Echoes of Midnight

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Eight

Isa sprinted towards the wooden door and swung it with as little force she could muster.

Relief flooded her temporarily, craning her head for the man they were looking for. But the tavern already enclosed her with fray.

He's here!”

The long-dead man of Mudwick reawakened!"

"A soldier of the dead King returned!"

Proclamations of fear and surprise sprang from each drunk and villager alike. The remaining gamblers flurried in different directions, bottles of whiskey crashed to the floor, and tables were overturned in unnatural angles. Another rammed into Isa and screamed, with the goddess covering her ears to muffle the shrieking noise.

Witch!” the drunk man cried out.

Muddled with confusion, Isa jerked when she felt Amaris and Branwen joined her in the middle of the mayhem. Each grew entranced by an unknown identity the fates have became so familiar with.

Moments passed before they realized that the tavern slipped into silence, leaving the three alone frozen in place. Suddenly, lanterns hanging precariously along the brick walls dimmed as a figure emerged in a barstool to their right.

“Ladies, didn’t expect you would betray me that fast.”

No wonder every soul fled immediately – it was the beast living inside Mudwick but he was veiled. His figure closer to a mere mortal, with hunks of metal covering him like a second skin. He veiled himself as a warlock, known to the villagers as protectors of the ancient king through espionage. Warlocks were feared in Bellevedere, they could sense if an allegiance lied elsewhere.

The fates wondered of his sudden change in appearance – it was not long before Amaris spoke out of it.

“Daemeon,” she acknowledged with a slight tilt of her head. “That was cruel. You could have barged in here as a beast and they would ran away the same.”

Daemeon raised one of his eyebrows before he jeered softly, “You presume that hideousness defines the darkness of a man? Oh Amaris, I see that Stefan has now poisoned your minds with desperation. Warlock or beast, I am still the master they should fear, not the bastard High Lord they’re whispering about here.”

A clink of a whiskey glass ended the silence after the fates decided not to argue with him anymore. With a swirl, Daemeon invited them to the soggy seats behind him.

It was Isa who broke the terse quiet in her spiteful voice, “Stefan wouldn’t listen to us. Something happened yesterday – one of our prognostications came true. We saw the female tourist in it and we led her to Mudwick. She lasted there for a night, Daemeon,” the goddess said in disbelief. “Do you think it’s telling us something?”

“She’s different,” Daemeon affirmed with conviction, returning to the bar to fetch the fates three flutes of glasses bubbling of glittered liquid.

“How can you tell? We need to be quick before the feast of the Holy Blood Moon.”

“Isa, dear, you’re the only one who thought of that,” said Daemeon as he handed her a glass. “See? Your sisters have nothing to say on the matter anymore.”

Anger broke out on Isa’s face, contorting her features into a crone she used to be – wrinkled forehead, gathered eyebrows, and puckered lips.

“Because I care so much more than them! I care about the lost soul of our princess and the moon disappearing. Can you imagine living out the rest of your years that powerless? Immortality has boundaries, Daemeon. But mostly, I care about preventing another war from happening again.”

The fates settled in another silent debate when suddenly, Daemeon erupted into chuckles which turned into loud, maniacal laughter.

“You, Isa, have always been the sensible yet the least mature of the three of you. Sweet, I can’t emphasize this enough, if Stefan doesn’t listen to you, then it’s time.”

“What are you talking about, you maniac?” Branwen chimed in as she raised her voice in the latter, taking Amaris and Isa by surprise. The goddess rarely got angry, and if she did, it always ended up ugly.

“Oh, my dear Branwen,” Daemeon purred and turned to the goddess, “You’ve turned into a little wildcat and I wasn’t even aware. Nevertheless, bringing us back to the issue at hand, you all told me awhile ago that a tourist, which I’m fortunate to meet, endured a night in Mudwick – which means it’s time, ladies, for us to seek Allgyll…” Daemeon paused as if elongating the suspense.

“You don't remember him, do you?"

No one nodded their head nor gave any sign of acquaintance with the name as Daemeon continued, “Allgyll was a hermit before the war.”

“What’s that got to do with us seeking the moon?” demanded Branwen, staring at Daemeon with burning embers of threat.

“The hermit would be our key to what Isa wanted. You seek of the moon, the lost princess, and everything the witches have coveted since.”

“You’re saying that this Allgyll would tell us how to defeat Stefan and how to find the moon?”

“In a way. But the hermit’s prophecies always made the mortals and even witches insane. It could devastate us but we no longer have a choice. The feast would be here soon and Stefan would have gained the upper-hand by that time if we don’t move now.”

The anxious fates agreed to each other silently. With a commanding face of a fearsome soldier, Amaris stood and said to Daemeon, “Alright, lead the way.”
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