“I’m not sure how much longer I can put up with this,” Vix muttered. “That Liz is completely insufferable. She’s stupid, that’s what she is. So stupid she doesn’t even know she’s stupid…”
“We have a long way to go, so you better find a way,” Moon puffed on her pipe, then offered it to Vix. “Want some?”
“No thank you,” Vix said. “Messes up my concentration.”
“Take a break,” Moon suggested. “You’re getting way too involved in this. Don’t become one of them. You know we have to keep our distance for this to work.”
Out in the camp, Aeron had six soldiers dragging flowers and vines out of weapon racks and tents. Kira had returned to her tent, whilst Liz first excitedly proclaimed her powers to Ayla, then remembered that she hated her and wandered off, looking for someone else to tell.
Moon and Vix shuffled further back into their little lair behind Kira’s tent, away from the others where they would not be noticed. Smoking and whittling, they passed the time as Aeron’s growling and cursing floated through the camp.
There was much work to be done. Moon blended various herbs and smoked them whilst Vix began assembling a contraption. She was soon at a particularly delicate stage of her hengineering, several bits and pieces of carefully carved wood stacked together, interlocking levers and gears turning round and round.
“What are you two doing?” Ayla’s smooth tones interrupted their industry. Vix panicked, sweeping the entire mechanism into her knapsack and sitting on it. Across the way, Moon let tendrils of smoke escape her nostrils in a display of perfect unconcern.
“Nothing,” Vix said, her mouth dry.
“It doesn’t feel like nothing,” Ayla said, locking eyes with Vix. “It feels like something.”
“What does it feel like?” Moon asked the question cheerfully, flicking her hair back to expose the bare line of her shoulders and breasts.
The distraction did not work on Ayla. She did not so much as glance in Moon’s direction. She held Vix’s gaze with a gentle intensity which seemed to make Vix’s breath come shorter.
“Those clothes suit you much better,” the witch observed, one fine brow rising slightly as her gaze dipped to Vix’s cleavage. “I wonder why you never wore them before.”
“Kira kicked us out with the clothes on our backs,” Moon said, giggling playfully. “Or lack thereof.”
“Uh,” Vix said. “Yeah.”
“I see. Makes one wonder what else was hidden.” Ayla’s tone was not accusatory, it was knowledgeable, which was far worse. She was as intelligent as she was intimidating, standing tall in her robes which swept over the beautiful curves of her statuesque frame.
Vix made a sound that might have been words, but wasn’t. Her face was quite pale, her expression downright stricken. She looked about a guilty as any woman could look. All that saved her from spilling her secrets was the fact that she seemed to be unable to get any words out at all.
Ayla bent at the waist and reached out, letting long fingers drift under Vix’s chin. Vix shivered softly at her touch, gazing up into the witch’s face with an enchanted expression.
“Is there something I should know, Vix, dear?”
Vix managed to shake her head. “No,” she whispered.
“Good,” Ayla replied, her voice purring softly. “If there was something, and you were trying to hide it from me, that would be naughty. And I think you know what happens to naughty girls.”
A bright red blush bloomed instantly across Vix’s cheeks. She stared up at Ayla, entranced like a mouse before a snake.
“We’re just waiting for further orders,” Moon said. “Vix likes to play with her bits and pieces when things are quiet.”
“Don’t we all.” Ayla smiled softly then gracefully turned and walked away, leaving Vix in a fine fettle.
“She knows,” Vix hissed, scooting across to Moon.
“She doesn’t know anything. She’s suspicious, but that’s it,” Moon replied with a carefree wave of her hand. “Quit panicking.”
“You’ve seen what she does to people who cross her,” Vix worried. “She will tear us up if she gets wind of this plan.”
“That’s a risk we have to take. And it’s not even the biggest one. So relax, shut up, and smoke this.” Moon thrust the pipe toward Vix’s mouth.
Vic accepted, puffing up a nervous storm as her knapsack jolted and whirred quietly to itself.