“I’ve done as you asked,” he growled and cast an impudent glare towards the old woman. “I’ve done your dirty work, practically sold my soul for you! Now give me what I’m owed.”

She listened to his demands with a wry, knowing smile. “Aye, you did much for me…or was it for yourself, for a cheap way to glory, I wonder?”

Her chuckle was wind over dry grass. Even though the soldier was younger and more hardened than the crone, still he shuddered.

Though her eyes were bad he got the distinct feeling that she saw right into his scheming heart when she looked at him. “Aye, you’ll get your payment. Mayhaps you’ll learn your lesson and not do what you’re not prepared to live with for a quick coin, eh?”

He went for his dagger as she reached into her robes, but it was only to draw forth a fat money pouch. With another shiver-inducing laugh she turned it upsidedown and watched gleefully as the soldier dropped to his knees to collect the golden waterfall that spilled forth.

He ran his hands through the long grass to collect the coins, sure that what he had forced himself through had been well worth it, only to have calloused fingers rake up pile after pile of shimmering golden leaves. The rising wind lifted the delicate plant remnants, taking them away towards the horizon.

Cursing, his stomach empty and dignity torn, the soldier looked up but she was already gone, her fading laughter the only other proof that she’d ever been there.

(originally posted in my DeviantArt)

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