up on to Gilly's back.  Gilly began to scream in earnest as Lavinia wrapped her powerful legs around the mare's girth.  
"Come!" Lavinia urged her sister.  "I cannot keep her from taking her head much longer."  She let go of the horse's mane with one hand and reached out for her sister.
Eunice grasped the claw and pulled herself up behind the sister on the horse.  
Lavinia slackened her grip on the bucking mare.  Gilly took what little liberty she was given and raced out the open stable door into the night.  
---
On their walk back to the boarding house, Eunice related her conversation with the mistress to Lavinia.  
Lavinia's tongue flicked in disgust.  "We cannot.  It will be as it was in Hampton once again."
"They accept no other attitude but acquiescence."
They walked in silence for a time.
"I think we should turn in our notices and leave," Eunice said.  "We can find another situation."
"They will not write us letters," Lavinia pointed out.  "No matter how well we performed in service here, they are petty enough to refuse us references if we refuse them this.  In addition, this is an offence against our form, the one gifted us by The Mother.  We can withstand her fire, and we have been given the gift of making our own.  That he would dare to record our forms to gain admittance to a silly club... Does he think we are locusts to be affixed to a parchment with pins?"  She gave a coughing trill that sounded like the report of a rifle in the distance.  "As if his impertinent questions were not enough."  She shook her head.  "No, we have suffered enough offense at the hands of these insufferable people.  Tonight, we shall visit the house after everyone is asleep."
Eunice bowed her head slightly, her bonnet obscuring her face from her sister for a moment.  "I wish it did not always end thus.  I wish we could find a place where we did not need to live in fear."
"We have about $200 in bullion, yes?" Lavinia asked.
"Lavinia," Eunice began.
"Let me tell you something," Lavinia said, sticking out her foot to stop her sister from advancing further down the lane.  "The last spitfire I saw besides you was in a cage, on display like one of the master's locusts.  You are the dearest thing to me, Eunice, and I am doing all I can to make a place for us in this world.  Your dream of people that will accept you is only that, a dream." 
Eunice pulled her foot away from her sister and let her crest rise, pushing her bonnet up at an awkward angle.  "Are you my sister or my minder?"  They stared at each other for a moment, tongues flicking.  Eunice let her crest fall and lowered her eyes.  "Do forgive me, Lavinia," she said, extending a clawed hand toward her sister.  "You are right, and it is wrong of me to question you."
Lavinia grasped her sister's claw with both her own.  "The fault is mine, sweet sister.  I should not have used the thing you want most to wound you.  We will begin again, as we have done before.  And if better masters cannot be found, why, we'll become our own."  Her lips parted, showing her teeth.
Eunice gave a snort and a tiny puff of smoke escaped her nostrils, dissipating almost as soon as it appeared.  She gave her sister a matching grin.  "Let us build for ourselves a home in the air.  It will be a great diversion while we contemplate our departure."
---
Once she got her head, Gilly ran through the night like a shot.  The sisters had chosen her because she could bear the weight of two riders and was more sure-footed than the geldings.  Their scent made her eyes roll and she ran as though to get away from the devils she bore through the night.  
"We must return for our things," Eunice said.  "If they are left after we are seen to be in the room for the evening, we will look suspicious."
"We will look suspicious leaving in the middle of the night either way, particularly with the fire and the death of the master," Lavinia called back over her shoulder.  "Let them suspect.  Let them tell their tales.  We were righteous in our revenge.  Let them know who did this."
They took her back to the boarding house and tied her to the post out front, holding a shawl over her nose to muffle the sound of her snorting.  On feet too wide they crept through their open window, taking their few belongings with them.  They left payment for the entire week in their room, even though they has only stayed through Wednesday. Once they were out of earshot of the boarding house, Lavinia stopped steering Gilly and gave her her head.  She ignored paths and ran straight through fields, running through low wooden fences and over a stone one where she nearly pitched the sisters off.  
Eunice could feel the sweat on Gilly's flanks turning cold beneath her legs.  "How much farther do you think she'll last us?" 
Lavinia's bonnet hung from its strings around her neck.  Her crest, all silky black feathers, unlike Eunice's, which still had some of the dun brown feathers of a juvenile, fluttered in the wind and tickled Eunice's nose when she leaned in too close.  Lavina called back over her shoulder, "She's flagging.  We won't get more than a mile more out of her without sinking claws or teeth into her.  I see no cause to give her more pain, though.  She will throw a shoe or break a leg or burst her heart before long, the poor animal."
---
They left the boarding house as quietly as possible once the moon was out, their heavy boots muffled with cloths tied around them.  The moon was full, and cast a pale light onto the street that gave the sisters plenty of light to see by.  
The house was dark when they approached.  They stopped by the kitchen door and slipped off their boots, then stole in on feet much too large and wide to belong to young girls.  They fanned out like the feet of birds, and had claws in place of toes.  They hiked up their skirts and released their tails from the stays around their waists.  The tails were nearly as thick as one of their legs.  With tails for balance, they no longer tottered as they walked, but took powerful strides.  Their claws clicked as they walked over the bare floor of the kitchen, but were muffled on the carpets in the hall.  
"The parlor?" Eunice suggested.
"I don't see why not," her sister said.    
The last of the embers in the hearth were fading orange.  Lavinia smiled at them.  "Are you lonely, dear ones?  Do you lament to find yourself without occupation?  Here, I have a gift for you."  She clicked her teeth together and sent a blast of flame from her throat into the dying coals.  They caught and came alight once more.
"May The Mother bless this cleansing," Eunice said, then clicked her teeth and spewed fire at the floor around the hearth.  The master's writing desk was in his chair and she lifted the lid to examine its contents.  
There was a gasp in the doorway.  The sisters looked up in unison to see the master in his nightshirt, squinting into the blaze and mouth working silently.  Lavinia was across the room in two loping strides and had one hand over his mouth, the other on the scruff of his neck.  The master was trying to call out now, but his voice was only muffled syllables beneath Lavinia's claws.  
She looked up at Eunice.  "He's seen us, now.  There is nothing to be done."
Eunice flicked her tongue and watched the master's eyes widen even further.  "Let him watch this, at least."  She belched flame into his open desk.  Taking up a cushion that the mistress had embroidered, she tossed it to Lavinia.
Lavinia took her hand from over the master's mouth to catch the pillow and shoved it down over his face as a single word escaped his lips:  "Demon!"
Lavinia bared her teeth at his eyes over his cushion-covered nose and mouth, fanned out her crest and growled out smoke through her teeth.  "I am no demon.  I am a spitfire!"

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