Sen stopped on the threshold and thought about whether she should knock or just go in. Such considerations were ended when the lizzie, Cheery, opened the door for her. The reptilian towered over her, no matter how he attempted to hunker down.
“Is my mother home?” she asked.
He pointed back and up. “Stairsss.”
The eleven-year-old nodded and stepped past him, walking through the parlor and up the stairs. When she reached the top, she turned down the hallway and walked to the door of her mother’s bedroom. She opened it, stepped inside, and closed the door after her.
Her mother lay sprawled naked across her bed, face down, with her head hanging over the edge. The image put one in mind of a murder scene, or it would have without the loud snoring. The girl stepped over, bent down, and looked at the top of the blond head. At first, she saw nothing, so she carefully lifted back the hair that fell around the elder Senta’s face. The snoring stopped, but she waited a moment and it resumed. Now she could see it, an ugly scar that ran laterally across her mother’s skull, about an inch and a half behind her hairline.
Letting the hair fall back, Sen walked across the room and sat in the chair against the wall. She pulled her feet up to her bottom, wrapped her arms around her legs, and rested her chin on her knees. She sat there for about fifteen minutes, until she suddenly realized the snoring had stopped.
“So you’ve decided to grace me with your presence after all.”
The senior Senta rolled over and sat up.
“I think I’m going to vomit.” And then she did, all over the floor.
“Kafira’s maiden aunt! How much wine did you drink?”
“That is not your business, you little bint.”
“Fine,” said Sen, getting to her feet.
“Wait! I’m sorry. It’s not me talking. It’s the demons that are pounding on my brain with sledge hammers.”
“Uuthanum,” said Sen, pointing to the mess on the floor, which magically disappeared, leaving the wooden slats as though they had never been soiled. “Do you have a healing draught?”
“Here in my nightstand.”
“Take it. Then take a bath. I’ll be waiting downstairs.”
It was almost an hour before Senta finally made it to the parlor. She was dressed in black leather pants and a gauzy blouse, with a leather corset over it. She was barefoot, but a pair of black leather boots floated along in the air behind her. She plopped down onto the sofa. Her daughter, seated in the plush chair just across, watched her with one raised brow.
“You’re drinking too much.”
“What do you know about it? You’re eight years old.”
“I’m eleven, and you know it.” The girl crossed her arms over her chest. “So how much of it is real?”
“How much of what?” asked her mother.
“You being a twat. How much is real and how much is you just acting like Zurfina because you’re now,” she made air quotes, “the sorceress?”
Senta’s lips formed a sneer for a few seconds. Then she stopped and pondered the question. “I guess about fifty percent.”
“Interesting,” said Sen. “So, I’m here.”
“Indeed you are.”
Her mother pulled on her boots, and then got up, walked over to just in front of her daughter, and looked into her eyes.
“Repeat after me: Maiius Uuthanum.”
“Yes, you’re a natural. Now let’s go out into the garden and see what kind of beast you can summon.”