Chapter Six Continued
Going Nowhere, Fast
Drake slung his guitar over his back and headed for the door. There was no point taking anything else as it would only slow him down and he could easily find food from somewhere, even if he had to be a little creative to get it. And anyway, he didn’t intend on being away too long. The only trouble was going to be getting used to the lenses Gizmo had given him to keep him in contact with the warehouse. He could feel them irritating the lining of his eyes, but he’d give anything a go at least once.
He halted at the exit to the warehouse. He could see the Metatron with Willow sitting on top of it, bent double under a bulging rucksack.
‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’ growled Drake, his hands clenched firmly at his side.
‘I’m coming with you.’
Drake’s jaw tightened. ‘Look, thank you for letting me use the Metatron, but I said I was going alone.’
‘I know what you said Drake, but I’m just not listening,’ she said, putting her hands on her hips. ‘I can help, I have magick, you never know when you might need me-’
‘I work alone.’
‘Not this time Drake. This concerns all of us and I’m not prepared to just sit here and do nothing.’ Willow huffed and crossed her arms over her chest.
‘They hate human witches in Nowhere even more than here,’ spat Drake.
‘I don’t care, I’m used to it,’ replied Willow. A few silent seconds passed before she looked at him from under thick black eye-lashes. ‘I’ll let you control the bike.’
Drake looked at Willow sitting stubbornly on the bike. Damn it, there was no point arguing. ‘You do as I say, okay? And for God’s sake what have you got in that rucksack?’
Willow began to run through the list, counting them off with her fingers, ‘I’ve packed some food, rope, my make-up-’
‘Get rid of it.’
‘But Drake, I-’
Drake cut Willow a hard stare. ‘Get rid of it.’
She heaved herself off the bike. ‘Okay, Okay but I get to take my make-up-’
‘Whatever, just get on with it.’
Willow returned five minutes later (a couple of tons lighter) and climbed onto the bike behind Drake. He turned the key to power the machine up; it growled at him as the jets burst into life, the blue-orange flames exploding from the back of its silver body. It slowly rose into the air, where it hovered until Drake hit the acceleration and they sped off in a blaze of fire.
Their journey to Nowhere was swift; within half an hour they had left the oppressive darkness and squalor of the City behind and were travelling through vast forests of leafless trees peppered with the remains of devastated towns and cities. They saw no one; Drake deliberately avoided the other cities, choosing instead the more scenic route through the Wild Country, emerging from the mountain passes as the sun was beginning to fall beyond the horizon and into Mithra’s Realm. In the distance, Drake could see the fortified town of Nowhere, its great timber buildings silhouetted against the setting sun.
Before they hit the main elevated mud road into Nowhere, Drake and Willow discarded the Metatron beneath a pile of dead leaves and branches, under a leafless Sycamore tree; they’d have to come back for it later. The people of Nowhere were not into the gadgets of the modern world, so they continued the journey into town on foot.
Once they’d reached the vast moat that encircled the town they dipped behind a rocky outcrop and observed the Search and Security Team controlling the heavy flow of traffic passing through the gate.
‘How are we going to get past those?’ asked Willow, as she watched a Security Troll pick up a leprechaun by his oversized collar and toss him into the moat. He landed with a great splash and then began swimming to the side, spluttering and panting.
Drake took in the town’s defences; the eight metre high walls with sharp wooden stakes arranged at forty-five-degree angles at their apex, the hulking goblins patrolling along the battlements and the slimy, suckered tentacles of the Kraken surfacing from the murky depths of the black moat as it attempted to devour the flailing leprechaun.
‘We’ll have to wait for a load big enough to hide in,’ he replied, ‘there’s no other way.’
Once the sun had finally said goodbye to the market town, leaving in its wake a grey-blue dusk, Drake and Willow slipped out from behind the rocks and crept closer to the road. They lay down on the great earth embankments, waiting for a suitable load to pass in which they could hide. The road was heaving with traffic; farmers escorting their herds through the gates, long trains of carts filled with cured meats, terracotta pots, and silverware, and brightly clothed entertainers juggling or eating fire.
A farmer with a bad limp headed along the muddy road with his three sons, shepherding a large herd of Tri-horn Hairy Fairy cattle. These huge beasts were much sought after for the magickal properties of their horns, urine and red pelts which were used to make flying carpets in the Middle East. They were completely placid, unless you were trying to brand them with a piece of searing hot iron on their bottoms (not a good idea, as the farmer could testify), and a perfect Trojan horse to get Drake and Willow into Nowhere as they smelt worse than horse poo.
Drake pulled on his hood and motioned for Willow to follow him up the embankment and into the herd of cattle. They thundered along the road at a great speed, which was probably a good job as the air around them was putrid and full of large meat flies which had attached themselves to the cows’ bottoms.
Soon they were passing through the town gates and under the humungous hairy noses of the Search and Security Team and, although the farmer was questioned and his sons were not allowed to take in their broadswords, the group entered Nowhere fairly easily. Once they were safely past the trolls and deep within the Common Marketplace Drake and Willow extricated themselves from the cattle and tried to take a breath of fresh air.
Only the air wasn’t fresh.
The Marketplace was worse than being stuck in the middle of the cattle; it was thick with the smell of rotting fruit, dung and urine. They didn’t know about hygiene or street cleaners in Nowhere; it smelt like one giant toilet that hadn’t been flushed for over ten years. Carts, laden with all types of produce from small milk containers that held infinite amounts of liquid to embroidered silk that kept the wearer toasty warm even in the Artic, trundled over mouldy vegetables, dung and more indescribable things.
Cloaked wizards were enchanting balls of blue light to hang in the air above the market stalls and tiny flower faeries were being strung up around the perimeter buildings. In the background, Purple-haired Pygmy Pigs and Disappearing Dung Donkeys brayed and grunted amongst the chatter and singing of the excited townspeople.
Despite the bright light and the sheer amount of people in the Market place, Drake felt as relaxed as he ever would do in Nowhere. He couldn’t believe their luck; they’d arrived on the Eve of Samhain, a Festival celebrating the end of Summer and the coming of the Dark Days, which entailed lots of drinking, dancing and the slaughtering of lots of animals. Even though he was far from welcome in Nowhere (which would never change because he’d taken off with their dragon) he knew that they were far too preoccupied to notice him or Willow. And if they did, they drunk so much before, during and after feasting, that they would probably think he was part of the entertainment, for at least a little while anyway. All he and Willow had to do was to stay out of trouble as they crossed the market square and get up to Alchymia’s tower at the top of the hill before they sobered up.
But if he did get caught here, well, the consequences would bring more than tears to his eyes. The whole place reeked of the Darkest Ages when humans were rounded up and eaten alive. And if they caught Willow? Well, let’s just say, they hated human witches more than they hated Drake and they would, no doubt, love to make a great spectacle out of killing both of them.
Drake and Willow made their way swiftly across the packed market, both of them keeping on their hoods as a precaution. Drake knew Willow was the weak point at the moment; he could feel her prancing after him, her mind being seduced by the riotous entertainers as they practiced their fire dancing skills. Why had he let her come?
Suddenly he stopped; he could hear a familiar gruff voice rising and falling over the general commotion. He took a sharp intake of breath and waited for Willow to catch him up, not daring to look around or move one more step. As soon as she’d reached his side, he grabbed her to hold her back. He felt her body tense as his cold fingers closed around her arm.
Out of the corner of his eye, he could just see Scarface and the other two dwarves, Ozzy and Elvis.