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Chapter 14: Broken Dreams
Gorgeous new chapter image by prospero @ tda
On a perfectly ordinary day, Elidore of Weye kicked a traveller out of his tavern. The Green Dragon on the Northern End of the old Roman Watling Street was a respectable institution, and attracted high profile clientele. It was an ambiguous looking building, as it was a pile of different architectural styles. Elidore even claimed he had a pillar of a Roman temple keeping his tavern’s roof held up. Therefore, Elidore did not admit anyone, especially not ruffians off the street. If they did enter, they had to leave hastily. He especially did not like the drunk who basically lived in his tavern.
The man looked fairly young, but it seemed he had had to grow up in a very short space of time by the look of permanent sadness that haunted his handsome face. Although he was good looking, his face was ruined by layers of dirt and his hair looked lank and greasy. Elidore was prevented from kicking this strange man out of his tavern by his formidable wife Millicent, who insisted that good money was being made from him.
“Millicent!” thundered Elidore as he took her to the small room behind the bar, “the way to make more money is to attract rich clientele, not ply some dirty drunk with all the alcohol he craves.” Millicent always beat him down however. Her nostrils flared the second she was challenged by her husband. Elidore had always known his wife had a superiority complex, and he did not like to mess with that.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she spat, her brown eyes crackling with fury, “don’t delude yourself with illusions of grandeur. You are a man of the earth,” she snapped. It was at times like this that Millicent always brought it back to Elidore’s birth. He was the son of a labourer, she the daughter of a rich merchant. The only reason Elidore had flown so high was his wife’s money. She made him feel like Icarus; he was too close to the sun and his waxen wings were melting. He was slowly dying.
“Give your customer everything he wants,” she said calmly, a smug look from her small triumph etched on her aging face, “he has the money to pay you, so stop complaining.” Elidore ran his gnarled fingers through his grey hair as he stomped back to the bar. The drunk sat on a table in the corner, his head rested on his hands and his eyes bloodshot. Elidore had tried to speak to him, but the man was inconsolable. Elidore did not even know his name.
“Millicent,” said Elidore imploringly, gazing back at his wife, but she gave him such a look that he decided he would allow the drunk to stay in the tavern. It was not worth Millicent’s wrath. Elidore began to clean a rather disgusting flagon. It was chipped and obviously had not been cleaned in several days. Elidore took his work seriously, and only looked up when the tavern door swung open with a resounding bang.
In the doorway stood Eadric the Thatcher, and his current woman, Abelena. Eadric was a powerful young man who was basically a collection of huge muscles. He had beady black eyes and tangled black hair. Besides the unnamed drunk, he was the most frequent visitor to the tavern. His father owned great swathes of land in the local area, and although Eadric was a violent brute, Elidore welcomed him warmly into the tavern. He was the type of person you needed to impress if you wanted to get anywhere in the world.
Abelena was the most beautiful girl in the area. She was about nineteen years old, with untameable chestnut locks that flowed down her back like water. She had fairly dark skin and large blue eyes, which she always used to look adoringly up at Eadric. Most of the men folk could not help but stare at Abelena, but they had to do it secretly in case Eadric decided to unleash his fiery temper.
Abelena wore pink ribbons in her hair. It was clear that Eadric had been spending his father’s money on her. Only Abelena could turn that proud, insolent boy into a puppy. The two were holding hands, their fingers entwined, and gaining into each other’s eyes. Elidore remembered the fleeting joys of young love. Those stolen looks and sweet kisses could inflame any young man’s heart with passion. It was a shame that marriage acted as such a dampener to those wonderful feelings.
“Eadric!” said Elidore jovially as the two men shook hands. Elidore tried to ignore the pain that coursed through his fingers due to Eadric’s vice like grip. “What can I do for you this fine day?” Eadric gave one of his gormless grins as Abelena gave a show of her high tittering laugh.
“I’ll buy one for everyone,” Eadric smiled, “Abelena has agreed to be my wife!” There were cheers from everyone standing in tavern, accompanied by slaps on the back and good wishes. The only person who wasn’t moving was the drunk. He stayed exactly where he was, but he had started to mutter to himself, and his bright green eyes were fixed firmly on Abelena.
“I’m so happy!” squawked Abelena, flinging her arms around Eadric and pecking him on the cheek with her plump red lips. Then something totally unexpected happened. The drunk leapt to his feet and staggered forward. For a moment he looked crazed, his eyes bulging and his posture hunched. Reaching Abelena he grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her towards him, his voice was coarse and raspy, “why do you do this to me Bess? Can’t you just leave me in peace?”
Eadric reacted immediately. Pushing Abelena out of the way and against the bar, leaving his fiancée groaning pain, he grabbed the drunk by the scruff of the neck and bellowed “what the hell do you think you are doing!” The drunk said nothing so Eadric threw him to the floor with all the force he could muster. He landed with a resounding crash on the cobbled floor and after howling in pain the drunk let out an anguished scream, “don’t you defend her! She left me! They all left me!”
“He’s mad!” shrieked Abelena, fake pearly tears rolling down her flushed cheeks, “leave him alone Eadric! He’s totally mad! He might contaminate you!” The girl was a dimwit, Elidore knew, but that did not stop her being a good catch. Elidore decided this was his opportunity to rid himself of the drunk for good. Picking the man up by the back of his robes, Elidore marched him to the door, only stopping to pick up the bucket of water that Millicent had recently got one of the serving girls to collect from the well.
Kicking open the door, Elidore threw the man outside, then threw the water from the bucket over him in an attempt to sober him up. “And stay out!” thundered Elidore as he slammed the door shut, hoping he would never see the drunk again.
It had been six months since Godric had left his old life behind. He no longer looked like the favourite son of a distant monarch. He now looked like a common adventurer, living a dying by the sword. He had no money; he had spent that in the last town he had visited, enjoying the soft alluring pleasures of the wine and women.
He had had many women in those six months. Common blondes who had disobeyed their fathers orders for him and sneaked into his lodgings disguised as washer women, one very snooty aristocrat who had just wanted some sort of revenge on her philandering husband, a lonely brunette whose husband had just run off leaving her with four children, and even one nun who had rejected her vow of chastity for him. But none of them had been good enough.
Every time he had taken them in his arms, his mind had gone back to the one night of heaven he had had with Rowena. He recalled the feel of her body and smell of her hair with ease, and no matter how much he tried he could not get those thoughts out of his head. Sometimes, when seeing a girl with dark hair, he swore it was her. She had overthrown her mother’s tyrannous regime and chosen him. But after a moment it would become clear that it wasn’t her, just some girl buying flowers or selling some food.
He wanted nothing more than to see Rowena again, and let her know how much he loved her and missed her. She was all he ever thought about, he could barely go one minute without her figure dancing through his mind. But now she had given herself to Harald, and that made Godric hate his brother even more because he had stolen the one good thing in his life.
The only remnant left of his old life was his father’s sword glistening at his belt. He had only used it once; when he was pounced on by one of his conquests husbands who vowed revenge. Godric had barely escaped with his life. He felt guilty about it afterwards, but in all truth he realised in this life it was kill or be killed. He had vowed to live by that motto; bravery and action was the way to live. You could be free of the shackles of your past that way and you would never have to look back knowing that you could live by your own rules.
One of the things he did miss about his life was magic. He had not used any for the past few months in fear of being caught by the Muggles. He had not even met another magical practitioner, and though he was glutted on freedom, he was starved for not being himself. He often wondered if he passed a witch or a wizard, but didn’t recognise their magic and so walked on by, leaving them behind forever. Due to his isolation from the magical community, he wanted nothing more than to make something levitate or charm an apple into doing a dance for him.
Suddenly, the path he was walking along took a strong turn to his left, and he appeared by a rickety tavern. The Green Dragon did not look very special; it was an inconspicuous place and he thought it looked fairly peaceful. He soon surmised he would not be far from the nearest town; after all, would men trek miles for a drink?
Godric felt extremely tired. He did not care to walk to the town. After all, it was a beautiful day and the sun was shining. He decided instead, he would sleep out in the open, under the tree just outside the tavern. It would be quite refreshing to sleep there, amongst nature. He followed this particular whim; he laid down under the tree and closed his eyes. His mind was flooded with images of Rowena, as it always was when he tried to sleep. There she was, a girl of seventeen who had destroyed her own life by making the wrong decision. Only by dreaming of her kisses did he finally drift off and imagine he was once more in her arms.
Lifting his head, Salazar felt groggy. There were gentle spots of rain falling on his back, and he had a splitting headache. He had no idea how long he had been asleep outside of the tavern, but he knew it couldn’t have been long, it was still light. He pushed himself up slowly, staggering to his feet as he dusted down his robes. It was clear he would be moving on again and finding yet another tavern to spend all his money. He was now an outcast here; and the road was calling him.
It was then that he saw it. Its scales shone like emeralds and it was thick as a rope, slowly coiling its way round the trunk of an aging trees. It was the largest snake he had ever seen. He had never been convinced that you could see a snake like that outside of those mysterious lands far to the south. Its black eyes glistened in the afternoon light, and Salazar could almost see the venom dripping from the snakes fangs as it inched towards the shoulder of the man slumped against the tree.
It was just at that moment that Salazar first noticed the sleeping man. He looked like Salazar did; dirty, tired and impoverished. Only his sword that hung at his belt looked like anything of value. It was encrusted with jewels and glistened in the light. But this dishevelled looking man was going to die if the snake bit him. In one snap of the snake’s jaw, the red headed man would be dead.
The snake began to reach towards the man, its eyes glimmering hungrily. “Stop it!” spat Salazar forcefully. The snake looked up at him, its eyes clearly saying, “why should I?” It was at that moment that the man began to wake. He shook his head gently and opened his eyes, giving Salazar a quizzical look as he hunched over him. When the man was fully awake, Salazar noticed the vivid green of the man’s eyes. They were a similar colour to his own.
Salazar signalled for the man to stay still as he spat at the snake, “leave him alone! Find yourself food elsewhere.” The snake seemed to give him a meaningful look as he curled away up into the tree. Salazar turned slowly to the man on the floor. It was the first time that he had a meaningful look at him. He was tall and almost like a statue from the antiquity, a collection of perfect muscles and a godlike aura. Although he looked a little worn around the edges; his hair was a mane of undisciplined curls and he clearly hadn’t shaved in several weeks, he still looked powerful and erudite.
The man, obviously not liking to appear weak, jumped up, his hand shooting nervously to the hilt of his sword. “What did you just do?” he asked gruffly, his intelligent eyes scanning every inch of Salazar to make a judgement of him. It was only then that Salazar had realised the consequences of his actions. He had revealed his powers to a Muggle, and he was sure he would have to flee yet again, fearing for his life. “Nothing,” muttered Salazar, unable to look the unknown man in the eye.
The man had a worrying smile on his face. It distorted him, made him look less handsome. It was as if he had absorbed some knowledge only to use it to his own end. “Don’t lie to me,” he smiled, “I know what you just did!” Salazar’s heart was hammering in his chest. He was going to be accused of consorting with the devil. He had a talent for talking to snakes, he always had. This man was going to force him to run; he knew it so he made a snap decision.
He moved backwards as quickly as he could until he was in a good position strategically. Lifting one hand he felt himself conjure something that could only be described as a beam of ice. He shot it quickly at his opponent, who only just managed to swerve out the way as the ice froze the tree he had been standing in front of. The man twisted around, and to Salazar’s shock and horror, he shot a ball of fire at him, without even lifting his wand.
The stopped fighting instantly. Salazar stared at the man as comprehension dawned on him. This man was a wizard like him. He had never met another trained in the arts of magic other than his mother and father. He had lived in an isolated bubble all of his life, and this revelation relieved a small part of the pain in his chest.
“You’re a wizard!” breathed Salazar as he ran one hand through his dirty hair. The man nodded before saying, “so are you.” Salazar couldn’t quite believe it. For years he had felt so special. His parents had always been amazed at his ability to do magic without a wand. Yet, here standing before him was a man who could do exactly the same.
“Who are you?” asked Salazar, a note of distrust in his voice. The man paused for a moment, the same look of distrust on his face that Salazar supposed he was wearing. The man stepped forward and held out one large hand, “Godric Gryffindor and you are?” Salazar copied Godric’s gesture of hesitating for a moment before replying, “Salazar Slytherin, I see alliteration is a common theme here.”
Although Salazar felt his hand being crushed in Godric’s heavy handed grip, Salazar recognised the friendliness behind the gesture and instantly warmed to this complete stranger. He had a sort of affinity with this man. They were both magic and they were both wandering lonely vagrants. Godric gave him a broad smile before saying jovially, “so what are you doing outside a tavern in the middle of nowhere?” He had a look of cheeriness on his face, but Salazar could just recognise the underlying sadness in his eyes.
“Running away,” said Salazar, before finishing with the question, “are you doing the same?” Godric and Salazar began to move away from the tavern together. “Yes,” said Godric slowly, “who wants to live by the rules when you can be out here a free man?” Salazar could tell that Godric wasn’t telling the whole truth, but brushed over the subject quickly for fear of upsetting him, “how long have you been travelling?”
Godric began tell Salazar the stories after his flight from his old life. He had been on his own for six months, just slightly shorter than Salazar himself had. Salazar thought his escapades sounded enthralling. He had travelled around like a knight, helping people when needed, rescuing damsels in distress and standing up for the poor and abuse. He was like a troubadour, constantly in the pursuit of courtly love as many women fell at his feet. Salazar wished he could be like that.
It was soon they arrived at the nearest town, a sleepy little village with one inn. It was a low wooden building with a peeling sign; almost the perfect place to remain discreet, just like Salazar longed to be. To their surprise, the tavern was filled with people; each looking terrified. There was one girl sitting precariously on the dirty bar, her hands in her cream apron pockets. The audience watched her, in rapture, as she told her tale.
“And then,” she said melodramatically as she flicked her dark brown plait over her shoulder, “these trolls...I mean monsters...came out of nowhere!” Salazar was shocked for a moment; this girl knew what trolls were. A sign of magic surely? Her dark eyes sparkled as she added slowly, “so me and Leah did a runner, she was so quick and dashed off into the woods that I couldn’t keep up. But I managed to fight them off, using,” she hesitated again, obviously covering the evidence for her magic, “sticks and stones. That’s how I tore my Sunday dress.”
The girl had magnetism about her. She wasn’t exceptionally pretty. She had an upturned nose and looked almost piggish. Her eyes were not really any colour in particular; they were a greyish blue colour. Her face was splattered with freckles and Salazar could only describe her as average. But she had a nice smile and her voice was soft and silky, it made people want to listen.
The crowd burst into chatter once she had finished her tale, “so you saw the monsters that killed Henry Farmer’s sheep?” The girl nodded and flattened her skirt nervously. “There’s no one in this whole village with the power or strength to take on those demons.” It was at this moment one rather large man cried out, “I will pay anyone who can kill those things twelve Venetian ducats!”
“I’ll do it.”
If Salazar had not seen his lips move, then he would not have known it was Godric who spoke. The crowd turned to look at them, their eyes filled with a mixture of disbelief and awe; “my friend Salazar and I will only be too pleased to do it for twelve Venetian ducats!” The people stared at them, not doing anything. The first person to react was the girl, who gracefully leapt off the counter and marched over to them, her dress billowing out behind her.
“Fine,” she said alluringly, gazing in Godric’s eyes, “I’ll take them to the glade they live in. I’m sure you will be able to defeat them.” Godric gave her a seductive smile as she took his hand and dragged him out of the little tavern. Salazar followed bemusedly; it was clear his life would be changing today.
They marched through the thick trees with Rachel leading the way. She had introduced herself to them almost instantly and had insisted on taking Godric’s hand to lead him to the glade. She was assertive and had quickly ironed over any queries that Salazar had had about the plan when they walked into some sleeping trolls home and didn’t expect to be killed. It was clear she was attracted to Godric and openly flirted with him. Godric hadn’t complained. Salazar just assumed that some men had that allure to women.
“The trolls are all up this way in their glade. They mostly spend their time sleeping but occasionally go down to the village to raid some farms.” She looked at Godric and Salazar to see their reactions; but they both remained calm, so Rachel continued, “They are the biggest things I’ve ever seen! I hope you two have some serious weapons with you. They’re not going to fall down easy.” Salazar and Godric looked at each other for a moment.
“You mean,” said Salazar, lingering on his words, “that you are not going to get your wand out and help us?” Godric turned to Salazar, his face red in shock. It took a moment for Godric as he looked between Salazar and Rachel, comprehension dawning on his face. Rachel on the other hand only raised one of her eyebrows and said, “so, you know what a wand is?” Salazar felt slightly smug for a moment, as he was the one who had rumbled Rachel’s little secret.
“Yes,” said Godric, cutting off Salazar’s unsaid words, “are you a witch?” She nodded slowly, eyeing them both up and down with interest, “my parents and I live in an even smaller village, a couple of miles away. Dewsbury was full of magic. But since the true head of the coven went missing years ago, its dying.”
“That’s terrible,” said Godric an expression of concern on his handsome face, “I have grown up around powerful magic. I couldn’t imagine a life without it.” Salazar could see that Godric was recalling his life in his mind. He wondered how Godric had lived, but due to this tantalising clue that Godric had given him, Salazar remained silent. Magic had been scarce and rare in his own life. His parents had been the only other practitioners he had ever known, and that was all thanks to Sir Guy. How could Godric run from what sounded like such an idyllic life if he had it in his hands?
Rachel hushed them as they turned a corner and she pointed through the trees to what looked like giant snoring boulders. Salazar couldn’t help but feeling slightly sick. He did not want to throw himself into danger for the sake of a couple of sheep. Godric however, looked incensed. His eyes were alight and it looked as if only Rachel’s hand was stopping him slaughtering the trolls right that second. “Right boys,” Rachel smiled cheekily, “let the adventure begin!”
I am so sorry how long this took. I got stuck and couldn't write anything. Please tell me what you think of this chapter and how to improve it. Thanks! Next time...Godric, Salazar and Rachel discover a new adventure involving an old friend...