• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 11

The Warning

We trudged out of the wilderness to be greeted by hospitable villagers providing us with food and drink. Our languages were sufficiently similar for us to converse. Over the course of the meal, we found out that our quarry had passed through less than two days ago. They had taken the valley road around the protruding high moor and, unless we found a short cut, they would be across the border before we overtook them.

The village head said there was a path over the moor but that it was very dangerous. The moor was riddled with bogs and quagmires, and it would be fatal to stray from the path. She also hinted that there were worse things on the moor. She suggested we stayed overnight and choose our path in the morning. Jaran and I agreed that if we waited there would be no hope of catching the quarry, and given the brightness of the full moon, we agreed to press on over the moor. The village head argued with us for a while, but, in the end, she shrugged, gave us some food and water, and wished us well.  

We huffed and puffed our way up the steep incline and were relieved to see the moonlit path winding into the distance. We walked for about an hour with little conversation. Then I spotted something gleaming in the moonlight. Jaran shoved me out of the way as I bent down to investigate. The tussle was brief. Jaran did a triumphant jig. I told him not to put it on, but he chanted, 'Mine, mine, I found it!' Then he slipped it onto his middle finger. He laughed then tried to pull it off, but it stayed on. He rubbed and pulled. There was a flash and a tiny youth dressed in red hovered by his face.

Jaran held out his hand. The youth landed. Jaran asked if he was a genie. The youth shook his head and said he was a spirit. Then Jaran asked if he


The Warning

would get three wishes. The youth shook his head again, then transformed into a skeleton with tattered flesh and the stench of decomposition. The skeleton said that Jaran would be his servant, and with another flash they both vanished.