Fictober, Prompt 8 – “Can’t you stay?”
Warnings: none. Fantasy, with a snake friend.
I felt my tracking spell die as I climbed out of the culvert and scrambled up the dirt embankment that rose just outside the city limits. Cursing, I hauled myself up faster, and darted across the road and through the trees on the other side.
Coming to a halt at the edge of the huge field that suddenly stretched out before me, I quickly pulled the tuft of fur out of the pouch at my belt and crouched down to perform the spell again. It should still work, I had only nabbed the fur a short time ago.
The spell flared to life…and then promptly died again.
I stared at the fur, and then out at the field. Distance shouldn’t have been an issue, not at this range, and even if there were a lot of rats here, it should still have worked.
But, the tracking spells were not perfect, and a large number of rats might be enough to confuse it, especially if there were any that might be related to the one I had tracked.
I stared out at the field again in deepening dismay. How was I to find a single rat in this huge field without my tracking spell? I couldn’t just let it go. More people were falling ill by the day, and my searching had led me to that rat, specifically. I had to get my hands on it, or the illness was going to spread, and that inevitably meant that a lot of people were going to die.
I started running through the list of possible spells that I could use, wondering if there was any way I could modify the tracking spell sufficiently to get it to work—
Something moved, slithering, out of the corner of my eye, and I jerked my gaze down.
Along the edge of the grass came a snake, a large one, patterned light with regular dark patches down the length of its body, shading from nearly black to light brown.
Slowly, I crouched down.
The snake froze, clearly looking at me. It flicked its tongue once, but otherwise remained still.
“Ah, hello,” I told it in a soft voice, carefully reaching out one hand, letting magic spark low at my fingertips. “Would you be willing to help me, perhaps?”
The tongue flicked again, out-up-down-in, but the snake did not move.Continue reading