“You can’t be rid of me that easily.”
The voice was unexpected. Vessia whirled around to see Nangi watching her.
Vessia felt a frisson of resentment shudder through her. It had been so long since she had run through the meadows alone, as she’d used to when she lived with Old Man and Old Woman. She missed the smell of heather under open sky. She needed wind to lift her hair off her neck, she needed to swing her arms without anyone touching her shoulder to calm her. The land they were passing through now was hot, dry and dead, closed up into canyons of striated rock. Trekking through the stone passages, where sometimes the overhang was so high it blocked the sun, was like traversing caves, or tombs. When she’d told Vio she wanted to leave and be on her own for a while, he had only laughed and told her that being a prisoner meant not being free. She had retorted, “But am I not your wife?” and either because of that or because he noticed the mad itch in her, he relented. He let her go alone to a cool gathering of water in the rock, a place where aspen grew around the water’s edge and swans paused on their migration to swim. And now, just when she thought she was alone, she discovered Nangi had followed her.
“I can eat your thoughts, you know.” Nangi smiled a nasty smile.
Vessia had seen her do this with others; she would sidle up to them, hiss at them that she could eat their thoughts, and then grin while they broke into a sweat and began to stammer. Vessia didn’t understand why they feared having their thoughts eaten.
“Do they taste good?” Vessia asked. This was something she had always wondered.
Nangi’s eyes narrowed like a cat’s. “How do you do that?”
“Shield your thoughts! How do you do it? Stop it at once! It only proves you have something to hide! Let your thoughts out at once or I shall report you to my father!”
Oh, and there's this too, if you somehow missed it: J.K. Rowling is now an indie author.