Tanya and the others talk about their trip as they head into their town a couple of days later, having stayed three days in the town then heading home on the fourth. Of course, they had to stay a fifth day in the woods on their way back but they enjoyed their adventure away from their own village. They say their goodbyes and head off in separate directions in order to get home and tell their parents that they have returned home safely. Tanya is the last to leave the group, passing Morlock’s house very slowly, spotting him watching for her through one of the cottage’s front windows. She taps her traveling bag before she moves on, walking over to the butcher since her father will most likely be at work. She pokes her head inside to see the shop having a few people inside, her father busy cutting meat for them. Not wanting to bother him, she waves at him, receiving a knife wave, and heads back out into the street.
Tanya walks slowly through her town, enjoying the late afternoon hustle and bustle but now that she has left the town, she is ready to travel more. Reaching her home, she opens the door and calls out to her mom as she drops her bags onto the floor with a sigh of relief. Her mom walks out of the bedroom and smiles, hugging Tanya to her. Tanya does her best not to flinch when her mom touches her back and arm but she does take in a sharp breath. Her mom looks at her worriedly when she hears the hiss, looking her daughter over but thanks to the witch’s spell, she doesn’t see the bindings over the injuries that Tanya has sustained from the phoenix.
“I got bit by some bugs but I am okay,” Tanya lies, scratching at her arm and shrugs at her mom. “Now do you want to see the material that I bought while there. I even got some material I think you would love a dress out of. Plus, some for shirts for father. We hit the jackpot. Now I want to go with father to the other town and see what they have.” She excitedly pulls out the bag of cloth she has bought, taking out some beautiful material for her mother to see. She separates them into a pile she bought for her mother, a pile she bought for her father, and a pile she bought for herself. “I can’t wait to get started on making us all new clothes with these.”
Her mother picks up the items, feeling each of the materials that her daughter has bought and raises her eyes, “Wow, these are amazing. And so much different from the ones we buy or trade for here. Of course, when the traders come, they bring some amazing things as well.” She then stops and raises an eyebrow, “You want to go with your father to the other town next month? I don’t know how he and his friends will feel about you tagging along, Hunny.”
“I won’t get in the way or anything and plus I can always come home after I am done exploring that town and after I buy more things to make clothes out of. I still didn’t see anything I liked to make a belt out for the lavender dress I plan to make for myself. Nor did I find anything to make your belt with so I think I need to get back out there and find what I need, don’t you?” She smiles innocently at her mother, hoping that she will be swayed by Tanya’s eager yet subtle expression.
Her mother laughs and shakes her head, “All right, all right, I will talk to your father and see what he says about you going with them.” She sighs and sits down, “Now tell me everything.”
Tanya sits down with her mom, ignoring the pain in her arm as she rests it on the table. She and her mother talk about the traveling and the other town for hours until the sky grows dark and it is time for her mother to begin making supper. Tanya puts a finger up and pulls out another small bag full of fruits and vegetables, another prize she brought home for her parents to try. Her mother thanks her and begins to smell each one, enjoying the difference in each, not having seen some of them. She then begins to chop and stir to make supper for the three of them, using a few of the new vegetables.
In no time, the cottage smells delicious and Tanya’s mouth begins to water as she goes into her room to unpack. She can hear the front door open and her father walking, in asking where his little girl is, demanding to see her. She rushes out and jumps into his arms as if she was still a little girl and hugs him tight, even though her body is screaming in pain. He laughs and snuggles her before he sets her down, groaning and grabbing his back.
“You are getting too heavy for me, my darling Tanya,” he laughs before he looks at her seriously. “Now show me what you bought.”
Tanya laughs and tells her father everything that has happened while she shows him what she has bought, telling him what she wants to make for him clothes-wise. She then shows him what she will be making for herself and for her mother, his father’s eyebrows raised as he looks over everything. She points to her mother’s back and tells him how she also bought fruits and vegetables that they have never tried before and how they will be eating some for supper that night. His father looks excitedly over to his wife while rubbing his stomach and licking his lips.
During supper, they talk about her father’s trip and about who all is going for the fishing trip, the fishing hole being the only close fishing hole to their little town. Tanya tells them about the fishing holes that the boys have found at Green Hill and her father perked up a bit saying they may have to go there another time to check them out too. Tanya laughs and then looks pleadingly at her mother who sighs heavily and nods.
“What? Something wrong?” her father asks, having seen the exchange and growing worried
“No, nothing is wrong but your daughter here wants to go with you and the guys so she can see what they have there. Someone has gotten the traveling bug and the wanting to buy everything bug,” her mother exclaims, rolling her eyes.
Her father laughs and shakes his head, “I don’t know…”
Tanya turns her pleading puppy eyes onto her father, “Please?”
Her father groans, “Not the puppy eyes…okay, okay I will talk to the guys and see what they say. But you have to take one or two of the girls with you to keep you out of trouble.” He winks at her and it’s Tanya’s turn to groan. He chuckles, “Let’s get things cleaned up and sit in front of the fire. Maybe read a little.”
Tanya shakes her head, “I need to get to work on sketching out how I want the clothes to look. I will help get things cleaned up and then I want to go to my room and get drawing.” She finishes the last bite of her delicious strew that her mother made and begins to clean up.
In a few minutes, the kitchen is clean, dishes washed and put away, and Tanya is sitting at her desk, the feathers and book sitting on the desk in front of her. She listens to the house, sitting up late once again in order to sneak over to Morlock’s house to give him the items. She has been sketching so that she didn’t fully lie to her parents this time, but her mind just isn’t into since she has to give Morlock the items tonight. Hearing her mother walking towards her room, she stashes the book and feathers back into the bag, hiding it under the desk. She grabs her piece of charcoal and begins to sketch again, drawing the dress she wants to make for her mother and turns when she hears a light knocking on the door. Her mother sticks her head to the room, says good night and tells her no to stay up too late before she walks away, closing the door behind her. A second later, her father sticks his head into her room, wishing her sweet dreams, and heads off to get to bed.
Seconds later, she is in front of Morlock’s door, wearing her all-black dress and cloak which still needs to be sewn up and washed from the trip. Morlock opens the door to see Tanya standing there holding the bag up. He ushers her inside, closing the door behind her, making sure that no one sees them. He then takes the bag and opens it to see the book and feathers sitting together at the bottom of the bag. He takes both out, checking them over to make sure that they are real before he stores them where he can get to them later when needed. He then looks her over to see if she has been injured in any way.
Not wanting to get the witch in trouble for helping her, she says the spell that makes Morlock see what she looks like. Morlock’s eyes widen when he sees her arm bandaged up and that she is now standing a bit hunched over from the pain. “I found a spell that hides my wounds from others that way they won’t get suspicious. But I was attacked by the phoenix. Luckily for me, the witch wasn’t home. She was off collecting herbs and other items for her spells.” Tanya smiles and shrugs but winches in pain.
“Well, I want to see what happens to you. I have something you can use for the pain and help heal the wounds faster.” He walks over to the door, ready to head down into his lair with the book and feathers in hands but stops when he hears her laugh.
“You want to help me? I thought you would love to see me in pain and see that I will be ugly and scarred once I am done with your stupid tasks. Still want me now even though my arm and back will never be the same?” she spits angrily at him.
Morlock narrows his eyes, “All you have to do is tell me that you will marry me and I will lift the curse. I will love you no matter what.”
Tanya shakes her head violently and walks to the door, pushing past Morlock, “I will never marry you. I could never love someone who would curse another just to force them to marry.” She pulls her hood over her head and disappears back into the night, heading home for some much-needed rest.
When she is safely in her room, she pulls out a small round container and twists off the top. Inside is a cream mixed with herbs that the witch had made for her to put on her wounds nightly. She hopes she can repay the witch someday. She closes and hides the salve under the pillow and lays down, enjoying the cooling cream on her cuts. Soothed now, she allows herself to drift off to sleep.
Morlock watches as Tanya disappears into the night before he goes into his lair so that he can add the spellbook to his own collection, not even reading the thing. He then puts the feathers on his table so that he can make them into quills in the morning. He is looking forward to having phoenix feathers as his writing tools for his spells once he has made by hand his own leather-bound spellbook. He will begin on it tomorrow by buying some leather in the market and paper. He stares down at the feathers, noticing that there is some blood splatter on them. He picks one up and examines the blood, knowing that it is from when Tanya was attacked. He sort of felt bad and once again wonders if he should just end it by lifting the curse and letting her go free. But again, he wouldn’t have her as his.
He pushes the thoughts of ending the curse out of his mind and drops the feathers back onto the table before leaving. He climbs into bed after he checks to make sure that Tanya had made it home safe, and after watching her sleep for a few minutes. Once asleep, he slips into a nightmare after nightmare, seeing Tanya fighting the phoenix but in his dreams, she always lost and would be killed. He would wake up in a sweat, breathing heavily, and doing what he can to calm himself down before falling asleep. But then again a few minutes to an hour later, he is awake again, sweating and panting. He gives up sleeping early in the morning and heads downstairs to start working on the phoenix feathers. He washes the blood off of them before he begins to enchant them and change them into beautiful quills. Morlock returns upstairs with his new quills in hand and places them on the table. He then makes himself something to eat and gets ready for the day after a quick bath.
While in the market, he sees Tanya walking around with Stacy and Lennie as they search for something to go with the materials that they bought from the other town. He watches her as she does her best to not flinch and to act like she isn’t in pain as she bends over the tables and looks at a table in a shop. They chat about Tanya’s next adventure next month with her dad and Stacy squeals, asking if she can tag along. Tanya laughs and says that she will ask her dad. Stacy thanks her and picks out a couple of things to trade for before they head off to go back to Tanya’s house to get started on sewing their clothes together, something they loved doing. Morlock stalks after them until they are safely inside Tanya’s house then heads back into the market area to find the right leather for his hand made spellbook. His excitement grows as he looks over the leather items he has found at one of the stalls.