Vol. 1 - Part 9
“Your little mutt’s out of the way now!” growled the knife-wielding man, moving toward the dog’s owner. “C’mon, Eaton, you lying little shit, tell me where you sold those mirrors! Think you’ll cut off the supplies to my House? That your plan?”
“I’m not a thief, Sable. Put down the knife.”
“No,” said Sable, taking a step closer to Eaton. “You’re worse than a thief, you're a survivor. A liability!” The yellow of his murky eyes intensified. “I should’ve kept you in the shadows, but I was nice, gave you a chance, I let you sell! And what appreciation do I get?”
“I’ll be a Gatherer again, then, or a Craft-”
“And leave me to clean up your mess?” hissed Sable. “You’ve attracted the Melters' attention. Just because we haven’t found the crates, doesn’t mean they’re not scrap silver in her vats! Worthless!”
Sable lunged toward Eaton, who side-stepped him. Sable stumbled into a bench and his knife clattered to the floor. Eaton grabbed Sable by the arm and pinned him to the wall, but he writhed in Eaton’s grip and sent a fist into Eaton’s stomach. Sable slithered loose and disappeared through the double doors.
Coughing, Eaton hurried to where his dog lay. He kneeled down, keeping the entrance in view. His dog was still breathing but remained unconscious.
“You always were a sucker for the injured.”
Eaton spun and stood up.
Sable stood leering, half-hidden by the wall, and spat: “Bandaging up those traitors!”
“If you mean Dara and Oriel-”
“Yes,” he said, eyes ablaze. “Who else? I had ‘em a year before they hobbled off to join Indigo. Ash, too. All because that’s where they thought you’d gone!” He laughed. “Just couldn’t live with themselves!”
Eaton listened to his dog’s breathing as Sable crept into the room. After taking a few steps forward, he came to a stop between his dog and Sable.
“But I found you eventually, didn’t I?” Sable smirked. “In a decrepit little shack by the Canby docks, with that mutt.”
Eaton took a step closer to Sable. The light caught something silver in Sable’s hand. “What’s that?” he asked.
“Oh, you noticed,” said Sable, with a grin. “Just something I've been working on.” He held up a glob of melted silver. Murky yellow rivulets ran from it down his arm and pooled on the floor.
“Sable, you know that’s unsafe,” said Eaton, taking a step back.
“I only made tiny ones,” said Sable, with mock reassurance. “You should’ve seen how many took down the factory!” He laughed, slipping in a murky pool.
Eaton stepped into an aisle to get clear of the liquid, keeping an eye on his dog, and spotted Sable’s knife on the floor nearby. He snatched it up. Sable was distracted steadying himself.
Eaton leaned over a bench and took the discarded mirror.
“It’s too late to try that again,” said Sable. “I’m done with your gimmicks.”
Eaton stepped closer to Sable. “But I thought you wanted me to tell you where I hid the stolen crates?”
Sable’s cloudy yellow eyes brightened.
Eaton stepped closer and Sable’s eyes darkened.
“Your father was a liar, too,” said Sable. “Said he wouldn’t tell Indigo who stole the Crafting herbs, but she still found out.”
“My dad never ratted out you or your father!”
“But he kept his job, didn’t he?” spat Sable, leering close. “And now his son’s trying to take mine away!”
“Put that down,” said Eaton, his voice shaking with anger. “It’s dangerous!”
“You’ll betray me, Eaton, because you’re just like your father!” Sable’s eyes were lost in haze and his voice grew fiercer. “Well, I’m like mine!”
Sable drew a black dagger from his pocket and pointed it at the glob.
Eaton held the mirror tight, made three slashes on its reflective surface and lobbed it into the entryway. The mangled ball of silver in Sable’s hand vibrated.
Sable’s eyes went wide as the ball rose above his hand. Its dripping yellow fluid wrapped around his arm and pulled him through the main doors.
Eaton scooped up his dog and bolted to the back of the building. When he was almost to the far wall, a bang reverberated through the air and he fell to the ground.
Coughing, Eaton opened his eyes. His dog was breathing in his arms, eyes still closed. Silver dust hung in the air and he peered through the haze. The double doors had been torn off their hinges and lay in pieces. The foyer had disintegrated - he could see through to the forest. Everywhere debris was splattered with molten silver.
Eaton crept toward the blasted out entryway, stopping short when he heard something stir.
A misty shape of Sable rose from the wreckage, then dispersed in a silver rain. Sable was gone.
Eaton shook his head as vivid images flooded in. Seven years before, he was out gathering herbs and saw an identical silver mist in the valley below. At first he’d thought it was fog, but when it dissipated there was only rubble - the factory’s foundation, in ruins.
His sigh brought him back to the present. As he picked his way to his truck, he spotted the remnants of the crates he’d brought. Murky yellow oozed from them. Sable’s silver orb had fused with the mirrors and rendered them useless.
A layer of dust covered his truck. Wiping his windows clean, he was relieved to see the truck wasn’t damaged by the blast.
After starting the truck, he looked at his sleeping dog on the seat beside him. The dog’s chest rose and fell, the sound of his breathing filled the cab, but he didn’t wake.
A cloud of silver swirled into the sky. It wouldn’t be long before people came to disappear or worse, investigate. With a sigh, Eaton put the truck in reverse. He glanced in the rearview mirror and was shocked at the sight that met him. Lines ran across his face, around his ears and down his neck. Some had turned from white to silver. Repulsed, he looked away.
Eaton turned off the main road at the first tote road he reached, grateful his truck could easily maneuver the overgrown trail. At a stream, he parked the truck and climbed down the embankment. After splashing water on his face he took deep breaths, then drank greedily with cupped hands. Silver shone through the water on his arms. All his lines had turned silver. Though he knew the lines may not fade, he had at least escaped with his life.
He checked his dog was breathing, then walked a short way into the forest. In the fading light he searched in a clearing for mint, assorted herbs, and clover.
At the stream, he ground the ingredients, mixed them with mud, then spread the paste on a piece of dry bark. He brought his dog down to the stream and gently laid him on the grass. After lathering the paste in his hands, he massaged it into the dog’s still body.
When he was finished, in an attempt at patience, he chewed on some mint and watched the sun sinking beneath the trees.
After countless moments, the dog’s eyes opened.
“Miki,” breathed Eaton.
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