"He knows your name; he knows everyone's name," Dahlia said in hushed tones as Cara entered the room.
Cara prowled round the room. The younger Mord'Sith were gathered around, listening raptly to Dahlia. Cara sank down next to Dahlia; Dahlia put one hand on Cara's knee and squeezed it, though she never took her gaze from the other girls.
"He travels across the whole world in the space of one night," Dahlia went on. "He knows what deeds you have done - even those no living soul has knowledge of."
One of the Mord'Sith shivered involuntarily and Cara flicked a disapproving gaze at her.
"He rewards those he is pleased with," Dahlia said, "but you will never see him, for he only comes when you slumber."
"I could catch him," boasted one of the other girls. "I would pretend to sleep and then agiel him!"
Dahlia shook her head fiercely making her braid swing around like a deadly whip. "He sees you when you're sleeping and knows if you're awake."
This last statement sounded familiar. Cara cleared her throat. "Dahlia, who are you talking about?"
"The Winter Father," Dahlia said.
He was a mythological figure that brought good children gifts at the solstice, Cara remembered dimly, a jovial figure from a childhood that had ended the moment the Mord'Sith had chosen her to join them. Dahlia had either mis-remembered or was re-inventing the man for her own purposes.
"And how does he reward obedient Mord'Sith?" Cara asked with the arch of one eyebrow.
"With wonderful dreams," Dahlia said. "And sometimes gifts - a new leather holster, or, um, bath oils."
Cara nodded. "Then I hope you've all been very obedient this year."
The Mord'Sith all nodded fervently.