I must admit this weeks prompt was difficult. I had some personal stuff to take care of and couldn’t write every day like I wanted. I also started with Autumn as a prompt but couldn’t quite get the feel of the season. I’m going to do a Halloween story at some point. Meanwhile, the prompt for this one is the title. I’m pretty proud of it and may go back to continue it…
Strong wind rattled the windows of our cottage so hard it woke me. It was still dark, but the waves crashing against the rocks told me that it was high tide. Morning would be upon us soon enough. I quietly slipped from the room, trying not to wake my sister.
I sat outside with my meager breakfast and watched the sunrise. If I was going to accomplish my goal, I’d need to be gone before my family woke. The goblin market was dangerous and my father would certainly try to talk me out of it.
Something had to be done. My father had been coming home with empty fishing nets for over six months. The little bit of washing and mending I did wouldn’t support us when the savings ran out. I had one hope. I folded one of my mother’s shawls into a bundle and set off.
The market was tucked in a valley, between the gold and silver mountains. The goblins only came down to set up the market when the moon was full. It was said that you could get all sorts of goods, both magical and not. I was only going for one thing, a wish. You couldn’t get the wish granted right at the market but, you could buy a marker for one.
I arrived just as the goblins were setting up. I’d been here once before but, the squat green creatures still unnerved me. I wandered from one stall to another. I passed by the ones selling weapons, jewelry, and food. I found what I was looking for nestled between a book shop and a table full of musical instruments.
He was a young goblin; his coloring was still bright and his eyes were sharp. There was barely hair growing from his ears. He’d still be a bit green at bartering. My mother could trade a bag of dirt for a bag of gold. She taught me everything she knew.
I looked over the tray of rings, he had on the counter.
“Ah, the lady has taste. What can I show you?”
I giggled shyly, at the complement.
“I’m looking for something special.”
“You’ve come to the right place.”
He untied one from its place.
“This one matches your eyes.”
I slid it on, the stone was a similar blue to my eyes. I smiled at it. Then I sighed loudly.
“I can get a ring anywhere.”
“True but, these rings are elvish. Each one will grant you a different power.”
“Power? Ooh. My friend Ana has one. Her hair can become whatever color she wants.”
“Yes. You want the pretty ring, yes?”
I held up my hand, considering. Then let out a heavy sigh.
“This is very pretty but, I’m just not sure. As I said, Ana already has one. What do you have, that’s not a ring?”
“I see where you’re going with this. You want a spell. Maybe there’s a boy? Yes? You need something for love?”
He pulled a tray from under the table. He handed me a small glass vial.
“Feel free to smell it; very fresh. It was made by a very talented witch. It’s never failed.”
It smelled like a peppermint flower.
“That is fresh.”
“A dab on you, a dab on your intended and he will be yours.”
I said, carefully. “it’s just that I don’t really have an…intended. What if I was wishing for someone?’
His expression closed. “You want a wish?”
“Do you have one?”
“Wishes are expensive. You think, you have something worth one?”
I pulled my mother’s shawl. I’d chosen it because I knew it wasn’t her favorite. The goblin’s eyes widened. The nostrils on his flat nose flared.
“Is that what I think it is?”
“A fairy silk shawl, knitted in one of the old royal patterns.”
He looked at me with suspicion.
“Where does a human girl get this?”
“My mother worked for the royal family in her youth. She was given many gifts. Its fine enough for the trade.”
“Hm, maybe I have a wish, maybe I don’t. What else do you have?”
“What else? That shawl is in perfect condition. How do I even know that you have a marker?”
He glanced around then flipped the tray of rings over. The markers were chips of wood painted with strange writing. They were warm to the touch and much heavier than I’d thought. He was already fingering the shawl. It would have a price tag on it before I even left the stall.
“So, it’s a deal?” I asked.
“Yes, yes take it.”
“I’ve never used a marker. Does it work if I’m just holding it or do I have to rub it?”
“You simply say the incantation written on it.”
I looked at it again. I could read a bit of Elvish and every child in school knew their runes. This was something I’d never seen.
“What does it say?”
“I can sell you a translation but, I must warn you, it’s much more expensive than the wish itself.”
“What? That’s…that’s cheating!”
Suddenly, a horn sounded.
“Dirty mushrooms, it’s the guard!”
About a dozen of them stalked down the main aisle, their large horses kept anyone from leaving. Their thick leather armor gleamed in the sun. A motion caught my eye and the rings were in front of me again. The goblin glanced at the wish I held. Our eyes met. There was fear in his. I slipped my hand into my pocket and dropped the wish. I casually picked up the potion vial.
“What goes on here?”
I turned and looked up. I’d heard elves were tall but he towered over us. His eyes were blue glass and his white hair had been trimmed almost to his scalp. His mouth in a grim line that made me wonder for a moment if he’d ever smiled. The little goblin stuttered incoherently.
“We are making a trade.”, I said, holding up the vial.
The guard ignored me as two more dragged the goblin out of the stall and held him between them.
An older goblin stepped from the growing crowd of onlookers.
“I’m the magistrate here. What is this about?”
“There was a complaint of illegally procured wishes. This is the stall number listed on the complaint.”
The official looked at the young goblin. “Tarr, is this true?”
The terrified creature tried to bow, hanging by his arms.
“Please, sir. I…I have no wishes. Check my manifest.”
The elf said. “There’s no need for that.”
He motioned to his waiting men and one slid down from a horse. As the guard approached, I realized that it was a woman. She pulled off her helmet and stood in front of us.
“If there are any wishes, Ozra will sense them.”
He nodded to the warrior and she walked behind the counter. I held my breath not daring to think about the object in my pocket. Ozra held her hands over the merchandise. She went straight to the ring case and flipped it over. The magistrate glared at the prisoner.
“Tarr? What is the meaning of this?”
“I…I didn’t know those were there. You must believe me. This isn’t even my stuff. Gunnar. Gunnar took sick and was too weak to make the journey. He asked me to come on his behalf.”
The older goblin looked at the guards.
“He speaks the truth. It is Gunnar that you seek.”
The guard said, “Pack all of this and take him.”
Ozra had closed her eyes again, her lashes fluttering.
“Wait. There’s something else…”
She took up my mother’s shawl and held it to the guard.
Her voice whispered in wonder, “Avi.”
He grabbed it and sniffed himself. He turned to Tarr.
“This doesn’t have a price tag yet. Where did you get this?”
The little goblin didn’t even look at me. “Please sire. I’ve had so many customers today. You can’t expect me to remember them all.”
“Perhaps a good lashing will jog your memory.”
I couldn’t stand by and let it happen. Wish or not.
“It’s mine.” I said, sounding braver than I felt.
Suddenly, all eyes were on me.
“Yours? Where did you get this?”
“It was my mother’s.”
“Where did your mother get it?”
“She worked for the royal family. It was a gift.”
He stepped forward. Stony faced, he hissed. “That is a lie.”
I stepped forward too. Our faces were inches apart. “My mother was not a liar.”
“I wasn’t calling your mother a liar. I was calling you one.”
“And you are nothing but a bully.”
He stood up straight and grabbed my arm.
“We’re taking you too.”
My thoughts went right to my father and sister. They didn’t’ even know where I’d gone. They’d be frantic if I didn’t return by sunset.
“I’m not going anywhere with you.”
I pulled my arm back as hard as I could but his grip was a steel vise. He yanked back. I suddenly found myself airborne and crashed into his hard chest. A wetness seeped into my shirt. My anger and fear melted away. I felt…what was it I was feeling? He let go and I was cold and alone. I looked into his deep blue eyes and into the deep well of his soul.
He looked down at his chest a wiped at it.
“What is this?”
He raised his eyes to mine and gently brushed the hair off my face.
“Beloved. Has someone been rough with you? Tell me who. I will slay them.”
Yes, I’d been struggling with someone. I was forgetting who. A quiet voice in my mind insisted that I was forgetting many things. I focused on that feeling, pushing all others to the side. It hit me like a splash of cold water. I released the guard’s hand. When had I taken his hand? I forced myself to stare at the ground.
Through gritted teeth, I said., “Tarr?”
“Did Gunnar tell you how long that love potion lasts.”
I heard everyone around us react. Tears streamed down my face. I missed him that much. If I looked at him, I knew it would be the end of me. His hand found mine again. I tried to concentrate on what was being said.
Even his growl was music to my ears, “Love spell?’
I said. “It was in the vial, I was holding. It smashed against your armor.”
“My brother, the captain of our squad, can’t have fallen under a simple love potion.”
It was the magistrate who said. “Gunnar’s potions are known for their potency. They must both be strong-willed and powerful to be able to resist as much as they are. I only have a small knowledge of the stuff, myself. Usually, you just apply a dab. I… I don’t know what an entire vial will do.”
My love’s strong arms wrapped around me from behind. He began to kiss down the side of my neck, sending shivers down my spine. I So many people. Why couldn’t they leave us alone?
Ozra said. “We can see what it does.”
“Begging your pardon, Mistress but, this is just the beginning. It hasn’t even gotten into their system yet.”
“And the antidote?”
“A love potion is meant to run its course. Only Gunnar would know of another way to break it.”
Ozra stood before us. Avi growled at her.
“Relax brother, I’m not going to hurt her. What’s your name, girl?”
Name? How could I think of something so trivial when he was kissing down the other side? I moaned softly. He responded with harder kisses. The voices faded into the background again.
The magistrate cleared his throat. “I believe that’s the lust starting.”
Avi ran his hand down my side. I leaned in and rubbed against him.
Ozra said. “That’s enough of that.’
She nodded to two of the guards and they moved as one. Ozra pulled me to her and the guards wrestled Avi to the ground. I struggled but I was no match for elvish strength. We watched as two more guards joined the fray.
Finally, Ozra said. “Avi, stop or I’ll kill her.”
Sure enough, I felt something sharp against my throat. I tried to hold very still. Avi looked up in terror.
“Ozra.” He whispered. “please.”
“I will not hurt her, if you promise to behave like our leader and not a besotted fool.”
He nodded and shook off his would-be captors. They all stood and brushed themselves off. Ozra sheathed her dagger but didn’t loosen her hold on me.
Avi began to give orders, deliberately not looking in our direction. Tarr was put in chains and led off and the magistrate oversaw the packing of his booth. I didn’t take my eyes off my love the whole time. I tested my own guard once or twice but she remained vigilant.
“I understand that you can’t help it but you are only going to hurt yourself if you persist, so try to have some patience.”
Finally, he came over to us. Ozra tensed as he cupped my cheek.
“I don’t even know your name.”
“Brenna, you will come with us to find this Gunnar?”
I would go anywhere with him. “Yes. Of course.”
He smiled as if he’d been fearing a different answer. He turned to give an order. Without his eyes on me, I was able to think.
“Wait.” He turned back to me. “My family, they don’t know where I am. If I don’t return,,,”
Avi called, “Micah.’
The guard was nursing a bloody nose but stepped forward.
“Yes, Lord Avion?”
“Go to my lady’s home and let her family know that she is fine.”
Ozra said, “Ask the mother about the shawl.”
I said. “My mother has been dead for many years.”
Ozra said, “Ask the father about the shawl. He’s liking to know more than Brenna, here.”
She gently but firmly led me to the horses.
Avi stepped in our way.
“Where are you taking her?”
Ozra sighed. “Relax brother. It’s best if she rides beside me into the mountains. We need you keeping a clear head. I swear, I will keep her safe.”
He embraced me and breathed in my scent as I did with his. Ozra was pulling at me but his arms tightened. His lips found mine. I marveled at the softness. My hands slid behind his back and landed on his ass. He consumed my senses. Gentle but firm hands pulled me away. I whimpered at the loss. Ozra was once more holding me against her. Avi was running his hand over his hair watching me.
“This will be more difficult than I imagined.”
Ozra said. “Just stand still. I know you can do that. She and I will ride at the back of the line.”
He nodded, our eyes never breaking contact. Even as she led me away I turned.
“Well this is going to be interesting.” She said. I finally turned from him and looked at her.
“My brother has never been in love. He has always felt that he doesn’t have room for it in his life.”
“Well then he and I have one thing in common.”
She looked at me as we both climbed into our saddles.
“Brenna, with the stolen fairy shawl and a wish in her pocket, this is going to be a most interesting journey.”