Tsujigiri #AtoZChallenge

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Tsujigiri – crossroad killing. A Japanese samurai with a new katana to test attacks a random defenceless passer-by at night.

The single track road was dark. Touches of light cast from the houses of the edge of the town kept the night at bay but wasn’t enough to really see by. There was a low murmuring of animals, a dog whined somewhere and horse let out a long neigh. People’s voices faded as the doors of the tea houses shut, leaving only the gentle lapping of water to break the silence.

Hiki sat as if he was a drunk who had fallen asleep by the side of the road. His black helmet with the forked stag like horns on top was pulled low to cover his eyes. The rest of his black lacquer armour was back in his room. Hiki hadn’t needed it for this. Instead, he was dressed in black bellowing robes and saddles which made him fit in more of the town’s people and also the growing night.

At Hiki’s side, laying in the long grass so it was hidden but still in easy reach was his new katana. The sword was unsheathed in preparation and Hiki’s right hand was resting next to the black lacquer handled.

This afternoon when he had received the katana, he had practised with it to make sure the balance was right. Hiki had demanded of the swordsmith that the sword be lighter then normal, so it could almost be wielded in one hand. The blade was to be sharp on both sides and the curve more pronounced. The handle was to be left plain so Hiki could dress it himself and that was going be in the traditional black and white diamond pattern of ribbons.

Firstly though, the katana had to draw it’s first blood and kill it’s first victim. Which was why Hiki was sat outside the town pretending to sleep. He couldn’t fight just anyone for the katana’s first outing. This thing had to be done just right and Hiki had found the perfect setting.

He had been observing the town since he had first arrived and during the wait for the katana to be made. The town was no stranger to samurai and produced good weapons and armour. There was a steady flow of people coming in and out with supplies, even by night they travelled because the roads were free of dangers thanks to the numbers of samurai.

The sounds of cart wheels and a horse clopping along, sent a thrill through Hiki. His fingers twitched towards his katana and held the handled lightly. Trying to remain still was hard but he controlled his breathing and cleared his thoughts. He couldn’t get up too soon, the timing had to be just right.

He peeked out from under his helmet and looked at the patch of road he could see. He didn’t turn his head towards the sound. He knew when he saw the horse come into view that was his signal.

Time seemed to slow, Hiki counted each breath and listened as the horse got closer. Hiki’s hand tightened on the katana, his legs twitched as they got ready for action. Soon, it would be the right moment.

The horse came into view faster then Hiki realised. He shot up, his body that had been laying like a scarecrow coming to life and with the grace of a dancer moving through the darkness. His katana swooshed through the air like falling cherry blossom caught on the wind and the head of the cart man went flying through the air.

Hiki let out the breath he had been holding. The horse cried out, reared in fight and shot down the road. The body of his master slide off the cart’s seat and tumbled into a ditch. Blood dripped down the katana as Hiki lowered it and listened to the sound of the running horse and trundling cart fade.

Slowly, Hiki walked over to the cart man’s head and picked it up by the top knot. The head swung, dripping blood and trails of the inside. Hiki inspected the katana’s work in the dim light and he was satisfied by the cleanness and sharpness of the cut.

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Juramentrum #AtoZChallenge (Part 2)

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Juramentrum – oath

Siegfried breathed deeply and smelt the nature drifting his way. It was mid spring and everything was waking up after the long dark winter. He could smell something sweet, maybe flowers hidden from sight in the grass that covered the rocks. There was a damp earthy smell from soil that had found its way into the cracks of the rocks.

The river smelt of nothing but has he dipped his fingers into the water, Siegfried felt the coldness and smoothness of the flow. Removing his hand, he took a few sips of water from the waterskin.

He didn’t have to worry about steering the boat, it was making its own course as if being pulled along by unseen hands. The boat was also small enough to pass by and over any threatening rocks. It was a good boat. His brother, Hrothgar, had done an excellent job.

One of the old dogs yawed and Siegfried twisted to look at them. They were settling down again. Grey heads resting on the edge of the boat and their bodies curled together for warm. They looked peaceful and not worried.

Siegfried grabbed one of the furs and threw it over them. He could trust his dogs sense of things and if they weren’t worried about any danger then nor should he. It was growing colder though.

Grabbing a fur for himself, Siegfried drew it around his shoulder and noticed how dark it was getting. The height of the gorge was blocking out the warm sun and casting everything into darkness the further you entered in. Soon, he wouldn’t be able to see.

Searching in the boat’s hull, Siegfried found a lamp and lit it. Carefully and slowly, he crawled to the front of the boat and placed the lamp into its place. Going back to his seat, he found another lamp, lit it and placed it beside himself. Clutching the oar in one hand and his sword in the other, Siegfried was swallowed by darkness.

An icy wind swept down and Siegfried smelt snow in the air. It was normal of winter to hold on has long as he could and he found hiding places where the sun couldn’t find him. Siegfried hoped the river was frozen and that it didn’t start snowing. Just in case though, he threw another fur over the dogs and pulled a large one onto his head.

Siegfried might be a mighty Viking but he was old now and felt the cold stiffen his bones more and more.

Perhaps, I should have waited till the summer? he thought.

Shaking his head, Siegfried got the oar back out and began paddling again. He’d rather meet the ice sooner rather than later. A few small flakes of snow landed in his beard and boat. The darkness pressed deeper down, everything had been blocked out above him as if the gorge had a roof.

Not stopping, he rowed faster, not liking the darkness and the gathering cold.

‘This can’t go on for much longer,’ Siegfried muttered, ‘how you doing back there dogs?’

There was a muffled moan and Siegfried glanced over his shoulder but he couldn’t see the back of the boat. The light from the lamps was hardly anything but he was grateful to not be in total darkness.

He turned his face up, looking for glints of blue sky. His oar hit something hard, probably just a rock, he felt the vibrations going through his arm. Nothing to worry about. He padded faster, not liking this at all and feeling uneasy in his gut. Telling himself there had to be an end to this soon spurred him on.

There, was that a hint of blue above? Did the path ahead look lighter? Siegfried concentrated on that patch of blue and slowly came out into the light once more. Sighing, he stopped rowing and blew the lamps out. He took a few deep breaths and let the furs slip off him.

Blue sky angled it’s way into the gorge, filling the gap above the rocks. Sun cast light on green things and grey surfaces. Warm slowly tricked down to the river and soon the way widened. The river burbled along as if happy to be out of the darkness just as Siegfried was.

Pulling the oar in, he let the boat drift again. The river lapped against the wood and the shore in a calming way and carried the boat along its course. Siegfried settled back, watching more and more of the sky open above him. He could tell the gorge was coming into an end.

Shutting his eyes, he rested, feeling the cold leaving him and warmth filling him up. He dozed then when the boat slowed and began bobbing against something, Siegfried opened his eyes and saw he had arrived at the gates of Valhalla.

 

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Juramentrum #AtoZChallenge (Part 1)

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Juramentrum – oath

Siegfried stopped paddling the wooden long, narrow boat and looked up at the rising landscape around him. It was quiet. Too quiet he thought. He could hear the far cry of birds, the wind playing through trees and long grass, the flow and lapping of the river but that was all.

He pulled the oar half in and watched water dripping off the neatly shaped paddle. There was nothing smoothing about the steady sound, just reminded that he was alone out here.

I hate this, he thought and lowered the oar again.

There was nothing for it but to get through the gorge and hope nothing attacked him.

‘I’m tried of fighting and that’s saying something coming from an old Viking!’ Siegfried spoke then chuckled.

He paddled swiftly, with years of experience, his eyes watching his surrounds and not his oar or the front of the boat. He could trusted the craftsmanship of the vessel his brother had built it and there was no finer ship building then Hrothgar.

Siegfried wished his brother was here with him now, instead his traveling companions were two old hunting dogs who never left his side. Still though, this journey was Siegfried’s alone to take.

The gorge rose up on either side, blocking out some of the afternoon sun. Solid multi-coloured rock with bits of green plant life sticking out seemed to stretch endlessly to meet the blue sky. Rocks jutted out of the river, covered with moss and worn smooth. Boats still had to be careful though as there was no telling if some of those rock edges could still break through wood or not.

Entering the gorge would mean no going back. It was a long way to the other side. Most people tried to avoid going through, preferring the other, longer route the river divided into further back up. This way was favored by bigger boats because in some places the gorge forced the river to narrow far too much.

Siegfried stopped rowing and let the boat drift as he went inside the gorge. He knew being quiet as much as possible would help if anyone or thing was listening above. He picked up his shield which he had rested in the bottom of the boat and lifted it over his head.

Only arrows or rocks or other things could be rained down on him from the gorge’s high cliffs because nothing would be stupid enough to jump down and try to get him. No, if a wild animal or monster wanted him they would track him to a more suitable place.

I’m being over cautious, Siegfried thought, this too dangerous journey is getting to me.

He lowered the shield and studied the view above. Nothing was moving up the clouds and he could hear the river singing along. He looked at the two dogs, both now awake and looking around as if they sensed there could be danger.

Siegfried looked down into the hull of the boat once more and gripped his long sharp edged sword. The weapon comforted him even though it was no use currently. In the boat was also some daggers, a bow and arrows which he hardly used anyway, some food, water and other useful items. He had packed well for this journey, not sure what he might need.

Siegfried shook his head then ran his hand through his long plaited grey beard. He felt uneasy and wished things were different. But he had made an oath to his brothers, wife and children that he would do this. He would go first….

To Be Continued…

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Untimely Death

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We had been gathered around the new grave in silence for sometime when granny spoke out, ‘well it was a stupid thing to do.’

We all looked over at her, a few of us even gasping.

‘Granny!’ Isabella scolded and squeezed the old woman’s hand.

Great grandmother and great granddaughter looked at it each other then joined us in silence once more.

Slowly, people began to drift away as they do when a funeral is over. Their whispering voices commenting on the flowers and service drifting across the cemetery.

I looked down at my older sister’s grave. It was but a hole in the ground with the edges of a pink coffin peeking through the dirt and no headstone to name her yet.

Granny had been right though. My sister should never have trusted that flashy magician or his Amazing Invisible Sword trick.

Beacon

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They had been travelling for two years when the wood elf spotted one of the last beacons. He dismounted from his bay horse and on long legs ran up the hill. The adventuring party watched him go, wondering what he had seen before realising themselves. Three of them dismounted from their horses; the two human fighters and the half-elf wizard. Whilst the dwarf healer and halfling thief stayed on their stout ponies.

The elf came to a stop before the burnt ruins. He nudged an untouched wooden plank with his deer hide boots, flipping it over and staring at it. His hand rested on the  jewelled pommel of his magic sword, ready for a possible ambush. He could hear the wind howling through the long moor grass and the small valleys of the hills.

His companions came to join him, but he ignored their whispers for something had caught his sharp eyes. On another hill, higher then this one and a good few miles away he could see another beacon raising. It appeared unlit. He frowned and looked farther around, but he could see nothing other then the moors and the coming storm clouds.

‘Can you see the other beacon? Is that it?’ the half-elf asked at his side.

‘I think so,’ the elf replied.

The two men came to stand beside them and the elf saw they had drawn their swords.

‘What’s going on?’ a voice yelled up to them.

‘It is definitely one of  Abacros beacons,’ one of the men yelled back.

The elf heard the dwarf and halfling dismount and trudge up the hill. the rest of the party began moving around again. Their boots crunching on burnt wood and dry grass. The elf kept his eyes firmly fixed on the other beacon in the distance. Something didn’t feel right. The more he looked the more his eyes confirmed that the wood had not been lit.

That would explain it, he thought, if the chain had been broken, the city of Abacros had been doomed from the start. 

‘This is beacon forty-two,’ the half-elf announced.

‘We have to go over there,’ the elf cut in.

He turned and saw his companions gathered around a tatty map and a large rock. Without saying anything else, the elf went down the hill and back to the horses. He mounted his bay mare and headed in the direction of the other beacon. Disgruntled words tickled his ears, but the growing wind swept them away.

He glanced up at the sky and saw the storm clouds were rolling in fast. This was really not the place to be caught in bad weather. He urged his horse on, knowing the others had joined him. However, the soft, sinking ground was hard going and it took awhile to reach the tall hill. The rain had started falling as the elf dropped from the saddle and walked to the beacon.

The pile of wood towered above him. It was built in a large square with a cone at the top. His eyes had not lied. The thing had never been lit. He looked down and saw something in the grass. Poking it with the toe of his boot, he saw it was a dirt covered dagger. Just above it and still reaching out for the blade was a dead hand.

‘He’s been here years,’ the voice of the dwarf rumbled, ‘crude arrows Outlanders, maybe.

‘So the guards were attacked then?’ the first man said whilst the other just shook his head.

‘That would explain it,’ the elf answered, ‘and after all these years we now know what happened. The guards were slay before they could lit the beacon. The line was broken and that’s why help was too late.’

‘And Abacros fell,’ the halfling whispered.

Thunder rumbled, drawing their attention away. The horses whined, a few stamped their feet and shook there heads. The elf took a last look around and knew they should be on their way. At last they had an answer for the king.

 

Photo prompt from; https://scvincent.com/2016/09/22/thursday-photo-prompt-beacon-writephoto/

Just Be

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Looking down at the tarot card in her hand, Moon thought it was too much of a sign. The Queen of Swords was sat upside down in a Gothic style throne and frowning as if she was very disappointed in Moon. The Queen’s long sword pointed upwards in a threatening manner as if it was questioning Moon too.

Setting the card aside on the purple velvet covered circle table, Moon shut her eyes and tried to block everything out. Still though, she could hear the arcade staff setting up for the day, their voices mixing with eager cries of children waiting outside and the sea waves splashing against the wall. She breathed in deeply, focusing on relaxing and opening herself to what the universe was saying.

Letting out a deep sigh, Moon opened her eyes again and looked down. The Queen of Swords was still there. That frown looking deeper then before and the eyes more piercing. Of course, she knew what the card meant. There wasn’t one in the whole deck she did not know. It was just that…She was having an hard time taking in the message.

The sound of the arcade’s doors opening drew her attention. She stood from the small high back chair and took a few steps to the side. Trying to make her skirt and bangles not jangle so much, Moon peeped out from the heavy purple curtains that surrounded her little box and watched people entering. There was only a handful; a few local kids with no where else to go during the summer holidays, grandparents with their grandchild, a tried mother with her trio and two very elderly women.

Moon let the curtain fall back. She was not due to open yet, even though she was desperate for the money but she knew none of those people would come to her. Stepping back and sitting down again, she looked at the Queen of Swords then picked the card up.

‘I shall try to be more myself,’ she whispered, ‘though being less like any female in my family is hard. It’s difficult to find your own path when someone’s already cut it out for you. Looking at all the different angles might help though.’

Moon placed the card back with the others, shuffled the deck and placed them into the small wooden box again. Placing that in her bag and picking it up, she left the tent. The curtains that had been muffling the sounds and smells of the outside world settled behind her and Moon walked away.

Going out of the arcades bright red painted doors, she turned and walked alongside the sea wall. Breathing in the fresh, salty air, she took a few minutes to think deeply about things. The Queen of Swords was firmly fixed in her mind’s eye and Moon could almost hear the Queen’s voice telling her to listen to her inner self.

‘What do I want?’ Moon said aloud without meaning too.

A nearby seagull squawked at her and Moon turned to give the creature a dirty look. The bird took flight, flapping large white and grey wings across the sea’s choppy surface. Moon rested her arms on the wall and looked out. The morning sky seemed full of promises and it was beckoning anyone willing enough to travel towards the horizon a chance to take one of those promises.

How difficult can it be to reach out and take what I want?  Moon thought.

She looked back at the arcade and beyond it the wooden pier. She could just make a few people all ready walking down towards the funfair and the theater at the end. Turning back, Moon watched the waves knocking against the wall. The water seemed to be asking her to let it in and in her mind, Moon let it in.

 

Winter Wanderer (Part 8)

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Beck led Olwyan on a wide loop back to the road. The snow came up her knees in places and twice she had to talk Beck into stopping. Her body ached with the bruises from the fight and the cold, but it was her broken wrist that hurt the most. Both times they stopped, Beck suggested she rest her arm in the snow and pile more on top. The first time she refused, but the second time she agreed and found the freezing snow give some relief. Kneeling on the floor, her arm and hand wrapped in snow, Olwyan looked up at Beck through the falling snow and studied him. From all the stories she had heard about elves, she wondered about what he could do. Clearly, he was not magical and he seemed more like a hunter than anything else. Breathing deeply, she pulled her arm out of the snow.

They walked on in silence, listening to the sounds of the winter forest. The strong wind blow heavy flakes around them whilst rattling the tree branches together like bone dice in a cup. Sometimes icicles chimed in or else fell with a muffled thud in the deep snow. Olwyan heard a touch of bird song in some places, the distance cries of the forest demons in others and low growls that could have been wolves or something else.

‘We’re not far from the road again now,’ Beck said.

Olwyan rubbed her wrist, which she held pressed to her chest and looked around.

They went through some thinning and smaller trees then the slope up to the road was before them. Beck helped Olwyan up and they stood on untouched snow. She could not see very far in the small blizzard and left Beck to paw around for tracks. Stepping off to the side, she buried her wrist in the snow again.

‘This part of the road does not seem any different. Are you sure we did not double back on ourselves?’ Olwyan called.

‘Trust me,’ Beck responded over his shoulder, ‘we haven’t been here before.’

Olwyan bit her lip and watched him. A few moments later he came back to her and helped her up.

‘It doesn’t look like Nightstorm and the forest ogre have been here. We shall have to walk back.’

‘It cannot be much further to Erwood. Could not you come back for him? I really need a healer and a hot bath and some food,’ Olwyan added.

Beck looked carefully forward down the road then back along it, ‘no.’

‘He is only a horse. I am sure he’ll be fine.’

‘Nightstorm is more than that,’ Beck stated, ‘and with this snow he won’t make it.’

Olwyan sighed, the breath misted before her, ‘Maybe he will. Please, Beck. I do not want to be in this forest anymore.’

Beck huffed, his hand going to the top of his great sword, ‘I didn’t leave you behind, did I?’

‘I…You could not,’ Olwyan stammered.

‘I could have easily,’ he snapped, ‘go to Erwood if you want. I’m going to find my friend.’

Beck turned and marched off down the road, hand still on the pommel of his sword.

Olwyan glanced around and shivered. She pulled her cloak tighter and felt tears welling in her eyes. She looked down the road and wiped them away before turning back again. Beck’s figure was fast disappearing.

‘Wait!’ she shouted then hurried after him.

Her feet sank into the snow and she struggled to run. The movement made spikes of pain shoot through her wrist. The last of her tears ran down her cheeks and snowflakes melted on top of them. She stumbled, failed to save herself and slammed into Beck’s back. He spun and caught her, wrapping his arms around her waist to keep her up.

‘I’m sorry,’ she babbled, ‘it’s just after everything…’

‘I understand,’ Beck replied and pulled her up into a hug, ‘I really wouldn’t have left you.’

Olwyan nodded her head into his shoulder as her arms wrapped around him. Her fingers brushed against the quiver resting against his back.

‘And we cannot leave him.’

Beck lifted her chin and wiped her face gently.

Olwyan dropped her arms and moved out of the hug. Her wrist was throbbing. She rubbed it and thought she felt the broken bone moving. Beck rubbed her shoulder then stepped off into the trees. He came back with some short branches and dropping them at her feet, pulled up the layers of top clothing he was wearing.

Olwyan looked away then back again as she heard a ripping sound. Beck was tearing strips of his undershirt off with a dagger. She frowned and wondered where he had been hiding that blade. The strips fell on top of the branches then Beck made a splint and wrapped her wrist up.

‘Thank you,’ she muttered.

‘It should help,’ Beck replied, ‘let’s go.’

They got back to walking and the snowfall seemed to let up for a few minutes, giving them a clearer view. Olwyan peered through the trees, but could not see anything. She trailed behind Beck, unable to keep his pace. An hour later, Beck stopped and even through the snow had started again, Olwyan could see what he was looking at. Before them on the left side of the road something large had ploughed through the snow going down the slope. Beck went over and crouched down inspecting the disturbed snow carefully. Olwyan lingered beside him.

‘I can’t be sure, but this looks like a horse. There’s dried blood spots here too,’ Beck spoke.

He stood and looked between the trees. The snow had fast filled in the trail the animal had left behind.

‘It’s getting dark,’ Olwyan whispered.

‘Wait here and I shall follow the trail.’

She looked into the forest then back at him.

‘It’ll be faster and you can rest up. Here,’ Beck said and gave her his short sword again, ‘take my cloak too and the bow and arrows.’

Olwyan tucked the sword under her arm and let him wrapped his cloak around her. He left the long bow and quiver at her feet.

‘I won’t be long. Scream if anything happens.’

She nodded then watched him disappear into the trees. For a few minutes, she stood and looked around then picking up the bow and quiver went to a nearby tree and lent against it. She watched snow falling against the already covered tree branches opposite her and tumbling to the ground. Finally she gave into her tried limbs and sat down, wrapping Beck’s cloak tighter around herself, though the coldness still seeped through. She shut her eyes and huddled over, thinking warmer thoughts.

 

Beck moved through the trees swiftly, snow crunching under him and sinking. Every so often, he would stop and look for the trail. The fresh waves of snow were burying it all too fast and he was painfully aware that he had to find Nightstorm but not leave Olwyan for so long. His burning, frozen fingers moved the top layer of snow and looked for hoof prints and blood drops.

Luckily, the trail went in a straight line between the trees and he was able to catch up to the animal. He peered through the trees and saw a large black warhorse kicking snow and ice from a stream before him.

‘Nightstorm!’

The horse’s ears twitched back then the head swung to face him.

Beck darted over and grabbed the bridle. His other hand stroking the long neck and patting the horse. Nightstorm whinnied and brushed his check against Beck. In response, Beck buried his face in the warhorse’s neck and breathed in the smell of sweat.

Letting go, Beck checked him and saw there was a few scratches and bite marks from the forest demons, but nothing more. Seeing that his packs were still secure, Beck drew his great sword and hacked through the iced over stream. Water bubbled up and spilled out. Nightstorm lowered his head and drink. Beck joined him then led him back to the road.

 

Olwyan raised her head at the sound of movement coming from behind her. Slowly, she tightened her numb fingers around the short sword. Peering out from the hood, she saw Beck coming through the trees with Nightstorm. She stood and went over.

‘He is fine,’ Beck said.

Olwyan pressed her head into Nightstorm’s shoulder and stroked his soft damp coat.

‘We need to make for the next outpost now,’ Beck cut in.

‘How far is it?’

‘Two, three hours perhaps, maybe more, but it is closer than Erwood.’

Olwyan nodded and went to give his cloak back to him. Beck first went to get his bow and arrows, then having sorted everything out, headed back to the road. They walked for a few minutes then Beck helped Olwyan on to Nightstorm’s back and led them to the tower.

 

She was not sure how much time had passed when they arrived, but the sky was almost black above them. Beck helped her stiff body down from Nightstorm then drew the lantern and a fresh candle. Olwyan watched him light it then hold it out to her. Taking the lantern, she went to the doorway and looked in.

‘There’s snow in here,’ she said.

Beck came to her side and peered in. The tower looked identical to the last one, only the front door was missing and snow had gathered in the ground floor room, almost reaching the first step of the spiral staircase.

‘It’s better than out here,’ Beck said and gently pushed her in.

Olwyan walked forward and heard him leading Nightstorm in. She shone the light on the wet walls and thought she saw patches of dark stains. She turned back and held the lantern so Beck could take Nightstorm’s tack off and gather the things they needed.

 

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 7, Part 2)

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(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…

Church (Chapter 7, Part 1)

angle wolf

Continued from Church Chapter 6

Need to read the other chapters? They can be found at;

 https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/category/church-novella/

Previously;

Blaze, a warrior angel, who is trapped on earth, teams up with Rain, a daemon reaper and element controller, with a past full of dark secrets, to uncover what he must do to get back into Heaven. However, Blaze is troubled by Rain’s past, the evil soul trapped in her sword and his growing feelings towards her. After Rain’s sudden appears and departure at his church, Blaze sets out to look for her and becomes involved in his first fight with an ’empty soul.’

Chapter 7

‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’

1 John 1:9

I couldn’t help but stare whilst the questions in my head rang like clashing bells. The storm cloud grey wolf had wrapped his body protectively around Rain’s legs and had his muzzle flat against her right hip. With his head up against her, his black eyes on her face and his ears slightly twitching as he waited to be commanded. Rain had easily slotted her sword away again and had placed her hand on top of his head.

My sword shook slightly in my trembling hand then I let the tip drop to the floor. I was breathing fast and filled with a rush to kill the wolf again, but also desperate to hear Rain’s voice. An odd silence that I was dimly aware of had settled over us, almost as if we were back in the Paradise Garden.

‘What are you doing here?’ Rain asked.

‘Something called me here. Then I saw you needed help,’ I answered.

‘I didn’t need it,’ Rain cut in, ‘I could’ve handled it.’

The image of me having to throw her up on top of the blob monster popped into my head and I wanted to argue with her. Instead, Rain sighed deeply before I could voice my thoughts.

‘It’s passed now,’ Rain said softly as she stoked the wolf’s head, ‘but in the future don’t interrupt me when I’m fighting. You distracted me and I almost lost it.’

I looked at the wolf, he seemed content and pet dog like. A spike of jealousy flashed in my head and I felt something else taking over my words, ‘and he was supposed to help you how?’

Rain flashed me a look, ‘he did more than you.’

‘And that blob thing? How would he have gotten you on top of it?’ I demanded.

‘What’s got into you, Blaze?’ she snapped loudly. ‘It wasn’t my fault you threatened him and I couldn’t call him off in time. I did try.’

The wolf whined and thumped his tail on the ground. He turned his head away from Rain and looked at me. For the first time I noticed a blue aura like light surrounding him. He wasn’t real, but some kind of spirit.

‘You can go now,’ she said softer.

I snapped my head up, but she wasn’t talking to me. Rain stroked the wolf’s head and he began to fade. In moments he was gone and there was only a slight pulse of blue light on the ground where he had stood. Rain looked at me, the exhaustion written on her face. She walked to the nearest concert slab and sat down. I turned to follow her but changed my mind and stayed standing.

‘He didn’t hurt me,’ I offered as a comfort.

‘He told me,’ she said, ‘he’s my spirit guardian…And my only friend now.’

Her words made me pause, ‘I thought only humans could have spirit guardians?’

‘He channels my element power and helps to keep me grounded. I learned to make him real a long time ago and he always takes that form when I call him. But, I’ve to sacrifice some of my fighting power to do so.’

‘You could have told me,’ I pointed out as I finally sheathed my sword.

Rain shook her head, ‘you should’ve stayed away from me,’ she muttered.

‘Rain,’ I crossed the space between us and took her hands without thinking about it.

‘No,’ she barked, shoving my hands away and scrambling to her feet. She went to push me away then didn’t do it, ‘you don’t understand.’

‘I’m trying to. Let’s go somewhere else, less open,’ I pleaded with her.

Rain shook her head and sat down in the grass. She folded her legs together and put her hands in her lap. A breeze blew the taller strands around her and for a moment she was semi-hidden in the field. I wanted to go to her but I didn’t, instead I rested my hand on my sword and scanned the area. I couldn’t see anything other than the shapes of the trees and the edge buildings of the airport.

‘Why did you really come here?’ Rain broke the silence.

‘I felt a daemon’s presence. I had no idea you were here…they attacked me and I fought them off. The leader, I told you before, he was the same daemon from the night I met you. He told me that Death was here and I thought he meant the Bear or something. Then I saw the wolf and you. I only wanted to help,’ I explained.

Rain looked at me then away into the darkness. I went to her side and knelt down, being careful not to touch her. Her hair was a mess and sticking out from around her hood. She cupped her hands together and produced a faint blue ball of light. She held it up and let it go. The light ball hovered just opposite her and I saw how tried she really was.

‘I can’t feel their auras now, but I don’t think we are safe here,’ I stated.

‘I need a minute,’ Rain said softly.

‘Tell me about the thing you were fighting,’ I asked.

‘It was a mindless soul. The only thing it wanted was to find other souls and eat them.’

‘Where do they come from? Are they daemonic? Is that why the daemons where here too?’

Rain shrugged, ‘They’re not what you call daemonic. They are in-between, like me and the other Reapers. It’s said that they are the souls we miss and forget about.’

I pondered that and let her go on.

‘They go insane and can’t cope being trapped here so they change and become like that. At least the legend goes. I don’t really believe it, but there’s nothing else to go on, so…’

‘The daemons?’ I asked.

‘Sometimes they can sense a mindless soul. It’s rare though, but I don’t know why they were here. To be honest I’d not really noticed them.’

I sat down in the grass next to her, though my armour made it uncomfortable. The cold damp ground began to seep into my robe. A plane roared overhead, but I couldn’t see it, however I did spot something else. There were two beams of torch light coming from the area I had first arrived in.

To Be Continued…

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?’