IV. "The Thief, GAVAL"
Page 4

        In a pup tent fifteen minutes later Kysha was feeding Cory ibuprofen from her pharmacy-like backpack. Cory barely seemed aware of his surroundings, yet managed to swallow the orange caplets with a swig from her canteen. It was quiet outside. She imagined it wouldn’t be long before someone, likely Garland the Slayer-Baker, brought up food and perhaps started up a fire. She also imagined Gaval bursting into the campfire demanding they march another five miles before they rested for the evening.

        Pursing her lips she decided to enjoy what peace the moment afforded and let her smooth red hair down for just a little while. That bun on the back of her head was so tight it felt like it was pulling her eyes open all afternoon. Now that it was loose and comfortable her eyes seemed so heavy and sleep a very welcome prospect. She leaned over to her backpack again, replaced the generic brand ibuprofen, and grabbed a small black leopard print eyeglasses case. In it was a contact lens case full of slimy saline solution and a pair of turtle shell Ralph Lauren eyeglasses. She popped out one of the gas permeable contact lenses and placed it in the case carefully with her dirty post-battle fingers.


        Before she could remove the other one the tent zipper flew down and a voice whispered from outside.

        “Who’s in there?”


        “Me,” she whispered, reaching for her glasses. She put them on, then grimaced because she was still wearing one of her contacts and one eye was over corrected.


        “Kysha,” It was Gaval. She squinted at him in the blur and couldn’t make out much except for an orange blur. She figured it was the red lens on his military style flashlight shining on his face.


        “Yeah? They’re lookin’ around for you ya know…”


        “Ah’m goin’ on an errand. I want you all to wait here for me. Shouldn’t be too long. Ya’ll take a break and Ah’ll be back before ya know it,” said the orange blur quickly. Kysha could make out his fedora hat over the orange blur. She quickly struggled to take out her other contact lens so that her glasses would do the trick. She felt completely vulnerable when she couldn’t see, and she hated not being able to trust her own eyes. She could have sworn the orange glow was coming from his eyes and that couldn’t be right.


        “You are not goin’ after that Spectre alone, Gaval!” She closed up the case and reached for her glasses. They had fallen into the folds of Cory’s sleeping bag.


        “No, Ah’m just goin’ get us what we need to stop it. Be back soon…” His voice trailed off as she brought her glasses up and watched Gaval’s shadow rapidly disappear into the dark hills around them.


********


"BLURRY"

        Taking matters into his own hands felt good. A broken arm and several ribs of like status were mending now. Gaval, clothing torn and bones creaking was moving quicker and quicker through the darkness, eyes aglow, letting the Dark Rush repair a body which suffered what should have been a mortal fall down a gorge that should have been his grave.

        He knew from what he had seen that the training he had spent so much time on with the Spectre-Hunters was going to waste without the equipment they had based their training on. He knew they weren’t ready when Plague-Sever had decided to burst through their party before they had gotten a chance to reach a town and restock on weapons, armor, and provisions.


        It was time to get things back on track and moving all those kids with the Rogues questioning his every move would make restocking the group a weeks-long process. With his strength and speed he could dash to the nearest town, get what the group needed, and be back at camp with everything it would take to destroy the Spectre by sunup.


        Sitting around and waiting for them would have been maddening. He had no patience after looking his prey in the eye sockets; after being so close. Besides, he needed the time to heal up. He knew he could have made that jump had he timed it a bit better; had he not hesitated.


        But how would he get what he needed? He had no money. His credit cards were just short of maxed out after paying for a couple of the kids’ plane tickets. He only had enough of a balance left on the plastic to maybe pick up a pistol or a car battery and some wire or a silver knife or two. The Spectre was still close. He didn’t have time to haggle with shop clerks. Plus, everything in these small Euro-villages was closed this late anyway.


        There was only one option. Yes, it was acceptable. He could return anything he borrowed after the greater threat was dealt with. It was the lesser of two evils. He would have to take what he needed. People would die if he didn’t.


        Thus began Gaval’s pillaging of Fellengater Austria:


        He knew silver wouldn’t be easy to find in such a small village, but find it he must. Silver became the object of his lust. Wherever it could possibly be found, he would look there. Breaking and entering never approached his train of thought.


        Upon entering the village he wasted no time pulling the door off of a small farmhouse as quietly as such a thing could be done. No silver in there. The jewelry box contained nothing but a little gold chain and mostly fake gemstones. Tying up the couple in the house was a matter of locking them in the bathroom. No words were spoken on his part. He didn’t speak the language. If they had spoken to him in English he still wouldn’t have understood. His language that night was the language of “Au.”


        Next he dove through the window of a bakery. He sifted through the cutlery: nothing but steel. There was money in the trey of the register there, but he ignored it. A few Euros wouldn’t buy the team squat.


        Then there was a small school. He went strait to the science classroom and look for anything experimental that involved silver. A small sliver of silver for electrical experiments was there. He savored its smooth feel and dug it into his leather coat pocket. He searched the shelves. Sulfur, mercury, carbon powder, sulfuric acid, Chlorine. He stopped there. Locked up with the sulfuric acid and Chlorine was a clear beaker labeled “HCl.” Hydrochloric acid. He thought about the lemons drops he had been snacking on. The lemon juice he sipped on. Sour. Acids were sour. This wasn’t citric acid but it was still sour. He took the acid beaker and thoughtlessly took a sip. He winced, but only for a moment. It was sour, but it sure didn’t burn his tongue off. In fact, he thought, I can dilute this… He poured some of the acid into a glass vial and then mixed it with water. He drank it. He savored it. The stuff would be coming with him.


        Peering into windows in the hamlet and finding his way around was easy. He could see in the night as clearly as he could see through the Spectre’s invisibility when Rushed.


        He paused only briefly, staring up into a church’s stained glass, before punching through it and then pulling aside enough pieces to get in himself. He figured it would be cheaper to fix the glass than it would the door. In the church he grabbed what holy objects he could find: a silver chalice, a crucifix that was at least plated in silver in some spots. There wasn’t much else. He violated the sacristy and found a silver saucer with vials of water and wine on it. There simply wasn’t time to feel any guilt. After all, wasn’t he doing god’s work?


        An antique shop at the heart of town was next. In it he found much more. Silver antiques were scattered throughout the shop on some of the shelves. He found at least five pieces of silver, most of them cutlery or dishes, when the gunshots rang out in his ears. Guns, he thought as he fell to the floor his duffel bag full of spoils clanging, I need to pick up some guns too.


        He had been Rushed now for a solid hour and it was affecting his mind. He stumbled to his feet and saw with his glowing orange eyes an old man wielding a rifle that had to be of World War I vintage. It’s mostly made of wood! , he marveled. The man was shouting in German some sort of threat or curse. Gaval didn’t care. He needed more silver. He didn’t notice the profuse bleeding from his abdomen either as he picked up a player piano and threw it at the shopkeeper. He missed on purpose but the intended affect was achieved. The old man hobbled out of his own shop through the hole in the door behind him shouting something about “nosferatu.”


        He thinks I’m a vampire, grinned Gaval as he turned to look for more spoils. The Rush was trying to heal him, but he had lost so much blood that consciousness was waning, and his lust for silver was leaving him in a state of apathy that wouldn’t let him tend to his wounds.


        Torches appeared at the windows shortly thereafter with the sounds of an angry mob. It was the last thing he noticed before passing out in the arms of a dark stranger who seemed to fly through the village of Fellengater, Austria and into the woods like a bat out of hell.


        “We’ve been looking for you, Slayer,” echoed that voice….


********





On to Page 5