Here's a little piece I wrote for the Apex Valentine's day competition. It didn't make the cut, so I decided to stick it here instead. I hope you like it.
Locks of Love
The men always came with scissors, some dull and stubborn with rust, others oiled and wickedly sharp, and one memorable pair golden and dainty, shaped like a stork’s beak. If Acantha was feeling generous, she’d comb out her silky beard and let them take what they wished. Some wanted more. The polite, comely ones she sometimes took as lovers, but for those who would take their pleasure by force, there was the toadstone. Let them hop back to their women, hoping for a kiss to restore their humanity.
The boy had shears. The poor thing trembled so hard Acantha thought he’d faint.
“Come, boy. You’re letting the ghosts in.”
The boy yelped and swatted at the wraith playfully winding its bony fingers around his throat. With an indignant howl, the wraith dispersed into wisps of mist.
“Close the door. For goodness’ sake! I know what you seek.” Acantha separated a few tendrils and beckoned. The boy’s hands shook so that she had to steady them, and the shears left a ragged, ugly mark. “There, go. Good luck.”
The boy stammered his thanks and stumbled out, leaving the door wide open. Acantha closed the door and smoothed the shorn ends into her beard. It had no magical powers that she knew of, but somehow the men who came to her succeeded in wooing their ladies nonetheless.
The men would come with their scissors, and she would oblige them.
Saved her hours of composing insipid love spells, at least.