This weeks short story is Of Love Potions and Wishes written by Catherine Rose.
Catherine’s story paints the picture of a family torn by grief and tragedy. Misfortune plagues a small family and forces one member to make an impossible choice. To brave the dangers of a journey to the Goblin Market and to attempt the purchase of an illegal item…a wish.
The story follow Brenna, a daughter of a fisherman who’s nets have not been bringing in anything for her small family. With her mother gone and her sister depending on her, she knows that there is only one this that she can do. The Goblin Market is a place you can find anything, and that includes items that any law abiding citizen would never touch. A wish. As she reaches her goal at last, she finds that her journey might not go just as planned. Elf guard patrol the market and find the goblin that she was speaking with in possession of stolen goods. She is now suspect as well, as she holds a love potion in her hand and accidentally spills the whole thing on the guard who holds her. Love potions are more dangerous than wishes it would seem, and now she and the elf are madly in love.
I hope to eventually be able to read what happens after the end of this story, as the characters and the setting are intriguing and who doesn’t love a story of two star crossed lovers.
I hope that you enjoy the story found below:
Of Love Potions and Wishes
Strong wind rattled the windows of our cottage so hard it woke me. It was still dark, but the waves crashing against the rocks outside, told me that it was high tide. Morning would be upon us soon enough. I’d left my travel clothes out so that I could find them in the dark. Making it easy to dress and slip out without waking my younger sister, Aylish.
I sat outside with my meager breakfast and watched the sun rise over the beach. If I was going to accomplish my goal, I’d need to be gone before my family woke. The goblin market was dangerous and my father would certainly try to talk me out of it. He certainly wouldn’t approve of my idea.
He had been coming home with empty fishing nets for over six months. The little bit of washing and mending Aylish and I took in, wouldn’t support us when the savings ran out. Something had to be done. I set off as soon as I heard my father rattling around the kitchen inside.
The market was held in the valley between the gold and silver mountains. The goblins only came down form the gold mountain to sell their goods during the three days of the full moon. It was said that you could get anything there, both magical and not Some people called it the thieves’ market. If the goblins didn’t out barter you, bandits would come after you when upon leaving.
The smell of roasted meats drifting on the breeze let me know that I was close. I joined the line of people heading down the path. Some stopped short, when they saw the massive gate, guarded by two armored goblins. I’d been here once before but, the squat green creatures still unnerved me.
I ignored the stalls selling weapons and food, pausing at those selling books or jewelry. A booth nestled between a book shop and a table full of musical instruments, caught my attention. It was filled with a mishmash of household items and junk, but the books were elvish and real talismans sparkled in the sun.
The seller was young; his coloring was still bright, and his eyes were a sharp yellow. There was barely hair growing from his ears. I hoped he’d still be a bit green at bartering. My mother could trade a bag of dirt for a bag of gold. She taught me everything she knew.
I wandered over and looked at a tray of rings he had on the counter. Some of them had tarnished and were missing their gems.
“Ah, pretty lady has taste. What can I show you?”
I lowered the hood on my cloak, letting him see my large blue eyes and blond hair. I’d never mastered the innocence that my sister could pour on, but goblins thought humans were stupid, anyway. I giggled shyly, at the complement.
“These are nice, but I’ve seen so many rings, today. I’m looking for something different.”
“You’ve come to the right place.”
He untied one from its place.
“Put this one on.”
I slid it on, the stone was a similar blue to my eyes. I smiled at it. Then I sighed loudly.
Mischief sparked in his eyes.
“Before you say anything, these rings are elvish. Each one will grant you a different power.”
“Power? Ooh. My friend Ana has one. Her hair can become whatever color she wants.”
“Yes, exactly. This one will give you the voice of a songbird”
I held up my hand, considering. Then let out a long breath.
“I like the idea of something magical, but as I said, my friend already has a ring.”
He grunted and looked around.
Pulling another tray from under the table, he said, “I see where you’re going with this. You want a spell. Maybe there’s a boy? Yes? You need something for love? Why didn’t you just say so?”
I took the small glass vial, he handed me It smelled floral and spicy at the same time.
“It’s very fresh. It was made by a very talented witch. It’s never failed.”
The girls in the village bought love spells and potions all of the time. It definitely wasn’t what I was looking for, but this proved that I stopped at the right stall.
“How does it work?”
“A dab on you, a dab on your intended and he will be yours.”
I looked around, no one was paying attention to us. Then, looking into his eyes, I asked, “it’s just that I don’t really have an…intended.” What if I was wishing for someone?’
His expression closed. “You want a wish? You could get us both arrested for just asking.”
“I didn’t say anything about a wish, you did. Let’s say that would be something I’d be interested in. Do you have one?”
“Wishes are as expensive, as they are illegal. You think that you have something worth one?”
I pulled my mother’s shawl from my pack. I’d chosen it because I knew it wasn’t her favorite. The goblin’s eyes widened. The nostrils on his flat nose flared.
“Is that what I think it is?”
“A fairy silk shawl, knitted in one of the old royal patterns.”
He looked at me with suspicion.
“Where does a human girl get this?”
“My mother worked for the royal family in her youth. She was given many gifts. Its fine enough for the trade.”
“Hm, maybe I have a wish, maybe I don’t. What else do you have?”
“What else? That shawl is in perfect condition. How do I even know that you have a marker?”
He glanced around then flipped the tray of rings over. The markers were chips of wood painted with strange writing. They were warm to the touch and much heavier than I’d thought. He was already fingering the shawl. It would have a price tag on it before I even left the stall.
“So, it’s a deal?” I asked.
“Yes, yes take it.”
“I’ve never used a marker. Does it work if I’m just holding it or do I have to rub it?”
“You simply say the incantation written on it.”
I looked at it again. I could read a bit of Elvish and every child in school knew their runes. This was something I’d never seen.
“What does it say?”
“I can sell you a translation but, I must warn you, it’s much more expensive than the wish itself.”
Suddenly, a horn sounded.
Alarmed, he said, “It’s the guard!”
About a dozen riders stalked down the main aisle, their large horses kept anyone from leaving. Their thick leather armor gleamed in the sun. A motion caught my eye and the rings were in front of me again. The goblin glanced at the wish I held. Our eyes met. There was fear in his. I slipped my hand into my pocket and dropped the wish. I casually picked up the potion vial.
“What goes on here?”
I turned and looked up. I’d heard elves were tall but the knight towered over us. He was so close that I could see the silver flecks in his moss colored eyes. His dark hair had been trimmed almost to his scalp. His mouth in a grim line that made me wonder for a moment if he’d ever smiled. The little goblin stuttered incoherently.
“We are making a trade.”, I said, holding up the vial.
An older goblin stepped from the growing crowd of onlookers. His eyebrows raised as two guards dragged the goblin out of the stall and held him between them. His feet dangled a foot off the ground.
“I’m the magistrate here. What is this about?”
The knight said, “There was a complaint of illegally procured wishes. This is the stall number listed on the complaint.”
The official looked at the young goblin. “Tarr, is this true?”
The terrified creature tried to bow, hanging by his arms.
“Please, sir. I…I have no wishes. Check my manifest.”
The elf said. “There’s no need for that.”
He motioned to his waiting men and one slid down from a horse. As the guard approached, I realized that it was a woman. She pulled off her helmet and stood in front of us. She had the same dark features as the knight.
“If there are any wishes, Ozra will sense them.”
He nodded to the warrior and she walked behind the counter. I held my breath not daring to think about the object in my pocket. Ozra held her hands over the merchandise. She went straight to the ring case and flipped it over. The magistrate glared at the prisoner.
“Tarr? What is the meaning of this?”
“I…I didn’t know those were there. You must believe me. This isn’t even my stuff. Gunnar. Gunnar took sick and was too weak to make the journey. He asked me to come on his behalf.”
The older goblin looked at the guards.
“He speaks the truth. This is Gunnar’s booth.”
The guard said, “Pack all of this and take him.”
Ozra had closed her eyes again, her lashes fluttering.
“Wait. There’s something else…”
She took up my mother’s shawl and held it to the guard. I her eyes widened as she held it.
Her voice whispered in wonder, “Avi.”
He grabbed it and sniffed it, himself. He turned to Tarr.
“This doesn’t have a price tag yet. Where did you get this?”
The little goblin didn’t even look at me. “Please sire. I’ve had so many customers today. You can’t expect me to remember them all.”
One of the soldiers holding him said, “Perhaps a good lashing will jog your memory.”
The little goblin struggled more. Without thinking, I stepped forward.
“It’s mine.” I said, trying to sound braver than I felt.
Suddenly, all eyes were on me.
“Yours?”, the knight eyed me suspiciously, “Where did you get it?”
“Where did your mother get it?”
“She worked for the royal family. It was a gift.”
He stepped forward. Stony faced, he hissed. “That is a lie.”
I stepped forward too. Our faces were inches apart. “Are you calling my mother a liar?”
He had to bend to look me in the eye.
“I wasn’t calling your mother a liar. I was calling you one.”
“And you are nothing but a bully.”
He stood up straight and grabbed my arm.
“We’re taking you too.”
My thoughts went right to my father and sister. They didn’t even know where I’d gone. They’d be frantic if I didn’t return by sunset.
“I’m not going anywhere with you.”
I pulled my arm back as hard as I could but his grip was a steel vise. He yanked back. I suddenly found myself crashing into the hard armor on his chest. A wetness seeped into my shirt.
My anger and fear melted away. I felt…what was it I was feeling? He let go and I was cold and alone. I looked into his eyes and into the deep well of his soul.
He looked down at his chest a wiped at it.
“What is this?”
He raised his eyes to mine. I saw that he could indeed smile, as he gently brushed the hair off my face.
“Beloved. Has someone been rough with you? Tell me who. I will slay them.”
Yes, I’d been struggling with someone. How could I forget that? A quiet voice in my mind insisted that I was forgetting many things. I focused on that thought, pushing all others to the side. Reality hit me like a splash of cold water. I released the guard’s hand. When had I taken his hand? I forced myself to stare at the ground.
Through gritted teeth, I said., “Tarr?”
“Did Gunnar tell you how long that love potion lasts.”
I heard everyone around us react. I couldn’t look up, couldn’t look into those beautiful eyes. Tears streamed down my face. I missed him that much. If I looked at him, I knew it would be the end of me. His hand found mine again. I tried to concentrate on what was being said.
Even his growl was music to my ears, “Love spell?’
I said. “It was in the vial I was holding. It smashed against your armor.”
I heard Ozra laugh, “My brother, the captain of our squad, can’t have fallen under a simple love potion.”
It was the magistrate who said. “Gunnar’s potions are known for their potency. These two must both be strong-willed and powerful to be able to resist it as much as they are. I only have a small knowledge of the stuff, myself. Usually, you just apply a dab. I… I don’t know what an entire vial will do.”
My love’s strong arms wrapped around me from behind. He began to kiss down the side of my neck, sending shivers down my spine. There were so many people. Why couldn’t they leave us alone?
Ozra said. “We can see what it does.”
“Begging your pardon, Mistress, but this is just the beginning. It hasn’t even gotten into their system yet.”
“And the antidote?”
“A love potion is meant to run its course. Only Gunnar would know of another way to break it.”
Ozra stood before us. Avi growled at her.
“Relax brother, I’m not going to hurt her. What’s your name, girl?”
Name? How could I think of something so trivial when he was kissing down the other side? I moaned softly. He responded with harder kisses. The voices faded into the background again.
The magistrate cleared his throat. “I believe that’s the lust starting.”
Avi ran his hand down my side. I leaned in and rubbed against him.
Ozra said. “That’s enough of that.”
She nodded to two of the guards and they moved as one. Ozra pulled me away and the guards wrestled Avi to the ground. I needed to help him, but I was no match for elvish strength. We watched as two more guards joined the fray.
Finally, Ozra said. “Avi, stop or I’ll kill her.”
Sure enough, I felt something sharp against my throat. I tried to hold very still. Avi looked up in terror.
“Ozra.” He whispered. “please.”
“I will not hurt her, if you promise to behave like our leader and not a besotted fool.”
He nodded and shook off his would-be captors. They all stood and brushed themselves off. Ozra sheathed her dagger but didn’t loosen her hold on me.
Avi began to give orders, deliberately not looking in our direction. Tarr was put in chains and led off. The magistrate chased off the crowd and oversaw the packing of the booth. I didn’t take my eyes off my love the whole time. I tested my own guard once or twice but she remained vigilant.
“I understand that you can’t help it but you are only going to hurt yourself if you persist, so try to have some patience.”
Finally, he came over to us. Ozra tensed as he cupped my cheek.
“I don’t even know your name.”
“Brenna.” My name rolled off his tongue, “You will come with us to find this Gunnar?”
I would go anywhere with him. “Yes. Of course.”
He smiled as if he’d been fearing a different answer. He turned to give an order. Without his eyes on me, I was able to think.
“Wait.” He turned back to me. “My family, they don’t know where I am. If I don’t return,,,”
Avi called, “Micah.’
The guard was nursing a bloody nose but stepped forward.
“Yes, Lord Avion?”
“Go to my lady’s home and let her family know that she is fine.”
Ozra said, “Ask the mother about the shawl.”
I said. “My mother has been dead for many years.”
Ozra said, “Ask the father about the shawl. He’s likely to know more than Brenna, here.”
After I gave Micah directions, Ozra gently but firmly led me to the horses.
Avi stepped in our way.
“Where are you taking her?” Ozra sighed. “Relax brother. It’s best if she rides beside me into the mountains. We need you keeping a clear head. I swear, I will keep her safe.”
He embraced me and breathed in my scent as I did with his. Ozra was pulling at me but his arms tightened. His lips found mine. I marveled at the softness. My hands slid behind his back and landed on his ass. He consumed my senses. Gentle but firm hands pulled me away. I whimpered at the loss. Ozra was once more holding me against her. Avi was running his hand over his hair watching me.
“This will be more difficult than I imagined.”
Ozra said. “Just stand still. I know you can do that. She and I will ride at the back of the line.”
He nodded, our eyes never breaking contact. Even as she led me away I turned.
“Well this is going to be interesting.” She said. I finally turned from him and looked at her.
“My brother has never been in love. He has always felt that he doesn’t have room for it in his life.”
“Well then he and I have one thing in common.”
She looked at me as we both climbed into our saddles.
“Brenna, with the stolen fairy shawl and a wish in her pocket, this is going to be a most interesting journey.”
By Catherine Rose all rights reserved
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