“You must be Avalynn and Jeri, welcome!” The voice was coming from someone close by, but my view was masked by the soft lavender of Avalynn’s cloak. Avalynn quickly rolled off of me, vehemently dusting herself off like landing on me was as bad as landing in a pile of dirt.

Then I got my first look at my rescuer. He was a distinctly grimy-looking man with dark, shoulder-length greasy hair and a goatee to match. His green eyes were bright and lively, completely out of place in this world.He was holding the plate of shortbread I had smelled earlier. When his eyes met mine he smiled, showing crooked yellow teeth. Something about it sent chills down my spine.  He was standing in a modest, unadorned room with nothing but a table and three chairs. The wallpaper was yellowed and crumbling, a stark contrast to the extravagant rooms of the castle.

“I brought the soul you requested,” Avalynn said, demonstrating me with a sharp kick, “but if I linger here much longer, I risk severing my ties to the living world. So pay up.” She stuck out an expectant hand towards the man.

“So we don’t have much time then,” he sighed, putting down the plate of shortbread and sitting in one of the chairs, “have a seat and I’ll cut right to the chase.”

I rolled off of the pillow and stumbled to a seat, my back still hurting. Avalynn reluctantly sat in the chair next to mine. I reached for some shortbread and tentatively tried it. It was the most delicious thing I had tasted in a long time, obviously. I had lots of questions to ask this man, like why he wanted to see me, but at that moment all I could think about was the food in front of me. As I wolfed down the shortbread Avalynn turned to our host.

“I’d love to stay and chat, but I really must be going soon. The deal was to get him here, and I’ve clearly done that. So I’ve done my side of the deal, and now you need to do yours.” She impatiently rubbed her fingers together in the gesture for money.

Our host shook his head, his greasy bangs whipping side to side. He gave a crooked smile.

“Well, there’s been a slight change of plan…”

The End

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