It was hard to take her seriously when she giggled like a loon between words, so he didn’t put her down until they stood on the stoop in front of the house.
“Ruffian!” Etty hissed over her smile. “Meanie! Thief of innocent, unsuspecting pies!”
“Ooo! You wound me, beloved sister! I have never taken a pie by force.”
From inside the house, their mother shouted at them.
“When the two of you are finished with being dramatic, you can come inside. Don’t bring bad acting into my home!”
Etty and her brother stifled their laughter, put on straight, reserved, expressions, and gravely entered the Pendy family home. Ginga, their mother, stood in the living room with a wooden spoon in her hand, waving it back and forth as a warning against sudden attacks of thespian grandiosity.
“Mother.” Lur said, greeting her in his most laconic tone of voice.
“Mother, dear.” Etty bowed.
“Mercy! The two of you are a pair of pains in my behind; it’s lucky that I love you both so dearly.” The look on her face was so warm that it gave lie to her words. “So, darling daughter, you’ve come home again. Is your human mate treating you poorly?”
“No! Never! Not at all!”
“Oh, good.” Ginga sighed and rushed over to embrace the girl where she stood.
“I found something,” Etty said into her mother’s ear, “in Logan’s mobile kitchen, that didn’t belong there.”
“Really? What is it?” Her mother asked, stepping back so she could be shown the topic of the conversation.
“This ring.” Etty held her hand out in the morning light.
Ginga’s face, normally a warm tan color, went ghastly white, and she took several more steps away from her child. Lur bent over, grimaced, and made as if to touch the ring that was attached to his sister’s finger with golden thorns in her flesh.
“Don’t touch it!” Ginga screamed at the top of her lungs.
Lur jumped back in shock.
“Mother? Why are you acting like this?” Etty cried, caught in the high emotions of the moment.
“Lur, go find your father. Tell him he needs to come home, immediately.” Ginga tried to sound normal, and keep her feelings in check, but it was a near thing.
“Certainly, Mama, but what’s so…”
“Get your father. Now.” She cut her son off. “Don’t ask questions. Just do it, son.”
Her son’s face was rapidly becoming as gray as hers, and his black nose was losing the moist sheen typical of her family line. Without another word, he turned around, and left the house in search of his father.
“Mama, what’s wrong?” Etty lost her composure, and tears streamed down her face.
“You found one of the old artifacts; the things we’d hoped were legendary.”
“How do you know for sure?”
“Etty, the ring has grown into your finger. That’s how I know it is the Rose Thorn Ring.”
“Have I done something bad?”
“Not yet, and I pray you never will.”