The Fish and Spear
Day 37 ∙ Qirïdun ∙ 8308 L.M
DAWN CREPT THROUGH the attic’s broken shutters, like long, rosy fingers stretching across the room to caress and raise Willow from sleep. But he had not tried to sleep, not even when he was sure his strange visitors would not return. He had led scrunched amongst his covers in his bed, watching as the dust in the air caught the light and danced in the beams with an ethereal sort of grace. When he was young, he’d imagined that every speck was a faery spirit floating away from this world, revealed only in the most abstruse moments. That was until he’d told Wilmina, who had told him that faeries were monsters that hunted children, and that thinking about them made them angry.
It was in the hours between night and sunrise that Percival’s words turn-tabled in his mind: an inn, the northern trail, midday, Arkus… He searched for the feeling that had overwhelmed him when the light had appeared before him, unable to understand if it was fear or awe. Listening for movement within the house and hearing only silence, he rose from bed and walked to the corner of the attic. Beneath a bundle of unwashed clothes was a blackwood chest with an iron clasp. Inside, he kept everything he owned, his favourite clothes, sentimental old toys with missing limbs, and paper drawings that Wilmina hadn’t yet found to use for kindling. Folded neatly in the pocket of his best shirt was the letter.
He slipped on the shirt, mainly for its size, made for a man not a boy, one far wider than him. The sleeves ended at the blunt tips of his fingers and the hem was almost as long as his knee-length shorts. With its rich blue colour and cuffs edged in silk, it was the most expensive garment he owned. He grabbed a couple more objects from the chest, his torn, hogskin satchel and the shard of flint that he had used as a weapon hours previous. Pushing his feet into his laceless ankle boots, he made his way quietly downstairs.