Chapter Three - Trouble Calling
"I feel like I've read this part already," Mederei muttered as they circled the port city where they had entered the island.
"Same location, different ending," Luna promised. She leaned over the side of Hugh's body to look between the crevice of his wing and body to the earth below. "Any idea where we will find him?"
"This town has several bars, brothels and other locations," Ramses said. "Any one of them could be the place, so we'll have to split up to find him. Hugh and I will start down by the water front, and you two start upland farther."
"You just want us away from the action," Mederei complained.
Keeping you as far away from any action as possible is always the top priority, Hugh informed her. For someone as small as you are, you manage to find more trouble.
Mederei patted his neck. "You are absolutely no fun, and who are you calling small? I have you know I am above average in height, and only slightly above average in weight."
And all trouble. It's like the damn nuisances are drawn to you.
Luna intervened. "You're the one who tends to bluster into places demanding this that and the other thing be done immediately, while Hugh and I have to clean up your mess." She turned slightly to glare at Ramses. “And he’s never any help.”
"You sound angry," Mederei said to them both. "I'm not nearly as bad as you make me out to be, my brothers are much worse - look at Brys."
Hugh rolled, allowing Mederei to fall off his back. She stretched out her arms and hung in the air. "You don't have to be a spoilsport, Hugh," she said as they plummeted to the earth.
"And you don't have to always rush into things," Luna yelled back.
"I don't." Mederei drew her body in close to cross her arms and legs and glare at the large reptilian head falling with her. She rolled her eyes. "Fine. Uncle. I admit I'm stubborn."
Hugh lifted an eyebrow.
"And rush into things."
Hugh lifted the other eyebrow.
"And cause trouble." Mederei looked down. "We're almost there. You should stop falling."
Hugh nipped the back of Mederei's back and tossed her onto his back before spreading his wings to break their fall. Once on the ground, Hugh shook off the remnants of his scales. "Are you going to behave?"
Mederei stopped mid-stride and tossed her retort over her shoulder, "Stop acting like you’re my boss."
Hugh pointed to himself. "Who's the adult, and who's the child?"
Luna grabbed Mederei's arm and dragged her away from the amused males. A spurt of ice at their feet made both men jump, though.
"Next time he pulls that one on me," Mederei said, now walking beside Luna after seeing Luna's show of strength. "I'm going to give him what for."
"Of course you are," Luna placated. "But, we must do it in a place where no one else can see your powers. Now, where should we go first?"
A large man crashed out of a nearby business. He barely missed the cart full of watermelons sitting outside the bar, but managed to run into the barrel of ale. Pausing against the barrel, he took a shuddering breath and began to rise only to collapse on the ale.
Mederei pointed at the commotion.
Luna rolled her eyes and followed after. Inside, the crowded bar was strangely silent as a man in a tall hat stood in the center of the room with a wand in his hand. His hand shook, but his back remained straight.
"Where is that good-for-nothing lowlife?" The man demanded, his slow Northern accent strange-sounding in the room.
The men and women in the room glanced at each other but said nothing. The barkeep raised a hand for Mederei and Luna to disappear, but they remained.
"Let me know where he is!" The man ordered, this time, shooting a spell into the air. The room brightened a moment then the light coalesced on a solitary figure in the back by the piano.
"You made my girl cry - you good-for-nothing lowlife," the man screamed. "How dare you make her cry! She's home now with your get, and you ain't done nothing for her. And you call yourself a man."
Luna tugged on her left ear, and pointed with her finger towards the door.
The two girls backed slowly towards the door, but stopped at a gruff, "Where you think you're going?"
Behind them two more surly looking men, obviously related to the one in the middle, stood. "We're here to take care of a little family matter, and you two seem to know the place," Right announced.
"Why are we always mistaken for locals?" Luna grumbled.
Mederei shrugged then smiled at the two men. "Listen, fellows, the chap you're after is over there, hiding behind the piano. Your relation already discovered him. Now, we're hunting for another bloke who has our family in a dither, and we need ..."
The one who spoke plunged his fist towards Mederei's head. "None of your yapping."
"I do not yap," Mederei argued, dodging his fist and stepping back from the man. "I'm merely making it known that we just arrived here."
"I saw you pointin' your finger when my brother kicked out that fellow."
Luna touched thumb and forefinger to her forehead and shook her head slowly. "Trouble has you targeted, I swear."
"At least Hugh and Ramses can't blame me for walking ... oh, wait. I did."
The girls sat down at the nearest table with empty chairs and waited. "Who you looking for?" One of the patrons asked as the two other men rounded on the hapless fool.
"A card shark who apparently uses magic with his cards."
"Oh, I know who you mean. Only one of those that wizards be after - he likes to hang out at the Golden Cock."
"Thanks," Mederei said.
"You should leave while their backs are turned," the man said as he skittered away.
"You know they're going to beat him up, don't you?" Luna observed, leaning back in her chair. Her deadpan attitude belying her clenched fist on the table.
"Yeah," Mederei agreed, equally bored. "Wonder if he even knew about the baby."
"I swear, I was coming back as soon as I made some more money. That's all ..." the man whimpered.
"We should help him," Mederei suggested.
Luna relaxed her fist. "One's a wizard."
"Yeah, but that's a simple spell he did. My baby sister can do that."
Luna flattened her hand on the table. "They aren't going to be happy."
Mederei glared at the table. "Spoilsport." She rolled her shoulders and leaned forward, pushing herself upright.
Beside her one of the men, tugged on her arm to pull her back onto the chair. “Ain’t wise, girl. Them boys are much bigger than you are.”
“As if that’s enough to stop us.” Luna flicked an immobilization spell at the three men just before their punches landed. “I’ll wait at the doorway.”
Mederei rose and walked forward. "I would suggest you leave now," she said to the man the other three were about to pummel. He was two-thirds their sizes, and easily half their weight. "Did you know about the baby?"
He blubbered a moment then stopped. "I did," he said. "But I was working to build a better life for us down here." He escaped away from the three men.
"Medi! There's a ruckus going on down the street. Some crazy wizards," Luna said from the entrance. "You sorted?"
The immobilization spell snapped off and three powerful punches landed against Mederei, but she only stepped back a moment and shook her head as an adult would do to a naughty child. The men, however, howled in pain, cradling their arms. "See," Mederei said, stepping around them, "before you go injuring yourselves, you should first get the entire story."
"What are you?!"
"A wizard with some powerful magic." Standing on her tiptoes, Mederei placed a hand on the head of the two men closer to her and commanded, down.
They dropped to their knees.
"Now," she whispered, her voice poisonously sweet, "since your relation is expecting a baby, and her man is trying his hardest to help, maybe you three should return home to help in the meantime. Or else."
"Or else what?" The third demanded.
Mederei reached for his arm and under her palm pressed the emblem for coward into his skin. "Or else this mark will never leave your arm."
The man scratched at the magical tattoo.
"When next we meet, if you have remained honest and courageous, I will remove the mark from each of you. Otherwise, it will forever remain the brand of your life."
Outside, Luna rolled her eyes. "Was that necessary?"
"Made them think."
"Medi, you're going to cause someone a great deal of trouble when you try to improve people's lives. Some people just don't want to be a better version of themselves."
"We should give them every opportunity."
"You need to learn to discern faster." Luna pointed down to the docks. "That's the way the boys went, so we should probably find them all around there before you cause more trouble."
"It was resolved."
Luna glanced around them. "Yeah, about that. People are going to wonder since you rarely pull out your wand. You're going to be titled a strong wizard, and people will want to challenge you."
"Like Hugh says, 'Let them'."
"Hugh, as a demidrake, can say that. You shouldn't. Just remember that." Luna held out her hand to stop a man running past them. "Can you tell us where the Golden Cock is?"
"That way," the man said, pointing behind him. "But I wouldn't go there. Two mages are attacking a card shark."
Mederei glared in Hugh's and Ramses' direction. "And they complained about me causing trouble."