Windows down, music playing
, Tim managed to forget the stress of trying to adjust to driving on the left side of the road. With the steering wheel on the wrong side even.
In the passenger seat, Marsh was poring over the map, sadly missing out on much of the gorgeous country side. But he glanced up when Tim snickered. “What?”
“They painted 'slow' on the road back there. And a little bit later they painted 'slower'.”
Marsh smirked. “Gotta love that wry humor. Where are we?”
“You're the navigator.” Tim said. “I'm just along for the ride.”
The two were on a short road trip, trying to locate local sites of pagan spiritual significance. While Tim was after the stories themselves (and hopefully meet local Fae to get their side), Marsh was attempting to determine how prevalent the belief in Fairies was. His own thesis was about the enduring power of ancient beliefs.
Tim had gotten the driver job because as it turned out, he hadn't driven much in the US, so he was likely to have an easier time adjusting. So far, so good.
“Right. Well we should be coming up on...Innbeil. I'm probably pronouncing that wrong.”
“No I think you got it.” Tim said, and sure enough they passed a sign that announced they were entering the town of Innbeil. Their timing couldn't be better. No sooner had they sighted the cozy seaside hamlet, then an unpleasant noise erupted from the engine.
“Looks t' be ye're after kickin' up somethin' from th' road into the engine.” the mechanic said. “Nothin' that can't be sorted, but I don't think I could get it finished till tomorrow.”
Marsh swore under his breath. They'd budgeted a limited amount of time for this side trip, and the car had to be back at the rental place by the end of the week. This town wasn't even on their itinerary.
“So we either spend extra on the car, or we don't get to every place on our list.” Tim grumbled, as they walked towards the town's only hotel.
“I guess it's just as well we sprang for the insurance on the rental.”
Fortunately there were two rooms available at the hotel. The season was beginning, and holiday makers were coming in. That evening, Tim and Marsh tried to talk to some of the inhabitants, hoping to make up for any lost time by collecting some local folklore. But all they got were dirty looks.
Tim actually had been feeling like something was off for a while now.
“Do the folks around here seem...standoffish to you?” he finally asked.
“Maybe they don't like tourists.”
“A tourist town that doesn't like tourists?”
“Just because they have accommodations for 'holiday makers' doesn't make it a tourist town.” Marsh corrected him. “And even then, lots of townies resent outsiders, even if they are willing to take their money.”
But Tim was sure it was more than that. Something was just setting his instincts, honed by years of adventures, on their guard. He noted that the door to his room did not have a lock on it. Frowning, he summoned his sword and put up a shield around the entrance. It would at least buy him time, just in case.
When someone tried to open the door late that night, he was glad he'd listened to his gut. When the door didn't open right away, whoever was out there tried to force it. Tim swore, and was about to summon his sword again, when Marsh burst in from the adjoining room.
“Tim!” he hissed. “Someone's trying to break into my room!”
“Mine too.” Tim said grimly. He thought quickly. “The window, come on.”
He ushered Marsh out first, who dropped carefully into the back garden, and was about to follow, when something caught his attention.
The shield he'd put up around the door was glowing, and he could hear chanting from the hallway. Someone was trying to counteract his spell.
He heard the door give way as he dropped down beside Marsh. “Run!” he ordered, pushing the man ahead of him.
“Run where?!” Marsh sounded panicked. “Our car's in the shop and do you know how far it is to the next town?”
“Let's start with, away, and then figure out the rest when we get there.”
They dashed into the night, and Marsh finally noticed that Tim was armed. “Where the hell did that come from?”
“Long story.” One they didn't have time for just now. He could hear sounds of pursuit already. As they passed a woodpile, Marsh grabbed a stout stick. It was better than nothing.
Tim had a vague plan to get out into the woods and then call Portalocity. And then buy Marsh a drink as he explained all this as best he could.
“Look out!” Marsh shouted suddenly, looking into a nearby ally, his eyes wide. Tim looked, and Marsh smashed him in the back of the neck with his club. “I said look out.”