Posted January 3, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Small yellow flowers were blooming now on the tomato plants. A hummingbird sat among them, singing.

"Jesus Christ!" Teige shouted, hopping out of the way in the shape of a stoat, trailing green fire. The end of Luu's staff thwacked the ground where he had been. "Are you trying to kill me?!"

"Stop turning into that little beast, then!" Luu snapped in return, whipping the staff back up over their shoulder. Their eyes glinted angrily in the evening light. "Do something besides cower and dodge!"

Vlad watched disconcertedly from the fence line, a lit cigarette held between two fingers, as Teige bellowed, "How do you expect me to do anything when you won't let me get a swing in?!"

"That is the point, you--you dhuuq!" Luu roared back. Shouting at Teige didn't seem to slow them down at all as they rained down a flurry of jabs at Teige with their staff. Teige was now an indistinct green mass of flame only vaguely shaped like a deer, leaping away from Luu with one wide white eye on them, as the end of the staff merely phased through him. Luu continued to bark, "Find an opening! Think! Stay in one form and face me! Use those rotten horns of yours! Your teeth! Your claws!"

Something landed with a loud whack, eliciting a howl from Teige and a flinch from Vlad. As Luu and Teige continued to scream furiously at each other, Vlad muttered to himself, "Okay...maybe this setup wasn't my best idea."

Hawk leaned forward as Numair let Sraddi up onto the garden fence, and looked at her curiously. "Wait," he said, "you built this??"

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