Bridge

Wooden Bridge In Deep Forest 2nd by AustriaAngloAlliance

I ran towards the bridge, laughter and the sounds of the woods filling my ears. My boots skidded to a stop just before the first wooden step and caught my breath. A tight pain in my chest was making it difficult for me to breath, so I placed my hand on top of the area and rubbed my skin. I shut my eyes and just listened to the noises around me. There were birds singing afternoon songs to each other in the sun dappled trees, a horse neighing in a field somewhere beyond the river and the voices of children.

Taking a few deep breaths, I opened my eyes and turned around, looking down the pathway I had just come from. I had expect him to be right behind me, but he wasn’t. Letting my hand fall to my side, were it automatically gathered the folded sides of my skirts up, I tried to stare around the tall trees and bushes that lined the path. Of course I couldn’t see anything through them. I quietened my breathing and tried to listen. He was probably waiting to jump out and scare me, a childhood game like we had often played.

Nothing happened, so I walked back along the path and every few steps I believed he would appear. A laugh, I had been trying to keep back, erupted from me and I stopped, but before I could call out to him, I heard a whistling behind me. Turning around, I saw him standing in front of the bridge. Sunlight spilling on his too blonde hair and making it shimmer. His face was slightly turned up to catch that warmth on his well angled jaw and cheek bones. His shirt was open and reveling the pink skin underneath.

I smiled and skipped back to him. He held out his hand as I got near and taking it, he pulled him into him. I laughed and draped my arms around him as he nuzzled into my hair. I had to settle my head on his shoulder and feel the warmth coming from him. I felt his arms tighten around me and his hands sliding down over the top of my skirts.

‘Is it really true what they say about you?’ I whispered, ‘are you a fairy Prince?’

He laughed and I felt the vibrations through me.

‘And if it was? What would you do, Miss Tilly?’ his husky voice asked in my ear.

He pulled me back and placed his hands on my cheeks. I looked him in the eyes, feeling determined that if he was not human I would see it there. However his sparkling blues reveled nothing other then joy to me.

‘I’m not sure,’ I answered carefully.

‘Then for you I will be,’ he replied seriously, but with a hint of laughed.

He took my hand and we walked up onto the bridge. The river rushed beneath us, tumbling over rocks and broken tree branches. I looked down and watched the turbulent waters, feeling as if I had reached the best moment in my life and not wanting it to end.

‘Once we cross the bridge,’ he said gently as his elbow brushed mine, ‘nothing is going to be the same. Do you still want this?’

I smiled, ‘of course. I don’t want anything else,’ I assured him and our lips meet in an eternal kiss.

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The Before

books

When the adults at the gathering started shouting, Doe always sneaked away. She would slip though the broken doors of the long room and find herself wondering the dimly light corridors of the building from The Before. Doe weaved around the remains of bricks, wood and glass shards that littered the grey floor. Her deer skin and fur trimmed boots, which she was always careful not to damage, did little to protect her feet. The adults’ voices followed her, quickly merging into one background sound that assured her she wasn’t alone.

Letting her hand touch the wall, she trailed her fingers along it until she came to a doorway. The corridor walls contained many openings and some interested Doe greatly. Stepping into the first room, she looked around at the destroyed walls and broken windows. From out of them, she could see the collapsed side of another building and patches of dead grass. There was nothing left to try and guess what this room had once been used for.

Doe left and walked a little further down to another opening. Stepping in, she saw pipes sticking out from the walls and brown puddles on the floor. This had once been a water room, she had learned from Ma, were The Before Peoples would clean themselves and look at their images in wall glass. The remains of wooden divides lined the floor opposite her where more pipes and holes stuck out.

The next room was just the same, though the smell of wet rot was stronger in here. Doe crinkled her nose and walked towards the far end. There on the floor was a large chunk of the wall glass. She was surprised to see it still unbroken. Staring down into it, Doe saw her image-self; a dark skinned girl of twelve summers, in a brown bear fur dress with large murky eyes. Her black hair went down her back and was tangled with beads, feathers and scraps of fabric. Across her bare arms and neck were the painted on markings of her tribe. The collection of weird blue and red swirling shapes and images, which she didn’t understand, seemed to blur together in the glass.

Turning away, she went out and carefully walked to the end of the hallway. The leftovers of a double door barred her way, without fear she crawled through and into her favourite room. Doe could no longer hear the adults’ voices, nor any other sound other than the ones her feet and breathing made. She took a moment to look around.

Weak sunlight was coming in from some of the broken board up windows and falling on smashed wood that lay scattered around. Grey stones, dirt and dust coated everything thickly in a hardly disturbed blanket. Completely covering the floor and piled up amongst the wood and stones were the written tales from The Before.

Doe gently walked over them, feeling slight shifts and soft creaks coming from under her feet. She went to the far corner, where she had built herself a den out of wood, old coverings and towers of the tales. Sitting down on a large cushion, she picked up one of the closest bindings of paper and flipped the dusty, torn coloured pages over. She recognized some of the animals inside, but had no idea what the odd shapes that marked the spaces around the images were.

Over time, she had come to grasp some of the tales the images told her. Her mind had also become good at creating the possible tales the pages could contain. Placing the one she had picked up down, she turned around and selected another from a small pile, which she had decided were her favourites so far. Looking at the front image, she saw it was her current most favoured one and settled down to view the drawings.

The tale, as Doe had come to understand it, seemed to be about a large stripped cat whom went to a little girl’s home to play, have cups of drink and eat sweet things. The images always caused her to smile and also showed her what had happened in The Before. For that was Doe’s overall understanding of the written tales, just like it was for The Now spoken tales the elders told.

Coming to the last page, she closed the binding and placed the book back. A loud banging noise caused her to jump and Doe scrambled from her den and towards the far window. Peering out, she saw a few members of the other tribes standing outside and clearly arguing. Pulling a face, she decided to leave in case someone found her here. Walking quickly over to the doors, she recalled her Ma telling her that the items from The Before plagued The Now and were reminders of the failures of The Before Peoples.

Stepping back into the corridor, she ran down to the long room and stopped just short of the doors that figures were pouring out of. Loud voices and crying of children echoed through the building. Desperately, Doe squeezed past the bodies and searched the long room for a familiar face. Her eyes stopped on one of her elders and she hurried over. Standing beside him, she looked around at the quickly emptying room, but couldn’t stop any other face she knew.

‘It’s all for nought,’ the elder mutter and Doe turned to him.

He was dressed similar to her, though the bear fur covering him was longer on the legs and arms. His grey, thin hair covered up his wrinkled face and he seemed in deep thought.

‘What happened?’ she asked.

The elder shook his head, ‘too young,’ he mumbled and patted her hands, ‘not concerning you. Before stuff, land problems, tribal quarrels.’

Doe pulled a face and played with a feather in her hair.

The elder eased himself up and tried to stretch out his bent back, ‘let’s leave,’ he suggested and held out his hand. Doe took it and they shuffled out of the room together.

In the corridor, Doe shot a last look at the room right at the end, then lead the elder to the front doors. Standing on top of the steps, they could see that most of the tribes were grouping together before dispersing. Their own tribe were standing off to one side and Doe started to take the hobbling elder over.

‘Do you know a tale from The Before about a stripy cat and a girl?’ Doe whispered as they walked across.

The elder shook his head, ‘I know one about a wolf and a girl. One of my elders used to tell it to me.’

‘Well, in this tale a cat comes to have drinks and food at this girl’s house,’ Doe said excitedly and happily that she could at last tell this tale to someone.

‘And what happens?’

‘The cat makes a mess of things and the girl finds it funny. At the end everything works out and they are like friends. I found it in one of  The Before’s written tales.’

The elder stopped and looked down at her. Doe gasped and went silently. They were stood close enough to their tribe to be overheard and to prove this, Doe’s eyes darted to the nearest puzzled faces.

‘Where is this Before item?’ the elder grumbled.

‘Not here,’ Doe said quickly and too loudly, ‘it was…in the Heaps. A long time back. It just came into my head.’

‘Think no more about it,’ the elder responded softly, ‘The Before tales are dangerous. They helped to cast The Before Peoples down. If you ever find one again, bring it to me or another elder. We must purge The Now of all The Before objects.’

Doe nodded her head before dropping it. Sadness swelled inside her and her eyes felt wet. A light hand squeezed her shoulder before guiding her away.  I must keep my secret better, Doe thought as she walked, or else all those Before written tales I’m enjoying will be gone. I don’t understand how they can be so dangerous, but if the elder says it, then it must be so. Maybe, one day I could prove them wrong and The Now could become like The Before again. Then we could all have stripy cats to play and have drinks with.    

Church (Chapter 3, Part 4)

17 Photos of Abandoned Churches These old Churches have long been abandoned but not forgotten. Awesome photos keep them alive in our memories!

Continued from Church chapter 3, parts 1, 2 and 3.

‘How?’ I cut in.

‘It doesn’t matter,’ Rain shot back, ‘it’s not important.’

It mattered to me and I went to press her on it, but she continued speaking with a sad tone to her words, ‘I tried to give the fighting up, I retired to here and other places. But, it didn’t work. I couldn’t stop my destiny, so I fight still.’

‘Isn’t that good, though?’ I asked softly, ‘maybe the other Reapers will see that and invite you back in. I don’t understand why you think yourself sinful. Are you not doing a worthy job in purging and protecting the world from those evil souls?’

Rain let out a deep sigh and for the first time grabbed my hands in her’s, stopping my fingers from rubbing against her knuckles. My words hung in the air, heavy with more than just that question. I was desperate to ask more to make her to reveal other things to me. I had an overwhelming urge to know her entirely. Instead, I forced myself to stay silent and gave her the space to carry on.

‘It’s not like that,’ she said, shakily, then stopped.

Her hands slipped from mine and she stood up. I stayed on the floor, looking up at her and willing her to go on, but at the same time knowing that she no longer wanted too.

‘You don’t need to know any more. I’m going to have a shower and maybe rest,’ she muttered, as she turned away.

‘Rain?’ I called after her, scrambling to my feet.

She stopped, but didn’t turn back to me, ‘I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything. You can leave if you want. Just walk out of the portal, you don’t need to do anything else.’

‘We can’t end it like this,’ I snapped, without really meaning too.

I reached out to her, but my hand hovered in the air. She twisted her head, resting her chin on her shoulder. Some of her hair fell across the side of her face and she looked at me shyly from under her eyelashes.

‘It must for now, but we’ll see each other again, I’m sure of that,’ Rain stated.

Flicking her head away, she took off with her feet slapping the floor loudly. I caught myself from chasing after her as the door closed and I was alone again. Rubbing a hand down my face and then my neck, I cast a look at my amour, which lay on the floor close beside me. I gathered it and went to blow out the candle. The sage had almost burnt itself out and needed no attention. I left and went back to my room, feeling dishearten and no longer convinced that I wanted to leave.

Still though, it didn’t feel like I had a choice. As I put my armour back on, I thought about Rain’s words and realised that she had dismissed me. If I stayed I probably would be disrespecting her and there was a growing tension between us right now. However, the small hope of seeing her again stayed with me and I prayed that we were destined to meet another time. Picking up my sheathed sword, my eyes drifted to the notebooks. Fixing the weapon to my side, I walked over and picked them up. I was tempted to open their pages and flick through them once more, instead, I went to the chest and opened it.

Inside the same mix of items meet my eyes. I placed the notebooks on top and went to close the lid. Something stopped my hand and as if I had been possessed, I picked the notebooks up again and shoved them under my chest plate. The lid slammed as I let it go. Leaving without a glance back, I walked out and looked over the Paradise Garden. A storm seemed to be brewing in one of the far corners. However, the magic of the rolling landscape, babbling brook and singing birds affected me, making me feel calm and safe.

I walked downstairs and took a last walk through the English meadow. My mind drifted, my thoughts unable to fix on anything else other than the beauty before me. Then it started to rain. Large drops fell from a darkening grey sky and a gently rumble of thunder filled the air. I hurried to the true cathedral steps and climbed them. Standing beside the door, the rain couldn’t get me and for a few minutes I watched the storm roll in and erupt around me.

For a split second, I thought I saw Rain on the balcony, but it could have easily been a large bird. I sighed and turned away at last, my heavy heart knowing that I might never look upon this place again. I opened the door and stepped through. The sound of the storm faded behind me and the doors closed with a soft hushing.

I was back in the real world again.

Church (Chapter 3, Part 3)

17 Photos of Abandoned Churches These old Churches have long been abandoned but not forgotten. Awesome photos keep them alive in our memories!

Continued from Church chapter 3, parts 1 and 2.

A soft female voice, which I half recognised, was repeatedly calling my name, though she sounded very distant. A harsher male voice, which I didn’t know, cut in with, ‘you are on the wrong side of Heaven now, but you are still too righteous for Hell.’ Was that an actual person or just a voice inside of my head? I felt fingers tugging at something across my sides, but I let go and fell into a dream.

I was flying amongst fluffy white clouds, the sun glorious hot on my skin. Trumpets and harps were playing gentle songs in my ears. I was aware of other angels filling the sky around me and the feeling of wings brushing against my own. Still, though that same female voice called my name, ‘Blaze?’ she questioned with sadness and concern.

I opened my eyes and saw a wooden beamed ceiling.  Taking in a few deep breaths, I smelt and tasted an acidic burning of dried plant. Easing myself up, I felt the dead weight of my metal plate on my torso. With numb fingers I reached out for the leather straps at the side and found them all ready loosened. I pulled the armour off over my head and placed it down beside me. My arm guards hadn’t been unbuckled, but I quickly did that and pulled them off too.

I noticed a very low and short red lacquered table across from me next to the wall. On it a thick twist of sage was burning over a white bowl, a gentle curl of smoke rose upwards. A tall white church pillar candle was burning beside it. Soft padding footsteps ticked my ear and I turned to my right. Black pant covered legs met my eyes and I turned my head up, into the face of Rain.

‘Blaze? Are you all right?’

I touched the side of my head and rubbed it carefully. My hair was a mess around my face and shoulders. I withdrew my hand and didn’t see any blood on my fingers, but that area still ached.

‘Here,’ Rain said and handed me an opened bottle of water.

I took it and had a sip, whilst she crouched on the floor and wrapped her arms around her knees. She looked unhappy and concerned. Her mismatched eyes were also downcast and for a few moments she didn’t look at me as I drink. The water was cold and refreshing, I felt better. I handed it back to her and she took a few mouthfuls, before placing the bottle between us.

‘You didn’t really mean it, did you?’ I inquired, softly.

‘No, I just wanted to see what you’d do,’ Rain responded in a whispery voice, ‘I didn’t mean you any harm. I promised not to hurt you, remember? I always keep my promises.’

I felt her fingertips try to brush my hair back from my face, but it was too tangled and fell back. From her own hair, she tugged out a lilac thin elastic tie, which caused her hair to fan down like a waterfall. Shifting behind me, she gathered all my long golden strands up and tied my hair out of the way. Her hand brushed my shoulder and for a fleeting moment I wished she had lingered longer.

‘I head a man’s voice alongside your own,’ I spoke, as I pulled my legs crossed together and straightened up, ‘he said something about the wrong sides of Heaven and Hell.’

Rain’s face crumpled into puzzlement.

‘Maybe, it wasn’t a real voice or it could have been spiritual…’ I added, thoughtfully.

She glanced over her shoulder and in a single movement got up. She crossed the floor, went to the speaker system and collected something. Coming back she knelt beside me and showed me the palm sized music device in her hand. The screen loaded up an album cover with some kind of demon on a fiery background. Scrolling letters that I couldn’t catch moved along the bottom.

‘What were the actual words?’ Rain asked.

‘I can’t really remember,’ I admitted.

She hit play and loud piano notes accompanied by a guitar waved through the air, that harsh male voice began singing. We listened closely and a few moments later we both heard the line. Rain stopped the song and looked at me, ‘see? That’s all it was, Five Finger Death Punch. I like to listen to them when I practise,’ she finished in a half shrug.

‘I understand,’ I replied, simply.

Rain switched the device off and ran her fingers along the edge. We were quiet for a few seconds, then she mumbled, ‘maybe it was some kind of sign.’

I turned back to her, having been staring at the burning sage and candle. She was looking at the floor again, though her face was softer and calmer now. She glanced up at me and further suggested, ‘you were looking for a sign about why you were stuck here.’

I nodded and waiting for her to go on.

‘Well, maybe that was one? I don’t know though,’ her voice laughed, ‘these musicians always seem to say the stuff I need to hear at the right moment. I know it’s just me reading too much into their lyrics though, but it seems to help.’

She went to get up, but I lightly clasped her arm, stilling her. I let go, though the warmth and softness of her skin almost prevented the movement of my fingers. I halted her words with a quick look and commanded, ‘tell me about yourself. You’ve hidden it this long, but now I need to know.’

‘It’s complicated,’ she uttered.

‘So? Tell me and I will try to understand.’

Rain shook her head, sending her hair spilling around her face.

Without thinking, I gathered the strands in my hands and tossed them over her shoulders. My palms skimmed her upper arms, I told them to let go, but they stayed and travelled further down to the balled up fists in her lap. I squeezed her hands and un-clenched her fingers, until she relaxed them against my own.

‘I have sinned, badly,’ she breathed, ‘I should look like Death to your eyes, because that’s what I am. I’ve meet other angels before, but they have kept their distance because they knew what I was, even if they didn’t fully understand it. You’re different and for whatever reason, you don’t sense the evil inside of me.’

‘You are a closed book to me, Rain,’ I admitted, ‘I have never been able to see your mind or aura. There seems to be just nothing, but I know that isn’t true. I thought you were creating the block yourself and perhaps that’s why?’

‘That is a part of it,’ she sighed, ‘but doesn’t explain the rest of it. Still, there’s always going to be mysteries that we don’t understand and we shouldn’t go seeking the answers to.’

I nodded and rubbing her fingers, allowed her to go on.

‘I’m warrior like yourself. Just as there are many different groups of angels, so it is with what I am. A Messore, a Reaper. You should already be aware of us. At least, our main group will be familiar to you,’ Rain paused, waiting for me to confirm this.

‘Grim Reapers, Death, the harvesters of mortal human souls. You guide the newly depart to Heaven or Hell. You are a form of angel,’ I rushed out.

‘Angels, who can never enter either realm and thus have become far from being the form you know. We are banished to Limbo and feared,’ Rain responded sadly, ‘I’m a member of one of their other groups. You see, it’s not just human souls we deal with. We have to take care of all souls- mortal and immortal alike.’

‘So, which souls do you…guide then?’ I wondered, half-unsure if I actually wanted to know the answer.

‘The most evil ones,’ she confessed, ‘like that Demigod bear, I saved you from. Though, it’s extremely rare to find his kind on the Earth plane. Normally, I go after what is classed as empty souls. They have no mortality left within them, if they ever had it in the first place. They feed on other souls, growing stronger and eviler, until that’s all they know.’

‘And it’s your job to vanquish them,’ I finished.

‘It was…I’m exiled now.’

To Be Continued….

Church (Chapter 3, Part 2)

17 Photos of Abandoned Churches These old Churches have long been abandoned but not forgotten. Awesome photos keep them alive in our memories!

Continued from Church chapter 3, part 1.

‘Ready?’ she asked, a smile fleeting across her lips.

‘When you are,’ I answered.

Rain struck as a new heavy metal song started. She swung the right end of the pole quickly towards me. I easily parried it, causing the thin wood to clash. Rapidly, she brought up the other end, which I easily deflected as well. She smiled softly and repeated the moves again, only this time faster and stronger, which took me by surprised and caused me to shuffle back. Rain moved as well, creating a gap between us and sliding her hands down the pole as she did so.

I defended for the second time as she came at me with the end of the pole raised above her head.  She went to bring it down, but I meet her pole in the middle. There was a loud whack and we both felt the vibrations going through us. I twisted, trying to bring her pole down, but she predicated the move and pulled away, spinning as she did so.

‘Not bad,’ Rain remarked, turning to face me.

I relaxed my pole and copied her movements as she balanced the pole between her hands again. She spaced her legs out and put her right foot before her left, so that she was side on to me. I mirrored her.

‘I fight better with a sword,’ I pointed out.

‘Me too,’ she purred and grinned, ‘we’ll have to try that, sometime. Right now though…’ Rain trailed off as she ready to attack again.

I was prepared for her move and blocked the strike. She tilted her pole down, aiming for my stomach. I hit her away and pushed back. I felt a wave of unexpected anger and struck. Her pole was still low, so I wacked it even lower and though she probably could have stopped me, she let the end of the pole hit the floor.

‘A point to me, hmm?’ I declared.

Rain giggled, ‘I don’t remember saying anything about that…It’s to the death.’

I frowned, a spike of shock piercing in my chest and words unable to form on my lips.

‘Problem?’ she queried.

‘You jest, surely?’ I forced out.

She shook her head, ‘why would I? What have I got to lose in my own realm?’

She took my puzzlement as a chance and hit me in the lower leg.  I choked, one handed my pole and with my other hand gripped my leg. That give her another opening and raising the pole, she brought it down on my shoulder. I cried out, but without pausing, Rain went for another attack and tried to jab the pole end into my chest. I yanked up my arms and pole in guard, swung out and parried her blow with such force that she half stumbled to the side.

Letting out a yell, I twisted away and went to strike her leg, however, she was faster and blocked me. She spun away, creating space between us and sliding her hands down the pole, so that it she held it close to the bottom and the pole reached out before her.  Without missing a beat, I came at her and our poles met in the air, forming an X above us. I took a few deep breaths, feeling the tension, though there seemed to be more from her side then mine.

Grunting, I moved my pole a fraction, trying to see if she would be tricked into still holding her position whilst I launched an attack. She was wiser and the second my pole left hers, she flicked away and leaped backwards. She was shockingly light on the tips of her toes and she glided to a stop with such grace. I caught the quick smile on her lips as she re-positioned her hands slightly further up on the pole to give it and herself more balance.

‘You don’t mean it,’ I stated as I brought my weapon down and rested the end on the floor.

She cocked her head and stared at me.

‘A fight to the death? And with wooden poles too?’ I blurted.

‘We could continue without, if you prefer?’ she asked coldly.

‘But what’s the point? What have I done to offend you?’ I demanded to know.

‘There’s no real reason,’ she answered thoughtfully, ‘the only thing that matters now is proving yourself to me.’

‘You saved my life, Rain!’ I shouted and almost threw my pole down, ‘Why do I have to prove anything to you? Did you not see me fighting that Demigod bear?’

She shrugged and quickly moved forward to fill the space between us. Rain brought her pole up, so I readied mine in defensive. She aimed low, I blocked and the poles clattered together. She angled upwards and I did the same causing the wood to squeak. I tightened my grip and pushed against her. Surprisingly, she was able to stand her ground and we were locked together for a few moments.

‘You have to tell me why,’ I pressed.

‘Like you said, you owe me your life and I want to see what it’s worth,’ she shot back.

Anger flared up inside me and I realised the time for talking was over. However, I couldn’t risk her words being the truth or a lie as right now she was fully intending to win this fight. Blocking all my thoughts and feeling about her, I give into the urge of battle.

I threw all my weight forward and shoved her backwards. Rain’s feet moved across the mat, she gasped. I felt her resistance weakening, then she found grip and ducked under me. I heard her pole clatter to the ground and turned in time to see her somersault, still with the pole in her hands. Rain jumped to her feet and turned to face me again.

I came at her full speed, my pole positioned to land on her head, but in the nick of time she blocked and kicked me in the stomach, though it was a poor blow because her foot bounced back off my armour. She noted that and caused me to toss my head aside to avoid her bare feet as she tumbled into a series of three long back flips. I saw her land upright and I swiftly judge the distance now between us.

I could have crossed it in a few running strides, but instead, like Rain was doing, I caught my breath and prepared again. Despite trying to block it, I still desperately wanted to know why she wanted to kill me and what had led to this. I shook my head, pushing the thoughts away before I tried to engage her in conversation again. We were far passed that now and what really matter was how the fight was going to end.

Rain jumped back into combat and our poles clashed together once more. She pushed against me, the expression on her face and in her eyes one of complete determination. I pressed back, willing this all to end and for her words not to be true. She growled, tipped the left end of her pole down, then brought her knee up before it to push it into my upper leg.

I gritted my teeth, shifted my pole down against her’s, but Rain moved her’s up in a flash and brought the other end into the side of my head. I stumbled, rocked by dizziness. Another blow landed in the same spot and my vision darkened as I hit the floor.

 To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 3, Part 1)

17 Photos of Abandoned Churches These old Churches have long been abandoned but not forgotten. Awesome photos keep them alive in our memories!Continued from Church chapters 1 and 2.

Catch up here if you need to; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/category/church-novella/

Previously;

Blaze, a warrior angel, who is trapped on earth has made his home in a long abandoned church. He fights a taunting daemon, who leads him into a trap to battle a band of demons before facing a Demigod Bear. He is rescued from death by a strange female called Rain. She takes him back to her ‘home’, a Paradise Garden seemingly inside the remains of a cathedral and encourages Blaze to talk about himself. However, Rain is still a mystery, so what secrets is she hiding?

Chapter 3

‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’

1 John 1:8

 I woke up to silence in a strange bed. Glancing to the sides before throwing the heavy duvet back, I sat up and looked around further. My memories came back and I rested against the pillows as an odd sense of calm came over me. The notebooks were scattered around, though the artist one had slipped down the side of the bed.

Picking it up, I placed it with the others and got up. The air was warm, but not stale as it probably should have been. The robe I had worn was laying discard on top of my own black and white robes and armour. I went to pick it up then glanced at the wardrobe. I couldn’t recall just what was in there, because there had been a mass of things. Going over and opening the doors, I looked for something that would suit my next intentions.

Close to the back, where two white fluffy dressing gowns and a blue one. I grabbed a white one and slipping it on, let the wardrobe door swing back. I tied the belt as I walked across the floor and opened the door. The noise from the garden burst into my room, birds were singing morning songs and the stream was joining in with them.

Recalling what Rain had said, I tried to ignore it and hurried into the bathroom. Closing the door behind me, shut out the sound and allowed blessed silence returned. I turned on the shower and left my gown on a pile of towels on top of a wicker basket. I stepped inside the glass cubical and hot water cascaded over my head. I kept my mind purposely clear, not wanting to think of Rain or the notebooks or anything, but the water washing me.

Afterwards, I went back to my room and got dressed in my robes and armour. My mind made up about leaving, even before I had given it proper thought. My hand reached out for my sheathed sword then stopped. Rain could still be sleeping. What if I couldn’t leave without her? And how could I just go without telling her? Rubbing a hand over my face and deciding I had no choice, I left my room and went to stand outside of her’s.

I couldn’t hear anything coming from the other side, even with my powerful hearing. I knocked and heard nothing. Knocking again, I tried the handle, feeling a wave of guilt as I did so. To my surprise the door opened and pushing it further still, I saw Rain wasn’t there. Her bed, a massive four poster complete with dark red velvet curtains and a canopy, was un-made. The pillows, duvet and blankets were scattered about, though the rest of the room looked untouched. Closing the door, I walked to the platform where we had spent a long time talking.

She wasn’t there either. I grabbed a banana from the fruit basket and peeled it as I checked the kitchen. No. Could she have left without me? But why would she do that? I walked back, eating the banana and still avoiding looking out over the garden, least I forgot what I was doing. As I reached my door, I recalled the one next to it, the fourth door, which Rain had said not to go into. I tried the handle and found it locked. Growling, I resolved to just leave and stepped back towards my room. A note of music reached my ears which hadn’t come from any of the birds.

Pausing, I listened hard and heard a line of human made musical notes. I walked back towards the platform, finishing off the fruit and stopping just before the half spiralling stairs. The music was coming from before me, though it had now faded. Ahead of me seemed to be a wall of ivy and a clutter of large plant pots, which held a mixture of large ferns, dragon snaps and pink lilies, lining the short passageway. I went over, dropped the banana peel in one of the pots and sweeping the ivy back discovered a sliding door, neatly hidden away.

Opening it, I stepped down a handful of stairs and found myself in a massive training room. Large blue and green safety mats concealed most of the wooden spring board floor. The walls covered with paintings of different figures from myths and legends around the world fighting. A corner mirror made a right angle shape about a foot long across the very far walls opposite. Two long benches were against the wall on my left side, as well as some stacked chairs and tables. Heavy metal music was pumping out of a large speaker system directly to my right and Rain was standing in the middle of the room, swinging a long wooden pole.

I watched her movements and quickly become enthralled by it. Stealing a quick glance to the edge of a bench at my feet, I sit down quickly and watched her practising. Her moves with precise, her feet ballerina like hardly touch the floor. She twirled the pole with the fingers of one hand as she glided into a spin and struck out at an invisible enemy. She spun away again, switching hands and coming back for another strike. Somehow, she kept up with the beating of the music, quickly twisting away and launching into a backflip, before letting the pole fly out once more.

The singer ended the song and the last notes rung out bringing Rain to a stop. Breathing deeply and sweeping loose strands of hair back, she came over to me. Another song rippled on and oddly I recognized it as Marilyn Mason’s Personal Jesus. Rain stopped before me, standing the pole up and holding it in place. I noticed she was wearing black pants and a vest top.

‘Did you sleep, well?’ she enquired.

I nodded, ‘why do you need such a big room? I mean twenty or thirty people could easily practise in here.’

Rain shrugged, ‘it’s on another plane. Though it’s based on a real room. It was just easier, I guess. Plus, it’s attached to other places I have, just in case it’s ever needed again.’

I just accept it.

‘I bet you’re good in a fight,’ Rain added.

‘It’s what I was made for.’

‘Come on then,’ Rain laughed.

She handed her pole to me and taking it, I felt the wood was still warm from her fingers. Rain crossed the floor and from a large caged crate selected another identical long pole. She came to the centre, holding the pole in both hands and her feet moving into a readying stance.

‘What? Come on,’ she called over.

I glanced at the pole, then back to her, ‘are you sure you want to do this?’

She nodded.

‘I’m wearing armour,’ I pointed out.

Rain moved her feet, changing to a comfortable standing position, whilst letting the pole go slightly loose in her hands. She fixed a determined look on her face, ‘take it off if you want, I’m not bothered.’

‘Actually, I was thinking about leaving.’

Frowning, Rain righted the pole and came to stand before me, ‘Sure if you want. But can’t we have just one fight? I have no one else to practise with at the moment and I need to badly.’

‘So, where are the guys who did the…’ I caught myself and stopped.

‘Huh?’

‘Stay in the other room? That’s what I meant,’ I added quickly.

Rain shrugged, ‘around, I guess.’ A sad looked crossed her face then quickly was replaced with anger, ‘Come on. I promise not to hurt you. Keep your armour on and take that robe off, otherwise it’ll get in the way.’

She turned and went back to the centre again, taking up the same position as before.

Feeling like I didn’t have a choice, I stood up, placed the pole down and took off my black robe. I dropped it on the bench and picked up the pole again. Behind me, I heard Rain shuffling her feet across the mats. I turned and went over, falling into a ready stance, much like the one she had taken up.

To Be Continued…

Bus

There was just something about traveling on a bus that Daisy enjoyed, but she had never been able to pin down the actual reasons. Though, more than often the cons did outweigh the pros of public transport. Standing at the bus stop with her guide dog, Micah, Daisy’s mind wondered into thinking about those reasons why she disliked buses. Carefully, she counted them on her fingers and tried not to say them out loud, as was her normal habit.

Number one, you have to figure out which bus you want to your destination.

Number two, it’s guaranteed you always have to wait for a bus to show up.

Number three, most of the time the bus arrives later then stated.

Number four, buses like to show up in twos or threes.

Number five, making sure you have the correct amount of money in the right coins.

Daisy paused and tapped two of her fingertips to her lips as she thought. She came up with three more reasons and added them to the list. With a sigh, she petted Micah and leant against a low brick wall that boarded one of the houses that over looked the street. The main road before her was busy with a mix of traffic, but there didn’t seem to be a bus in sight. She repeated those last three to herself, whilst fiddling with the strap of her large shoulder bag.

Number six, bus drivers hide their moods and emotions well.  

Number seven, it feels like you only have a few seconds to choose a seat and sit down.

Number eight, sometimes you get bruises and your knees hurt.

Out of the corner of her one good eye, Daisy saw the distinct red colour of the bus. She went to the curb and kept her eyes focused on the bus number panel, which from that distance she could not figure out what it said. Becoming unsure, she stuck her arm out and watched the bus began to slow down. The numbers took shape before her and it was the bus she wanted. Could she get two more reasons and make it to ten before the bus stopped? She wondered.

Number nine, you never want to give up the seat next to you, but you end up doing so.  

Number ten, there’s always someone talking very loudly on a mobile phone or else someone playing music which you’d rather not listen too.  

The bus pulled up before her and Daisy moved back to avoid being hit by the wing mirror. The doors hissed open and she encouraged Micah to guide her on. She showed her pass to the bus driver and just about made out his slow nods. They walked down the small passageway and to the wheel chair and baby pram space, were there were fold out chairs along the wall. The seats behind the area were free, so Daisy sat there and let Micah sprawl out in the wheel chair space.

Rearranging herself as the bus eased off, Daisy backtracked and decided to come up with ten reasons why she liked traveling on the bus. For a few moments, she wasn’t sure where to begin, but as she got use to her surrounds she started a new count on her fingers.

Number one, traveling via bus can let you to get to places easier and faster.

Number two, you can do things which if you were walking or driving you couldn’t do.

Number three, listening into conversations happening around you.

She smiled at that last one and decided that was probably one of her favourite reasons. She had always loved listening to people talking. There was just something about the rise and fall of voices. It made her feel like she wasn’t alone. She felt Micah pressing his head into her lap and she scrubbed his ears. His soft, pleasant groaning and sighing made Daisy giggled. He also caused her to almost say out loud what her fourth reason was, but she caught herself just in time.

‘It probably won’t matter anyway,’ she said instead in a low voice.

Micah’s tail thumped on the floor a few times and Daisy rubbed his head harder. The chocolate Labrador was a slush and loved any sign of affection, even from strangers. Daisy fell back to her thoughts and came up with the next four pro reasons.

Number four, you can meet interesting people.  

Number five, the bus can cut through traffic more easily the majority of the time.

Number six, cheap. Well, when you take other transport into the count.  

Number seven, it can make traveling to new places more fun.

She stopped, feeling like the last two were not true enough reasons to make the list. She was running out of ideas though. The bell rang and Daisy looked out of the window and tried to figure out where they were. A few moments later, she realised the bus had only gone half a mile or so up the road from the stop she had gotten on. There was still awhile to go till the stop she wanted. Plenty of time to come up with the last three notions.

She pulled a few faces and had a deep think about what else she liked about buses. Micah seemed to be dozing off, but he was still being on the alert. Noticing that made Daisy suggest the next one;

Number eight, you can doze and light sleep on a bus.

‘I’m not too sure about that one. It doesn’t sound like a good idea to me,’ she muttered.

‘Are you alright, dear?’ an elderly woman’s voice came from a seat across from her.

‘Yes. Erm, sorry. I was thinking out aloud,’ Daisy replied turning her head to see the woman.

From what she could make out, she guessed that the old woman was over seventy and that she had a shopping bag trolley next to her. Her hair was white and she had on a big coat, also she was still staring. Daisy smiled at her and turned to Micah, who had on hearing her speak opened his eyes and looked about. She patted his head and told him he was a good dog. He licked her hand and wagged his tail.

Settling back, she looked out of the window and tried to keep a look out for the shapes of the buildings around the stop she wanted. Whilst, she was doing that the last to pros popped into her head.

Number nine, you can watch the world going by.

Number ten, other passengers are very considerate.

That’ll do. Maybe in the future I’ll come up some better ones.

Daisy then let her thoughts scatter on to other things until her stop finally arrived and Micah guided her off the bus.

Crashing Waves

The lighthouse keeper loved the sounds of the sea, especially the crashing of large waves on the rocks surrounding his home. Whenever there was a storm, he would sit beside the highest port window and watch the raging sea below him.

Bench

Why does his expression look pained? Write about his day and what occurred to make him feel the way he does. #Writinginspiration #prompts #writing #writersblock Steven sat on the park bench in the fine rain. He was deep in thought and so could no longer feel the wetness soaking into his jeans and woollen coat, nor how cold he was becoming. He had thrown his head back the second he had settled down and at first he had felt the tiny spots of cold rain on his skin, but they like everything else had faded into the background. His mind kept playing that single moment over and over in his head as if thoroughly examining it would lead to further clarification. It made no difference and only stirred his emotions more. He wished it hadn’t happened and that he could un-see everything, but it won’t quit and there again he saw Tawny sitting on top of Harrison. They were both naked and busy in an act that Steven shouldn’t have witnessed. He remembered closing the door and seeing from the corner of his eye Tawny raise her head towards him and gasp. He had left her house, walked to this nearby park and found the bench. He had dropped the still wrapped bunch of roses on the floor, as up until that point he had forgotten he was actually carrying them. The rain had ruined them now and the blood red petals had become much darker and looked on the edge of dying. In his pocket, his phone vibrated with an incoming call, but Steven ignored it. For some reason, there didn’t seem much point in anything right now. He heard a dog barking and against his will, his eyes flickered open and he pulled his head up. On the path before him was an old woman with a scruffy little dog on the end of a lead. She was dragging the dog away and mumbling at it. Steven shot her a disgusted look before realising that the woman’s face and eyes were fixed on the floor, so she couldn’t see him. A wave of guilt washed over him then faded as the woman and dog left him alone again. His phone went off a second time and he dug it out of his pocket. It was Tawny. He hit answer and pressed the phone to his ear only to hear a very tear chocked and desperate voice. He could hardly catch the words because she was speaking so fast and not making much sense. He hung up. Miniature rain drops fell on the screen of his phone. He watched them gather and drifted back into his thoughts once more.

The Dead Marshes (Part 4)

Morgrim watched the Dead Marshes come to life as dawn finished rising and the daylight hours begin. It was an overcast day, but enough light was filtering down for them to see the marshland for a good distance all round. Rolling hills and clumps of trees and bushes were more scattered around then he had seen in similar marshes before. The stink of the rot and stagnate pools had gotten stronger and seemed to be in every intake of breath. Morgrim watch gnats and other small flying insects crowding the air, which also contained singing birds, croaking frogs and the rustling of other animals.

Ahead of Morgrim, the four kobolds were quickly walking and chattering amongst themselves. They seemed perfectly at home and even though they were still walking on the wooden log pathway, sometimes one of the kobolds would veer off and walk in the tall grass or at the edge of a pool. They scampered back quickly enough and would shoot him curious looks, before joining in the jabbering conversation with the others again.

Behind Morgrim, he was aware of his friends taking a somewhat guarded approach to their walk across the marshland. It seemed some of them – especially the half-elf- believed they could be attacked at any moment, even from the kobolds or something else. The dragonborn sisters were talking in low voices in their own tongue, but keeping their eyes searching for any trouble. Grub, bring up the rear, was muttering to himself and chewing on something. He didn’t seem bothered by their present situation, but Morgrim knew better than just to assume that.

‘How much longer to the castle?’ Morgrim called loudly.

The kobold’s chatter died down and the one that had spoken before and seemed to be their leader came over to him.

‘It-s-s two passing-s of the day and ones of the night,’ the kobold hissed, ‘we have camp half-ways-s. Heading there.’

Morgrim nodded, suddenly feeling the weight of the journey ahead.

‘Two days and a night?’ Cerseia questioned, striding to join them.

The kobold bobbed his head quickly and made a hu hu sound.

‘Are we really trusting them?’ she asked, turning to Morgrim.

‘For now,’ he replied, ‘I know you don’t like it…but sometimes…’

‘Why don’t we just get there ourselves? This pathway must go straight up to the castle. Why do you need them?’ Cerseia pressed, trying to keep her voice low, but failing to do so towards the end. Her eyes shot to the kobold leader.

He turned his head away, ducked as if she had made to hit him and hurried back to his friends. He spoke something quickly to them and they slowed down.

‘They can help us,’ Morgrim explained, ‘they might know a secret way into the castle and they might have friends they can rally to aid us. This is a compromise, Cerseia. I’m sure if they turn against us you can easily handle them. I need you to trust me right now,’ Morgrim paused then shook his head slightly, ‘At least try to anyway,’ he added.

Cerseia sighed and pulled a face. She glanced around, but didn’t say any more.

They walked in mostly silence for the rest of the day and by the time they arrived at the kobolds’ camp they were all exhausted. Morgrim eyed the spot they had been led to, it was little more than a flattered patch of marsh grass, which contained two small badly made wooden huts and a stone circle for the fire. Sinking before the circle, Morgrim watched the kobolds gather sticks and make a fire. Two of them left soon after, disappearing into the long grass that surrounded them.

Katliana and Konniana joined him at the fire, Cerseia took up a watchful position close by and Grub inspected the huts. He shuffled over a few moments later and sat down next to Morgrim. They all watched the fire greedily burning through the dry wood.

‘Here, here,’ the lead kobold said at Morgrim’s elbow.

He looked down to see the scaly hands holding him a small, but deep wooden bowl which contained a clear liquid.

‘What is it?’ he asked.

‘Water. It-s-s goods. Not Marsh-y.’

Morgrim took the bowl and swirled the water around. He sniffed it and then took a sip. The kobold had been right. The water was clean and tasted fine. He drink deeper, discovering a thirst he hadn’t know he had. He felt another elbow digging into his other side and looked over the bowl at Grub’s face. Quickly stopping, Morgrim swallowed and handed him the bowl.

Grub drink deeply as he had just done and finished the water off. He let Katliana take the bowl from him and watch her stare down at it.

‘I think we need some more,’ Morgrim pointed out.

The kobold came over, took the bowl and hurried off again. This time though Konniana followed him and found that just opposite them was a clear stream. Strangely, it was untouched by the marshland. The kobold rushed passed her and delivered the bowl to Katliana, before going over to the other remaining kobold and hissing at him.

‘There’s a clean stream here,’ Konniana called over.

They all came over and drink their fill from the stream. Upon returning, they found that the other kobolds had come back and brought some dead animals with them. These were prepared and placed on the fire. The smell of burning meat and wood filled the coming night.

‘Do you have name?’ Morgrim asked the leader after a few minutes.

‘Kak. I-is-s chief,’ came the reply.

‘I’m Morgrim.’

Kak nodded and handed him the tail of a snake on a stick, ‘not-s- much,’ he said almost shyly.

‘Thank you,’ Morgrim responded and began eating.

The kobolds passed everyone else a stick with cooked meat on the end and they all eat together. Afterwards, the kobolds curled up together and fell sleep.

‘I am taking first watch,’ Cerseia replied and got up.

‘The huts don’t look so bad,’ Grub cut in, ‘I’m going to sleep in one of them.’

Morgrim nodded and watched them both leave.

‘You should sleep,’ Katliana said gently.

‘I will,’ he replied.

Morgrim woke up to the calling of a bird. Pushing himself off the ground, he glanced around. The kobolds had the fire going again and were cooking more animals. The dragonborns were just waking up too and Grub was coming back from the stream. Morgrim’s eyes flickered around, but he could not spot Cerseia. Just as he was about to ask for her, she appeared out of one of the huts. Without saying anything, she walked out of the camp and towards a clump of trees.

Stroking his beard, Morgrim rolled his shoulders and climbed to his feet.

‘We-s- be off-s s-soon,’ Kak said to him.

Morgrim nodded and wondered off into the tall grass.

A good few minutes later they were back on the pathway again. The new day stretched out before them and though they were feeling somewhat refreshed, tiredness loomed over them. The kobolds were happy enough and seemed braver today. A number of times all of them vanished in the grass for growing periods of time. However, Morgrim was not worried and realised they were discovering their newly found freedom. His companions seemed on edge and very quiet, but Morgrim did not blame them for being so as they were fast approaching a possible difficult fight.

Hours of walking later, they spotted the grey stone walls of a tower castle on the horizon. Seeing this filled them with more confidence and eagerness and the pace was picked up. As they drew closer, Morgrim saw that it was only a small castle and fast crumbling away. There was nothing surrounding it and the place looked abandoned. Coming to a stop in a dip before the castle’s arched gateway, Morgrim gathered everyone together.

‘Do you know a hidden way inside?’ Morgrim asked.

Kak nodded, ‘arounds the backs. S-safe.’

‘And the wizard?’ Cerseia asked quickly, ‘are you sure he’s in there?’

‘Yes-s. S-sees!’ Kak cried and pointed upwards.

They all looked over and saw a dim light in one of the tower’s windows.

‘Hes’s s-studys, booo-ks.’

Morgrim nodded, ‘lead the way.’

Kak made the hu hu sound again and ducking down, crept off to the side. Everyone followed behind him, trying to keep as quiet as possible. Kak lead them along the side of the castle and to a back door. He easily opened it and waved them all inside. The passage way they entered into lead them to a store room like space. Wordless, Kak pointed to another door then upwards, before walking on.

Morgrim nudged, Konniana and Cerseia before him then slipped back beside Grub, so that Katliana was between them. Slowly, they made their way through the castle and Kak staying true to his word, brought them into the wizard’s study. The door of which was open and they could see the piles of books stacked on tables, chairs and the floor. Looking passed them and deeper into the room, they could see a figure bent over something in the far corner.

A voice tickled their ears and they heard a mash of words. Morgrim turned to Cerseia and pointed to her then the figure. Understanding with a nod, she drew her sword almost silently and walked carefully across the floor. The others held their breaths as she did so and got ready to attack.

Cerseia eased her blade onto the figure’s robed shoulder, ‘Don’t move,’ she said in a low voice.

The man jumped, twisting around and throwing the book he had been reading at her. Cerseia whacked it away, slicing through a number of pages which fluttered to the ground as the book landed with a thud behind them. The man wedged himself into the corner with his hands flat against the wall, stared at her, then reach for a short sword at his belt.

‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you,’ Cerseia hissed and confirmed with a glance over her shoulder that her friends had come to join her.

‘Are you the dark wizard of this castle?’ Morgrim asked as he eyed up the man.

He looked fresh out of childhood, very pale, skinny and nothing like what Morgrim had been expecting to find.

The man nodded, ‘I am Ralnon Sirleach and you have invaded my home!’

‘Have you been stealing treasure from the nearby villages and towns and using the innkeeper of the Blue Horned Goat to obtain it and pass it on to you?’ Morgrim demanded.

‘What? No! How dare you accuse me of such a thing!’

‘You are just a boy, aren’t you? Cerseia jumped in, she still had her sword pointed at him, ‘you are not a real wizard. Where’s you master?’

‘There is no one else! I lied, all right. Please don’t hurt me!’ Ralnon shouted.

‘Let him go, Cerseia,’ Morgrim said gruffly.

She dropped her sword, but did not move away.

‘Why are you here boy? And what do you know about the stolen treasure? Do not lie to us again or my friend here might let her sword slip just a little.’

‘I came to study. I really want to be a wizard and I have some powers already. I found out on my second night here that the innkeeper was using the cellar to store the treasure. He doesn’t know I have been staying here. I hide ever time anyone comes here,’ Ralnon explained.

‘But what about the kobolds? They said you had enslaved them and taken their marsh.’

‘Yes, well. I had to…do something about them. I knew the innkeeper already had them under his command and I sort of used that to convince them he was actual working for me, so they were my slaves too. I didn’t harm any of them though.’

‘Great,’ Grub grumbled, ‘we came all this way for nothing and I was ready for a fight too.’

‘We could still kill him,’ Cerseia counted and she jabbed the tip of her sword at Ralnon’s throat.

The boy squirmed and tried to move away, but he was now pinned to the wall, ‘please. I said I was sorry and I’ve told you anything I know! Just, please!’

‘So, it was the innkeeper all along,’ Katliana put in.

‘You were right after all,’ Konniana added.

‘The kobolds are free now,’ Morgrim cut back in, ‘and they get their marsh back.’

Ralnon nodded as his face desperately pled with Cerseia to let him go.

‘Let’s leave,’ Morgrim spoke and arranging his warhammer as he walked out the room.

‘Are you sure you want to let him live?’ Cerseia’s voice drifted over to him.

‘His just a boy and I believe what he said. Come on let’s go back to the inn and get our things. We need to report back as well.’

Grouchily, the others trailed after him and as they passed Kak, who had been hiding on the stairwell, Morgrim told him he was free and his marsh returned. Happily, the kobold turned and ran down the stairs. The high jabbering of his and his friend’s voices followed them out of the castle.

Stealing a last look at the place, Morgrim sighed and gripping his Warhammer began walking down the pathway and back the way they had come. Cerseia came to his side moments later and he was aware of the others keeping pace with them.

‘I still can’t believe it,’ Cerseia cried out.

Morgrim half shrugged his shoulders.

‘How can you be so sure?’

‘Did you see that boy? He looked almost ready to just fall on your blade. And what did he have to gain by lying? Though I’m still not sure that the half-orc came up with all of this…’

‘Where else can we look for the truth?’ Katliana asked.

Morgrim shook his head, ‘it’s over. It’s time to move on again.’

‘Maybe some place without a marsh?’ Grub called up from the back.

‘Maybe,’ Morgrim replied and lead his company out of the Dead Marshes.