Against The Current, thrilling installment #9

7 04 2008

I though I ought to drop another post, so here you are. Commenting encouraged. Not that anyone cares…

The first few rays of bright sunlight filtered through the windows of the tavern, promising another brilliant morning and a glowing hot day. Dust danced in the spotlights, swirling and swaying to the music of an orchestra only they could see and hear, oblivious the gloom that surrounded the table in the middle of the room. The table in question had laid out and a hearty breakfast was almost begging to be eaten, the smells of crispy beacon and scrambled eggs mixing with those of fresh bread and honey.

The three people sitting around it, however, didn’t seem to take notice and even the large mugs of steaming hot tea had hardly been sipped from. In fact the only reason Aleana had made breakfast, was Jesij having told her to; why, she couldn’t begin to fathom.

‘This might not be the best of times to tell you,’ Jesij started, having finally come to the conclusion that anything was better that this continued silence, ‘but Isrin says things have taken a turn for the worse lately. There’s rumours of werewolves in the forest even…’

Laiva’s father flinched at these words, but then decided to make a point and slammed his fist on the table, miraculously avoiding to knock anything over in the process. There was a reason Jenn was said to be considerate – you could pretty much see him doing it. Not that he was slow in any way, he just wasn’t rash, if he didn’t have to.

‘She is all right.’ he followed his gesture after a little pause, putting enough emphasis for a whole sentence on each word. Being renown for having a voice that easily silenced a room full of drunks and half drunks, Jesij right next to him almost fell off her chair. She almost missed the imploring look he cast his wife.

Aleana stopped watching the patterns forming and dissolving on the surface of her tea and faced him. There was a softness in her eyes that was usually reserved for Laiva.

‘She is all right.’ she said, with a certainty in her voice that completely startled Jesij, but Jenn seemed to have longed for. There was a hint of bitterness in it as well, that seemed even more out of place.

‘There’s something you haven’t told me.’

Jesij didn’t need to make that a question; she had been running the village for too long to ask that kind of thing. Well, technically Isrin was the village warden, of course, but as long as nobody reminded him of it, he more than gratefully let his wife deal with the day to day issues and concentrated on the important aspects of the office, as he paraphrased it. It was better that way. He would never have noticed.

‘Anyway,’ Aleana started hastily, pushing her chair back at the same time, ‘I should be going. No reason to put it off any longer.’

By the time Jesij realised what had just happened, Aleana had already closed the door behind her. Slowly she turned towards Jenn and looked into his large, dark eyes. Just now, with the right words, Jesij could make him tell everything, Aleana hadn’t.

‘Shouldn’t she at least take her coat with her?’ was all she came up with.

‘Probably just gone to fetch her sword…’

Jesij knew she could trust her ears, but she was staring to worry for what was between them. She had known Aleana ever since she and Jenn had taken over the village pub, almost ten years ago. Picturing her with anything as martial as a sword was… wrong.

‘Her sword.’

Somehow those two little words did an astonishing job at conveying her thought on that matter. Jenn, on the other hand, somehow completely failed to see.

‘First thing after finding the letter and writing the message for Isrin was fetching her sword from the broom closet. Said it needed sharpening, so she naturally brought it over to the smithy…’

‘Aleana keeps a sword in the broom closet… Wait, what letter?’

Laiva braced a foot against the tree and pulled again. The arrow came free with a yank and she landed with her back on the ground, right next to Mynor who had precautionary moved to the side.

That had been the last arrow. The ones she’d used as fire arrows were in astonishingly good shape. The fire had consumed the fabric she had wrapped around them completely, but it had only singed the shafts.

Of her improvised silver arrows, on the other hand, only two were in a usable state still. In addition to the one that had been already broken by the werewolf’s struggle, she had had to snap another one in order to pull it out. She had recovered all of the arrow heads, though and that was the important bit. Shaft and feathers she could replace herself, but the arrowheads cost serious money; over half a copper each.

Laiva put the arrow back into her quiver, shouldered her backpack and set off, Mynor walking along on her right. She wasn’t going to complain, she enjoyed the company, but she couldn’t help to wonder. He was a wolf, there was no doubt of that; dogs and even wolfhounds looked different. Not in any way she could describe, but different nonetheless. Different from Mynor. Yet he didn’t behave like a wolf. He even barked and Laiva had never heard of a grown wolf doing that. They yowled, growled, snarled, but barked? And then there was the collar. It was as if she was meant to find it, as if it was intended for her. ‘CALL HIM MYNOR’ – more an instruction than anything else. Maybe old Tubby was right after all: It was a strange world.

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