Ethan is taken to his new home with an interesting job opportunity.
|Ethan Argent is a peculiar teen. Living in a tense home situation forced him to watch people and their reactions. Knowing when his parents were about to go ten rounds in the squared circle saved him a lot of heartaches. Today it's used to gauge Ms. reynard, the woman who was about to purchase him.
He studied the crimson chapeau adorned with feathers, and then the Japanese parasol covered in water colored cherry blossoms. Despite the smile on her face, Ethan could see the grief and sorrow in how she moved, and the words she chose.
Immature hands lifted the car axle like it was paper. Ethan focused, and little sparks danced around the rusted metal. The steel clanged against the cement floor.
A muted clap came from the lace gloves, "Impressive. How does your magic work?" she asked.
"No magic here, just plain old superhuman," Ethan said.
Ms. Reynared looked at the old Russian mobster and smiled, "Name your price."
An opportunistic smiled appeared on Mr. Yashin's face. "I believe I can make you a fair offer. Step this way into my office." His hand pressed against her back and guided her.
Mr. Yashin didn't leave the office with Ms. Reynard. She walked up to Ethan and pulled him close to her. The young man was not one to judge, but this Reynard woman had crazy written all over her. She was weird and wore the paint peeling grandma perfume. He shoved her. The aristocratic woman slid across the cement floor.
Tears dropped from her eyes like rain. "Why did you do that?" She sniffled. "I was trying to be affectionate."
"I don't know you. You could be a serial killer or some pervy weirdo."
Ms. Reynard looked confused. She pressed her finger to her lips. "What is a serial killer?"
Ethan studied her for several minutes to see if she was joking. Spoiler, she wasn't. "Are you from an Amish community or something?"
What was going on? Was she the champion of world ignorance? Even the Amish knew what a serial killer was. "Who are you?"
A silver pocket watch appeared in Ms. Reynard's hands. "I am in a hurry," Ms. Reynard said, tapping her foot. "You have to make a choice, Ethan."
It didn't make sense to Ethan. Why purchase him and then offer a choice? "Consider my curiosity piqued."
"As of this moment, you are free. You can stay here and try to make your way in the world without help."
"What is option two?"
"We leave together. However, all explanations will have to wait until we reach our destination. I need the answer now." Ms. Reynard fidgeted with the gold ring and bowed her head. "I'm sorry it has to be this way."
It wasn't a hard choice to make. Ethan had been kidnapped, bought, and sold in the space of a few hours. None of which would've happened if Ethan had planned his adventure better. "I will come with you."
A bright smile touched Ms. Reynard's face, and she clapped her hands in a girlish manner. "Excellent. Please follow me," she said. Her hands motioned him outside.
The hard slush crunched beneath their feet. Rays of moonlight illuminated the polished black ice littered with jagged rocks for vehicle traction. "Where is your car?"
"I don't have one. I know none of this makes sense. I promise you...," Ms. Reynard said in an apologetic tone. Ethan couldn't help but think she was afraid he would leave her. Why was he so important to her?
"Relax, I am not going anywhere any time soon. I tend to stand by my choices, even the stupid ones." Ethan followed her into an open field. There in the center of the ankle-deep snow was a rope ladder and a large hole. "Ms. Reynard?"
"Why did you lead me to this hole? Do you plan to bury me alive?"
A lacey hand covered her mouth, and Ms. Reynard giggled. "No. I need you alive. We have to climb down the ladder."
Ethan thought Ms. Reyanard was a mental ward escapee. It seemed senseless to climb into a hole filled with mud, slush, and ice. "Ladies first," he said as he pointed to the hole.
Ms. Reynard adjusted her chapeau and hung the parasol on her arm. "Don't mind if I do." She stepped down the ladder. "I will see you on the other side."
Ethan watched her vanish into the darkness below. He waited for five minutes and speculated as to what could be at the bottom of the hole. Not a peep came from the blackness below. Ethan pressed the flashlight button on the smartphone. The flash of light almost blinded him, and he nearly fell in the hole. He waited until his sight readjusted before giving the hole a second look. His silver eyes could see the mud-brown edges, but nothing else.
"This is crazy. It's just a hole. Ms. Reynard is probably waiting with a rag soaked in chloroform." The icy wind blew across his face, and Ethan shivered. "I'll take my chances in the hole."
He touched the knotted wood and examined the rope. "This isn't nylon." He continued to climb down and then paused. "Shouldn't I be at the bottom by now?" He mustered up the courage to look down. More darkness waited for him. The air didn't smell like earth or soil, which was odd. "Are we going to China?"
Five minutes later, the air in the hole shifted to a heady sweet scent. Ethan felt his cheeks warm in the light of the sun. Wait, wasn't it nighttime at the top of the hole? Maybe they had climbed to the other side of the world, after all. Instead of eroded soil, his hands felt the rough bark of a tree.
Heavy winter boots touched the lush green grass. Flowers and exotic plants dotted the landscape. Linen white hawthorn branches waved in the wind. "At least I know where the smell is coming from." He didn't recognize any plants aside from the Hawthorn trees.
"Welcome to the enchanted land of Rathmore," Ms.Reynard said in an excited tone. I know you have a million questions. Once again, please wait until we are safe behind closed doors to ask them."
Ms. Reynard seemed a little cagey. Her eyes swept back and forth as if she was looking for someone or something. Ethan noted she was pulling on her fingers. "How many laws did you break?" His mind caught up to Ms. Reynard's words. "Did you just say enchanted land?"
"Excuse me?" Ms. Reynard replied. She scoffed and wagged the parental finger at him. "I will have you know I come from a highborn family. Lawbreaking is beneath me."
"Yet, you break laws by buying another human being."
A steady clip-clop of hooves came from behind Ethan. He turned and saw a luxurious carriage coming up the beaten track. The horses themselves were shaggy brutes. The child inside the displaced teen stared at them in wonder.
A man with a squirrel-like face stepped down and bowed before Ms. Reynard. "How was your trip, my lady?"
Ms. Reynard pointed to Ethan, and her male companion's eyes went large and flew from their sockets in shock. "What do you think, Mr. Nottle? I told you I would bring him back, and I did."
Mr. Nottle embraced his mistress and spoke in a calm tone. "This will end in heartache, my lady. He may look like Francis, but the two couldn't be more different."
Who the hell was Francis? "What happened to Francis?"
The door to the carriage slammed, as Mr. Nottle sauntered up to him. "Not here, boy. Lady Reynard does not like to speak of it. The wound is still fresh in her mind. Hold your tongue, for the time being, I will explain later."
Ethan agreed, and the pair headed to the carriage. The most curious thing happened as the teen got closer to the wagon. The horses began crawling out of their skin. The nipped at the harnesses and stomped their hooves in protest.
"Mr. Nottle, get these horses under control." Ms. Reynard shouted.
"Yes, my lady," Mr. Nottle said. He pushed Ethan back behind the gold-encrusted transport. The horses calmed and nickered in relief, the aged footman, sighed right along with them. "Something about you upsets our big friends."
Ethan suspected his powers were responsible in some way. "I can generate an electric current in my body..."
Mr. Nottle took his words at face value, "That would make you an inherent, or someone born with magic." He reached into his jacket and produced a silver bracelet with runic letters engraved into it. "This is a magic dampening bracelet. Put it on, and we shall be on our way. Trust me."
Trust? Ethan didn't know either of the adults well enough to give it. Circumstances had forced his hand. He slid the silver band on his wrist. It felt good and looked good on his wrist. It was unfortunate it didn't work.
Mr. Nottle shook his head in disbelief. "Impossible, those runes are solid and should work. How are you doing that?"
"As Ms. Reynard said, let's wait until we are behind closed doors for explanations," Ethan said in a peeved tone.
The palatial gothic structure loomed over the beautiful estate as a dragon does over a herd of sheep. It looked and felt imposing and intimidating. Ms. Reynard took dainty steps from the carriage to the ground. "I am sorry you had to walk, Ethan. I will get my best people on the problem." She stood in front of the massive oak doors and spread her arms wide. "Welcome home, Ethan."
One room made Ethan's parent's abode look like a mud hut. "This house is too big for me."
Ms. Reynard put her arm around him. "Ethan, you are now a part of my family. One day all of this will belong to you."
"I can barely keep my room clean nevermind a luxury home like this one," He trailed off and looked at the portraits hanging above a roaring fireplace. Ethan guessed the first two were of Ms. Reynard and her husband. The third bore quite the resemblance to him. He turned and looked at Ms. Reynard.
"I promise you are not here to replace him, Ethan. I can already see you are nothing like him. Francis was always quiet and shy." She paused and pulled on a long velvet rope. "As promised, I will explain everything. Please, follow me."
Mr. Nottle was waiting for them in a study. Whitford's library was a joke compared to Ms. Reynards. She sat in a luxurious looking chair, and Ethan sat on a stool that threatened to fall apart at the slightest breath of air. She opened the drawer and sat a bottle of fiery blue liquid on the polished surface.
"What is that?" Ethan asked.
Ms. Reynard's face darkened, "We call it Faerie Fire, and the reason why you are here."