0.2 -Coffee

The large curiously light leather bound tome is fascinating. I read the words without really comprehending the symbols as abstract ideas, concepts, litanies, and formations pour through my mind. I try in vain to grasp the mass of information but it is like trying to catch a typhoon in a bucket and I only can get glimpses of understanding regarding the mass of information flowing through my mind.

I read through the ten chapters worth of… Something? before I hit a block in the form of pages refusing to budge as though they are carved from steel. I try to turn them with a thought as the others had so easily moved with a mental nudge, then actually tug on the edges in annoyance before I abruptly realize that I have not been physically turning the last four hundred and sixty eight pages with my hands, or indeed touching the book at all for some time as it seems to be floating some small distance off my hand.

I should be more alarmed by this right? But it just feels natural like breathing, or walking. Something I have been doing for so long I shouldn’t even have to think about it anymore. In fact it is exactly when I think about it that the floating stops and the book falls. The tome bounces heavily off my hand and falls to the floor with an astonishingly dense thud.

“Thousand hells and Dust that hurt! I curse feeling as though these words are significantly more virulent then they sound as I rub my wrist where the edge of the book hit and step off the wooden stool bending down to pick it up in the light from the booth lamps.

The bar is busy, bright and bustling with about ten strangers around me in robes coats and one small very pale girl in a Victorian styled black and white dress. The girl sits on the stool beside mine sipping from a glass of muddy red liquid. I take another look around to see anyone familiar- there. Brandon and the man in the coat have moved to a booth as the waitress has apparently started serving alcohol handing a frothing glass of beer to a very large heavy set man with a thick grey mustache sitting on the other side of me.

Only the barista keeps moving as I suddenly drop the book, the room going silent for less than a second before everyone excepting Brandon and the man go back to their drinks and conversations.

“Sorry to bother either of you two. ” I apologize hastily to the girl, and the leather jacket wearing biker like gentleman before I pull my book into my hand with a mental tug, grab my now room temperature coffee-thing, and go to sit at the booth with the others.

My head is spinning as I sit down beside Brandon and place the book in front of me with my coffee.

“When the hells did the bar open?” I ask grumpily as I take a sip from my coffee as Brandon and the blond man stare at me seemingly stunned-mmmm… The drink tastes nothing like coffee, more like spicy lemon with vanilla, and something that almost reminds me of my Uncle’s ghastly attempt at making curry. The drink has a strong flavor but it’s astonishingly delicious.

“You do realize that the Acadia Blend you are drinking has been steeping for the better part of twelve hours while you have been staring at your book right?” Brandon proffers apparently a bit grossed out by my consumption of my drink.

I ignore him for more lukewarm vanilla bliss.

“He’s probably in psycho-magical shock from reading a Grimoire. Your friend here clearly didn’t know anything about magic this morning and now he’s got who knows what floating around in his head. He is going to be spouting nonsense for the next few days until his mind can sort everything out.”

Brandon nods and turns back to his own pint glass with a sigh. “Right as usual Solomon. I was hoping that maybe we could find out what you dragged me into this timeEspecially considering my only formerly normal friend has apparently just connected to it?”

Brandon sounds pissed as he takes a big swig from his beer and glares at Solomon.

The room seems to spin and my bones turn to jelly as black swirls on the edges of my vision. “I am going to sleep now OK? Don’t wake the others without me…” I murmur to Brandon- then I pass out onto his shoulder.

 

 

 

~~~

 

I am standing in a dark forest somewhere, pools of stagnant water lie shrouded in thin pale white mist beneath twisted trees and a moonlit sky. I stand on the side of a grassy hill rising above the murk around me, moss and tumbled stones caped by a single enormous rotting fallen oak. The hill is steep but manageable, there is a robed figure sitting by a small fire in the crook of the fallen tree’s corpse. I do not want to go to the warmth of the fire I want to run through the murk, to feel the wind rush through my fur. Perhaps I would find another traveler, one who knows better than to make his camp on the hill.

I turn in the air and sniff, the stale water filled with life, the wet moss beneath me, damp rock stone, and the familiar non-scent of the mist. I can see a small pale blue light within the mist to the north, flickering between trees where the water of the swamp is deepest.

But there is the man on the hill, waiting and I must see to his purpose there before I can hunt. With a silent growl I turn and drift silently across the moss covered stones.

 

The man watches the mist rise along the edges of the hill overtaking first pool, then cracked moss covered stones of what was once a home before it reaches the bottom most branches of the fallen lord of the swamps. With the mist rises the one he has been waiting for all day and night beside his fire. A mote of pale blue light rises through the mist growing nearer until the mist stops to swirl just beyond the edge of the firelight as it must.

The mote drifts through the mist a ball of white-blue fire bright and cold as it enters the fire lit circle atop the hill.

 

I stare at the man in the hood. his wrinkled skin is ruddy, his unkempt beard and long curly hair white with age. The man removes his hood to examine my own form -whatever that is- with two large blue eyes filled with weary intellect. I remember reading the book back in Tellers, I suppose it is not strange to have a strange dream after reading a book of magic. This is not just a strange dream though. I have never seen this place, I can smell the rotting wood, the strangely familiar scent of the mist, feel the hard packed charred and damp earth beneath me. The man before me is here for a reason.

It briefly occurs to me that I should probably be more worried, or even panicked about reading a Grimoire, magic being real, and a visit by a strange man in a dream, but I push the thought aside.

“Why are you here?”

If the man is bothered by my rudeness he shows no sign of it giving a slight smile.

“Very straight forward aren’t you? I won’t pretend to see whatever She sees in you, but I suppose this will be interesting at the very least.” The man’s voice is light almost humorous with a slight unidentifiable accent. He speaks the word She with great respect as though referring to someone important.

The man in the bar seemed confused I could understand it so perhaps not everyone can read the book.

“I suppose you are here because I read the book, and that She is the one who made the decision to allow me to understand it?”

The old man nods “Yes. The Mistress Grendel has taken notice of you, and now that you have read the Sixth Grimoire she wishes that I make you an offer.”

Grimoires if I remember are books of magic, usually forbidden or really dangerous. I seem to remember something about the catholic church trying and failing to destroy them but I think that is from a manga. What I can be certain of is that the man,  or this being Grendel probably would not be asking my permission t do something unless I actually have a choice in the matter. One does not need to be an avid reader of fiction in general to know this sort of deal must be loaded.

“Before I hear your offer I would like to know why this Grendel is interested in me, as well as exactly what She is.”

The man laughs, a dry dusty found of genuine amusement from his belly. “The first of those I cannot answer. Those cleverer than I have tried and failed to know why The Mistress acts the way she does.”

“Cannot, or won’t answer?” I glare at the man who seems to be deliberately avoiding telling me anything.

The man seems suddenly very tired and very very old as he replies in a much dryer voice “Can’t. I don’t know the answer. The mistress is a being beyond the bounds of logic, reason or reality. Lady Grendel is nobility among the outsiders- beings beyond this or any world. She, and her kind are to gods, and arch-demons what those same things are to mortals -an unknowable impossible power outside of all physical spaces. I am not foolish enough to believe I could fathom the thoughts of a being so outside of the relm of conventional reality that it knows neither time nor death in a place that is defined by a complete lack of physical laws. such a being is simply to alien and distant from everything I know for me to make any significant guess beyond that of her chosen nature.”

Am I seriously stuck in a H.P Lovecraft cosmic horror story? Seriously? I know my luck is terrible but this is ridiculous.

“Besides Even if I did know I would be bound by my purpose to tell you. I could not tell you though I am bound by the same Gias that the user of the book inherits as the shard of the author’s soul embedded within the book until it is first used. I am incapable of telling lies.”

The man’s words are unreal- but have an odd sort of ring of truth as he mentions a Gias. I actually remember that from the book, The Dancer as an immortal was bound with a single rule they could not break even if they wanted to. The book never actually said what the rule was, so I’d guess this is it. But as for this man, or soul shard… or whatever’s purpose…

“So why are you here?”

The man sighs again before smiling slightly at the ground. “My purpose is to answer the questions the user of the Grimoire may have about Lady Grendel’s offer.”

The man sighs.

“A Grimoire that is not involved in a pact unlike many magical books will not conduct the flow of information through psychic channels but rather through the essence of a being. Your soul if you will. But that sort of bond does not work unless either you preform very specific rituals to reduce ones own barrier to the realm of magic, what most would call the afterlife or the spirit world…”

I don’t like where this is going. The man takes a breath through his teeth with a hiss looking rather nervous. “-However it also applies to someone who is certain to die very soon.”

“Grendel’s offer is this- you will become one of the fourteen beasts of Grendel, bound to the Grimoire as its spirit for all time.-” This does not seem very fair, either I die, or I become a book? What the Thousand hells because apparently those are a thing?

“-Your soul will being to Grendel and she will shape your form in perfect reflection of your essence becoming one of the great books of magic. Until banishment of your soul to Grendel’s halls, or the end of reality you would become the intellect of a great book of magic capable of materializing a physical form. Immortal beyond all time your spirit your mind set in motion through magic alone.”

 

“So I become a magic book working for a Lovecraftian god… Or I die.”

The man looks at me curiously “I am not familiar with this style of ‘Lovecraftian’, and Grendel is most definitely not a god, Gods are much more limited in scope.”

“Grimoires once they have a soul to empower them are a tool, you would have a choice of those capable of using the power within the pages, you could form bonds as a familiar. But you would not be human anymore.”

Death. I would never see Brandon, Aunt, Uncle, or-… anyone again but do… whatever the dead do? I only know of the existence of the Thousand hells and so while I have no doubt the book left out any better options can I really leave them all behind? Can I really risk that?

But is it worth the price? I would be able to find someone and grant them power. Maybe they could help me search for what I lost.

Is it worth it?

I level my eyes with the man’s “Did I ever actually have a choice?”

The man sighs looking into my eyes he replies. “Considering how the mistress chooses people? Probably not.”

0.1 -Strangers

*Beep*

*Beep*

*Beep*

I roll over in bed as I slap at the small digital alarm clock on top of the small wooden bedside table beside the blue and white lamp. I finally smack the thing with the palm of my hand as I sit up in my bed groggily rubbing my eyes and trying to clear away my usual waking-up-headache. My room in our four room apartment is a small plain square room with enough room for a steel framed twin bed, my dresser, a bedside table, and a lamp. I turn on said lamp as the alarm stops mid beep and brush my short scruffy brown hair back from my eyes with one hand as I get out of bed. I fumble through the dresser as the last remnants of sleep melt away from my mind leaving the usual burning rawness of a migraine. Dressed in a grey shirt and jeans I grab my old black backpack from atop my dresser and step out into the apartment of my adopted family. Aunt Dayl, a kind tall stick of a woman with a thin pale face, and brown eyes sits on the small green couch in the apartment’s small living room adjacent to the similarly small open kitchen where Uncle Dayle is preparing breakfast. Aunt Dayl turns briefly from her usual CNN morning news on mute with the subtitles on and smiles at me briefly before returning to the small screen of the television by the three large windows opposite the sofa. I return the smile as I walk behind the couch to the kitchen. Uncle is a short balding man with ruddy skin and a mustache a walrus would find familiar; he hands me a blue flower patterned plate loaded with scrambled eggs with a silent smile. “Thanks Uncle.” I sign to him with a grin as I sit down on one of the four stools arranged by the small hardwood bar half separating the kitchen from the living room.

As usual Uncles egg’s are warm hot and fluffy helping the burning behind my eyes to subside. I scarf them down before washing the dish off in the small sink, placing it in the drying rack and quickly grabbing my sneakers by the apartment door. I grab my grey hoodie from it’s place on the coat rack by the door and check to make sure my keys and my bus pass are in my pockets before I step out into the long hallway of the red brick apartment building. I walk down the stairs at the end of the hall for two flights of grey concrete stairs before I reach the first floor hallway and walk out the faded blue door into the wall of sound, wind, and cold that is February in Seattle Washington. The sounds of  traffic are constant at seven twenty on a blustery Friday and I turn up my hood against the noise as I walk down the short flight of concrete steps from the small red apartment building. I turn right at the bottom and start my usual walk along the street towards the bus stop at the end of the block.

I dodge a few early morning bikers as I progress in silence towards the bus stop. Around me the city is already fully awake as men and women in coats with briefcases bags and backpacks make their way to work or school. Halfway along I stop by ‘Teller’s Coffee’s and Teas’ a strange little basement coffee shop and bar that is locally known for both for the strangeness of its clientele, and for those willing to brave it the quality of it’s unusually flavored coffee.

Naturally this is the morning haunt of Brandon Denis, my best -and to be entirely honest only- friend.

Brandon usually waits outside the shop in the small stairwell below the apartment building owned by the manager of Teller’s with a cup of the strange light purple colored Acadia flower coffee he loves, but he’s not there today. I let out a long sigh… must be inside. Probably lost track of time like he does with everything else.

I am cautious to descend the stairs once more and knock. Not because the usual problem of reputation- as the naturally quiet adopted weirdo son of a deaf couple I really don’t have a good rep to begin with so going in the subject shop of the local spook story’s won’t hurt.

It’s because it’s Tellers. Normally even in Seattle any place with coffee as good as Teller’s no matter the weird menu would have a following of regulars from the local area.

Teller’s does not. Hell even dog’s refuse to go near the place.

But the shop has been there for as long as anyone can remember, and the cops have never even had to break up a fight there so the place remains in the basement of the apartment building in the middle of the block.

I stare at the ordinary red brick stairwell for a good five minutes as the morning crowed passes around me as I stand sort of just hoping that something, anything really- will make Brandon emerge from the shop on his own.

He does not.

Not that I really expected him to considering how easily distracted Brandon can be at times, but it was worth a shot even with the biting chill in the air.

So do I go in, give up, or just walk away?

Ah fuck it- he is my best friend and besides we have chemistry club after school today. The stairs are old and worn but I quickly walk down them to the ordinary red door with a brass knocker and a sign hanging from it reading Open. I knock briefly and wait for about a minute before I reach for the small brass doorknob and grasp it turning and pulling… And the door opens perfectly normally with a little jingle so I walk in. I close the door to the large open basement bar with a click as the conversation of the three people at the bar in the center of the room stops leaving only some unidentifiable jazz music playing over hidden speakers in the background. The room is about twenty odd feet (7 meters) across with four booths on either side of a small square old wooden bar at the center of the room with several stools, and a mirrored backing for the rack holding up numerous bottles. Behind the bar is a pale blonde and very pretty twenty-something woman with green eyes, her hair drawn up in a pony tail where she sits in jeans, a T-shirt, and a brown apron leaning on the bar across from the shop’s two patrons. The place is dark, the little lights over the booths are off, and the only light comes from the bar overhead lamps, and the string of yellow Christmas tree lights wrapped around its wooden front side.

Brandon sits at the end of the bar staring at me like the other two with his strong apparently handsome face with a perfectly proportioned nose, mouth, clean skin, and those storm-grey eyes that several of the popular girls in our class can never shut up about.

Why the near-idol of our school is friends with someone like me should be apparent by this point in that Brandon is extremely weird.

Then again I consider a bastardized mix of American, British, and German sign language to be my primary language so I probably shouldn’t talk.

Beside Brandon on the next  stool over is a tanned muscular scruffy thirty something man an with blond hair, stubble and a trench coat, a battered old fedora in his lap. He holds a cup of the same strange purple stuff Brandon loves so much. Brandon normally drinks the stuff up quick, and the smell of the stuff is very light so it is only now that I am in the enclosed space where the stuff is presumably brewed that I get more than a brief whiff of the strangely familiar smell that I have sometimes noticed when Brandon is late and pops out the door as I arrive. Something flowery, but definitely not the feint fruit smell the stuff normally has, almost buttery but it smells absolutely delicious. The man examines me carefully with silver eyes before the barista asks me “So what’s it going to be?” in a way that seems oddly loaded.

I nervously begin signing my answer before realizing that she want’s a verbal response, and that I need to get to school. After a moment I say something entirely different out loud.

“Ummm I’m just here to tell Brandon we need to get going to the bus. We probably already missed the first one but if we get the next one we will only miss first period.”

I glance at Brandon as the man, and the barista exchange a look. Brandon gets a long one from the man before he turns back to me and stands up. “Well bye Solomon, bye Faye.” he grabs his grey backpack from the dark recesses of the closest stall and all but pushes me out the door as we hurry to the bus stop. As we sprint up the Stairs and out onto the corner Brandon says in his best imitation of a grave tone of voice.

“You were signing again, you know of what I speak.”

I let out a sigh at Brandon’s typical shenanigans.”You know I do that when I am nervous!”

He gives me a worried look as we dash across the crosswalk.

“You aren’t going to go mute again like you were when they found you right? I mean last time it took you seven years to re-learn-”

“I know I know OK? I am nowhere near as nervous as after that alright? Can you just shut up and run your ass off?”

We sprint the remainder of the block just as the bus to the east center city right by Roosevelt high school stops and the passengers begin to board under the grey sky.

The dark green and yellow city bus is just pulling away from the stop as we sprint across the sidewalk, pavement tinted red by the rising sun. The driver sees us but he continues accelerating. The driver’s name is Jeremy- I know because he lives next door to Brandon in the apartment building over Teller’s and Brandon has this habit of forgetting his keys and trying to use the fire escape… Anyway it’s not his fault even though both I and Brandon spend roughly the next minute or so cursing him- Jeremy’s boss keeps the bus drivers on an impossibly tight schedule so he really had no choice.

Of course if I had known what this simple action of missing the bus would result in I would have chased the gods damned bus. But I didn’t know, and I didn’t chase it. It was from that point on where my life went in a very different direction.

It was at exactly that moment when we stood in the shelter of the little metal and plastic bus stop shelter that Brandon and I made the decision that would  decide the rest of my life.

As is so unfortunately common with such things, I had no idea.

All I was thinking was that I was going to miss chatting with that girl Rebecca in first period today. I stomp my feet to keep out the autumn chill as I talk.

“So, since the next bus isn’t until noon do you want to go back to Teller’s with me and grab a cup of coffee? I know you love the coffee there and I have been meaning to try it sometime.”

Brandon just grins.

“Alright then. I always figured I would manage to convert you to my caffeinated ways though you may regret the loss of your morning date with Rebecca-San. Let us be on with it! Our ship sails at noon!” He stands on the bench under the plastic roof striking a pose and peering off dramatically into the distance… At the Starbucks across the street about thirty feet away; his left hand raised to shield his grey eyes from the terrible glare of the overcast sky reflecting off numerous small puddles…

I let out a sigh at the dopey grin on Brandon’s face. “Remind me why I am friends with you again?”

Brandon just clicks his tongue as we start walking back along the sidewalk. I roll my eyes at Brandon’s usual sudden lapse into silence whenever he thinks someone should know the answer to something, or he fell asleep from not having caffeine withing the previous five minutes, one of the many reasons our little duo has never kept any of the other friends we tried making since we first met in Elementary school and we sort of just clicked together. Other reasons for this include my tendency to lapse into an entirely different language when I am nervous or angry, or confused, and the fact that Brandon used to believe he was a faerie changeling.

Though to be honest neither of us really tried very hard either.

The streets are really beginning to fill with morning pedestrians and we shoulder together along the crowded sidewalk towards Teller’s. In case you can’t tell this is actually the first time I have been the one who suggested this course of action after missing the bus, though after missing it three times this week Friday is just the day I decide to humor Brandon’s love of weird coffee as opposed to waiting in the Starbucks across from the bus stop.

It takes us a little over fifteen minutes walk to return to Teller’s and the red door at the bottom of the small brick stairwell greats us with a chime as we return to the small dark shop. The man in the trench coat -Solomon I think? Is still there slowly nursing his coffee and quietly talking to the barista at the bar. They turn at the sound of the door opening as Brandon and I shut the door against the cold wind that has started to pick up sweeping down the arrow straight street turning the space enclosed by tall side to side buildings into an icy wind tunnel.

Brandon holds up two fingers and the Barista gives me a pleasant little surprised smile as the man turns back to the bar and to a strange leather bound book in front of him around the size one would expect of a large hardcover novel, clearly very old with the words “The Dancer in the Mirror” on the worn, and cracked spine of  the book in silver block letters that seem to shine.

Brandon takes a seat at the bar as the Barista whose name tag reads ‘Faye’ in green glitter pen turns away and ducks to use the shining steel machines bellow the bottle rack to presumably make two purple coffees. I can’t help but wonder at the book as I don’t think I have ever heard of it before despite my own obsessive perusal of the local library and yet the book itself seems to hold my gaze as I wonder what’s inside…?

The man turns slightly and I raise my eyes to his own friendly blues. I am going to be here for a while so I may as well make conversation. I walk over to sit on the stool beside Brandon and the man and ask “So ‘The Dancer in The Mirror’ that is an unusual title for a book. Is it any good?”

The man’s casual smile freezes, Brandon’s eyes stop roving across the baristas rear as she goes still. The man’s eyes widen as he quickly exchanges a glance with Brandon and the barista again. They seem to have an extremely brief discussion through the use of inscrutable weird looks and raised eyebrows mostly directed at Brandon who appears to mostly be confused by this until they both glare at him and he finally shrugs slightly.

“Uhhh is asking about a book some sort of massive social Faux Pas here? I didn’t mean to cause trouble or anything, just trying to make conversation…” I trail away as the Barista goes back to the machines, and Brandon says “Excuse me I… Need to go to the bathroom.” Despite very clearly needing no such thing. Brandon is tapping his leg with his right hand under the bar – taptap taptap- a nervous tick that completely ruins his current bland poker face as he stands and walks into the darkness on the right side of the bar past the man, and disappears into the shadows past the second booth.

The an turns towards me with his hand on the book. I swallow, my throat suddenly dry. Brandon was very nervous. I can tell by the tension in the baristas shoulders that something is wrong as the man in the trench coat turns towards me, the bar lights on one side leaving half of his rather narrow well proportioned pace in darkness in a manner that can only be described as melodramatic. The man seems to consider me for a moment as he fiddles with the brim of his hat with one hand and slides the book towards me with the other hand resting on top of it as though offering it to me.

“So can you read this man, or are you just looking for it?” The man’s voice is calm with a California accent reminding me of some sort of noir crime novel themed surfer. I try to fight back laughing at the sudden inexplicable image.

“It’s written in English, in clear block capital letters so yes.” The man turns the spine of the book back towards me. ‘No, it’s not.” he says with an odd grin, and I look at the title… That is written in some kind of curly wavy lettering.

 

I stare at it in confusion, especially regarding the fact that it is clearly written in another language with  the letters seeming to shift slightly but I can still clearly read the title. The Dancer in The Mirror.

“I could have sworn that… Wait why can I still read it?

The man slides the book across the bar to me, “No clue. You can open it up if you’d like and read some.”

I know this situation is just too surreal, and that in general opening books with shifting letters in an unknown language offered by strange men is probably not the smartest thing to do if H.P Lovecraft has taught me anything… But I have always been far to curious for my own good. I pick up the surprisingly light tome cupping the spine in one hand with my fingers across the back cover and I open the book.

The introduction, scrawled across the yellowed parchment in thin lack script is unusual.

“To those who would use this tome for good, ill, or naught-

The book you hold is the sixth of the twelve Books of Magic I have penned regarding all I have found in my studies regarding the entities of the Old Court. Indeed of the many tomes I have penned upon which the masses have placed the title ‘Grimoire’ these manuscripts are perhaps those which would be deemed most heretical by Man, Elf, and Mer. The Fair peoples would have all believe that the old world, the very ground upon which magic was born is a myth.

But I have walked upon it’s ruined surface scarred by unimaginable conflict long ago, and I have seen the cratered and crumbling edifices that dot the dust lands deep beneath the void of stars and sea. It is within these places beyond Demon, God, or Mortal eyes where neither darkness nor light ever venture I have found what so many have sought to ensure lay forgotten and undisturbed for eternity. I know now what my wanderings have woken in these halls older than time itself where the dead, the dying, and the sleeping are one as The Old Court seeks to return to council an empty throne long sealed. A traitor in their midst seeks to stop them one by one and yet the Court must live so others may die. The Dancer, entertainer of The Court is favored as a servant of The Crown Princess one of four servants to attend the Court even in death. The often ignored lash of color in the corner of the eye in a relm of decadence a graceful display that goes unseen. A shifting spiral of light as intangible as the mist that haunts these halls.

Faded Lines- A Prologue

The night sky rises high over the flat empty expanse of sand, gleaming where it touches the silhouettes of the mountains on the distant horizon. A thousand stars glow against a blue so deep one could be forgiven for calling it pure black in the space between the brilliant spirals of galaxies, and the splashing colors of distant nebulae.

The vast jumble of the sky strikes an odd contrast with the desert sand below. Empty sand that seems to stretch on forever marked only by a few bits of scrub, some rocks, and a single small campfire attended by a lone figure.

The shape by the fire wears an battered lose fitted olive green overcoat expertly patched in a hundred places. The broad hood drawn up to cloak her face in shadow is torn on the right side nearly in half, stitched back in place with silver thread and a wisp of thin silk- the small wavy piece of fabric once white is now brown and black with grime and dust. She sits on the pale brown sand staring at the flames with one hand inside the worn brown messenger bag with it’s strap over her left shoulder as she rubs her thumb across the surface of the small brass locket within. The locket, the small patched holes in her clothes closed with expert care, the hood worn to hide silver hair are the record of her travels.

It all started with a young boy she knew many years ago, and yet this is not the story of that boy.

Indeed it is not truly a tale of the land he traveled to, or even of the world he started in.

This is a all together different story- the story of the friend he left behind. A small boy searching for the owner of a locket.

In the end finding help in their search at the bottom of a whiskey bottle.

It is entirely possible that you are reading this after stumbling upon it in the depths of the internet looking for entertainment, and I suppose this story will suit as well as any other. Feel free to consider this an amateur work of fiction to be read once and then forgotten as you move on with your life. There are those of you who have however encountered situations all to similar to the tale described within these pages. To those readers I am sorry that you have ended up mixed up in all of this, and I hope this story may help add context to some of the strange events that have unfolded all to suddenly in your life.

To those who consider this fiction please be warned: If you are looking for a fairy tale you will find one elsewhere.
For though there are many tales of heroes seeking justice across space and time, living happily ever after- this is not one of them. This is an unhappy bloody tale, and before the end the reader too may find that Whiskey does indeed help.