It amounted to a council of war.
The enormous dining table, seating for forty, was covered in neat piles of paper at its western end. Maude’s transformation from timid slave into strong confident woman was becoming increasingly evident as she strode up and down beside the table. She was reading from a notebook held in her left hand. Bast noticed that Maude seemed taller, her shoulders, no longer stooped, were the very image of a perfect posture, giving rise to a straight neck, with her head held high. An odd result of this, Bast mused sitting back and watching with a coffee in hand, was that her long face, was not actually long it all. Her posture, once returned to as it was meant to be, seemed to shorten the line of her jaw, leaving Maude looking highly attractive, but far from softly pretty. She also looked as if she had gained a light tan.
Cat had also transformed herself into her feline image, and was pacing on the opposite side of the table. Bast was seated on her window ledge, manilla folder open in her lap, and a coffee in her hand.
“So, what we have to work with at this stage is a forest setting, therefore allowing for cover and concealment.” asserted Maude. “We have the element of surprise, and the weight of numbers all in our favour. On top of that, we have a winged witch, a shape changing fluke of nature, and, well, a recently powered up Goddess.”
“Indeed, and now I think about it, we do make up one hell of a trifecta.” agreed Cat from somewhere around table height, tail gently swishing from side to side. “However, what she has is unpredictability, immense strength, enormous power of will, a huge desire to spill blood, and a raging lust to avoid capture.”
“She also, at that stage at least, has the ability to time slip, but not yet the understanding.” entered Bast. “If we lose her there, the likelihood of springing a successful attack on her anytime after that will be immensely diminished. ”
“Yes,” agreed Cat, “the other issue we haven’t yet contemplated is what to do with her once we catch her. She sure as hell will not come quietly, and even when we do have her, we need to ensure she doesn’t time slip away. We’ll also have to get that foul cloak she wears off her too. She’ll fight like hell to keep hold of that bloody thing would be my guess.”
“Hmmmmm, quite the pickle.” lamented Bast.
“I think I might be able to help you with that.” said Maude. “Occasionally, when bloody Mr. Darcy is playing up, Death locks him into the boot of the car. I had, until now, never really given it a thought, but it might be to stop him buggering off timewise. I’ll get hold of Death and she what she has to say about it. It might be a way to stop Black Annis from doing the same.”
It was aroma, not sound that caused the girls to notice her. All three of the Trollope lasses had walked into the utterly silently. There was no telltale squeak of floorboard, nor sound of footfall to herald their arrival. What there was, however, was food. Lots and lots of food, and it was being carefully placed at the opposite end of the massive table.
“Christ on a bike! Where did that lot come from?” exclaimed Bast in shock, looking up from the paperwork in her hand. “Is that a whole roast swan?”
“Yes, ma’am. Mother say’s we need to put a bit of meat on your bones.” said Trollope 1 bluntly. “Plus there is all the trimmin’s with it. You’ve also got salmon chowder, there’s a whole one in it, plus a suckling pig.”
“Ah, is this just for the three of us?” stammered Cat. “There seems to be an awful lot of it, is it for the staff as well?”
“No ma’am, those bastards is gettin’ tripe with whitish sauce, an’ bread an’ drippin’.” said Trollope 3, equally as bluntly as the first.
“Once, you’ve finished that, Mother says we are to clear the plates an’ bring up puddin’.” Stated Trollope 2, another graduate from the school of tact free pragmatic directness.
“Ah, I’m not sure we are going to need pudding after that lot.” blurted Bast. “Please pass onto Madame Trollope our unreserved compliments for such fine fare, but, next time could she confine her meals to a single plate for each of us. Now, if you lasses could carve please, and we’ll serve ourselves thank you.”
Carving complete, and turning perfectly in sync as one, the three two metre she mountains left the room as silently as they entered.
“Bloody hell! Does she seriously expect us to eat ALL of it?” exclaimed Maude, taking in the sheer magnitude of food before her.
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