…so he took his form back and picked up his pouches and walked to his pony and patted the bags for the moans they created and found them all still alive and he let himself out the gate and past the fear and the begging empty faces of men, some middle aged and they became the want their eyes could no longer express for not being there and their bodies begged the salvation he would not give them for they heard his pony and nothing lived here like that and they knew he was coming and going. And some had known him from before and he patted them and he said goodbye as if to a friend and pretended he did not understand their situation or their need or their eyelessness nor the ropes that held them in their reek and he asked if he could bring them anything back and walked on without waiting for their answers. Rose watched him go through the thick dirty glass in the window of the house he just left and she combed her hair red again and cleaned her nails with her teeth and he was not the only one who could fake and she looked out into the courtyard at the upturned faces of the stars and wondered if she’d take.
And when he was gone she left the house and she let her eyes turn black as she desired but kept her face pretty as a woman and her young body white and her red hair long and straight as blood dripping because it pleased her and her witches gathered and she brought out Deal and they loved him and touched him and pulled off his clothes with kisses and there in the star light they sat in nakedness around the boy and all of them touching his sex made seed and shared it on fingertips and made more and he laughed and they held him with breasts and kisses and legs and drew again from him until he was red and he hurt and they used their mouth and then Rose stopped them and drug him back into her house and there she thraled him until the day had passed and the night came again and so they repeated this and they fed him pig fat and eggs and they for their weeks had his seed and they took who could take and when their moon came that was Roses moon and only a few had not taken she walked him to the pen where she kept her miners and she told her witches about the lie of belief. They tied him there and the miners she had dig agate or so she told them for there was no agate in that cave and those that survived were only the Kords as the other kinds died quick. And she beat them for what they could not know for there was no agate and she had taken their eyes and yet some she rewarded for bringing her the agate that was not real and they created in that mine something more powerful than she could through her womb, they dug and drug and fondled and put rocks in their mouths and tried to tell agate from stone though only stone was there and she at the end of their day rewarded the ones who had done what she asked and beat the ones who refused to bring her agate and it was her art to know when and who to reward and when and how to destroy but yet none battled her refrain like those miners, stalwart and hurried in their umbrage. Eyelessly they toiled and dug and drug rocks from that hole in the cliff, with every effort some wild hope against all reason or possibility and yet they lived and believed and found and created truth and she took it all from them and the mine was her secret heart and what she drew from it was nothing less than Light itself and all of it she devoured and it never shown again.
Their corral was a mess of filth, offal and regurgitated meal as the Kord’s stomachs couldn’t suffer milled grain, but bread they were given in plenty. Bits of wood and sometimes metal were thrown in to make or blame with. They spoke and it was allowed but only if whispered and so they would fight and growl and bite and be whipped red with sticks until they cowed and shivered against each other. And she knew their tongue and listened long hours to it, hovering near the mine or walking in the tree above them teaching herself evil. And it was here that, when spent and bruised and crying Deal was thrown without his eyes, after the coven had taken their weeks of him, and his seed had grown in those who could take. And he felt about the corral and was wroth with his leash and pulled at it even to hurt himself. And the miners bit at him when he crawled over them and he grabbed onto their legs but their teeth, though rotting and dulled still tore and his skin, unlike theirs opened easy and he sat at last in his terror and pain on a spot of ground that was the only thing left to him that was real and indifferent and he clicked with his tongue and felt with his dirty fingers where his eyes should be until the holes hurt then he just waited for the men, one that would never find him and the other who would never return.
And she rewarded him every day though he never dug. The others would drag him into the mine with them as they were all tied, small Kords, red divers, and he would fart from the porridge and push them down as they knelt and laugh and pee on the rocks for the water they had enough of and the Kords would dig and meditate on the small smooth stones in their mouths to know what she wanted and wonder if the agate had run out and she beat them and she loved Deal in front of them and gave him dead birds though he would not eat them but the red divers could smell it and his waste but she would not let the red food get to the other miners and she accused them of their lessness and this happened and deal moaned and pulled at his rope. And in the night they came to him after a hand full of days and they bit open his throat and ate him after drinking the salt of his blood right there at the end of his leash and they ate his leash too, that which had his blood on it and Rose laid on her branch in the tree above them and was utterly unknown to them and she watched them move back to their corners and squat and belch for the nourishment and be full of the boy and sleep with their sharp heads tucked between their legs and in the morning she pretended the boy had never come to them at all.