TITLE: The Keeping-Box
GENRE: YA Fantasy
The first thing Bianca noticed about the visitor was the blood caked on his face. The second thing she noticed was that he wasn't human.
She stared, transfixed, while the forgotten rag in her hand dripped soapy water onto the floor. He was no taller than a child, yet clearly an adult. His ears rose into decided points, crowned by little tufts of hair - the only hair on his head. His mouth and nose bore a closer resemblance to a wildcat's than a human's. And if she had any remaining doubts, they were banished by the sight of the dried blood on his wrinkled brown skin. It was as green as tarnished copper.
"Much apologies," he said as he shut the door of the shop behind him. His breathless, heavily accented voice came from somewhere deep in his chest. "Did not want intrude. No other choice."
Bianca gathered her wits just enough to answer, "It's all right." She had at least a dozen questions she wanted to ask, the first of which was 'What are you?' But her cousin's training was taking hold, telling her she must heal first and save questions for later. She tossed aside the rag and dried her hands on her apron. "Sit down," she said, indicating the chair near the counter. "I'll get some bandages and salves."
He furrowed his blood-stained brow and winced. "Salves? What is salves?"
"For cleaning. Healing," she added, when he continued to look perplexed. "For your wounds."