Thursday, October 23, 2014

City of Curses: Sea Witch 3

This is the third part of a short story about a Sea Witch in Crux, Arsania, a Cecaelia a bit more open than others of her kind.  After refusing a job, someone leaves a ring in her possession that just brings her more and more trouble than she really wants...
Part One | Part Two | Part Four

My arms were full.  With a bit of mental concentration, I called Muffins to me.  He opened the door to the potion shop as I left.

"Come again, later lass."  The shopkeeper told me.  He sounded bored to me.  I paid him no mind, too busy coordinating between my familiar and my arms.

Here's the thing about you dirtwalkers that annoys me.  You stare at those of us who weren't born
with monkey-legs.  I'm being serious here.  Imagine how hard it is to walk on land with tentacles. Now imagine doing that with your arms full with thirty or so pounds of various magical potions and poultices.  Now throw in trying to mentally command a little Octopus-Penguin, who likes to wander off to investigate every little thing that attracts his attention.

Sound difficult?  Frustrating.  Now try to imagine doing that while walking through the Grand Bazaar.  The busiest open market on the Maru Sea.  Its crowded.  So many people.  And I don't like people.  Being elbow to elbow to them just makes it so much more worse.

So, between the shouting people, and all the other distractions, I hurried toward the darker streets of the Grand Bazaar.  Its less crowded there.  Besides, I'm one of those dirtwalkers try to avoid anyway.

That was my second mistake that night.

"Miss?"  The sad voice jolted me.  I nearly fell over.  Muffins stared up at me, staring at me.  I, of course, had lunged out with tentacles akimbo, trying to keep from dropping anything.

I tried to identify the source of the voice.

"Sorry miss."  The voice that had scared me belonged to a little waif of a Tiefling girl.  She wore rags.  Her eyes were glazed over.  A blind little demon child.  One of her horns had been broken off.  I could see bones under her flesh.  And one wandering the streets of the Grand Bazaar.  "I didn't mean to scare you."

"Thats-thats fine."  I stuttered.  A part of me felt guilty.  A smarter part started to kick me.  This had to be some sort of danger, wasn't it?

Struggling with my items, I tried to continue on my way.

"Miss..." The little scrap of a tiefling blinked her blind eyes at me.  That made my heart bang.  How could I be suspicious of a beggar?  "Please can you tell me... I think I'm lost.  I'm trying to find someone."

"Someone?"  I paused.  "Who are you looking for child?"

"Been lookin' for me mum, Miss."  The little beggar licked her lips.  "She said, 'Slice and dice her if she don't give it'."

I paused.  "Uh... what?"

The beggar tiefling's left arm pulled out a long knife.  Where she had been hiding it... I have no idea.  She jumped on top of my shoulders, knocking me down.  She stank of garbage and brimstone.

I tried to slide away, instincts kicking in.  I felt ink splatter uselessly on the ground, making me panic even more.  I tried to grab her with tentacles, trying to throw the little thing away from me.

That didn't work.  She pressed her forehead against mine, her body wrapped around my head and torso.

"Mum said you might try runnin'.  They think me blind.  But I can hear your heart beat, squiddie."  She pressed the knife close to my throat.  "Miss, give Annie the ring.  Be nice about it too."

As she pressed her body against me, I could feel her real body.  Annie wasn't a child.  No, I felt a mature woman's body under the loose rags.  And muscles too.  The knife pricked my throat.  Sharp.

"I... I don't have it."

She headbutted me.  My left eye stung.  I cried out in pain, tears streaming down my face.

I could hear Muffins giving a fit.  Made sense, because his mistress had just gotten herself trapped in a position that no spellcaster could really handle.  If I tried to cast anything, Annie would just rip out my throat.  I couldn't even draw up my focus to my patron.  Arsania, you idiot.

"Really now?"  The Demon's Orphan forced my right eye open.  "Swear to little Annie.  You speaking the truth?"

"I... I don't... have it."  I sobbed.

"So, I have to gut and leave ya then."  Annie said, kissing my cheek.  "Teorgio said he gave it to you.  Must've lied to me-"

"No!"  I screamed.  "Please!  I can get it-  I just- I just need time-"

"Mum asked me real nice to get it for her."  Annie gave me a cold stare.  "Don't lie to me.  I can tell."

I took in a deep breath.  "Plea-please.  I can get it for you."

"Well," Annie smiled.  "Take me to it, then."

"I-I-"

"Please?"  Annie got off me, offering me a hand up.  "I can be polite at least, Miss.  Get me the ring, and that'll be that.  You give me your word?"

I nodded.

"Well, then."  She grabbed my hand and helped me up onto my tentacles.  The little Tiefling surprised me with her strength.  "No worries Miss.  I believe you."
 
She clutched onto my left hand, letting me lead her back to my shop.  I shuddered.  I tried not to shake with terror.

"No fear Miss!"  Little Annie beamed up at me, her blind eyes seeing nothing of my tears.  "My mum will be so happy with me!"