Mindeleava 21, Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

“Is there any particular reason we’re heading this direction or are you just taking me into the woods to kill me?”

“Can’t it be both?  I performed an augury and it indicated that the man in black would be this way.  Maybe.  Magic isn’t an exact science.”

“Tell me about it.  So you’re a magic guy?”

“Yes.  These wolves don’t obey me because of personality.”

“What happened to that little bat-monster that was hanging on you?”

“Jinx?  She comes and goes.”

“You call your gremlin Jinx?  Doesn’t that seem a little on the nose?”

He just shrugged.  He does that a lot I’m starting to notice.  He never seems to talk unless I ask him something and half the time when do he just shrugs.  Sometimes I’m not even sure that he understands what I’m saying.  Otherwise he seemed normal enough, but then crazy people usually do – anyone who acts crazy doesn’t last long, so the crazies that are left out there are the kind you don’t notice they’re crazy until it’s too late. 

“So what are you going to do if we find this guy?”

“Ask him about my mom I guess.”

“What if he doesn’t want to talk?”

“Then I guess I use my magic to melt his face off.”

“I like the spirit but it doesn’t make a ton of sense to kill the guy that can tell you the thing you want to know.”

“I didn’t say I’d kill him.”

“I don’t have a ton of experience with face melting but I have to imagine that it’s generally fatal.”

Traveling with a pack of wolves is an interesting experience.  They’re enough like dogs that you can almost forget about it, but they’re not enough like dogs that you can’t.  Even the best trained dog tends to be a bit on the noisy side – these fellows float along silent as ghosts.  And when they look you in the eye there’s just something different.  Dogs like people, they like them more than they like themselves – that’s why they’re man’s best friend.  You can exploit them and not feel bad about it because they love it.  There’s nothing like that when you look into the eyes of a wolf.  There’s nothing recognizable at all.  They don’t know about you.  They don’t care about you. 

I wonder what it’s like for people when they look into my eyes.

“Could you summon a wolf that’s big enough for me to ride on?  I’ve done a lot of walking lately but honestly I’ve never gotten a taste for it.”

“Yes.”

“Would it be under your control?”

“No.”

“So what’s the point of that?”

He shrugged again.   I hope I don’t have to spend much time with this guy, that could get very annoying very quickly.  It’s interesting to be following someone who’s allegedly guided by magic.  We were following no road or trail but he was unerring in his direction.  Even the most experienced guide stops to check their bearings every once and a while.  Not so with Erza Gevan.  My grandmother told me that anyone who’s utterly convinced what they’re doing is correct is insane.  I guess she was right.

“You said yesterday that you’re addicted to sex.  If that’s true why aren’t you all over me?”

He gave me a weird sidelong glance “You’re not my type.”

I was about to say something else when his gremlin friend appeared seemingly out of nowhere.  It gave me a vile look and then rushed at me as if it was intended to run up me dress or something of the like.  I kicked at it and snatched out my dagger.

“Get away you little freak!”

It hissed at me, not like a snake or a cat but like a pig – pigs can hiss, I assure you – and produced its own tiny dagger out of thin air. 

“You want a piece of this?  I’ll slice your little ears off in two seconds flat!”

“Leave her alone.”

“Yeah, leave me alone!”

“I was talking to you.”

With a last hateful look the critter disappeared its dagger and clambered up Erza to sit on his shoulder and whisper in his ear.  Even though they were whispering I could hear the little monster was speaking in the Old Tongue.  I know four languages and twice now recently people have been speaking in one I don’t comprehend.  Seems unfair somehow.  I’ve only heard someone speaking the Old Tongue a few times.  Somehow it seems even more unsettling than the Demon Tongue.  The Demon Tongue seems like it’s trying too hard to be scary, the Old Tongue seems more foreign and unknowable.  After a moment the creature shot me a dirty look and then scampered off.  I waited but Erza wasn’t forthcoming.

“What did it say?  And why does it hate me?”

“Jinx is very jealous of me.”

“And why shouldn’t she be?  A mad exile in poorly tanned hides?  You’re a real catch.  What about the other thing.”

He took so long to answer I was about to ask again “Jinx says that there’s a logging camp not far away.  It might be related to our search.”

“Why does it think that?”

“All the loggers are dead.  The fey folk don’t like loggers.”

“Why is it that you only find faeries in forests?  Why don’t they like mountains or hills or rolling plains of wheat?  We’re going to cut down all the forests eventually, what are they going to do then?” He answered with a shrug and I waited but he didn’t speak. “Are we going to check out the logging camp then?  What does your magic say?”

“It’s unclear.”

“Of course.  Well we better check it out then.”

He nodded and we changed course.  Apparently “not far away” means farther away than several miles because we didn’t get there before it was time to stop for the day.  Erza’s wolves brought us several rabbits for dinner which he kind of cooked over a fire that he conjured briefly.  It was like it was warm but still raw somehow.  I could scarcely stomach it and gave up after a few bites.  I’ve had my fair share of awkward camping experiences lately but this one takes the prize – Eraa just stared at nothing and became uncommunicative and eventually I went to sleep.  It was probably after midnight when I woke and saw that he was standing over me, completely nude.

“Erza what are you doing?” I reached for my dagger.

After a long moment he answered “Sorry . . . . I got confused . . . . . . thought you were someone else.

I kept my dagger in my hand and slept very little after that.

____________________________________________________________

XP: 99,028

Inventory: Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Dagger of Venom, Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Rope of Entanglement, Enchanted Feycloth Dress (Green), Light Crossbow

Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane, Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler , Alice Kinsey , “Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis,  Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee,  Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin

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