Sylvaris felt the knife plunge into the Baroness’s neck. She released it in surprise as the woman fell to the ground.
Outside, Lakewood cried out in a shrill scream. Sylvaris didn’t move, though. Her eyes were fixated on the creature before her, who was rapidly decomposing into a pile of ash. Finally, all that was left in the pile was the dagger. She tentatively picked it up and stumbled outside the inn.
Lakewood was gasping and looked half-insane. Sylvaris gripped the dagger tight but didn’t approach. He said, a frown appearing on his face, “I’m thirsty.”
She said nothing, but she wondered if he could even ingest anything with his throat torn out like that. But as she watched, the wound filled in and covered up. She gripped the dagger tighter. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew her hand would hurt like hell later, just like when she spent hours sewing, due to the tight grip. But she was terrified of dropping the weapon.
He took a step forward and shook his head. “I really am very thirsty.”
Sylvaris hesitated. “You...what are you? Are you human again?”
That stopped him for a moment. He tapped his chin. “You know, I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that I’m thirsty-and you are present.”
“What, do you want me to get you a drink? I don’t have anything to do it with.” Sylvaris glanced backward to see if she could run.
When she looked back, he was reaching for her.
Until an arrow thunked into his chest, anyway.
Sylvaris heard running feet behind her and turned to see Rey. “Are you alright?” he asked.
“I’ll live, I suppose. What in the world just happened?” She swayed and sat down. Shock, she supposed. She traced a finger along the dark cobbles.
“I decided if you weren’t going to kill them, I would. We’ve always been the kind of people to take justice into our own hands here, and since no one else was doing it...” He shrugged. “Looks like you changed your mind, though.”
“I decided that my husband and son could wait a little. I don’t want my boy growing up in a world where monsters like that woman had power. I have two questions, though.”
Rey shrugged. “Ask away.”
“What in the world just happened to Lakewood and why does an inn in a backwoods town have silver cutlery of all things?”
Rey blushed. “I cannot answer your first question, save that he looked like he wanted to kill you. As for the second...well, the mayor and his men found a cave a few years ago with a silver vein and figured out this would be the best way to hide it from the tax collectors. Smaller and easier to trade. Oddly enough, most of them are too stupid to tell the difference between silver and steel and other metals, and the ones who aren’t are susceptible to bribery.”
“Who is your mayor, anyway? Shouldn’t he or she be dealing with this mess?” She gestured at Lockwood’s body, and only jumped a little in surprise when she saw it had decomposed in the same fashion as the Baroness’s.
“You’re pointing at him. There will be another election soon-if you wanted to stay and run, you’d have a pretty good chance of getting the position.”
“Thank you for offering, but I’m not interested. I need to look for my husband and son. I just need to figure out where to look.”
“Why not in your husband’s hometown? Or is that where you fled from?”
Sylvaris looked up at Rey and smiled. “No. That’s actually a very good idea. We grew up in the same town, so while I’m looking, I can check up on my parents too. Thank you. You’ve given me where to go next.”
A town with a bunch of silver cutlery? Seriously? The tax collectors can’t be that stupid. Wait...
I grinned. Thirty years ago I’d used a couple of well placed people with magic to show the queen her tax collectors taking money from her kingdom, selling the bracelets from the Nosferatu on the black market, and other assorted misdeeds. I thought an execution would be funny, alright? She’d subsequently began to employ tax collectors who were more likely to do their job without asking questions. Plus I kept on giving the old ones magic, which really annoyed her.
Ah well. Flimsy explanation or no, it’s still something that might help against the plague of Nosferatu. Maybe I could make Sylvaris my avenging angel? No, that would just be silly. But still, I don’t want her to leave the village unarmed. I think I’m actually starting to like the woman. As a toy, of course.
Let’s see...Can’t write in the dust from Lockwood’s corpse. Nosferatu immunity persists unto death. No water to be found. I suppose I can always write in the cobbles, but working with solids takes so much effort...
It can’t be helped.
Sylvaris watches bemusedly as the ground ripples in front of her. Vague words form in the rock. “I’d take a silver knife or two with you, if I were you.”
Rey stumbled backwards, but Sylvaris calmly retorted, “Or else what?”
“Or else...I’ll drive as many Nosferatu as I can to your husband and son’s location.”
She winced, but then a slow grin spread across her face. “So you know where they are. Can you tell me? I figure you owe me one, considering the Baroness was killing Magicians and I killed the Baroness.
Crap. She was right. I quickly grab Myles, her son’s thread to see where they are and what’s going on.
And catch Myles asking Elric, his father and Sylvaris’s husband, “Daddy, why did you get rid of all of the pictures of Mommy?”
A slow smile spreads across my face. I tell Sylvaris, “The boy is smarter than you think. They’re in your hometown."