After a long wait, here is the next installment of Mike Finnegan’s story. In the last episode Mike finally meets his first she tinker, but instead of being welcomed he finds himself locked in a room inside the last stronghold of the she tinkers, Willow Keep.
To read the previous episode, click here!
To start at the beginning, click here!
Mike slammed his palm against the smooth grain of the wooden door in anger. It didn’t seem fair. Here he had come all this way, had braved so many obstacles, only to be locked into a room by his own people. He set down his cane on the bed and laid back on the feather woven bedspread. The sweet crisp smell of autumn roses filled the room from a pitcher of warm perfumed water sitting in a washbowl.
Being surrounded by the comforts of a proper tinker home took the edge off of his forced captivity. It reminded him of being back home with his mother. The only thing that would make the memory compete would be a plate of warm almond shortbread and a mug of peppermint tea in a front of a crackling fire.
He didn’t know how long they intended him to stay in there, and he didn’t want to waste a single second. There was still a chance to make an excellent first impression. Using the thick moss hand towel he scrubbed away the dirt from his hands and face and did his best to tidy up his clothes. Izsel was right, the room had everything he needed. He combed his hair and shined his shoes and when he was finished he thought he cut a rather dashing figure.
Now, should they come back he would be ready to receive them. However, he had no intention of waiting. He was a tinker and it was in his nature to solve problems. Being locked in the room was a problem he intended to fix. He returned to the door and inspected the lock and was impressed to find the same complex workmanship like the system that raised and lowered the great tree root at the entrance to the keep.
A lock like that might take hours to work without a proper key, and in a way it made Mike glad. Nothing made him happier than having a tough puzzle to solve. Time ticked away as he examined the workings of the door as best he could. If this were true tinker work there would be a way to open it from his side, he only had to find the secret.
Hours passed, although how many, Mike didn’t know. The light from the tiny window that had grown brighter for a time now started to fade. He now wished he had saved one of those biscuits that he gave to the crazy blue jay as his stomach started to rumble and pinch.
A noise from the hallway caught his attention and he peaked through the keyhole to see Izsel and another she tinker standing there talking in low voices. Judging by the way they glanced at the door it had to be about him. He tucked his tools back into his jacket and brushed the dust from his knees from kneeling on the floor, before returning to sit at the end of the bed. It was a pity for them to come now, he felt with another few minutes he might have figured out the lock.
The door opened and Izsel marched in. She had removed her armor and in it’s place wore a sturdy green cotton tunic with a sword belted at her waist. “You can come in, Nessa, he’s not going to bite you.”
The other woman who had hung back in the doorway took a few cautious steps inside toward Mike. She wore a simple blue dress, which was a pleasant contrast to the stern hard lines of Iszel. Before Mike could make a proper introduction Izsel turned to Nessa. “Has it been long enough for us to know?”
“Know what, what are you talking about?” Mike stood.
The gentle woman approached Mike and looked into his eyes before answering. “We have to know if the curse has affected you. With no he tinkers around we weren’t sure if the curse had run its course or if it was still here.” She raised her hand toward his brow, he caught it before she could touch him. Izsel reached for her sword.
“You mean to say you were willing to risk my life? I’m not sure how I feel about that.”
“You wouldn’t have been in danger, we would. The curse turned the he tinkers violent, they attacked us, killed hundreds. We had to protect ourselves.”
A rage filled Mike that burned at his heart. “So you killed them? Wasn’t there any other way?”
Izsel faced Mike, her face spoke of an unimaginable sorrow. “There’s no need to shout. We tried everything we could. They were incensed, crazy even, in their desire for blood. In the end we had no choice.”
“Who would cast such a curse?”
Nessa leaned against the smooth wood of the wall. “This is a conversation for another time, now that I’ve verified that you are safe you are to dine with the Queen. No doubt you are hungry.”
Mike’s stomach chose that exact moment to rumble, making Nessa smile.
Izsel rolled her eyes. “Men! You’re all alike.”
To be continued…
To read the next episode, click here!