By Tyler Golec
“Jarl, you watch me when I clean them every night and when I load them in the morning. You’re obsessive.”
“Those will save your life.”
The people around Lake Mirri were not known for their creative names. Lakeglen sat on the northern bank with the peninsula clearly just in view from their beaches. The place thrived off fishing and trade. It was by far the largest town east of Ashton till you reached Jutland and the other Islander controlled cities.
“I figured it would be larger,” Malick said as Lakeglen came into view.
“Small compared to your Ashton but large as folks here are concerned.”
It was afternoon when the two rode through the main part of the town. The Wicken were still thought well of here.
“All these people come in from surrounding villages for the Midsummer Festival. It lasts for a week and makes the tavern and shop keeps quite wealthy,” Jarl rambled.
“And you think the Witch will be here?” It had been sixteen years since the Faery but just three years ago that witchcraft was found practiced here.
“Or Warlock, it was two Warlocks last time.”
They dismounted outside a Tavern and handed off their reins. “Malick, take a look around town. My legs are tired I’ll get us rooms.”
“Why not, I want to see festival.”
“Mr. Wicken!” A vender cried out. “Would you like a torch, it’s almost time for the bonfire!”
Ashton had celebrated the Midsummer festival and even the Monastery lit a towering bonfire to drive away the malicious spirits of the Fae. These festivals happened all over the Jovah region.
“Of course,” Malick answered. The vendor fished one from his inventory – lit it, and passed it to Malick. “Thank you, how much do I owe you?”
“Nothing as long as you continue fighting off the Fae.” The Wicken were definitely welcome here. It was nice but unfortunately not common elsewhere.
Malick followed the flow of townspeople, halfheartedly checking for signs of the Fae. He ran up with them as they all began tossing their torches into the would-be bonfire that was still a pyramid of wood. It towered over most of Lakeglen’s buildings. Constructed in the green, it was far away from any structure that might burn.
Malick enjoyed the growing heat from the fire as more and more torches flew in. He turned away from the growing heat and made eye contact with a girl. Younger than him probably but he couldn’t really tell. Her eyes: burning green shifting, beautiful but unreal. He couldn’t look away from her eyes. He felt a rush of adrenalin crawl up his spine. His training honed instincts screamed Fae, her practice of witchcraft was clear.
She turned and walked out of the crowd and away from the rest of the townsmen. Malick followed.
Two Wicken Men had ridden into Lakeglen but only one was attending the celebrations. He navigated the crowds with a lack of grace but a familiarity to the celebration. He was a stranger to Lakeglen but not to Jovah. His long black coat, which was belted at his waist, fit his tall form quite nicely. He had slightly grown out black hair and blue eyes. She found herself staring into them as they made eye contact by the bonfire. She left knowing he would follow her.
“What’s your name?” he asked finally catching up to her by the water.
“That’s polite of you to ask my name first. It’s Rylah Manuel,” she walked into a large storage shed. She heard him follow her reluctantly.
“We need your help,” He said closing the door to the shed behind him. It was a fairly large space filled up with goods.
“I promise you, we’ll leave you alone when we’re done,” The blue eyed Wicken Man said. She looked at him disappointed. The Wicken Man took Rylah’s silence as a prompt to keep speaking. “I could make a legitimate inquiry into your witchcraft if you’d wish to wait for that.”
“My familiar would tear your eyes out the moment you walked out that door.” Rylah gestured to behind the blue eyed Wicken Men. “It would be a shame, they’re pretty eyes.” Rylah relaxed somewhat seductively on stacked pile of burlap seed bags. He seemed annoyed but didn’t look at her as directly as he had.
“I’m sure you don’t need the attention drawn here that killing me would bring,” He said.
Rylah thought he at least needed to be twenty, maybe not quite twenty but close. The stubble he was constantly itching suggested as much.
“No, attention isn’t what I need,” Rylah confirmed. She looked at the two single shot pistols and silver inlaid reaper that hung from the Wicken Man’s belt. “What’s your name?”
“Malick Amora,” He answered.
“Amora?” Rylah laughed.
He actually blushed.
“Malice Love,” Rylah smiled.
“And your name is Rylah Manuel, Wild God.”
“Better than Malice Love.” Rylah smirked.
“So are you going to help me or not?”
“Depends on what you need me to do?”
“We need to find the place where the Fae is coming through.”
“I could show you where that is, what are you planning on doing their?”
“It won’t work I’ve tried.”
He looked at her oddly, “Then we’ll try something else.”
“I was hoping for a totally different sort of encounter.” She swung her legs to the ground making shore he saw their full length.
Malick grabbed her shoulder as she went to walk by him. “I’m going to need your word that you’re going to help me if I’m going to let you leave.” Rylah reached into her pocket and located a hollowed out egg shell and crushed it in her palm.
“Meet me tomorrow evening in Mr. Atwood’s general store. I’ll take you there.” She hurled the powder of, select pepper powders, into Malick’s blue eyes.
He shoved her away then grasped at his eyes and fell to his knees. The muscle relaxant in this specific concoction was working. He cursed and tried to rub at his eyes but his body was failing him.
“I promise you, mister Malice Love, I’ll help you.”