Short Story: The Waylaid

The pedlar wasn’t going to give up easily. His instinct for a desperate buyer had obviously kicked in by now, and Tomas had very little time to play with.

“So, what you’re saying is that this mirror isn’t worth five pieces of silver? Just look at the finish of it!” His road-worn hands, knotted with early arthritis, still waved an intricate path to show off his wares. Tomas shook his head.

“I’m not paying you five pieces of silver for that mirror, no matter how nice it is.” He continued to stand over the pedlar, refusing to let him pack up his wares in the cart by the roadside.

“You what? But it’s beautiful, look how clear that reflection is! It’s like a still pond on a clear day, not one of your cheap polished bronze efforts!”

“I’m still not paying you for it. Hand it over.”

“This is daylight robbery, get away with you!” The pedlar tried to wave him away, but flinched back as Tomas loomed taller and clenched his fists.

“It would be daylight robbery if it were yours to lose. You found it in that bush over there just five minutes ago.” Tomas had had enough of being patient. The sun was starting to set and he had no more desire to be out in these woods than the pedlar did.

“Eh? How? No! I bought this from a nobleman in Brisingamen last summer. Look at the craftsmanship of this piece young sir, and tell me you wouldn’t see this in a palace.”

“Enough! It’s mine! Give it back!”

“No! I found it, it’s mine, fair and square!”

Behind the trees, the sun dipped below the horizon, breaking Tomas’ glamour. He towered over the pedlar, and growled through his suddenly protruding tusks.

“You- you- you’re a- a-”

“Say it.” Tomas rumbled fiercely.

“A- a- Troll!” The pedlar backed away and fell over a small pile of sacks next to his table. Tomas watched him scramble away into the darkening woods.

Alone, he picked up the mirror, and watched the woods’ reflection dance across the surface. “You’d think he’d never seen a fairy before.” Tomas mused. The mouse in his overstretched shirt’s pocket tutted under his breath in response.

Tomas put the mirror back on the ground, nestled in the embrace of its hawthorn bush, and looked at Archie. “Come on, we’ve a market to get to.”

And with that they stepped back into the Fae Roads through the mirror, which faded with their passing.

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