One - Peter

The aroma was thick enough to be swallowed. An acquired taste: a roomful of old men, smoke, and a bottomless barrel of ale. Young Peter’s mother was appreciative as well as disgusted with the scene. The young boy’s talents were paid with laughter, nods, and coins. Although some gifts last longer than others, Peter loved all three.

Peter was a story teller. He wove spirits through the smoke to frighten. His stories would lure. He would entertain and captivate the men. No matter the destination, they always enjoyed the journey.

On this eve Peter was playing into the emotions of loss and fear that the men tasted in their mugs. His mother had once told him the story of a poor girl scarred by birthmarks, orphaned by her father’s death from liquor and her mother’s insanity. Twisting in passion and misguided faith, Peter told a more intriguing tale.

“The mother knew, as women do. She saw the discontentment in her husband. She witnessed him moving more and more to the poison; she knew she had been cursed. As the seed grew inside her, the mother feared its danger and bore the child alone. Once she saw the marks of evil on the poor girl’s neck, her fears were confirmed.The woman was desperate to wash away the devil. She would scrub the child endlessly, keeping it in water for days. But once the child’s eyes turned silver, the mother conceded. She could not clean away the witch she had bore.”

Some of the men would cough as Peter told his stories. They would try to look uninterested as they turned their ears toward him to hear more clearly. The barkeep would often sit for a moment or two, taking in the tales, and the rest, with equal appreciation.

“The woman then grew older with double the speed of her neighbors. Her heart was failing out fear and guilt for birthing the girl. She let the child run wild in the woods, fending for her own living from the moment she could walk through the doors.The people of the village knew the wild girl. They guarded their children from her and prayed to be released from the witch child who had broken the purity of their town.Sabian could not help being moved as he heard her howl into the night. He was on the brink of manhood and her lonely song called him into the woods. He would follow the sound of her. She would dart away, and peek back. He felt her eyes penetrate him. He was young and weak to her intensity. Ignoring any warning to stay away from her, he quested for her each night.

Soon after, he was forced into exile as he could not deny his love for the silver eyed child who was now a woman.

It wasn’t long before the battle of good and evil would begin in his very cottage. The good man Sabian had created a child within the witch. He was forced to help her alone as even his family turned him away, fearing for their souls. As the fateful day grew closer, the witch grew weaker; there was impending doom for the devil within.

The goodness of the innocent child killed the witch as she bore him. But the small one was also ill fated, too weak to endure the fight; he went half blessed into the next world.Sabian was ruined. He did not feel triumph at the loss.”

The men shuffled in their places. None had coughed for minutes as the story was woven around them. The smoke still filled the room and their glasses were nearly empty.

“Sabian did not know his goodness would kill his bride, nor did he wish it. He hated the curse he had endured and drank poison to spite it. In the poison he found his death; but as is right with goodness and evil, even in death he would be separate from his earthly bride.”

Peter closed his hands together in front of him, a signal of the story’s end. The men threw their coins. The barkeep jumped up and poured ale. A young woman caught Peter’s eye.

She had been sitting in the back corner and although she did not smoke, she seemed to enjoy the taste if it. She had long since been ignored by the men, and looked through Peter now with her silver eyes.

He smiled.

Nodding approval, she quietly escaped the scene.

One - Peter

Mardra

Omaha, United States

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Artist's Description

The first chapter of a book a long time in the works. I am aiming to have every chapter weave together, but also be able to “stand alone.”

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