The Card Dealer: Part 4

Part 4:

 

When people realized that Adrian wasn’t around to tell them their fortune or mix up the big spells, things got pretty slow around the shop.  I spent the next day sitting behind the counter as bored as could possibly be.  Was I not good enough for them or something?  I could do just about anything Adrian could do…except for the fortune telling, I guess.  I didn’t know where he learned that.  Anyway, a few costumers came every now and then (of course, Mr. Caldwell came for triple the amount of the fisherman’s spell for the price of one – my side of the deal for letting Zion get out of work).  Lex must have been hanging around the future, because I hadn’t seen her since the morning Adrian left.  Leon was the only one that stuck around the shop, but when he got into a bad mood, he was no fun to hang out with.  Who knows what his problem was.

Things started looking up when the door opened, and in walked Hyacinth.  Hyacinth was probably the kindest soul I had ever met.  Being a Nymph, she had pale, greenish skin, purple eyes, and gorgeous, flowing hair that seemed to change colors as she moved.  I beamed as soon as I saw her, leaving the counter to wrap her in a bear hug.

“Hyacinth!”  I said.  “I haven’t seen you in ages!”

Hyacinth returned the hug with a light laugh.

“I’ve been busy,” she replied in her sweet voice.  I held her at arm’s length.

“Ok, you have to tell me what you’ve been up to.  Why haven’t you visited in awhile?”  I led her to one of the waiting chairs and set her down.

“Oh, Claudia, I’ve had the most wonderful time,” she said, clasping her hands.  Her eyes sparkled with joy.  “I met another Nymph last month, and we’ve been…”  She trailed off, blushing.  I raised my eyebrows.

“You’ve been what?”  I asked with a knowing smile.  “Does this Nymph happen to be a boy?”

Hyacinth made a bashful smile.  “Y-Yes,” she replied.  “His name is Quill, and he’s very kind.”

I squealed.  “The rest of the town is going to be jealous when they find out!”  I sat down next to her.  Hyacinth waved her hand.

“Oh, don’t embarrass me,” she said.  “That’s not what I came to tell you, anyway.”  She straightened her posture and took a deep breath.  “I saw the Card Dealer the other night.”

“Yeah?”  I said.  “I did too.  Haven’t you seen him multiple times?”

Hyacinth nodded.  “But I’ve noticed something.”  She pulled a piece of paper from a pocket on her plain, pink dress.  The outfit wasn’t flattering in any way, but that was just how the Nymphs were.  They didn’t do a thing to draw attention to themselves.

She waved the paper around.  “I’ve been studying the Card Dealer, you know, trying to figure out who he is and where he comes from.  I’ve come up with a few things.  First of all, have you noticed that he only comes when the moon is full?”  She read off of the paper.

“I guess I never gave it much thought,” I replied, looking over her shoulder at the notes.

“Well, he does.  He stays for exactly thirty minutes, and thirty minutes only.  He’s on the streets by eight o’clock, and he’s gone at exactly eight-thirty.”

“How long have you been studying?”  I asked.

“For the last year,” Hyacinth said.  She pursed her lips.  “The only problem is, whenever I try to follow him to see where he goes, he just kind of…disappears.”

“It is pretty weird,” I said.  “I’ll admit I’ve tried to follow him too, but you’re right.  He turns a corner, and then he’s just gone.”

“I don’t like it.  I want to believe that he’s only coming to wow people with his tricks, but it’s too weird.  And his mask doesn’t help.”

I nodded.  “That’s true.  He may be cool, but he gives me the creeps.  I don’t really care for him all that much.”

“And get this,” Hyacinth continued.  “I’ve been asking around, and everyone says they’ve never heard his voice before.  And no one recognizes his eyes.”

“I’ve never heard him either, and…now that I think about, I don’t recognize his eyes…”  It was strange to me; if someone were to show me a picture of someone I knew, but covered everything but their eyes or their mouth or other facial features, I would still be able to recognize who they were showing me.  I remembered the look that the Card Dealer had given me the other night, and I realized with a start that I could not decipher who those eyes belonged to.  “Anything else?”  I asked, feeling cold inside.

“No, not yet.  I haven’t even been able to see where he comes from.  It’s like he just pops up out of nowhere,” said Hyacinth.  “It just gets more creepy as time goes on.”

“Well, if I find out anything, I’ll let you know,” I said.  It was the best I could give.  “But, I wouldn’t worry too much about it, it’s not like he’s hurting anyone.”

Hyacinth bit her lip.  “Actually…I think he has…”

The cold feeling in my stomach turned freezing.  I’m sure I turned pale.  “Seriously?”

Hyacinth nodded slowly.  “That’s why I came here in the first place; to get your opinion.  A few nights ago, one of the Nymphs in the forest turned up dead.  There’s no signs of violence, and as far as I know he was healthy.  You know Nymphs never get sick with anything, except for The Rot, but that would be obvious if he had that.”

“Yeah…does the Elder know what could have happened?”

“He said it was a form of magic that killed him, but magic like he’s never seen before.”  She shivered.  “I was hoping Adrian would be here…like, maybe he might know something.”

“I hate to say it, but he’s not here.  He left for Port’s Town yesterday.”

She looked disappointed, but I could tell she was trying to hide it.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be any help.  I’ll try and figure out what king of magic it could have been…but I’ll need a blood sample from the victim.”

“I can get it.  The Elder said that anyone who thinks they could be of help is welcome to try anything.”

I put my hand on her shoulder.  “In the mean time, don’t be afraid.  I’m sure…it might be a coincidence.”  It hurt to get that sentence out, because I was certain it was a big fat lie.  But I didn’t have any other way to console her.

“Thank you, Claudia,” said Hyacinth.  “I’ll come back tomorrow with the blood sample.”

The two of us stood, and I walked with her to the door.  “See you tomorrow, then.  Good luck with that new boy.”  I winked, and she just blushed more.

“Um, bye,” she said a little more quietly.  I opened the door and let her out.  When the door was shut again, I leaned on it with a loud sigh.  And here I thought Jadeshaven was a peaceful little town.  I jumped, startled, when a ringing sound came from the back of the shop.  I followed the sound into my bedroom and into the bathroom, where the mirror was going crazy.

“What in the world?”  I said.  I touched the center of the mirror, and Zion’s face came into view.  He looked to be chasing after something under water, but I couldn’t see what it was.

“Ah, hey there gorgeous!”  He said with a lopsided grin.  I tried to look annoyed, but I was too occupied with trying to figure out how he could have called me in the first place.

“How do you know this spell?”  I asked.  His smile disappeared, and he gave a little shrug.

“That’s not important right now,” he said.  “What is important is that-”

I didn’t even wait for him to finish before I threw out the next question.  “How are you swimming and talking to me through a mirror?  Do you have a handheld mirror?”

Now it was his turn to look annoyed.  “What’s so bad about a guy having a handheld mirror?”  He asked.  “I mean, how else am I supposed to fix my hair?”

I busted out laughing, which only made him more annoyed.

“Okay, can you calm down for a second so that I can tell you what’s up?”  He turned the mirror around so that I could see the bottom of a huge ship.  I stopped laughing.

“Where are you?”  I asked.

“That’s the problem.  I followed Adrian’s boat to Port’s Town.  He got off of that boat, and, being a Merman and all, as I’m sure you’re aware, I couldn’t follow him on land.”

“Duh,” I said.

“Right, so I felt like I should stick around a little, chat it up with some of my old buddies.  Well, anyway, about twenty minutes later, he comes back and gets on another boat.  The one I just showed you is the one he’s on right now, and I’m following it to see where it goes.”

“You didn’t have to do that, you know.”

He shrugged again.  “Well, now you’ve got me curious.  But I’ll talk to you later when I find out where he’s going, because he’s certainly not going back to Jadeshaven.”

“That is strange,” I said.  “Any idea where the boat’s going?”

“Nope,” said Zion.  “In fact, we’re about to cross into territory that I’ve never been in before.”

“If thing’s start looking scary, back out,” I said.  He chuckled sarcastically.

“Scary?  Please, I’m not a kid.”  He glanced away, but I could see him grimacing.  He faced the mirror again with a pale face.  “I’m going to have to go, okay?”  From my mirror, I could see that he was getting tired.  Trying to hold up the spell and keep up with the ship must have been exhausting.

“Alright then, see you.”  Before I even said the words, the call ended.  I stared at my own reflection for a moment, wondering what Adrian could have possibly been up to.  I wandered back into the shop, thinking about how I now had two things to worry about; Adrian and the Nymphs’ problems.  Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any weirder, the door opened and in walked the LAST person I expected to see.

“M-Master Grieves!”  I said with wide eyes.  Sure enough, it was Adrian’s old sorcery teacher.  He walked in with his scruffy grey beard, long navy robes, and sparking eyes.  I had known the man for as long as I’d known Adrian, but he didn’t come to visit often.  In fact, the last time I saw him was last year at the Summit.  His expression grim, he came to set his wizard’s hat on the counter.

“Miss Philips,” he said, not wasting any time.  “We need to talk.”

♠ ♣ ♦ ♥ ~

 

This part was a little shorter than the others because this week has been CRAZY with school starting back and everything, which is also the reason why there was no quote last week.  Sorry about that!  Sometime soon I’ll start posting other things as well, like more Writing Tips and a couple others that I have planned.  Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this part!  I would love to see your feedback, and be sure to ask any questions you might have!

Note:  I will be going on a break for the month of September!  I’m feeling a little burnt out, especially since I haven’t been getting much feedback.  I promise I’ll be back in October!

Part 5 will be released on October 5,

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