Chapter 6: Fireflies and Gypsies

Damian Rade

Ian wore his usual serious look on his face that was always accompanied by a stupid, contradictive grin as he slid through the rustling and bustling of people in the market place.  It was almost dark out, but the town he was passing through didn’t seem to have many young ones running about the entire day he’d spent there, so he knew this must be more of a traveling caravan town and this must be their main street.  All the venders had stringed hundreds of lightning bugs together across their carts to illuminate their unique merchandise.  He noticed a few weapon venders, stopping only to talk to one or two so he could criticize them when he saw a battle axe of some sort. “That looks much too much like a hammer… Who’s your biggest customer?  Warriors or Carpenters!?,” he’d laugh loud and obnoxiously every time.

He even laughed aloud now just thinking about his own clever self, never caring if people stared, never wondering what they thought.  He felt the cool night breeze playing with his dark, shaggy, brown mess of hair continuing down to slide through its silver tips and lastly to caress his itchy, unshaven chin.  He tried to live in the moment as much as possible, but not for any good reason, only to deny what had happened all those years ago…  He shut his eyes tightly as a reminder to himself not to think anymore, and instead he would just have all the fun that Cosilla had to offer, for life was said to be short…especially for his kind.  When he opened his chocolate brown, now dry, eyes he realized he was standing in front of an outdoor alcohol vender’s shop.  A familiar urge filled up in his throat as his dry eyes now began to water with a rueful craving.  

“Give me a bottle of the strongest you got!” He smiled wide, becoming the devil with the pearly whites of a saint.  

“…You sure you can handle it, son?” The vender said after looking him over quickly, immediately transitioning into hesitation at Ian’s slim and lanky appearance.

“Listen, short stuff,” Ian spat out, noticing the vender was standing on a tall barstool and still only matched his own height, “you’re the size of my shoe, does anyone ever ask if they can try you on?  Nope?  Then hand me the bottle before someone gets their arms cut off.  Last time I checked, I’d never heard of a Virtue named Patience.” Ian’s smile grew more dashing by the minute, hearing the sound of his own voice always motivated him to keep the smug comebacks going.    

The vender didn’t pay any mind to his remarks or to the fact that Ian didn’t appear to be carrying any large weapons under his long jacket to be cutting anyone’s arms off with.  He pulled a bottle of ‘Unlucky Liver’ from under the counter that connected out from his caravan as Ian gave another bellowing laugh at the name, “Cutting to the chase I see, just the way I like it.  Hey, you and I are gonna’ get along just fine. ” He said, holding the bottle a ways from his face as if it were going to say something back in concurrence.  The vender hopped down off his stool, rolling his eyes at Ian as he winked at the vender, being careful not to make straight eye contact however, in thanks and good humor. He threw several coins on the counter just before downing the entire bottle.  Feeling the burning sting in his lungs, he gave a fulfilling growl through gritted teeth.

Ian watched as some loose fireflies from one of the carts danced past his nose as he was about to turn and leave, but was immediately distracted by what the alcohol vender was saying to a clothes vender that was slowly closing his shop up for the night beside him.

“Did you hear about the lone gypsy?” The alcohol vender asked, leaning his head over the edge of his cart, prepared to catch any new gossip.    

“Yeah, sounds real shifty if ya' ask me… She’s been popping up in different towns in this area the past couple days at a few of the Inns, and just recently was spotted at the town neighboring this one…”

“I heard no one’s even seen her face, but my brother who works at an inn said he caught a glimpse of her striking crow black hair with overflowing curls.  I bet the rest of her is just as easy on the eyes too.  Makes you wonder what she’s hiding though?”

“Sure, but ya’ know… I never saw a gypsy with no secrets before.”  The two older men exchanged comical glances as one changed the subject to chat about inflation and inquire on how business was going.       

Their voices faded out of Ian’s ears leaving only his thoughts to haunt him now.  He always trusted his gut.  This gypsy was a Gifted.  There was no doubt in his mind.  He had to think fast. Scolding himself for not finding this information out earlier, he turned around a bit too quickly and ran into a young woman.  Her hair was short and cropped complimenting her fit figure.  He smiled a crooked, cocky smile and gave an appreciated glance as he distinguished her bright strawberry blonde hair from her liquid ebony eyes.  Noticing eye color was always his first mistake.  Pictures flooded his brain as he locked eyes with the woman.  First he saw spiders of every shape and size, and then it swiftly transitioned into every other insect in existence.  After watching a praying mantis gobble up a butterfly, he broke away from the images and snapped back to reality.

“Pardon me… Um, are you alright?” The woman hesitated.   

Feeling a bit lightheaded and nauseous now, he nodded in her direction, managing another dashing smile as he made his way towards the welcoming darkness of an ally way.  He looked back only for a moment to see the young woman dodging a few lightning bugs in great speed with anguish apparent in her widened eyes and quivering lips.  A deep laugh fell from under his breath as he quickened his own speed, increasing his oxygen intake.  It’s Time, his thoughts echoed as he started to roll the sleeves of his jacket up past his forearms.                                         

The End

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