Vale Market. Chapter 1

Vale Market     Chapter 2>>>

The crest on the patch was a curiosity. It had the image of a black cat with a broom in its mouth. It was designed to look less threatening to the populace while showing the organisation that was to gain fame for its implantation.

It was an extremely odd image and the small girl looked at it with a grimace. She wasn’t a cat person and she recalled how a mangy stray had scratched her.

The girl’s mother rubbed her annoyed daughter’s unruly bed hair, and narrowly escaped getting bitten. She smiled at Richie with a mouth full of teeth that were so white that they stood out from her mud brown skin. “And this will increase her magic?”

Richie put the bandage wrapper in the bin and let out a sigh, “I keep telling everyone, that’s a side effect. This just gives her body a boost. Your daughter isn’t increasing her magic, it’s normalising.”

Richie didn’t want to really freak out the child or the mother, but by all rights her daughter should have been dead years ago. The girl should at the very least be near insane, instead all she had was an aversion to water and a nasty habit of biting people.

The dirty girl growled at Richie and stared up at him defiantly. She was a biter alright, and because of the savage ten other people, not including her mother and Richie, had been cursed with the damn rabies virus.

The mother looked at her own bandage and at the teeth marks her daughter had left her. She looked at Richie and her tongue ran across her clean teeth.

To the Wood Elf, Richie’s own Indian skin was nice enough to look at. Richie was clean, well groomed, was apparently well educated, and he hadn’t screamed too loudly when her evil daughter had bitten him. It was too bad that he was a foreign devil, but what man was perfect? “Would you like to come over to our house for dinner?” she asked.

Richie made an entry in his ledger and didn’t brother to look at the mother, “You would have to discuss that with my wife.” He pulled back his jacket, showing the intricate and flowery tattoo on his arm.

The sight of the wedding band caused the mother to sneer and she viciously pulled her foul offspring towards her. She recognised the markings and while slightly confused over some of the designs, she had no wish to make an enemy that she was prepared to fight.

The look that she gave Richie was cold with more than trace of fear. “Good day to you, lord Tech.” With that she dragged her daughter to the exit, her earlier good move now a memory.

Richie hesitated giving the woman the finger. Instead he lay back in his uncomfortable chair and looked at what his life had become.

Once upon a time, Richie had been a banker. Fucking five hundred thousand a year, plus bonus, he was an American badass. Ahead of his class, game, and all those other fuck-stick whingers and losers out there. He had a secretary who had been an exotic dancer for Christ sake, with tits that were so fake a Barbie doll would have been impressed. Richie knew they were fake because he fucking bought them and spent enough time sucking on them.

He had been destined for great things. Well, that was until that fucking Jupiter mining company had cluster-fucked everyone in the arse so hard that it caused Wall Street to meltdown. They had called it the greatest economical crises since the early 2000s.

One mother fucking science experiment later and now he was in fairy land. Surrounded by elves who were about a thousand years away from discovering toilet paper. It was fucking madness.

Richie got out of his seat and once again touched his ears. Due to the elves having a near pathological fear and hate of humans, the company had felt the need to do some cosmetic surgery on their staff members.

Richie’s ears were nowhere near as long or as functional as a Wood Elf’s but they were pointed. Every time he looked in the mirror Richie had to tell his reflection that he looked like a fucking idiot.

He moved out of his office and was assaulted with the usual sounds of the desperate and stupid.

Again the waiting room was full of elves who were all wanting him and his fellow Techs to cure their boo boos. Their injuries ranged from festering wounds to sexual diseases. Richie saw that one poor bastard had a knife wound and one of wife’s family members was stitching him up right there in the waiting room.

However, the people who actually needed help were a minority compared to the shitheads who had nothing better to do but come in and steal the complementary biscuits and water. One woman came in the clinic everyday just to eat the fucking cookies, half of which she shoved into her pockets.

Richie wanted to run them all out of there or get something sharp and fucking give them a reason to get a check up, but he was powerless.

One worried elf came to Richie, his face weathered like a road sign and full of concern. “Please, tell me what’s wrong with my mother.”

Richie pushed back the urge to tell the arsehole to fuck off and take a shower, he smelled like he had been rolling in shit. Instead, he took out his phone. “You’re mum’s name?”

“Chéslientle.”

Richie wasn’t going to attempt to spell that. “Did you go to the front desk?”

“They don’t know. T.they say she’s in surgery, but it has been nearly an hour.”

Richie rubbed his head, these people were so used to divine intervention and people with hacksaws that they had no idea what real surgery was. He clicked on the rooms and saw both surgery theatres were in use.

“Your mother has been in there for thirty minutes. She has gallstones the size of chicken eggs inside her. It is going to take a while.” Richie said.

“We just came in for potion. My mother takes healing potion.” The prick was getting excited and he was starting to get a mad look in his eyes. “You are doing something to her. She was fine before we came here.”

Richie stepped away and the elf grabbed him.

“You’re going to take me to my mother right now.” With superman strength, the elf lifted Richie off his feet. “I’m taking… Ahh.” The possessed Wood Elf shouted in pain. Still holding Richie off his feet with one hand, he pulled the foreign object out of his neck.

He stared at the dart, not understanding what it was.

Then, to the amusement of the people in the waiting room, he fell to floor.

The she-elf who had just finished patching up the stab wound, came over and liberated her dart off the fool, “You alright, Rich?” she asked.

The sonvabitch had wrapped his fingers around Richie’s jacket and the Tech was trying in vain to pull himself free of the dickhead. Wood Elves had insane strength.

“Little help.” Richie said.

Rolling her eyes, the she-elf helped free Richie.

“Is it getting worse. It feels like it’s getting worse.” Richie said.

The she-elf shrugged, “These people are used to quick fixes.”

“You know, for a species that can live for a thousand years you got no f…” Richie hesitated from swearing, there were children in the room and some of these people were real selective of language modifiers.

The woman apparently didn’t seem to care about swearing in front of the children. “No fucking patience? Tell me about it. The Xhalh Clan have been trying for centuries trying to convince these fools that it takes more than cheap potion to cure everything.”

“Don’t you sell those shitty health potions?” Richie asked.

All he got for a reply was a ‘what can you do?’ shrug. It was the same shrug that the arseholes who profited from war and crooked politicians gave to the media after a few thousand people end up getting screwed.

Just like in his world this world seemed to run on the same practice of fuck or be fucked, and in that god awful moment Richie felt like he was at home again.

His people had been told how this world worked.

The patch that most of the people who came to the clinic received was only a gimmick, a distraction to take the main focus away from the real delivery device.

The real magic, was the swab that was used to clean the skin before the patch was put on. It was a substance that was created inside a off-site lab that bypassed the skin and from there was delivered into the patient’s blood stream.

The system wasn’t perfect and Richie was fully capable of giving shots and regular pharmaceuticals, but some elves could be particular about getting jabbed and taking pills regularly.

Many people would sell their prescribed pills and ointments on the black market for little more than food, and the Xhalh Clan who organised the drugs being administered to the populace were afraid that some ballsy thief would successfully steal the medicine and attempt to create a potentially dangerous knock-off version.

There were already tales of people taking off the stickers and selling them to alchemists for study. Worse, one shipment of stickers had gone missing in transit and were probably being sold to dimwitted fools.

Shaking his head he moved to the staff room. Using his key card he unlocked the door and found that the staff’s sanctuary had been invaded by a pack of street urchins.

The little bastards were eating everything, one girl’s hands and face were cover in tomato paste. She had just pulled off the lid and shoved the contents in her mouth. Another boy was walking around with his trousers full of plastic forks and knives.

“Again?” Richie yelled. He pointed out the door, “Out.”

Twice this week the little shits had raided the staff room, searching for food and treasure. Richie thought they fixed that. The adult elves had enough trouble with saying key card.

The children didn’t move, instead they looked to one another. Then the obvious leader of the group grinned. To Richie he looked to be fourteen, and you just knew that he was going to grow up to be a real bastard.

“Just walk away freak. You ain’t hard enough.” The urchin leader said. He pulled up his shirt to show that he was armed. The boy had used a piece a string as a belt which he was also using as a means to carry around a knife.

Seeing that their leader was unimpressed with Richie’s appearance, the other children grinned and continued to eat.

Despite Richie being bigger, having trained in two martial arts, and was healthier than the boy would ever hope to be, he didn’t like his odds. Size really didn’t matter when even an elven toddler could punch your face in. Any one of those children strong enough to throw Richie through a wall.

Great, it was like elementary school all over again. Fine. Richie had better things to do with his time and had hidden away a stash of chips in one of the freezers they used to hold the blood samples.

Richie was about to leave when he heard something heavy hit the floor. Heads turned to see a small girl having a seizure, her small body twitching and shaking.

“Berry?” One boy said sounding concerned. He didn’t have much time to react as the elven boy dropped to his knees and began making vomiting sounds, his face turning apple green.

The other children had enough time to hesitate before they to fell to whatever curse was running rampant. Sores began to appear on skin, angry rashes materialised and a host of other afflictions spread across the room.

“What the fuck?” Richie yelled. He was so shocked at what he was seeing that he didn’t notice a presence come up behind him.

“Oh, dear. We seem to have a rat problem,” Dree said.

Richie spun around, fearful that he would get the blame for all this. “I didn’t… Oh, it’s you.”

Smiling at him was an older looking she-elf. She looked in her late thirties, with her dark hair rolled up in a tight bun. She had a collection of silver, iron, and bone earrings that it made her long elven ears droop down her back. She also had a gold piercing on the side of her nose.

Richie pointed at the room full of children who appeared to dying. All he could do was ask “What the hell?”

Dree walked into the room like she owned the place, which she did. She glared down at the boy with the knife, “Huxley, I warned you last time what would happen if you stole from me. Did you think that I was playing?”

The boy tried to take out his knife and a received a back hand from the older woman which sent him flying into a set of shelves.

Richie was in shock. Dree had hardly touched the adolescent and she had made him fly in the air. It was surreal, like watching a superhero movie with super bad effects.

Scared for his own safety but unable to help himself, Richie nervously spoke, “You two know each other?”

“We should, I’m his grandmother.” Dree said.

“Great-great-great grandmother.” Huxley spat. On the floor he looked to the other little bandits and gave his granny a hateful stare, “You poisoned the food?”

“What?” Richie shouted.

Dree smiled back at him, “Don’t worry, I put the antidote in your coffee.” Her smiled remained even as she gave her grandson a harsh kick. “After all, you have to poison cheeky little rats who think it’s cleaver to steal from defenceless ladies. Otherwise they get ideas of making it a habit.”

This bitch was fucking insane. Richie went down to the little girl who was seizing. Her eyes were rolling in the back of her head and if she spasmed any harder Richie was afraid that she could get whiplash.

“Give them the antidote.” he called out.

Dree gave Richie an curious expression, “They stole from us. They even threatened you with a knife. You know the guards don’t come down to this part of the city. Believe me, love. This is timid to what I do, do to thieves.”

Witch Town was a country in itself, its residents used to practising their own brand of justice. Normal people only came down to this part of town to hire a prostitute, hide from the law, or to deal in nefarious trading. In Witch Town, if you had the coin and the balls you can get anything, including a knife in the back.

Here, the witch clans and not the thieves guild ruled with an iron fist.

Richie held the little girl’s head in his hands. He was frightened. Dree could have put any number of toxic material in the food, and as no two symptoms were the same she probably used different poisons. “Just do it.”

Dree looked to her grandson, “You should say thank you to the nice Tech, boy. He’s a lot kinder than I am.” The she-elf snapped her callused fingers and suddenly the children stopped being sick.

The boy who had been dry heaving and sounding like he had been in the middle of vomiting up a river looked down at what should have been a pond of his puke, finding nothing.

Others were rubbing their faces, checking for boils and their afflictions. Not finding anything and not wanting to try this mad old hag’s patience, they ran screaming for the exit.

The little girl who Richie had been cradling pushed him out of the way and ran for the door.

“Chié.” Dree warned. Her serious tone caused the girl to stop in mid run, “Give him back his property.”

The girl lowered her head and then threw Richie’s phone right back at him. Richie caught the device and began to check his pockets for any other missing items. When he looked back the girl was gone.

Dree shoved her grandson in the direction of the exit. Instead of running, Huxley took his time and made sure to give Richie a look that promised vengeance.

“Need a woman to fight your battles for yeh?” Huxley spat.

Richie looked at Dree and then back at the fucking brat, “Um, yeah.” he said as if it were obvious.

When Huxley had left, Richie looked back at Dree, “What the hell is wrong with you people?” he yelled.

The she-elf glanced over the mess that the raiding party had caused. “I’ll get one of the girls to clean this up.” Her smile was once again directed towards Richie, “Come husband, I know a good pub that serves a fine lamb stew.” Dree rubbed her stomach affectionately, “Remember, I’m eating for two now.”

Richie let out a deep and frustrated groan. His life was so fucked up right now.

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