Chapter 18Mature

The rest of the afternoon was pretty docile in comparison to the surprise encounter with the mutant men. Rayna avoided the alleyways and allowed herself to drown in the masses of merchants and tourists. While she walked, she tortured herself with inquisitions. What had Rush wanted with Acrebus? How close was he? How much time did she have in Valhalla, before one of his men found her alive? The questions ran on repeat through her mind, slowly chipping away at her sanity. She kept her head low, though occasionally she would dare a look over her shoulder to see that she wasn't being followed. With every accidental brush, and passing glance, her paranoia escalated.

When at last her heart felt as if it would tear free from her chest, she ducked into the nearest store front. An old tapestry spelled out the name under a white and red awning; Bakbordi Collectibles. She gasped in surprise. It was the store from her childhood. The one she was searching for earlier.

Her eyes danced around the interior. Shelves lined the walls and aisles of the store. Some housed books, others; perfumes, old machinery, compasses, maps, paintings, fans, top hats, corsets... Everything from coffee makers to chained whips.

The smell of leather and cinnamon initiated a feeling of nostalgia. Rayna closed her eyes in attempt to ward off taunting memories of her parents. When she opened them a wide eyed woman with her hair concealed in a colorful wrap was staring expectantly at her. The woman allowed less then an arm's length between them. Her proximity made Rayna go tense. She resisted the urge to reach out and poke the woman to see she wasn’t a mutant.

The woman folded her hands and leaned in closer. “Welcome to Bakbordi Collectibles. Can I help you find something?”

Rayna's eyes sought the wall behind the register. A large quantity of of various length knives hung freely, showcasing beautiful hand painted and jewel encrusted handles. The one that caught Rayna's eye was a dagger whose handle was crafted from a deer antler. The handle was carved in familiar looking runes. On the center of the handle stood two wolves opposite each other, frozen in threatening stances.

Rayna moved closer to the wall. Something about the scene on the handle reminded her of a story her mother told her as a child.

“You like knives, do ya?” The wide eyed woman inquired.

Rayna shook her head. “It's a gift... For my husband.”

The lady moved behind the register. She reached for the knife and handed it to Rayna. “This one is an original. Look at the detail in the runes. He'll just die when he sees this!”

Rayna's mood brightened. “I sure hope he does.”

The clerk vanished, allowing Rayna to study the knife alone. She grew frustrated as she tried to recall the story about the wolves her mother had told her,and failed to remember it. She set the knife on the counter for a moment so she could count her coin. Before she could open her satchel bag a hand made a move for the knife and snatched it out of her reach. Rayna spun on her heel. “Ever the hell...”

A tall hooded man held the knife up to examine it better in the light. Rayna reached for the object,but it was out of reach. “I'm not sure if you're aware, but I was going to purchase that knife,” She said calmly. Perhaps the man was confused.

The man didn't move his eyes off of the knife. “Oh, I was aware. That is why I hurriedly made the purchase.” He lowered the knife, and held up a receipt showing her proof of purchase.

Rayna flexed her fingers. By habit, her eyes moved down to the man's well polished boots and traveled back upwards. His posture was self assuring. His attire included leather boots, fitted trousers, and even a shirt of fine silk. It was obvious he was a man of high stature and wealth. “You aristocrats have no shame. Have you not reached a maturity passed wanting something because someone else is playing with it?”

The man looked down on her. His deep blue eyes crinkled in amusement. “Tell me, which one of owns the knife now?”

Rayna seethed. “Just remember, appetite comes with eating.”

He flashed a lethal smile. “Do I look like I go hungry?”

She laughed bitterly. “Like a wolf. Maybe you should take it after all.”

The man fell into a mock bow and carried on his way.

“Asshole,” Rayna muttered as she left the store. With a sour mood distracting her she stepped into the path of a young woman running about the walkway. The girl swore when she ran into Rayna.

Rayna stepped back. “Watch it! This is not really a place where you can run.”

The girl shook her head. Her choppy black hair fell into her eyes. “Yes, of course. My apologies.”

Rayna observed the girl's eagerness to escape her, and noted how her hand clutched around something small. “What do you have there?”

The girl turned to leave, but Rayna caught her arm. “Show me.”

The girl unclenched her fist. She had not been concealing one thing specifically, but instead held onto several small items; a watch, a compass ring, an amethyst pendant, and a charm bracelet. Rayna arched an eyebrow. “You robbed this person blind.”

The girl flashed a wide smile. “Four people actually.”

Rayna stared at the young girl curiously. “How did you manage that?”

The girl shrugged. “It's kinda what I do. Have to eat somehow.”

  • “What's your name?”

She giggled. “My name? You're a few sails short of a full mast if you think I'm going I'm going to tell you it.”

Rayna loosened her grip on the girl's arm. She knew it'd be dangerous having a pick pocketing thief on board, but it'd also be advantageous in many ways. She weighed her options for a moment. “You like ships then?”

The girl rolled her eyes. “Who doesn't”

Rayna rocked back on her heels for a moment. “I have a proposition for you Glenda.”

The girl made a face. “My name is Sparrow not Glenda. Yuck what a horrid-” The girl froze upon realizing her error. Rayna grinned.

“So Sparrow, town thief, I wonder if there’s a bounty on your head. How much do you think you’re worth?”

The girl puffed out her cheeks before releasing her breath. “Where is your ship?”

The End

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