The sickly smell of moon fruit slammed Emily’s nostrils. Moon fruit was the only pure source of jaspuret – the strongest pain relief syrup across the continents. It was also Graham’s best friend and enemy. Black market dealings and barterings with necromancers were never a recipe for a peaceful life.
Carefully, Emily picked her way over the heaps of clothes, discarded glass bottles, and scrunched up pieces of paper. There was always one corner of the hut that looked like it belonged in a different universe to the rest of the jumbled hut. The floor of the far left corner was uncluttered and swept. Tucked into the cove was a sleeping pallet upon which Graham lay. Next to the pallet was an old, rickety desk. Nothing stood on the desk but a single, golden quill. The quill of a shaman.
Graham’s pearly eyes were wide open, glaring at the ceiling. Emily perched on the edge of the sleeping pallet.
“Sleep well?” she asked tentatively.
“Yes and no,” Graham sighed, his thought were clearly still occupying the space in-between reality and dreams. “I slept like a baby, that necromancer really knows his herbs. I can feel my senses back to full capacity now, however, in my dreams I saw him again…”
“Where did you see him this time?”
“He’s crossed the iron sea now. On the other side of Eyron, in a small town, could have been Pyon or Klept.”
Emily pondered Graham’s revelation for a moment before replying, “isn’t that the fastest way to grab the airship to Direford?”
Graham nodded his head solemnly. For some time they had suspected that Gengar had been heading to the city of bones, but his latest movements confirmed their suspicion.
“What are you going to do?” Emily questioned.
Graham heaved himself up to a seated position. Slowly, his eyes refocused onto Emily’s; he was back in reality.
“There is only one thing I can do Em,” he said softly.
Emily sighed, she’d known this day was going to come for a long time; yet she still wasn’t prepared for it.
“Now is the time to leave this godforsaken continent anyway,” Graham continued, “the nightling raids are every fortnight now and before we know it they will be every week and then every night. It’s only a matter of time before all of the witch guards desert us for Direford and take their protection with them. I don’t see how going on a mad bender after my crazy brother is any more dangerous than staying put where we are anymore.”
“I know,” Emily moaned, ” but we’ve spoken about this before and you know I can’t leave them behind…”
“Bring them with us.”
Emily chortled out loud, “are you serious?”
“What’s the worst that can happen?”
Emily retorted, ” there would be a death warrant on my head if I took them with me!”
“The mages have bigger concerns with the nightling raids right now, they would barely tut at a couple of missing magical creatures, trust me, your disappearing act would be at the bottom of their pile of priorities.”
Emily knew Graham was right. She couldn’t leave the creatures, for without her specialised care they would die and no one else was trained to cater to their needs. But by taking them from the menagerie she would start a manhunt, after all, they were part of the rarest magical creature collection in the whole of the five continents. But the thought of staying behind to tend to them without Graham was excruciating.
“Alright, you’re on,” Emily decided, “But now we need to plan how the hell we are going to smuggle them out of the menagerie!”
“I’ve already got it covered,” Graham smiled, his lips curling into a sly grin.
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