• Aristolochia and Menispermum exchanged glanced, furling their brows, “How is that possible? Anethum was always so obedient and kind,” Aristolochia said.

    “A friend of his explained his plans after Drosera was discovered missing. He had been obedient while harboring his thoughts and plans about your daughter.” All in the room were speechless. It was strange to know, to understand and still be so confused. ‘Why?’ Menispermum thought. The word repeated in her head a thousand times over ‘Why, why, why, why, why?’ It astounded her how someone could defile such religious laws, how they could be so ungrateful and impatient. The gods knew best, better than he did at least.

    The threesome sat in silence for a long time. Menispermum glanced at the witch-doctor, her specialty may have been her extrasensory knowledge she knew her holistics just as well. Aristolochia’s stomach was swollen as though she could burst and she really didn’t have much time left. Aristolochia sat in silent mourning; her hands ran subconsciously over her stomach, she whispered soundlessly to the baby in her womb, comforting it. Menispermum had become jealous of the child Aristolochia held in her womb, but understood her need to give it a soul. And then she wondered how far away Anethum had gotten.

    “Where did Anethum go? Do you know?” Menispermum questioned the doctor.

    She smiled and replied, “Allerjack. The trading post. He headed there for safety, as you can understand. But still it is not a large town since this is so remote a region.”

    “How far is Allerjack?” She asked.

    “About fifty miles. Not far, but tracking him down in the city will be a little harder than the walk,” The doctor explained, “Are you wanting to find him?”

    “Of course. Even a murderer has a purpose. He has a very innocent soul in his head, and I need it,” Menispermum responded.

    Aristolochia turned her head quickly, her eyes widened beyond belief. Her head shook, “You would….”

    “It won’t be easy, but it certainly can’t be hard,” She glanced at the doctor for reassurance, who tipped her head, nodding, “I know how much it means to you. And this may be the only chance you have.”

    “Aren’t you sad, though, Menispermum? You’re only child was murdered!”

    “I am sad. It is a terrible thing and if it sounds insincere let it be, but please try to believe me when I say that if my situation can go to help someone that I love I am happy to oblige.”

    Aristolochia smiled and leaped over to hug her friend, “My saviour,” she whispered in Menispermum’s ear.

    “You are leaving then? To find Anethum?” The witch clarified, a smug grin across her face, “As I suspected. You’ll need this then,” she pulled out a map from a sack around her waist and unfurled it across the table. It was a large barren map if much green ink and a good amount of long black lines leading off of the edges. Only two cities were located upon it and by comparison to the size of the map Menispermum guessed that they were not large cities.

    “Is this us?” She asked, pointing a long finger to the smaller of the cities.

    The witch made a deep chortle, “Hun. That town is five times the size of us. We aren’t mentioned on any maps. No Stygian faerie tribes are large enough to be placed on maps, and Doll, nobody would even want to visit us.”

    “So where are we?” Aristolochia asked.

    “Here,” a gnarled finger indicated a blank spot on the edge of the dark green segment. We are here. Welcome to the middle of nowhere.”

    “Then which is Allerjack?” Aristolochia asked, again in Menispermum’s place. The doctor pointed to the larger of the cities, where the majority of the roads led.

    “How long will it take?” Aristolochia said craning her neck forward.

    “Only about, a day and a half one way. But finding him and dragging him back would prolong the trip a few days. If she leaves right away she will most likely be able to come back on time. Happenstance she does find Anethum, that is.”

    “Have you an idea where in the city Anethum might be staying?” Menispermum asked, her finger doing rings on the corner of the map.

    “No. The only information we know is that he went to the city. But it is uncommon to see Stygians in the city. He can’t be terribly hard to locate but if he keeps moving you may have trouble.”

    “I’ll leave today. There isn’t anything I need to stay for. I will bring Anethum back as soon as possible, Aristolochia. Don’t worry,” She picked herself from the seat and went to a chest in the corner of the room. She opened it, the primordial hinges screeching with rust. She pulled a satchel from it and slammed it shut. She rushed about the room grabbing preserved foodstuffs, clothing, anything that may help along her trip. The two watched her as she neared her daughter’s broken crib. The blood in the blanket was mostly dried a nauseating brown. She ran her hands over it and lifted it her face. She smelled her daughter, like she was there, alive. Her teeth cut into the fabric and effortlessly tore a strip of the fabric away, which was stuffed into the pack as well.

    The witch-doctor handed her the map and pulled another object from the bag around her waist. Menispermum flipped the top away with her nail. Beneath the surface was a face with letters, a compass.

    “Allerjack is Northeast of here. I’ve drawn a point on the map of our location. But be wary, there are no landmarks to guide you if you get lost. You know your way around the forest but in the plains beyond, there is nothing until you reach the city.”
    “I understand. I’ll be my most careful.”

    “Luck be with you,” the doctor said and pushed herself up from her seat at the table. Her walking stick clacked against the wooden floors as she left.

    Aristolochia stood up also, pushing with all her weight to lift her frontal weight. She walked over to Menispermum and hugged her and kissed her on the cheek, “I will be eternally indebted to you. Good luck,” the faerie wished her and turned to walk away.

    Menispermum stood around for a long while, staring about at her unassuming quarters. She sighed and stepped through the door, carefully shutting it behind her. Swinging the pack unto her shoulder she stared into the compass face and glanced once at the map before setting out without a single look back at her village or the few faerie of her tribe that bothered to watch her leave.

    To read chapter two: http://gaiaonline.com/arena/writing/fiction/vote/?entry_id=100709029
    To read chapter four: http://www.gaiaonline.com/arena/writing/fiction/vote/?entry_id=100724273
    To read the entire story: http://gaiaonline.com/arena/writing/fiction/vote/?entry_id=100679491