Xylophile (Part 2) #AtoZChallenge

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Xylophile; Someone who loves forests.

The cold river water rushes over my bare feet and legs. I feel small stones against my toes and move slightly to be more comfortable. My hand are flat on the rock I’m sitting on and I can feel the slightly damp moss brushing against me. I shut my eyes and just listen to the sounds of the water, the trees and everything else around me.

A few minute later, I feel the natural energy gathering. It’s hard to describe, but it feels like a warm wind wrapping around me then sinking into me. I feel little electric charges dancing across my skin, they go and I feel calmness, sleepy almost. I drift, dozing on and off, letting the wind and water carry me away.

Time passes, I’m aware and not aware of it at the same time. I just feel the magic filling me up and the sense of the river against my feet and the mossy rock under my hands are not there anymore. Dizziness makes my head swim and I lay down on the rock to make sure I don’t fall. I don’t sleep but I’m not fully awake either. I’m just drifting in and out, around the energy that takes over.

When I next open my eyes, I lay there and listen. I can hear the trees whispering to each other. They are having conversations and telling stories but I can’t make out their words clearly enough to understand.

The river laughs and tickles my feet. The water is happy to tumble down the waterfall and around the rocks. The river asks me to give it sticks and leaves to race with.

I slowly get up, make my way back to the grass bank and in a daze, I find anything that will float. I collect a few sticks, leaves, bits of things and place them into the river, above the waterfall. I watch the river play with the things, turning them and making them race through the tumbling water. The river laughs loudly like a child enjoying a good game.

Going to a near by tree, I sit down. I hear the tree talking, the leaves above moving not by the wind but by the energy of the tree itself. The tree tells about the owl that lives in a hallow high above and the two baby owls inside the nest. The tree says it is happy to give the owl and her babies a home.

I touch the bare earth, my name sake, that the tree has disturbed with it roots. The earth tells me to take it’s energy and to use some of them to anchor myself down, like the earth does to everything.

I breath deeply, filling my lungs with the energy. I hear then feel a spring rain began to fall. The drops patter onto the trees and plants before reaching my skin. It feels like warm, soft kisses on my skin.

Getting up, I walk out from under the tree and stand in the rain. It’s soft and warm. I let the rainfall wash me and from it I take more energy; the elements of air and water.

I feel better and like I can face my problems again. It’s hard to leave the forest, the place of my birth and where I feel most like myself, but I must do. I have to get back to things but I’ll keep returning, drawing the energy and making the magic until the day I return to nature and am buried under the soil here to await re-birth.

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Lovers #SundayPhotoFiction

20 Eric Wicklund January 28th 2018

The statue in the garden always caused arguments. Some of the family liked it, the other half hated it but I loved it and the sweet sad story that went alongside.

Great granddad Joe had gotten it made after his wife, Arabella, had died but the cemetery owners wouldn’t let the statue become great grandma’s gravestone. So, he placed it in the garden and had her buried there instead. He then joined her ten years later.

Arabella had been a famous ballerina and Joe saw her perform one night and knew he had to make her his wife. They were married forty years and had eight children but for the last ten years of her life Arabella was wheelchair bound. She had fallen off a horse and broken her back. All she ever wanted to do afterwards was dance again but being unable, Joe would pick her up and dance with her in his arms.

The statue was a tribute to this but also a symbol of true love. Every time I saw it, I was reminded how powerful and pure love could be. It was my hope that one day I’d met a man like great granddad Joe.

 

(Inspired by; https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/sunday-photo-fiction-january-28th-2018/ with thanks).

Scattered #writephoto

The top floor corridor was foreboding and forever in darkness since my father had died. With my bare toes pressed against the bottom of the first wooden step of the staircase, I looked upwards into the blackness. Of course, I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear them.

They moved with shuffling, dragging footsteps and whispered so you could only catch one or two words. Sometimes one of them would wail or moan in a low undertone. My mother and the servants would blame it on the wind or an animal.

I knew differently.

A chill crept around my bare ankles and began to make it’s up, under my white nightdress. I whacked the dress down, stepping backwards then I collected the edges in my hands, wrapping them around me for protection.

‘Stay away!’ I hissed.

A low chuckle came from the darkness in the middle of the stairs and a man’s voice whispered, ‘stay.’

Scrunching up my face, I tried to make his shadowy form out. I wasn’t scared of them and as long as I kept my distance they couldn’t do no harm. I made out the shape of two long legs on the step and a hand just above the banister.

‘Who are you?’ I asked.

He just laughed and began making his way downstairs. A panic and fleeing notion came over me. He didn’t feel like the others, he was stronger… I backed away and I did think about running, but I was determined to stand my ground.

Father had had control over them and I did too, even though I wasn’t very good at it. I shut my eyes and calmed myself. Rising my left arm, I put my fingers to my neck and clutched the silver cross there. I emptied my mind then imagined light washing over me.

I heard heavy boots hitting the stairs and a soft growling. I didn’t open my eyes nor move. Icy cold fingers brushed past me, but I ignored it. I pictured a bright ball of white light coming out and hovering above me.

‘Not scared?’ the shadow man asked.

I opened my eyes, feeling the power of the light swelling within me. I could see him more clearly now. He was a tall man, dressed all in black, his face was narrow with bright red eyes and a slashed mouth which was grinning.

‘Daemon,’ I uttered.

He let out a rippling laugh which echoed through the still house. He came to the bottom of the stairs and reached out for me. His arms stretched longer then they should have and once again I felt his touch. His icy grip bit into my other arm and he breathed harshly into my ear.

‘Mine. Little girl,’ he uttered.

‘No! Daemon!’ I yelled and pushed against him.

Blinding brightness shot out from me, throwing us both back. I hit the wall hard then scrambled upwards. A wild howl filled my ears and I saw the top floor corridor bursting with scattered light. Many shadows were fleeing before it and wails echoed in the distance.

I watched the light dancing on the ceiling and walls, dazed by the patterns. It was like sunlight through a prism. The light began to fade and so did their cries. Looking down at my hands, I wondered if I had really done that. The sound of running footsteps broke me out of my thoughts. The rest of my light faded but they didn’t gather back, instead the corridor took on a peaceful darkness.

‘What happened?’ my mother gushed.

I turned and saw her in the dim lamp light. She had her maid and mine behind her.

‘I don’t know,’ I answered sulkily.

‘Where you sleep walking again?’ My mother pressed.

I faked a pause as if thinking then nodding went over and pressed myself into her nightdress. I made sobbing sounds.

My mother patted my head, whispering calming things and led me off to my bedroom. I glanced back as we moved off. I couldn’t sense them up there but I knew they would gather again soon.

 I looked down at my hands, in wonder.  Did I really now have the power to defeat them…?        

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/09/14/thursday-photo-prompt-scattered-writephoto/ with thanks).

Full Moon

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I lay shivering and bloody on the floor of the forest, catching my breath. Around me, the full moon night was shouting with sounds but I could now only hear half of them. I tried to focus on the moon and saw it coming in to sharper focus as well as the dusting of stars around it. I breathed deeply, smelling the pine and soil, the scent of animals and plants, but my nose was not as keen as it had been before.

I got up shakily on two legs. It always took me a good few minutes to get use to the change. I lent my hands on a tree trunk for support then when I was ready I walked out of the dense part of the forest. I headed for an old rangers’ hut that I had made into my shelter on these nights. It was too dangerous to remain the forest in this form.

I struggled through the darkness, only finding my way because I had walked this so many times before. Also, I had marked the trees with cuts which I could feel with my fingers to direct me.

I let myself into the wooden hut and turned on the light switch. A single bulb pinged on and the room lit up. There was a chair, a desk, a bed, shelves, a little kitchen area and a fire place. I took a poncho from the bed and slipped it on. It would keep this fur-less body warm.

Going to the kitchen, I checked there was enough bottled water and canned food. I always felt hungry in this form, but I had to be careful with what I could get. Trips to the camping grounds and the nearest towns were long and I often spent all night searching for things. I didn’t feel like all that walking tonight.

I went to the shelves and looked at the things I had collected there; a few books I couldn’t read, shinny stones, broken ornaments, a map, a compress and a few other trinkets. Some had been here already but the rest I had brought back with me. I took down a large book, it was falling apart, so I was gentle with it.

Setting it on the desk, I sat down and began turning the pages. There were coloured photos and drawings of animals. With what I guessed was information about them alongside. I went to the section further at the back and looked at a few pictures there. Finally, I turned to the one that I knew was me.

I sighed and touched the main photo of the grey wolf. Then I feel into wondering like I always do. Why was I cursed with this change every full moon? And why did it take this human form? Could I not be a bird or another animal?

Shutting my eyes I tried as I’d done countless times to turn into something else or even back into a wolf. But nothing happened. I had no power over this body. Closing the book, I put it back on the shelf and sat back on the bed.

I’d have to wait this out, just like I normally did on staying in nights. I lay down and dreamt of running with my pack.

Faulty

Telling myself that I wasn’t stuck, I carefully lowered the screwdriver and balanced it on my chest before trailing my hands down to my heavily pregnant belly. The little voice at the back of my head once again questioned why I was under the spaceship’s main engine changing the last of the faulty power crystals.

‘Because no one can be trusted,’ I spoke.

‘You okay?’ a very distant voice answered me back.

‘Next time, husband, when you meet barbarian traders offering you a too good a deal, walk away!’ I yelled.

Taking the purple, pulsing crystal out, I slotted a new one in it’s place. The red warning light and ringing alarm cut off. I sighed then slowly backed away, dragging my tools with me. Coming out the hatch, I fixed a scowl on my face.

The whole crew were stood in the room, looking worried.

‘I fixed it. Everything should be fine now. Don’t ever mess with my ship again,’ I added to my husband as he helped me up.

 

 

Story prompt from: https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/fffaw-challenge-week-of-september-13-2016/#comments

Photo prompt provided by Jade M. Wong with thanks.

 

River

Green Trees Beside Body of Water

The river was so reassuring in it’s constant movement. The sound of water flowing over rocks and tree roots as it passed through the forest was like the drum beat that kept everything else going. It was in fact the core of the circle of life but it could also symbolism so much more. Power, determination, cleansing and unity. The river did not seem to care about it’s small beginnings or it’s eternal joining of the sea, it just followed the set path before it and allowed it’s voice to be heard by anyone who would listen.

Water Man Part 7

When they found him, Hali had his feet in the river. Zale approached him carefully, licking his lips as he did so and still not sure how he had pulled off this move. The person with him hung back respectively, but that didn’t make Zale feel any better. He reached out a hand and put it on his twin’s shoulder.

Hali turned to look at him, the cold water running over his feet, then saw who he had come with. Hali scrambled up and give his great great grandfather a small bow. Poseidon nodded his mighty head before continuing to look around. Hali felt his brother pat his shoulder and they walked over to stand before the God.

‘Nice place,’ Poseidon spoke in a deep voice.

‘Yes, it is,’ Zale responded, ‘are you sure you don’t want to go to the cabin?’

‘No. here is good enough. I see that river has been enjoying your company.’

The twins glanced over and nodded as one.

‘It is a fine river,’ Poseidon rumbled and he stroked his beard.

‘That it is, but not as might as some you have known, grandfather,’ Zale put in.

Poseidon nodded thoughtfully and curled his fingers around his trident. His light blue robe flowed around him, covering from neck to flow and seeming to have a life of its own. Leather saddles adored his huge feet with his big toes sticking out almost into the grass. A small orange crab appeared in his beard and scuttled across his hand.

‘What are you doing here, granddad?’ Hali finally asked.

‘Zale talked me into it,’ Poseidon boomed as he neatly tucked the crab back into his beard.

‘I told him, we wanted to talk about things…the sea and rivers and such,’ Zale chipped in, ‘and how sorry you were about your last visit…’

Hali half-raised his fist to punch him then thought better of it and let all the tension go.

‘Of course, you already know my position boys. There’s not much I can do,’ Poseidon picked up, having straightened out his beard.

‘We know that. But even if you can only do a little, it would make us more happy. Come lets’ go up to the cabin, I got some beer,’ Zale added.

‘Okay fine, you twisted my leg. Go on, go on.’

Nodding and patting his brother on the chest, Zale turned and began walking. Hali and Poseidon followed him, trying to make pleasant but awkward small talk. The sunny afternoon was well under way with light giving everything a sparkle and the birds happily singing. They followed a human footpath then a deer path, though it was a much short route then Hali had first taken. When they arrived the cabin looked just out of a fairy tale. Zale led the way in and whilst he hurried to get the beer, Hali gave their grandfather a chair at the table and wedged the door open to let out some of the sea salt air that clung heavily to Poseidon.

‘I don’t want to get your hopes up.’

Hali, having just sat down, looked up at him and waited for him to go on.

‘My magic wasn’t as strong as it once was,’ Poseidon explained, ‘and we always agreed not to get involved in man’s problems. I’m tired of trying to clean up the oceans after them.’

‘I know that grandfather, but there are better ways we can help them,’ Hali said, ‘some of the humans do want to put things right and they are trying. We just need to convince more of them and show them what to do.’

‘I can’t appear before them,’ Poseidon sighed, ‘no one really believes in us these days. Even back then it took a lot and that person had to be special.’

‘I know the old stories…’

‘Here we go!’ Zale called from a hidden cubby as he brought three large pints of beer over to them. He placed them on the table and foam slid down the glasses. He took a chair and settled in, ‘cheers.’

They raised they raised their glasses together before taking big drinks.

Zale banged his beer down on the table first and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He let a big ahh sound and lent back in the chair. He looked across at Hali and watched him placing his glass more lightly on to the table.

‘We need to find the others too and get them to help,’ Hali came back in.

Poseidon swallowed and placed his glass down, ‘good beer that. I couldn’t tell you where everyone was right now. My children are scattered to the seven seas.’

‘But you know where some of them are and they’ll know the locations of others,’ Zale suggested.

‘Suppose so. What are you going to do about the others though?’

‘Huh?’

‘Well, what’s the point in just saving all the water? What you going to do about the land and the plants and everything else?’

‘I hadn’t thought about it,’ Hali shrugged, ‘the water is my concern. Maybe, the ones in control of those should be doing something about it. It’s not mine- our- domain.’

‘Of course not, but we should all work together to make it better,’ Poseidon explained.

‘Point taken, but first the water. Here’s too it!’ Zale cried out and raised his pint glass.

The others did the same and clinked the glasses together before taking another big drink.

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 7, Part 2)

angle wolf

(Continued from Church Chapter 7 Part 1)

I nudged Rain and pointed the lights out to her. We listened and heard a low hum of human voices. Rain waved the light ball out and lay down in the grass. She tugged the sleeve of my robe and trying to be as quiet as possible, I lay down beside her. I felt the ground vibrate under me and blanket of green light appeared above us.

‘They properly can’t see or hear us,’ Rain whispered, ‘just in case though I asked nature to hide us.’

‘I think you are right,’ I agreed.

For a few moments we listened to the sound of grass crushing under heavy footsteps and the hushed voices of the men. I caught a few words, but nothing that made sense. Rain touched me lightly and slowly sat up. Her fingers remind against my hand and I felt grateful for the warmth passing between us. With her other hand she pulled up her hood and mask which made me get the odd sense that she was clocking herself in darkness.

I wanted to tell her we could do that too, only we used light to shield ourselves. I kept it to myself though as the men were coming closer. Slowly, I eased myself up and looked over at them. It was hard to make them out with their sweeping torch light, but it seemed they were security guards. My hand clutched Rain’s as the men walked passed us.

‘It was over here. Maybe,’ a gruff voice muttered.

‘It could have been anything,’ a second raspier voice whispered back, ‘still, even if it’s nothing it gets us out. I’m dying for a smoke. You want one?’

‘Sure. But I’m telling you I saw someone out here flashing lights.’

The second man gave a shake of his head and dug around in his pockets. They both carried on walking then stopped when they reached the edge of the area that Rain had cleansed after killing the mindless soul. There was a flicker of flame from a lighter.

Rain tugged my hand as she stood up. I followed her, my eyes, like her’s fixed on the men before us. Distracted with their smoking, we made a quick escape. The grass seemed to part around us and our footsteps were silent. I could have added in some of my own power, but Rain was proving more than capable.

We reached the edge of the field, still holding hands. Rain paused to have a look back. I glanced over my shoulder too and saw the two torch beams and an orange dot glow still where we had left the men. Rain gave a squeeze of my hand and led me onto the remains of an abandoned road.

‘I’m sure they would not have seen us,’ I stated.

‘I didn’t want to risk it,’ Rain answered, ‘there was something that brought them out there and it was best to stay hidden. You can’t erase human minds can you?’

‘No, but I can slightly change their minds about me. What about you?’ I asked, before realising it was a pointless question.

‘No,’ Rain scoffed, ‘only the dying or all ready dead can see me and that’s only when I want them too. You on the other hand…it was probably your Heavenly Light they saw. That’s the only thing they could’ve been attracted too. I had a shield up, so there was no way they could’ve heard anything.’

I nodded and began rearranging my clothes which felt damp and were covered in grass seeds.

‘Your wolf did that,’ I said and pointed out the crumpled in dint in my chest armour.

Rain giggled before putting a hand over her mouth, ‘come on,’ she spoke with the laughter still in her voice, ‘we should go back to your church.’

‘If you want too. We are quite far away though,’ I pointed out, ‘can you fly?’

‘That’s a stupid question,’ Rain scolded.

I bit back my next words and scrambled for an apology.

‘I don’t have wings, but I can materialise to places. I can also make portals. That’s sort of the same thing,’ she explained with a shrug.

‘The human angels of death have wings though, don’t they?’ I had to ask.

‘You’ve never met one?’

‘No. I’ve seen one from a distance, but it just looked like a dark cloud. I thought I saw a robe and wings though…’

Rain looked at the ground, ‘they are the same as you, just black or grey.’

‘You’re meet one? Well of course you have done! Sorry, another stupid question!’ I snapped at myself.

‘Be grateful you’ve not meet one,’ Rain broke in, ‘they are too silent or angry or not interesting. They won’t help you in a fight and they all ways seem so dumb.’

‘Not like you, then?’ I said softer.

Rain shook her head and gently I brought her chin up. Her eyes met mine and she pressed her hand over mine. I could feel the warmth on her cheek and from her hand. I shut my eyes and rubbed my fingers over her cheek.

‘Hey, hey, Feathers. I’m going to eat your soul next!’ the wicked voice of Haku echoed in my head.

I growled and thought, go away.

‘What you going to do, oh, great warrior angel? You could not even help her tonight. She saved you again,’ Haku hissed.

It’s not true! I helped!

I felt Rain shove her other hand on to my forehead. Straight away an image of her formed in my mind and saw her running through white light corridors. At the end other black wrapped figure was taking form. I knew it was Haku before she reached him. It was him as he had been in life, I guessed.

He was wearing layer upon layer of ripped up grey robes, which covered him from the neck to the ankle. His feet were bare, but bandages were wrapped around his hands, leaving only his fingers visible. He wasn’t wearing a hood, so his mane of midnight black hair ran down his back like a cloak. His face was covered in thick black stubble and he had a sharp chin and jaw. His nose was off bent due to an old break and his eyes…they were mismatched! Just like Rain’s.

Haku’s laugh crackled in my ears then vanished. I came back with a deep intake of breath. I stepped backwards and felt Rain’s arms circling me. She kept me steady and I was able to hug her back.

‘We don’t need that right now,’ Rain mumbled.

‘I saw him,’ I gasped.

‘It’s all right,’ she soothed, ‘let’s go,’

She took my hand and led me a bit further down the road. We could no longer see the torch light of the men and the nature seemed to give us shelter. Rain stopped beside a tree. She let go of my hand and circled it. Ivy and moss were climbing the trunk and there was a canopy of summer leaves above us. Rain bent down and hushed something.

I watched blue lights appear and arrange themselves into a shape. The wolf became more solid and grey. He went to Rain, greeting her with a wag of his tail. She petted him and whispered something to him. Then he turned and eyed me. A low growl came from his throat. Rain tugged his fur lightly and he turned back to her.

‘I’m sorry about before,’ I said a loud, feeling the need to make my peace with the spirit guardian.

‘He won’t have hurt you if he’d know,’ Rain backed me up.

The wolf growled again and stalked around the tree. Rain moved after him, her feet scuffing on a large tree root. She clutched the tree with one arm and lent around it, calling him back.

‘Is there nothing I can do?’ I asked.

‘Not right now, but I wanted him to help me make the portal. It would have been quicker that way. I guess we’re going to have to fly back.’

I nodded my head and unleashed my wings.

To Be Continued…

Trust (Part 11)

Having gotten dressed and feeling like she could have done with a shower and some clean clothes, Fern helped Brook create a space on the mausoleum floor. Brook, just wearing jeans, moved the candle on top of wide ledge amongst some unlit white ones. They put the airbed, the bedding and the camp bed to the far corner, where Fern saw a large metal trunk.

‘What’s in there?’ she asked.

‘Some more supplies,’ Brook answered.

‘I was thinking…now that everything is kind of over…Couldn’t we find a house to stay in?’

‘Can’t live without your girly necessities?’ Brook shot back.

Fern humped, ‘we both could do with a wash and some clean clothes.’

Brook shrugged, ‘We’ll go by mine tomorrow then. But right now, we need to stay here.’

‘Why?’ Fern asked as she finished piling the bedding up.

‘That man from the arcade is still creeping me out,’ Brook stated.

‘He didn’t do anything. I guess he could’ve gone to the police though,’ Fern pondered.

‘I don’t think he really saw anything…It was just…’

‘What?’

‘There something off about him.’

Fern frowned as they walked into the middle of the stone room. She fully remembered the brief conversation she had with Dacian and didn’t feel anything odd about him. The idea she should admit this to Brook gnawed at her, but she put it aside.

‘You can’t read minds can you?’ she cut in.

‘Sort of,’ Brook replied slowly, ‘you can pick things up from humans’ minds. But we can’t read each others. It’s not like telepathy though, it’s more like you guess what the human is going to do. Sometimes when you fed you can hear them, but that’s all down to connections.’

‘Oh, so I can’t learn how to do that?’ she asked making her disappointment seem real.

‘No. I’m going to teach you have to fight. You need to know how to attack and defend yourself,’ Brook stated.

‘But I’m more powerful then…I was before.’

‘It’s still useful to know about and I can show you how to ward off other vampires.’

Fern shuffled her feet on the floor, feeling hard dust and small stones underneath her. She glanced down then up at Brook, who for the moment seemed districted as he too was looking at the floor. The gap between them was only arm’s length and now the bedding wasn’t scattered around, Fern really felt like she was in tomb.

‘Can’t we go outside for this?’ she asked.

‘No. We can’t risk anyone seeing us,’ Brook cut in, ‘I’ll you show the basics.’

Fern nodded and they spent the next half an hour practising a mix of simple leg and arm movements. It felt more like a warm up before a gym session then actual fighting or as Fern thought about it later, the first steps of boxing. She learned to strike out with one fist then the other, to slide her feet forward and back, also to move quickly to the right and left to avoid on coming attacks.

‘I feel silly,’ she pointed out during their break.

Brook was smoking before the black candle with his back to her. She was sat opposite him, her back to damp stone wall.

‘Who taught you how to fight? I thought we were going to do karate or something,’ Fern continued.

‘I did boxing when I was a kid,’ Brook muttered.

‘That explains it. Maybe we should have a practise fight and see what happens?’

‘Sure, I’ll win though.’

Fern stared at his back and watched him flicking ash away. The room smelt heavily of liquorice. She brought her knees to her chest and fought the urge to go outside down. The idea of being trapped plagued her mind and she didn’t understand how anyone could live like this.

‘You ready?’ Brook called over.

She looked up. He had put the cig and the candle out. Dark grey smoke was curling up to the ceiling. Darkness settled back in, but only for a moment as a number of tiny flames broke out over the other candles. Fern got to her feet staring at them and convinced they hadn’t been light before.

‘I’ll teach you that too,’ Brook spoke with a grin.

‘How did you do that?’ she gasped.

‘Sleight of hand, fast movement and practise, just like a good magician.’

‘It’s useful for other stuff too, though?’

Brook nodded, ‘everything is when you learn it. Anyway…’

Swiftly, he crossed the space between them and locked his arms around Fern’s shoulders. Fern wiggled against him, hands on his chest and tried to escape. Brook though, got her into a headlock and bent her to the floor. She saw him bringing his knee up to her face and a panicked squeal escaped her throat. Instead, Brook neatly tumbled her to the floor and grabbed her hands to soft the blow.

‘That wasn’t fair!’ Fern snapped.

Brook yanked her up and she slammed into him.

‘Why? Because you weren’t ready?’ he asked cheekily as he held her tightly.

‘Yes,’ she cried out feeling slightly winded.

‘That’s going to happen. You’ve got to keen your senses into every little thing. You’ve got to know seconds before a thing happens and act on it then.’

Fern pushed against his chest and Brook let her go. Growling, she paced the floor before coming back to stand before him. Brook flexed his arms and shoulders, remaining casual.

‘Let’s try again,’ Fern demanded.

Brook smiled and stayed still.

Fern approached, her footsteps echoing softly. She got chest to chest with Brook then tried to put him in a headlock. However, he was far faster and had twisted her arm behind her back before she could fasten her arms around him. She cried out at a spike of pain then brought her other hand up and punched Brook in the face.

He let go of her arm, wheeling slightly. Fern both hands fists, rained a few blows on to his chest and stomach. Brook wiggled away from her, darting to the side then around the back of her. Fern twisted, snatching a deep breath before she tried to land another blow on him. Brook caught her hand and brought her arm up into the air alongside his. Fern went for a low punch, gritting her teeth as she did so. Brook twisted his hips away then collided their bodies together.

Fern grunted with pain and effort. She dropped her head and shut her eyes. Her lungs ached and she felt so unfit. Brook let go of her hand and her arm dropped uselessly to her side. Suddenly, she wanted to tell him all about Dacian. She wanted them both to get angry and knock each other senseless. Though as she caught her breath, she realised it would be foolish. Brook had already proven himself right.

Church (Chapter 6, part 5)

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 breath caught in my throat. The wolf rumbled and I saw it’s storm cloud grey fur sticking up. It’s deep black eyes and nose fixed on me for a few seconds then turned to the daemon coming above it’s head. The wolf snapped a mighty jaw upwards at the same time as jumping. I saw all four of its paws leave the ground then land heavily back down. The daemon yelled out something and wheeled away into the haze.

The wolf turned back to me and I fastened my bleeding palms onto my sword. A growl came, rolling over me like a thunder clap. The wolf dropped into a change, racing straight for me. I could hear the grass zinging against that smooth grey coat. My stomping boots added to the noise as I took off towards it.

Grim determination settled on my face and I raised my sword. I battle cry escaped my lips, my sword ploughed into the wolf. The ringing up my arm caused me to realise that my sword had hit the earth and not the flesh. We had shot past each other. I spun on my toes and saw him – for it was definitely male- standing behind me, his body curving as he too turned.

Seeing him up close, I noticed that there was an electric blue outline around him. He was also seemed to be as high as my hip and not as gigantic as I had made him out to be. He flashed ice white fangs at me as his black-pink lips curled back. A snort came out of him then his large paws padded back to me, quickening as he slunk though the grass.

Re-positioning my feet, I darted to meet him. His jaw snapped out as I swung my blade too wide. I twisted it back, sending a spike of pain across my wrists and aiming for his rear. Somehow, he saw or predicted the movement, because he threw his tail and thus his rear away. His tail flicked back and he leapt on a turn.

I threw my arms and sword up in defence. He collided into me, shoving my chest plate down and scrapping his claws against the metal. The force caused me to stumble and as I struggled to stay upright, the wolf kicked off me. I lost my balance and fell. I hit the ground hard with a ringing in my ears. Struggling up, I had no time to assess the damage. The wolf was snarling at me and closing the gap between us.

A woman’s scream of, ‘no!’ made us both pause and look across. A black figure with a curving blade was standing next to a dirty white gelatinous blob shape in the hazy distance.

‘Rain?’ I called back.

The wolf growled and whipped around to me. I glanced at him then forced my eyes to stay down instead of looking back up. The wolf, keeping low to the ground, stalked me. I moved backwards aware of pain in my legs and hands. I gritted my teeth and knew I had to make this quick, Rain needed my help.

‘Come on,’ I muttered.

The wolf snapped at me and lines of saliva dripped from his mouth. He shook his head, clearing himself of it before charging at me. I easily side stepped, snaking out of his reach then brought my sword down on top of him. The blade pierced his spine. The wolf howled, twisted back and jumped me. I was faster. I whacked my sword around and ran him through.

The wolf slide off me and landed in the grass, which instantly flattened underneath him. I dragged in tight breaths and watch him fading. A wave of victory rocked though me and I felt the uncustomary feeling of satisfaction at killing my first evil soul.

Rain’s voice called me back.

I spun around, half trying to work out what she was saying and half assessing the next situation. She was too far away for me to do both. I broke into a run, sword dragging though the top of the grass.

‘You idiot!’ Rain screamed, ‘Stop!’

Her words whipped passed me. I ignored them, some part of my brain claiming they weren’t for me. Why would Rain say that when I was coming to save her? I pressed on and almost ran right into the dirty white gelatinous blob. My boots skidded to a halt, desperate breaths rattled my chest and my arms readied to fight again.

The blob loomed over me, blocking out the skyline. It seemed to be a swirling mass of white and grey shades of paint. It’s aura pulsed deep red across it’s outline. I stalled for a few moments, unsure what this thing was or how to kill it.

I felt, rather than saw, Rain come to my side. Her body knocked hard into me, shoving me out of the way. I almost stumbled to the ground again, but hung on. I shot her a look and opened my mouth, but she beat me to speaking.

‘Get away. Are you crazy?’

‘You need help,’ I stated.

Rain’s head turned to me and I saw her mismatched eyes through the slit in her mask and hood. They were full of anger, determination and power.

‘Not from you, I don’t,’ she snapped back, ‘your power is useless against this monster.’

‘But I killed the other one!’ I counted back.

A flicker of sadness appeared and vanished in her eyes. She turned back to the blob, ‘I don’t need your death on my hands. Go!’

I shook my head slightly, knowing she wouldn’t see it.

The blob shifted, turning tediously to us.

I heard Rain growl. She swung her katana out and it sliced right through the blob. The gash was wide, but in seconds it had healed over. She yelled out and slashed at what seemed to be the head, though there was no visible face. The blob paused to shudder then began moving again.

Rain turned back to me, darting over, ‘throw me,’ she rushed.

I frowned at her. She torn my sword from my hand and threw it away. I heard it whizzing through the air and slicing though the grass as it landed.

‘Hey!’ I yelled.

‘Throw me, God, Damn it!’ she shouted into my face.

‘Okay!’

She turned and I crouched. I grabbed her around the ankles and picked her up. She lent her body into mine as I did so.

‘How is this going to help?’ I asked gruffly.

‘I need to get on top of it,’ Rain called down, ‘the soul is in its’ head. You ready?’

‘Sure.’

‘Then…?’

Pushing all my energy in it, I threw Rain as high as I could. A grunt squeezed itself out of my chest and I watched her flying through the air. She land almost on top of it. Jabbing her katana in, she scrambled up the rest of the way. The blob didn’t seem to notice or if it did, it didn’t care. Rain walked across it then drew her blade into a downward killing stroke.

She dropped the katana down, slicing through the gelatinous blob and straight into something hard. I couldn’t see probably, but I knew she’d hit the soul. The blob began disintegrating. Large jelly chucks bounced across the grass or curved inwards.

Rain yanked her weapon out and half run- half slide down its side. She landed with her legs together, knees bent before coming over to me. She pulled down her mask and hood. Her face was flushed and she was breathing hard. She slotted her katana away and walked past me. I watched her pick up my sword and return with it. She handed it to me, refusing to meet my questioning eyes.

‘Is it died?’ I asked to break the silence between us.

Rain nodded once.

‘Did you see me kill that wolf?’

‘Yeah,’ she grumbled and moved forward.

The blob was all but melted down and fading fast.

‘Did you see that daemon?’ I questioned, ‘he’s the same one from before. You know with the bear?’

‘Sort of, but I wasn’t paying attention,’ she answered as she drew her katana.

‘He’s taunting me,’ I pointed out.

Rain hummed and held her arms out, her weapon in her right hand. She began to mumble some words.

A wind swept the grass and I felt it touching me then rushing off again. The blob parts vanished and the wind came back the other way. Rain dropped her katana to the ground and with the tip trailing behind started walking. She circled the area where the blob had died and when she reached the start point, she struck the katana into the earth. The blade wobbled and I got the sense of a white light running the circle that she had made.

Rain went to her knees and pressed her head to the guard and hilt. Her lips moved softly, though I didn’t catch the words. Following her, I knelt, lay my sword down and put my hands together. I prayed silently, thanking God for protecting us and asking him to help Rain cleanse the area.

A soft almost inaudible whinnying ticked my ears. I opened my eyes and saw the giant wolf standing before Rain.

I snatched up my sword, thoughts racing through my mind. The wolf give a low growl and Rain shot between us.

‘He’s my friend,’ she stated, ‘could you kindly not kill him again?’