“You’ve just eaten!” the Keymaster exclaimed, looking at the baby angel’s pouting lips. He gazed into those beautiful eyes. They had been the first thing he saw whens he came to after the spider-wolves’ attack.
He didn’t know how long he had lain there in the cold moss at the top of the cliffs. He awoke and saw that the baby had somehow gotten out of the protective stone circle he had put around her, crawled over and curled into his arms.
He didn’t know who had kept whom warm in the midst of the night. The next thing he realized, his wounds had healed. He took the baby back to his home after he buried the parents’ bodies and promised them he’d take the baby to the Daimon Gate.
“All right, I’ll get you more food. But don’t ask for milk. I’m not your mother. I make powerful keys that change worlds. But I don’t make milk.”
He put a bowl of fruit in front of the baby angel. She stared at him.
“All right, I understand. I’m not a vegetarian, either. But it’s all I’ve got.” He crouched next to the bench. “I’m going to take you to the Daimon Gate. People there will take care of you, much better than I do. But for now, I have this task at hand. I need to finish this key. So please bear with me. It won’t take long.”
He returned to the large piece of stone in the middle of the room. “You see, I need to make this Key of Pisces. It’s important, and it’s supposed to be made of jade. It’s more than a job for a client now—it has your mother’s flesh and blood in it.”
The baby giggled.
“I know!” he sighed. “It’s taken me three times longer than my usual process.” He held up the stone carving knife. “Jade isn’t a hard stone to carve. It represents wisdom, balance, and peace, do you know that?”
The baby made some more giggling noises.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” He cut into the light green part of the stone. But the cut resealed as soon as he pulled the knife out.
“What the hell?” This had never happened before. Well, an angel had died, and her flesh and blood had been absorbed into this stone. Her blood had made a part of it red, and her flesh and feathers had made some of the stone a pure shiny white. At least that had been his assumption when he’d seen the three-color stone and the dead body of a female angel lying on top of it.
But he wasn’t sure anymore.
He had needed only the jade. He’d find another stone. It might take him a while, but this stone might have more than just three colors. It might not be worth his trouble.
The baby made a giggling sound again.
“You can laugh at me now. I can’t use this stone. What a waste of time. Why don’t I take you to the Daimon Gate and come back to this key later?”
The baby smiled.
“I knew you’d agree. You can’t wait to get out of here.”
He approached the baby angel. She looked excited, he thought.
Then she raised her hands and clapped.
He covered his ears. It had been fine when she killed the wolves, but now, the clapping sounded like thunder and felt as if it punctured his brain.
The baby clapped a few more times and stopped.
He stood still, making sure there wasn’t another round of thunder. Then from the corner of his eye, he could see the stone had broken into three different pieces, each with one of three different colors.
“What have we here?” he muttered. Then he looked at the baby. “Do you want me to make the key with stones of three colors?”
The baby nodded.
“When you respond, it feels rather creepy, you know. Why don’t you just make baby sounds?”
He examined the stone. Each piece was cut precisely where the color stopped. He had never done this before, but he knew now he was meant to make this key with all three colors.
Green. Red. White. What does this all mean? He held up the carving knife and started the work.