Stocke laughed as the children of Renaissance flocked around him and his donkey. Some of them pet or fed the donkey while others jumped on the cart with him. They bombarded him with questions and requests while eyeing the bags on the cart for their presents.
"Tell us a story!"
"Can I play with your sword?"
"What did you get us this year?"
"Did you fight any monsters?"
"Can I ride on the donkey?"
"Are you gonna kill Naria this year?" silence fell over the crowd of children and forty eight eyes stared at Stocke.
He most certainly would have to try not to, he needed her as much as she needed him.
The silence was broken when the boy who asked the question got smacked over the head by his older sister, "You’re so stupid Tristan! You can't ask stuff like that! Stocke won't give you a present now!"
Stocke burst out with laughter again and grabbed a bag from his cart, "Nonsense! Everybody gets one!" As he reached into the bag, twenty four mouths hung open in suspense. He produced a carved wooden dragon and passed it to Tristan. One by one he handed out an assortment of gifts to each of the children. The chaos of over excited children calmed down as they started heading off in groups to play or show their new toys to their parents.
"So Stocke," a voice came from behind the cart, "are you going to kill me this year?" Naria mimicked Tristan's voice. She walked over to stand next to the cart and extended her hand for Stocke to help her up.
Naria looked beautiful in the light of the setting sun and Stocke did his best to stem old feelings. "Haven’t had any luck so far," Stocke replied mockingly as he pulled her up. Around them Stocke saw the townsfolk eyeing them, some in fear, others in anticipation, “I’d much rather have Clement’s place left intact this year,” Stocke started thinking of the years when Naria wasn’t this tainted, “like back in the beginning.”
“What, and leave the townsfolk disappointed?” Naria winked at a man that was staring at them from a chair on his porch. He smiled and winked back, almost immediately receiving the wrath of his wife sitting next to him.
Stocke shook his head and started driving towards the inn, “Calm down,” said Naria as she laid her head on his shoulder, “I have a feeling that this time things will be easier,” a sinister smile crept on Naria’s face.
“I hope so Naria,” he said, deep in thought. He knew she was up to something, she always was, but for a moment he imagined that she was telling the truth. Clement would be overjoyed, he thought. A slight smile crept over Stocke’s face when he thought of Clement. The poor man must’ve drunk himself clean out of alcohol by now.
They arrive at the Tenth Spoke as the last rays of light disappeared over the horizon. Clement’s face sank when he saw both of them walk in. “Hello my old friend!” greeted Stocke, “How fares business?”
Clement was trying his best to act normally, he had hoped for Stocke to arrive alone, but there Naria stood, glaring at him. He felt sweat dripping down his forehead, “Not good, thanks to you two,” he replied.
“Naria promised a quiet evening Clement,” Stocke replied, trying to calm Clement, “Pour us a drink while we conclude our trade.”
Clement’s heart jumped to his throat as he poured Stocke a drink and reached for the vial in his pocket…
Prompt: Betrayal is in the air.
Part 2 can be found here.
Part 1 can be found here.