Bad Brewer Ilan
The glass of wine in her hand. Close, so close to drinking it.
Ilan felt tingles of excitement ping around his body, his fingers drumming onto his knees as he sat there in the stuffy tavern.
She spoke some words and smiled as the two adults with her laughed. Ilan knew that foul smile hiding a wicked heart and although he had only arrived in the village the previous day, it did not take a lot of time to have a unfriendly encounter with her.
No doubt the other villagers felt the same way about her Ilan thought. For some reason, he always detected some caution when they were around her and seemed to make sure they were friendly and laughing with her.
Soon they’d be laughing at her, everyone in the tavern and they wouldn’t care if they did. Ilan had managed to slip one of his concoctions into that wine glass and he eagerly awaited the result. The ‘flatulence potion’ Ilan had created which once drunk, would begin to expel (sometimes fiercely) any trapped air in the body - one way or the other.
She swirled her glass gently and lifted it to her curved red lips.
Ilan stopped his drumming as his fingers folded into his palms and tightened. He leaned forward, transfixed on Lucinda.
One gulp - two.
She lowered the glass and looked at it with a scrunched face, pawing around with her tongue brushing this odd taste from her mouth. Apparently she had not noticed the slight discolouration of the red wine beforehand but now she certainly tasted a difference.
She looked to the adults and muttered something and returned her gaze to the glass.
A feeling of suspense flushed through Ilan.
Any moment now...
She fumbled the glass down onto the heavy table and covered her mouth. She suppressed a cough and another and rose to her feet. The third cough came out with more force and her free hand shot out and grabbed the man she was with to stabilize herself.
Another hard cough sent her back to the bench and soon grew into a fit of coughing, sending her one hand flailing along the table and the other clutching her throat.
The joyful smile of Ilan shrank away and his face grew puzzled. His eyes had been locked on Lucinda all this time but now he began to notice what was happening around her. The portly man and well-dressed lady she was with now stood aghast over her, one getting water whilst the other tried slapping her on the back which only seemed to anger Lucinda, as she began to crumple towards the floor.
The other drinkers were becoming aware of this scene. Some sat wide-eyed, others exclaimed they’d get help and barreled toward the heavy oak door of the tavern.
Ilan’s hazel eyes widened. He sat frozen on the bench taking in this scene now unfolding. Whether the crackling fireplace had anything to do with the surge of heat through Ilan he did not know, he was just a statue.
People rushed around her as cries of “Water!” and “Choking!” bounced across the room accompanied by the hollow thuds of boots scattering on the planked floor.
Things happened so fast. Ilan meekly slid his hand into the pocket of his rough-spun robe and felt the tops of his three potion bottles. He looked to the floor and tried to focus.
It was the right one...it definitely was!
He glanced back to the girl who now made no movement. Surrounded by panicked peoples, Ilan could just make out her face, devoid of that rosy colour from before.
Confusion split across his face. Although his mind was frozen, his legs knew what to do. They pushed Ilan up and snapped him out of his trance. His hand withdrew and fell to his side as he turned to the door and swiftly marched towards it. The oak door had flung open and closed as people rushed out to get other people and those people to rush back in, all wild eyed and in shock. The shouts began to blur into a continuous voice, one of horror, as Ilan aimed closer for the door.
Ilan felt the atmosphere flash from shock to suspicion and the dotted shouts died down into a sharp one that barked commands. He pattered across to the exit and was welcomed into the night by a cold, blasting wind as he stepped out of the village tavern.
He shuffled forward along the worn path. Blasts of his breath blew out in front of him as he kept up his march to anywhere.
Ilan could feel the fear spread through his body and he wanted nothing more than to just burst out of his skin and run as fast as he could and as long. He wouldn’t though, he wouldn’t dare. Too scared to run, too scared to stop, he carried on, bewildered at what had just happened.
A hurried rhythm of his feet slapping along the dirt path propelling him forward became the new sound as the ruckus at the tavern died away. The night lashed its chilling winds at Ilan as he kept his pace along the path, barely noticing the two figures as they moved in a similar fashion towards the tavern. Puffs of his breath became less frequent as the fresh night air brought him back to some senses.
He pulled up his hood and flicked his eyes around, trying to determine where he was in this village that he’d only known for little more than a day. He could see the tops of the trees that neighboured the village, left the path and scurried through the gaps between some other thatched roof buildings.
Did I use the wrong one? No...Even if I did, that should never have happened...
His brow furrowed as he thought back. He made his way through another gap and gained a small shot of determination as he saw the opening to the forest about fifty metres ahead of him with its tall, waving cloaks of green shrieking at him, calling him to safety. Whatever had happened, he was determined to just get out of this village. His puffs came back as controlled bursts as he hurried into half a skip and a run. The rustles of the uncut grass swathed into the winds as they bent into one another, obeying the wills of his feet as he trounced through the tall grasses on the outskirt of the village.
Suddenly a ferocious yell pierced through the night like a slew of arrows carrying its message, “GO!”. As if struck by one, Ilan tensed up and just exploded towards the forest. His limbs red hot burning through the chilling winds whilst the hand of fear clutched his heart tightly. He flew towards the opening, battered by the winds. He dare not look behind him, his eyes only fixed on the treeline as they grew in number, taller and deeper, even menacing as they came to embrace Ilan into its dark unknown.