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Bad Luck Charm, part two

November 12, 2010

            So the prince walks toward me and I admit that none of the fair folk walk as graceful as his lordship, and he’s probably deadly with a blade.  Beside him was a wizard.  Not yer standard befuddled old man with a sweet disposition, or even an evil lookin’ gentleman with a goatee, but a wizard that made me uncomfortable because he didn’t look like one.  Ye think of wizards as tall, this one wasn’t.  Right short he was.  Later, I heard tell that he’d been tall once but sold off his size somehow for more power.  Says somethin’ about a person that’s willin’ to sell pieces of himself, makes ye think what he’d be willin’ to contemplate doin’ to someone else.
            I can tell things have been hard for the prince because royalty wouldn’t go for such a shabby place as the tavern I was in, but he hardly showed a trace of distaste.  Exile’s good for some men’s souls.
            How’d I know about the wizard if he didn’t look to be one?  Easy enough, easy enough.  I learned how to spot a soldier by the way he walks and this man was no warrior.
            Wasn’t a thief either, them that steal don’t come through the front usual, and if they do, it ain’t to draw attention to themselves.  Like to be nondescript.  Priests look at everythin’ in a tavern with disapproval and that wasn’t the look he was givin’ the place.
            No, the look he was givin’ the place was the kind of considerin’ stare a blacksmith gives to the nails he’s about to pound into the horseshoe.  Twas a scary look, and I know enough to know when to be scared.
            Yer the bottom end of a man named Jack, if ye don’t have the sense to know when to be scared.  Scared is what keeps ye alive, as long as ye don’t let it rule ya.  That’s another story though.
            The wizard went by the name of Fargyle.  Heard of him, have ye?  Bad reputation, even then, and it didn’t get any better.  I can tell ye tales that will make ye look in the corners at night and I was there to see it, which is worse, believe ye me.
            So, his grace and all that nonsense is comin’ toward me and I bow, real respectful like to him, because that’s what ye do when a man can make yer life less than pleasant.  I don’t say anythin’ either, I learned to wait ‘til spoken to with those that think their above me.
            So he says, “You there, what’s your name, son,” in just that precise and prissy tone.  What?  have ye got no soul in ye?  Ye got to do the words just like the person sayin’them, tis part of the storyteller’s duty to the truth, otherwise tis just some faery tale for the wee ones.
            So, as I was sayin’, the prince says, “You there, what’s your name, son.”  Not that I’m more’n a couple of years younger’n the prince, but in the blue blood world everyone has a title and I ain’t old enough for ‘old man.’  Better’n the words they have for the ‘common’ lasses.
            I say, “Kelig Mevison, yer lordship.”
            “Are you from around here, Kelig?”  he says me name like he’s eatin’ somethin’ with an unfamiliar taste to it and he ain’t sure if he likes it.  He’s no fool though, he can tell I don’t quite fit in.
            I bob me head, “I am, though been a couple of years, yer lordship.”
            “Perhaps you can help us, or take us to someone who can.”
            I nodded.  Ye don’t offer up service ‘til yer told what it is.  A lesson a soldier learns right quick.  So, I don’t say anythin’ just look at him.  The wizard stares at me, makin’ me nervous.
            “We’re looking for someone.”  The prince says with impatience.
            Most people are at one point or another in life, but I don’t say that to him.  What I do say is, “‘Who ye looking for, yer lordship?”
            “We’re looking for a man that has terribly bad luck.”
            Funny how yer mind works, soon as he said bad luck I knew the Prince was lookin’ for Talf Cyrn.
            Talf was bad luck personified.   Cursed by the gods, some said, and probably by every single one of them too.  People avoided him, for fear the bad luck might pass like a disease.  Before that I thought the idea of bad luck was a bunch of nonsense, but with a wizard and prince lookin’ for him, well it made me reconsider that notion.
            I stifled the questions that were pressin’ me lips. “I can take ye to him, or leastwise take ye where he used to be, for I ain’t seen him since I returned.  He could be dead.  Probably is.”
            The wizard spoke for the first time and the words came out slow and careful.  More precise than the prince’s words because I got the feelin’ that the words were evaluated carefully before they were used.  “He’s still alive.  Take us to him.”
            I nodded.  There was no refusin’ that kind of voice.  It spoke of a long, slow and painful death, mayhap more’n once.

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