Inheritance Rights

Marul Gutenberg bent double, breathing hard, he squeezed his eyes shut and gritted his teeth. Sweat bubbled on his forehead and he could feel it starting to run down his face. Pain throbbed through his arms and legs but mostly it was in his chest; where the blow had taken him by surprise.

He tried to grip the pommel of his long sword tighter but the sweat on his palms caused the smoothed ridges to slip from under his fingers.

There was a sudden burst of voices that rose in roars of approval. Hands clapped loudly, echoing though the stone courtyard.

The sound hurt his ears as Marul let it wash over him. He shook his head slightly as if trying to clear his ears of the noise but he already knew it was useless to try and block the noise out again. Swift footsteps tapped across the cobbled floor towards him and instinctively Marul ducked.

The wind whistled where his head had just been as the sword cut though the air.

“Stop!” he yelled.

Marul opened his eyes as the tip of the long sword was pushed against his throat.

“Do you surrender?” asked a light voice.

“Yes,” Marul gagged as the sword tip pushed harder.

The sword dropped away.

Marul put his hand to his throat as he stood up, he then pulled his hand back and looked at the wetness on the palm of his hand. Red blood droplets were smeared across his skin, the sword tip had draw blood.

Marul glanced up at his older brother, Wolf Gutenberg, who was standing only a few paces away from him and waving and bowing to the crowed of people that had gathered around them. The sound of their voices cheering and applauding was louder then before and mixed in with the clapping hands.

“Ha, little brother, I win again!” Wolf shouted and then stomped over to Marul and punched him on the shoulder.

Marul drew himself up and let his sword drop with a loud clatter to the floor of the courtyard as he clutched his now bruised shoulder.

The crowd of onlookers began to disperse. Some of them left in small groups, talking softly, whilst the men of the guard returned to their posts around the high walls of the courtyard. Above their heads the torn yellow flag bearing the black lion symbol of Averland flew in the wind. Marul watched a group of women carrying wicker baskets under their arms going back to their tasks in his father’s house.

“What do you fancy fighting with next? Short swords perhaps?”

Marul turned back to Wolf, who was busy tighten one of his ornamented breastplate’s leather straps.

“No,” Marul replied.

Wolf smiled widely, showing off his white teeth and large, pointy fangs.

“Not scared are you, little brother?” Wolf asked mockingly.

Marul brushed his brown hair back with his hand and bent to pick up his long sword.

“I have better things to do…..” Marul started.

“Better things…then preparing for war? The undead are baying outside the city walls, little brother.”

Wolf turned on his heels and started to walk away. His two servants followed behind him closely, they were carrying Wolf’s long black cloak, green feather plumed helmet and another long sword that was sheathed.

Marul stood up and took a deep breath, “….then play-fighting,” he finished.

Wolf spun to face him, a flash of anger across his red sweating face.

Marul tightened his grip on his sword in both hands and spread his feet in preparation for his brother to charge at him.

“Play-fighting? Is that what you think to our practicing?” Wolf snapped, “Well….” he ran a hand though his short black beard, “I’ll try harder to kill you next time then.”

Wolf flashed Marul a wolf like grin and then walked out of the courtyard.

Marul let go of the breath he had been holding and turned to leave. His own servant was standing to the left of him; he was holding a helmet with a yellow plume and short pale yellow cloak. The servant give Marul a nerves smile.

“Well done my lord!”

Marul shot him a look and then snatched the cloak out of the man’s hands.

“I was sure of your victory in that round but that last blow….”

“Stop,” Marul snapped and he drew a deep breath, “How bears my father?”

The servant to the young lord paused before saying gently, “He is worse my lord. There are doubts he will survive the night.”

Marul turned away and started to walk out of the courtyard with the servant trailing behind him.

*

“Only yesterday Kurt Wossoff had a run in with three skeleton warriors in the Heroes mounds, which means were have a Necromancer or something worse in our mists,” Joss Vaker, chief advisor to the Lord of Walberg spoke.

The other advisors and guards shifted nervously in the room. They eyes dart around the tapestry covered walls, avoiding meeting anyone else’s.

Joss stopped pacing before the dais and before he turned he glanced up at the empty throne like chair on the dais and allowed the heaviness to lay on his heart. He let out a deep breath and clutched the scroll tightly in his hand.  He turned away and faced the room once more.

“We must call for heroes and all sword-sellers to stand with us!”

Whispering voices echoed though the room.

Suddenly the wooden double doors banged open and Wolf Gutenberg, first son of the Lord of Walberg, walked into the room. He held his head high, his black hair loose over his shoulders and his high rounded cheeks glowing red. His sharp brown eyes scanned the room and then he crossed the floor swiftly in his large boots. His sheathed sword banged against his leg as he walked.

Silence had fallen in the room.

“What is going on here?” he demand as he beared down on his father’s chief advisor.

“Well…sir…you see…we’ve had a report of another attack.”

Wolf stepped up onto the dais and sank down into the chair.

“Wine,” he called and waved his hand at the nearest servant.

“But this one was different,” Joss finished.

“How so?”

“Well, skeleton warriors were involved.”

Wolf chocked on his mouthful of wine. He quickly covered this up by swallowing it and taking another mouthful.

“Where was this attack?” he asked.

“At the old Heroes mounds, in Avavest woods.”

Wolf gritted his teeth and stared into the goblet of wine.

“We must finish our preparations,” Joss added.

“Yes,” Wolf answered, “See it is done!”

Marul sink onto his bed and watched the wax dripping down from the candle that was on the table beside him. The tiny flame flickered in a small breeze and the wick cracked loudly. Marul signed and started to pull off his knee length leather boots.

“Your father has request you, sir,” Branen Uriah spoke, breaking the silence.

Marul glanced up at the voice of his servant. The small man was putting some clean clothes away in a chest at the foot of the bed.

“What for?” Marul snapped, he was tired of being called to his father’s sickbed.

“I don’t know, sir.”

Marul sighed, pulled his boot back up and stood up from the bed. He checked his sword was buckled around his waist and then he walked out of his room. He began to walk to the other side of the castle to his father’s rooms. The cold bare stone walls were lit by torches, the flames waved in the drifts that roamed though the castle. Soft voices floated to Marul’s ears though half opened doors. He past windows and though then he could see the coming darkness of night. He kept an eye out of the twin moons, Morrslib and Manslib as he did so.

At last he came to the staircase that led up to his father’s rooms.  As he walked up the spiral staircase he could hear soft voices and the scent of herbs coming from above him. He paused at the open wooden door, hiding in the shadow of the wall. He looked into the room.

The vast bed lay in the middle of the room, it was heaped with blankets and thick furs. A huge fire burnt brightly and fiercely in the wall opposite. The large window had also been covered up a thick drape.

“But father Wolf’s voice called out sharply.

Marul strained to hear the next voice but he could not make out the words.

“Please!” another voice whispered loudly.

Silence fell.

Marul gritted his teeth and walked into the room, his hand resting on the top of his sword.

“Here is Marul, my lord,” one of the advisers around his father’s bed whispered.

Marul walked up to the bed and stared into his fathers face.

The lord of Walberg was wasting away. His skin was a deathly white shade and his wrinkled face seemed to have sunken in. The eye lids were closed but under them Marul could see the eyeball moving. The pale blue tinted lips were partly open but the great, long black beard his father had worn with pride had been removed to stubble crossing his lower face.

Marul clutched his father’s icy cold hand in his own.

“I am here, Father,” he said quietly.

The dying man drew in a wheezing breath and struggled to open his eyes.

The men around the bed had moved back, they had stepped into the shadows of the dimly lit chamber. Wolf was the only one left by the bed and was at the foot of it, resting his back against one of the bed poles.

“M..Marul?” the voice croaked.

Marul lent his ear closer to his father’s mouth so he could hear better.

“I’m here,” he repeated and squeezed his father’s withered hand.

“I..I have de…decided…to…give you half…..”

The Lord Walberg started coughing and Marul quickly pulled his head back.

He turned to Wolf and then dropped his father’s hand and walked over to him.

“Half?” he questioned his father’s words to his brother.

Wolf nodded his head slowly, “Half of everything. He decided to spilt it down the middle.”

Marul cast a look back to his dying father. One of the servants had stepped forward with a damp rag of cloth which he wiped across the forehead of the dying lord.

“Even the town?” Marul spoke suddenly.

“Yes,” Wolf answered and then swore loudly.

This caused some of the advisers to shake their hands.

The Lord of Walberg suddenly took a large breath in which caused everyone else in the room to hold theirs. His eyes rolled backwards and then his last breath was forced from his lungs. There was a hushed silence in the room.

Joss Vaker, chief adviser, stepped forward to the bed and looked into the face of the lord.

“He is died,” Joss breathed, “Our noble lord has passed into the realms of Morr.”

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Dog

dog

Caught

She hadn’t meant to get caught again, not after the last time.

Sitting on the hard chair, she watched them go through her things.

She stayed quiet, the evidence laid out in front of her for all to see.

Church (Chapter 4, Part 4)

(Continued from Church Chapter 4, Part 1, 2 and 3)

He was dead. I knew it without even looking. I went her. She had sunk down the wall and struggling to breath. Blood stained her clothes and turned everything red around us. Kneeling, I watched the slow raising and falling of her chest and the dagger still protruding from her. I took her hand, knowing there was nothing I could do but offer comfort. Our eyes came to rest on each other’s and she seemed to study me, questions forming and dying in her head.

‘Are you my guardian angel?’ she finally whispered.

I shook my head.

‘But you are an angel. I can see it,’ she rasped.

‘I was just passing,’ I responded though there was heaviness to my words.

Her eyes left mine and she looked around, ‘are you going to take me to Hell?’

‘I’m not that type of angel.’

I watched her face change into one of confusion and her lips trying to form more questions. I squeezed her hand and tried to think of something else to say.

‘I don’t want to die,’ she stuttered and began to cry.

‘It’s not so bad,’ I whispered.

Gently, I drew her into a hug and held her. Her hair was soft on my cheek and I could feel her tears falling on my shoulder. She smelt of sweat, blood and old perfume. She tried to put her arms around me, but instead I felt her collapse against me and her breathing becoming slower. I wondered where her guardian angel was and when a reaper would show up. I looked down, moved some of her hair from her face.

She went quietly.

Laying her down, I sit next to her and took some deep breaths. The city was still carrying on around us. I could hear cars and people going by, the ebb and flow of voices. Harsh breathing caught my attention and I looked over the three bodies to my left. Knife man was still alive.

I flattered my palms on the cold road and pulled myself up. Arranging my clothes, I walked over, anger burning in my heart. In a flash image, I saw myself dragging him up from the floor and shaking him. I demanded he tell me the truth about everything and why the girl had had to die. I had seen her aura and yes, her life had been tinted with badness, but she had tried to overcome it.

I reached him and made myself visible as an angel, with my wings unfolding around me, my sword appearing at my side, my armour glowing and robes flowing about me. Kicking him, bought him further around and he opened glazed eyes into mine, but as I looked down, I felt only pity.

‘I should kill you,’ I spit, ‘you helped bring her death.’

He groaned and twisted his head away, but all he could see was the body of Boss.

‘You would have had her after he was finished with her. I know it. I should bring you to judgement. You’re not worth of this life, you act like a daemon does.’

I nudged him to get him to turn back. Blood was drying on his face, but I could see that his breathing was steadying. This time his eyes widened and he took me completely in. I saw a spark of fear and his tongue roamed his mouth as if wetting it. My hand strayed to my sword.

‘Beg for forgiveness now and vow that from this moment on you will live a clean life. This is your only chance at redemption. I’ll grant it to you if you swear to this and that you will become a good man,’ I stated.

His mouth began to move, then his lips formed around a single word, ‘yes.’

‘Say it,’ I demanded and stilled my sword arm.

‘I beg your forgiveness for all my sins and vow to live a good clean life,’ he spoke quietly.

‘You will take up a religion,’ I added, ‘this will help you to keep you vows.’

He stared at me, trying to decide if he had heard me right.

‘Christianity, in its many forms, is often the preferred one,’ I suggested.

‘Yes, I will do it,’ he muttered and shut his eyes.

‘And if you don’t stay true, I shall seek you out and finish what you started today.’

‘I understand.’

‘Then I renounce you. Go in peace and may you see the light.’

I turned, my boots shuffling on the floor and went to the entrance of the side street. I lingered there, making myself invisible and watching for an angel to arrive. The sky had gotten darker and the streetlamps were flickering on. I leant against the wall, hand on my sword and watched knife man get to his feet.

He stumbled over to his Boss, kicked him hard whilst muttering some foul words and then headed my way. I ignored him, but placed him in my memory, meaning to stay true to my word. I shut my eyes, feeling a peculiar tiredness coming upon me. My job was over, I should leave, but I wanted to meet a reaper or any other angel. I turned over what I would say to them, but the two questions that kept coming to my mind seemed stupid.

It began to rain.

I opened my eyes as I felt the first specks fell and noticed the spray of droplets under the streetlights. A black cloud bank had rolled across the night sky blocking out the sprinkling of starts and half full moon. I turned my face up as it began to rain more heavily and marvelled in how refreshing and cleansing the simple water was. I decided I had to leave. I turned the corner and walked away. A reaper would come by to claim their souls, but clearly they were in no rush. I was feeling drained and couldn’t risk being exposed any more. I found another empty side street and took off. The rain beat down on my wings, sticking my feathers together and making it more difficult to fly.

I regretted leaving, but what would I have actually said to another angel? Really, there was only one I wanted to see and talk to. I flew higher and the weather didn’t change, but I battled on. I went over a few towns, then the park, then fields. The village was a dot under me and everything had become darker. I landed in the church graveyard, just as the wind picked up and forced me to hurry under the archway.

I shook the water from my clothes and hair, before putting my hand on the door. The sensation of being watched ran up my spine. I twisted my head and rested my chin on my shoulder, thinking it was nothing more than the spirits. My hand slipped from the door and I turned, knowing that it couldn’t be them in this weather. I glanced around the graveyard then down to the lichgate.

A figure was standing there, watching me.

Church (Chapter 4, Part 3)

(Continued from Church Chapter 4, Part 1 and 2)

Standing on the church porch, I looked up at the darkening sky which was becoming a wash with colours. The day was slowly ending. I glanced around the graveyard as I walked to the lichgate, but couldn’t detect any of the spirits. Jumping over, I walked down the road and towards the main one. There, I watched a tractor go by in the field opposite, before unfurling my wings. Fluffing out my feathers, I listened to the unusual quietness around me.

My senses hadn’t picked up any evil yet, but that wasn’t going to put me off. Maybe I could find someone to help instead? The tasks of a warrior angel sometimes board on doing missions like that. Flapping my wings and kicking off from the ground, I made myself invisible to the human eye and took to the sky. I dodge growing light grey clouds and birds. I felt the last of the sun’s heat on me and felt joyous.

Without meaning too or really thinking about it, I flew towards the park where I had fought last night. Landing safely in the cover of trees, I walked to the spot where everything had happened. Oddly, the area looked cleaner. The broken trees and branches had been removed and the grass didn’t have deep gorge marks across it. There was nothing to indicate that anything had gone on here.

The battle replayed in my head, bring with it Rain. That image of her atop the Demi-god bear burned into me. She had been all in black and taking on a solid form as she looked down at me. I had felt worried due to not knowing what she was and feeling the power coming off her. Strangely, I then remembered how she had stood there as if in conversation with something I couldn’t see. Had she just been weighing things up herself or had it been some spirit guide? Perhaps, I should have asked when I’d had the chance.

I walked through the rest of the park, secretly passing by joggers, parents and their children, teenagers and people heading home. Only the dogs saw me go by and whilst most of them barked, I few came up to me. I patted their heads and blessed them. Animals are neutral, they do nothing good or bad as their actions involve their survival.

I journeyed on, taking to the sky again and flying further then I had done before. I landed on the roof of a skyscraper and looked down at the new city. Many other towers reached into the air as if man was trying to claim the sky. The sun reflected off many glass surfaces, sending splashes of colour everywhere. And the noise! There was so much life below me. I listened to the conversations, trying to pick up on anyone who needed help. Nothing major came to me.

I fluttered down to street level, making sure I still couldn’t be seen and sat on the roof of a parked car. The street and road were packed with people on the move. For a few minutes I enjoyed the sounds, sights and smells. Human life fascinated me no end. Then a female like crying came to me. It could have been nothing, but I decided to check it out.

The crying sound led me to a hardly used side street. At the top of which was a dead end and had a group of figures clustered around. Hovering just above the pavement, I drifted over to watch and valuate.  There was a woman dressed in a dirty short skirt and low cut top, surround by four men. She had wild black hair and red rimmed eyes, she wasn’t speaking in English but another language, which I didn’t recognise. She was clearly pleading with the men to leave her alone.

The men all looked the same to me; tall, dark skinned, muscular bodies, short hairstyles. They were all wearing designer jeans, shirts and shoes. They spoke the same language as her, but didn’t seem to be listening to her. In fact they were laughing and mocking her. They called her cruel names and threated her if she didn’t do what they wanted.

What had caused this? I had no idea, but I didn’t want it to continue. I revealed myself to them, but without my wings and walked straight up.

‘Leave her alone!’ I shouted in their language, because that was not a barrier to angels.

They stared at me, lips curled up in sneers and marking me up. I saw one slip out a long knife from behind him and try to conceal it along his arm. The woman, who had had her fists on the chest of the apparent Boss, turned to me and began shouting, ‘go away, stay out of this! They’ll kill you.’

‘Better do as she says!’ the Boss cut in.

He grabbed the woman’s arms and pulled her into a corner. She cried loudly, but I couldn’t see what he was doing because he was blocking my view. The other three men added to this and stepped towards me. They looked menacing and I could feel their evil intentions radiating from them. I looked into their auras and found that they weren’t daemons nor had they been touched by them. They were just men who had had a bad life and believed they could take whatever they wanted.

I gritted my teeth and tried to stop a growl escaping me. I felt no pity towards them and knowing their true natures only made me feel stronger. I debated trying to talk them out of it, but I could see that wasn’t going to happen. These men wanted blood. My hand went for my sword, but I realised it would be useless in this fight. I fingers touched my side as my ears picked up their sniggering laughter.

‘You left your weapon at home, hero?’ the knife man asked.

‘No,’ I replied calmly and remembering they couldn’t see the sword due to it being Heaven made and thus beyond their sight.

They laughed as if my response was a joke. Behind them the woman let out a desperate moan. I didn’t need to see to know what was happening to her now. I felt anger well inside of me and in one quick movement I balled my hand up and swung a punch at knife man.

My fist collided with his nose and I heard bone breaking. The knife clattered to the floor and he buried his face in his hands. I breathed deeply and watched blood dripping though his fingers and staining the cracks in his knuckles.

‘What the fuck?’ his left wingman muttered.

Knife man’s eyes meet mine and I saw the pain reflect in them. He lunged at me and caught in a bear hug, growling loudly in my ear. I brought my knee up and shoved it in-between his legs.  A low blow perhaps, but it worked and he let go as he doubled over. I put my hands together, fingers linked and threw some of my upper body weight behind it as I wacked him on the back between the shoulder blades, whilst I brought that same knee up and into his face. He crumbled to the floor, gasping for breath, blood splattering his face.

My eyes flickered to the other two and the third man with the woman. They were all watching me and rethinking their early judgement of me. I waited, planning my next attack. Right wingman scooped up the knife and waved it threatening at me, ‘I’ll guts you likes a piggy,’ he slurred and rushed forward.

‘Gets him, Moze!’ left wingman shouted.

He ploughed into me, the knife aimed at my stomach. However, I punched him then knocked his arms away. We wrestled for the knife, whilst he tried to cut me with it. He was good at dodging my blows, but his hands were sweaty and in a few moves, I easily ripped the knife out of his hands. He backed up, breathing hard and looking panicked. I stepped up and stuck the knife in his stomach, just as he had intended to do to me. He doubled over, but not before I had yanked the blade out.

Left wingman looked scared and he was trying to flatten himself against the wall. His eyes darted between me and his Boss.

‘Not what you were expecting from a weapon-less hero, right?’ I asked, coldly.

‘Get him, you idiot,’ Boss yelled.

‘No, way,’ left wingman replied and rushed passed me.

I could’ve struck out and sliced his legs or low body, but the woman’s soft moaning drew my attention more. Boss had her pinned to the wall with his beefy arm across her throat. His other hand zipped up his jeans as he eyed me.

‘You should’ve stayed out of this. What’s this whore to you anyways?’ he asked.

I shrugged.

‘She’s worthless to me,’ he added.

Quickly, he drew a dagger from his t-shirt sleeve and stabbed her in the chest. I raced over, her scream and cry filling all my senses. I brought my knife down into him and felt the blade carving through flesh and muscle, hitting bone.

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 4, Part 2)

Continued from Church Chapter 4, Part 1

I opened my eyes and a moan escaped from my mouth. I was far too hot and sweating, so I threw off all the blankets and stretched out. I could feel the afternoon heat seeping in though the badly nailed wooden boards. I sat up, rubbing my face and pushing back strands of my long gold-red hair. My hand dropped to my hairless tight muscled chest and my fingernails scratched across my skin. Next, I massaged my shoulders and neck feeling the dull pains there because of my rough bed.

My eyes landed on the nearest wooden board and noticing that two of the small nails were loose, I got an idea. Standing up, I stepped over and wrapped my fingers around the edge of the board. Gently, I tugged it away from the wall and it easily gave way.  Light flooded inside and caused dust motes to take to the air. I ripped the rest of that side away, sending a few nails popping. Now, I had a window. Fresh air drifted in slowly as if it was exploring a place it had long forgotten about. I looked out over the graveyard and patched farmland, enjoying the sight.

Sitting down, I pulled my hair loose and looked at the lilac hair tie between my fingers. It was her’s. She had tied my hair back with it just after I had awakened from her knocking me out. I played with it, rubbing it against my fingers and thinking of that moment. I never tied my hair back, but after a few moments, I did just that again.

Casting my eyes around, I saw nothing else to do but to get up and dressed. It was too early to go out searching for evil, so I didn’t bother putting my armour on just my robes. No socks or boots neither. I loved the feeling of the dry wooden boards beneath me. The candle was still lit on the desk and blowing it out, I decided to do a bit of tidying up. Maybe it was due to the sudden rays of light now revealing how messy the room was?

I did my desk first by arranging the candles, matches, books, paper and pens. My bed was next and I sorted out the bedding, removed anything that wasn’t a blanket or a pillow, before doing the mattress up as best I could. The rest of the things on the floor were mostly clothes, books and empty water bottles. I picked all these up, putting the clothes in the large trunk in the far corner, the books on the desk and the bottles in a pile.

My stomach growled and I paused at the sound. It had felt like an age since I had last eaten something. I went over to the small food cupboard I had and looked through the items Granny Malock had given me. I selected a few things and a bottle of water. Sitting at the desk, I ate and drink whilst my mind remembered the ‘not-real’ food Rain had offered me. I paused as I thought about her. What was she doing now?

Shaking my head, I finished up eating a sandwich and an orange. The water was warm and made my mouth and throat drier. I drank the bottle and dropped it with the other ones. Sweeping the orange peel and plastic wrap to the side, I picked up the black covered notebook and starting at the beginning looked through the pages. A part of me had expected the pages to be blank or for something else to happen, but no, the pencil and pen sketches looked the same as they had done last time.

The first page was of the ruined cathedral and second page of the Paradise Garden in great, but small detail. Close ups of flowers on the next, followed by rabbits on the fourth and an owl on the fifth. I turned that page and the sketches of Rain began. I slowed down and studied them more closely than before. The artist had really taken his time to try and get her face right. I wondered who he was and how he had known Rain. Was he an angel like me? Or something else? He had liked her though, I could tell from the way he had drawn her.

The eighth page and I was staring into the eyes of a young man. Was it possible that he was the artist and Rain had drawn this? In a flash, I pictured them together, sitting in the oak tree chairs on the platform. The basket of fruit was on the matching table and they were laughing together. He got up, showed her the sketch he had just completed and handed everything to her so she could do one of him.

I turned the page, pushing the image away and let my eyes fall on a map of a graveyard. There was a church marked at the top and connected to a gate at the bottom by a meandering line. A few small trees were sketched out and some large headstones, almost as if someone was suggesting they could be used as cover. There were also two stone angels facing each other in prayer. A thin dotted line cut out a path and I realised I hadn’t noticed it before. Quickly, I traced it and came to the conclusion that this map had been made during a plan of attack.

I turned my eyes and saw the words written on the next page once more;

 I do not wander in darkness alone as your light shines out before me.

 It looked like a Bible quote, but not quite. Interested, I dug out one of the Bibles I had brought up from the church floor and flipped through the pages. For a good few minutes, I tried to find that line, but nothing matched it. The writer could have easily miss-quoted or else just pieced it together. Something about it bugged me though and for some reason, I got the feeling it wasn’t a line to God or Jesus, but was about and to a person.

I closed the book and put it back on the pile. Resting my elbows on the table, I put my head in my hands and shut my eyes. I had to get her out of my head. I was drawn to her far too much and I knew it. There was so much mystery surrounding her and I wanted to know it, but really, I wanted more. Rubbing my head, I tried to push away all those thoughts and sent my senses out for evil. Killing would defiantly distract me.

I got changed, putting on my armour and boots this time. I collected my sword and wondered down to the church. Instead of walking across the altar, I went my usual route of slipping behind the stone pillar. It was one of a pair that marked the entrance to the altar. I stopped and looked into the large alcove of the church organ. I walked over and let my fingers trail across the keys. They were covered in dust, just like everything else.

Pressing down just a little bit harder caused a note to be rudely admitted from one of the many brass pipes above me. I played a few more, knowing it was a risk in case someone heard me, but I could always deal with them. The notes sounded forced and not as booming as they should have been. I stopped playing and wondered if that was the last time the organ would ever be heard from again.

Shaking off the cold feeling that thought left me with, I went out.

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 4, Part 1)

Continued from Church Chapter 3

Make sure you’ve read the other chapters. They can be found here; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/category/church-novella/

Previously;

Blaze, a warrior angel, who is trapped on earth has made his home in an abandoned church. He fights a taunting daemon and a Demigod Bear. He is rescued by Rain, a Reaper. She takes him back to her ‘home’, a Paradise Garden seemingly inside the remains of a cathedral and encourages Blaze to talk. After which, she tricks him into combat then she revels some of her story and dismisses Blaze.

Chapter 4

‘On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’

Matthew 16:18

I walked away from the ruined remains of the cathedral and didn’t look back. I was seriously tempted too, but a part of me knew if I even caught a glimpse of those stones I would retrace my footsteps, find Rain and hold her tightly to me. I climbed the hill and unfurled my golden red wings at the top. I flapped them, feeling the rush of air around my body before I jumped up and took to the sky.

The time hadn’t changed, I noted as dawn was just touching the horizon like it had been doing when I stepped under the cathedral archway. I was feeling extremely awake and calm, though it was probably a lingering effect from the garden. I raced the coming dawn home and landed next to the lichgate. I watched the sun completely rise above me. Warm light brushed me then hurried in further to light up the clinging shadows.

Taking in a deep breath, I turned back and cast my eyes over the graveyard. Small headstones poked out of the grass and I know what awaited me. Climbing over the gate, my boots hit the grass and the almost lost path underneath. I pulled my robe tighter around me, hunched my shoulders and walked up to the church. I can feel them, the diminishing ghosts. They watched from their burial places and whispered to themselves and each other. A soft crying child wisp brushed my ears and I tried to block it out.

I kept my pace as I began to climb the slope, expecting at any second to be assaulted by the spirits. Ever since I had moved into the church, they had reached out to me when I passed though the graveyard. Their almost faded voices constantly pleaded with me to help them pass over and escape this place. At first, I had been sympathetic with them, who couldn’t be? But I didn’t know how to help them, it wasn’t my job or place to ferry them over. I had countlessly explained this to them, but they didn’t get it and still clutched to my Heavenly light. Now, I had lost my patience with them all and I automatically put up the barriers and ignored them.

I reached the church porch and turned in confusion. I could just about see the spirits, though in the morning glow their forms were fading fast. There was a small girl in a too large white dress, an elderly couple clutching both of each other’s hands, a teenage boy laying in the grass looking bored. There was a young woman clutching a new born to one side and a two year old to the other, she was stood next to a World War One soldier boy. Beyond them was an ancient hobbling woman, an old man with a missing arm and small dog at his feet, a ten year old girl in a summer dress and finally, a middle aged farmer’s wife.

I waited and watched them all vanish as the sunlight finally settled on the graveyard and church. Thoughts tumbled through my mind. This had never happened before. Had they sensed the lingering evil touch from my fight with the Demigod bear and other daemons? Or had my Heavenly light finally faded? I reached for my great sword and slowly eased it out of the sheath at my hip. The weapon still looked normal and though it was heavy, I couldn’t feel its true weight in my hand. Placing the blade back, I ruffled my wings, reassuring myself that they too were still there and working.

For a few seconds, I wondered what else I could do to prove that nothing had changed. I didn’t feel anything different, just the circling puzzlement over the spirits’ reactions. With nothing coming to my mind, I looked out over the graveyard and decided that maybe the ghosts had finally given up on me. Somehow, that thought didn’t make me happier. They had always been active and determined.

I turned, pushed open the door with some force and squeezed inside the church. Nothing looked out of place and it didn’t look like anybody had wondered in. I wedged the door back in place, shutting out the glorious yellow daylight. I let my eyes adjust to the darkness, then set my boots crunching along the floor, just like they always did over the fallen plaster and bricks. The dilapidated pews rose up on either side of me as I walked towards the altar.

For the first time in what felt like awhile, I looked over at the matching four arched windows, two on either side. They were empty of what once had been colourful stained glass depicting famous scenes from the Bible. The fragile remains of the frames now lent against old wooden boards, which were showing signs of rot. I wondered which Biblical scenes they had chosen and how many times the congregation mused over them.

Stepping up to the stone altar, I paused. There should have been a large divided window behind the grey rectangle block. Now there was only another wooden board, which banished the light and allowed darkness to rule. In the walls on either side of the window were etched out crosses. I knelt, put my hands together and cleared my mind. I fell into saying the Lord’s Pray aloud, ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…’ my voice echoed in the dead church.

Afterwards, I slipped into silence, not sure what else to say. I thought about a number of things, but decided that I just couldn’t word anything right. I let my hands fall and lent back, looking up at the window. I should say thank you, I thought, but somehow I just couldn’t do it. What did I have to be thankful for right now? Shelter, I guess. The fact I was still alive. I clenched my fists. I wasn’t thankful for being trapped here though.

I relaxed my hands and got up. I went to the hidden alcove. Pushing open the door, I climbed the spiral staircase upwards and into my room. I light the candle out of habit, swung my sheath sword into place against the desk and stripped out of my clothes. The notebooks I had taken tumbled out and slapped the floor hard. I gathered them up and placed them on the desk.

Once naked, I picked them up again and took them into bed with me. Though it seemed like I had all ready slept, I felt exhausted. My wings wrapped around protectively around me, but I shimmered them away, so I could feel the cold wooden walls on my back.  Arranging the mass of blankets and pillows, I settled back and shut my eyes. I did some deep breathing exercises and succumbed to a meditate like state.

She came to me right away. Rain. She was standing in her Paradise Garden. Her mismatched green and blue eyes were looking out over the railing whilst the animals and stream sing to her. The air was thick with lavender, midnight jasmine and lilies. She had her arms resting on the rail, her light brown hair loose and wind swept. She was wearing the black pants and a white vest top from the training room. I couldn’t see her expression.

I sighed and said her name aloud. It was sweet on my lips like forbidden fruit. Would I ever see her again, like she had promised? Sleep rolled across me and I welcomed it with open arms.

To Be Continued…..

Bibliomania

Bibliomania:  obsessive–compulsive disorder which involves the collecting or hoarding of books.

It was an addiction she told herself, but surely it had to be one of the better ones? No harm had ever come to her, beside from a paper cut, a handful of scary dreams and the one time she almost tripped. It wasn’t the same as being completely obsessive with clothes, shoes and designer labels like some of her friends were. Nor, did she feel that she was spending all of her money or wasting it. In fact, she felt that it enriched her life. She could travel to so many counties and worlds, different periods of time and meet a whole range of peoples. Also, she liked experiencing the full spectrum of emotions without the events truly happening to her.

She couldn’t stop herself from going into shops to search amongst the shelves or looking through crumbled cardboard boxes outside and inside. She never seemed to be looking for anything in particular; just whatever grabbed her and her hands picked up. She would take them home and find a place within her steadily filling up rented house. That was all she seemed to have a first glance. There was no TV or dining room table, but she had a computer, a desk and everything else. Each room also had a category and her organisation was based on the library one – the Dewey Decimal system.

She did actually spend nearly all of her free time reading, so it wasn’t as if they were just left for years on end. The issue was separation when she came to the end. There were some she could never be parted from and others she could easily be, but she just couldn’t release them. She panicked about what would happen to them and where would they end up. The idea that they could be burnt or abandoned in the rubbish dump tortured her, so she only tended to let one go if she had first assured herself about its new owner. If she didn’t feel so attached them, she had once told herself, she would turn her house into a public library.

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Light

Mora opened the door slowly and peered out at the two young men on her doorstep. They were both wearing nice suits, carrying shoulder bags and had clipboards in their hands. Deciding that she couldn’t close the door in their eager faces, she tried to look more awake then she was. She swept her rebellious hair back, before giving up and returning to using the door as a shield to hide the fact she was wearing just a knee length night dress.

‘Can we talk to you about God?’ the taller one asked, cheerfully and with an American accent.

‘Do you believe in Him?’ the second one questioned with almost the same voice.

Mora nodded. She didn’t trust herself to speak as her voice would be groggy with sleep and her teeth un-brushed.

‘Did you know that following in His light can improve your life?’ the first man quizzed with excitement in his tone.

‘And that of His Son, Jesus Christ?’ the second man chimed in.

‘Do you believe that the governments and politicians are doing nothing for this world?’ the first pressed.

Mora ran her tongue over her teeth before replying, ‘they must be doing something.’

‘Has any of it bettered you or your love ones?’ he concluded.

She thought then shrugged, ‘I guess they have. But I don’t see how God can fix that. He can’t rule over everything can he?’

‘But He is the Ruler of us all. He is our Shepherd and we are His sheep,’ the second man corrected her.

‘I suppose,’ she replied thoughtfully.

‘You can read all about it in here,’ the first responded and handed her a small book.

Mora took it off him and read the title to herself; Who Is God And How Can He Help Me? Below was a drawing of a handful of confused looking people.

‘You can check out our website too,’ the second man stated and handed her a small card.

‘Thanks,’ Mora muttered.

‘We are also having a conference in Manchester, which everyone is welcome to attended. Can I give you a leaflet about that?’ he asked.

‘Sure,’ she replied with a sight shrugged.

He handed her a yellow sheet of paper and Mora looked down at it.

‘Well, thanks for your time.’

‘It was nice meeting you,’ the first cut in.

‘You too, Bye,’ Mora said and started to close the door.

The men turned and walked down her driveway and back onto the street. Sly, Mora watched them, then pushed her door too. She took the things they had given her back to her bedroom and got back into bed. Settled, she opened the book and began to read.

All the Wrong Moves

Manchester Piccadilly was packed on a Saturday afternoon. How was I going to spot my date in this mass of people? I went over to the arrival boards and suddenly realised that I didn’t know which train he’d be on.

At least we had remembered to exchanged numbers. I sent him a text and tried to recall the photos of him. Was his hair black or brown? Did he have a beard? What would he be wearing?

I sent another text. No reply. Twenty minutes had gone.

Pressing my back against the cold glass of a cafe window, I realized he’d stood me up. Sighing, I started walking away. My phone beeped. A message from him; Is that you in the blue coat?

I glanced around and saw a man staring at me. He looked vaguely familiar.  As I went over, the nerves flooded back.

‘It is you then,’ he said.

‘Nick, right?’

‘Yep.’

‘It’s nice to meet you…in person.’

‘You too….I thought you were going to be a man.’

‘Huh?’

Did my photos look that bad or had he been expecting a nasty surprise?

‘This is my first internet date…I thought you might have led me on or something…I just didn’t know what to expect. Guess I prepared for the worse,’ he explained.

I frowned, ‘but you wanted to meet….’

He paused and my defensives rose. I tried to tell myself he was only being honest. We were having a bad start and it could only get better. Remain calm and stop being so self-conscious.

‘So…where did you say we were going again? I’ve never been to Manchester.’

‘To the art gallery,’ I replied.

‘It’s free, right?’

‘Yes and there’s a coffee shop.’

‘I don’t like coffee.’

‘But you like art right?’

‘Suppose.’

Fixing a smile, we walked to the exit. It was a warm day and the streets were busier than the station. I thought over our passed conversations and tried to select a subject. We didn’t have a lot in common and looking at him, he wasn’t that cute. He was avoiding me too.

About ten minutes later, I stopped. I didn’t recognise the back street we were on and I wasn’t sure that this was the right way to the gallery after all. Before I could figure it out and set off again, he spoke out, ‘I thought you knew the way.’

‘Yes, but I think we turned early…or too late…just give me a sec.’

I walked back and looked about. There were no signs. The crowd of people seemed to have thinned and there less shops here.

‘I really don’t like this,’ he muttered.

Feeling panicked, I stopped a woman and asked. Helpfully, she pointed me in the right direction. Calling to Nick, we walked on and I tried to make light of getting lost. He seemed uninterested.

Arriving at the gallery, we spent the next hour gliding through the silent rooms of paintings. When we came to one of my favourites; The Chariot Race by Alexander Von Wagner, 1882, I sat down on the bench before it. Nick followed. I pointed the painting out and begin talking in a whisper.

‘I’m going to the next room,’ he replied.

I pulled a face, which I hope he noticed.

He got up and left. I’d been wrong about things getting better. Maybe it was time to end this? It was clear things were not going well and I doubt there’d be a second date. Also, I needed the bathroom.

Getting up, I walked after him and found the room empty. Maybe he’d left already or just walked into the next one? Doing so, I found it empty too. I walked out onto the corridor and saw that the bathroom was just below. Making up my mind, I headed downstairs and into the toilets.

Just as I’d sat down, my phone rung. Digging out, I saw he was calling. I answered and my phone cut out. There was no signal. As I put the phone down it rang again, but the second I picked it up it stopped. Sensing that he’d keep trying, I hurried up and walked out.

He called another three times, before I was able to phone him and actually get through.

‘Where are you?’ he demanded.

‘I had to go to the bathroom. Are you still upstairs?’

‘Yes.’

‘Okay, I’ll be right there.’

I turned and saw him coming down the stairs.

‘Sorry. Do you want to go for a drink?’ I asked.

‘No…can we…can you take me back to the station?’

‘Sure. It’s not really worked out, has it?’

‘Guess not. You seem nice, but to be honest with you, I don’t think I’m ready for a relationship.’

‘I agree.’