So more Eelistle? He's the elf guy from the first, third, and fourth prompt.
Actually, I'm sure he's the only elf I've written about.
This one's a little long. Okay, it's a lot long (that is what long's all about, you know). Here' the thing. It's in first person this time. Hope you like it. Brayden is actually conscious for this one. Not sure if that is completely good or not. . .
By the way the, deadline for this two week's Summer Writing Camp is July 31st. That happens to be this Friday, people. I really hope you get to join, because- because-
You know you want to. :D Though you should at least hop on over to Rachel's blog @ Secret Scribblings and read her take on it. I happen to think it's quite fabulous.
I sip my water. We sit outside the café under the canopy
“We need to get to Tenerath,” Brayden says around his sandwich.
I don’t prod him to explain. Three tables down there’s a girl. Dark skinned and short, who seems like she’s listening to every word we say. It wouldn’t matter anyhow. Brayden would only elaborate when he wishes too.
“What’s wrong?” He frowns at me. “You’ve hardly said a word since we arrived.”
I consider telling him about the girl. But he will only push it aside as paranoia. So I settle for the second truth. “I hate the city.” My voice sounds surprisingly composed and void of emotion. But in reality this whole place has me on edge. There’s so much noise. So many people. So much—
Brayden swallows and shrugs. He already knows about my abhorrence for all places over populated. “Garath’s men won’t be leaving us alone anytime soon.” Brayden takes a long drink from his mug. “So as soon as we can find fast transportation, we’ll get out of here.”
I nod. “What do you have in mind?”
He quirks an eyebrow. “Preferably a dragon.”
A small smirk tugs at the corner of my mouth. “I see. And is dragon flying another one of your assorted arcane abilities?”
“How hard can it be?” Brayden clasps his hands behind his head. “We’re on a budget and a tight schedule. I’d rather not rob some corrupt lord and buy a dragon within the same town.”
I settle my hands on the table. “Translation: you do not know how to fly a dragon.”
Brayden rolls his eyes and hunches back over the table like he’s sharing a secret. “That’s a minor inconvenience which will soon be resolved after purchasing said dragon.”
“Of course.” I sit back but don’t let my smirk fade. Brayden ignores me.
“We should split up.” He darts a look around the market square. “We’ll cover more ground that way.”
“Um, ma’am?” I say to the lady in charge of the stable.
She continues to scold one of her stable hands about overfeeding the ponies.
“Ma’am?” This time I tap her shoulder.
She whirls on me fast. But as soon as she looks me up, all the way up, she steps back. “Aye, sar? What coulds I be doin’ fer ye?” Her accent's more atrocious than the kids I spoke to earlier.
“Ma’am, uh,” I stammer. “I wondered if you might have a, maybe.” I shift under her gawking stare. “A dragon. For sale?”
“No, sar. Not ‘ere.” Her face still shows surprise, but her voice is as easy as a brook at sunset.
“Do you- might you know-“
She points to a man at a booth across the wide square and her confidence returns. “Mastar Tidlar knows just en ‘bout all the bisness that goes ‘round. Ye could ask ‘im?” She turns it into a question to make it gentler.
“Yes. Right.” I bow of my head. “Thank you . . . ma’am.” Only Brayden has ever heard me speak without stumbling over myself. Not even Cordon could get that.
She nods and covers her smile.
The man at the booth has weasel eyes and a kept, pointy beard. He sits with his feet kicked up on his booth and relates some story to two other men. I have a strong suspicion that his name is not strictly Mastar Tidlar, but in truth Master Tidler. Well, Tidler.
“Sir?” I step up to the booth.
The two men beside me balk before reacting more ethically.
“Yes, my good man?” Finally! Someone who can speak properly. Tidler’s unfazed expression at my appearance puts me a little more at ease myself.
“I was, well- Someone informed me you knew about the business exchanges in this town?”
“They were correct.” Tidler twirls a charcoal pencil between his fingers. He has a certain charisma that inclines others to like him, yet he studies me just as much as I do him. “Is there something you are looking for?”
I open my mouth. If asked, this man would give away information concerning me and Brayden. For a high price of course. And with me being so recognizable. . .
I force myself to smile back at him. “Do you know of the best inn around?” I breathe so as not to stammer. “I have some business in town and I could be here some time.”
Tidler rubs his chin. “Any preferences you have?”
“Some place that will give me a good cut rate. Uh, a nice bed.” Now I make stuff up and hope he doesn’t see through me. “I will probably be around for a week and I am a bit particular about my rest. So, nothing rowdy.”
Tidler smiles understandingly. “Of course. Rocker’s is the best place. It’s a nice cozy part of town and he has grand food.” He sets his feet on the ground and leans forward. “If you go down Lion’s Tail street down here?” He points down a cobbled street that branches off from the square.
“Then take a right at the bakery. Crumb Shop is its name. Keep going and Rocker’s Inn will be to the left.”
“Right. Then left. Thank you sir.” I bow my head.
“Pleasure.” He kicks his feet back onto the table.
“I couldn’t find a dragon for sale.” Brayden joins me as I walk back the café.
“Clearly,” I say. “Or else you would have one with you.”
Brayden smirks. “Your sarcasm’s still weak, but we’ll work on it.”
I roll my eyes and fight down my own smirk.
The crowd practically parts for us as we make our way through.
Brayden frowns. “This is ridiculous. How are we supposed to hide with you around?”
I don’t point out how he included me then excluded me all in a single since.
“If you’re with me you’ve got to do something about all- all-“
“All what?” I ask with a tone of seriousness.
“This!” He gestures to me up and down. “You’re too tall.” Now he waves me away like a fly. “You stick out like a tower in the plains.”
“What exactly do you suggest I do? I am not going to chop off my knees.”
“I don’t know! Stoop a little. Cut your hair!” He puts a hand on his chin and looks at me again. “And do something about those ears.”
“I am not chopping them off either.”
A voice behind us calls out, “Freak!”
A few other snickers and insults join it, but not many. Brayden throws a death glare over his shoulder as I rub the back of my neck. I can’t hide in the human’s realm. At home, I was invisible. I both cherished it and hated it. Now I miss it like the memory of water in a desert.
“No matter,” Brayden steps into the café. “We’ve got to out of this town tonight with or without fast transportation.
The place is packed with dinnertime guest. We stand off in a corner because there’s no place to sit. Brayden orders us some farven juice.
“Eelistle,” he says quietly after the server delivers our drinks, “You know I would have no one else with me on this journey. No matter how much you stick out.”
I nod. How do I respond to those words exactly? Or is a response even required of me?
Brayden snort-laughs to himself. “Sometimes it’s even advantageous. Most people find you intimidating.”
I stare at him. Me? Intimidating? Brayden laughs even louder now. We’ve known each other too long for him not to know what I’m thinking.
“Good sirs?” A young woman stands nearby, the one who listened to our lunch conversation. She bows with flourish and grins. Brayden looks impressed. I am not.
“I’ve heard you were unsuccessful on your dragon hunt.”
“Um. How did you know this?” I hear myself respond first.
She looks at me. “People hear things.”
Well, that is most comforting.
“I have a dragon you can buy,” she says brightly.
“Really?” Brayden’s eyes dance. “How fast does he fly?”
“She,” the female says. “Fire Flicker’s the fastest you’ll ever see.”
“How much for her?” Brayden says.
“Ten?” Brayden’s voice only remains tempered because she’s attractive.
“Yes.” Now she grins even wider. “Five for her and five for her driver.”
“Flicker and I’ve flown many people, and I’m sure we can be of good service to you.”
“No,” I say.
Brayden looks at me.
“We can’t have another life to. . .” I crinkle my nose while finding the right words, “be responsible for. Besides we have no thought to where we may go or what danger--.”
“I know precisely where we’re going, Eelistle,” Brayden says firmly.
“Yes, but. . .” I sigh. “We need to travel freely,” I insist. “Having a beast of our own is efficient, but another person in the party becomes another liability. She will only slow us—“
“Excuse your elvishness,” the girl says, “I am capable of taking care of myself and I am certainly not a liability.”
I bow curtly to the female. “Apologies my lady. I meant no offense. It is clear from your, um, physique, posture, and excellent blade,” I nod to her sword in its sheath, “that you are a good warrior—“
“My physique!” The woman clenches her fists and glances at Brayden.
Brayden shrugs. “Don’t take it lightly. He knows swordsmanship when he sees it.”
“I merely mean.” I take a breath before beginning again. “That we must move fast and I, um, do not know how long your services will be needed. Certainly, you do not wish to be in tow for long.”
The woman crosses her arms over her chest. “I’ll leave when I see fit, if that’s what bothers you. But as you said yourself, I may be more useful than simply steering your ‘fast transportation.’”
Brayden laughs loudly and jabs my arm. “She’s got spunk.”
We both glare at him. Standing close to her, I stick out even more. We’re complete opposites. My skin is pale like the moon and my hair, just as pale, hangs loosely behind my back. She is dark like the night and her hair, just as dark, is bound up in various braids and a scarf.
Brayden gazes at us with amusement, like life is a game. Like he is a king and not an exiled prince with a price on his head.
“She comes with us,” he says.
She smirks at me in triumph and I simply look away.
“Ayvie,” she says.
Brayden introduces himself and his “sulky friend.”
They chat as we exit the café. Ayvie asks where Brayden “got” me. Of course, he launches into an untold version of how we met and somehow makes a twist in which he can appear heroic. This is why I can’t stand girls amongst our company. Brayden flirts with them while I take the serious matters seriously. Speaking of which.
“We have to make a stop by Rocker’s Inn,” I blurt.
“Eelistle,” Brayden says patronizingly, “we’re leaving. We have a dragon and lucky for you someone who knows how to fly one.”
“Trust me,” I say. “I think it will be worth our while to pay the owner a three days’ worth stay.”
"Why?" Ayvie says in annoyance.