Mason wandered into Eidolia as he wandered into so many towns, silent and unnoticed. He preferred it that way. He huddled in his tanned leather coat shivering. His ruddy bronzed skin had a bluish tinge from the bitter cold. He blew air into his calloused hands, struggling for what little warmth he could get.
He stood out wherever he went, his bent nose and thick black hair gave him away. Anything that went wrong no matter where he was fell in his lap. He never stayed anywhere for long, but he felt destiny in the cold air. This was where he belonged. He would belong there dead if he didn’t keep moving. He shifted the straps of his leather backpack, trying to relieve his aching shoulders.
He walked through the first cold snap of the year, only the warmth of his movement keeping him warm. He saw a red glow ahead, the sign of a motel. He didn’t have much money but it would be worth it to not freeze to death.
He entered the office, finding the creaky room barely warmer than outside. A single bare lightbulb dangled in the middle of the room. The desk was made of old pallets cobbled together. A small bell sat beside an oversized book, the hotel register.
Mason rung the bell and waited. After 5 minutes a fat man in boxers and an undershirt stumbled blinking into the room. He saw Mason and sneered. “Y’re a long way from the reservation Tonto. What the hell do you want?”
“I want a room for the night,” Mason answered.
The fat man laughed “I don’t take beads, only cash.”
“For you $12” the man growled
“That’s highway robbery!” Mason yelled.
“Don’t get uppity with me Timber Nigger, I’ll call the cops and you can enjoy a nice warm cell,” he smirked at Mason.
“Damn” Mason whispered and flipped the bills from his pocket. He had only $1 left, enough for a coffee and donut in the morning.
The pudgy man snatched the cash and counted it twice. “Listen Injun, anything comes up missing and I’ll blast your head off,” he lifted a shotgun up onto the splintery desk. He turned and grabbed a key, tossing it to Mason. “You’re in 13. I expect the key back before noon, or they’ll be trouble.”
“Yessir. Thank you,” Mason answered.
“Whatever Kemosabe. Goodnight,” he turned and wandered back into wherever his bed was.
“Bastard,” Mason snarled and spit on the threadbare rug. He wandered outside, and spent some time trying to find his room in the dark. He located it and ratted the key in the door. He stepped inside and flicked on the light. A cockroach stopped on the bare grey floor to look at him then wandered off in its endless search for food. He eyed the bed with its paisley bedspread and dropped his bag on the floor. A small wood stove sat at the back of the room with a pile of pine branches and some old newspaper.
“Damn,” Mason growled. It was obvious he reserved this room for guests he didn’t like. He stuffed the sappy wood into the stove with some newspaper and lit it. Pine wouldn’t last long and gave poor heat, but it beat outside.
Mason dropped cross legged on the floor and closed his eyes. His mind opened and his world filled with thousands of voices. This place was rich with mystic energy, he would do well here. He stretched out his mind and heard the voices of others like him, but they were faint. They all lacked his strength.
“Human, why are you pestering me?” came a voice, creaky with age. The building was alive, something rare in other places.
“I’m sorry, I need shelter from the cold,” he thought at the voice.
“I’m a poor shelter,” it answered.
“Would you like help with that?” Mason asked.
“I only want someone to fix me.”
“I can do that. I just need to get rid of your current owner. Where is he?”
In response a location appeared in his mind. Mason smiled and opened his eyes. He opened his eyes and pulled a flat piece of wood from his pack, along with a brush. He began chanting and painted a symbol on the wood. He didn’t know the source of the symbol, it came to him from whatever force had trained him. He had wanted to be a medicine man as a youth and had asked the Elder for training. The old bastard said too much evil ran through him so he found training elsewhere.
He ended his chanting, feeling the energy flowing through it. He took a small hand drill from his pack and made a hole. He threaded some red cord through and tied it closed. Smiling, he picked up the talisman and headed into the cold.
He slipped into the office, stalking past the desk. Down a dark hallway he found a locked door. Smiling, he pressed a hand onto the lock and chanted. The door opened in complete silence. Mason slid into the room and looked around.
The fat man was curled under a thick comforter, a roaring fire in his little stove. Mason ignored it and slipped over to the man and pulled the comforter away. The man jumped up and mason threw the charm over his neck.
“What the hell!” He turned and saw Mason. He started for the shotgun, but froze. The light faded from his eyes and he turned to Mason. The wood and string burrowed into his body, blood pouring down the white undershirt. After a few moments the talisman was gone and the symbol was a tattoo on the fat man’s chest.
“What are you called?” Mason asked.
“Chester,” he answered in a monotone.
“Chester, go sleep in room 13,” Mason ordered.
The man stood and wandered out the door. Mason grabbed the shotgun and cashbox. This was a good start. A base of operations to get some cash and learn what called him here. He felt a twinge in his chest. He ignored it. The fat man deserved everything he got. Besides, he had a promise to keep with the building.