Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: SLANDER (09/07/17)
TITLE: Fair Words Between Us
By Stephen Blake
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Framed by glistening afternoon light reflecting off dozens of butterfly-like wings against pastel bodies circling a woman I met only a week ago, she looked radiant in the exotic colors of her merchant's dress. How she had managed to keep her appearance so tidy over this two day journey, I could not imagine. I must have looked like a homeless beggar in my rumpled and muddy wizard robe and hat.
I darted my attention to the faeries as she turned back to me.
"We should get to work, Greg. Potions?" She spoke softly. Her smile remained as she met my eyes. She wasn't shamed by our kiss last night.
“Right here.” I pulled out the vials marked MALE and FEMALE, topped with bellows to spritz the potions. We quickly hushed two of the faeries, and put them in iron cages I had made for them.
"Wonderful!" Maggie beamed. "I wouldn't have been able to get these out of the garden without you, Greg. Let alone both sexes!" She was right about that, of course. Though she had found the garden from a map acquired on a merchant trip; my alchemy made it possible to remove the faeries alive.
We left the garden quickly, as the other faeries were agitated by the kidnaping. We hung the cages on my staff and carried it between us on our shoulders; Maggie leading. I did not mind following.
After a few hours, the faeries began to wake. They stretched. They fluttered. They giggled. They avoided the iron bars. And then, they spoke.
"That's the sorriest looking wizard I've ever seen!" The male faerie said to Maggie in his high voice. "He isn't even a real wizard. Lying through his crooked teeth!"
"He's lying?" The female faerie huffed and turned back to me. "Lovely Maggie there is a thief. Watch out for her!"
"Ugh. Ignore them, Greg. They're not mature enough to be empaths yet. They're trying to fluster us. You know you're a real wizard, and I know I'm not a thief. Don't let them get to you."
"I’ll try. But I liked these creatures better when they were sleeping." I knew very little about faeries before meeting Maggie, and I didn't intend on being an expert after we sold these. I had no desire to mess with them again.
The tirade of insults made the journey back to the port city grueling. The incessant chatter of "He didn't make those potions for you. just got them from an apothecary vixen in exchange for a snog," from the male and "She gets men to do her dirty work all the time; then leaves them when they're no longer needed," from the female embarrassed both of us incredibly. We didn't kiss that evening in camp.
We were tired and in irritable moods when we finally saw the port city over the crest of a hill. Maggie broke the long and awkward silence to exclaim "Finally!" at the sight of Danviort.
We squeezed through the crowded market sector, having trouble dodging carts and swatting away pickpockets. "Perhaps you should go on to your buyer alone?" I asked Maggie, thinking that a few hours apart would alleviate our agitation. "I can find us food and lodging at the Inn."
"Very well. I'll find you there at sundown." Maggie didn't meet my eye. Curse those faeries!
We slid the iron cages to either side of my staff, and Maggie carried them over her shoulders like a yoke. Then she disappeared in the crowds.
At midnight, I was sitting in front of the fire at the inn. Maggie never returned. The old cook was sitting across from me, showing her wisdom in silence at my story of woe, until I had no more words.
"Infatuation is a set of blinders, boy. A wizard shouldn't be outwitted on subjects of fancy."
I looked over to her. "Outwitted?"
"The faeries, boy. You should have been the expert on their wiles, not her. The males... they tear down with their lies. The females... with their truths."
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