“I’m surprised that you are still around here, Edgar,” Ava said with a smile. She felt the cold steel of the knife slip away from her throat and the grip on her loosen. “After that mermaid incident I thought they would have run you out of Talesin.”
“They did,” Edgar responded as he sheathed his knife beneath a gray wool cloak. He ran a hand through his wavy blond hair, winking at Ava. “Now I go by the name of Garion around here. They haven’t figured out who I am yet.”
Ava laughed and shook her head. “You would think that scar would give it away. How many other muscular blond men are there in Talesin with that gash along their jawline?”
“Only one, as far as I know. Planning to stay at the Drasnian Prince, are you?”
“It was the safest place the last time I was here in Talesin.”
“Things have changed,” Edgar said, his expression serious. “The Guild has them in their fold now. You’d be dead or captured before the night was finished.”
“Radek joined the Guild?”
“It was either that or forceful termination of his employment at the Drasnian Prince.”
Ava let out a low whistle as she shook her head. “So where do you recommend I stay?”
“My home is your home,” Edgar said with an exaggerated bow. “I think you’ll like it.”
* * * *
His house was on the other end of town. The crowd parted as Edgar led the way across Talisen, towering over everyone along the way. Ava mused that he was one shiny suit of armor away from being a Mandorellan knight. The thought of him in all that metal made her laugh a little. She would keep that image in mind the next time he owed her a favor. The humiliation he would suffer would easily pay for his debt.
Edgar led her into a tall building made of marble, which stood out like a sore thumb among the run-down shacks and crumbling structures in Talesin. The words “Museum of Monster History” were etched into the stone above the doorway, the letters gilded in gold. Inside the building was crammed with artifacts and old parchments scattered around. Life-size replicas of numerous monsters were displayed around the room, each of them with a famous bard tale nearby. Ava whistled as she took in the surroundings.
“You admire my handiwork?” Edgar asked as he flashed her a grin.
“When did you become a respectable man,” Ava asked, causing Edgar to let out a hearty laugh.
“Who said I have? Let me show you the rest.”
They went down a spiraling staircase and stepped into a cold corridor. A torch burned along either side of the hall, casting a flickering light upon the blue stones lining the walls and floor. Edgar led her into the third door on the left and then stepped aside to let her absorb the view.
Two walls were lined with ancient tomes, all of them free from dust. Five mahogany tables were spread throughout the center of the room, each one with a large map spread among them. The table closest to them had a map showing the density of monster population. She noticed that there was a bright cluster close to where Talesin was marked on the map. Inside the other wall of the room was a gigantic aquarium. Hundreds of fish swam casually through the water in scattered formations. Clusters of coral created an underwater symphony of vibrant hues that stole her breath as she gazed upon it.
“You like it?” Edgar asked, disrupting her thoughts.
“What is this place?” Ava asked.
“This is where the real work is done. I track monster movements, study their habits and ways to kill them, and in my spare time write a few of my own monster hunting tales. Now tell me, Ava, what brings you back to Talesin?”
“I’m on the trail of a doppelganger.”
Edgar frowned and walked over to one of his maps. “I’m guessing it came here from Mulhaven?”
Ava stared at him, her jaw agape. “How did you guess that?”
“I’ve noticed a gradual influx of them in that area. It was a matter of time before one exposed itself to the town.” Edgar scribbled something on a roll of parchment next to the map. “You are certain it came here?”
“It left a trail that a blind man could have followed.”
“It will be tough tracking that down in a town like this. You’re going to need my help if you want to find it.”
This is another installment in the Monster Hunter series. This Scriptic prompt gave me trouble all week, but I finally came up with a way to work it in with this story. Ava just seems to demand that her story should be told, and I’m not going to argue with Ava. Especially now that there is another monster hunter on her side.
I gave Dani at
this prompt: The thing she feared the most was…