So after looking at my schedule for the next, I realized I will have almost no time to write if I fall behind again. Which I won't. I plan to be posting my "For The Win," post on Saturday. I'm posting early today because I work all day and there will be little writing when I get home tonight. So this word count reflects what has been done this morning. I may update the count late this evening.
SIX DAYS LEFT!
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Words written today: 1,274
Finishing word count: 43,566
Finishing word count: 43,566
We started on our way, not yet knowing where to find the Chimra maiden, when we were called back.
“Be on your guard, mage,” Notch-eye said to me. “Been weird things happening here lately. Dark things.”
“Thank you. I’ll keep it in mind.”
“You’d do well to take it to heart, sir.”
We turned into a stable and let our horses rest. In a shadowed corner of the barn, we pulled Alpha’s hood off so he might inform us where to go without him seeing.
“You know where she’s at?” I asked. “These guys are spooked by something in this town, I think.”
“Last I met her, she lived by a well.”
“There are a lot of wells in a town,” Alanur said.
“You’ll know it when you see it. Can’t be more help if this thing’s going to go back on.”
“Unfortunately not,” I said.
We gathered our saddlebags and left the food and pans behind if we should stop for the evening here. We took a back door out of the stables, finding ourselves ankle deep in piles of hay and horse manure.
“Perfect,” Melana said sourly. She was the first to leap through all the hay and spring over a wall outside the stable. “Well, come on. It reeks here.”
After pulling our boots off and wiping them clean, we kept to the alleys that seemed to lead us to the business district. Each passerby eyed us scrupulously, some even slinking behind us as if to get a better look. Alanur did well to throw the followers off our backs. He need only turn around and glare at them. A big man with a temper has a tendency to do that to smaller, sickly Humes who have nothing better to do. I kept the reins in my hand, guiding Alpha, while Alanur played the role as as our guard, with his sword drawn and at ready should our prisoner try to run.
“I’m seeing wells in the market,” I said to no one in particular. Melana joined me at my side. “Too many.”
“Opals,” Alpha said muffled. “It has opals.”
We pressed on through the market, keeping to the less populated areas. Those tended to be soothsayers seeking patients and herbalists who looked like they couldn’t tell the difference between grinrich leaves and weeds. Melana tugged me back and Alpha bumped into her.
“Sorry,” he said.
“There,” she said, and pointed down an alley. At the far end, it opened into some kind of small field, like a tiny farm nestled in the middle of the market. “That well looks different from the others.”
I extended my sight. The arch over the well was high and pointed, the stones cut perfectly. Little bits of the semitransparent rock were thrown into the crevices on the arch. The well had a large lip, like a seat for the one drawing water.
“That’s the one,” I said, pulling my senses back. “A well with opals.”
We moved in that direction, but were stopped suddenly by one of the herbalists. He must have been watching us. He ran ahead of me and grabbed me up by the shirt. I was pinned against the wall after that. His face was emaciated, his sharp cheekbones like little discs trying to push their way out of his skin. His eyes were gaping brown holes, lost entirely to the reality around him. I was so frightened for how quickly he moved, I completely ignored the stench of shit, leaves and dirt coating his hands.
“Saved you, saved you I have,” he said quickly. “Life is yours if you want it. Saved you I have.”
Alanur was there the next second and yanked the blundering herbalist off me. He kicked him to the ground and the herbalist crawled away.
“Shove off,” Alanur said, stepping towards the herbalist with a threatening gesture. He growled and the man slid back.
“Fine,” the herbalist said. He sat up straight and dusted his hands. “Die today. Saved you I tried. Live you won’t. Witch she is.” He pointed to the alley. I turned. Someone was there watching us under a heavy cloak. “Witch she is, day and night. Where evil stems, day and night. Die today. Saved you I tried. Live you won’t.”