ENTICE ME

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Agate

Daphne returned home, stripping off her clothes and entering the bathroom for a quick shower. She remembered that Agate was an apathetic woman who did not like to live surrounded by people. And she hated hot weather.

She decided that early in the morning before the sun came up, she would start looking at the small towns in Iceland’s northern region. As eager as she was to find the witch, she knew that it would not be much help at this hour.

It was after eleven o’clock at night, and lying in her bed, tossing and turning, Daphne could not sleep. Where would her brother be now? Would they be torturing him? Possibly.

Although the five lords agreed that they would release them alive after rescuing that prisoner, they had not sworn to keep James out of torture.

Wait for me, James, please hold on a little longer. She wanted to cry; she was frustrated and restless. But there were no tears in her body. They were all shed when Maret was doing her best to break her physically and emotionally in her training.

Hours passed, and although her body demanded sleep, her brain kept her awake. She looked at the time; it was almost four o’clock. It was time to start the search and rescue.

After spending a short time in the bathroom, a black jean, a light blue wool blouse, some black boots, and with her hair up in a simple topknot, she finished getting ready. Taking her black leather jacket and grabbing some accessories, she disappeared from the place without wasting any time.

She started looking in every small town in the north of Iceland. Asking the villagers if they knew a woman by the name of Agate. Giving them a physical description of her. But none of the mortals recognized the witch. Eventually, Daphne began to lose hope. Could it be that Agate would not be in this country? Could it be that she stopped using that name? Many possibilities crossed her mind.

With one fishing town left to investigate. Daphne appeared in Siglufjörður. She stopped at a bakery, repeating the description and a name again. The lady attending the bakery did not understand the language Daphne was speaking to her well, but when she pronounced the name Agate, a young boy of only about sixteen years old said. “Are you looking for Agate?”

“Yes, do you know her?” Daphne asked him with a somewhat feigned kindness.

“Yes, I came to do an errand for her. We can go together if you want?” The young blue-eyed blond possessed a good-natured aura.

“Thank you, I’d really appreciate it” She smiled at him.

They both left the bakery, walking towards the outskirts of the town.

“And how exactly do you know Agate?” asked the boy.

“Agate is like a grandmother to me, she raised me for many years, but then I went to study abroad and never saw her again.”

She told a lie, believing that giving full information would stop the boy’s curiosity. And for her luck, she succeeded. They talked about the weather, the people who live there and how the young man had met Agate.

As much as she tried to concentrate on the conversation, she couldn’t. Her mind was focused more on finding the witch and getting the details of the prisoner’s whereabouts.

The boy guided her to one of the houses far from the town. She had to admit that the place the witch had chosen to hide all these years was undoubtedly beautiful. Mountains and fjords recreated a peaceful atmosphere, a sublime feeling of freedom.

The so-called house was small, where one part of the roof was made of grass, and the other was only covered by almost black paint. The walls were white, and the frames of the smaller windows were dark orange. Too charming to be a witch’s home.

The young man opened the door without even asking. Daphne followed without hesitation, always remaining behind.

“Mrs. Agate, I have brought you what you asked for. You have a visitor”, the young man shouted as he moved towards the kitchen, leaving the bag on a square light wooden table.

Daphne heard footsteps coming from a room. When the figure appeared, she couldn’t help but smile. But Agate did not reciprocate her gesture.

“Thank you, Adalberg. You may go.” The young man nodded and made a point of leaving, but not without saying goodbye to Daphne as well.

Alone, she followed Agate into the kitchen, where she started to prepare two cups of black tea.

“Agate, I am glad to see you again.”

The witch was still silent. She placed the two cups on the table and a small white ceramic bowl with sugar cubes. “Thank you” Daphne sat down and took two lumps of sugar, dissolving them in the hot dark liquid.

“How did you know I was here?

“Apparently, the Demon Lords have spies everywhere. They were the ones who told me you were here. Agate...they captured James, I must free someone in exchange for his life and mine.”

“I knew this moment would come.” The witch took a sip of tea. You could see the hostility in her, but Daphne knew that deep down, she wasn’t as bad a person as she seemed, or at least she thought she wasn’t.

“Agate...please just tell me where that prisoner is”.

Agate stared at her for a few long seconds. She knew that this day would come when she would have to break the pact with Rothvaln. It was a necessary evil to possibly achieve another. But still, she was confident that her plans would work out according to what she had planned a long time ago when she met Daphne. After all, she foresaw the fate of the young woman.

“Is the prisoner a demon, right?” asked Daphne.

“Yes”

“Where is it?”

“He’s hidden in The Wicked Land, deep in the Desert of Perdition.”

“Desert of Perdition...” reiterated Daphne; she had never heard of such a place. “How am I supposed to free him?”

“You’ll need help getting in and out of there without leaving a trace. Once you’re in, you can’t get out of that place by yourself. You won’t have it easy once you’re inside, but I trust you’ll use your wits well. After all, only a mortal will be able to free that demon.”

Agate began to recite some words unknown to Daphne, and a small book with a hard-red cover emerged on the table.

“Bring this to Evanora. You will need powerful beings to help you escape from that Desert of Perdition once you release him.”

“How can the Queen of Witches help me?” Daphne grabbed the book. There was no name in it. From the size and the handwritten pages, it looked more like a personal diary.

“Don’t open it!” Agate snapped. “It’s not for you to see.” The witch looked at her harshly and then said, “Evanora can’t help you at all, but she has favored someone all these years. The Master of Shadows, she is the one who can help you get in and out of that place.”

“The Luna Queen of the Lycans? Are you sure? I think she and Rothvaln have some kind of relationship.”

“She’s the only one who can help you. Give the book to Evanora. And ask her to take you to see the Queen of the Lycans”.

“Agate, how do you know all this?”

“That’s none of your business.”

“Who is this demon?”

“How much time did they give you?” Agate asked, intentionally avoiding the question.

“One week”

“Then, you must leave.”

Daphne took the book. She wanted to hug the witch but knew that such a show of affection would not be welcome. Suddenly she remembered something. Taking the necklace with the black stone ring, she motioned to give it to Agate.

“Keep it. After all, it’s yours. Does Rothvaln know you have the ring?” Daphne tried to remember. She didn’t really believe that Rothvaln had seen the ring on her. When the object itself was always hidden under her clothes.

“I don’t think that he had seen it. I always keep it under my clothes.”

“Good. Carry it with you always. Don’t come back to this place. Don’t come looking for me again. Now go away.”

Daphne was not offended. Holding the book tightly, she was transported to the Court of the Queen of Witches.

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