Spotting Keira’s father, Colby, flying into the keep as a raven, I hurried inside, so he could follow me down into the dungeon. Lifting the torch I had stashed earlier, I used a spell to ignite it before walking through the gate.
Mila had shown me the path to the dungeon on a map earlier, but she hadn’t warned me that the door wouldn’t be obvious. I quickly used a spell to find gaps in the area, smiling when I noticed that Raine had gone with a classic rotating sconce.
After waiting a few seconds for Colby to pop around the corner, I headed down the stairs, taking my time. Raine had done a fantastic job in making the dungeon look eerie, especially for something she added in under a second. Of course, she probably had dozens of possible dungeon designs in her head, but her abilities still impressed.
“Who’s there?” called Keira.
“Sorry for the late introduction. My name’s James. You’re in a keep on my land.” I explained.
“This is kidnapping!” she exclaimed.
“Well, not exactly.” I replied, before turning to look at her father as he landed. “Hello, Colby.”
His form grew and shifted, giving him the height and bearing of a man while he remained covered in feathers. Instead of arms, he still had wings, and his long beak looked rather sharp. He lunged at me.
I dodged and used a spell to shut the door at the top of the stairs. “Don’t worry. There’s no conspiracy here. I suppose having one might seem like a boon to you, but I’d consider it an unkindness. Surely we can both agree that it’s better than a murder, right?”
The quick movements of his head were certainly those of a bird as he watched me warily. When he lunged again, he spread his wings to try to block my escape. I jumped over him, flattening my body to slip between him and a ceiling, and then pushing off the ground with my hands to land on my feet again. He swung his wing around to hit me. I sighed and let him, bracing myself to show him the difference in strength while holding the torch away, so he wouldn’t be burned.
Advancing, I said, “I’m really not here to fight you. You are trapped for the moment, but that’s just so you’ll speak with me before fleeing to get help. All of the therianthropes who don’t work for me wouldn’t be enough to storm this place, so please try to calm down.”
“Dad, they have a… monster!” exclaimed Keira.
“Half-demon, actually. Her name’s Raine, and you might hurt her feelings if you call her a ‘monster’. Please don’t.” I stated, glancing at the door. To her father, I added “Raine’s a werecat. She’s very good at catching birds, so let’s be reasonable.”
Before I had finished, Raine appeared behind Colby in her hybrid form. He seemed to sense her, falling backward after he caught sight of her.
“Please, don’t hurt my daughter!” he squawked.
I smiled compassionately and said, “We haven’t, save for capturing her. Your daughter bit Mick Storm, apparently wanting to turn him. Mick, being a bit freaked out, stunned her with a strong jolt of electricity, nearly getting himself killed. Your daughter will be a prisoner here while she comes to understand that forcing someone to switch species isn’t acceptable. I’m sentencing her to help Mick adapt to the changes.”
Colby started to shift forms, so Raine gave him a small changing area behind a curtain, hopefully with clothing, and reverted to her human form as well. I heard him jump, but who could blame him there. Growing accustomed to having things materialize around you took some adjustment.
“M-Mick had said… h-he was… attacked.” mumbled Raine.
“Well, from his point of view, sure. I’m under the impression that Keira was trying to force a longer relationship on him.” I replied.
“Keira, is that true?” questioned her father from behind the curtain. He sounded somewhere between angry and scared.
“No! Sorta… Mick thought changing forms was cool, and we had been seeing each other for a while. I just…” she started, stopping before she finished.
“Really liked him and felt impulsive?” I suggested.
“More or less.” she muttered.
“Keira!” exclaimed her father, sounding purely angry now.
As they bickered, Raine let Keria out of the cell, so Colby and Keira could yell at one another face-to-face. Raine stood between them, probably wanting to keep things from coming to actual blows. Colby had apparently already found a boy he wanted his daughter to date. Keira wasn’t about to date a guy simply for being the same species.
I made an illusion of a table and chairs along with refreshments. Raine made them real, so I took a seat and ate with Raine while waiting for Colby and Keira to settle down. Several minutes later, Keira shut herself in the cell, holding the door shut as her father continued to yell and push on it.
First creating spells to mute them, I waited several seconds for them to realize they couldn’t hear anything. Then I dismissed the spell and said, “This is another reason why Keira will be remaining here for a time. You both need time to settle down. Keira, I’ve had one of the employee apartments furnished for you, so you can stay in the house. I would hope you know not to try running, but seriously don’t. Mick will need help adapting from what you did to him, and your assistance is mandatory. My wife is a daughter of a Slayer, I imagine you both have heard of that family.”
“They exist!?” questioned Colby, looking every bit as startled as when he saw Raine.
“Yes, and they live up to the name. She’s pregnant and can get a bit touchy at the moment, so please behave when you come to visit. Every single person here is dangerous when provoked, but they’re good people. Behave and everything will go smoothly.” I assured him.
“How often can I see my daughter?”
“That’s up to her. Just call first. She still has classes. One of my friends will take her to get her car tomorrow, but she’ll be getting a ride to and from school each day. If she tries to run, I’ll ask Raine to fetch her and put a more restrictive sentence on her. I’m certain you know what the change is like for those newly turned. Let her help Mick, and she’ll be free from there.” I explained.
“Can I meet him?” questioned Colby.
“That would be wonderful. His parents want to meet Keira as well. I’ll be requesting that everyone is on their best behavior. As your daughter found out, his family isn’t quite normal either.”
He nodded and asked “What are you?”
“A best friend for hire.” I replied.