Bad Luck and Curses

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  A twig snapped behind her.  Jerking her dagger out of the loose soil, Geyth leaped to her feet and faced two approaching men.  They were nearly upon her.  Both wore rough and dirty clothing, and their hair was long and unkempt.   She knew their kind well.  

     The nearer flinched back a step and regarded her cautiously.  She took comfort in that small motion--he had not counted on the dagger.  But his hesitation did not last long. She saw his eyes flit from her well-made tunic, to the broken amulet around her neck, to the bracelet around her wrist.  He grinned, revealing yellow, broken teeth.

    Yellow Teeth spoke, "Working the flowers, I see."

    The other man snickered and began to hit his thigh with a short club--a rhythmic slap, slap, slap.  He stepped to one side, cutting her off from her horse grazing several paces away.  Banishing her dagger, she pointed it from one man to the other, clutching it tightly, and feeling the grit and the sweat on her hand.  She took a wary step backwards, brushing against the bushes whose soil she had been tending.  They were itha bushes... from her homeland.

    Geyth cursed her foolishness.  She should have known better than to have taken off her travel cloak with the symbol of her trade.  That protection lay draped over the saddle of her horse, facedown and unseen.  The delight of smelling itha bushes -- even finding them! -- had overridden her usual caution.   Surely, she had told herself, there would be no harm in stopping for a moment.  The clump of bushes grew concealed in the center of a large forest clearing.  She had located them by scent alone! What could possibly go wrong on such a fine day....


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