“Gwendy darling, I’ll always love you.”
“Me too mama, me too!”
Snick snick snick.
The sound of claws on the ground and a ravenous snarl that echoes off the rocky walls of a cavern darkened by moss and water-drips. It smelled feline and mad, as it stalked them - mare and foal, mother and daughter, down the slippery corridor of stone.
“Hush now, don’t be afraid. When I tell you to run darling, run like your life depends on it because it does!”
She lifted her chin in a trembling nod, understanding the emphasis her mother had placed on that sentence. The kind of sentence that no mother should ever have to utter to her child but once said, it couldn’t be taken back. Both of them knew that, and knew that the nuzzling they shared then might be the last of the affections they would ever share in this lifetime.
For the mother, her heart began to break all over again. Bad enough to lose her interspecies mate to whatever madness made him stalk them now - a thing that she kept from their odd little daughter, but to risk that child and possibly lose her too before she’d even begun to truly live? Why her heart cracked wide open in two all over again, crumbling further into smaller pieces that scattered through her bloodstream in a rush of anger and love and determination.
Gwendy would live, she’d see to that!
And so, the mare did.
Her mate, maned and fierce, slavering at the mouth, rounded the corner and they confronted one another face to face. “Finally,” he growled in a voice so ravaged by madness, she almost didn’t recognize it as his. Between her flank and the cavern wall, she felt their child quake and quiver like a leaf struggling in the wind. She knew the poor girl would struggle more than a leaf would in the terrible games of life but that was a chance she had to take.
Or it was made for her, taken by the mate that lowered himself to the ground before launching his attack. They fought and dealt one another fatal blows but not before the mare could scream out one final command to the fearful foal - “Run Gwendy run!”
Gwendy did, not ever seeing the way her mother fell beneath her father’s attack or how for just a moment, at her name, the madness cleared from his eyes and there was a sad mix of love and pain. She saw nothing but the blur of cave and dark as she ran out into the light that swallowed her up whole, like a different kind of monster but one that folded her in its warm deceiving arms.
The little darling kept running and running until she could run no more. Lungs heaving, body flecked with foamy sweat, and tears streaming down her face - she finally
collapsed, on strange soil, on Beqannian ground.
Here, Gwendy’s story really begins —
She lays in a tired heap as the tears finally slow to a trickle on her cheeks. Tiny growling sniffles tumble out of her mouth as the indecipherable chittering of the fairies can be heard over her little sobs. They look like bright blurry blobs to her teary vision and she buries her head between the clawed paws.
Gwendy has been stuck between cub and foal since birth. She’s the result of an interspecies love that had started off just like a fairytale. Only it turned dark and horrific not long after she came along. Good thing she’s too little to grasp the full nature of what happened to her parents.
She knows that somehow a lion and a mare had her - something caught in between, that looks very much like it should until you get to the paws where hooves ought to be and the lion’s tail that trails behind her. Mama told her she was specially made but it hurts too much to think about the mare. It only brought another great heaving sob to her tiny breast that made her sick in air like she was drowning.
Gwendy might have been for all she knew, the pain was that big and quite like a sucker punch to the gut. Thankfully though, she cried herself to sleep though it was restless as nightmares chased her around in her head.