This is part of a serial series posted weekly on Thursdays. Check out the blog to find the first parts.
By the time morning came, Maxine found herself yet again traveling across strange lands but at least she felt more comfortable with her company. Kevin, the young man from Michigan, had brought her a savory herbed vegetable hand pie and a revitalizing drink made from the nectar from a flower of which she couldn’t remember the name. Captain Gray Wing also seemed to be a little more friendly than she had first expected as he started to tell her more about the sword she carried.
“It’s one of two made a thousand years ago. As the legend goes, one brings its bearer a long, joy-filled life, and the other only brings grief and death.”
“Great,” said Maxine as they bumped along in a caravan of carriages through sage-covered rocky terrain. She couldn’t help but notice how the green-gray plants seemed to match the sword’s stone and handle. They were headed to a place in the northern Tirdanthe Mountains where the Shopkeeper, as he seemed to prefer to be called, said they would find Yunil the Riant. “So, which sword do I have? The good or evil one?”
“Well, that’s the thing. We don’t know anymore. History seems to have fogged up our collective memories.”
“Fogged up?!” Maxine scowled. “So, handing me the sword was an attempt for you to find out which one I carried?”
“Well, in a way, yes. But, Aprene saved you nonetheless, remember?” Captain Gray Wing looked out toward the landscape, lost in thought for a second. “The Sulphoridard–the beast that attacked us–was attracted to you for a reason. It could have been the sword, or you specifically, we don’t know. If it was the sword, I would say it’s because you carry the death sword. If it was you he was after, then I guess you’re just bad luck yourself, Maxine Waters.” He chuckled. Maxine didn’t find him funny but she liked the way his smile lit up his face.
Kevin jumped in, “How do you know the Shopkeeper?”
Maxine’s mind raced. “Uhh… well. I don’t really know how to begin with that.” And, before she had a chance to continue, the Shopkeeper suddenly appeared beside them astride a small gray and white mare.
“I brought her here,” he said in a nonchalant way, as if he was telling them the sky was cloudy. “She’s going to help us unite Yunil the Riant’s spirit with her body. Think of Maxine as a corporeal-spiritual catalyst.”
At this point, Maxine was beyond being surprised but she was amused to find Captain Gray Wing rolling his eyes. Not so crazy about the sage counsel of the Shopkeeper, Captain? she thought to herself.
“Ah, there’s the dome cloud,” the Shopkeeper pointed off into the distance to a soft gray-ish blob hovering over a mountain peak. “Just like the levanters in the Mediterranean…” he said a bit more quietly but Maxine was sure she heard him correctly. Where do you come from, Shopkeeper? “Only a two days ride from here!” he continued with a smile and then he softly kicked the mare and she trotted on ahead of their carriage.
To be continued…