Turkey Day Horror

Turkey Day Horror (an original story by CM)

I know we’re approaching the time of year where most people stress out about baking, cooking, shopping, etc. But I wanted to shed some light on the lesser known horrors that the poor turkeys face each year…

This is a story taken from my journal waaaaay back when I was in middle school. So pardon the horrid grammar.. but I figured it would lighten the mood a bit for the upcoming stress of the Holiday Season. Enjoy!

I’m Lopy the Turkey. What a silly name, I know. You don’t think turkeys can write, well this story isn’t writing itself. Thanksgiving is the most horrible , gorss celebration humans can think of killing my innocent friends and family members just to *gasp* eat them! Even turkeys I don’t know and would like to know are dying.

Uh oh!

Here comes the human!

Whew!

Dodged him, but he just caught my great aunt Fiffy.

What a shame.. I really liked her, she taught me how to gobble.

I don’t know why they kill so many of us this time of year it’s horrible!

Whew!

Dodged another human.

This is harder this year they have some sort of contraption that scoops us turkeys up and poof!

Never seen again.

What the?

Ahh!

Help!

Haha! Got you stupid turkey..

Original Story Tueday (posted 5/3/2011)

=^.^= Welcome to Original Story Tuesday.. I know it’s hard to get up and mobile still.. maybe this will help :)

Enjoy the story!

He was late for work, the boss would surely fire him for having tardiness on his record, and he pushed down on the gas urging his SUV to go faster than the speed limit.

It’s just a suggestion he reassured himself as the speedometer hovered at 55 in the 45 zone. Besides, it was a straight away midday with nothing but woods on both sides, the likelihood of an animal coming across the way—his thoughts were interrupted by a figured up ahead, it was near the trees but then it moved suddenly towards his vehicle, he slammed on the brakes and swerved to avoid it causing but he heard a sickening thud nonetheless as he went skidding down the road a good 20 yards before coming to a stop.

His heart was thudding against his chest, adrenaline pumping in his veins. He swung the door open and got out going to check on the thing that would certainly cost him his job as well as his life.

He walked towards the figure which was laying on the right side of the road and he realized with a gasp was a woman. He immediately pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed 911.

It was nearly four hours after the accident; the woman who was picked up from the side of the road was still unconscious and still unidentified. What was known was that she was dehydrated, had a few bruised ribs and luckily did not get directly hit with the 3,000 lbs of metal that was the driver’s SUV.  She had short black hair and was otherwise healthy despite a few bruises.

A nurse came by to check her vitals and insure the IV drip was still going tapping it slightly to make sure there were no bubbles in the tube when the woman’s eyes snapped open and she immediately scrambled out of the covers that were placed on her.

“You’re safe.” The nurse tried to assure the terrified patient, reaching for the woman’s wrist to tap it when the woman released a blood curdling scream which could be heard down the hall and around the corner at the nurse’s station.

The nurse reached for the call button and called for assistance in restraining the alarmed patient. It was only a few minutes before the agitated woman was subdued and sedated.

This time a female police officer was in the hospital room waiting for the woman to come out of the sedation.

“I’m officer Miranda Johnson. You are safe. Can you tell me you name?”

“Renee Gibson.”

“How old are you, Renee?”

She frowned,” Twenty?”

“Do you remember how you got here?”

“I remember being the woods and running and seeing a road but that’s about it.”

“You were found off of Highway 65. You were nearly ran over. Do you remember how you got in woods?”

“No,” she shook her head slightly the thoughts were coming to her slowly as if her own mind was trying to protect her from the truth.

“Do you have any family I can notify?”

“I-“ she tried to remember, but was unable to.

“Don’t worry we’ll find them and notify them for you.”

She nodded, still confused as the officer left.

“You look much better.” The day nurse commented lightly coming in to check her vitals.

“How long do I have to stay here?” Renee asked.

“The doctor would have to answer that for you when he comes in.”

“Well Ms. Gibson it seems that you took a tumble, but it seems like you are doing much better than earlier.”

“Earlier?”

“You had a severe panic attack. The nurses had to sedate you. We will release you tomorrow but highly recommend you stay with someone, like a relative or friend for the next week.”

“I don’t have anyone.”

“What do you remember?”

“I was trying to get away from people in scrubs, I was drugged but fighting through it.”

“When was the last time you used any narcotics?”

“Five years.”

“Your criminal records indicate you have a history of using various narcotics.”

“I was an addict.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this before?’

“It was five years ago. I don’t see how it’s relevant now.”

“Everything is relevant, especially someone with your record. I’ve read your files. You were incarcerated for it seven years ago and buried in the family plot two years after. Explain to me how you managed to fake your own death.’

“I didn’t. They did.”

“They?”

“Yes. The people I work for gave me the choice to either die in the prison cell or live by their rules and be a part of the organization. I spent nine months in training and was finally allowed to participate in active missions.”

“Missions?”

“Like you have cases you work on, we have missions, assignments that we have to complete within a given amount of time with the tools provided to us.”

The detective shifted her weight from one side to the other, trying to not let her skepticism show.

But the woman caught it, “Look I know it’s hard to believe at first I didn’t believe that I was given a second chance myself, but the longer I was there and active in the missions the more I realized I should have chosen death. They trained everyone to be killers without question and those that questioned it would be cancelled, terminated. Sometimes by the very same operatives that they had come into the organization with .”

“Ms. Gibson..”

“I know, you’re not going to believe me because of the drugs. But I’ve been clean for five years.”

“But you have to understand how hard it is to believe a former addict and the fact that you’ve been dead doesn’t exactly help your cause.

She shrugged, “As I said, I didn’t have anything to do with my death. As for the drugs, I’m sure you’ve already done the tests to prove I’m not on anything.”

“There was a tranquilizer found in your system.”

“That wasn’t my doing.”

“What have you been doing the past five years?”

“I just told you, I work working for an organization that has more control than they should.”

“CIA? FBI? We would have pulled those records.”

“No, no. You’re not listening. Have you never wondered why certain things get done when the government fails?”

“I don’t buy into conspiracy theories, Ms.Gibson.”

“I’m not asking you do. I’m just stating that there is an organization that has the capabilities to get things done when all else fails.”

“And you were a part of this organization? Does it have a name?”

“UI. Underground Intelligence. Yes, I was a part of them until I became a liability and they had to cancel me. That’s why I need protective custody, they know I escaped and they want me dead so I don’t tell the public they exist.”

“I don’t have the authority to provide you with protective custody.”

“Then find someone who does, I’m dead once I get out of here.”

“Why not kill you here?”

“The magnetic field blocks the scanners.”

“I think I’ve heard enough.”

“If you don’t believe me look at the scar on my back, they had implanted me with a transmitter that they could locate me at any point in time.” She turned slightly exposing her back and sure enough there was a scar the length of a paper clip.

The detective looked at the victim dubiously, “You do realize that does not prove anything unless you have solid evidence to this organization’s existence.”

“Don’t let them discharge me without somewhere to go.”

“I can give you the information to a shelter but that would be the best I could do.”

“Then I’m as good as dead.”

She came back to the precident hoping to have gotten more out of the woman than what she did, just about to sit down in her chair to type up her report her boss poked his head out of his office, “Robinson, minute?”

So much for some peace this afternoon, she thought to herself.

“What do you think of the Gibson case?” he asked once the door closed.

“I believe she is a disturbed woman who somehow managed to escape a maximum security prison and has been on the streets using for the past five years and suffers from delusions. Case closed.”

“And if you are wrong?”

‘She was implying there is an organization larger and more powerful than the government, that is a bit much to buy into especially for someone with her record.”

“Let’s say she was working for an agency the past five years and they will be after her, would you be able to live with yourself if that much was true?”

“Yes.”

“Well good. She will be discharged tomorrow afternoon.”

“With you permission I would like to follow up on the case and make sure she gets to a rehab facility.”

“Is there something I am missing?”

“No, she genuinely believes in her delusion the last thing we need is for her to pop up on the radar again and it to be in the papers that she wasn’t assisted when she could have been.”

“Very well.”

It was nearly two weeks after the discharge and Decetive Robinson paid a visit to the shelter, nodding an acknowledgement to her friend Jennifer who ran the program.

“She is in the dayroom.”

“Thanks.”

“What are you doing here?” the young woman looked a lot paler and skinner since they had last spoke.

“I came to check on you, how are you doing?”

“How do you think? You put me in a rehab, I don’t belong here with drug addicts”

“Based on your history and having nowhere else to go, this is the best place for you.”

“What part of ‘I haven’t used in years’ do you not understand? Thanks to you have I have to watch my back constantly.”

“You are still alive.”

“For the moment, that doesn’t mean there aren’t operatives watching my every move.”

The officer ignored the comment, “How is therapy going?”

“Why don’t you ask the counselor yourself since you don’t believe me.”

She got out of the wooden chair and walked down the hall, shuffling her feet as she went as if she did not have the strength to lift them completely up. Her donated clothes that had fit her in the hospital were now hanging loosely on her and she was leaning heavily against the wall as she went.

The officer went back to the front desk to speak with her friend.

“How has Renee been doing here?”

“She’s withdrawn a lot more since she was first checked in, often refusing meals because she believes they are poisoned, but other than her paranoia there have been no outbursts, she spends most of her days in the dayroom looking out the window.”

“And the group sessions?”

“She doesn’t talk much, she feels there isn’t much for her to gain from it and anything she reveals would be used against her in the end.”

“The weight loss and weakness is explained by the refusal to eat?”

“For the most part, we sometimes have to physically pull her out of bed in order to change the sheets. “

“Any signs of her using?”

It was a week later and Detective Robinson was doing a follow up to get a statement when she came to the building she saw the ambulance and the counselor in tears along with a few of the women looking stunned

“What happened?”

“Renee. She was found in her bed non-responsive. They pronounced her dead just a about twenty minutes ago. She had complained about stomach pains after eating  some meatloaf last night, but I didn’t think anything of it.”

“Was that the last meal she ate?”

“Yes, she hadn’t eaten anything for nearly two days and then finally said she was too hungry to stand it anymore.”

The detective visited the coroners’ office a few days later with her boss.

“Cause of death?”

“Heroin overdose.”

“They don’t have that in the place she was staying, how could she have even gotten access as?”

“You may want to ask the person who runs the center that question, there was enough to kill a full grown horse in her system. She didn’t suffer that’s for sure, but how anyone was able to smuggle that much into a rehab facility without detection is good.”

“She said she hadn’t used in years. Why would she have gone back now?”

“she didn’t.”

“Oh?”

“She believed she was going to be poisoned by the food at rehab. Maybe it was someone slipping in small doses of heroin into her food and with her last meal they injected the rest.”

“That would implicate everyone who works there.”

“Not necessarily, visitors can sign in and have interaction with those inside, it could have been someone seeing Renee who did this to her.”

“Detective Robinson, we are not going to waste the tax payers money on an investigation for a druggies death. “

“You even said it was suspicious.”
“It is odd that someone in a rehab facility who had no friends or family could have smuggled the drugs in and overdosed, but it is not unusual enough to warrant an investigation. “

“She never left the facility. She was too paranoid to do so.”

“Ok, so someone brought it to her, it doesn’t matter. It’s one less drug user on the streets.”

“But what if she was telling the truth?”
“I had asked you if you can live with yourself in the event it was true. The case is closed as far as I’m concerned. She was an addicted who had spent her time in and out of prison, somehow managed to escape alluding the law for five years, was captured and spent her last weeks in a rehab center where she decided to starve herself and went on a final binge that went terribly wrong.”

The Hunt (an original short story)

Here is the Hunt which follows what happens after Origins.

Enjoy

The Hunt  

The events of the day before play over and over in her mind. The feeling of power was great and heady but she wasn’t in control of herself and she was without the panther. Her mind was consumed with anger and thoughts of vengeance. She was stronger and knew now what she wanted, and that was for Aquil to be at her side. To show him that she could take care of herself and just before she could do that something happened, he kissed her and then he and the panther were both gone.

A gentle hand shook her awake, it was Y’elt who had crouched down before her his citrine eyes reflecting the campfire.

“Time to go.”

She got up silently and rolled up her bedroll it was all that was left. Glancing back at the rest of the group what was sleeping peacefully, she turned away  joining Nyri and Y’elt.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Y’elt asked as they started out.

“She’s a part of me, I have to stop her.”

“How to you plan to do it? She can’t be reasoned with. “ Nyri said.

“She’s a part of me, she’ll come back and then we’ll be reunited.”

“I don’t think you can be.”

“No one thought that we could be separated.”

“It’s only a matter of time before the panther turns.”

“She won’t harm anyone.”

“She attacked Aquil.” Nyri pointed out.

“I lost control of her that’s all; she can be cured, like Kanjyor was.”

“But at what cost?” Y’elt asked.

“Do you sense her?” Nyri asked  midday when they were taking a break.

Morishta nodded, “She headed south.”

“Towards Noam.”

“Noam?”
Nyri nodded, “It’s mostly forest with a few villages here and there.”

“How are we going to find her in such a large place?”

“You’re going to lead us to her.”

Over the next two days the mountains of Hagemage had faded into the distance giving way to dense forest. They had made camp near a large dark lake, Morishta settled on a large flat rock near the bank gazing out onto the lake. Nyri gathered branches and started a fire, once the fire was going steadily she slipped into the woods to hunt.

“It’s so still.” She commented.

“You’re handling this well. “ Y’elt observed.

“I’m not actually. I feel so empty and alone with the panther, like half of me is missing, which it is but..” she drifted her voice cracking with tears,” I just can’t believe he’s gone. I expect him to come walking into the clearing and asking me what I’ve gotten myself into now she broke sobbing, I’m sorry I’ve never been without anyone to talk to even in my own head. Spending all that wasted time wanting to be normal and Aquil paid the price for it.’

“That’s not true. What did the Goddess tell you?”

“That it was his choice.”

He nodded.” It was his choice; nothing you could have done would have stopped him from doing it.”

She sniffed, wiping away tears.

“We can’t find the panther without you. We need you to help us find her and once we do, we’ll see if you can be reunited with her, okay? “

She nodded.

Nyri returned with two wild rabbits and began roasting them on the fire. Once they were done, Y’elt helped himself to an entire one leaving Nyri and Morishta to share. The Rothous native picked at her half of the animal eating only a few bites before giving the rest to Y’elt and settling into her bedroll facing away from the fire.

It was on Nyri’s watch that she began to whimper in her sleep.

“No!” She awoke with a sob, looking around as if to gather her bearings.

“You saw her killing.” The H’enigh native said, getting up from her spot by the fire while Y’elt sat up sleepily.

She nodded mutely wiping the tears away from her face ashamed.

“Where?”

“I don’t know.”

“Your silence won’t protect her. “

“I only saw trees and bushes, no landmarks.”

“Y’elt?”

“I’ll go look if I see anything.” He said, his voice still heavy with sleep.

He glanced at the former shapeshifter who look at him with large frightened eyes as if begging him not to leave her.

It wasn’t long before a purple dragon leapt into the air and flapped its leather wings disappearing into the distance.

“Did you find anything?”  Nyri asked him upon his return.

Morishta was laying down facing away from the campfire.

“Nothing out of the ordinary. There’s a village up a head two days distance with some farmland maybe we could stop there and rest?”

“And give the animal more time to infect others.” She countered.

“She’s been through so much.”

“I have learned to deal.”

“Your powers aren’t a fair comparison to what she has been through. We are all she has now. “

“Fine, we’ll go to the village. But that’s not giving you an excuse one to make meals out of their sheep.”

“Too late.” He said with a shrug going to gather his bedroll.

She shook her head, “One day you’re going to get caught. “

When reached the village near dusk they found the cobblestone pathways a flurry of activity with men, women and children in long drab clothing scurrying this way and that, closing and bolting doors behind them.

A short tub of a balding man from up the street called out to them, “You there, come inside strangers ‘fore I close up for the night.”

Finding themselves hustled into a small wooden building with a sagging roof. The inside was dimly lit by lantern light a few tables littered the area near the small glass windows.

“I’ve only got some rolls and a bit of meat ‘n one room for the night, but I can’t leave strangers out in the night. Not if I have a conscious anyways. Name’s Ataaes by the way.”

“What is going on?” Nyri asked

“There’s a murderous beast that lurks in these surrounding woods. Some ‘ave seen a glimpse of it an’ believe it’s ol’ Signess himself. Left a bloody mess of its victims from ‘ere to the lake it did.”

“How many?”

Three so far; Jora no more ‘en twelve  she was, Qima and the co-owner of this very in itself Niaras. The man crossed his chest. May the Goddess have mercy on their souls. But ‘nough of my gabbin’.”

The inn owner waddled into the kitchen area and came back with a tray of 6 rolls that were slightly dry and a large cut of what could only be assumed to be deer meat. No sooner did it hit the table than a shrill scream pierced the silence of the night. The bartender moved with a quickness that was fluid and startling for a man of his size.

Upon opening the door a small crowd had gathered outside the entrance of the inn, lit torches surrounding them. A small waifish orange haired woman was in the middle of the crowd clutching a torn jacket.

“My Jayana, my baby. “She wailed

“We’ve got to stop it.” Someone said in the crowd.

“But how?” someone else asked.

“I will stop it.” The crowd parted slightly to reveal a tall thin scruffy man that had a large scar that ran across his left eye.

“Dajel ya haven’t hunted since the last one nearly got the better of you.” Ataaes said dubiously

“My skills are as sharp as ever.” He insisted taking a flask from the inside of his jacket, unscrewing the top and taking a sip.

“With Canyor there to bandage you up, ya may make it our alive.”

The curly brown haired shorter man who stood next to Dajel put his head down in embarrassment.

The crowd whispered amongst itself for a moment.

“I am the best hunter in the Tricurenta area.” he boasted

“There are others who have gone in hunt for this beast and come back empty handed, what makes you think you can find it?” the bartender asked.

“I know where its den is.”

Nyri’s eyebrows went up and she nudged Y’elt.

“No.” he mouthed shaking his head.

“Oh really? Prove it then. I’ll bet you 100 gold you’ll come back empty handed like the rest of ‘em.”

“I’ll take that bet ‘n raise ya 50.” A short man in the group chimed in.

“25.” another shouted eagerly

“75.” another eager voice

“I’ll take those odds ‘n tomorrow night you will be singing my praises.” He took a large gulp of the flask and put it back into his jacket, catching Nyri’s glance he stared back at her evenly as the crowd parted and the weeping woman was guided away.

“Need help?”

“I think it is you needs our help.”

“Ha! What makes you think that?”

“We’ve been tracking that animal since Hagemage.”

He eyed her silently his gaze shifting to Y’elt who looked away uncomfortably and then Morishta who retuned his gaze challengingly.

His eyes narrowed, “You’re not getting’ any gold. “

“Not concerned about that.”

“Really? “His face lit up and he pulled on his scruffy beard thoughtfully, “I’ll take the help.”

He extended his hand.

She took his hand and shook firmly,”You won’t regret it.”

“Aye but ya might. It’s not going to be a pretty one. I plan to stalk the beast, catch it sleeping and shove my sword thru its side until it comes out the other end and skin it while it still draws breath.”

“I think I need to lay down.” Morishta said weakly holding onto the doorframe.

“I’ll go with you.’ Y’elt volunteered, taking her arm and guiding her back inside.

“Ha! Prolly not hunting companions are they? He said taking his flask out and taking another sip.

Good riddance to ‘em only true hunters can appreciate the killing and know its as good as the hunting and tracking. “

Nyri nodded.

Canyor who had remained unnoticed until then slipped from Dajel’s side and caught up with the two natives.

“Sorry about Dajel he’s quite grotesque at times. The name’s Canyor.”

“So I heard.  He’s your brother?”

“Cousin,” then without missing a beat asked,” Your accent, where is it from?”

“Not too many have lived long enough to ask.”

The villager paled,” H’enigh?”

He nodded.

“Her too?”

“Nyri and I are H’enigh, Morishta is from the Rothous tribe.”

“I heard H’enigh killed other tribe members?”
“It is a hard to explain.” He said hastily trying to keep Morishta from losing her balance as she wobbled unsteadily in the hallway.

“Room’s this way.” Canyor said taking the lead and opening the door at the end of the hallway for them. Revealing two cots, a small table a rug on the floor.

“How did you know?”

“It’s normally the room Dajel stays in when he’s had too much to drink, which is often.”

He caught the look Y’elt gave him but turned away watching as Morishta walked inside.

She inhaled sharply and froze suddenly her eyes going wide.

Y’elt quickly closed the door not wanting to attract any unnecessary attention. She reached out for something only she could see in front of her.

“No,” she whispered shaking her head vigorously from side to side, covering her eyes,” Stop it.”
Y’elt tried to calm her but she pushed him away and sank to her knees sobbing.

Canyor stooped down to her, she shrank away from him, gathering her needs to her chest.

“It’s okay I won’t hurt you.”

“She’s out there and it’s all my fault.”. She mumbled into her knees and continued rocking, repeating her words over and over again.

He tried to get more out of her but didn’t respond to his questions. She folded her arms across her knees protectively. It was then he noticed the jagged scars that ran across her inner arms.

“May I have a moment with her?” Y’elt asked.

“Sure.”

He stood up and walked away, leaving the room and closing the door behind him.

Hearing voices and then silence Y’elt came out alone.

“What happened to her? I’ve never seen self-inflicted wounds like that.”

Y’elt’s mouth opened but before he could reply Nyri answered for him.

“Nothing. We’re leaving at dawn tomorrow.”

“What?”

“We’re going to find the murderous beast with their help.” Dajel said somewhat cheerily behind her.

“I thought you knew where it was.” he stated looking evenly at his cousin.

The hunter shrugged loosely, “I only have an idea. Nyri here said they could track down its exact location.”

Y’elt glared at her.

“She’s hardly in any condition to do much of anything.”

“Oh, She will. Come Y’elt.” Nyri said, opening the door. Without another word she slipped through the cracked down and he followed obediently. The door clicked softly behind them.

“Strange bunch they are. “ Dajel said a bit too loudly and sipped from his flask turning on his heel and proceeding down the hall unsteadily.

Canyor sighed knowing he would have to deal with his cousin for the rest of the night.

The next morning Canyor found himself awake just as the sky was beginning to brighten.

“What’s eatin’ you?” Ataaes greeted upon seeing Canyor up seeing him sitting on the barstool leaning on the bar counter.

“Couldn’t sleep.”

“Dajel’s snoring’s that bad eh?”

He nodded,  butit was only partially true, most of the night he spent trying to figure out what secrets the new comers were hiding.

“His drinkin’s going to be the death of ‘im”

“This hunt will get his mind off the last one.”

Ataaes shrugged and went about ordering the cooks to work, leaving the man to his thoughts.

A hand on his shoulder caused him to nearly fall off the stool.

His cousin’s roaring laughter rang in his ears but it was meeting the owner of the hand that steadied him that caused his cheeks to burn with embarrassment.

“Sorry I didn’t mean to startle you.” She apologized in lightly accented common.

He met her brown eyes.

“You look good, “he fumbled wanting to say more but the words stuck on his tongue.

It was her turn to blush.

Breakfast spread laid out before them, plates filled with eggs, bread and some slices of meat. Dajel didn’t eat as he was still hung over. Nyri ate, Y’elt claimed to be full from the night before and Morishta picked at her food nibbling on some of the bread and ignoring the eggs. Canyor eat heartily.

It wasn’t long after, they headed out with a map of the area, Dajel saying he didn’t need one but Canyor brought it anyway.

Dajel was armed with crossbow, dagger, sword and a bag.

“What the bag is for?”

“I plan on drying its skin and hanging it on my wall.”

Morishta blanched, Canyor glared at him.

“What? Not my fault she’s sensitive.” He brushed past them and took the lead with Nyri.

The air was still with no wind.  Not a sound in the forest, no birds, no insects just silence, even the sun has disappeared beneath the trees.

“We’re lost” Dajel grumbled after a while drinking sullenly from his flask.

“No, we’re on track,” Nyri replied,” The lake is up ahead.”

The lake and the sky opened up before them, both dark and still and grey.

“Where’s the den?”

“Nearby, we camp here.”

They quickly set up a campfire and settle for the night near the bank of the lake

Dajel claimed first watch.  Morishta’s crying awakens Canyor who catches his cousin sleeping, after waking him, he goes to Morishta .

“What is it?”

“She’s got something.”

“She who?”

“Lead us there.” Nyri said pulling a large branch from the fire.

She nodded solemnly, getting up

“What’s going on” the hunter asked confused and slightly annoyed.

Morishta led them around the lake, stopping in front of a figure that looked like nothing more than a heap of clothes.  She kneeled down with her back facing them, picking it up and cradling it.

Dajel was about to ask what it was when they all caught a glimpse of a child’s pale face.

Canyor gasped.

Nyri put a hand out to Y’elt to stop him for moving. He looked at her questioningly.

“Jayana! You get away from her you heathen,” Dajel growled angrily, snatching her hair by the hair pulling her away from the body.

She shrieked in surprise clawing at him, he bellows when she tears at the skin on his arm letting go of her hair and grabbing his arm.

Dajel fumed looking at his arms, the marks where very much like cat scratches and were bleeding. He marched up behind her and unsheathed his sword

Canyor got between them. “Stop it.”

“Give me a good reason why I shouldn’t run her through where she stands.”

“She’s not capable of this.”

“Oh? And how do you know dear cousin? She shredded my arms like a common housecat.”

Morishta dared not get up, she was shaking too badly to trust her own balance.

Canyor helped her up, he turned away for a moment upon seeing her clothes covered in blood from the child.

“I’m sorry, I was too late to stop it.” She said

Dajel grunted, ”You’ll be sorry soon enough when we get back to the village. “

He pulled rope out of his pocket and pulled her towards him to tie up her wrists; she hung her head in silence. He marched her pasted Y’elt and Nyri while Canyor gathered the body of the girl in his bedroll carefully walking by them.

“Don’t.” Nyri cautioned Y’elt as they were leaving.

“You’re going to let them go?”

“We have to find the panther.”

“Without her we have no idea where to the find the anima. And you’re letting her get dragged to her death.”

“And what of it?”

“No one should suffer like she has. “ he said angrily turning around and following the villagers.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to free her.”

“You’ll get yourself killed.”

“It’s better than having innocent blood on my hands.”

Nyri sighed following, reluctantly.

When they returned to the village they found it the center of celebration, the cobblestone walkways were lit with torches, a band was playing and a few people were dancing merrily to the music. A few of the villagers spotted them.

“You strangers! Thank you for saving our village!” one shouted

“Where is she?” Y’elt shouted back.

“The cursed one? She’s in the tent up ahead. Tomorrow she will be burned at the stake.” Came the reply.

They come to a small tent where Morishta is tent up to the pole, her black hair hanging in front of her face. Canyor is there with a bowl of water in his hands with a wet cloth. He set the bowl at her knees and bent down before her, wringing the cloth out and pulling her hair back to reveal red welts on her face.

“What happened?” Y’elt asked.

He turned tensing and seeing it was them, he turned back to her.

“When Dajel announced he had found the killer they came out in droves carrying sticks, rocks, whatever they could find and began throwing it at her. I tried my best to shield her.”

“Where is Dajel?”

“Drinking to his victory at the tavern. “

The cloth touched her eye, she flinched.” I’m sorry.”

Y’elt glanced at Nyri to prove his point.
“Don’t say it. “

“There’s one thing that still remains a mystery to me.”

“What’s that?”

“How was she able to find Jayana? “

Y’elt glanced at Nyri who said a few words to him in their native tongue.

He frowned, replying back seemingly annoyed.

“Did I say something wrong?”

“No, not you. Nyri, he has to know.”

“I knew where the panther was because she was a part of me.” Morishta blurted.

“You were a shapeshifter? I’ve heard of them but didn’t know they actually existed.”

“We do.” Y’elt said.

Canyor’s eyes went wide and he blushed embarrassed, “I’m sorry I had no idea.”

“You wouldn’t. I wanted to be normal and look where it got me.” she said looking down as angry tears began to fall.

“Morishta there was no need to change who you are. You are beautiful no matter what shape you take.”

He wiped away her tears with his hand.

“Where is she? “

“In the woods.”

“Take us to her. “

Morishta hesitated, looking at Canyor, who nodded. Y’elt undid the ropes. She rubbed her wrists for a moment and got up, shakily. Canyor steadied her. She gained her balance and took off with surprising speed.

She’s escaped! “A scruffy redheaded boy squealed while running down the streets. “The cursed one escaped! We’re all doomed!”

Villagers scrambled back to their homes panicked. Doors slammed torches left to burn in the street.

Dajel sat at the inn chugging on his pint of ale contently when someone burst through the door.

“Haven’t ya heard?”

“What?”

“The strangers set the woman free, they all ran into the forest with Canyor behind them. “

Ataaes glared at Dajel

“I thought you captured ‘er?”

“I’m not responsible for my stupid cousin.” He muttered into his mug.

The mug was snatched out of his hands, most of its contents spilled onto the flood.

“Well you’re responsible for bringing ‘er back. ‘Til then, I’ll take my gold back. “

He snatched the bag of gold off the counter and grabbed Dajel by the shirt  collar and tossed him onto the cobblestone street.

Just as he was picking himself up about to challenge the tavern owner when the door slammed shut in his face. He head the wood slide across to deadbolt it.

Looking around the streets were now completely deserted and he saw a streak of blue in the corner of his eye heading into the woods. He lumbered after it.

Upon entering he found the trees swaying back and forth as he tried to gain his footing he tripped on an upward facing branch.  The sharp end of the branch pierced his right shoulder ripping through the newly formed scar tissue from his last hunt. He howled as pain seared through his body, blood spurting out around the impaled branch.

With his good arm he yanked the branch out of his arm and tossed it to the side and tried to regain his footing. His right arm was dangling uselessly, try as he might he did not have the strength in his left to pull himself to a standing position. So he settled for an upright position instead, pulling out a knife from his boot knowing the beast would not be able to resist the smell of fresh blood. All he had to do was wait.

When they caught up with Morishta they were all panting.

“What is it?”

Morishta shifted her course stopping for a moment and turned her head as if listening for something.

There was a rustling noise in the bushes close to them, all but Morishta jumped. A black blur of an animal streaked across them and into the bushes ahead of them, without a word the Rothous native leapt after it.

Several noises invaded their ears all at once, growling, cursing and a scream.

Parting the bushes they came upon a ghastly scene.

A large black panther lay on its side, the skin on its stomach hanging loosely.

Morishta was no more than a few feet from it, blood covering her right pant leg, she made a move towards the injured animal but tripped, landing hard on her leg and clawed her way to the animal.

It was then they saw her wound, her leg from knee to hip had been sliced open.  The feline responded weakly to her touch, she put her arms around it sobbing.

Canyor took off his shirt and went to her to wrap up the wound; she feebly tried to push him away. He managed to wrap the wound as best he could with her lying on the ground. The blood quickly stained the shirt.

“Bring her back.”  The Rothous native pleaded through bloodshot eyes looking up at the woman who stood before her.

“I can’t.”

“You can.”

“No, I can’t.”

“Morishta, you’re hurt.” Canyor said, trying to reason with her.

“I don’t care. Bring her back.”

A hand snaked out from underneath the half dead animal and grabbed Canyor’s ankle, he yelped in surprise.

The hand belonged to Dajel, who was completely covered in dirt and blood. Whether it was from the panther, Morishta or his own it was impossible to tell.

“I killed it. They didn’t believe me but I killed the evil beast.” He cackled hysterically and began to cough letting go of his cousin to cover his mouth.

Y’elt turned away in disgust.

Canyor was about to turn to help his cousin when Nyri’s firm hand stopped him.

She turned to reach for her sword.

“No!”

She looked at him questioningly and began to draw a spiral pattern into the dirt and then a square, soon followed by a circle and a triangle with squiggles coming out of it slowly working her way around Dajel and the panther.

“Y’elt, get them out of here. I will take care of Dajel.” She said oddly her eyes not leaving the ground as she continued to draw the patterns.

He nodded and bent over to touch Morishta’s arm.

“It’s over.”

“No,” she said weakly

“She’s at peace now.”

Morishta accepted his help with a reluctant sob as he gathered her into his arms letting her wrap her arms around his broad shoulders.

“Don’t leave me with her!” Dajel shrieked, suddenly aware of the fact that he would be alone with Nyri.

“Come, there is nothing left to see here.” Y’elt said, attempting to draw Canyor away.

Canyor hesitated a moment seeing the terrified look in his cousin’s eyes. Nyri began to chant softly, seemingly oblivious to Dajel’s pleads and Canyor watching her. Soon the drawings began to pull away from the dirt taking shape of small demon-like creatures; he turned running to catch up with Y’elt and Morishta.

His cousin’s cries for help grew louder as he left, finally having to put his fingers in his ears to keep from hearing them.

It wasn’t until they reached the outskirts of the village was he no longer able to hear them and finally removed his fingers.

He checked on Morishta, who had thankfully lost consciousness whether from the loss of blood or the shock of losing the panther he couldn’t tell.  One of her arms still draped over Y’elt’s neck, he felt a twinge of jealously but put it aside, checking on her makeshift bandage. The wound seemed to have clotted but would need to be cleaned and stitched.

He led them to the hut that belonged to Dajel, opening the door with ease. Thanking the goddess that the clouds had cleaned and the full moon was shining brightly into the dark cabin.

Y’elt proceeded inside and laid Morishta down onto a cot.

Dajel fumbled but managed to light a lantern and closed the door.

“Quite the collection,” Y’elt said upon noticing the various skinned animals that hung on the wall. Of various animals, bears, deer, cats.

“I always hated it.” He commented, taking a moment to unravel the bandage and get a good look at the wound. With any luck there would be no muscle damage, but thankfully it was a clean cut and was in the very early stages of healing.

He gathered some supplies; cloth wraps, a bowl of water, string and a needle and went to patching up her wound trying his best not to wake her. She stirred a few times during the process but not enough to wake up fully or interfere much with the stitching. As he was finishing up he noticed the warm and the soft orange glow. Looking behind him he saw a roaring fire in the fireplace.

Y’elt had settled near it, watching the flames dance around.

“She’ll live.”

“Of course she will.”

“I didn’t think she would make it.”

Y’elt put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “She has you.”

“Me?”

“She trusts you.”

“She cried on your shoulder.”

“I may have known her longer but you gave her the strength to finally end it.  You both deserve some peace after this.”

“You’re not staying?”

He shook his head.

“What about Nyri?”

“She’ll be here soon.”

“What did she do?”

“It’s better if you didn’t know.”

“What did you feed the fire?”

“Look up.”

He looked and noticed the wall was bare.

Canyor smiled slightly, “I always wanted to do that.”

Sometime later, he found himself drifting off on the chair near the cot when Y’elt suddenly got up and went towards the door. Opening it, Nyri walked in briskly.

They exchanged a few words in their native tongue and glanced at him.

“Are you going to stay?”

“No, we’ve caused enough damage. Take care of Morishta, she is going to need someone to look after her.”

He nodded, sleepiness taking over as he settled back into the chair and drifted off.

Epilogue – Pirate Linage

I was  going to post the epilogue today but then the more I looked at it to edit it, the more I couldn’t quite get it right .  I couldn’t quite write enough to make sense.. so I’m scrapping it. No worries though, you’ll be reading more of their adventures. 🙂

 

Instead of posting another story, I decided to do something a little different and do some album reviews.

Chapter 6 – Death & Rebirth part 2

part 2

Delmar found Kiera leaning against a tree, her eyes covered by her arm crying, “All those people. You were right I’m sorry I didn’t know. “

“You couldn’t have known. Those people can’t be helped now, they’re at peace. “

“But we can fight to save others keep this from happening again. “

She sniffled.

“What would Marritt say if he saw you now? He wouldn’t want to hire a crying bounty hunter.”

She cracked a slight smile and regained most of her composure.

“You’re right it’s just I didn’t believe you –“

“I know I wouldn’t have either.”

“Let’s go stick it to the Dark Lord shall we?”

She nodded.

 

 

“I saw what you just did” a voice said, stepping out of the shadow of the trees, revealing himself to be Kanjyor.

“What of it?” her orange eyes glowed brightly.

“You can cure me. “

“No.” Y’elt said firmly.

“Come closer.”

He did so without realizing it as though he was being pulled by some unknown force.

Y’elt stepped forward to stop him but he found himself frozen in place unable to move.

She grabbed Kanjyor’s arms closing her eyes and began to chant.  The writing came alive once again but unlike last time it didn’t crawl away from her. Instead it stayed on her arms, twisting into a rope like material which then split one, half heading up her arms covering up to her neck, the other half heading down to her boots.

Y’elt watched in suspended horror as her hair came loose from the bun she had it and began to ooze red. Running down over her shoulders like a waterfall dyeing her clothes as it went and finally collecting at the ground around her.

When she let go her eyes snapped open looking directly at Y’elt. Her eyes were black, void and soulless.

“I’m final cleansed.” Kanjyor whispered as he backed away from the woman, marveling at his unmarked skin more to himself than anyone else completely oblivious to what was going on.

“But at what price?” Y’elt asked when he was able to move again.

Kanjyor looked up and gasped in horror at seeing Nyri, “What have I done?”

 

“Nyri?” Kiera went pale upon seeing the native in her current state.

Dark clouds appeared on the horizon and the wind picked up, blowing fiercely as thunder rumbled in the distance.

“He is coming.” Nyri said her voice distance but her eyes were on the horizon.

Y’elt stepped towards her as it to touch her, but Kiera pulled him away, ”There’s nothing we can do for her now.”

He was about to protest when he heard a growling noise, from the woods. Emerging form the shadows was the panther followed by Morishta.

They backed up, afraid to turn their backs on any one of the three, inadvertently backing themselves into what remained of the group. Y’elt turned seeing Seline who had an otherworldly presence about her.

“The goddess.”

“She has awakened and just in time it seems.”

Seline stepped forward saying a few words and the krisna around them were revealed. They hissed in protest but dared not make a move closer.

Thunder rumbled as the sky darkened quickly and a dark cloud formed between Nyri and Morishta.  The cloud took the shape of the dark armored knight. Laughter came booming from him that echoed in the armor.

“You think you can stop me? Kill them all.”

 

“Don’t do this Morishta.” Aquil begged.

“All those years of struggling with the panther for control and you want me to go back to that? Nae wasn’t powerful enough to help me.”

“She did help you, she kept you alive.”

“But at what price? To be sickly and ridiculed? I would  rather been dead. He gave me power my allegiance belongs to him.”

“And I reward that loyalty with immortality. “

The dark armored knight held out his hand and in it formed a light purple cloud which crackled with lighting. The cloud moved towards Morishta and as it did it grew larger and larger so that by the time it reached her it was able to envelope her. Aquil broke away from his fight with a krisna, running into the cloud. A shrill shriek startled everyone as the cloud that had encased Morishta had dissolved revealing for a moment Aquil kissing Morishta. The darkness that had surrounded her had lifted and she returned to normal. The sky opened up and it began to rain melting the krisna where they stood.  A sudden bolt of lightning shot out from the cloud striking Aquil turning him to ash. She screamed tears began to flow mixing in with the rain.

“No!” she knelt before the ashes, trying to gather them together as if her sheer will could bring him back to life..

 

Seline took the momentary distraction as an opportunity, ”I hereby banish you, Signess Dark Lord of Destruction to the underworld take your minions with you . “

The ground rumbled and opened up around the dark knight who grabbed onto Nyri dragging her down. The ground closed up again, leaving Nyri’s hand  sticking out of the ground. Seline stepped forward, she bending over taking the native’s hand the ground parted slightly as if by her sheer will, setting Nyri free.

In her touch Nyri was transformed eyes turning from black to dark brown back to their normal orange, blood red hair faded back to black and the writing was sizzled off of her arms.

“You have a mission the panther still roams free.”

The native bowed before her.

Seline smiled and then moved towards Morishta who was still at Aquil’s ashes crying.

“My child, he is at peace.”

“It should have been me.”

“Has enough blood not been spilt today?”

“I wish it had been mine.” She said woefully.

“Do not wish for death so freely.”

“Why not?  I am nothing now, I have been exiled from my tribe and I am now truly alone.”

“My child, you are never alone. You have now another mission that lays before you.”

“Find the panther?” she questioned sniffling.

She nodded, smoothing Morishta’s hair like a mother.

“May I ask why did you not spare Aquil?”

“He saw your suffering was great and sacrificed his life for yours.”

“I killed him.”

“No, he sacrificed himself so that you could live. You had no hand in his death, every action he did was for you. To make sure you would survive. Nae would be proud.”

“I doubt it.”

“She never expected you to survive; she underestimated your will to live and Aquil’s commitment to you. You did not completely succumb to the darkness, do not live your life in shame.”

And with that the glimmer of hope faded sparkling from within and the pure white aura that had surrounded Seline faded, returning Seline to her normal self.

 

“What do we do now?” Kanjyor asked most of the group settled by the campfire.

“Got to the Rothous and tell Nae what has happened here so that their bravery will not be forgotten.”

He shifted his weight uneasily, her hand touched his, “I know it means you will have to face Aeji but once all is explain her can no longer deny you are cared and worthy of being a Kyti again.”

 

“Now that you’re rescued what do you plan to do?” Kiera asked, poking the fire with a stick.

“Return to GoldenCity and restore it to its former glory. You are more than welcome to join us.”

The bounty hunter looked thoughtful for a moment.

“I could use someone with your fighting ability.”

“What else are you going to do?” Delmar asked.

She shrugged,” You have a point. When do we leave?”

“In the morning.”

 

“Let me go with you.”

Nyri looked up from her packing,”Will you be able to strike the killing blow?”

Morishta paled.

“I didn’t think so. What good are you to us then?”

“I know where she is and can lead you to her. Without me you will be hunting in vain.”

“Fine. But if you in any way hinder our hunt I will leave you for dead. Understood?”

“Yes.”

“We leave tonight.”

Chapter 6 – Death & Rebirth – part 1

Death & Rebirth

Delmar awoke to a sword at his throat; the sharp edge grazed him ever so slightly. The owner of the sword‘s eyes were wet and dark as if she didn’t get enough sleep.

“Whatever spell you cast undo it, NOW.”

“I didn’t cast a spell,” he said with all the calm he could muster trying not to move for the sake of getting his throat sliced.

“Liar! Give me a reason not to kill you where you lay.”

“I don’t believe in spells and magic remember?”

“That is not reason enough.”

“Did you ever wonder why you can’t remember anything before the H’enigh? Memories of your childhood or parents or where you grew up? They may be a reason for that.”

Her stance wavered slightly as if considering his words. She sheathed her sword and offered him a hand up, he took it and was pulled up with surprising strength.

It wasn’t until sometime later he gathered the courage to question her change of heart.

“Would you rather be dead?”
“No I-“

“Look, whomever you think I am is not who I am. Let’s just drop and find your princess. “

“Why did you become a bounty hunter?”

She shrugged. “What else would a former H’enigh do? Become a housewife?”

“Become a merchant or pirate?”

Her nose crinkled , looking up at the sky she squinted seeing a dragon flying overhead. Kiera puts her fingers in her mouth and whistles loudly.

Delmar cringed “What was that for?”

“How else am I going to get his attention?”

“I have no intentions being dinner. “

“He’s not going to eat you. “

The dragon did a graceful circle around them and landed in the clearing. Dark purple scales glinted in the sunlight as it tower high above them. She spoke to it in another tongue it made a chattering noise and blew smoke out of its nostrils.

After a few moments Kiera turned to Delmar,“Y’elt’s been following a group of krisna that just passed thru this way with Nyri and a blonde woman, they came from GoldenCity. They’re heading towards Hagemage.”

“ Isn’t Hagemage sacred?”

“The borderlands between Hagemage and Yor are a shelter for those who practice dark magic. More than likely they are being taken there. He’s offered to catch us up. “

The dragon lowered himself to the ground allowing them to climb on his back near his neck. Standing up slowly it sprung into the air with a mighty leap its wings beating fiercely. The wind whistled in Delmar’s ears as they soared through the air.

The dragon tilted slightly suddenly drawing Delmar’s attention to a clearing where several beings were gathered.  He wanted to ask what was going on but a shrill shrieked froze the words in his throat. The noise belonged to a skeletal dragon as it called out a warning to the other beings on the ground.  Soon there were several more dragons heading their way and arrows began to whizz by Kiera shouting in a foreign tongue at them. An arrow grazed his lower leg, the sheering pain cause him to clench his teeth before he could make a move to see how bad the damage was he noticed they were going to make a nose dive for the nearby lake.

“Hold your breath!” Kiera shouted just before they hit water.

It took him few moments or two to surface slightly disoriented his leg throbbing with pain, he lowered his head for a moment afraid that whatever it was would still be after them. Kiera’s head popped out of the water.

“What was that all about?”
“Something big is going on.”

Another head poked out of the water, it was a man whose black hair that was plastered to his face, he swept it away revealing odd colored eyes, “Sorry, there was no way to outrun them.”

“You’re a shape shifter?” He said in disbelief.

Kiera nudged him hard glaring at him.

Y’elt seemed to not notice.

“They’re afraid of the water?”

“Not afraid, can’t swim.”

“Oh.”

“Nyri is there and so is your Seline.”

“How do we attack?”
“Ambush, it is the only way we will have a chance. Do not let them touch you or you will become one of them.”

“We need to get close as we can without them seeing us.”

They lept out of the bushes just as another group of two men and a woman from the opposite side did. Everyone paused for a moment forgetting their objective.

“Adra?”

“Delmar?”
“Look out!” someone shouted.

The  shriek of krisnas and sword clanging soon filled the air.

“Morishta!” a voice cut through the clanking of the swords a warrior was looking directly a woman who held a jagged dagger as she was just about to stab a blonde haired woman.

“Seline!” Delmar shouted

Aquil tackled Morishta knocking the dagger out her hand in the meantime Delmar freed Seline

“Are you ok?” He asked nearly hugging her.

“ I think so,” she asked dazed,” Where am I?”

He pulled her away from an advancing krisna.

“We’ll catch up later.”

Morishta hissed in anger holding her wrist as though injured but retreated along with the krisna.

Introductions were made and they broke off into smaller groups.

Adra began sprinkling powder  around the area to make a protective circle.

Seline found herself drawn to the mage, unable to stop herself from walking closer. The words the mage uttered a moment ago  were unfamiliar to her but now she understood with perfect clarity.

The woman paused for a moment to get more of the purple powder form the pouch tied to her waist.

Seline smiled an otherworldly smile and said in a voice not her own, “It is good to know that my followers still believe.”

“What needs to be done my goddess?” Adra knelt, bowing her head before the blonde woman

“Stand up my child, do not kneel before me. You have heard my call and tended to those in need that is all that I can ask of you. There is much work to be done before dusk as they will be returning.”

“I thought we defeated them?” Aquil piped in.

“Surely you did not think a servant of Signess would slip quietly into the night? No, they are gathering their forces as we speak. The darkest hour lays ahead. Grim decisions must now be made.”

Seline turned her eyes resting them on the Rothous warrior.

“What must I do Goddess?”

“You are the only thing that keeps her bound to this world. If she turns completely all hope will be lost.”

He looked at her eyes and in it he saw the answer, the only thing he could do to save her.

“Now is the time to ask her.” Delmar encouraged as Nyri and Y’elt walked out of earshot.

They walked up to Nyri who leaned slightly against a nearby tree. Y’elt stood beside her looking uneasy.

“What happened to my memories?”

“I took them.”

“You have no right to take them.”

In a flash Kiera had unsheathed her sword and had it at woman’s throat. Nyri’s eyes reflected slight amusement.

“Would you have preferred death?  If you kill me they will be gone forever. “

“Give them back. “

“Is this really what you want? “Y’elt questioned

She glared at him, “You knew?”

“Yes.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“It was not my place to tell you.”

“So you let her tell you what to do now?”

He ignored the insult “It was for your own good.”

“How could you? I trusted you.”

“You were nearly dead when we found you. Nyri’s only choice was to kill you so that krisna would not claim you.”

“How am I to believe you now?”

Y’elt turned to Nyri who shrugged, “I can give them back to you, if that is what you want.”

“Yes.”

“Very well.”

Nyri grabbed Kiera suddenly by the wrists and began to chant. The writing on the H’enigh’s arms came to life moving slowly as though a snake twisting and slithering to Kiera’s arms. The smell of burning flesh invaded the air, Delmar turned his head trying not to gag. When he turned back he saw the bounty hunter on her knees before the native.

“That’s enough Nyri.” Y’elt said concerned for both women.

She ignored him, cowering over the now crying Kiera,” Is this too much for you? You wanted it back you will have all of the pain and anguish that was that night.”

“NYRI.”

A smile crept upon her lips causing Delmar’s blood to run cold it was a smile of pure evil. The black snake like creatures fell off of Kiera’s arms and slithered back to Nyri crawling up her boots. A shiver went down Delmar’s spine.

Kiera got up uneasily and ran, Delmar followed her not wanting to spend a moment longer in the native’s presence.

Chapter 5 – Darkness Falls – part 2

part 2

It had been nearly a week since the incident he came and went at night as he pleased but remained with her during the day.

At dusk she felt a strange presence.

“Don’t go.” She said as he was heading towards the door.

“You’re concern is flattering but the hunting is prime at this hour.”

“Let me go with you, so I can make sure you are safe.”

“Very well.”

His body shivered and took the form of the wolf waiting at the door for her. She grabbed some spare bandages and her coat. Opening the door for him, he bounded out with nearly wreckless abandon disappearing into the snowy landscape.

Her heart sank upon hearing a muffled thud in the snow.

Going towards the noise what she saw caused her to gasp. A black panther stood on top of a man clawing into his back and spraying the snow red with blood.

“Stop it!” she shouted with all her might. The animal stopped glancing up at her with green eyes, it crouched down and lept for her.

She muttered a quick prayer and braced herself for impact. A sudden yip pierced the air, as a blur of grey came across her line of vision and intercepted the panther, pinning it down by the neck.

Both animals fought fiercely kicking up snow that was tinged with blood. The wolf refused to let go of the feline’s neck and it submitted laying down. The wolf finally let go backing away as the panther and wolf both began to shimmer, the wolf returning to the familiar form of Kanjyor and the panther into a raven haired woman.

 

Kanjyor surveyed the damage bending down to check the pulse of the woman.

“What have you done?”

“I saved your life.” He said defiantly

“You could have broken her neck.”

“But I didn’t.”

Adra check on the man who lay face first in the snow, feeling for a pulse on his neck.” He’s alive.”

“Do you think you can carry the woman?  The blood will attract predators if we don’t move them soon.”

She wordlessly wrapped the unconscious woman in her coat picking her up carefully.

 

Aquil woke to strange voices to a tingling sensation in his back, finding himself on his stomach he tried to roll over making it to his side. The sensation gave way to pain which caused his back to spasm  and him to fall off the cot He landed on his cheek bone with a thud. He grunted struggling to get back up when arms helped him up. The arms belonged to an auburn haired woman.

“You tore a stitch open,” she noted her voice soft and soothing “but you’re at least you’re awake which is more than I can say for your companion.” She carefully took the cloth off his back checking the wound.

“Morishta?” he managed through gritted teeth.

“She’s alive.  Kanjyor spared you from the worst of it. Here drink this, she offered him some green looking liquid he eyed it suspiciously despite his thirst.

“It’s nothing more than crushed herbs that will help you heal, those are some pretty deep wounds and will leave scars.”

He accepted allowing her to tilt the clay mug so that he could drink, he finished it quickly.

“Where are we?”

“Safe. This may hurt a bit.” He jumped at her touch, “I have to pull a stitch to seal it again.”

He felt a slight tug on his skin as she pulled gently at the thread and soon  found himself drifting off again.

 

When Aquil awoke the next time he was laying on his back he sat up slowly finding his back stiff from the lack of movement with virtually no pain.

“Hungry?”
“Yes. “

“Here is some stew.” The woman put the tray in front of him,” I’m Adra.”

“Aquil.” He said and proceeded to taste the stew, it was oddly familiar, “I’ve had this before.”

“I wouldn’t doubt it,” a male voice replied,” it’s a recipe only the Kyti tribe uses.”

“You’re a Kyti?”

“Former. I was exiled for the same reason as your companion, was.”

“Can you cure her?”
“No.”

“Where is she?”

“Resting.”

“You came to Hagemage for a cure?”

“Yes, is there a mage who can separate them?”

Kanjyor glanced at Adra and shook his head.

“I would if I had the ability.” She said wistfully.

Kanjyor opened his mouth to reply but stared at something in the doorway. Adra’s glance followed and she gasped. Aquil follow their gazes and saw Morishta standing in the doorway.

“What is that delicious smell? I’m ravenous.”

“Morishta? I thought you were injured?” Aquil managed to find his voice despite his shock.

“It was just a scratch,” she said marking her way towards the pot of stew and sniffing it appreciatively.

“How do you feel? “Adra asked cautiously.

“Fine, once I eat.” She served herself stew, and in tasting it she turned to Kanjyor, “Kyti recipe?”

He nodded.

“I had always smelt it but never dared to have any.”

She finished the bowl quickly setting it down and returning her attention to them.

“Don’t look so surprised to see me alive and well. I no longer fear the panther. Signess gave my life back to me to have control over the beast.”

“You may believe you have cheated Signess. You may think your dealings with Signess are done but they aren’t.”

“And you are one to talk. You’ld rather bear the pain then surrender to Him.”

“I would rather fight than admit defeat.”

The uneasiness between the two spilled into the night as Adra settled into her cot a hand came over her mouth it was Kanjyor’s

“Don’t touch her.  She may appear harmless now, but this won’t last. Signess will come for her and I don’t want you dragged into the darkness with her. I may not be able to retrieve you if it happens.”

She searched his features seeing only concern and worry.

“Promise me you won’t touch her.”

“I promise.”

“Good I will return in the morning.”

 

Morning broke and Kanjyor was nowhere to be found.

“Is this normal?” Aquil asked.

“No. I should go find him.”
“Let me go in case someone has tried to hunt him again.”

She nodded in agreement, he hugged Morishta and told Adra he would return with Kanjyor.

 

“we are alone at last mage.”

The tone of Morishta’s voice cause the hairs to rise on the back of Adra’s neck.
“Do not feat me. Join me.” She stepped closer, “You are all the stands between Signess and the destruction of all of Yasorus. Join us and rule this world.”

“Never.”

“then die with them.” The woman snarled and lunged. Adra ducked out of the way just in time shoving a wooden chair in raven haired woman’s way. The chair hit the woman knocking her into the door and causing her to hit her head, she crumpled into a pile on the floor.

 

When Adra caught her breath she dared go near the unconscious woman. A hand shot out and grabbed Adra’s ankle she scream as she was dragged into the darkness.

 

She is shaken awake by Kanjyor finding herself in a cot.

“You touched her didn’t you? I warned you-“

“I didn’t touched her, she grabbed me.”
“What did you see?”

“Signess is going to destroy all of Yasorus if we don’t stop Him.”

“Adra, we don’t have the ability to stop a God.”

“There are others in danger. We must do something.”

“You can’t save everyone.”

“We can at least try.”

“And get yourself killed.”

“Does that mean you’re coming with us?”

He sighed,” Only to make sure you don’t get killed.”

“Good, we leave in the morning.”

“Why not now?” Aquil asked.

“It is not far they are on the borders of Hagemage and Yor. Signess is gathering his forces.

 

It was nearly midday when they spotted the krisna  in the clearing before them. They crouched in the bushes.

“There are so many of them. What’s our plan of attack?”
“Adra, do you think you can protect us long enough to charge in?”

“I can try.”

“That’s all I can ask. Ready?”

Adra and Aquil nodded.