Marie found the girl in the ruins of a wagon. She had expected a demon on this hunt. Not this.
She and her mule had crested the prairie hill. Marie had smelled the smoke. Her hand rested on her satchel.
"I'm not using you yet."
The item inside the satchel seemed to ache at her. Irritated she ignored those whispers. She guided the mule down the hill toward the smoking wagon. It must've been on fire earlier in the day. Marie didn't hurry.
Her hunt for demons had taught her to be careful. She didn't hurry. Her mother's people knew to keep an eye on the shadows, to not give demons the chance sneak up upon her with them. Her father's ways, though, knew the names of the White Demons and how to turn their cunning against them.
Something had struck the wagon down. The wood had been shattered in places. Marie could see marks where something had charged into the wagon, breaking the wheels. Charred bones remained yoked, the rot of meat making Marie's nostril twinge.
She checked for good meat in the oxen's corpses anyway. Marie couldn't find much between the char and the rot. But she did find something feasting. A little gray and white pup chewed on a hoof left by destroyed wagon.
"Hello, wee thing." Marie knelt down.
Sensing her, the pup wagged its tail. It seemed happy to interrupt its feast to yap up at her.
"I see. Where?"
The pup ran toward the wagon. Marie nodded, getting the canine's meaning. She followed.
Something shivered in the wagon's remains. It tried to not move. Marie sighed, pulling the child in the red dress out of the debris. The girl, Marie surmised, had not expected Marie's strength, yelping in fear as Marie pulled her out in one go.
"Hey! Let go!"
The cream color of the child's skin clashed with Marie's ruddy, sun burnt hands. Marie tightened her grip on the squirming child. She studied it. Looking for any sign.
"Quiet," Marie said. She closed eyes, trying to let her senses search for any dark magick. For any demon scents. For anything...
"No," Marie told herself. "This isn't possible."
"Can you let go of me now?" The child cried, trying to free itself. Marie absentmindedly let them go.
The child fell flat to the ground. That was when Marie saw the swollen left ankle. The pup came over and licked the child's face. Red freckles and brown eyebrows furrowed in pain.
"I thought I was..." Marie's hand had returned to the satchel. She felt its tug. Answers came with that power. That call.
Marie could use it, find the trail of the demons that had done this. Power. Her magicks would be powerful enough to find all of this child's secrets. It would let her prove whether or not this child was of the blood or not.
"Who are you lady? And why do you talk so funny? If you are going to take me away to eat me with your chief or what-"
"Shut up." Marie snapped. Stupid whites and their bullshit. They never seemed to see the veil, yet the world always seemed to favor them.
After a moment, Marie looked at the child with her blue-green eyes.
"You will call me Redstar and obey me if you want to eat tonight." Marie grabbed the child, hoisting them onto the mule's saddle. "If you prove your worth girl, I'll treat you well."
"You aren't going to eat me?"
"You are of the blood and you don't know it at all?"
The child looked at Marie like she'd said something strange. Marie pinched the bridge of her nose. Time to move. Marie had a guess that staying near the wagons might attract whatever had taken it down.
So Redstar moved on, irritated and with a child in tow.
"C'mon. Let's get moving."