c h a p t e r  4

close calls

Apothecary - Seasons Playing Cards - Ch4

one night, near the cusp of spring...

the boy found half a dozen fellow wanderers settled around a crackling campfire.

            “M-may I join you?” he asked, quivering in the harsh cold.

            The wanderers had dirty faces and wore rags for clothes. They looked to the boy like they were a thousand years old.

            The eldest gave a solemn nod...and the boy sat down near the fire.

            Rubbing his hands together, he said, “T-thank you.”

            “What brings you to this part of the forest?” asked a wrinkled man with a peculiar pointed nose.

            “Seeking bandits,” the boy shared, looking around the circle. “They stole something that belonged to me.”

            As the fire crackled, the wanderers traded subtle glances.

            “Maybe,” said the eldest to the boy, “you should leave.”

            “Why?” the boy asked, blood suddenly cold.

            “'Cause if you seek bandits, then you seek trouble!

            The elder pitched a fiery log at the boy's feet, making him jump. Heart rattling, the boy collected his belongings and hurried out into the darkness.