Rylah enjoyed the feel of the warm sand that clung to her wet naked back. There would be fewer and fewer days of warmth as fall set in, even this far south. She rolled onto her chest and looked into the fluffy face of Cyrah.
“Hello there,” Rylah said to the fae cat.
It purred and Rylah felt its affection transfer through their bond.
Rylah climbed to her feet. In the back of the beachside cabin was a nozzle. Rylah turned it and fresh water poured onto her, washing the sand from her nakedness. After turning the device off, she pulled on a thin robe and entered the cabin.
The handsome young sail boat owner stood motionless before a table adorned with a hearty breakfast. Buttered flat bread, fried seahawk eggs, assorted fresh fruit, and oysters caught by the sailor before even the dawn. He now waited motionless for Rylah’s next command.
“Sit and eat till you’re satisfied, you’re sailing me to Fresta today,” Rylah said to the sailor.
Rylah sat across from the sailor and enjoyed her meal till the point that her stomach hurt. She hadn’t had anything this substantial since leaving Lakeglen. The sailor rose and cleared the table. Rylah rose and gathered her clothing and gear. She had left Lake Glen well supplied.
The sailor left the hut carrying heavy bags to his boat. Rylah was about to follow him when a sensation of chills stopped her. She watched the red haired Faery she’d seen in the Fae duck through the door of the Hut. His red-yellow butterfly wings could barely fit through the threshold.
“You.” She instantly regretted the reflexive vocal outburst. The Faery smiled.
“I am Corteal, we’ve met,” The Faery spoke in a too-pleasant voice.
“We have.” Rylah mentally sorted through her limited courses of action. First off, she sent mental instructions to her Familiars. She regretted now more than ever that she didn’t share the same depth of connection that her father and brother had with the two of them. But she had no doubts either way that they’d understand her intentions.
“How do you do it?” Corteal asked. “I know all the spells of the ancients and yet I could not make myself be as you are – such a perfect mortal body.”
The Faery walked closer to Rylah. She had a few hollowed out eggs with a surprise or two inside them that could get her out of this. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Rylah said keeping up with the conversation.
“You don’t? I wasn’t borne in the last century Faeling, don’t expect me to believe that.”
“I’m a Witch, I don’t know why you’re so interested in me, but if you’re looking for spells I happen to know a few.” Rylah drew an egg from a concealed pocket and through it to the ground while muttering an incantation. Rylah raised her arms to protect her face.
Corteal had lunged forward like Rylah had wanted. Tiny silver balls sprayed at both Rylah and the Faery. Rylah’s clothing mostly protected her but the Faery who wore nothing, except for a waste belt of leaves, was left reeling trying to scrape the imbedded silver from his skin.
Rylah ran by the screaming Faery and out the door of the hut and sprinted towards the town of Capricor just a mile and a bit down the beach. Ignoring the churning of her breakfast in her stomach, she ran.
Rylah had pushed all the furniture of her inn room to the walls and was sitting cross legged in a circle of candles. It was late. It was far past an hour when most would be asleep, but Rylah couldn’t risk letting her mind relax.
Hospin was flying north carrying a letter Rylah had written rapidly after reaching the Inn in Capricor, where she currently resided. Cyra was patrolling the rough tops around Capricor, watching the night sky with her fae sensitive eyes. For now Rylah waited maintaining the spell that would make her invisible to the Faery in all ways.
“Who sent me a letter?” Rylah asked.
The innkeeper smiled her face becoming crinklier. “Oh he was a handsome sir. Sailor I believe, I’ve met him before.”
Rylah smiled politely then cursed under her breath. She opened the letter.
Sorry for my rudeness, I understand that I likely frightened you. I would like to apologize then state that my purpose here is less malicious than you may expect. I am on a trail and I believe you can help me.
Rylah folded up the letter, “Thank you.” Rylah left the Inn quickly. Rylah knew that she was stuck in Capricor for now.
She looked around the city. Rylah pictured Marybella chasing after her brothers back in Lake Glen. Atwood had assured her that her family would be taken care of after she had left.
“So, where too?” Rylah asked Cyrah as she stepped out from behind a crate.
The black and white cat tilted its head and started walking down the side of the street. She felt Cyrah transmit a desire for Rylah to follow. She led Rylah south east through the city toward the docks.
The yellow stone dock ways stretched hundreds of feet into the sea. Each was lined to capacity – fishing boats mostly, but larger transport, and pleasure ships could be spotted in the floating market place.
“Cyrah?” The cat had stopped.
“That Cat tells me that you need some help,” a man to Rylah’s left spoke. Rylah repressed jumping in surprise.
“Who are you?” Rylah asked the cloaked man. He was from the islands if Rylah had to guess. His chestnut colored skin was rather catching. Rylah couldn’t place his age, he was bald and clean-shaven. His expression and eyes didn’t look young but his skin showed no sign age.
“Don Labodi, I’m a shu’kal,”
“There is essentially little difference in what I am from a northern warlock.”
“Over here,” Labodi led Rylah onto one of the large pleasure boats and under the deck into his cabin. Cyra waited outside.
“I take it the Faery followed you to Capricor?” Labadi asked.
“Did you call it?”
“I am not that foolish.”
“But it wants you?” He asked.
Rylah looked around Labodi’s cabin. Candles littered the room – herbs, incenses, and assorted rare stones. “Yes, but I don’t know why. Can you help me?” Looking around she saw jars of small creatures floating in liquids. She handed him the letter Corteal had sent her.
“I could talk to the Faery for you,” He said.
“Is your mind touched?”
“I would be fine, I’ve talked to many Faeries,” Labodi answered. “But not now. Now sit down.” Labodi led Rylah to a table and pulled a chair out for her, she sat as did he. Labodi was smiling brightly. “I’ve talked too little with northern witches.”
“What do you mean that you’ve other Faeries?” She deflected.
“Sit down lovely girl; we have a great many stories to tell each other.”
Rylah woke to find Labodi gone. They had spent the day talking of spells, recipes, and summoning’s. She had drunk quite a bit too of the wine he’d kept pouring. Rubbing her temples Rylah grabbed her clothes from where they were scattered on the floor. Leaving Labodi’s bedroom she searched through the rest of his small pleasure boat. He was nowhere, and Rylah couldn’t remember her last few hours of consciousness. She couldn’t recall the final arrangement they’d came to before night had ended. Perhaps Don Labodi was already off to converse with the Faery.
She reached out for Cyra. The cat sent back images. She was following Labodi, they were outside of Capricor. Rylah decided to hang back on Labodi’s boat. She was examining a large petrified insect that she didn’t recognize when Cyra disappeared to her.
Rylah was out of the boat and sprinting through Capricor. She couldn’t think, Cyrah and Hospin where both precious to her. She was at the main gate from the city when she suddenly felt Cyrah again. She was following Labodi, but this time the where heading back in the direction of Capricor.
Rylah transmitted the sensation of concern towards Cyrah. The fae cat responded with confusion and more images of Labodi walking. Rylah cautiously returned to Labodi’s boat. She prepared a few surprises should he try something.
“And?” Rylah asked. She had helped herself to what she took was a dress from Labodi’s home, it was a light white skirt and matching blouse. She offered him a glass of his wine. He accepted.
“And we talked about finding common ground,” Labodi said.
“You’re talking around the point. Drink and speak clearly.” His eyes were all over her. He took her advice and took a drink.
“And you look as fine as a young woman, Faeling. I’m sorry this has to be this way.” She felt Cyrah’s warning but it was too late. She felt long fingers wrap around her left shoulder.
Over her right shoulder she heard a voice. “Rylah, that’s your name, correct?” Corteal’s voice was less unnerving than Rylah would have expected it to be.
She was trapped but at least she would have this: she poured the wine from her glass. “That was the remainder of the cure to the h’bruet essence you just drank.” She had thrown the rest of the alchemical equipment and herbal supply off his boat into the harbor. She estimated that he had thirty minutes at most left.
Labodi came at Rylah but Corteal caught him and threw him through the floor boards of the boat. Water began rushing in beneath them.
“Hold your breath,” Corteal said before he grabbed Rylah and dove into the water.