Vale Market. Chapter 2

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The hut was filled with the sounds of cackling laughter and obnoxious odours.

Eidha’s cup nearly broke as the hag smashed it onto the tree stump. “You really did it you fook’en bitch.” The old woman laughed to the point that tears ran down her wrinkled face.

Dree’s reply was a shrug, but she did manage to give her old friend and often enemy a wink. She didn’t argue with the woman. To many of her peers Dree had achieved something more than survival, she was thriving.

A wretched cough exploded from Eidha, “Oh, come off it. Look at you,” she gestured to the seven century old ? Matriarch, “You’re young again. Well, younger. But the last time I say yeh, yeh were a little bitty ball of wrinkles. And not just that. You coming here, I thought somebody launched a fook’en smite spell at my house.”

Dree’s magic was almost blinding. The witch was stronger than she ever remembered being. More, because of her old age she was wiser and more economical about how she chose to use her control. If she was careful she could be expected to live for another four centuries.

Dree raised her tea cup in salute, “The times are changing, dear cousin, and for the better.”

“No need to tell me cousin. I suppose I have you to thank for my current tax problem.” Eidha saw Dree’s confusion. “One day, Groothanus. He’s the local tax collector around these parts, came over. So I got ready to spike his tea.”

“You spike your taxer’s tea?” Dree asked incredulous, “You must be getting soft. I remember you turning one poor sod inside out.”

Eidha shook her head sadly, “Those were me younger days. I can’t be cursing and throwing hexs at bill collectors no more.” Her grinned turned evil, “Now a days, I paint me lips and promise them a good sucking to let me off. It stops them coming around.”

“I bet.” Dree said. Eidha was only fifty years younger than she was, and the old woman hadn’t aged well. Few elves did as they enjoyed fucking, and drinking, and making all kinds of trouble. Most children and adults never saw too far into the future, they imagined themselves being young and beautiful forever. Then they woke up.

Eidha had more hair on her face then what was on her head, and she wore a wig that caused her scalp rash. Her left eye was gone, as was her right leg. Eidha’s ears almost sagged as much as her fat tits, and Dree was honestly surprised the old girl hadn’t keeled over in her sleep or out in her garden. If Dree hadn’t been told differently a few days ago, she would have thought that Eidha had died without telling anyone.

Eidha poured her another shot of Dree’s whiskey, “So, imagine my surprise when he tells me that all my taxes are paid. Even my over due with the Witch Union.”

“I am surprised you didn’t have a heart attack.” Dree commented, not planning to say how close she nearly did when it found out it wasn’t a joke.

Eidha eased back in her rocking chair and Dree’s eyes could not help but noticed the stump that had been her friend’s right leg. “What do you want Dree?”

Dree leaned in conspiratorially, “There is a Tech.”

“One of your new friends?” Eidha asked.

“My relationship with them is… complicated.” Dree hesitated. “The Techs don’t have enough of a population. They won’t exist in a century or two. They’re looking to settle down.” She looked Eidha right in the eye and asked, “You want a job?”

Eidha snorted and she was about to comment about her current state, when she stopped herself for a moment. The gears in Eidha’s head started to shake off the cob webs and she gave Dree an sceptical glare.

“And if I say yes, I get to be young like you?” Eidha asked.

“Four hundred years of youth with more magic than you know what to do with.”

Eidha was wish enough not to leap at the deal. There was nothing dignified about being old. “And how much cock do I have to suck.”

Dree pulled out four hand-sized portraits from her pocket and placed them onto the tree stump which acted as Eidha’s table. “I’m not going to lie, there’s a bit of willy foundling, but I remember you didn’t mind some of that.”

Eidha took the portraits and as she examined the faces Dree spoke. “It’s part nursing, part bodyguard work.”

Dree drew back her sleeve showing her wedding band. Unlike Richie’s hers was far more intricate, and the rings going up to her elbow, telling those who looked at it that she had been married a total of five times. “But we don’t do things half-arsed, do we?”

Eidha snorted at Dree’s puny assortment of wedding bands, she had been married thirteen times and the artwork was to her shoulder blade.

“One of these is a woman.” Eidha said.

Dree shrugged, “They didn’t know if you liked muff diving. You were known for seducing lords and their daughters.”

Eidha grinned, “And their stable boys, wives, their mistresses, and their boys.”

“And horses?” Dree asked.

“Nah, yeh know how liked to be on top.” Eidha laughed. She put the portrait of the female Tech down, “Sorry lass, I might get to latter.”

She admired the three men, trying to discern their souls through the artist’s strokes, “What aren’t you telling me? I’m not going to say no but you got daughters, why are yeh sharing them? They hung like a halfling or something? They like to get a mean with the drink?”

To Eidha there were few things that she wouldn’t do to get even a few extra years of life. Four hundred years younger, she had tolerate a violent drunks for less. To regan her youth and obtain a degree of power that had been well out of her reach? Eidha would swallow more than her pride and half the cocks of Techscope.

“It’s more than just us Silth, Eidha. The other nations want in. Highs, Alfar, centaurs, halflings, succubi. There is even talk of goblins and merefolk scheming. You will be sharing. And they won’t be sending in packs of big bobbied princesses. You’ll be playing with some of the hardest bitches out there.”

Eidha was getting intrigued now. She looked at the three men, “Which one is yours?”

“I got myself a banker with some medical training. Nice enough cock. Looks too much like a half-elf but he’s low on the totem poll so it’s hard to imagine an assassin going after him.”

The one legged she-elf gave an “Humuph. I figured you would be going higher. You fook the fox or a gamer?”

Dree shook her head, “Sharper claws then I have, got eyes on those frightful blighters.” She bent down and picked up the portrait of the female Tech. “And you know me Eidha, I don’t like sharing. I’m too old to be playing with the type of bitches you’ll be dealing with.”

Eidha’s clouded eye moved to her friend’s belly, “Not old enough to be getting with child I see. I heard this rumour, Dree. They say Techs can get even an elf girl a spawn, and the children have a wee bit knack with more than shit’en and piss’en.”

The ? Witch kept her gaze on her precious friend, imaging how much force it would take to squeeze the life out of her and how much trouble the traps in the room would cause her.

“And what have you heard out here? Tell me, my old friend.” Dree said.

There was a rustle from outside. Dree’s escort were telling both women inside that they were a word away from bursting inside or burning the hut down. One never entered a witch’s domicile without protection, especially a witch of Eidha’s reputation for being anti-social.

Eidha didn’t seem at all concerned that her life was possibly in danger. “Before I answer that old friend. Why me? Why give this to me? What is wrong with these four that you need me to babysit them?”

There was a moment of silence which caused the armed men and women outside to become tense. Dree wondered just how much to say. Eidha was not someone to underestimate.

“Eight days ago an human emperor jumped from his bedroom apartment and impaled himself on a soldier’s spear. Thirty seconds later over two hundred thousand legionnaires who were marching on a village mysteriously died. And ten minutes later Halor the Just opened his vault and found that several artefacts and fifty thousand gold coins were gone. He died ten seconds later and no one knows how.”

Eidha’s mouth hung open and all the colour had drained from her wrinkled face, “Fook me up the arse.” She breathed.

Dree nodded her head in agreement.

Eidha stared at the portraits in awe, “And which one of these four did what?”

Dree shook her head, “No Eidha. Only one person did all of that.” she held up the picture of the female Tech. “Just her. One person. And I have no idea what the males have done. But they are enough that the Union is willing to bring you in. Make no mistake this is not you retiring. You will earn every year.”

The hairs on Eidha’s chin felt thicker then usual as she rubbed her face. From what Dree was saying, her life was going to get very interesting if she took the bloody job. She looked at her ancient hand, which felt about as painful as it looked.

Eidha knew that Dree knew that one bad winter was all it would take for the old she-elf to pop off. Eidha had some close calls last year. Eidha also knew that the Witch Union and Techscope would have safe guards in place. The wedding band would most likely have safety glyphs installed.

No. The reason that Eidha and most likely Dree had been chosen was because they would were already desperate to stay alive. They would also do or kill anyone to keep breathing for another day.

After careful consideration she gave Dree a grin that was full of black and rotted teeth, “Looks like I need to get me wedding dress out of the trunk.” She picked up the portrait of what she thought was the better looking of the three and she rolled her tongue over the Tech’s face.

Somewhere in the world a man was staring at a computer monitor and he shivered.

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