In their cold cellar, Rasmus sharpened his dagger to a ridiculous point, polished his boots, sketched ideas, but he absolutely refused to indulge his sister’s constant barrage of questions. Once Kaia knew this random town preserved their childhood summers, she gained a lot of ideas about it.
She couldn’t leave; she’d be bombarded by the woman upstairs, offered life’s great insights and other such things she never dreamed to care about. The priest declined to discuss their job watching the demon, and as they waited, the stir-craze got to her.
“I don’t remember anything,” she said. “Nothing’s familiar.”
“You were very young.”
“Or maybe you’re lying
“Do you want me to find out what I can?”
“What do you mean?”
He dropped the dagger and walked out.
Rasmus marched right past the woman asking about his interest in lunch, where would he be for dinner, how long he’d be staying, out through the door into the blinding sun. With no hesitation or direction, he strolled down the road.
Guilt dragged on him, this stagnate life disturbed him, and the complete lack of work other than sitting uselessly staring at the damn demon—an act he only did once—gave him such a boon of tedium, each and every part of his body ached to get out.
The priest was not paying them nearly enough for this. Not even for rent. Rasmus’s money bag got lighter and lighter, and that merely echoed what was happening with his will power.
He began to hate this place.
He passed friendly and not so friendly faces, curious children and jealous men. Who could he ask about his family, not even remembering the name of the town well enough to pronounce it? The Wyrd pulled him, and he considered taking Kaia and just going. The priest didn’t need him. Why hang around when he knew the Vampire Hunters were coming?
It was as the sigh left him it dawned on him one place could help—in both the escape and the information. A smile finally crossed his face.
The long trip was nice this time. Without heaving items or worry of actually finding the place, it was a refreshing walk.
Hands shoved in his pockets, he watched his feet, contemplating the sick feeling in his stomach, and, even to a greater extent, the disconnect he felt to this place.
Upon entering the witch’s home, he glowered.
The woman just glanced up as he barged in.
“Can I help you?” she asked.
“You have prophetic abilities?”
He paused. “Oh.”
The woman stood before he could get out the gaping doorway. “Please, sit. Let’s see what I can do.”
He had to think before turning and slugging in, plopping on the chair.
She stood behind him in a leering way, but her voice was soothing. “Now, what is it you need?”
He shook his head, face in his hand. “To find my grandparents, I guess.”
“One does not need to predict the future for that.”
“Yeah, well,” he said, sitting up, “that wasn’t just what I wanted.”
She immediately stopped walking to her wall of items. “Oh?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Never mind. If you can tell me anything about them, I’d be happy.”
She sat on the table, not moving. He looked at her. “What?”
“I’ve heard stories about you, Rasmus the Traveler.”
She smirked. “You are apparently as prolific as you say you are.”
“Really?” Her smile broadened. “But it’s all over town.”
He squinted at her. “How have you heard anything?”
“Men of all kinds come to me for their daily needs.”
“You’re a whore?”
She glared at his stupidity in annoyed disappointment. “Yes
, I service men for money… I hardly even take
money, you cretin.”
He just smiled.
“They buy potions
from me,” she corrected. “They can hardly handle everyday life without me.”
“Ah,” he said.
“They asked me about you. They wanted to know if the stories were true.”
“Look, I’m not even sure which stories they’re talking about. Kaia has the tendency to run her mouth.” He paused. “We both do. But usually I’m not there while she’s doing it, so I’m left in the dark.”
“I told them they were true.”
He paused and looked at her. She smiled back at him.
“I am of the understanding most work you’ve done has been imagined—a con.”
“Most, yes,” he said.
“There’s been a few actual encounters.”
“How many?” she asked.
“I haven’t counted.”
“Tell me your story,” she said suddenly. “Tell me your story, and I will allow that as my payment for saving your reputation.”
“You knew I’d be back?”
“No,” she smiled. “But you should reward my faith.”
“What do you want to know?”
The woman trailed her fingers along the table. “The hunter of vampires leads a hard life. Most don’t live past their first encounter.”
“If they ever have one…” he muttered.
“I suppose they only really turn to it if it’s their Fate. Their family member was a victim of the disease and thus they are the only ones fit to help exterminate it, right? But if that was true for you, you wouldn’t be afraid of the Hunters, would you?”
Rasmus frowned at her, leaning forward in his chair.
“Those who choose this path are often forced into it… or are just naive enough to trust their own ego and tempt Fate.”
“I would be of the latter, if that’s what you’re getting at,” he said.
“How it is you found yourself doing this?”
He smiled, sitting back in the chair. “Inherited the business.”
“My father was a con man. A merchant really, but that’s practically the same thing. He sold so-called silver to the people in the villages closest to the Wyrd. He convinced people to be afraid for their lives, how their only hope was large vines of garlic and silver crosses and bullets. He’d sell them thousands of things whether they needed it or not. Some wouldn’t even work. Some just wouldn’t work for their problem.” He laughed. “I remember one time he sold a lady a ‘Pixie Cage’ which was just a glass jar.”
She didn’t smile.
“It’s funnier than most things he’s done.”
The witch gave him a once over.
“And?” she asked. “When did you take on this lucrative business?”
“Uh…” he said. “Long story.”
“As I was hoping.”
He smiled and stood, then paced. “The short and short? My father and I had yet another fight… I sat down in the back of the caravan with my sister, who was twelve at the time, and she said, ‘Why are we putting up with this?’ And I couldn’t answer her. So we took all his things and left.”
She raised an eyebrow. “He didn’t notice?”
“Oh, he noticed,” he said, sitting.
The witch said nothing. Finally, Rasmus looked up.
“He might be dead.” He stood again, wiping his hands on his pants. “But now Kaia wants to meet her grandparents, and I guess I should let her.”
The woman gave a smug smile, leaning against the table, arms crossed. “I can only help those who want to help themselves.”
“I want to help my sister,” he replied, annoyed. “Isn’t that close enough?”
She shrugged, turning away. “Maybe. We’ll see.” She walked over to a dangling wrapping of a dried plant and began to pluck at it. “But what is it you actually
came here for?”
He licked his lips. “I was hoping you could tell me how my grandparents would act.”
Her face softened. His didn’t.
“But I’m not surprised that would be hard,” he said.
She just raised her brows before tossing things into the pots.
He paused, scratching his head. “And, if you could, I would like you to tell me where my aunt is.”
She said nothing, tearing at the plants with a soft hand.
His eyes narrowed. “How much would you charge for that?”
“Well,” she said, placing one hand on her hip, the other on the table. “I could use your middle name, or a lock of hair, if you wanted. Perhaps a batch of hemlock if you really wanted to go searching for it.”
“How about I fix that door for you?”
She looked at it. “Deal.”
All rights reserved. ©2016 Charley Daveler.