The Return

He stumbled back into the pub two days later.

He looked tired and pale, or maybe he was getting sick the barmaid thought. She kept glancing at him while he finished his second plate of food that she had just placed in front of him. There was something different about him she thought, but what it was she couldn’t put her finger on.

The food tasted incredible! So much better than it had the last time he was in the pub. Every sense was enhanced somehow and he loved it. The smells. The sights. The sounds. The taste. Everything was so much more vivid. As he finished his dinner he became aware of the barmaid, she was watching him. When he looked up at her she quickly turned away.

His intense green eyes caught hers for a brief moment and she held her breath. She was caught! Embarrassed she moved towards the kitchen without haste where she busied herself with cleaning up some stray dishes. She was usually so careful when she was looking at people since she didn’t like to draw much attention or trouble to herself. She had to be careful with all the strangers and drunks that came in. She couldn’t be found out. It was in the best interest for everyone at this point.

He smiled to himself as he set his silverware down on his plate before he pushed it away. He finished the last of his beer before glancing outside. Soon, he thought. She’d be needing him soon.

He started to gather his things and head towards the door when an old man stopped him and grabbed him by the arm. He was caught off guard. The old man had sparkling eyes that seemed to hold the key to the world, they were calm & serene where his own green eyes were wild.

“We tried to warn you,” the old man told him. “Now, you must get out of town.”

He looked confused. He really didn’t know what the old man was talking about, they warned him. Of what? He looked at the old man, thanked him and told him he had him confused with someone else, as he walked out the door.

The barmaid watched the old man through the small window in the kitchen door. What was he up to she thought. He was full of theories and half the time they weren’t theories, but absolute truths and this time he was getting to close to the truth and getting himself hurt…. or worse.

He returned to his apartment to rest till dinner time. But rest wasn’t easy to come by. His mind kept wandering back to her, the barmaid, the old man, and the house. He eventually gave up, grabbed his bag, and headed back to the house deep within the wood.

It was barely light when he got there and the house was dark and still. He hovered near the edge of the clearing, hidden by the trees and he found himself wondering what he was doing there. The vividness of his senses was fading and at the same time it was like a cloud was lifting. Yet, he was still drawn to the house and woman inside.

He was battling with himself. He had a mission to complete but couldn’t. The attraction was so strong that he couldn’t shake it off and it was getting worse now that darkness was beginning to surround him. Unknowingly, he reached for his bag, making sure that he still had it with him.

The candle flickered to life in the window and he could barely see the movement within the house. Above his head a bat flew by, startling him. His eyes never left the house though.

Out of nowhere the barmaid appeared at his side and his gaze upon the house was broken. She looked different now. She seemed confident, strong, and in control. “Move. Now.” She told him. And without a second thought he did.

The two moved quickly until the house and light of the single candle were out of their sight. Slowly, the pull to the woman and house were fading again and he was able to think a bit more clearly. And once they stopped he looked at the barmaid and realized what she really was. She was a hunter just like him.

In his mind he heard her sweet, seductive voice call to him. He could see her standing in the doorway waiting. Her beauty was mesmerizing. He felt so weak when it came to her and he wanted nothing more in the world than to be with her. The pull won out as he stood up and began to walk away. This time without his bag.

He made it back to the house without the barmaid and by time he got to the house she was gone from his mind.

She smiled when he walked in but the smile changed. “She followed you. We must leave now.”

He was confused and didn’t know what she was talking about. But he followed her towards the back of house.

The barmaid grabbed his forgotten bag and dumped it on the ground in front of her. He may have been new but he had to have something of use in the bag she thought as she rummaged around.

Clothing, shoes, a journal, some keys, and another small bag were all she found. But it was the small bag that grabbed her attention. Quickly, she opened it and found some rune stones, a vial of liquid, and a dagger. Perfect, she thought as she threw them back in and ran off towards the house with the small bag.