Day 20: Rotten Oregano
“Jamesy,” the Witch said. “A word?”
Uh, no, James would have said if he was Eric. But he was James, and the slow burn of Lizzy’s stare stopped him by the oregano pots. He turned back around. Her cherub face pouted in her yellow-painted nails and her heels swung from the table.
“All that anger you have,” the tiny Witch piped. “You hate Halcyon, don’t you?”
“What—” James breathed the oregano, deep in and out. “Of course. Halcyon stole my life.”
Lizzy straightened the stripes on her stockings. Her cheek twitched. Her eyelid jumped. Oregano leaves whispered into rot by James’ ear. Something old and mean tried to crawl out of Lizzy Collins. Her magic’s pall ate up the grass around her.
“I think you hate Halcyon because he scared you.” The Witch’s mouth split into a sneer, and then split and split. “I’ve hated things that way, James. I’ve hated every way there is. So hate Halcyon all you like. Stew in your anger until you’re ripe to pop from it.”
She struck her little hands together. The sound put liquid in James’ bones. Every plant in the garden flinched. Lizzy arched her shoulders forward and her voice dropped into sibilant quiet.
“But let me tell you this: hate like yours is like ice and water. Look that man in the face again, and your anger will turn right back into fear. No matter how much you tell yourself things have changed, they haven’t.”
For just a second, in the tattoo of the kingfisher and the hair on the back of his neck, James felt that Lizzy was right. For just a second, he quailed.
But James had not been desperate before Halcyon. James had not been a liar before Halcyon. James had not been a killer before Halcyon.
Now he was. And Halcyon would pay.
“You’re wrong, Collins.” James planted his boots in the gravel and snarled, feral dragon heat. “Nothing could make me stop hating Halcyon. And things have changed, no matter how much you tell yourself I’m you.”
Yikes. I guess this is what happens when you repurpose an entire cast of comic relief characters into a bleak urban fantasy. Suddenly everyone’s an edgelord. Lizzy got scarier and scarier over the Camp Nano run, but given she can ageshift, she stayed a little girl for all the scariest parts.
This is what her new concept sketch looked like. She has pentacles for eyes, for God’s sake. (And the stiffness of a Buckingham Guard, but that’s not a part of her character.)