Tadie had never seen witchspawn, but she had heard their hunting screeches beyond the trees; sounds like children in pain. Master had told her that witchspawn were children once, girls like her who felt the Itch and gave in. The Itch that made clothing unbearable, that made children scratch themselves bloody, that made them ravenously hungry. Last harvest, it had been Kyla, a girl three seasons her elder, who’d gotten the Itch and ran away. Usually the Fold spotted it before that—usually children with the Itch were taken and Unsaid before they could turn.
Eventually their nexian corpses, smelling sweetly with a scent like cardamom, fennel, nutmeg, star anise, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon combined, caught fire as they always do once the inevitable changes of decay have rooted themselves in nexian flesh. I removed the fireproof shiro all nexians use for bedding so that the flames of their corpses would eat the orphanage in the night. I wanted to burn in the fire of my beloveds, but the voices that attack my mind wouldn’t let me, and so I flew through a second story window into the ash-colored trees of the surrounding Serenblen.