[Chapter Twenty Eight]
Olivia made sure that Rykal and her spent the coins on what they needed more than what they wanted. The first thing they bought was food from the pig stall, though the satyr gave the food for free because Rykal had overcome the spicy challenge. And whilst Olivia was enjoying the food, she picked out some new clothes including a blue sweater, black trousers and a new outfit fit for a woman in winter, according to the women sharing the same body. Next, they had gotten Rykal some new clothes and had gotten an enchanted bag where anything could fit inside. Olivia didn’t believe it at first but when the witch demonstrated by putting inside a large wooden plank and a bunch of bricks and the bag weighed nothing, Olivia was sold on it, buying one each for Rykal and her. The rest of the day, the two explored the large village, Olivia seeing all kinds of creatures that she never even read or heard of.
The village was built up into the shape of an eastern star with the hedge around it as a circle. Olivia had learned the hedge was there to make the village invisible to the unwanted, those banished. Olivia then found out there was someone running the village, not like a mayor or leader, more like a commandeered. Rykal said she was the last of her species, hunted down to the very brink of extinction by the Fantasy Hunters, and only she remains. And she made the village, Dyunzo from the corpses of her dead kind to shield it from anyone that was a threat. It was as sad as it was incredible. Whoever the commandeered was, she’d already earned Olivia’s respect.
“Hey!” Rykal blurted out.
Olivia glanced at him as Rykal eyed out a shady figure hidden down an alleyway. The girl followed his gaze and although the figure was well blended with the darkness, she saw pearly white teeth as sharp as a blade.
“Little human girls always have the tenderest blood,” the creature said in a sinister tone.
Olivia swallowed the bile rising in her throat and quickly looked away, not knowing she’d pressed herself closer to Rykal. Their arms were touching but she hadn’t noticed the flutter of sparks along her skin when she glanced over her shoulder and the creature had vanished. Every muscle in her body tensed whilst her heart lurched into her throat.
“Filthy brute,” Rykal sneered, not giving the disappearing creature a second glance.
“What was that?” Olivia asked, looking back at the spot. She’d only looked away for a second.
Rykal scoffed. “Mutated vampire,”
Her nerves were like a pile of autumn leaves against the wind, matchless. They continued walking down the large path squeezed with folks and if Olivia thought the day time was lively, the night was enough more so. Fire magic shot into the air, spinning in circles for a hot second before vanishing and another took its place. The steady paced music became faster, more frantic and vibrant. The louder it got the more impossible it became to move in the dense crowd. The excitement seemed to grow in the chatter and shouts as a large griffin flew right above the girl’s head. It did twists and flips in the air, a bright blue banner following it’s every move.
Olivia was in a trance of amazement. There was a clearing up ahead where the heart of the village was and she wanted to take sight of it. It drew her in and her normal walk turned into a jog. It was difficult to get past the feathers, scales, skin, and wings and Rykal was hot on her tail. He called out to her, something about stopping but all Olivia really heard was the cheers and gasps up ahead. Small fireflies, no, fairies of different colours were flying around the center as the crowd awed. The closer Olivia got the more she could see into the clearing where folks were dancing above the crowd as yellow glowing fairies rose into the air.
“Come on, Rykal!”
Finally, Olivia reached the clearing. She froze. Dozens of snakes circled the stone tiled floor, slithering in a harmonizing rhythm that despite her fear of snakes, it was oddly enticing. Two women and a man stood at the center of the dancing cobras. The women danced with purple ribbons tied to their wrists and ankles. Each wore a purple two-piece set, the bottom half was purple underwear of sorts with a short thin fabric that was see-through; the fabric came around their thighs and the ends met just below their stomachs, sewen in place with a sense of elegance. The top piece was strapless and had small beads sewen into patterns that were distinctive to flowers. Purple markings were painted on their arms, legs, and torsos as they leaped into the air as if they were flying.
Olivia gasped and swooned at how gracefully they moved their arms around their bodies that she didn’t notice a snake perking it’s head toward her. The man stood solely in the very middle, playing out a song from a white flute. He wore a leather brown vest that’s seen better days with black baggy trousers that contrasted with his dark skin, near the same tone as the women. His short black hair was ruffled and his eyes were closed yet it brought out the seemingly glowing purple mark on the left side of his cheek; it looked much like a thick, curved sickle hook in which the blade went over his eye and the handle down by his cheek.
The cobras elegantly lifted their heads high up and swayed to the slow pace of the flute before it went back into a fast pace. Olivia was so caught up in the dancing she didn’t hear Rykal behind her. He tapped her shoulder and she turned around.
“There are a few snakes watching you,” he murmured against her ear.
His words snapped the awe from Olivia and she looked at him with confusion but realized he was right. At least four snakes near her were all gazing at her and were hardly moving like the rest. The two women noticed and before anything happened, Rykal dragged Olivia from the clearing and away from the snakes. Little did they know that familiar yellow eyes were watching them from the shadows, a forked tongue releasing a soft hiss.
“Where are we going?” Olivia asked.
Rykal remained ahead as Olivia trailed behind, though he did the most considerate thing of all by ignoring her. Olivia didn’t understand what brought on the sudden mood change and it was unfair to take it out on her. They weren’t in the streets of the village, it was far too much for Olivia’s lifestyle, so Rykal was currently guiding them — what she thought blindly — through a field. As much as it was refreshing to feel the cool warmth with space to breathe Olivia had enough of the silence.
“Hey!” she shouted.
Rykal turned back with a frown. “What?”
Olivia marched right up to him with narrowed eyes. “Are you going to tell me where you’re leading us or keep ignoring me?”
Rykal’s frown deepened. “I was thinking, not ignoring you,”
Olivia groaned and rolled her eyes. If he wouldn’t give her a straight answer then she’d do the same to him. She didn’t ask where they were heading and choose a random course of direction. Rykal didn’t follow her. Olivia ignored him for a few steps before she looked over her shoulder and stopped, expecting an explanation.
“You’re going the wrong way,”
Olivia pursed her lips and let her frustration get the better of her. “Then tell me where the hell we’re going!”
Rykal simply pointed to the right of him and Olivia followed along until she spotted a lone tree. Sitting underneath the tree was an orange glow, flickering shadows around a standing figure and a pitched tent. Olivia glanced at Rykal as he began walking.
Olivia stood there for a second, thinking about whether or not she should smack some words into his fangy mouth and see what comes out. Alas, she chose to calm herself and followed him to the tree. When they got there, Olivia was surprised to smell pork and two familiar faces.
“Well, I’ll be. Ava! Cook up some of that spicy pork, we’ve got a challenger on our turf,” declared the pork selling satyr.
The witch snapped her fingers. The fire rose higher and she threw in something and it crackled a bright green. Already Olivia’s nose burned from the smell of overpowering spices and wrinkled her nose. Ava clicked her fingers once more and a chunk of meat skewed with a stick appeared above the flames. It magically floated above while it slowly turned.
Rykal stepped forward and grinned. “I’ll gladly take a meal from one of the best in the business,”
The satyr laughed loudly and came beside him, looping his arm around Rykal’s neck with a sluggish motion. Olivia caught Ava’s gaze as the witch patted the spot next to her on the log. The girl took haste in sitting down, watching as the satyr took a gulp of whatever was in the wooden cup.
“Where you come from?” Ava asked.
Olivia thought about her answer, she didn’t want to say exactly where. “About far west from here,”
It was an honest guess in her defense. Olivia didn’t pay attention to the directions they were heading each day as it was always changing from south to east to north to west to east or south again.
“Ah, you human?”
Olivia nodded, intertwining her fingers tightly to somehow ease the uncomfortable shy state she was in.
Though, the witch looked at her with a doubtful gaze. “You feel more of lamia. You in disguise?”
Olivia’s eyes widened and her gaze snapped to Ava’s in a heartbeat. Her hand went straight to the place Lythil bit her and Ava frowned.
“You survived lamia bite,”
Olivia looked away again, the dreadful memory of Limrock was invading her mind. “I lived in a village. I thought it was human but I was wrong. If it wasn’t for Rykal I wouldn’t even be alive now,”
“Ah, so Dragale saved you,”
Olivia looked at her weirdly. “Dragale?”
Ava nodded. “Dragale for you. Dragella for him. You Dragella. He Dragale,”
“So, like soul mates or lovers? But in the dragon shifter language?”
Olivia couldn’t exactly wrap her head how simple it sounded. The title of labels to simplify a situation that was too complicated for her. A sigh left her lips but she found that watching Rykal and the satyr laugh and hop around was entertaining; the idiots were both drunk. She set the sack next to her leg and looked up. A white full moon with glowing stars, a place above that Olivia knew where her parents were, peacefully watching over her adventures.
“Where are you from?” Olivia asked.
Ava snapped her fingers whilst giving Olivia a smile. The sizzling pork floated towards Rykal which he took eagerly and held it up for a brief second as a thank you before taking a vicious bite. Ava chuckled as the satyr foolishly took a bite and shouted out a chorus of curses.
“I come from very far place. Place of good and evil,”
Olivia nodded. “What made you leave?”
Ava laughed and glanced at her. “Leave? I kidnapped by the good witches and held captive,”
Olivia frowned. “Weren’t you. . .”
“Good?” Ava questioned and shook her head. “Naye, I belonged to evil,”
Olivia’s mouth gaped, she wanted to say something but nothing came to mind. Ava looked nothing of the evil sorts. The witch chuckled and snapped her fingers. The green fire vanished, leaving a smoking burnt pile of wood. A snap of fingers ignited another fire that burned a bright orange. Another chunk of meat appeared above the flames, Olivia watched as it slowly turned.
“Why did you become good if you were evil?” the girl asked.
Ava smiled and looked at the satyr. “Change.”
The witch nodded. “People change. Good to evil. Evil to good,”
Olivia turned to Rykal who had flushed cheeks and linked his free arm around the satyr’s shoulders as the satyr did the same. Olivia gazed at him with an expression of wonder.
Olivia could barely process the carnage before her and to suddenly have the dragon’s burning blue eyes staring into hers made her feel like her stomach had been thrown into her throat. Terrified to the bone, Olivia didn’t move, didn’t blink, hardly breathed. It was going to kill her. It was going to rip her apart. It was going to devour her.
Who would’ve known what lied ahead at that point in Olivia’s life? Who would’ve thought she actually considered him more than what she made him out to be. He wasn’t the monster her mind had imagined.
Sighing in aggravation, she went to the sack while Rykal left with a chuckle of amusement to annoy the girl further.
Olivia looked over her shoulder and glared at the Rykal. “So glad my cycle brings you joy, lizard,”
Rykal only laughed louder from outside. “Ah, Dragella, you bring me joy,”
The dragon shifter took a swing of the satyr’s drink and he cringed when swallowing but nevertheless cheered. He took the last bite of pork before cheering again.
“I have conquered the. . . the challenge! I have over. . . overcome the spicy pork!” he slurred, hiccuping a few times. How quickly the shifter got drunk.
Olivia giggled and the satyr cheered him on with a cracked voice. “You see, folks, the spicy pork. . . pork has been defeated! Step right up. . . to face the mighty pork!”
Rykal turned around and gave her a smug smirk. Olivia narrowed her eyes at him as the blush made her cheeks burn a rosy red. The flustered girl grabbed Rykal’s hand, doing her best to ignore the sparks quivering through her already hot body and sat him down. Rykal leaned against the wall with his legs spread apart, allowing Olivia to sit closer to him. All while Olivia rubbed lotion onto his wounds, the dragon shifter couldn’t stop looking at her with eyes so dark they seemed untamed.
Olivia smiled and looked at Ava who mirrored her happy expression. She snapped her fingers and the pork floated in front of Olivia. The girl gratefully took it with a nod and the witch smiled and looked into the area ahead. Olivia was about to take a bite after blowing some steam off but noticed Ava hadn’t made herself anything. Olivia held out the pork but Ava shook her head with a kind smile.
“Aren’t you hungry?” Olivia questioned.
Ava shook her head with a chuckle. “Naye, your appetite be lost after seeing my diet,”
Olivia gave her a weird look. “Diet?”
Ava gave her a sheepish smile. “Evil wants children. Good wants spider eggs,”
Olivia had already taken a large bite of her pork while Ava finished her sentence before Olivia’s appetite really was lost. The meat tasted okay before she imaged Ava eating spider eggs from a stick.