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A Little Suffering Never Hurts

Kasa had not come downstairs in three or four days, and her friends were starting to get worried.  They hoped she had food and drink because she wasn’t taking the stuff Lilith left at the base of the stairs.

The scent of porridge and buttered rolls filled the kitchen below.  The soup kitchen had existed for years, Kasa’s way to repay the urchins who helped her as a refuge.  There would have been more, but she hadn’t called out for groceries. It would be whatever was brought by the urchins at this point, which was common. 

Lilith looked to her sister, Freya, who was waiting on a stool at the counter. “Tonight is going to be cold … and Kasa hasn’t ordered more wood or coal.  Do we have supplies at home? I wanted to make a nice meal for everyone tomorrow…”

“Coal is easier to get, and I think Dam ordered some,”  Freya replied, but her gaze turned to the stairs frowning, “I can’t believe Beryl did this…though I suppose it has been building awhile.”

They nodded in agreement along with Wendy and Rat, Sage was currently keeping a lookout with Zsypher, while Loki Gearhead was downstairs with Leon.  Her new kitten was curled up near the fire under the old stove, sniffing all the spices and ingredients. Lil smirked as the little one sneezed having gotten too close to the pepper.  

That was when she heard the argument outside starting.  The group made there way to the front where Beryl’s way was blocked by the lookouts.  The center of her eyes were nearly consumed with purple, “I want to speak with Kasa. Would you kindly get out of the way or fetch her for me?”

“I see…and why would you like to see her?”  Lilith asked from the back of the pack. She didn’t think any of them could truly stop her.  Beryl had gotten into Kasa’s head, and she didn’t know how to prevent that. Even if they did resist the familiar’s claws could shred them.  She hoped none of the others did anything rash. “You would have to go up to see her. She hasn’t been down since the…the hospital.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Freya said intervening, sounding shocked at her sister’s response..  The others agreed, “She said…and others said…you made her do…murdery things.” That was the nicest way to put it. “She’s not taking it well…”

“I see,” Beryl showed her teeth again, clearly frustrated and continued bitterly. “Very well, I suppose it is only fair you protect one of your own.  I will return another time.”

Loki Gearhead reached into his pockets and pulled out one of his infamous catnip brownies, “Yer should really have a brownie an’ relax!  A few bites an yer won’t be feelin so hangry.”

“No thank you,” Beryl turned towards him, her tone was acidic.  Loki looked at her with a cheerful grin though he seemed unsteady on his feet,  “Why don’t you have a few instead. The fact you can still feel your legs probably means you haven’t had enough.”

“Yer right!”  Loki giggled and took a few bites of his own brownie, while reaching for another.  The urchins turned to him questioningly as Beryl walked away. The lad was on his fourth and slumping against the wall before Leon and Freya took the rest away.  “Oi…I can still feel my…oh guess I cain’t.”  

The lad giggled as his friends looked between themselves uncomfortably.  They helped Loki get to the nearby couch where he rested comfortably. Finally Leon asked, “Did Beryl make him do that, or was that just Loki being Loki?”

“Well, it doesn’t take much convincing to make him do this,” Rat said offering his insight.  “Anyone could say eat another and he’d do it.” The urchins seemed to be in agreement, but the situation still made them wary.  

“I don’t think we could have stopped her,” Lilith muttered quietly as her kitten tried to climb up her back. “Not with what we had on hand.  We all know what she can do now.”

“Oi,” said Leon as he lifted his Tesla blade and pistol.  Zsypher also patted a small firearm he’d pilfered ages ago.  “Don’t underestimate us!” Wendy agreed as she pulled out her slingshot.

“We should call others here all the same,” Lilith suggested as she tried to think who had resisted mind altering abilities in the past.  “Lisa, Tepic, maybe Rayn. Just to be safe!”

Zsypher and Wendy offered to do the running as they set off eagerly.  They seemed to have caught Tepic on the way there and was asking which way Beryl went.  The one voice that she expected to pipe up first was silent. Lilith looked about for her sister and could not see her. The balcony on the second floor seemed to be open.  Nervously she went to check it herself, but just found her sister laying against the railing.  

“She sounded like Dr. Cascarino,” Freya said quietly as she watched the stairway leading to Kasa’s room.  There was no other entrance or exit to the third floor. Lilith moved beside her, resting her hand on her sisters shoulder.  Freya squeezed it for comfort. “Sorry I didn’t help Loki. She just reminds me of…the doctor now.”

“He was worse,” Lilith assured her.  The doctor would not have let children stop him.  “I don’t know what’s going on, but something is wrong.  Beryl has not been herself. She has done so much for others and almost never for herself.  I would not be alive if she hadn’t saved me when my stuff burned down. Or when Snow attacked.”

“She saved us both.”  Freya responded, but then her head shot up and was staring at the ceiling.  A yowl resounded from above from Kasa’s new pet cat. Freya darted for the stairs first, leaving Lilith to limp behind as the others looked up curiously from the den below.  

“-hypnotists can’t make someone do something they wouldn’t do…so why did you say it was me?  Why did you really say me?”

The room was destroyed, glass and papers littered the floor with only a small walking path to safely treat.  Beryl stood with her paw clutching what looked to be Kasa’s throat or mouth, she couldn’t tell. She was whispering to Kasa.

“I….remember… you… visittinggg..” the lass struggled to say, no fight left in her.

“I did not.  Look into my eyes Kasa, and tell me in your madness, who really did this to you.  I wasn’t here…but someone was …weren’t they?”

“GET AWAY FROM HER!!” Freya rushed forward to tackle Beryl as Lilith called out to her.  She tried to hurry after her sister but was too late.

“Remember what happened!  Not what I want you to remember, the truth!”  Beryl said as she kept hold of Kasa while trying to shove Freya away. Lilith moved in between them and tried to push everyone away from each other as urchins began to flood up the stairs.  Help had arrived, but it was her sisters fate Lil was worried about now.

Beryl let go of Kasa and pushed the sisters back like dolls.  They landed near the feet of the other urchins blocking the way.  Leon raised his gun and aimed it while others prepared their sling shots. No one fired.  No one wanted to hurt their friend despite what she had become. Or worse, she had gotten into their heads…

The feline growled as her connection with Kasa was broken as the rabbit started to shake her head. Kasa whimpered as she saw Beryl, her eyes watering as she growled weakly, it was clear she hadn’t eaten or drank in the four days since, “Why…… why… are.. you back… are you… trying to make…. me remember something else… make me……. kill more…?” 

CANERGAK WAS RIGHT ABOUT YOU!!” 

Beryl looked like she had been slapped, her eyes widened and the purple faded from her gaze as she backed away.  Canergak…the man who claimed she was a monster and should be put down within seconds of their first meeting. No one seemed sure who had screamed it though Beryl breathed ‘Lisa’ as if in shock, scanning the crowd of faces.  

She turned away from what she saw there.  Her head remained high, as she walked away, towards the nearest window which she used to flee the scene.

The children looked at the destroyed lab and started to speak at once. The thrashed room was laid at Beryl’s feet as well, and Kasa was unresponsive.  She had thrown the covered over herself and rolled back to face the wall.

“Kasa, you don’t look well,”  Freya said from the edge. “Please, come get something to eat..”  She sniffed and could smell the burning porridge Lilith had forgotten.  Kasa offered no response. The other urchins tried as well, but silence met them each time.  The lass looked so weak they wondered if Beryl had drained her or if she had not eaten in all that time.

The one thing they all agreed: They needed to get Kasa to the hospital.  Lilith led the way as Freya and Leon carried the bunny between them.

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