Once night had fallen, Fria led the child back towards the village to pick up the death gift. The traditional funeral offering of toys and treats was meant to usher the lost boy safely into the afterlife. Over the generations the tradition had been carefully manipulated into a traveling pack of supplies. Socially the children were dead as soon as they were Bound, but humans seemed to thrive on emotional contradictions.
But the pack wasn’t just a gift. The bindings were still new and there was always a chance they could be broken. Fria increased the mental connection between them, watching for the warning tears in the bonds.
_ * – * – * – * _
He was dead. Trin stared at the pack sitting lopsided in the snow, marking his exile from the living. It had always been a possibility, ever since he first tasted the magic, but he had been so far down the list… the Golden that had passed through on a search hadn’t even spared him a look. When the Binder had first formed in front of him, he had assumed it was looking for someone else. Maron or Bea, or any of the others with a more powerful knack for finding the magical stones as they formed. And then it was too late.
He felt the mental bindings tense as the inky darkness that was Fria melded in and out of solidity behind him. The demon’s mental communications were still confusing, only when it stopped to focus in on translating the concepts into human terms did he understand it. But he could sense the worry and possessive hunger vibrating along the connection. It needed him. He wasn’t sure why it did, but being the fifth child of seven, the feeling was a welcome change.
With a sigh he shouldered the pack, and turned back they way they had come.
“Be hungry I guess, right? Then two fingers south and to the stream.” He started walking without waiting for the half-formed shadow to follow.