Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 77

PART TWO That evening, as the sky dimmed and the city brightened, the pair re-emerged. Abrodail’s hair now hung in a loosened braid, while the child pranced along as energetically as ever. Khellus held back in the shadows as they passed, and then slipped into their footsteps. They walked without fear through the dwindling foot traffic until, half an hour later, they reached a more domestic stretch of city blocks. There, small homes nestled side by side, replacing shopfronts with cosier abodes, where candles, lanterns, and faelights flickered in the windows. Children darted about, but Abrodail’s daughter didn’t join them. Instead, she watched the play with a distant curiosity, as if uncertain what these other laughing, scampering creatures might be. At last, they reached one home with a clay-tiled roof and a green door. Abrodail and the child went inside, leaving Khellus to ponder his next move from across the street. Her husband didn’t appear home, so he’d need to time this well. The fewer involved, the better. Choosing the straightforward approach, he strode up to the door and knocked. After a moment, footsteps pattered up. The latch clicked and the door opened a few inches, enough to let one of the girl’s dark eyes peer up at him. “Hello,” she said in the serious manner of a child. “Who are you?” He tried for a harmless smile. “Hello. I’m an old friend of your mother’s.” Her face scrunched up. “No you aren’t.” Khellus raised an eyebrow. “Why do you say that?” “’Cause mommy’s friends are all nice, and you don’t look nice.” He crouched, arms on his knees. She didn’t draw back, though she remained clinging to the latch. “Sometimes,” he said, “nice-looking people aren’t,