An old fox woman sat on a crate by the side of an old oak tree. She was knitting herself some socks, and smiling at the two acolytes from behind her silver fur and horn-rimmed spectacles.
“Now who might you two be?”
Greta pushed herself in front of Rafe. “Greetings. I am Greta von Hammersmit, and that is Rafe Cauley. We’re with the Order of the Flawed Snowflake, an organization that…”
“Puts its nose into everyone else’s business,” The fox woman said. “Specially if we mention the gods.”
Greta’s face blanched, but she regained her composure. “Ma’am, we don’t dismiss deities…”
“You just don’t want anyone to believe in them.” The fox woman smiled. “Don’t pay me no mind. I’m just an old fox doing some knitting.”
“Well, actually, maybe you could help us,” Greta said. “We’re actually looking for an old legend. A small cave or tomb, located somewhere around here.”
The woman frowned, and thought about it. “There are more than a few hollows in the forests, but nothing legendary.”
Rafe sighed, and looked at her. “Could we maybe speak with some of the fae around here? Someone who was around maybe a century ago?”
“A century? Oh, no.” The fox smiled. “No fae live around here. Haven’t for decades.”
“No one?” Greta asked.
“Not a one.” The fox leaned forward. “Too many humans, you know.”
“Of course.” Greta leaned forward, and whispered in the woman’s ear.
“I’m not quite that old, little one,” She chuckled.
Greta shuffled so Rafe couldn’t see, and flashed something else. The fox’s eyes narrowed, and she pushed Greta away.
“I don’t know nothing about what you’re talking about!” She said. “Now let me go back to my knitting.”
Rafe chuckled as they walked away, Greta dejectedly.
“What’s so funny?” Greta asked.
“You really are something,” Rafe said.
“I was just trying a softer approach than shooting everything!” Greta said.
“How?” Rafe asked. “Letting everyone know you’re a secret spy?”
“How did…” Greta started coughing, and rolled on the ground. She stood up, calmer. “I, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Not at all?” Rafe said. “So I didn’t see your special secret spy-in-training badge in your bag last night?”
Greta gasped. “That was private!”
Rafe shrugged. “Then find a better hiding spot.”
He smiled. “So. Trying to join the Seekers on a probation period. That’s a big jump for a secretary.”
“Receptionist.” Greta said. “And this was going to be field experience.” She sniffed. “Not that I’m confirming anything.”
Greta walked faster, and pointed at him. “I don’t like you.”
“Don’t go out to the caves my dear, the gods are feeling wild…”
“Bad fashion sense.”
“Wait!” Rafe held up a hand. “What was that?”
“They need some faith and a little blood…”
The two looked around. There! The children dancing around another tree, laughing.
“Specially from a young child.”
Greta opened her mouth, but Rafe beat her to it.
“Hey, kid!” He shouted. “Which way are the caves?”
“We’re not supposed to go to the caves, mister!” One of them shouted.
“Yeah, but which way are they?” Rafe asked.
They pointed west. “Down a ravine, and over the stream you’ll find it.” One of them said.
“You HAVE been there!” Someone else shouted. “I’m telling mom…ow!”
Rafe smiled. “We have the caves.”
copyright 2018 Jack Holder