Sitting on the porch of Baba Olya’s house, the old women peered into the forest and muttered, khitka. The word raised the hairs on Nadya’s arms, but she was no longer a child, so she laughed with her brother at such silly talk. The khitkii were spiteful forest spirits, bloodthirsty and vengeful. But in stories, they were known to hunger after newborns, not full-grown girls near old enough to marry.
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