Author's note: Started for a school assignment, this piece took off in my mind and became this story.
Chapter 1“Beware the one you love the most.”
It was a warm spring afternoon. Flowers no bigger than quarters covered the ground; it seemed as though they and the sky became as one. Larks were singing, crickets were playing, and a smell of apples wafted about the ancient trees. Somewhere, in the near distance, a train whistled.
“Beware the one you love the most.”
“What does that mean?” A handsome man was hunched over a cloth-covered table, its size diminutive in comparison to his form. Upon the table rested a crystal ball, and next to the ball lay a golden spindle. He thought it looked like something out of Sleeping Beauty. It seemed as though it was glowing, but the man knew that was not possible. He ran his hands through his carefully mussed hair. “I – tell me what that means!” His voice carried the ring of someone who was used to being obeyed.
“It may mean nothing, it may mean everything.” A scowling old woman sat across from her client. “I’m not a magician, boy.” Her low, raspy voice was harsh and demanding. “Now, I believe you owe me something.”
The man sighed. “I suppose you must be right, old woman.” He stretched out as best he thought he could in the tent to distance himself from the spinster. He felt like the walls were growing closer together. Giving a wry laugh and holding out a wad of bills, he asked, “I don’t suppose you know where I could find a magician?”
Snatching the proffered money, the elderly woman smiled, looking as though it pained her. Her purple eyes glinted. “Magicians do not exist, my sweet.” She stood and wrapped her indigo cloak around her body.
The man took his cue and stood also, relieved. The woman’s body looked odd, smoky around the edges. “Have a good afternoon,” he said and he ducked out of the tent. He looked around, like a bear observing his surroundings. The air was quiet.
From inside the tent, the mysterious female watched the man scan the meadow. “I wish you luck in your life,” she whispered. She spun three times and cried out in a terrible voice.