Episode One: The Horn: Scene 23

They didn’t entirely believe him. Barry got a warning and then grounded for the duration. Which made me wonder if that was part of the plan.

I hadn’t planned on hanging out with him anyway, but it was seriously unfair. It wasn’t as if he’d done anything. He’d just been seen with me once too often. Now I couldn’t be seen with him anyway – they always watched us for any signs of drug use. I’d be grounded to the house if I did anything that even made them think I might be on something.

Which was another reason not to tell my therapist anything. I lay on the bed in my room, wishing I could leave for good; but as much as running away appealed, I was smart enough to know where that road ended for most girls and many boys. And where the end of that road was, but I did have one advantage; any pimp who tried to add me to his stable would end up hurting or dead.

And then I’d end up in jail. Whatever way I looked at it, it boiled down to the same thing. I needed backup and I needed friends. Thea might be backup. Looked at it the right way, Mr. Otter might even be backup. But neither of them could be friends.

I got up and stalked out, down the stairs, out into the street. I was actually hoping for Mr. Otter to show up but, of course, he didn’t. Instead, I stopped outside the pawn shop.

Yup. There it was. “Come to me,” I whispered. It was as good a tactic as any, and then I tried to reach through the glass as if it wasn’t there.

Nope.

Okay. If there was real magic, if this was a fairy story, it would have come to me when called. The store was open, so I slipped inside, as quietly as I could, and made a great show of browsing the row of multi-colored trumpets that hung from the ceiling. The store owner looked up, then lost interest when I didn’t come to the counter or ask him anything.

I turned to where the sword and the horn were. And this time it was still there, as if reading my mind, feeling my intent. “Come on.” I didn’t want to steal it, but he hadn’t known it was there anyway. It had been invisible to him. Somebody had hidden it here.

No.

Mr. Otter had hidden it here, and then I reached out and my hand closed on it. I walked out as if nothing was happening, shaking my head with the air of a dissatisfied customer. I didn’t even look at it until I had it home.

Then I did. A ratty drinking horn with Tyr’s rune on it and a leather strap to hang it from. Honestly, it looked like something somebody had made for a RenFaire, only cheap. Definitely cheap. Which meant…it was definitely a test. Well, except there was one thing I could do with it.

I filled it with water, and took a sip. Nothing happened.

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