Entering the doors of the Wicked Muse Tavern I instantly know this is the place. Here I will find what I require most – information. But information must be traded, so I begin to think of what I can offer in exchange for what I need. Perhaps a winter’s tale from my homeland will soften the old man’s cold heart?
Clutching the small dagger secreted in my boots for extra courage, I make straight for the table in the back right corner. Steeped in shadows, lit only by the wavering flame of one sputtering candle I see the outline of a man. Sliding into the chair I see his dark black eyes studying me, appraising me. It makes me even more uneasy.
“Do you know why you are here?” His cold voice asks once I am settled.
Blushing with fierce heat, I speak. “I need…”
“I know what you need!” he interrupted. “What I want to know is, what are you prepared to give me in exchange for such knowledge?”
I swallow hard. If my courage deserts me now, then all will be lost. “Have you ever heard the legend of my people concerning the Bone Moon?”
His eyes glimmer with desire. “About the lost tribe and the killing moon? I have heard bits of pieces. None know the tale in its full.”
“I do.” I proclaim with confidence, glad again for the patience of the Elders who taught me the tale for just such an emergency. “And I will gladly share with truth with you in payment for what I require.”
“If your tale is sufficient, then we have a trade.”
Breathing again, I lean back in the chair. “The tale is not long my lord, but the details would run smoother from my mouth with a drink.”
Studying me with undisguised relish, he snaps his fingers for the barkeep. When the man approaches I am taken aback. Leather pants and a tight linen tunic do little to detract from this model of male perfection. I am speechless when he flashes a wide smile in my direction?”
“What would you like, Highness?” his deep baritone thrills me down to my core.
“Shush man! Don’t use that title here. There are too many who would pay anything to know her name.” My companion isn’t amused anymore. The legendary anger begins to flicker in those black pools in his face. “For our purposes, you may simply call her ‘Milady’. Now, a glass of mead for both of us and make sure we are undisturbed.”
The bartender smiles again in my direction, then leaves to return with the requested drinks. A flip of a gold coin in his direction and I am again alone in the near darkness with my contact. Taking a deep swig of the mead, I cough a little as the bitter drink slides down my windpipe. He chuckles at me lack of experience, which angers me. I am stronger than he knows.
“There was a tribe who lived in the mountains which reach to the top of the earth. Long ago they fled from the Five Kingdoms and shunned the companionship of their brothers. Fear of losing their status as Pure Ones drove them higher and higher into the land of the towering mammoths but nowhere did they find the land of their search; a land where the sun met the earth and the water was sweet and cold.”
“The mountains saw the tribe’s struggle but were helpless to intercede. It had been decided by the Council of Elders that the entire group, should bear the punishment for their pride and disobedience, and so none were to give them sanctuary from the relentless winds and driving snow.”
“The chief of this tribe was old, and the last of his days were before him. He wished only to find a resting spot where his people might live out their days free of the dangers and problems of the Five Kingdoms. But for his pride in his blood status he was cursed. Though he would see the land of his desire, never would he be allowed to step foot onto the grass.”
“Now the chief had a son, who was as fair of heart and spirit as his father was lacking. All his life he did as he was told, but his heart was heavy at leaving the land of their birth. Each night as it was his turn for the watch, he would pour out his anguish and yearning to the Moon as she made her trip across the sky. And each night she would hear the young man’s pleas and weep with compassion because she knew they were all doomed by the Elders to vanish.”
“One night as K’anin spoke to the Moon, she answered him. She told him to weep no longer, as she had a plan to rid the tribe of their prideful chief and return them to the grasslands and sunshine of their true home. The plan was simple, the son was to kill his father and let the drops of blood gather in the snow as payment to the Elders for this man’s sinful nature.”
“K’anin was afraid. ‘Won’t I be cursed for slaying my own kin?’ ‘No,’ replied the Moon ‘The Elders are angry with your father for refusing his duty to the earth. Once he is dead, you must lead the tribe by my light for two Moon cycles. When I have rescued you, then you must serve me and love me as long as your days on this earth.’”
“K’anin promised all to the Moon, and so the next day took his father to the top of the highest mountain to survey for a new home. As they surveyed the area, the chief saw a glimmer of deep green against the stark white of the snow-capped mountains. As the chief turned to tell his son of his discovered, the younger man threw his father from the mountain and watched and his body fell, dashed against the rocks below.”
“Then the Moon revealed her true coldness, and betrayed K’anin to the Furies. To avenger the kin slaying, the Furies drove K’anin to the same cliff from which the chief had been pushed and sent the young man to his death.”
“The tribe, to atone for the sins of their leaders, created a mirror from the cold, silver light of the Moon. It is said whoever looks into the mirror will see the cold secrets of their heart displayed before their eyes.
Finishing the tale, I turn to my companion. “Well, is this tale worthy of my need?”
He smiled a wicked and dangerous expression. “You have indeed.” A small linen pouch appears on the table. “Here is what you require, the talisman of the Family Fisal. Representing the purity of fire in its most devastating form, it will lead you to the answers you require.”
“Thank you Lucien,” I murmur as I star in awe at the platinum and ruby pendant. “And be sure to thank Shay for letting me bother you.”
“No bother at all me dear. Your delicate beauty brings lightness to the Wicked Muse Tavern we don’t often see. But then Druid Queens don’t stop by everyday asking for my assistance.”
Blushing again, I rise to leave. Lucien grabs my hand and brushes his lips across my knuckles. When he releases me I see that wicked flicker deep inside his eyes. For not the first time I cuss the inability to stay and pursue the local wild life, especially the delicious bar keep and his tight leather-covered ass. Oh well, perhaps next time.
Thanks again, Shay for letting me into the Wicked Muse Tavern!
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