“Ever since Rone’s death, I have been unable to shapeshift. Instead, I am cursed with visions. At first I thought I was going mad. The visions were vivid. Real but unreal, unfolding before me.
“One day, I saw you and Sitome. You were in the garden together. Sitome was chastising you for crushing the herbs when you chased insects. You rolled on your back, paws in the air, seducing him into good humour. He stroked your belly. I felt a warmth towards you both. I was sad when the vision faded but you always returned, always fragments of your happiness, which I began to share. I’d been alone for so long, and though we’d never met, I began to consider you as friends. I looked forward to visions of you, until one day there was violence.
“Sitome was in King Salun’s palace and the corridors were filled with blood. I worried for you, until you appeared in my visions again, travelling, seeking Sitome. I was angry with myself – if I hadn’t sunk into a self-pitying grief, but had instead avenged Rone and killed the King, you would both still be safe. To atone, I decided I would help you, so I waited for you by the path. When I saw you, I felt such joy. And now here you are.
“I had one last vision, which told me how you can save Sitome from the King. We will sleep now, and in the morning I shall tell you of my vision before you continue your journey.”
Creature stood, meowing. She jumped on to his shoulder and pawed at his face.
“No, sweet Creature. I fear if I tell you more you will think only of saving Sitome. You cannot save him if you have no strength to continue on. We will sleep now and in the morning I will tell you of the vision. You will save him, be assured. I have seen it.”
She meowed and pawed at him and he stroked her, calming her. She returned to the cushions and covers and lay there, thinking of Sitome until she fell asleep.