Silverbolt starts his journey to Slate Cairn
|Hut In the Forest Of Slate Cairn
If one word can describe Rexword, the word tormented is a premium choice. The facade he kept up for his humble customers had begun to crack. Inner demons, metaphorical, and literal plagued his waking hours. The death of his wife and child weighed on him like a blacksmiths anvil. Lord Schaefer humiliated him in public, by ripping away the only job he knew.
A cackle of laughter echoed in his head. "Oh Rexword, it's one thing to lie to others, but yourself? How about some honesty?"
Rexword gripped his head, "Enough, demon. It's all lord Schaefers' fault. He admonished me in front of my boss. The bald bastard fired me after the visit." Desperation permeated his voice amid the cruel laughter of the demonic presence. It grated on the ears and touched the soul in all the wrong ways.
"What if they knew Rexword? What if they knew, you intentionally collapsed that mine shaft? Why did you do it, Rexie?"
Dirty fingers gripped the gaunt face of Rexword, threatening to gouge out his eyes. It wasn't his fault. It was that idiot Nestors fault. He gave the promotion to another man.
The shadow creature laughed cruelly, "I bet you regret giving up the bottle now, Rexword. You are a lame man without his crutch. You should have stolen the ingredients and bought a pint of whiskey."
"How many times do I have to tell you to shut up?" Rexword said, scratching his long stubble. "I will have my vengeance, demon."
The shadow snickered to itself. Rexword was seeking revenge in all the wrong places. The amorphous shadow formed a little girl, "Daddy, why does your breath smell? I am hungry, didn't you buy food?"
A scream of anguish filled the tiny hut, "Get out of my head, demon. They replaced me with some younger man. I couldn't make ends meet..."
"You poor thing," the shadow said, in mock sympathy. "All those long hours of drinking, flirting with barmaids, was that their fault?"
Rexwords face turned to rage. The demon was pleased with the hopeless man's descent into darkness. The fool had no idea what messing with dark magic could do to a person.
"My wife wouldn't take a bed with me. A man has needs, you know." Justification is the addict's best friend. Rexword was no stranger to it. In some ways he invented it.
The shadow took on the feminine form of his wife, "I only married you because no one else would have me. That is how desperate I was to leave home. I never loved you or had any intention of doing so." The creature made sure the voice was shrill to twist the guilt deeper into his plaything.
Rexword tore at the sides of his hair with his face a mask of anguish "It's not true. We were happy once..." his long bony fingers gripped the blessed knife. In his fury, he cut his hand.
Hot fiery blue blood dripped into a bowl. The creature watched with joy. "That's right, Rexword, make all you need. Make them pay."
Rexword poured the fiery blue liquid into a beaker, "It ends tomorrow." He set the glass container down and flopped down on a mass of rotting straw and moldy rags.
There was a knock on the hut door. Rexword opened it and saw a cloaked figure, shrouded in mystery and silence. The demon took over Rexword, "Let me guess you seek a vial of Faerie Fire?"
"Can I trust you two alone together? Slate Cairn is about two days carriage ride from here...There's that face again, what is it now Ethan?" Ms. Reynard had a worried expression on her face. She looked at Clara and then back to Ethan.
Silverbolt pushed the mask back over his face. The lightning bolts around the eyes glowed with menace. "Horses hate me. I tried to ride a bus and the horses freaked out."
Clara rose and stood beside him. She was wearing a sweet scent. It smelled like something made with citrus or orange-flavored candy. She didn't slather it on either, unlike Ms. Reynard, who poured buckets of the vile grandma perfume on her.
Clara stood next to him, and Silverbolts heart began to race. He felt his palms sweat inside the gauntlets. A terrible thought crept into his mind and made itself at home. "I am starting to like her? When did that happen? I wonder if she knows?" Clara stared up at him and shot a strange smile. "She knows. She is beautiful, and I could do worse...You are Silverbolt, and you don't have time for this kind of thinking."
"Isn't that right, Ethan?" Clara said. She made an odd gesture with her hand.
"What were you talking about?" Silverbolt asked.
"Clara suggested Gilda come with you. I would have sent Constance, but she had pressing family business out of town. She was a little nebulous about it," Ms. Reynard said, as she tapped her fan against an open palm.
"As long as I get to punch something and look awesome while doing it, I'm cool," Silverbolt said. The meteor hammer clinked against the brigandine.
Ms. Reynard didn't look convinced. She kept looking at Clara and then to Silverbolt. "Ethan, why are you so eager to chase this down?"
Clara bowed out of the conversation. She said something about needing to prepare and hopped in her carriage. Silverbolt turned back to Ms. Reynard and lifted the mask. "Faerie Fire is a dangerous potion. The Valraven got away because he had vial on him. Do you see where this is going?"
Ms. Reynard shook her head. Her hair had more bounce than a bunch of springs and looked like it too. "A potion like that must be hard to produce. I can't see it acquiring staying power."
Silverbolt yanked the fan out of her hand, "Annoy much?" the pair glared at each other for ten seconds. "The problem with bad ideas is someone always wants to improve them. Can you imagine an army powered by Faerie Fire? A Roman Army?"
Ms. Reynard's face fell to the earth below. "Nobody would take it that far, would they?"
"Mr. Nottle said General Crixus is making waves in the Roman Senate. As I understand it, the man loves a good fight more than I do."
Ms. Reynard shuddered and hugged herself, "I see your point. I feel like..."
Silverbolt slid the mask down and activated the voice distorter rune. A soft glow emanated from it. "You are losing your son all over again?"
A tear glistened in Ms. Reynard's eye, and her face was the epitome of grief and sadness, "You weren't supposed to know. I thought I could replace him through you. I wound up at Mr. Yashins out curiosity. We Celts are not interested in slaves."
"I am not mad at you anymore. I understand why you bought me now. It's kind of flattering, to be honest." Ms. Reynard went to hug him, Silverbolt put up his hand. "No more hugging me with that oxygen stealing perfume of yours. It's a nice smelling paint thinner."
"I'll have you know I met my husband wearing this perfume."
"He probably got high off the fumes. I heard it leads to questionable decisions."
Ms. Reynard tried to keep a straight face but wound up giggling, "Francis was always so proper. It was rather dull around the house sometimes. You have reinvigorated my life."
"I should get ready to go. I wouldn't be taking this trip if I thought the Damn Girl couldn't handle it."
Ms. Reynard laughed and shot him a sly grin. "You have no idea, do you?"
"Nevermind, have fun on your trip."
Four hours later
Silverbolt surveyed the dense foliage from the ground. The sweet scent of Clara's perfume wafted under the mask as she walked beside him. The Damn Girl had decided to take a stroll with him down the highway.
"You should be in the carriage. I don't know what lives in these woods." Silverbolt said.
Clara hooked her arm in his. "I never get to do this. I wanted to ask you something."
"Why do you shy away from your feelings? I know you feel something for me, but you never act on it."
Silverbolt twirled a revolver in his hands, keeping his eyes straight ahead. "I am just starting to get in touch with my feelings, Clara. The last few months have given me a lot to process. I am not ready for anything but cracking skulls right now."
Clara sighed dejectedly, "Must you be so abrasive?"
"No, but it makes for more interesting conversation. Look, don't see it as me denying anything. Think of it as an opportunity for us to get to know one another. I would rather court someone who knows me and accepts me for who I am, and I want to do likewise for them."
Clara was silent, and then her face broke out in an ear to ear grin. "For someone who has no interest in courtship, you seem to know a lot about it."
Silverbolt slid the revolver back into the holster and fiddled with the chain of the meteor hammer. "I had the best examples of what not to do growing up."
Gilda shouted out the window of the carriage. Her wrinkled face a stern mask of motherhood. "Clara, its time to ride for a bit. You two could be doing anything back there."
"We are making babies back here, do you mind?" Silverbolt shouted.
Clara giggled and walked up to the carriage. Gilda looked like a wrinkled prune from a distance. From there on out, Silverbolt called her Prunes.
30 feet away
Deep brown eyes studied the trespassers. The nostrils sniffed the air in an attempt to discern their threat level. Lately, it seemed everyone and their marmot had come to challenge him. A wave of perfume hit the nostrils. Human females? Unarmed? Hardly worth the effort.
The deep brown eyes were about to turn away when the smell of iron and blood tingled on his nasal receptors. A warrior? He wears the bite-proof hide. What's that hanging at his side? A tail? A warrior with a tail? Ridiculous.
Silverbolt moved in such a way his armor gleamed directly into the deep brown eyes. A challenger? He could go for a round or two. The small ones put up a better fight than the big ones did. Look out warrior here I come.