Vix did not know what to say, so she did not say anything. She sat and she whittled and she watched the world unfold as her new found companion chortled in amusement.
“Someone should tell that Moon to put some clothes on,” she said. “Or she’s going to end up with nettles on her nipples and weeds in her wazoo.”
Vix snorted in amusement.
“Something funny?” Ayla turned, giving her a questioning look.
“Just…” Vix indicated the space next to her with her elbow.
“Just…” Ayla shrugged, her ample bosom moving enchantingly with the motion.
“Her who? Moon?”
The interloper grinned at Vix. “She can’t see me. Neither can your naked friend.”
Vix lowered her eyes to her work and tried to figure out what to do next. She was having a conversation with what seemed to be a figment of her imagination. One didn’t go about announcing such things, especially to people one wanted desperately to impress.
“Moon,” Vix mumbled. “Moon is funny.”
“Ah, keeping my secret. I like you,” the invisible-to-everyone-besides-Vix stranger said, nudging her in the ribs with what felt like a very real finger.
“Don’t mind Vix,” Moon said, drawing attention back to her semi-nude self. “She’s just quiet.”
“It’s the quiet ones you have to watch,” Ayla murmured.
Vix kept her head down, but she could feel the witch’s eyes on her. The hairs at the back of her neck were prickling with awareness, telling her she was being observed closely and deeply, past the surface of her skin and right down into her thoughts.
“Relax,” her new companion said. “She can’t actually read minds. She just pretends to.”
Slightly scared but completely curious, Vix pretended to ignore the woman sitting next to her. That didn’t seem to bother the interloper. She stretched out her stocking clad legs, crossed them at the ankles and rested her arms behind her head, lifting her dirt smudged face to the sun. Through frequent glances, Vix deduced that she must be a traveler of some kind. Her clothes were worn and patched, liberally covered in the sort of grime one could only accumulate after weeks on the road.
All of a sudden, Vix became aware that Ayla and Moon were no longer talking. She looked up to find that Ayla was looking at her with a keen gaze which was very unsettling. She knew something was going on, but she didn’t seem to know what. Certainly her gaze did not slip to Vix’s right, to the spot where the intruder sat and sunbathed.
“Problem?” Vix directed the question at the witch.
“You stopped whittling. Something get your attention?”
“It’s a nice day,” Vix said. “I was enjoying the sun.”
“Oh, nice save,” the intruder interjected. “Sun is a good one.”
Ayla glanced around, her eyes darting from the cottage to the trees, to the ground. “Something is amiss.”
“Yes,” Vix said glibly. “Everything.”
“So negative!” Moon launched into a lecture. “Don’t you know that negativity attracts negativity?”
“According to my experiments, negativity repels negativity,” Vix argued. “Metals…”
“I’m not talking about metals, I’m talking about mortals,” Moon said, interrupting once more.
“Suck down some more smoke and shut your mouth,” the intruder growled under her breath. “Happy clappy yippy skippy silliness.”
The corner of Vix’s mouth curled up in a little smile. She couldn’t help it. Whoever this caustic, carefree stranger was, she rather liked her.
“Vix.” Ayla’s calm tones cut through her amusement. The witch beckoned her with a crooked finger. “Come with me.”
There was a little cough next to Vix’s elbow as the stranger slid down in the seat, uttering not so much words as sounds. “Uh oh.”