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Dog-Head: I was born a mundane pup, (…telling their story discomposes him; his man-body sweats and his dog-head pants…) born in a noble's kennel, bred for hunting a mundane prey. I returned one day from the hunt to find myself newly acquired by a chymist.

Dog-Head: at the beginning of his story

Dog-Head: at the beginning of his story

Dog-Head: The old man bought hounds for the purpose of chymical experiment. In his laboratory he tested and tried us, seeking through chymical process to activate our pure essence. I’ll never know the cost of my making, how many dogs came before me. In my turn the Alchymist burned me black and bleached me white, fermented me yellow in uric acid and purged me red with mercury. His trials brutalized my dog-body until it expired. My head, however, he preserved. (Man-finger points to dog-head.) Fixed within, here, is my vital essence: perfect hunter. Graft it onto a warm body from the gallows and I am made. Whatever game I chase, I must catch. Whatever contest I pursue, I will win.

Vixen: And what was the hunter made to chase? Me, the perfectly hunted. The uncatchable quarry. Whatever pursues me, will lose me. Realize, missy, I made myself first, in secret, under the Alchymist’s proud nose, in his own laboratory. How he abominates me! I am the reason he fabricated a beast. I am source and cause of the beast’s suffering. All because I did what life does, which is to keep living — by wile, by craft, by stratagem.

Clever (scornful): Stay alive at any cost. The law of beggars. Hardly a rule for honest teachers of honest secrets.

Dog-Head (canine growl): Beastly wench, you weren’t born a beggar.

Clever: How fortunate then I am a quick learner, for life made me a beggar, and I keep living. One might call me wily or crafty or even strategic.

Vixen (eye and tooth gleam): You see too little and say too much.

Clever: Not fair! Not fair and not honest, to shame me for not knowing secrets and then to keep me not knowing them. (childish yearning) I wish there was an eye for seeing the true form of the world. And a tooth for telling it.

Vixen: Well, stop wagging your tongue. Open your ears and you might find such. As to my part, know that I was born an empyreal kit, (…telling their story mellows her temperament…) born long long ago in an ancient empyreal time. Born before there were pups in kennels or nobles to breed them or chymists to transmute them. A time before humans knew secrets, so busy you were grubbing in dirt and sleeping in trees. Oh, you are a lowly race, and too proud of yourselves.

Vixen : at the beginning of her story

Vixen: at the beginning of her story

Our story begins with me and my discontents. I am countless years old. I belong to a shape-shifting kind, a long-lived kind, but even so, our living is finite. Each of us arrives at last at the end of her natural span. I wanted what is unnatural — countless years more. I put on the guise of a marvelous woman and went to the Alchymist. I was seeking a chymical way to cheat Death.