Sorry that this is a bit later than usual. It’s been a few hectic weeks before the Christmas holiday. So without anymore excess blather on my part, here is Chapter seven. A new player has entered the picture. Unfortunately, we don’t quite know who he is or what he’s up to.
“That’s all that you could find out? That’s nowhere near enough.” Long sleeves were thrown back from a carefully manicured pair of hands. A crow scrabbled nervously atop a shelf. Its tail feathers spread and twitched. Below its nervous gaze, a man paced back and forth across the room. Fire licked across the logs stacked carefully in the fireplace. Light and heat splashed the walls and innumerable bottles and flasks.
A chiseled chin turned upward. His bright green eyes narrowed into a piercing, calm gaze. He said nothing else. Instead he stood silently, waiting.
“There’s nothing else to tell,” the bird finally crawked, “She was looking for something when I went back. Both the girl and the gwydd were gone by the time I got back.”
“Got back?” the words were barely a whisper but he might as well have shouted. The crow stepped back and forth nervously. “That’s interesting. You getting back implies that you left. I believe I told you specifically not to leave under any circumstances. Exactly what was it that compelled you to leave against my express wishes? Never mind. Don’t answer, I’m sure I don’t actually want to know.” A single slender hand slashed the air dismissively.
“I’m sorry. Next time I’ll be sure to see just what she can do. I promise.” Tail and chest feathers ruffled and resettled, turning the bird into a twitching mass.
“Yes. You will. Because of you, for all I know the use of that gwydd was a complete waste. Now I have to come up with something else for you to watch her kill. Get out before I change my mind about keeping you around, but be back before night fall. You’ll have a chance to redeem yourself by then.”
The bird needed no more than that. Its wings spread wide as it leapt into the air. It shot upward and out through a small hole in the roof.
“Now then,” the mage seemed to say to himself, “What will we use this time?” Lovingly, his fingers brushed against vials and flasks. Tenderly, they tapped against ceramic and tin until they stopped on a dusty wooden box. It was lifted carefully out of a cupboard and placed onto the workbench at the center of the room.
A latch was sprung somewhere at the back of the box. The lid popped open a fraction of an inch. Inside was a simple cloth bag that had browned with age and dust. With a careful hand, the mage scooped the bag out of the box and held it in one hand.
“Yes, you’ll do nicely I think, but who should I send you to bother?” the man’s voice whispered to the bag in his palm. The bag appeared to be listening even though it hadn’t moved, or had it? Slowly he raised his hand up to his ear. He bent his head toward the bag and seemed to listen. A grin, which was not particularly nice, began to spread across his handsome face.
“What a positively splendid idea.” Fabric swirled around him as he whirled to face the workbench. He gently placed the bag onto the wooden workbench and drew the strings. The mouth opened slowly. Nothing seemed to be inside the tiny bag unless you looked very closely.
Tendrils of something just darker than the air pawed curiously outside of the bag. At first, they stayed close to the bag, but quickly grew confident. An impossible amount of dark something wafted out of the bag, filling the air above the work bench. When it stopped expanding, it hovered just above the bench, waiting. Even without a face, it seemed to be watching the mage smiling down at him.
“Go…” he whispered.
One moment it was there and the next it was simply gone.