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Chapter 2 - With Absolutely Fresh Eyes

Mary finds herself in a strange land after falling asleep on the bus. There she meets Grenville, the headless immortal knight with greet manners, among other strange and wonderful people...

Chapter 2 - With Absolutely Fresh Eyes

Chapter 2 - With Absolutely Fresh Eyes
"So, how exactly do you see and hear and talk?" Mary asked Grenville as they walked along, the castle being their destination. "Without a head, it must be very difficult..."

"Oh, but of course!" Grenville said. "It was very difficult at first. I suppose anything is possible if you really work on it though. I just wanted to be able to so bad that it just kind of...happened."

"And do you have to have the helmet on to do so?" Mary questioned on.

"Not exactly," Grenville said. "It isn't a REAL head, after all...but it does help. It's LIKE having a head, and therefore easier to focus with."

"That's very curious," Mary said. "I would have never imagined such a thing."

"Me either, to be truthful," said Grenville. "Of course, I wouldn't have imagined me living without a head, especially for this long."

"Very true," Mary agreed. "How long until we get to the castle?"

"Oh, we probably won't get there until tomorrow," Grenville told her.

"My goodness!" Mary said. "Where will we stay the night?"

"Not sure at this point," Grenville admitted, "but the locals around here are fairly social, I'm sure we'll find one kind heart willing to give a place of rest."

"That's wonderful," Mary smiled. "I just hope my mother and grandmother don't worry about me being absent for that long."

"One can only wonder, I'm afraid," Grenville said, unfamiliar with Mary's family of course.

Hours went by, and the sun sunk lower and lower. The sky glimmered with all assortments of beautiful colours. It probably would have been a great sight, had the minds of Mary and Grenville not be so preoccupied by the thought of where they were staying for the night. It did not really matter whether the locals where kind hearted or not, for there had so far been no houses to ask for boarding for in anyway. Grenville noticed that Mary seemed uneasy at this, and he felt foolish for giving her false hope. After all, he had honestly thought more houses would have been around at this point. They had moved closer to the castle than he had thought. His head, or rather, lack of one, prevented him from being social, and he had become unfamiliar with the setting.

"I am terribly sorry," Grenville apologized. "I was really under the impression that more houses were still around here..."

"It is okay, Grenville," Mary assured him. "The sky looks clear and beautiful. If we should have to stay the night outdoors, it is a good night for it."

"That is well, then," said Grenville. "My makes socializing very difficult..."

"I understand," she said quietly.

The pair had spoken too soon, however, because through the slowly dimming light, a small cottage was visible up ahead. Mary grabbed Grenville's sleeve in excitement and exclaimed, "Grenville! Look!"

"I see!" he agreed. "Let's hope they are one of those kind hearts I was speaking about earlier. While I am bad at socializing, I do not wish to stay outside."

Mary smiled at Grenville's enthusiasm, liking to think that he would be smiling too if he had a mouth to smile with. Still arm in arm, the two approached the tiny building. A little fire could be seen built in front of the house, and a strange-looking figure was standing next to it cooking in a big kettle. The fire danced around the kettle longingly, and an odd smell was coming from it. Mary whispered to Grenville, "I wonder what they could be cooking?"

"I am unsure," Grenville said sheepishly. "I am unfamiliar with food smells. As I cannot eat, I stopped bothering with it all."

"Oh, right," Mary said equally as sheepishly. "Sorry, Grenville."

"Quite alright," Grenville told her. "I understand that I can be...hard to comprehend."

"Indeed," she answered. She began to wonder if Grenville's inability to eat would be why he was so gangly-looking, or if he was even able to be affected by it at all since the rest of him didn't seem to be.

Her thoughts were quickly thrown to the side, though, when the fire before them emited a small explosion and flashed a spark of green colour. Grenville quickly seized Mary by the back of her dress and pulled her behind him. He exclaimed, "Mary! It is a witch!"

"A witch?" Mary asked in a shocked tone, more so from being abruptly pulled back rather than from the information.

"Yes!" Grenville hissed, trying to keep quiet. "And if I learned anything long ago, it is to not meddle in the affairs of witches."

"That's nonsense, Grenville," Mary said, standing up straight again from where Grenville had pulled her back. "I've read the stories, and there are good witches just as well as there are bad ones."

"That is nonsense," Grenville retorted but keeping a friendly tone. "Those are but stories. Witches have always been bad in person."

"No offense, Grenville," Mary started, "but up until today, people such as yourself existed in but stories. In my world, at least..."

"And so far I have come to find that our worlds are very different," Grenville said. "So what are we to do?"

"Well..." Mary said, not sure what to say as she had not thought the whole situation through. "I suppose we could go talk to them. That way we would know if they were bad or not."

"And if they ARE bad?" Grenville asked.

"Then you are a great knight and will be able to handle them," Mary smiled assertively.

"Was," he said. "WAS a great knight. I lost the sword when I lost my head."

"A lost head does not make one any less than what they already were to begin with," Mary said. "At least not mentally..."

Despite the fact that she could not really say that without running into a contradiction in some way, she grabbed Grenville by his hand and pulled him along with her. He followed her, but did so reluctantly. She could feel his palms beginning to sweat as they came closer to their newfound company. As the approached the figure, they saw that she was a woman scantly dressed in animal skins. Her skin was ravaged-looking, she had a hunched posture, and despite her scrawny build, a pot belly. The nails on her hands were exceedingly long, and her bony fingers were covered with warts. She was not so much an old woman, but a very warn down one, so that she appeared to look greater in years at first glance. Mary gaged that she seemed middle aged.

Wherever she moved her hands, the fire followed. With another small exlosion and a flicker of light, the fire turned from green to purple, and the smell became different as well. Mary decided that it was a plant-like smell, but was unware of what kind of plant. Grenville's hand began to shake a little in her grip as the witch stood before them. Before she even had a chance to tell him that all would be okay, the witch's head spun around, making Mary jump back in surprise. She let loose her grip on Grenville's hand, and he jumped so violently that he caused himself to fall on his behind. He put his hands on his helmeted head as if trying to hide. Mary stood speechless herself.

"Hello!" the witch said in a scratchy voice, her tone being a playful one. She smiled a snaggled smile as she looked her guests over. "It is not often I get company, where have you two come from?"

"V-Vandersberg, ma'ma," Mary stuttered at first. "And...and Grenville..."

"From the fields!" Grenville answered bluntly before shrinking back behind Mary again.

"Intriguing," she answered. "So what brings you to my humble cottage?"

"I need to find a way back to Vandersberg," Mary answered her. "It is not part of Sokolatopia, I came from the bus."

"I was not aware the bus ran this year," the witch interrupted her.

"That is what I said," Grenville chimed in again, still yet hiding behind Mary.

"Right...well, Grenville here is taking me to see King Baklava in hopes that he will know how to return me home," Mary finished.

"Is that so?" the witch said, looking around Mary at Grenville, who had not even bothered to pick himself up yet. "He doesn't look capable of doing much of anything."

"How now!" Grenville snapped. "I'll have you know that I was once a great knight! And for King Chruscik no less!"

"Goodness!" the witch began to chuckle. "My dear, your friend here...he does not know what he is talking about. He is leading you on."

"Am not!" Grenville said. "I WAS a knight for King Chruscik. Some...complications occurred, however..."

"Nonsense!" the witch laughed at him. "For you to have been a knight for King Chruscik, you would have to be ten times my age! Maybe more!"

"And who is to say that I am not?" Grenville said, crossing his arms. "We have just met, you know not of me."

"Your face may be covered, but no one that age would have a body like yours," the witch said, eyeing Grenville. "And I bet you look even younger if you were not covered as such."

"I beg your pardon!" Grenville said, hunching over as if to cover himself.

"Look," Mary said, "Ages and whatever other arguments aside, we are left without shelter. Might you have extra rooms for us that you would not mind sharing?"

"But of course!" the witch said, stretching out her arms. "My name is Matilda, by the way. If you follow me, I will show you the rooms..."

"I am Mary," Mary introduced herself, "and this is Grenville. You must forgive him, he was under the impression that all witches were evil..."

"And I still am," he added quietly.

"Well," Matilda started, "I wouldn't count that out just yet. However, I would not so much consider myself evil as I would...beneficial, I suppose."

"See?" Grenville said. "She admitted to it!"

"I only do what I find best for myself," Matilda said, ignoring Grenville. "If that means being evil, then so be it. If your friend decides to be honest anytime soon, then he will agree that it is a hard life out here away from the castle."

"I've only been honest!" Grenville snapped.

"Grenville, please!" Mary said. "You do not want to sleep outside do you?"

"No...I suppose not..." Grenville said.

"Then you will get along with Matilda," Mary said.

He knew that she was right. He was not happy about that, however, and it was visible in his body language. It was the only way he could show emotion without a head, after all. Mary began to look worried, as she was concerned that Matilda would become displeased and deny them shelter because of this. Matilda, just as she said, was not all bad, however, and pitied Mary. She decided to give Grenville a chance to explain himself to better their relationship. She asked him, "Well now, if you ARE as old as you say, why is it that you do not look it...or are even alive for that matter?"

"It is a long story," Grenville said, perking up at this, his helmeted tilted in enthusiasm, "but I am willing to tell it if you are willing to listen."

He then explained how he had lost his head but had acquired immortality in the process just as he had explained to Mary. He then explained how he was still able to talk and such along with it. Matilda had become increasingly curious as he told his tale. Once he had pulled off his empty helmet she was amazed. Soon, she inquired, "Do you ever long for a new head in its place? One that could see and hear and smell naturally? One that would not come off?"

"I suppose," Grenville answered her, "but I am unsure of how to get one. I suppose to get a head, I would have to take a head from someone else."

"That is true," Matilda said. "But you would have your own head again."

"Unlike you," Grenville said with still a hint of annoyance in his voice, "I do not wish to harm others for my own benefit."

"That is understandable," Matilda agreed, surprising Grenville. "You were a knight, after all. Knights are far more noble than witches."

"Well...that is not always true," Grenville said, beginning to think different of Matilda and witches in general now. "There were some knights who worked a long beside me, and they were not always that noble. Some where not very nice people at all..."

"Then I suppose we are even," Matilda smiled. "Now...I wonder, which part of your head do you miss the most?"

" eyes, I suppose," Grenville said after a little thought. "When I was a knight and wore my helmet but for protection, my eyes were still visible through my visor. It still let people know that was normal under here. Now they look into my visior and see nothing. They know my helmet is empty, and they become disgruntled."

"Can you blame them?" Matilda laughed. "I am accepting of a headless immortal, being a woman of magic and such, but I can see how it would be hard for others to accept it."

"Indeed," Grenville agreed. "At least with a set of eyes I could set off the illusion of having a head within my helmet. Unless they inquired me to remove it, they would think that I am a normal human being."

"I do believe I can help you with that," Matilda said.

"How so?" Grenville asked.

"Well, I may not be able to make you a new head, especially without taking one from someone else," Matilda said. "But a set of eyes just to make an appearance of having a head is a different story..."

"You would not have to take them from someone else as well, would you?" Grenville asked her.

"Well, not entirely," Matilda said. "I have already taken them, that is to say, a long time ago..."

"You took someone's eyes?!" Mary gasped, after being quiet and listening this whole time. Grenville agreed with her.

"I told that I am not good all the time!" Matilda said,. "and these were taken a long time ago. To not use them now would be a waste of eyes on their part."

"Well..." Grenville started. "I suppose it would be bad to have taken their eyes in vain..."

"Then you will take them?" Matilda asked. "It will be a simple spell...they will hang right in your helmet just as if they were in sockets. And they have lids too..."

"Lids?" Grenville asked enthusiastically. "I would be able to blink and such then?"

"But of course!" Matilda said. "You might even be able to cry, if you try hard enough."

"That sounds amazing!" Grenville said. "What do you think, Mary?"

Mary pondered aloud, "Well...if the person cannot get their eyes back, and they would be more help to Grenville than just...staying wherever you put them...then I suppose it would be alright."

"Fabulous!" Matilda said, clapping her hands together. "Then we shall get to work! Mary, I will show you your room and let you get settled in. As for you, Grenville, if you will follow me to the cellar, then I shall give you a new set of eyes..."


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