Ela & Martialla in “Fool’s Moon”

One thing (of many) I’ll never understand about Martialla – how is it that when she wants to sneak up on someone (generally to kill them) she’s silent as a ghost, but otherwise she stomps around like a pregnant heifer wearing steel shod boots?  Normally it doesn’t bother me, it’s nice to hear her coming most of the time, but when she’s hovering over me working it’s maddening.  Her thundercloud face and crossed arms smashing down her already flat chest didn’t help either.   

“I don’t like this” she said shaking her head like a disappointed schoolmarm. 

“Yes, I managed to divine that fact based on the seventeen thousand times you said it already, now shut up, I’m working.” 

Not only did she not shut up she clomped over to loom over me and block out the light like a grumpy mountain, only because I was sitting though, she’s NOT taller than me “We shouldn’t be doing this.” 

“Get out my light, do you want to cast these fucking things?”  With a grunt she moved back for a moment, but the second I clipped off the silver ball she was crowding up on me like a child clinging to their mother’s leg.  I elbowed her in the shin and immediately regretted it since she’s so boney and rocklike, I wasn’t going to let her see that I hurt my elbow though.  “Back off me Mar, I know it’s been a while since you found a stableboy to roll around in the dirt with but it ain’t happening.” 

“This is wrong” she said resolutely and boringly.   

I sighed and pushed her away as I got to my feet and stretched “Yes, you’ve made your feelings on the subject abundantly fucking clear.  By all means though let’s continue to pick at it.” 

“I just think we should discuss it is all” she muttered.   

I stretched tall and then knelt down again to start putting the silver balls in a little leather bag “We have discussed it Mar, endlessly we’ve discussed it, what else is there to say?  We’re fucking broke and this is a job.  If you have another plan for us I’d like to hear it.”  She didn’t have one of course, she just grunted like an old man “We need money.  Unless you want to start hooking this is what we have on the table.” 

“You’re always saying that I’m too ugly to be a prostitute.” 

I tied off the sack of silver and tucked it in a pocket “You’re plenty ugly, that’s the Gods truth, but I never said that because there’s no such thing, men would hump a log with a dress on it for the right price, you’re better looking than a log.  Not a fancy log, but you know.” 

“Of course, not a fancy log” she nodded absently “They’re innocent, is the thing, it don’t feel right.” 

I took out a bottle from another pocket and enjoyed (sort of) a drink of very poor-quality brandy, forging silver bullets is hot work you know “Innocent?  Innocent of what?   They’re wolf-men, and women, when did you get so squeamish about killing monsters?” 

She gestured around vaguely with her arms wide “There was peace here for fifty years, this is going to be a bloodbath Ela, it seems like this could be avoided if we think it through, there has to be another way.” 

I frowned at her as I tucked the bottle back away safely “I think you’re confusing peace and extortion again here my old chum.  These people can’t afford to give up their cattle anymore, it’s going to be a bloodbath either way.  What is up with you?  Did you convert to one of those old faith religions where people turn into animals?” 

“I don’t like being on the side that breaks the peace.” 

I reached out and poked her in the chest “Are you for real?  Is this an illusion?  Have you been replaced with a doppleganger?  You have to tell me if you’re a doppleganger, that’s the law.” 

She swatted my hand away “Don’t paw at me.” 

I raised an eye in mock concern “I’m just saying the Martialla I knew would never balk at a preemptive strike.  Besides which, the peace has already been broken.  Last full moon, the mayor and his whole family disappeared, the kind of disappearance where there’s splintered doors and broken windows and blood everywhere.” 

“That could have been goblins.” 

I nodded “Sure, the first full moon after the villagers fail to fork over their extortion cows to a mob of werewolves a family is kidnapped by goblins, that could absolutely be the case.” 

She looked off towards the river, and the dark, hoary werewolf infested woods beyond “We don’t have any idea how many of them there are.” 

I nodded approvingly “There you go, switch to presenting tactical concerns, what were you thinking trying to persuade me with moral issues?  We have no idea how many of them there are, that is true, I say to you again my bosom but not bosomy companion, what’s your plan?  We could wait until the werewolves kill everyone and then just take the money they’ve promised, assuming it’s still here.  How about that?” 

Martilla shifted her gaze towards the village crouched ape-like on our side of the river “Do you think they even have the money they promised us?” 

“No, I think they’re hoping we die and they don’t have it pay us, but we can get twenty gold a pelt at Fort Thunder.  So let’s hope there’s a lot of wolfmen, and women, in there, but not too many.” 

Martialla continued looking at the river for a moment before squatting down by the fire and taking out another small silver bar to melt “I don’t like striking first in this case.  They haven’t done anything for sure.” 

“Yet” I really popped my T “Yet.  What would you like to do?  Fortify the village, go on the defensive, wait for them to attack on the full moon?  I’ve never known you to be interested in a fair fight.  What would your masters at the Royal War College say about that?” 

She poked sullenly at the slowly melting bar “Something boring no doubt.”  She looked up at me “Is this all the silver we have?” 

I nodded “Yep, I’d say we’re going to have no more than fifty bullets in total, so make your shots count girly.” 

She sat back from the fumes of motel metal “What happens if we run out of bullets before we run out of werewolves?” 

I gestured strongly “Then we fight by blade and spell like our ancestor of yore, primitive screwheads that they were.  You’ll probably die but I might get away.  I have a weird kind of luck when it comes to not dying.  Things just seem to work out for old Ela.” 

“Which God do you think is responsible for that?” 

I looked skyward piously “I bet they take turns.” 

She smirked “I have heard that about you.” 

I wagged my finger at her “I could have you hung for that insinuation Martialla, I’ve been faithful to my lord husband since our wedding night, no one can question my chasteness.” 

 She raised an eyebrow “Was that before or after you poisoned him?” 


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