The werecat tried to nap, but a buzzing sound and a whisper of breeze plagued him.
Orin held back a sigh as he lifted his head from his front paws and stared straight ahead. Every few seconds, Toshi the werehummingbird zipped into and out of view. Orin had strict orders from Mistress not to hurt Toshi; she was harmless, after all, doing nothing but enjoying a little flying.
Mistress knew well that the werehummingbird was teasing the werecat, yet she just smirked slightly and gave Orin no relief.
But Toshi was, in fact, a mild nuisance and not the werecat’s true nemesis.
There it was now, having a go at the oak tree Mistress kept in the house for it. The werecat knew that the creature was just warming up, just making its presence in the vicinity known before it came into the entryway where Mistress required Orin to stand guard when she was out.
Now Orin did sigh. It wouldn’t be long.
In it came, flying under the chandelier and over the werecat to land on the oaken ball of the newel post at the bottom of the staircase.
The ball had taken quite a beating since the werewoodpecker came to live with them, but Mistress simply dashed off a minor spell periodically to restore it.
Mistress had taken quite a fancy to these avian pests; she had uses for aerial observation and attack platforms, and so they were the new darlings of the house. As Orin himself had once been. Now he was little more than a pet, kept on partly for old times’ sake, partly as a sentry when Mistress was absent, and rarely now for ground reconnaissance or strike.
The werecat had once reverted to human shape and caged both birds before they could alter their forms. Mistress hexed the house to prevent further shapeshifting indoors.
Jeff the werewoodpecker stared at Orin’s fur-covered skull in preparation for an assault. Mistress had instructed Jeff not to annoy Orin, but that directive seemed to have elastic boundaries.
The werecat gave a lazy glance over his shoulder as if unconcerned, as if not making one last check of the distance and vector.
The werewoodpecker gave the finial a final flourish – “Beat to Quarters” – before spreading his wings and soaring toward his intended victim.
Orin’s right front paw – claws carefully sheathed – lashed out and he rolled as he redirected Jeff up and around and – thunk – into the staircase. The werewoodpecker’s long bill and stiff tail were almost as good as a regulation dart. Jeff’s body was limp, and he was too dazed to free himself.
Toshi flitted between the trapped werewoodpecker and the triumphant werecat, alternately consoling and cursing and, in her frenzy, occasionally getting it backward.
Orin put his head down on his paws and ignored Toshi. Mistress would censure him for this feather in his cap, but that couldn’t help the hapless pecker at the moment. He began a well-deserved catnap of victory.