Moonbroch #AtozChallenge

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Moonbroch; a halo around the moon which presages an approaching storm. 

Lottie threw the duvet back and got out of bed, giving in to her insomnia. Without fumbling around trying to light a candle, she crossed the bedroom in darkness. She went to the window box and moved the heavy curtains away from the window itself. A cold draft raised the hairs on her skin that wasn’t covered by the long, sweeping white nightdress.

She sat down, comfortable against the plump cushions and quilted seat underneath her. Pulling all of her long, golden hair over to her right shoulder, Lottie played with the gentle curls. First, she straightened them, then twisted the ends around her fingers before throwing the whole lot back over her shoulder.

Lottie looked out of the window into the night which stretched like a never ending sea. Below, the  gas lamps that normally lit the short driveway and gate were out. The moorland beyond, which she couldn’t see, was quiet. It was rare anyone travelled after sunset but on nights of the full moon as it was tonight, nobody left their homes.

The clouds in the sky parted, the moon shone down, casting a dim light which was just enough for Lottie to see by. She watched the moon, noticing the halo of light that surrounded it and how the clouds were lit by the glow. It was a magnificent sight.

An echoing wolf howl broke the stillness. A shiver, that had nothing to do with the cold, ran through Lottie. She reached out to clutch the side of a cushion then tried to move away from the window. Another howl, closer this time stopped her movement and she looked out again.

There was something moving in the darkness of the moor.

Lottie told herself they were just shadows cast by the moon and that the howling only seemed nearby because it had echoed. She put the cushion into her lap and played with the tassels to help calm herself down.

I should go back to bed. Light the candle and read my book until I feel sleepy, Lottie thought.

A movement made Lottie turn her head. Down, next to the gate, a huge grey-black shaggy furred werewolf was standing there in the moonlight, looking up at her with massive yellow eyes. The breathe caught in Lottie’s throat, she became still, frozen by fear that was racing through her blood.

The werewolf threw his head back and let out a mighty, long howl.

From the darkness, another werewolf, slightly smaller and with a light grey fur coat padded towards the gate and joined the first werewolf. They howled together and another werewolf, shorter this time, with a red-grey mixed coat appeared. Then it seemed, more and more werewolves kept coming forward, till at least a pack of twelve stood by the gate.

The first werewolf moved, rising on it’s long, twisted hind legs to stand taller then a man and let out a short howl. He launched himself, trying to get through the gate. He’s long front legs and muzzle fell through the bars, the rest of his body slammed against the metal frame. The gate violently shook but held. The werewolf tried repeatedly, hitting the gate harder and harder as his frustrations rose.

The other werewolves had been pacing around, waiting for the first to break through the gate. They moved in and out of the moonlight, like black ghosts. However, they soon got bored of waiting and began throwing themselves at the gate too. Jaws snapping, claws scrapping, legs flaying and their desperate snarling and howls crying out.

Lottie, fear totally over coming her, screamed and threw herself down to the floor. She tried to get up, but the nightdress was twisted around her legs. Tears of pain and fear wet her eyes. Lottie screamed again louder then before, knowing the noise would awake someone in the house.

Outside, Lottie heard the gate continue to shake and the werewolves, snarling and trying to scramble through.

Finding her feet, Lottie crossed the rug covered floor and opened the door. Light from a left on gas lamp in the hallway stung her eyes and she took a moment. Going over, she stood in the glow and tried to calm herself down.

The swinging of a door opening made her jump and Lottie looked up the corridor to see a bobbing candle in the darkness.

‘Who’s that? Lottie?’ her older brother’s voice asked.

‘Yes. It’s me, John,’ Lottie answered, her voice sounding breathless, ‘there’s werewolves at the front gate!’

‘What?’ John cried and he hurried over to her.

‘I couldn’t sleep, so I looked outside and they saw me!’ Lottie explained.

John rushed into her bedroom, his bare footsteps loud.

Lottie peered around the door frame after him and watched as her brother came to a stop at the window and swore loudly.

Turning away, John came back to her, ‘go to mother’s room. Lock the door and stay there together.’

Lottie nodded and hurried away. She ran along the corridors, her night dress flying out behind her. A few gas lamps lit her way but Lottie knew how to get to her mother’s room without being able to see the way. Up a small staircase and she was there, knocking on her mother’s door, declaring herself and begging entrance.

Her mother, Isabella, opened the door, candle in hand and the light dancing off her loose, long golden hair. Lottie rushed in, closing and locking the heavy wooden door behind her.

‘There’s werewolves outside!’ Lottie shouted.

‘Do your father and brothers know?’ her mother questioned.

Lottie shook her head, ‘Just John knows. He told me to come here, tell you and for us to stay here together.’

‘We should prepare for attack,’ Isabella said, ‘Let’s light candles and the fire. Then get dressed.’

They moved away from the door. Lottie went to the fireplace and began stacking coal and wood on top of the ashes all ready there. Her mother began lighting candles around the room. 

‘Shouldn’t we go to the cellar?’ Lottie asked.

‘There is a passageway from here to there, under the trapdoor by the window.’ 

‘Like in my bedroom?’

‘Yes. Your grandfather’s idea after that horrible night when werewolves got in and roamed through the house,’ Isabella spoke.

‘They killed grandma, uncle William who was only four years old and two maids,’ Lottie picked up, the story having been burned into her memory from the countless retelling of it, ‘the butler’s son, dad’s butler now, has bad scars from trying to protect the other servants.’

‘And it’s how your father lost his  left foot,’ Isabella finished.

Lottie nodded, ‘they trapped all the werewolves in the East wing and burnt it to the ground.’

‘And ever since then, your grandfather and father have trained everyone how to prepare and defend themselves from werewolf attacks; how to fire a gun and fight with a knife. Even you, my only daughter, despite my wishes, have been taught all of that too.’

‘I know,’ Lottie said quietly as she finished setting up the firewood.

She lit a match, placed it into the fireplace and watched the flames quickly beginning to burn the wood. Lottie stood up and joined her mother in the middle of the room. They hugged tightly and her mother kissed her forehead.

A gun shot rang out, followed by shouting men’s voices.

Lottie jumped, gasping and turning towards the door.

‘Let’s get dressed,’ her mother cried as she grabbed Lottie’s hand and pulled her towards the wardrobe.

Yanking open the doors, Isabella pushed through all her dresses and to the back of the wardrobe. She pulled out two sets of men’s clothing; shirts, large travelling jackets, trousers, long woollen socks and knee length leather boots.

Helping each other, they dressed quickly then tied their long hair up in buns.

Then from underneath her bed, Isabella pulled out a rifle, two pistols, ammunition; sliver bullets, and four daggers. They were just like the ones Lottie had under her bed.

Isabella handed her daughter the two pistols and two of the daggers, without saying anything but with a determined look set on her face.

Lottie put one of the daggers in each boot then loaded the pistols and placed them with the rest of the ammunition in the deep pockets of the jacket. Her mother did everything the same.

Ready for anything, they sat down on the bed facing the door and listened to the sounds of fighting raising from the front of the house. Gun shots, male cries and shouts mingled with the howling, snarling and painful cries of the werewolves.

A few minutes later, they heard the clattering of claws across bare floorboards, snarling, snapping of jaws and sniffing from underneath the door. Then the door shook as something huge hit it.

‘Get behind the bed,’ Isabella whispered, nudging Lottie.

The girl did as she was told, drawing the pistols and the ammo from her pockets. Whilst her mother stood up, cocked the rifle and aimed it at the door which was badly shaking as the werewolf tried to get in. The wood began splitting, cracking around a hole in the middle and a large black nose followed by a grey muzzle poked through.

Isabella stood her ground, the butt of the rifle against her shoulder, her eyes fixed along the top of the barrel. Her finger brushed the trigger, waiting for the right moment to fire.

The first werewolf from before burst through the door, using the force of it’s body to break through the hole. Bits of wood flew everywhere and the chaos, Isabella fired.

The shot was loud, deafening herself and Lottie, there was a burst of flame followed by smoke and the werewolf let out a painful cry but didn’t go down. Instead, he leapt through the air and before she could get away, the werewolf landed on Isabella pinning her to the bed.

Lottie screamed, got up and fired at the werewolf without aiming. Both bullets hit the werewolf’s bent neck and sank in deep. The werewolf growled deeply, showing off blood stained teeth, froth dripped from it’s mouth and the werewolf moved up onto of Isabella, trying to reach over to snap at Lottie.

Isabella punched the werewolf’s stomach, grappled the beast and rolled onto the floor with him. Disappearing out of Lottie’s sight. Snarls and her mother’s cries rose, claws and boots scrapped across the floor. Isabella tried to grab one the daggers in her boots but her hands were full of fur as she tried to keep the werewolf’s mouth away from her face.

Shaking, Lottie dashed around the bed and aimed the pistols again. However, she realised that she couldn’t fire as her mother was wrestling with the werewolf and the risk of shooting her was too great. Lottie held her ground, her mind running through everything she could possible do.

Lottie dropped the pistols, pulled the daggers from her boots and waited until the werewolf was on top of her mother. Then Lottie jumped on top of the werewolf, bring the sliver daggers down into the werewolf’s fur. The blades slide into the skin then the body of the beast, going right up to the hilt.

The werewolf let out an anguish cry and twisted to the side. Lottie didn’t let go of the daggers in time and the werewolf fell on top of her. Lottie kicked with both legs, used the force to pull the daggers free then plunged them down to the side of the werewolf before he could get up again. There was a crack of rib bones as the blades drove in and the werewolf’s head snapped around and he’s teeth closed around Lottie’s lower leg.

Lottie screamed in pain then gun shots from the pistols rang out. The werewolf twitched then became still, the jaws loosing on Lottie’s leg. The werewolf’s blood pooled across the floor.

Isabella dragged Lottie away and towards the trap door then down the hidden passageway and into the cellar. Lamps and candles were all ready burning down here and all the female servants were gathered around makeshift beds or the old dinning room table.

Upon seeing their mistresses, the servants hurried to help and hear the tale of the fight. The leather boot and woollen socks had saved Lottie’s leg which was badly bruised but thankfully the skin hadn’t been broken. Once it had been cleaned and treated, Lottie rested in one of the beds and fell asleep.

Voices woke her later and Lottie found that all the men had joined them in the cellar. she listened to some of their talk but finally, she rose and asked, ‘what happened?’

Her mother, father and three brothers turned towards her.

‘It’s over,’ her father replied, ‘we killed them all.’

‘Thank God,’ Lottie answered.

‘And you,’ John spoke, ‘if you hadn’t been awake and seen them at the gate we wouldn’t have had enough time to fight them.’

‘And you fought so bravely against the werewolf that attack us,’ Isabella added.

‘Yes. All the training paid off,’ Lottie said, ‘I’m glad it’s over now.’

 

 

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Winter Wanderer (Part 6)

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Beck led Nightstorm and Olwyan to the road. Stepping on the raised, crushed stone way which was covered by untouched snow, they looked both ways. The dwarf and man made road created a straight line through the forest and joined the two towns at the north and south edges. Beck let go of the reins and pulled up his hood, knowing he was best not be seen here.

‘I’m not sure which way to go,’ Olwyan said in a quiet voice, ‘I do not think I ran in a straight direction.’

Beck crouched in the snow and began sweeping away the top layer. Slowly, he moved to the centre of the road and went either side of Nightstorm. Olwyan which him, but could not see what he was searching for. She patted the warhorse, who restlessly pawed the snow. Beck came to a pause and stood up; wiping wet snow from his hands on his leather pants.

‘How many were in the party?’ Beck asked as he came back to them.

‘About twelve horse guards and two carriages with four horses each,’ Olwyan replied thoughtfully.

‘How long had you been traveling for since you entered the forest?’

‘A day. We arrived in the morning and were attacked in the evening.’

‘And did you see or meet anyone else on the road?’ Beck questioned.

‘Not that I remember, but I did fall asleep for some time mid-afternoon.’

‘Then I think you passed this way. The horse hoof prints seem to indicate that,’ he added as Olwyan looked slightly confused.

Beck took Nightstorm’s reins and walked the horse on again. The snow crunched less loudly under them, but the sound still broke the quietness of the forest. They heard birds singing in the distance for the first time and the wind continuing to huff through the tree branches. Olwyan looked at the small trees on either side of them, trying to remember if she had passed this way before. However, all the snow covered trees looked the same and with the ground freshly covered also, she could make out any land features.

‘What if we do not find them?’ she asked.

‘Then we make for the next outpost for the night and head to Erwood in the morning,’ Beck replied.

Olwyan kept quiet and breathed out heavily, to watch the breath mist before her.

‘You can ask them to set up a search party there. Though, if anyone did survive they will not make it another night out here.’

‘What if they found shelter, like I did?’ she pressed.

Beck looked at her over Nightstorm’s head and shoulder, ‘perhaps. If they did we shall meet them at the other outpost, for there is no other shelter around here now.’

‘What about the elven city? Surely you know where that is?’

‘It’s miles, days from here,’ Beck muttered, ‘if you can find it. I have only seen it twice after a month’s search both times. It’s too well hidden and the few others that knew the way have passed on now.’

‘I heard it’s haunted with the ghosts of elves and goblins that were killed there. They are locked in a battle to the end of time,’ Olwyan declared.

‘That may be so, but I have never seen any ghosts there.’

They fell silent for a few moments, till Beck spotted something ahead in the snow. He slowed Nightstorm then let go of the warhorse’s reins and came alongside him. Olwyan watched as Beck first drew a great sword and belted it around his hips under his clock before pulling out a long bow and a quiver of arrows.

‘What is it?’ she dared to ask in a whisper.

‘Don’t know. Hopefully, your party. Stay here and take this,’ Beck said and handed her his short sword.

Olwyan took it and unsheathed it slightly to see the silver blade beneath, ‘is this elven steel?’

‘Yes. Do you how to use it?’

‘I am not sure…’ she trailed off.

‘You might need to defend yourself,’ Beck cut in, ‘just go with your instincts and do not trust Nightstorm to do all the work. He’s more into fleeing then fighting now.’

She nodded and sheathing the short sword, stroked the top of Nightstorm’s shoulder.

‘Looks like you are getting better with him now,’ Beck pointed out.

‘Just a little,’ she replied shy.

Beck smiled and set off. Avoiding looking back at the young woman, clutching his sword and atop his stallion, he kept his eyes forward and stole glances to either side every few seconds. He saw nothing but bare trees and snow piles. Slowly, he approached the blue cloth he had seen buried in the snow, listening all the while.

He unsheathed his great sword as quietly as possible and reached the tip out the blue cloth. It felt frozen solid under the blade. Beck pulled it back, holding it in one hand as he moved the snow around with his foot. More the blue cloth appeared until finally, he picked the cloak off the ground with his fingertips.

He turned and went back to Olwyan with it.

‘Do you recognise this?’

She lowered her hood and looked at the cloak, ‘yes, all the guards were in blue.’

‘Then I think we have found your party.’

Olwyan gasped and made to get off Nightstorm. Beck stopped her, by laying a strong hand on her ankle.

‘No, don’t. Stay on Nightstorm, it’s safer,’ Beck hurriedly said.

‘But, Eric!’ Olwyan cried.

‘That was his name?’

She nodded and went still. Nightstorm shifted under her and she quickly gripped the saddle. Settling back on him, she looked down the road and could just make out the top of a carriage. She pointed a finger to it and Beck followed her gaze.

‘Come on,’ he said and carefully led Nightstorm over.

A few inches away from the snow buried carriage lying on its side just off the road, Nightstorm sudden stopped. Beck felt himself yanked backwards and his feet kicked up snow. He looked down and saw brown matted hair laying on the disturbed snow.

‘What is that?’ Olwyan uttered.

Beck crouched and rubbed some of the hair under his fingers, ‘its horse,’ he breathed.

Coming back to Nightstorm, he pushed a shoulder against the warhorse’s and moved him on with a wide berth. Olwyan looked back as a harsh wind started up and blew the top snow away, showing more of what was underneath. Her hand flew to her mouth and she swallowed a scream.

Beck looked up at her, attention drawn by the rasping of leather on leather. The hand in which Olwyan was holding his short sword was shaking badly. He muttered to Nightstorm, who lowered his large head to listen closer. Beck moved his hands further up the reins and they carefully walked on.

Moments later, the wind wildly picked up and threw snow into their faces before blowing the trees in a laughing like sounded. Beck felt something hard under his boot, but didn’t stop to find out what it was. Scanning the ground he made out more dead horse like shapes and few that could be humans. Gritting his teeth, he walked on, hand tightening on his great sword.

‘They are all dead,’ Olwyan finally forced out.

Beck did not reply and led them over to the second carriage, which as he worked out with a glance back had actually been in front. He let go of Nightstorm and walked over to the upside down carriage. Scrapping away the snow, he tried to look inside, but couldn’t see anyone. He dug faster and his fingers hit the sharp edges of a sword, he pulled it out and tossed it to the side.

‘There,’ Olwyan pointed out a few moments later.

Beck paused in his digging looked at the red cloak that had popped out of the snow. He brushed the soft powder away then dug some more. A face began to appear. He heard Olwyan gasped and snapped his head up to her’s. She had tucked his sword under her arm and had pressed both her hands to her mouth.

‘It’s him then?’ he asked.

She nodded as tears blurred her eyes.

Beck stood and went to her. He reached for her knee, but a low chittering sound stopped his hand. He quickly glanced to the trees and saw a number of small figures appearing from behind the trunks.

 

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

Winter Wanderer (Part 5)

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Beck finished putting on Nightstorm’s saddle and bridle. With a glance over his shoulder, he led the horse through the broken door and a few steps away from the abandoned elf tower. The snow crunched loudly around them and once again Beck and Nightstorm sank a little in the white drifted. Leaving the warhorse listening and smelling the air, Beck went back and held his hand out for Olwyan.

She stood in the doorway, peering out uncertainly huddled in her riding cloak. She looked down at his hand then the depth of the snow and the footprints he and Nightstorm had created. Olwyan picked up the side of her skirts, lifting them clear of the snow then took his hand and stepped into one of Beck’s footprints. Her smaller booted feet sink into the snow. She took another step and found the going easier then she had first thought.

Beck led her up to Nightstorm and reached for the back of the saddle.

‘I shall give you a lift up.’

‘I cannot,’ Olwyan stated, ‘I have never ridden a horse.’

‘That does not matter,’ Beck replied.

‘I will walk, thank you.’

She turned and took a few steps away, still using Beck’s footprints. Behind her, she heard Beck clicking his tongue and walking Nightstorm on. She stepped onto fresh snow and her feet sank into the softness, she stopped looked into the forest, the task of walking back to the road now daunting.

‘It’ll be easier,’ Beck said close behind her.

‘I can’t!’ Olwyan snapped.

She turned and saw that Beck had come to her side with Nightstorm two steps behind him, standing still. The huge black horse stood proudly out against the white snowy scene, an ink blot on white paper. He flicked his tail and looked off into the forest, his ears pricked for any sounds.

‘Give me your hand,’ Beck said gently.

Olwyan held it out, but did not look at him. Beck moved her hand towards Nightstorm’s nose. She shut her eyes and tensed, holding her breath. She felt a hot breath then warm velvetiness on the back of hand.

‘He’s soft and he wouldn’t hurt you,’ Beck whispered, ‘turn around.’

She did, but kept her eyes shut. Olwyan felt her hand being flattened against the horse’s muzzle and moved upwards. The velvet feeling changed to one of silkiness as she felt his short hair under her fingers.

‘See? That’s not so bad.’

Olwyan nodded, not trusting herself to speak. She felt her hand being dropped and movement beside her. Beck’s mumbled words reached her, but she couldn’t full hear them. When he came back to her side, she cracked open her eyes and saw that Nightstorm had moved and she was now looking at his saddled back.

‘I’ll lift you up,’ Beck said, ‘put your foot here and your hands here.’

‘I shall try.’

She felt Beck hands on her hips and her feet leaving the ground. She placed the right on into the stirrup and her hands on top of the saddle and helped him lift her up. Moments later, she was surprised to realise she was there. Straighten her skirts and cloak, she patted Nightstorm at the base of his mane and looked over his head. She had a higher view of the forest now.

‘Where are you going?’ she called to Beck as he moved away.

‘It would be unfair to ask him to carry the both of us and my things,’ came the reply.

Olwyan wiggled in the saddle, ‘I have changed my mind. Get me down.’

‘Sorry, but no, your highness,’ Beck tacked on as he grabbed the reins.

He grinned up at her and clicking his tongue, tugged Nightstorm into moving. Olwyan swayed forward and grabbed the top of the saddle, her legs knocked together and a sick feeling hit her stomach.

‘Tell me about your bracelet,’ Beck called up.

‘I want to get down!’

‘Trust me. It is easier and faster this way. Talking will take your mind off it.’

Olwyan pressed her teeth together and sucked in a deep breath. She felt Nightstorm moving under her, the warhorse not seeming to notice her fear. She shut her eyes and thought about anything else other then what she was doing right now.

‘When we get to the road you can get down. The snow might not be so deep there,’ Beck’s voice drifted to her, ‘the passing carriages and horses will have helped too and we are lower here. We need to make to the next outpost before we lose the light as well, even if it does not snow again, it’s too cold to travel at night now.’

‘Do you know where it is?’ Olwyan asked.

‘Roughly.’

She opened her eyes and mouth at the same time, harsh words dancing on her tongue.

‘Don’t worry about it. Now tell me about you.’

Olwyan was silent for a moment. She slid the sliver bracelet around her wrist, looking at the detailed pattern and words etched across it.

‘You know don’t you?’ she said softly.

Beck didn’t answer, but carried on leading Nightstorm through the snow.

‘I wanted to a be City Priestess,’ Olwyan breathed, ‘but I could not learn the magic. I barely got into the Order, but I thought being there, practising and learning would help. But it was beyond me. I did not want to leave, so they said I could go to help set up a new order in Ravenglass. Of course, that meant being married off and having babies. I did not mind, I was doing it for the Order and if I had a child who could weld magic then I would have been happy.’

‘Do you believe that?’ Beck asked.

‘Yes. And my suiter was so nice. He was tall, not as tall as you though and he had black hair and a young face. The first time we meet he presented me with a dried flower from the mountains. I thought…well, that we would get on. We were in separate carriages,’ Olwyan dropped her voice, ‘I do not know what happened to him.’

‘We should head back then and see if we can find anyone.’

Olwyan nodded and looked through the snow covered trees. She could see nothing resting against their trunks or tangled in their branches. A gently wind blew some snowflakes about and soft chiming coming from the movement of the icicles. Nightstorm snorted underneath her, but ploughed onwards. She patted his neck then wrapped her fingers around the leather saddle again.

 

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 6, part 4)

Nestled at the foot of Errigal (the highest mountain(2,464ft) in County Donegal) and overlooking the beautiful Poisoned Glen is the ruins of Dunlewy Church.

My hand hit my sword and I unsheathed it out. The daemon’s laughter rose and he scuttled down to a lower branch. I could see him more clearly and yes, it was the same daemon I had faced the night I had met Rain. The daemon’s grey forked tongue lolled out of his slashed mouth whilst his eyes fixed upon me. His jagged twisted horns looked spiky and menacing. His sharp claws dug into the tree and his orange scales seemed to crack with fire light. His triangle ending tail flicked around like a cat’s and wrapped around a small branch.

‘You’re friend’s here,’ the daemon stated.

‘Friend? What?’ I asked.

‘Death,’ his tongue drew out the word.

I flipped my mind back and recalled the conversation we had had before. A part of me demanded to forget all about it and just get on with killing him. Something, maybe it was the need for information, stilled my hand further. I looked up at him and saw that he had unfolded his leathery bat wings. Red veins webbed across them and they were both topped with a sharp talon. The more fragile ends fluttered a little like the wing tips of a butterfly.

‘Do you still have your soul?’ the daemon jeered then broke into a hissing laugh.

I growled and moved to spear him, but the sounds of another fight stopped me. I saw the daemon cock his head and slide his eyes over.

‘The bear,’ I muttered, ‘did it come back?’

Steeling myself, I looked around the tree. There was nothing but an empty field, then I spotted a glimmer of something to my right…

The daemon screeched and my eyes snapped back to him. He jumped from the tree, aiming for my face. I stepped back and brought my sword up to defend myself. The daemon’s claws scrapped across my blade then his fingers wrapped around the sword. Tightening my grip, I flung my sword out and he was ripped off by the force.

Shrieking, he beat his wings against the air and darted back towards me. I swiped at him and missed. He shot up through the branches of the tree and I hurried after him as he turned in a circle to come back. My feet slammed onto a concrete base and I stopped. The daemon hoovered in the sky for a moment then shot down at me.

I held my sword in both hands and used it like a bat. Shuffling my feet, I fixed my aim and as soon as he was in range, I swung. My sword collided heavily with his belly and I felt the vibrations rushing through me. The daemon screamed in pain and was tossed backwards. He struggled to sort his wings out then zoomed off.

I smelt acid tang in the air. I checked my sword and saw a patch of dark red, nearly black blood staining the tip. I stole a few deep breaths and searched the sky for him. I felt the hairs standing up on my arms and my eyes dropped to the surrounding area. Off to my right, I could see a haze of air which seemed to roll up in waves. I shook my head and forcefully reminded myself that I should concentrate on killing this daemon.

The distance sounds of a fight brushed my ears and I had to turn back again. I could hear a clashing sword and the grunting of some kind of beast. A very evil aura blossomed to my right and it became so red and large, I felt pain twitch across my head. A small howl like a dog’s echoed as if in some dream then there was nothing more.

I turned away, blinking quickly and trying to refocus. The sound of leather wings caused me to look over. From the haze came the daemon and he had friends.

I gritted my teeth, double handed my sword again and raced through an action plan. There were four small daemons tailing behind the first. They looked just like him, only slightly lighter in orange colour.

‘Kill! Kill!’ they chanted as the clouded around my head.

‘You’ll die this time, Divine!’ the daemon gloated.

‘No, I won’t!’ I shouted.

The first of the smaller daemons came at me, claws out stretched to my face. I easily speared him on the tip of my sword and as blood showered, I swung into the next one. The lead daemon’s laughter haunted my ears and rage pounded through me. The second smaller daemon was temporally taken out with the body of the first. I watched them both hit the long grass before turning back to the other two.

With a shattering screech, the third daemon dived me and I felt claws scratching my head. My hair was tugged. I whipped around and easily sliced the daemon in two. His throbbing body bounced in the grass. I pivoted back for the four.

‘Go. Go!’ the leader yelled.

The four hissed at him, sucked in then spit at me. I ducked to the side as a green gloop of acid landed at my foot. I saw it bubble on the concert.

‘Is that the best you’ve got?’ I challenged.

‘Get him!’ the leader roared.

The four daemon hesitated. The leader grabbed him and threw him at me. I knocked him down with my sword, stood on his tail and impaled him. Breathing deeply, I huffed my hair out of my face and looked up at the leader. His mouth opened wide in a collaborated scream-roar. I felt my ears pop.

Pain shot under my knee and I looked down. The second daemon had bitten into my leg whilst his leader had districted me. I kicked out, but he only dug his claws in and began climbing me. I dropped my sword, which clattered loudly to the ground and shoved my hands into the daemon’s face. I felt acid dipped dagger teeth sinking into my hands.

Fighting away the pain, I tightened my grip and ripped the daemon off me. I heard he’s muffled shriek from underneath me before I sent him tumbling through the grass. I scurried for my weapon and found it next to me. Wrapping my fingers around the grip, I picked up the sword as the daemon trundled out of the grass and back onto the concrete base.

For the first time, I noticed his left wing was badly damaged and he was blood spattered. The lesser daemon scurried over, claws tapping and belly scrapping. I stepped back and pointed my blade at him. He rushed to the side, going to the back of me. I danced after him and cut my sword down.

The scales on his back were shaved off and he squealed. I kicked him over and stabbed into his belly. He screamed, flayed around before becoming still. I nudge the shaking body into the grass and sort out my last enemy.

‘Face me yourself, why don’t you?’ I shouted, ‘your minions are worthless.’

‘You want true death, Angel? I gives you its!’ the daemon snapped.

‘Bring it!’ I shot back, ‘only it’s going to be your death!’

The daemon hissed and made to flap down at me, but something stopped him. His head turned to the right and though I was painfully aware of something happening over there, I didn’t move. A low chuckled came from him and he flapped off in that direction instead.

Twisting, my eyes followed him and I saw a giant wolf emerging from the haze.

To Be Continued…

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 1, Part 4)

Continued from Church Part 3, which can be read below as well as Parts 1 and 2.

The bare trees and star speckled sky seemed to frame the clearing. I caught my breath and clutched my sword tighter, knowing they were re-grouping behind me and fearing their number. I let no plan form in my mind as just the urge to defeat evil was enough for me. Their laughter grew from the shadows and there was a rustling of leather wings. I prepared myself.

‘Scared, Angel? You should be, you see true power now,’ the daemon called out.

‘True power? All I see is a coward hiding behind his friends,’ I shouted back, still without turning, ‘why don’t you face me yourself?’

The daemon chuckled and it was echoed by the others, ‘I shall. That’s why we’ve come here. You wanted Death and I brought you to him.’

‘What?’ I whispered, turning with confusion tumbling through my mind and face. I could see them all there now, lingering at the treeline. There must have been twenty of them or so. They ranged in size, with the first daemon being the largest. Most of the others looked like him, though others were more dragon or bat like. Their eyes were hungry, but they seemed unusually edgy.

‘You have soul?’ the daemon hissed, his tongue flicking around.

I frowned.

‘Everything has one.’

‘What is this?’ I cut in, ‘just come and fight me. Stop with your games!’

The daemon chuckled and seemed to nod towards the space behind me. Around him the smaller ones were becoming more agitated and moving away. The others weren’t trying to stop them and seemed themselves fearful. I had never seen them behave this way and worry crept into my thoughts. Quietness filled the clearing then the trees began to sway as if a giant’s hand was pushing them aside. I glanced over my shoulder, trying to keep one eye on the daemon, whilst seeking for the sudden presence I had felt behind me.

‘I lied,’ the daemon giggled.

‘What?’ I spun back, my sword raised, but he and his companions had taken to the air and were out of reach. Something large hit me from behind and threw me into the undergrowth. Branches and thorns scrapped across my skin and robe, whilst my sword sank into a tree. A monstrous roar shook everything and I saw against the night sky the faint clear outline of a large beast.

I paused and stared up, trying to figure what it was. However, it was invisible to my eyes expect for when the sky gave it lines. Above me the daemons chortled and took a chant of ‘kill, kill, kill.’ They understood what it was, so did that make it a daemon? I pulled my sword out and tried to estimate where it was, but I couldn’t put dimensions to it. I was no fool to flay my weapon around, so I took cover and watched the lines I could see.

‘Ha, ha, pitiful Divine can’t see!’

I looked up and the daemon was sat in a branch above me. His eyes glowed, his tail whipped about and he bared fangs. With a claw, he pointed in the direction of the demonic beast and in a sickly sweet voice said, ‘would you like to see?’ He flapped off, without waiting my reply and I saw him land on the outline of the creature. He seemed to be absorbed inside and was then gone.

Straight away I saw it, a gigantic Demigod bear with icy white and blue swirling fur. Large black eyes fixed on me as the even larger snout sniffed and the jaws opened to rows of pointed teeth. Massive paws armed with razor claws began to stomp over. Fear froze me and all I could see were those eyes coming for me.

The daemons’ chittering broke the spell and I dodged the first paw with a roll. Shooting back to my feet, I took a swing, meaning to slice right across that paw, but the other one came down behind me, knocking me and tossing me away, much like a cat with a mouse. Undergrowth rushed to me and I landed in a tangle of brambles, my robe ensnared. Struggling against them, I heard deep rumbling laughter and looked up to see the bear paused above me and him speaking, ‘what a weakling, but his soul is holy. Very tasty and powerful.’

‘I’m not weak!’ I screamed and tore myself free.

The colossal maw came together in a black lined smiled, ‘but you are.’

Wheeling my sword, I brought it down in the bear’s face and it easily cut through the smile. The Demigod roared as the blessed blade left a red streak in its wake. The bear raised a paw and rubbed its burning flesh. I darted further into the trees, only intending to create room between us whilst I planned my next attack. However, the bear had other ideas and sprinted after me. Trees were thrown aside and the plants flattened. The other daemons took higher to the air, their chatter silenced.

‘God protect me!’ I bellowed and dodged a flying tree.

‘Your God shall not!’ the daemonic voice rumbled close behind me, ‘He’s forsaken you!’

‘He would never! I am His knight!’ I threw over my shoulder.

The bear chuckled, ‘then why doesn’t He come?’

My feet skidded to a halt and I spun. The bear padded up in front of me, head down and eyes fixed on my own. I felt the evil power radiating from him and his question hanging in the air. I gripped my sword in both hands, steadied my feet and controlled my breathing. Silently, I prayed and called on God and the other Angels. There was no way I could face this alone and I didn’t want to die! My soul would be consumed by this evil and I’d never get back home.

The bear growled, still waiting my response.

‘He will come,’ I answered calmly, ‘at my darkest hour as my last hope, a guiding light.’

Sniggering filled my ears as the jaws opened and the teeth chopped together, ‘such spirit,’ the Demigod sighed, ‘but no one is coming to save you,’ and he swept out his head, capturing me in his mouth. I screamed and plunged my sword down, slicing through lip and fur. The bear shook in pain, causing me to struggle for balance. I tugged out my sword and aimed it at the roof of his mouth. His body suddenly trembled, the teeth knocked together and I felt an electric charge fill the air.

I paused, torn between digging my blade in or jumping free. The mouth was shaking around me like an earthquake and the bear seemed to be moaning in pain. The teeth fall together, the tongue tip poked my boot as if pushing me forward and then I fell out. Air rushed around me before my back hit the ground. Pain rocked through me and my head spun. I felt my sword still in my grasp and my mind screaming at me to move.

I pushed up and shuffled backwards, dragging my sword with my sight fixed on the fallen Demigod. The large eyes were closed and he appeared to be fading away. No sound or movement came from him. I stopped moving and looked up. A shadow was standing in-between the bear’s ears. I squeezed my eyes shut then opened them again. The shadow figure was still there and a crackling laughing ripped the air.

A wave of terror like nothing I had ever known curled around me. Whatever that was seemed worse than the Demigod bear. Everything screamed to run, but my body was achy and sore. In a flash the shadow moved and came before me. I tried to shuffle away, but my body was numb, my breathing quickened. I clutched my sword and raised it before me.

The figure gave the impression of a head tilt as if unsure about me or the movement. Then as if allowing me too, the figure made itself clearer and I saw what appeared to be a black masked and caped ninja in front of me, with a curved tip katana pointed at the floor. However, some reasoning inside of me knew this could be so and that this figure was something more.

‘What are you?’ I asked in a shaky voice.

The figure pulled the mask and hood down, revealing the soft face and bouncing brown hair of a woman, ‘I’m Rain.’

***************************

Author’s Note:

Hi, I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading Church as much as I’ve been enjoying writing it. I had been thinking of a number of different ends, but I couldn’t settle on one and since I’ve been liking it so much I’ve decided to carry on with it and see what happens. At the minute, I’m not sure if I’ll be posting any more of it up, since I thought that these four parts might form the first chapter of a novel. However, if people are interested and let me know through likes/comments, then I will look at posting some more. I’m really interesting to find out more about Rain, what she and Blaze are now going to do and if he’ll ever get back into Heaven. Hope you feel the same!

If you’ve enjoyed this story and my blog please follow or like or comment. You can also:

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Thanks for reading and supporting my short stories, Hayley.

Church (Chapter 1, Part 3)

Continued from Church Part 2, which can be read below as well as Part 1.

Evil drew me like a magnet and I never had to roam far from the church to find it. I had cleansed a large circle from that central point, which had begun in villages and small towns before reaching the larger towns and the city. The bigger the settlement the more evil that plagued it and the harder it was to fight it.

I landed on the flat roof of a house tower. The rain had stopped falling, though the streets below me glittered with water. People and vehicles hurried passed, the noise raising and mixing with other sounds. A sea of umbrellas and hoods covered the people, whilst the darkness concealed those in the cars. Listening, I waited to pin point an evil source. It could been anything; a daemon, a vengeful spirit, a malicious human or a supernatural being breaking the laws and going crazy.

My senses were tugged in one direction and straight away I knew there was a daemon possessing a human there. Taking off, my wings beat the air and carried me to that place, which, as I landed, was a car park. The smashing of glass turned my head and I saw a large figure plunging through a broken car door window. Laughed rose with the fading tinkling of glass.

Drawing my sword, I stepped behind him. The weapon was large in my hands, but fitted perfectly. The silver blade was long and sharp not only at its tip, but along both sides. It was also unbreakable and capable of penetrating anything. The hilt was a work of heavenly art and made from gold with a red tint. There were no precious stones set into the pommel or along the guard. Instead, the arcing guard was inscribed with curling Latin words and leafy flourishes on both sides. The grip was decorated with seemingly ridged downward feathers and the pommel was shaped into a ringed cross covered in Celtic knots like patterns.

He turned, a car radio clutched in filthy, blood hands and his crackling dry laugh dying on his lips. The tip of my sword brushed his throat. He dropped the radio, which spilt open on top of the glass fragments as he brought up his hands. He stank and his clothes were ripped and messy. It was hard to tell if the human was a tramp or had once had a comfortable life, before the possession. However, judging by the fact he was over-weight and his clothes seemed to have been a suit beforehand, it was possibly the second one.

‘Angel,’ he hissed and spit at me, though it fell short.

‘Was he willing, Daemon?’ I asked coldly.

A forked tongue stuck out of the slashed mouth and licked eagerly across the lips, ‘yes. Very. Are you, Angel?’

‘Never,’ I snarled.

He laughed, arms wrapping around his large belly and tongue flicking out faster. His dark red eyes flashed at me and small stubby wings grew from his shoulders. The wings were bat like; webbed and leathery, but with large throbbing veins crisscrossing the red surface. There was no way they could lift the human.

I pressed the tip deeper into his throat, suspecting what he might be trying to do. A bead of blood appeared, but the daemon didn’t seem to care.

‘A taste of the power always changes minds,’ he growled, ‘I could give it to you. I’ve turned angels before,’ he chuckled, ‘they burn up first and then get re-born from the black fire. You wanna try?’

‘No,’ I shouted and drove the blade into his throat.

He screamed then ripped himself out of the human. My sword drove deeper into the throat, becoming coated with red blood streaked black. The human chocked, blood splattering out of the mouth and the eyes fixed on my own. I whipped the blade out, he fell forward, his face crashing into the pile of glass and tarmac. Straight away I knew that this man had been willing, driven by too much greedy and power hungry, he’d readily fed his soul to this daemon.

Looking up, I saw the daemon floating above and lazily flapping his wings. His tongue longer and more forked than before, hissed at me, whilst his triangle pointed tail flicked at the top of my head. He looked more lizard like than anything else, with his shimmering orangey scales and flat head complete with jagged horns. His four short legs ended in wicked claws and he was no taller than an eight-year old human child.

‘It’s your turn now!’ I called up to him.

He snickered, ‘you try too hard. To honour-able, Angelic Knight. My powers greater.’

I swung my sword up at him, but he dodged it easily causing the heavy blade to slice empty air and into the side of the car. With his laughter echoing in my ears, I pulled out the weapon and tried again. The tip scrapped his foot. He yowled in pain before hissing and zooming down at me. I arced the sword, leaving a fiery red line in the air and blocking his attack. He took a sideways hit and landed on the floor.

‘Angry, so angry,’ he spit, ‘you make me. You want to see power? See Death?’

I jabbed at him and his scales reflected the blow. He shot up, rushing me in the face and his claws scratching me right across before he spiralled away. I turned after him, lashing my sword out and catching his side. However, it wasn’t enough to stop him and with an anguished cry he soared away. Bring a hand to my face, which felt on fire, I watched him land on top of the chain link fence, shriek out a call and flap away into the night. Lowing my sword to the floor, I rubbed my long sleeve across my face. It came back smeared with blood.

Breathing deeply, I sheathed my sword and sank down beside the car. I had nothing to put on the wounds, but the heat was already fading from them. They would heal in time, though I was more concerned about the loose Daemon. I dapped at the blood again then began searching for him. His evil aura trail made it too easy to track him, though I had no idea where he was going. Gathering my strength, I flew after him. There was no knowing what he’d do now, though it was unlikely he’d take over another human as he was at his strongest right now. The more possible options, were that he was heading for a constant source of evil power such as a gateway, or he had some friends in the area that he could rally against me with.

His trail took me to a far edge of the city and a wooded park. As I landed, I could hear the chanting of daemons and a slight dread filled me. The wind ruffled the tree branches and the sounds of city faded behind me. At least this place would be easier to battle in. Slowly, I drifted through the trees and undergrowth. I made myself float just above the ground to quieten my steps, but they already knew I was coming.

Wings, claws and teeth shot out of the shadows and into my chest. I cried out and battered at it. The small demonic servant darted away, twigs breaking in its awake. I grabbed my sword and took up a stand, whilst my eyes flashed around. The trees provided too many dark spots and the wind now rushing through them was blocking all other sounds. Wicked eyes watched me, but I couldn’t aim at them.

I began pushing through the trees, hoping for a clearing somewhere. A monkey chattering followed and branches swung around as they kept my pace. The trees and undergrowth thickened. There was no space to swing my weapon here and knowing I was vulnerable forced me on. For a second I questioned why they didn’t attack now when I appeared weak, but perhaps they thought it might be a trick and hung back. Forcing that thought away, I suddenly bust into the clearing I had been hoping for.

To Be Continued…