A little extra scene for one of my favorite characters, Daisy the Jabberwock. She comes from this short story.
Daisy is considerably cuter than this–but just as terrifying.
* * *
Three years later, and Magnus the Magnificent was still well pleased with the guardian of his treasure. The Jabberwock he’d hired proved an excellent deterrent against thieves, and dispatched the more aggressive marauders–or the occasional assassin–efficiently, with only the odd indigestible pieces of weaponry or armor left behind. With her razor sharp claws, and strong jaws, there wasn’t much that could give Daisy pause.
Not until the pack of Cerberus moved into the area. They attacked Magnus’ cattle, killing their guards with a well organized sneak attack, then slaughtering and dragging away several animals.
Afterward, Daisy picked her way through the carnage, dipping her head down to sniff at the neat line of bodies on the side of the field, and the ripped and bloody grass where the fight had occurred.
Shaken, one of the surviving guards–only those patrolling the field had been killed–watched the Jabberwock examine every inch of the field, the break in the fence, and the drag marks into the trees.
“What’s the beast doing, sir?”
“Daisy’s quite cunning. She’s tracked thieves before, and whatever these killers are, she’ll track them, too,” Magnus said, determined to do a bit of scrying of his own as soon as he’d finished here. Whatever had torn through here had been cunning, too, avoiding outside perimeter guards, as well as the metal constructs that were considerably more difficult to destroy.
At the edge of the woods, Daisy snorted, and then tensed her long legs, going from a slow-moving mountain of muscle to a terrifyingly fast muscle-powered juggernaut, gallumphing out of sight in moments. The trees shook as she moved through them, and then she was out of sight completely.
“Let me know what else you need for the arrangements,” Magnus stepped toward his tower. “I want to monitor Daisy to ensure she succeeds in taking out this threat before it claims any more lives.”
“Of course, sir,” the guard said, adding some sort of reassurance that Magnus didn’t register, already thinking through the items he would need to scry after Daisy. Up in his tower, he hastily put together the simple spell, checked it to ensure he hadn’t mislaid anything, and cast it. The water in the large, flat bowl rippled, going dark for a moment, swallowing all the light, before an image appeared in its center.
Daisy, racing through the trees, stopping abruptly in a clearing filled with dark shapes surrounding the half-eaten carcasses of two cattle. The shapes spilled away from their prizes, snarling, and resolved into enormous three-headed dogs. Cerberi, a pack of them, four strong–the monstrous animals the size of a horse, though dwarfed by Daisy’s bulk. It wasn’t their size, but their numbers that concerned Magnus, as they fanned out, flanking the Jabberwock.
He could imagine the snarls pouring through those bared teeth, long and sharp, made for rending flesh and crunching bones. Daisy’s head swung back and forth as she tried to keep all four canines in sight, and then her mouth opened wide, showing off her own pointed teeth in what, Magnus knew from experience, was a painfully loud roar. It shook the Cerberi, too, the monsters hesitating before leaping, and she swung out with her tail, flinging one into a tree, while slicing down with her claws at another.
The ensuing fight was bloody, but mercifully short. Daisy stood, triumphant, bleeding from several injuries, and splashed with blood. She shook her head, sniffed at the half-eaten cattle carcasses, and then dipped her head over the nearest dead canine. Her teeth flashed in the image, and Magnus dipped his fingers in it to interrupt it. He might value Daisy highly, but her table manners left something to be desired.
He was waiting outside his tower when she returned, moving slower, but still carrying her head high, crimson eyes bright.
She burbled inquiringly at him, noting the brushes and bucket in his hand.
“Come with me, Daisy,” he said, leading her to a wide, shallow part of the nearby river, a handful of his hawk constructs following overhead, each clutching a bucket of their own in their metal talons.
Magnus indicated the water, and Daisy waded in until he motioned her to stop, the water lapping at her legs, and up to his hips. He pulled out some soap enchanted for cleansing and healing properties, having determined that none of the cuts were too severe. Most had ceased bleeding already, and those that still bled did so sluggishly. Working the soap into a froth, he directed the constructs to dip up water and pour it over Daisy, their wings glinting in the light as they wheeled and dipped.
Daisy burbled with delight, shaking herself and sending water everywhere. It splashed against the shield Magnus hastily erected. “Hold still,” he scolded, raising the long handled brush to scrub as gently as he could at one of the cuts.
She craned her head to watch him, her claws sinking into the sand of the riverbed as he moved from one injury to the other, but she didn’t complain, or move again. Finished, he directed the constructs to sluice her clean, and pulled the healing crystal he’d brought from his pocket.
It glowed as he directed it toward her injuries, the breaks in her tough hide narrowing, the shallow ones vanishing into unbroken scales. He lowered the crystal, its stored power nearly spent, when he was satisfied with the results.
Crimson eyes sparkling, Daisy examined herself intently, then bobbed her head at him in thanks.
Magnus nodded back, tucking away the crystal and neatening up the cleaning supplies to carry back, sending the constructs ahead of them. As he stepped onto dry land, he used a spell to shuck the water from his clothes.
Behind him, Daisy chortled, and he turned, just in time to catch the spray from a second, more vigorous shaking right in the face, having taken down his shield too soon.
Unrepentant, she chortled with amusement again, and went gallumphing out of the river, spraying more water everywhere before vanishing into the trees.
Magnus pushed a sodden piece of hair out of his eyes, sighed, and repeated the drying spell, before following at a safe distance.