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Crossing his small arms over his chest, Anan marveled at his luck. Really, he was marveling at the lack thereof. How one simple task could have turned out so oddly was a mystery. It had never happened to any of his brothers.

They never had to suffer the indignity of being scolded by a mortal woman.

It was not unusual for them to be seen in the villages by mortals but as far as he knew, none had ever been caught taking the grain for the feasts. For as long as he could remember, it had been a tradition to take a handful of grain or ground corn to add to their feasts.

“Do you realize how much the people here suffer? All food is precious an-….Are you listening to me?!” Anan flinched when the woman’s tone of voice hit a much higher pitch. He’d never heard such a sound come from a mortal. Even his mother could not make her voice so high and so angry at the same time.

Glancing up, Anan flinched again when his gaze met that of the angry woman. That look was so much like his mother’s when she was angry with him that it made him uncomfortable. He should’ve run away the minute he realized she noticed him instead of going after the corn. If he had, then he wouldn’t be here getting scolded as if he wasn’t a creature of magic who could turn this woman’s world upside down.

Anan might have done that if it weren’t expressly forbidden. That and the tingling of fear that came when faced with an angry woman made the magic that usually danced at his fingertips seem so out of reach.

His first time away from the hill and this happens. If anyone found out, he’d never have any respect among the rest of his people.

“Then why? Why do you steal?” The questions brought Anan out of his miserable musings and he raised his head. For a mortal faced with a creature of magic, she was doing well in holding herself together. She hadn’t screamed, only picked him up by his cloak and sat him down for a tongue lashing.

She was far better at it than his mother was too.

“Well?” Biting his lip, Anan fiddled with the end of his cloak. Her tone wasn’t leaving any room to refuse and he had a feeling that she wasn’t going to let him go anywhere until he explained it.

“It’s for our celebrations,” he started, ignoring her snort of disbelief to continue on. “Whenever the Yumboes have a feast, the most able bodied are sent out to gather the food. The youngest are sent to the human villages around our hills to gather grain or ground corn.”

The woman’s eyes dropped to the very ground corn that he had tried to take. He wasn’t sure what was going on in her head but when she looked at him again, there was a new light in her eyes.

“And if you do not bring back anything?”

“I-I don’t know,” his gaze dropped to the floor and he twiddled his thumbs, “No one has ever failed before.” He wasn’t even sure if the others had punishments for failure. If there were punishments, he didn’t want to be the first one to find out.

Going back empty handed was out of the question but he was running out of time. He had to be back before the sun began to set or the cooks would not be able to prepare for the feast. It was possible that they’d send someone to look for him if he wasn’t back soon.

“So your people do this each time that you have a feast?” The woman only seemed to get angrier the more that he tried to explain it to her. At his nod, she snorted and crossed her arms. “What is this feast even for? Celebrating some trick you played? A battle?”

“The birth of my sister,” Anan murmured quietly when he had the chance. The woman could go and on if she wanted but his answer seemed to calm her. A new spark entered her angry eyes and he flinched as she smacked her hands down on the table.

Even though his ears were larger than normal, he couldn’t quite make out the words that the human was muttering under her breath. After she turned around, he couldn’t even use her face to gauge her mood anymore either. All he knew was that she was upset and was doing something; the movements of her arms and shoulders told him that much.

When she did turn around again, a small bundle was tossed at him. Anan barely managed to catch it without falling off of the perch that she’d put him on for his scolding. Underneath the thin cloth, he could feel the grains that he needed for the feast.

And it was far more than he would have taken in the first place.

“New life is definitely something to be celebrated,” he looked up at her in shock when she started talking. “While I do not approve of stealing, I wouldn’t like to be the reason that a boy cannot celebrate with his family. My own children will be with their father tonight so it will not hurt to be a little low.”

Anan was about to express his thanks but she held up her hand to quiet him before picking him back up and setting just outside the door. She patted her apron back into place before giving him a little nudge with the back of her hand. “Go on now. You’ll have more than enough to make everyone happy; just don’t let me catch you stealing again.”

“Yes ma’am”

___________________

Ugh. School really has been sucking the life out of me. It’s closing in on the end of the semester.

This baby has been bugging me for weeks though! I’ve written, to date, 7 different drafts. I don’t really like anyone but this is the one I’ve disliked the least so here we are.

Next Creature: Phoenix

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