Darcy enjoys the quiet and the dark, her dark ringed eyes looking up into the heavens as the boy approaches her. She pushes off from the tree and stands up straight, hands in her coat pockets as she looks down at the child.
"Ain't it past your bedtime, kid?" She asks dryly, but doesn't really sound like she's scolding the kid. She looks over her shoulders at the trees lining the streets, then back to the boy.
"Eh. Fine. I like cats anyway. Did you see where the little guy went kid?"
The boy shoves his own hands into his pockets, his eyes wandering down to Darcy's feet. He stares downward for only a moment before he lifts his head up with a shrug. "It's not my bedtime yet since it's Saturday," he says, a smug smirk showing on his face as he appreciates his own lie.
"Yeah! Come on, he's over here - his name.. his name is Mittens. He usually.. he's usually an indoor cat, so I think he's afraid," the boy murmurs, his boots crunching the snow down as he trudges onward toward one tree in particular.
Barely visible as a silhouette against the dreary night sky, a little black cat is perched high on a branch, staring wide-eyed down at a trio of children that are all trying to coax it down. Two girls, one boy - two boys no that the one leading Darcy has rejoined his companions.
"We can't reach and he won't come down," the trio explain, all speaking over eachother as they offer their different explanations for the cat's anxiousness.
"No need to lie to me! I ain't your mother." Darcy replies with a dismissive wave of her hand as she follows alongside the lad, smirking a little at her own words. "Mittens. Cute name. Little stock, but, cute."
Emerging from the bush beside the boy leading her, she gives a quick wave to the kids, and rolls her eyes a little as they all sound off at once. "Alright, alright, calm down. You're only winding the poor thing up more with your yammering."
Brushing past the quartet of children, she slowly reaches up towards the cat with a warm smile, although given that she's not much taller than the kids it's mostly symbolic. "Hey there Mittens, ya handsome little devil. Why not come on down?" She coos up at the kitten in a calm, pleasant tone "Heeere kitty kitty."
"Oh, uh.. okay," the first boy says as Darcy dismisses his excuse. He shrugs his shoulders at Darcy's comments regarding the cat's name, leaving them hunched up as he lowers his head and moves to join a huddle with the rest of his pint-sized companions. Their fevered explanations were easily silenced by a command from the only grown-up present.
"She's not tall enough!" one of the girls says, in a stage whisper.
"Shut up!" a boy scolds her in return.
Despite her effort, the cat simply crawls up further on the branch, mewling fearfully as Darcy's hands grown closer. The branches of the tree shake slightly as a brisk wind blows by, causing the cat to hunker down at the tippy-top.
"Oh no!" one of the girls says, scurrying some distance away. If Darcy's eyes follow her, she can see what the little one is doing - she seems to be kneeled in a circle of grass that has been cleared of snow, crawling around on her hands and knees as she relights some candles?
Darcy purses her lips as the cat withdraws from her outstretch hand, then looks back to the others present. She looks like she's about to say something, but immediately her attention is drawn to the girl as she scurries over to what is apparently some kind of ritual circle.
"Uh, what're you doing with that?" She asks the girl in a cautious, level tone, approaching her as she keeps an eye out on poor Mittens.
The four kids go silent, stood stiff as statue save for their heads which swivel back and forth as they all look between eachother. "We were going to have a picnic!" pipes up the girl with her candles, before the others all murmur in agreement. "And we were going to bring Mittens, but he got scared!" adds the boy who had asked for Darcy's help to begin with.
The children have stopped their murmuring now, the only sound aside from the distant hum of the city being the wind whistling through the tree branches. The lights of the candles dance in the wind, with half sitting unlit. In the dim candlelight, the nature of their picnic becomes more clear - circles drawn on the ground in chalk are filled with complex geometric shapes and strange, arcane symbols. Now that the children have stopped huddling it's clear to see that the second girl is holding a book - much too large for her age - under her arm.
Darcy looks down at the kids with her eyes half lidded, clearly unenthused with their explanation. She bends down to get a closer look at the circle and just shakes her head. "I'm guessing they don't having classes in lying at whatever school you all go to. Is one of your parents a witch or something?"
She lets out a small huff, her breath steaming up the air as she walks the short distance back to the tree where Mittens precariously teeters at the top.
"Winds getting worse, though, I really shouldn't put this off." She mumbles, mostly to herself. She takes a moment to warm up, doing a few squats, twists and other stretches before taking a running start towards the tree, springing up and trying to heft herself onto one of the sturdier low-hanging branches.
"No!" cries the girl with the book, clutching the tome to her chest defensively. "Witches aren't.." She trails off, seeing that Darcy seems to still be interested in retrieving the poor cat from up there on the top of that tree. All four of the children cheer and offer some soft applause at the sight of her her springing up and reaching the lower branches with ease.
"Wow!" the first boy says, pointing up toward Mittens, who is clinging onto that top branch for dear life as he tries in vain to scramble further from the approaching Darcy. "He's right up there!" Poor Mittens is left at Darcy's mercy, simply mewling and hissing as she makes her approach.
Darcy clambers up the branches with a natural and practiced ease, deftly lifting herself from tree limb to tree limb without breaking a sweat. She even gives a little thumbs up to her audience as they give her some applause.
"You're lucky you're so cute." She informs Mittens with a lopsided grin as she reaches out slowly to collect the upset feline, letting the creature have a chance to calm down and accept her presence before actually grabbing for it.
Mittens takes some time to ease into the presence of Darcy - seeming to accept it as more of an unchangeable reality moreso than anything the cat it comfortable with. Mittens is tense and stuff, but cooperative when it comes time to be collected, curling up in Darcy's arm with a low growl. The audience continues to cheer at this - well, most of it. The first boy, the one who had asked for help, stands there in silence and fidgets with his winter gloves.
Darcy is patient while the cat resigns himself to his fate, tucking the cat into the crook of her arm as she carefully begins to make her way back down. She retraces her steps, descending down the branches she knows from the climb up to be sturdy. Once she finds herself on the branch she started her ascent on, she hops down and lands on her feet at the base of the tree with a soft thud and a spray of fresh powdered snow. "I got the little guy! I feel a little shunned though; not sure he likes me all that much."
The three children behind the boy cheer as he steps up to collect Mittens - the cat relaxes slightly at his approach, starting to squirm out as the boy tries to take the cat from Darcy's arms. "Come here Mittens.." he murmurs. None of his three companions' joy is mirrored on his face, and up close, it's easier to hear him as he sniffles quietly. He holds out his arms to take the cat from Darcy, if she'll hand it over to him, while the three other kids all watch with bated breath.
"You don't seem awfully grateful there, kid." Darcy observes, frowning disapprovingly at the young boy as she looks between him and his comrades. "Your friends seem a lot more amped up than you are."
Her attention is drawn down to the little critter as it starts trying to squirm his way out of her steely grip. With a shrug she hands Mittens back to the boy who first requested her help. "At any rate Mittens seems to love the hell out of you, so cheer up, 'kay?"
She places her hands on her hips and puffs out her chest, looking proud about what she's done here. "So's this little guy your familiar? Helping with your spells and stuff?"
The girl closest to the circle shuffles up in a hurry, her heavy pink boots weighing her down in her attempt to run. "Come on, Daniel! We need to.. have Mittens so we can do it!" she whispers to him, loud enough for all present to hear.
The boy who had come for help - Daniel, apparently - takes ahold of Mittens, hugging the fearful cat up to the front of his chest as petting it with a gloved hand. All four children are briefly confused about Darcy's question regarding 'familiars' - evidently, they don't know all the terminology. "I don't want to do it, anymore," Daniel protests, turning around with his back to Darcy to face the other three children. "Why can't we use Nemo?" His voice is quickly becoming shaky, his cries quickly rising up the hushed tones the little gang had previously maintained.
"It has to have four legs!" the little witch explains, stepping forward with her hands out to try and take Mittens. Daniel turns away defensively, casting his teary-eyed gaze up to Darcy once more.
stands off to the side as she watches the kids talk, her shoulders drooping and that self-satisfied smirk fading away as she finally manages to piece the nature of their ritual together -- right as Daniel looks up at her with his tears starting to well up.
"Oh, you little shits!" Darcy growls as she stomps towards them and the ritual circle, glowering at the girls and the other boy as she boots one of the unlit candles, fracturing it in half and sending both chunks flying into the cold dark woods.
The girl who had been reaching out to take Mitten gasps as Darcy growls at them, the trio of young ritualists all backing away in separate direction as the woman kicks aside one of their candles. "Stop!" the girl cries, reaching up to tug at her hair as she watches her hard work being destroyed. "Stop it, stop!"
Daniel clutches Mittens tight to his chest, watching from behind as he starts to sob, the silence of the graveyard now replaced by the boy's wailing.
Darcy doesn't stop despite the protests of the budding young mages, fixing the apparent ringleader with a hard glare as she grinds and smears the intricate lines of the magic circle beneath the filthy treads of her boots.
"Fuck right off, kid. You smug goddamn apes think you can just do whatever you want? Butcher little whelps like that before they have any real meat on their bones? You make me sick." She snarls at the girl, her nostrils flaring like bullet holes as she seethes.
"W-we weren't doing anything!" the girl says, scrambling further away from Darcy after she trips in the snow in her rush to back away. The other girl holds her tome in front of her defensively, while the boy closest to the circle picks up a piece of chalk and throws it toward Darcy as he shouts in agreement with the girl. "Go away!"
"You promised!" the girl adds, with a jab of her finger toward Daniel as he hides on the sidelines, hugging his cat close to him. "You said we could!"
"You need to make friends who aren't shit." Darcy looks over her shoulder as she informs Daniel. She doesn't sound quite as mad at him at least, but certainly very terse. She looks back to the others as the chalk bounces off her shoulder and falls to the ground flaccidly.
Bravely undeterred by the trio of literal children she continues her slow, walk towards them. Every footfall brings a crunch of snow that sounds menacing and oppressive in the dark woods. "Have your parents ever told you not to go out into the woods? They were right, there's very scary things out here. Old things. Ancient things that were here long before your monkey ancestors figured out fire. And they'll still be there long after you're gone." She utters to the children, rolling up her sleeves as a layer of thick black fur pours out of her bare flesh, her flat face suddenly starting to bulge outwards into the beginnings of a muzzle that makes her next words a little hard to understand. "I wouldn't "
Daniel winces at Darcy's scolding, letting out another cry of anguish as he turns away to shield his cat from the cold wind. The breeze picks up as the dark clouds roll overhead, the light of the moon shining through the gaps and illuminating Darcy for just a moment before dark fur starts to poke from her flesh.
The little witch herself crawls backward through the snow, cowering away from Darcy as she shifts monstrously. All four of the children scream, each one scattering in a separate direction - save for one, left vulnerable as she tries in vain to crawl away through the snow, frantically kicking her legs on the slippery ice of the graveyard path.
Darcy gives chase to the straggler -- or rather just lazily ambles after her. She closes her eyes as she advances, breathing deeply in through her nose and letting ragged sighs out of her mouth. As she does so, the fur starting to coat her arms recedes back into her flesh and her face regains an entirely human countenance, a few muffled pops as the bones reshape themselves. It doesn't take long before she's looming over the girl.
"So what did we learn here today, kid?" Darcy asks in an overly saccharine tone as she squats down by her. "The lesson is obvious, but I wanna hear it from you."
The girl curls up in the snow, hiding her face against the cold white surface of it as he hands move up to cover her head, cowering away from Darcy in the restores silence of the yard. "I won't do anything like that ever again!" she promises, her voice just a whisper - a real whisper, this time. "I'm sorry!"
"I'm real glad we see eye to eye on that. I really, really am." Darcy reaches down to give her a condescending ruffle of the hair, then stands up and starts to traipse away casually.
"Make sure your friends understand it too. Make sure they don't try and pull dumb shit like this ever again." She stops, the crunch of snow punctuating the end of her sentence. "And especially not in my forest."