Far Off Unhappy Webnovel

The Red Fox

Chapter 13: The Red Fox

By Renko Doremi Rodenburg

Reinhild her wounds healed at a shocking speed, but not gently. The scar tissue that had formed was rough, often ached and wasn’t pretty. Still, the day after waking up and meeting with Guinevere for the first time she could sit upright, and the day after that she was moving around the village with the help of a walking cane.

Edelweiss it was called. A name from the forests, a barbarian name. She wondered if the original settlers had come from the forests of Luson, fleeing here to escape the influence of the princes.

The people in Edelweiss looked at her with a mixture of fear and awe. Most fled inside or into alleyways as she walked by, but a few made strange gestures and muttered at her.

“Prayers,” Guinevere, walking besides her, explained. “For your good health, and their own.”

“I see,” Reinhild said. “ ‘T is a beautiful village, with good people.”

“We are in your debt,” Guinevere said. “The Kyklopes had been a plague for decades. Work will be easier too, the freed slaves are eager to pick up trades in the village.”

“You’re not,” Reinhild said. “It was a mistake what I did. Giving in to anger and hate.”

“Strange sentiments, for a demoness,” Guinevere said.

“I’m not a demon.” Reinhild shook her head.

Her left arm, her sword arm, had been most radically injured of all. The flaming power she had drawn through the runes, the cracks in the skin of the world that Hyacinth had placed, had incinerated her arm into charcoal. Curious enough it was still animate, although considerably less dexterous than it had been before and hurt immensely. Even moving her fingers sapped her strength. Without drawing on the well of dark power within her again, she would be unable to fight anymore.

“My arm isn’t healing,” Reinhild said as she stopped to catch her breath. She carefully flexed her left hand, once again cracking the blackened skin and causing chips of charcoal to fall from it.

“It was not always like that?” Guinevere asked.

“No. I must’ve burned it somehow.”

“Strange,” Guinevere said. “Do you wish to walk more, or shall we return to my house for now?”

“I should make preparations to leave,” Reinhild said.

Guinevere shook her head. “No. When you can walk. You call this walking?”

Reinhild looked at her in silence. She was aging, but still quite beautiful. From what she had caught in passing, Guinevere was a sort of priestess in the village. Men and women dressed in all white attended to her every need, and her orders weren’t questioned.

“Come,” Guinevere said, gesturing at Reinhild to follow. “If you still can. Otherwise we’ll take a breather near here- there’s a short stone wall we can sit on near here.”

“I can walk,” Reinhild said.

“Your injuries might be healed more properly by someone else, but I am not certain to send you there.”

“I see,” Reinhild said.

“Make no mistake- that’s for your safety, not theirs,” Guinevere said.

Reinhild followed her, the soft tap of her walking cane the only sound she produced.

“You’re quiet,” Guinevere said. “Why?”

“I’ve always been quiet,” Reinhild answered her.

“Where are you from?” Guinevere asked, seemingly adamant to make conversation.

“The Forest of Forever Fall. I’m from a tribe of hunter-gatherers. Barbarians, if you know of them.”

Guinevere raised her hand to a villager passing them by, who greeted her back but still made sure to put some extra distance between himself and Reinhild.

“I know of them. Are you a shaman then, who can evoke fire?”

“No,” Reinhild said. “I know no sorcery. A witch has placed magic on me, carved it into me with knives. And my sword is enchanted, though I don’t know the details. It never dulls, never nicks. It’s sharper than common steel, though not supernaturally so, I believe.”

“Yes,” Guinevere said. “A witch you say? Which one?”

“You presume to know her?” Reinhild asked, a bit worried by the question.

“There are few witches and I am quite learned,” Guinevere said. “It would surprise me if I didn’t know her.” She fell silent for a moment, lost in thought. “Was it Violet, perhaps? Of the black forest? Carving runes seems like her forte.”

Violet. One of Hyacinth’s sisters. Hyacinth had her study every one of them, and when possible, their past champions. She had not met her, only having fought for Hyacinth once now. She shook her head, and said: “I don’t know her.”

“Then it was Hyacinth,” Guinevere said.

Reinhild flinched, and she could tell Guinevere noticed.

“Ah, then you are her champion. Why are you here, champion, fighting monsters in the mountains? Are you fleeing her perhaps?”

“No,” Reinhild said. The very thought angered her. “I would never do such a thing. I’m traveling, to grow wise and learn about the world. Soon, I will return to her, and fight for her again.”

“I see.”

“How do you know Hyacinth?” Reinhild asked, slightly hesitant. She worried the answer would sting.

“From long ago. I’ve told you before. My story has found its end,” Guinevere said.

Slowly, they made their way to Guinevere’s house. A sturdy and large house, well-crafted with great wooden beams.

Guinevere her story had ended. Reinhild didn’t know what she meant, and that bothered her. She had met too many people speaking in riddles lately.

At the house, Guinevere was immediately greeted by a servant, the same girl that had taken care of Reinhild when she first awoke.

“Lady Guinevere, you’re back. We’re cooking dinner. Do you want to eat with us, or will you eat with the guest?”

She left no room for Reinhild to be allowed to join the communal dinner. She’d been excluded from lunch as well, but she understood it. People’s descriptions of her rampage against the Kyklopes had been terrifying. The villagers were scared senseless.

“Bring our dinner to the guest’s quarters. We will eat there,” Guinevere said. She removed her heavy cloak and handed it to the servant. “Come, Reinhild. Let us eat and talk some more.”

Reinhild followed her inside, back to the room where she had awoken.

“I am sorry that we can’t really move a table in here, you’ll have to eat while sitting on the bed,” Guinevere said.

“I don’t mind,” Reinhild replied.

“Do you need help sitting down?” Guinevere asked. “Removing your armor.”

“No,” Reinhild said while shaking her head. It must’ve been unconvincing, as Guinevere rushed over to her to support her back as she sat down on the bed, and started pulling on straps and fasteners to help her take off her leather-and-hide armor.

“It’s made of human skin,” Guinevere said.

“Most leather is,” Reinhild answered.

She was uncomfortable with Guinevere touching her, but did not object.

“The hides and furs, what are they from?”

“A troll,” Reinhild said. “My first kill.”

“Oh my,” Guinevere said. “How old were you?”

“Twelve,” Reinhild said. “Maybe thirteen. I don’t remember well.”

“Impressive,” Guinevere said. “Grown men would rather flee than face a troll.”

“I had the jump on him,” Reinhild said. “And I had poisoned my spear.”

Her armor removed, Guinevere propped up the pillow behind Reinhild so she could sit.

“Do you think you can still fight?” Guinevere asked, pointing at her arm.

Reinhild couldn’t bring herself to answer. It had been on her mind all day. If her arm had been damaged beyond repair, and Hyacinth had no way to heal it, her life was over. She’d have to seek her final fight, to avoid the pathetic fate of dying of old age and in disgrace somewhere. As she was thinking, the servant entered, carrying a wooden tray with two steaming bowls and wooden spoons.

“Here, give me that,” Guinevere said, before shooing the girl out of the door again. “Ah, good, it’s not too hot,” she said while placing one of the bowls on Reinhild’s lap. She sat down on the chair across from the bed, with her own bowl.

“It’s mostly bitter, starchy roots and onions, spiced with salt that we mine east of here.”

“It’s good,” Reinhild said, quickly wolving down mouth after mouth of the porridge.

“Tomorrow, I’ll send for Ellen. She’ll take you north, to a hidden shrine. The people there can heal you.” She stopped for a second, then added: “For a price.”

“I have no money to repay them with,” Reinhild said.

“It’s not like that,” Guinevere said. “Their healing comes at a cost to the body, sometimes. Changes you. Pilgrims seek the place out, hoping to be changed as a way to reach enlightenment.”

“I see,” Reinhild said.

“Ellen can explain it better than I can,” Guinevere said.

“Who is she?” Reinhild asked.

“A magician, she lives by herself on the outskirts of the village.”

Reinhild nodded while finishing her porridge. It felt good to eat something nutritious, and a warmth slowly spread through her body.

“Make ready to sleep, I’ll have someone bring you water as well as herbs that soothe pain and make you drowsy,” Guinevere said.

“Alright,” Reinhild said. With that, Guinevere left, and Reinhild removed her shirt and undergarments. She was covered in scars, all raw and pale flesh. Shivering, she crawled under the sheets. After a servant had brought her the herbal remedy- a deeply bitter paste that numbed her tongue- and some water, she closed her eyes and drifted off into sleep.

Once again she dreamt of a small creature or spirit, a small red furry thing with four legs and a bushy tail. It sat on Hyacinth’s porch, staring into the distance. Reinhild was present, but was disembodied somehow, and unable to move. The creature turned around, and spoke.

She couldn’t hear it, but intuited it’s message somehow. I’m you, it said. I am a conclusion working from the future into the past. Seek me out up north if you wish to cast off the chains that bind you.

Confused, Reinhild turned around, now suddenly present. Behind her stood Hyacinth, who pulled her into an embrace and kissed her on the mouth.

When she woke up, she needed to take a piss and thus stumbled out of bed, put on her garments and walked through the hallway, outside and to the outhouse. Only halfway there she realized how well she walked, how much the raw flesh filling her wounds had solidified. She was no longer human, she realized. Perhaps no longer entirely mortal.

Done in the outhouse, she made her way back to the house and bumped into Guinevere.

“I wondered where you were,” she said. “You can walk again, good. How’s your arm?”

Reinhild lifted it up and tried to move her fingers. They barely moved. Her arm had grown cold as well- no longer was it illuminated and warmed by the unearthly orange glow of before.

“Fucked,” she said. “I’m fucked. I think it’s dying.”

“Pack your stuff, I’ll bring you to Ellen,” Guinevere said.

To the north, Reinhild thought. To the shrine. Perhaps that was where she was meant to be going. She went inside, put on her armor- which took a while, given that she only had one hand to really do so with- and put her beloved Helmatöt in its scabbard on her belt. It felt odd to lift it with her right hand, and she doubted she’d be an effective fighter. Still, it comforted her to have the blade with her.

Now ready, she met up with Guinevere and set out to meet Ellen.

“Say,” Reinhild said, after working up the courage to pry into Guinevere’s past a bit. “How do you know Hyacinth, and Violet?”

Guinevere shook her head. “It’s none of your business. If you must know, ask Hyacinth. But I expect she will spit on the ground and tell you to forget about me.”

“Guinevere,” Reinhild said quietly. “Are you alright?”

“Speak no more about this,” she demanded. Reinhild complied.

Ellen’s house was a small, round building at the very edge of the town. A small forge burned outside of it, and a short girl in rough, but tight-fitting black cloth was working some glowing ingot on an anvil next to it. Ellen, Reinhild assumed.

“Oh oh oh, look there,” she said with a shrill voice when she noticed the two approaching. “What is this?”

“This is Reinhild, she needs to be taken to the shrine up north,” Guinevere said. “Can you take her there?”

The girl put down her hammer, and looked at Reinhild. “Haha,” she cackled. “You, before you turn your head windward, would do well to remember Great Knight Elias, now long dead, who was once tall and handsome as you are.”

“What?” Reinhild asked.

“She oft speaks in riddles,” Guinevere said. “Staring into the light of her forge all day has done something to her brain.”

“Ah,” Reinhild said, suddenly a bit worried about making a trek together with the strange girl.

“Adventuring gets you killed,” Ellen said. “It’s not that hard a riddle, red-haired trickster, member of the thousand.”

“Ellen,” Guinevere chided the girl. “Stop it.”

“No,” Reinhild said. “I want to know.”

Ellen shrugged. “What is swift, smart and has a thousand foes?”

“Me?” Reinhild asked.

“No,” Ellen said, laughing. “Far from it. You’re funny, I like you.”

“I don’t understand,” Reinhild said.

“Ignore it, Reinhild,” Guinevere said again.

On one hand, Ellen seemed harmless if a bit unstable. On the other hand, she trusted Guinevere to know what she was talking about.

“She has to go north, to the shrine. Her strong arm is withering and dying, and a myriad of wounds plague her body,” Guinevere said. “You can take her there, right?”

“Oh, I already know. She’s to travel north to die in a sea of stars, ready to be born anew before the last of wars,” Ellen said. “I shall get my hat and staff. There’s no use finishing this dagger here,” she said as she pointed at the metal she had been hammering. “You’ve ruined the mood, and now the metal is sour.”

Giggling, she closed the chokes of the oven to kill the flame, then hurried inside.

“What does she mean I have to die in a sea of stars?” Reinhild asked Guinevere.

“She’s harmless, do not worry too much about it,” Guinevere said.

It put Reinhild ill at ease. There were worrying things going on, and she felt lost. Adrift on the river Lus without a way to get to shore.

Ellen returned, now wielding a hefty staff quite a bit longer than she herself was, and wearing a black, broad hat with a cone pointing upwards. An astrologer’s hat, but black and undecorated with the usual stars. Small wooden amulets dangled on the underside of the hat’s brim.

“Pray it is too cold for angels to be out and about,” Ellen said. “Last time one tried to gnaw off one of my arms.”

“Angels?” Reinhild said. “Here?”

“They are drawn to abandoned and forgotten places, and there is many an empty fort and forlorn tower in these mountains,” Ellen said. “But we hardly see them. And the ones at the shrine are quite friendly, of course.”

“There’s angels at the shrine? Guinevere, I don’t think this is a good idea,” Reinhild said, now worried.

“Then walk back to the heath while your arm rots off,” Guinevere said. “You don’t have to do this.”

“Au contraire,” Ellen said, an expression Reinhild didn’t understand. “Her going north has already been decided by the men in the high places where things are decided.”

“My destiny is set,” Reinhild whispered. “A conclusion from the future working into the past.”

Guinevere shook her head in disagreement. “Nonsense. Don’t fill her head with riddles, Ellen.” She looked at Reinhild. “When you return- and I do not expect this to take long- stop by the village one last time, and I’ll give you some supplies for the trek home.”

“Alright,” Guinevere said. “Take good care of her, Ellen. The village is in her debt.”

Reinhild stood in quiet contemplation as Guinevere walked away, back to the village.

“Come along now,” Ellen said. “There’s people who are excited to meet you.”

“I figured,” Reinhild said as she set out after the girl. “It’s been a running theme the last few weeks.”

The path north was steep and narrow. Every now and then it became so steep that someone had hewn stairs into the path to make it traversable. Eager to make conversation, Reinhild had tried to get information out of the girl, but she had only responded in confusing riddles and cheerful laughter.

“There are seven hundred stair steps on this path, did you know?” Ellen suddenly said after they’d been underway for an hour or two.

“Is that a riddle too?” Reinhild asked.

“No, it’s a fun fact,” Ellen said.

Another hour in, the two had gotten so high that the wind had turned a freezing cold.

“We’re almost there,” Ellen said, and seconds after they rounded a corner and came face to face with a dilapidated stone complex. A temple of sorts, not dissimilar from the ruins around Luson.

On the roof sat two angels, dressed in white robes. Reinhild instinctively grasped for her shortsword, but it felt odd and clumsy with her right hand.

“Don’t worry,” Ellen said. “Airy and Nevena are tame, right?” She yelled towards the two girls on the temple roof.

With a massive beat of her wings, one of the girls launched herself up into the sky. She swooped down a little distance from Reinhild and Ellen, dusted herself off and readjusted her toga before approaching the two.

“A new guest,” she said.

“Reinhild, this is Airy. Airy, this is Reinhild.”

“Are you pilgrim or beggar?” Airy asked. “Desperate or wise?”

“She’s desperate,” Ellen said. “Let’s head inside.”

“I’m not,” Reinhild said, but neither of the girls listened to her.

“Welcome to the world wound,” Airy said. “I take it you are here to be healed?”

“My arm is falling apart,” Reinhild said, lifting up her charcoal-scorched arm. “People said you can heal me here.”

“Yes,” Airy responded. “There is a healing spring under this temple. It wells up and fuels a coffin where one can be reborn.”

“I see,” Reinhild said. She followed the witch and the angel to the temple, slowly getting sick with worry. Nothing felt right. This was odd, reeked of sorcery. Three months ago she had been a normal woman building up her life after escaping slavery. Now she was stuck in a current that carried her from situation to situation. She’d known her life wouldn’t be the same after binding herself to Hyacinth as her champion, but-

Hyacinth. If she could be healed here, reborn even, if some mystical boon was waiting for her here, she had to investigate it. To be Hyacinth’s champion. And if she really didn’t like what she was seeing inside, she reasoned, she could always call off the whole thing.

Once inside the temple, she was stunned. There were beautiful murals of men and women, angels and nymphs on the walls, illuminated by glowing chunks of glass. A dazzling spectrum of light and colour.

She couldn’t help but gasp for air once inside. Never in her life had she seen beauty like this, not even in the houses of the rich nobles and merchants that had passed her around as their favored toy.

“It’s beautiful,” she stammered. “To think something like this is hidden away here, so far away from the rest of the world, so far away from people.”

“It is, isn’t it,” Airy said. “Look, there, I painted that one.”

The angel pointed at one of the murals, and Reinhild instinctively stepped back. She wasn’t comfortable being within arm’s reach of an angel, not even if she was ‘tame’.

It was a mural of two angels embracing each other above a pond. The pond was beautifully painted, and reflected the two women hovering above it.

“You painted this? You mean this isn’t ancient?” Reinhild said, astonished.

“Yes,” Airy said. “People come and go, but those who stay for a while are encouraged to leave something behind. A mural, a poem, a carving. So that the world remembers.”

“When you get deeper into the temple, the decorations get more and more sparse. I’ve thought about moving here as well, should the need ever arise, and paint some myself,” Ellen said.

“Rebirth keeps being mentioned,” Reinhild said. “What does that entail?”

“The waters of the world wound heal all injuries,” Airy said. “But sometimes they change the body. Warp it. Bring the inner self to the outside, so to say.”

“Ah,” Reinhild said. Her inner self to the outside. A monster. Perhaps the waters would take her humanity away completely, transforming her into a perfect killing machine, a real demon. The thought made her shiver, but there was a tinge of excitement as well. Hyacinth would have no recourse but keep her around as champion if she transcended her humanity, perhaps would finally start treating her as an equal.

“We go down the stairwell here,” Airy said. “Ellen, some light?”

The magician tapped her staff against her hat, and some of the amulets dangling from it started to glow with a sickly, pale light.

Reinhild shook her head, not comfortable with so much magic being thrown around so casually.

“You seem awfully calm for someone just told that you might wake up someone else entirely,” Airy said.

“I’ve made my peace with something similar a while ago already. If anything I wonder if it’ll grant me more power. Even at the cost of what makes me ‘me’.”

Ellen laughed. “You are mistaken,” she said.

Reinhild didn’t ask what she meant by that.

After descending the stairwell, they passed another hallway and arrived in a room with a stone coffin in the center. Tubes and cables ran into the coffin, and several levers and large gears were arranged in a corner of the room.

“Ah,” Reinhild said. “The coffin of rebirth.”

“Yes,” Airy said. “You lie down in it, and are submerged in healing waters. They wash away the old body, and from the soul grows a new one. Most people emerge fully healed, with nary a single ailment in their bodies. Some people become younger, and even fewer still are warped into something different altogether.” She giggled after saying it.

“Have you been in it?” Reinhild asked Ellen.

“No, but Airy here has.”

It slowly dawned on Reinhild what had happened to her. “Did you-”

“I used to be a human boy,” Airy said. “Now I can soar through the skies with my sisters when I am bored, and eat the livers of peasants when I am hungry.”

“That’s horrific,” Reinhild said, taking a step back.

“Is it?” Airy asked.

“You’re no longer human. You’re- You’re a monster.”

Angels were well known in the Lands Lost, as bringers of death and decay. The huntsmen of Luson shot them down wherever they found them, before they could establish footholds from where to raid the countryside. Most were savage, barely capable of reason. More animal than human. The thought that she might be transformed into something like that chilled Reinhild’s heart.

“Getting cold feet?” Ellen asked.

“No,” Reinhild said, swallowing some acid reflux back down while thinking about swooping down on an enemy soldier with wings of her own. The thought of turning into a winged super-predator should have turned her sick- and it did- but it also enticed her. Freedom. Swooping down onto a farm and gorging herself on the fle-

She cut the train of thought there.

“The chance you’ll become like me is very small,” Airy said. “I spent weeks mentally preparing myself so that this was the outcome.”

“I see,” Reinhild said.

“You don’t need to do it,” Ellen said. “And if you’re not sure, you can spend some time here to think about it.”

“No,” Reinhild said. “Put me in there.”

Airy whistled.

“You owe me three florins,” Ellen said.

Reinhild walked to the coffin, and put her hands on the lid.

“You’ll wanna take off your clothes and armor,” Airy said. “Unless you want to fuse with them.”

A thought came to Reinhild.

“Can I take my shortsword with me? It is an enchanted blade, and as dear to me as my arms and legs are.”

“She’s nuts,” Ellen said while shaking her head.

“I’m not going to stop you, but I urge you to think about the possible consequences for a second,” Airy said.

“Put me in there, how does this work?” Reinhild said, a new cold sweeping through her heart. Not icy fear, but steel determination.

“Remove your armor, I’ll open the coffin,” Airy said.

Fifteen minutes later, Reinhild lay in the coffin. Nude, save for her beloved sword, which she cradled like a child.

“Struggle all you want, there’s no need to try and put up a strong front,” Airy said.

“Do it already,” Reinhild growled.

Above her, the coffin closed. It was damp in there, and it vaguely smelled of blood.

Not blood, Reinhild realized. Linseed oil.

A soft clicking outside was followed by the whirr of machinery, and a dark fluid started to fill up the coffin. An oily substance that burned where it touched Reinhild’s skin.

“Ah,” she yelped, “Autumn,” as the coffin started to fill up. While the acidic fluids burned at her skin, she realized the coffin would fill up entirely. As scarcely an inch of air remained, she started to panic and claw at the lid of the coffin.

“I’ve changed my mind, this is bad,” she screamed.

Nobody listened.

“I’m going to die in here,” she screamed as the coffin filled up and she was completely submerged in acid.

In the dark, and thrashing wildly, she accidentally cut herself on Helmatöt, and in suffocating confusion she made it worse. As the acid ate her skin away and she kept jerking and staggering around, repeatedly impaling herself on her own sword, she tried to scream in pain but found her lungs empty. As she lost consciousness, her body’s autonomous responses took over and she attempted to take a breath. The last sensation before she died was the acid ripping straight through her lungs and into her chest cavity.

Reinhild woke up in a starry void, and found herself wearing her armor as well as wielding Helmatöt in her left hand.

Her arm had healed, and beautiful orange runes softly glowed on her skin. They weren’t the enchantments Hyacinth had placed. A tear of joy formed under her left eye. Something remarkable was about to happen.

In the distance stood a woman. Her hair was bright orange, an unnatural hue even for the Lands Lost. Eyes like jet and ears so pointed, so sharp they might as well have been knives. She stood with her naked back towards the Reinhild, looking over her shoulder to see who was approaching her. Black wings grew out from between her shoulder blades.


“Yes,” the woman said. “And you’re Reinhild. I’ve been waiting for you.”

Reinhild walked towards the woman. It was a strange sensation, moving in this place that had neither space nor time.

Clementine turned around. “Welcome.”

It was almost nauseating how beautiful she was. She was prettier than even Hyacinth, something Reinhild felt bad admitting to herself.

“Where am I?”

“You’ve been dissolved in paint thinner, and have been blended into the substrate of reality,” Clementine said.

“I don’t understand,” Reinhild said.

“The other you has been here for a while already,” Clementine said, before stepping aside to reveal a small, red animal.

“The red fox,” Reinhild knew instinctively.

“Yes,” Clementine said. “You have a choice to make.”

Reinhild said nothing.

“You can be the Red Fox, trickster, warrior, hunter.”

“They already call me that,” Reinhild says.

“Then you have already chosen,” Clementine says. “Time works differently here. Perhaps the red fox-”

“Is a conclusion from the future, working its way back into the past,” Reinhild interrupted her.

Clementine smiled, and Reinhild was certain that if she had been in corporeal form right now, her heart would have stopped. It was soul-rending to have the woman smile at her.

“Two threads that become one, that always have been one,” Clementine said. “But this is no good, no good at all.”

“What are you talking about?” Reinhild asked.

“People are pulling on the strings of the world, dear. Loosening the fabric. Your thread is one being pulled. If this continues, the fabric will come apart.”

“I don’t understand,” Reinhild said.

“That’s no good,” Clementine said. “You aren’t quite you yet.”

“What does that mean,” Reinhild asked, upset. Of course she was herself. How could she not be?

“The Red Fox is a trickster and a friend of the common people, not a butcher or a demoness. It is a terrible thing what my sister has done to you,” Clementine said.

“No,” Reinhild said. “I will not stand here while you slander Hyacinth. I love her more than anyone, and she has done more for me than anyone else.”

“My sister,” Clementine started, but then stopped. “Nevermind.”

“What?” Reinhild demanded to know.

Clementine shook her head, and kneeled to scoop the small animal next to her in her arms. Careful not to hurt the creature, she stood back up and reached out to Reinhild.

“Here,” she said. “Take her. Take Reinhild, Beautiful Reinhild, so that she may be born in the world again. The land needs her.”

“I’m Reinhild,” the Red Fox said, confused.

“Yes,” Clementine said. “Yes you are.”


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