[Chapter Twenty Seven]
Blares of instrumental music rang through the air. Cheers and murmurs of conversations mixed with the busy town noises. Mythical creatures of all kinds were walking around, slithering around, even flying around. The air felt warmer, much like a spring afternoon and Olivia blinked in surprise. She stood underneath an archway covered with glittering flowers and stood on a stone pathway surrounded with lush grass and small white daisies. The pathway led further along to stone buildings of all sizes, some with wooden archways and poles to decorate the stone. They were lit with colourful banners with symbols Olivia hadn’t seen before and she could see at the top of the first building was a group of small creatures, she guessed they were a kind of elf species since there were a few. Winged beasts and creatures took to the sky, cheers of excitement were so loud it reached her ears and Olivia couldn’t help but widened her eyes in amazement. She recognized one of the winged beasts as a griffin with someone riding their back. She watched them fly in lops and flips with the other flying creatures.
“Are you ready?” Rykal said softly.
Olivia glanced at him and nodded her head eagerly.
He smiled and held her hand securely. “Welcome to the world of the fantasy, Olivia,”
Rykal guided her along the path and Olivia looked at everything as they approached. An elf as small as a twig landed on Rykal’s shoulder. He growled as the elf ran across and jumped onto Olivia’s shoulders. The girl giggled as another one came running after it and Olivia held up her arm, both elves running along her arm before jumping off with flips. Olivia smiled and looked at Rykal with excitement. One stall she saw had baskets holding all sorts of fruits and berries, some she’d never seen before. Another stall was selling all sorts of clothes and fabrics and Olivia saw one dress with silky aqua blue fabric with white jewels sewed at the chest in a heart-shaped going down to the front of the waist. The sleeves were long and had little white jewels twirling around each one. Olivia couldn’t help but stare at how beautiful it was.
“Roasted pig! Get your roasted pig here at ten silver coins!” shouted a voice.
Olivia glanced over and caught a glimpse of a satyr holding a stick with a chunk of cooked meat on it. The satyr wore a brown belt with a green jacket matching his green eyes and short brown hair. Olivia then saw two pigs cooking over a large fire attended by a woman with black wavy hair with purple streaks wearing a dark blue cloak. The smell of herbs and cooked pork wafted in her nose and Olivia’s mouth watered. The woman looked at her with curious orange eyes and Olivia quickly looked away; she didn’t want to attract any unwanted attention.
“Or come try our spicy pig for free if you think you can handle it. The winner who finishes it without spitting it out or using cow’s milk wins fifty gold coins!”
Before they walked passed, Rykal stopped and turned. Olivia followed his eyes as a new fire had been lit. It ignited with strong orange flames before sinking into a grassy green. Just by the smell of all the spices that burned the insides of Olivia’s nose, it was too spicy for her to even be near. She glanced at Rykal who was looking at the single pig cooking over the green fire and Olivia knew he was intrigued. It was a bad idea and Olivia could already see the dragon shifter yelling for the nearest water to null the burn on his tongue.
“Do you want to try it?” she asked.
Rykal glanced at her before pulling her with him as he made his way toward the front of the stall. When they made it, a man was sitting down on a provided stool in front of the crowd eating the chunk of meat off the stick. His face was flushed bright red and his eyes were watery. There were shouts and cheers and Olivia stepped closer to Rykal, feeling a little too crowded for her liking.
“Can the lycan do it, folks? Can this rogue lycan win the fifty gold coins by eating the brutal spicy pig?” the satyr asked teasingly, walking around the small clearing around the crowd.
Many answers were thrown as a response and Olivia silently watched the man sweating and coughing on the amount of spice he was eating. Rykal chuckled and crossed his arms. The man bit into the chunk of meat, gasping and shouting in frustration. Slowly, he ripped off a small piece and slowly chewed on it. People roared and cheered on the man and Olivia cringe at how much spice the man was willing to swallow.
“He will spit that out any minute now,” Rykal said.
Olivia nodded silently, knowing the man was going to lose because of how slow he was chewing. It got to a point where he was sitting there with his head against the stall’s frame, breathing heavily. Eventually, it got boring to watch and crowded chanted for a new contestant. Olivia looked around at the protesting crowd and felt bad for the man. He spat out the pork and ran through the crowd, some snickers were heard and Olivia felt her mouth go dry. She couldn’t imagine how spicy the pork was and no matter how hungry she got, she wouldn’t dare put it near her mouth.
“Ava, clean this would you,” the satyr said.
The woman clicked her fingers and a broom shot out from the stall, sweeping up the mushed food by itself. Olivia stared in bewilderment as the broom swept the food behind the stall and swept the rest of the small clear space. Olivia looked at the woman again and realized she was a witch. The witch glanced at her with a smile and clicked her fingers again. Another raw pig appeared over the green fire and Olivia couldn’t look away, too amazed to look anywhere else.
“Do we have another contestant ready to face off against the spicy pork?” the satyr who stood in the middle of the clearing challenged the crowd.
Part of the crowd farther from Olivia was making noise. Both Rykal and Olivia turned to see a large minotaur walk through the crowd that made way from him. He roared loudly, turning around to face the crowd. Everyone cheered and screamed as the minotaur stepped in the middle and turned around raising his arms in the air to show how strong he was. Olivia was intimidated by the creature’s large build but wasn’t really impressed. He seemed arrogant and Olivia didn’t like people who were too full of themselves.
The minotaur approached the stall and the satyr gestured to the sizzling cooking pork the witch held out to him. The minotaur snatched it from the witch and she rolled her eyes and Olivia gave her a hopeless shrug when the witch looked at her. The witch responded with her own shrug and another eye roll, mouthing idiot. Olivia giggled and nodded her head.
“Okay, folks, let’s make some noise for our next contestant!”
The crowd answered in a chorus of cheers and shouts of encouragement. Olivia noted off the minotaur as a crowd favourite. The minotaur didn’t sit down and chose to stand in the middle, Olivia caught his eye and the creature winked. The girl crossed her arms and looked away wearing a scowl. Not only was he arrogant but a womanizer and she didn’t even know the brute.
The shouts and screams made Olivia groan and she looked back at the minotaur. He took his first piece of the spicy pork and chewed on it rapidly. He didn’t even finish the first bite when he took another, chewing on it loudly and it disgusted Olivia. She did notice his eyes watering but kept a straight face. He took his third and half of the meat was gone. The girl was intrigued if the minotaur would finish it but she noticed that he didn’t swallow. Not even one. What was he trying to do?
The crowd shouted at the minotaur, demanding him to beat the challenge as he took his fourth bite. But the spice was getting to him as his nose got runny and his expression changed from serious to a twisted scowl. Although it looked painful, Olivia found the satisfaction in it and glanced at the witch. Her orange eyes were holding joy as she smirked at the minotaur, enjoying his misery more than Olivia was.
“Come on, Bruno, finish it!” someone shouted.
The minotaur raised the stick in the air, showing the last bite of pork. Slowly, he pulled it off with his teeth before throwing away the stick. The minotaur, Bruno, gave Olivia another wink and she rolled her eyes. Rykal muttered something under his breath and Olivia felt his tail curl tightly around her leg. She glanced at him and noticed his jaw was clenched and his brows were twitching.
Olivia raised her brows, Is he jealous?
Bruno roared in victory, turning all-around with raised hands. The crowd went wild with cheers, screams, and shouts of excitement and Olivia narrowed her eyes at him. She didn’t see him swallow and she looked at the witch, hoping she noticed. The witch had her arms crossed with her finger tapping on her arm. Her brow was arched and she called the satyr over. The satyr leaned over into the stall and they murmured amongst each other whilst Olivia tapped Rykal’s shoulder. Rykal leaned his head down and Olivia saw the sour expression on his face and she wondered if he really was jealous.
“I think he’s cheating,” she whisper-shouted in his ear.
Rykal nodded. “Agreed,”
Olivia looked over his sharp tone and watched the minotaur soak up all the cheers and praise. The satyr stepped forward and cleared his throat. “Congratulations, you’re the winner of the fifty gold coins,”
Bruno roared and threw his hands in the air again and the crowd encouraged him with eruptions of cheers and whistles.
“However, before we can pass over the prize, would you open your mouth for Ava to inspect?”
The minotaur froze and turned his head to the satyr. The crowd fell silent and Bruno was hesitant, Olivia could see it in his eyes.
“Come on, Bruno! Show the goat-man your mouth so we leave!” shouted the same voice.
The crowd shouted similar answers and Bruno groaned.
“Ava,” the satyr sighed.
Ava snapped her fingers and the broom shot out from the stall again and flew into the direction of the shouter. The broom stopped over a skinny man with an eye missing and the broom whacked itself over his head. The man yelled in pain and the broom returned to its owner inside the stall. Laughs were heard and the man glared at the ground holding his head. Olivia sucked her lips in to stop laughing but Rykal didn’t stop his chuckle of amusement.
“Alright, alright, enough!” the satyr hollered. “Bruno, open your mouth now or the prize isn’t yours,”
The minotaur wiped the snot from his upper lip and cracked his mouth open as little as possible.
The witch snapped her fingers and a fork appeared in front of the minotaur’s mouth. Bruno gave a surprised gasp before the fork shoved itself inside his mouth. The minotaur staggered back and protested through a muffled mouth before the fork forced out a mushed slimy clump of pork. Olivia put her hand over her mouth to stop from gagging. Rykal gave an amused look and the rest of the crowd groaned in disgust.
“Cheater!” someone called from the crowd.
Others joined in and the minotaur huffed out air from his nostrils, angrily stomping away. The crowd made way from his large build but continued to protest against him. Olivia smirked. When the minotaur was out of sight, some crowd members carried on whilst the rest cheered for a new contestant.
The satyr straightened his jacket and didn’t have time to speak when Rykal spoke up. “I’ll do it,”
Olivia snapped her head to him and elbowed his arm. “What are you doing? It’s too spicy!”
Rykal gave her a grin. “I breathe fire and you think it’s not hot?”
Olivia frowned as the satyr called him up. Rykal stepped into the clearing and stood next to the satyr.
Of all the reckless things to do, Rykal decides to burn his mouth with pork, Olivia thought in a disapproving tone.
“Well, I’ll be. Haven’t seen a dragon shifter around here in decades!” the satyr exclaimed. “But the one I meet couldn’t handle the spicy pork. Puked out his guts I’ll tell you, folks,”
Rykal shrugged. “My hunger won’t pass up a free meal,”
Olivia slapped her head, dragging out a long deep groan as the crowd laughed and cheered on his ego. Olivia felt embarrassed for Rykal but he seemed to enjoy the praise more than she expected. She met Ava’s amused orange eyes and shrugged her shoulders, snapping her fingers for a new pig to cook over the green fire. Olivia shook her head and covered her eyes, though peeked through the gap of her fingers. She watched Ava hand Rykal the meat stick and already she felt like puking. The idea could go wrong in all kinds of ways and Olivia would be smack in the middle of it.
The crowd cheered for Rykal as he took his first bite. Instantly, he coughed loudly and jammed his hand over his mouth. His eyes screwed shut, water glistening the corners and Olivia wanted to get swallowed in the crowd. Slowly, he chewed on the pork and swallowed, taking a deep breath and clearing his throat. His face flushed rosy pink as he took another bite, swallowing again. The crowd shouted different comments, all similar ways of encouraging him and she even heard one shout out they’d sock the wuss out of Rykal if he didn’t finish it. She guessed the person was annoyed about how many that failed.
Rykal remained silent and chewed at the meat, ripping off a piece and swallowing it. His eyes didn’t seem as watery and he didn’t look that affected by the spice. Olivia gapped at him and he sent a wink her way. She couldn’t help but blush and crossed her arms, a cool sensation of giddiness fluttering in her stomach. Rykal was halfway through the pork and he didn’t look at all phased by the spice as he took another bite. The dragon shifter looked like he enjoyed it more than he was supposed to and Olivia felt excited that he might actually win.
The satyr clapped for him and Ava smiled as Rykal dropped the clean stick in front of him. He chewed on the last piece of meat before he opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue. Ava snapped her fingers and the fork appeared in front of him. It moved around in his mouth and the crowd was quiet, eagerly watching on. The fork came back wet but clean and the crowd erupted in cheers and whistles. Olivia smiled and bit her lip, feeling overjoyed that he was okay and had won.
The satyr made his way over to the dragon shifter, clapping for him. “Looks like we have a winner, folks. For the first time, a dragon shifter has beaten the spicy pork. Tell me. . .”
“Rykal,” the dragon shifter answered.
“Tell me, Rykal, how was the spice?” the satyr asked.
Rykal chuckled. “It was a lot spicier than I thought it would be and I almost spat it out,”
The crowd laughed and the same guy shouted out about socking him if he did.
Rykal grinned. “But the hunger has been satisfied,”
The satyr laughed. “You hear that folks, the hunger’s been satisfied!”
The crowd went crazy with cheers and applause and Olivia smiled widely at Rykal as he collected the small sack from the satyr and the satyr clapped for him. Rykal nodded and the crowd cheered for him as he made his way over to Olivia. The girl couldn’t stop grinning as Rykal grinned at her and picked up the other sack they had. Olivia didn’t even know it was next to her as Rykal put the smaller sack inside the one with the medicine.
“Well, we’re not poor anymore. How about we treat ourselves a little?” Rykal asked and Olivia happily nodded her head.