A Ghost Story, Part 13

Lucky number 13? Cursed number 13? Read on and find out as Revis and I bring you another segment of our little tale of family and demons. As always, we hope you enjoy.

….

Jake started chanting again but the demon rushed at them, even faster than it had when it still inhabited his mother’s body, and Jake felt himself yanked aside just before the creature could slash him with its clawed hands.  The demon roared and spun towards him again, slashing with its hands, trying to grab him and puncture him at the same time, and once again Jake felt himself moved aside just in time. 

It was a very weird sensation to be so detached from what his own body was doing.  He didn’t have much time to dwell on it though as the demon rushed at him again and again.  Each time it missed it snarled louder and eventually a layer of white foam began to form around its mouth, like a raging animal gone rabid.

“This will work better,” his father’s voice came to him, “if you could be in charge of moving yourself out of the way so I can focus on the magic.”

“That makes sense,” Jake replied glibly, and he immediately sensed his father smirking again.

Once more, he began to chant.  Jake didn’t want to wait for the demon to rush him so he began to move in a circle around it, always trying to keep it in front of him while forcing it to spin likewise if it wanted to charge him.  Then the chanting stopped and Jake’s armed raised and pointed towards the demon.  Flames, not black but white, shot from his outstretched hands towards the demon.

Screaming echoed throughout the entire area. Whatever magic he’d just unleashed must’ve hurt it. The demon, Mocregork it had called itself, jumped backwards to escape the flames. It  didn’t jump far enough. The white fire licked its flesh as it continued to roar in pain. 

Jake smiled, but his father reminded him that the fight was far from over. To prove that point, the demon reached down, tore a chunk out of the ground, and threw it at him. He’d seen the entire movement, so he had time to get out of the way. As he did, however, his hands dropped as he darted to the side. When they did, the white flames disappeared. Mocregork must have anticipated that because he was moving toward him the moment the magic blinked out.

It took all Jake had to get away from the attack. Even then, he didn’t fully dodge the attack. Two of the demon’s claws dug lines into his back. They weren’t deep, though they didn’t need to be. The wounds burned with Hellfire, a bit of information that could’ve only come from his father. Soon enough, that pain went away, just like the pain in his leg.

“That’s about the extent of my ability to block your pain,” his father said. “If you get hit again, you’ll feel every bit of it.”

“Let’s try not to let that happen then.”

His voice began chanting again.  Mocregork seemed to have no interest in getting hit by another spell because the demon rushed forward trying to disrupt the casting.  Jake, in control of his body, if not his mouth or his mind at the moment, rolled under another slashing attack.  The claws caught in the tatters of his shirt but missed his flesh.  That didn’t keep Jake from feeling the searing the heat radiating off them.

After continuing his roll, knowing he needed to buy his dad time to finish the spell, Jake then sprang to his feet and moved swiftly away from the demon.  He could hear Mocregork laughing and then all of sudden Jake had to jump away from another attack.  The demon had somehow gotten in front of him again.

“This is my plane, you mortal fool.  I can shape it how I desire.  You can’t run away from me.”

“Who said I was trying to run away?”  His dad had spoken through him, having just finished his chanting.  And then Jake once again felt his arms move of their own accord.  His pinkies and index fingers were pointed at Mocregork and then a blast of energy shot from his body, rocking him backward at the same time.

Jake scrambled to stay on his feet and then watched in awe as a wall of stone, twice his height, formed into the symbol of a cross and slammed into Mocregork. The large stone cross fell on top of the demon, pinning it to the ground. Smoke rose from every part of Mocregork touching the magic construct. An ear piercing shriek erupted from under the cross. Jake was forced to use his hands to cover his ears. He was afraid that if he didn’t, the demon’s cry would rupture his eardrum.

“Quickly,” his father urged. “We need to get over to him so I can cast another spell while he’s distracted.” 

Jake made his way over to where Mocregork lay under the cross. The demon’s wail became louder and more intense with each passing step. His legs began to shake as he moved. Determined to not give up, Jake pushed himself forward until he was standing next to the howling demon. He felt his hands start to move away from his ears and he did everything he could to lock his muscles in place.

“Don’t fight me,” came the plea into his mind. “I need your hands to complete the spell.”

“But I’ll probably lose my hearing if I move them,” Jake protested. 

“That’s better than losing your life,” his father countered, to which Jake had no argument.

Reluctantly, he let his father move his hands for the spell that would hopefully vanquish the demon. 

It was all Jake could do to relax enough to let his father take control.  The demon’s shrieks were so painfully loud that every instinct demanded he protect his ears.  The sound enveloped him and rattled his teeth.  His eyes watered.  He tried to force his mind and thoughts away from it but couldn’t.  It was too much.

In the few short seconds he was grappling with that internal struggle, his father had used his hands to draw symbols in the air and then chanted off another spell.  His arms reached forward and white flames shot from his fingertips again.  The fire spread over the stone cross and the demon, reaching from the tip of its horns down to its wickedly curved clawed feet, burning so brightly, so intensely, that Jake stumbled backwards a step so he didn’t get caught up in the flames.

“Hold steady,” admonished his father.

Jake was going to reply sarcastically but the demon suddenly disappeared and his father cursed.  The flames died away as his father ended the spell.

“Get ready to move,” his father warned, “the beast likely flipped the plane on us again so it could get out from the cross.  I’d hoped it wouldn’t be able to.”

Jake came up with another sarcastic reply but before he could give it voice, a snarl of pure hatred and pain rolled over him.  He whipped his head around looking for the source.  He couldn’t see Mocregork anywhere.

“Move.  Move randomly.  It doesn’t matter how or where. Just move so you aren’t a standing target for it!”  There was panic in his father’s voice and Jake didn’t need to be encouraged more than that.  He started zig-zagging, hoping it was at random, away from the cross.

“Left!”

Without thinking, he dove to his left. Jake always saw people in movies be able to roll back into a standing position when they do that move. It was at that moment when he realized that he was not an action movie star. He tried to roll with his dive and smacked his head against the ground as he did so. His vision went blank for a moment and if his head wasn’t momentarily spinning, Jake might have remembered how scary that was in his current situation. 

“Right!”

As his mind recovered from the bump to his cranium, he felt his body respond to his father’s command, rolling off to his right. It once again crossed his mind about how strange it was to have so little control over his body, especially when the one controlling it was someone he just met hours ago. Wait. Had it been hours ago? Or just a few minutes? With all that had happened that night, it was hard telling. Time was not flowing as it normally did.

“Focus on the problem at hand!”

There was a hint of irritation in his father’s voice on that call. Jake wanted to do what was asked of him, but he couldn’t. His thoughts were swimming and he wasn’t able to get them under control. Irritation turned to sadness during his father’s next words. “I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do this. I was hoping we’d get a little more time together. Before I go, I just need to tell you that, even though I wasn’t around, I have loved you since I found out your mother was pregnant.”

With that, Jake felt his father leave his body and watched as his spirit raced for the demon. 

Fantasy Football Part 30

Back again with more. More fantasy? More football? Well, no, not really. More awesome writing from Revis and your favorite jester? Absolutely. Enjoy!

….

There were too many to attack outright, it would be suicide.  While his sister was one of the shortlist of people he would give up his life to save, it didn’t make sense to rush the guards without knowing if it would in fact save Gilania.  

Plex swore again.  He needed to think fast.  He needed to do something more than sit there and watch his sister’s team get captured or slaughtered.  

It didn’t make sense.  Her team had won.  Lavalandinarial would want them to play in the next round of her games.  Something else was going on here.  It couldn’t be that the honor guard was going to take them all into custody.  Perhaps they were just there to intimidate, to ferret out the few bad apples they suspected and scare the rest back into obedience.  

And to set a trap for me, Plex realized.  If I go dashing in guards will come out of hiding from behind me and grab me before I can do anything.  

Now that he’d had the thought, Plex could hear and smell the guards in hiding that he should have noticed before.  They were very well concealed but he could her them shuffling in place and smell the sweat on their brows.  Plex moved further into the shadow he was crouched in just as the first of the swordsmen reached the entrance to the practice field.

There was nothing Plex could do but watch as the guards began their task of searching the field and the facility and turning everything inside out.  He needed to get out of there.  Vinyard had been right.  But he wasn’t sure he could leave without being spotted.  Plex needed the hidden guards to make the first move.  

He fervently hoped that Baclem wouldn’t hear the commotion and come bumbling in.  If they moved to intercept the troll, Plex would have to intercede.  Baclem was there to help.  It wasn’t help that Plex had asked for but that didn’t matter.  Often that was the kind of help that needed to be honored the most.  So far, though, Baclem had either learned to be much quieter or had listened and was staying where Plex had left him.

A small gust of breeze suddenly shifted through the alley and the smell of the guards became much stronger.  They’d snuck up behind him.  Plex rolled backwards, towards the source of the smell, hoping to catch them off-guard, and swung out with his sword at the same time.

A spear smashed into the ground where h’d been crouched and his sword sliced the arm off of the elf who had wielded the spear, even as Plex collided with the guard.  Then all became a jumbled mess of flailing limbs and screaming for a moment.  Plex tried to silence the injuried elf as quickly as possible but it took longer than he would have liked before he could steady himself and plunge his sword through the wounded guardsman’s neck, cutting the cry instantly.

Back on his feet again, Plex could hear steps running towards him from the direction of Gilania’s training facility.  The rest of the guards were coming.  He needed to flee or he would surely be captured and taken before the dragon.  Sprinting back towards where he’d left Baclem, he came up short, as two more guards stepped in front of him. One was an orc, the other an ogre. Individually, he had no doubt that he could best either of them quickly. Together, he might triumph, but not quickly enough to avoid the rest of the guards coming his way.

Before Plex could make a move against either of them, the orc went flying away. Baclem turned and grabbed onto the ogre’s sword before it had a chance to bring the weapon against him. Plex leapt forward to help the troll out. While the two larger creatures wrestled over the ogre’s sword, Plex shoved his blade up underneath the ogre’s armpit, where the armor didn’t cover. The ogre howled in pain and dropped to the ground. 

Baclem moved in to finish it off, but Plex grabbed his wrist and shouted, “No time!”

Plex hated having to do it but he ran away from Gilania and her team. There were a lot of Lavalandinarial’s guards around. Too many for him to get to the practice facility. At least, not from the direction that he was going at the moment. He was going to have to circle the area and see if he could find an opening. 

After a few twists and turns, Baclem began to realize what they were doing. “It’s too dangerous,” the troll whispered. “We stay, we die.”

“Damn it, man,” Plex whispered back harshly. “My sister is in there! I can’t just leave her to the dragon’s minions. I have to help.”

“Us being killed is helpful to her?”

Plex resisted the urge to punch the troll. He knew Baclem was right. If they stayed and tried to find a way into the practice facility, they would almost certainly be captured or killed. But, he also knew that if he ran away and left Gilania to her fate, he’d never be able to live with himself. He’d spend the rest of his days wallowing in guilt and shame. When your race lives for hundreds of years, that’s a daunting penance to look forward to. 

He also bit back the scathing retort that almost flew from his lips. Instead, he said, “I appreciate everything that you’ve done for me, Baclem, but I can’t run away from my sister when she needs me. If you don’t want to do this, you’re free to leave now. I need to do this, though.”

Baclem shook his head. “I don’t know how your race got so high in the dragon’s hierarchy when you make such dumb decisions.”

“I wish you luck, Baclem.”

“I didn’t say I was leaving. I’m still going with you. That doesn’t make it less of a stupid decision. It just means I’m dumb too.”

Plex smiled. He wasn’t sure what he had ever done to deserve this loyalty, but he vowed right then to make sure that he earned the honor Baclem was giving him. With a clap on the troll’s shoulder, he said, “At least we’re stupid together. Now, let’s find a way into the facility.”

Sprinting through the streets, Plex kept his speed in check to ensure that Baclem would be able to keep up with him.  The elf was pleasantly surprised that the troll wasn’t slowing them down all that much but still mortified by the sounds that emanated from Baclem.  The troll heaved in heavy, rasping breaths, and his feet thundered on the ground.  They were going to have a hard time losing their pursuers if they couldn’t get some distance from them but the sound of pursuit never seemed to grow any further off.

It made sense, of course.  Lavalandinarial’s guards would be fit enough to trail them for days on end.  While they were weighed down by their armor, some of them would be as fleet-footed as Plex himself.  If he could go his top speed, he might be able to lose them.  With his speed checked, however, Plex realized that they were never going to be able to slip away simply by hoofing it.

Plex wracked his brain for a solution, something the guards wouldn’t be expecting, something that would let them slip away while still staying close enough to the facility so he could get in and find his sister or rescue her should she and her team be taken captive by the guards  like his own team had been.  Nothing came to him immediately.  A hint of panic crept up the back of his spine. 

They couldn’t run forever.  His sister didn’t have forever, anyway.  The guards had already begun to enter the training facility.  Even though it felt forever ago, Plex knew that not that much time had yet elapsed.  Still, the longer it took him to come up with something the more likely it seemed this fool’s errand would end in capture or death.

An image of the alleyway his team had briefly hidden in while being led away from danger by Vinyard flashed in Plex’s mind.  While that particular hiding spot had been magically enhanced, Plex was sure of that, the idea of hiding to let their pursuers pass them was a good one.  It was risky, yes.  If they were discovered they would have to fight against extreme odds.  However, if they weren’t discovered it would buy them some time to scope out the facility without as many guards standing in their way.

Plex changed direction, needing it to seem like he and Baclem were trying to leave the area rather than circle the facility.  He wanted the pursuers to think they had decided to flee.  Then his eyes began to sweep left to right.  He was looking for guards still, yes.  He was also looking for an opportunity to hide.  

An open door, an expecially dark alleyway, a roof they could climb onto quickly.  They passed each of this in quick succession and each may have worked but they were still too close to the facility.  The timing wasn’t right yet.

They went another two blocks and then Plex saw another low roof they could easily scramble onto.  He nudged Baclem and indicated the troll should follow his lead and then, with a tall leap, Plex grabbed the edge of the roof and pulled himself up.  A second later Baclem was beside him.  They moved backwards out of sight, and waited.

The sound of their pursuers got louder and louder.  Plex hoped that they hadn’t been seen and that they hadn’t made so much noise scrambling up that whoever was within the building came out to see what was going on.  Then again, the guards were making so much noise on their own, whoever was inside might stay inside just to not have to deal with them.  One way or another, Plex and Baclem would know soon enough.

 

shameless self promotion 4

And for all you fantasy lovers out there, and let’s face it, you wouldn’t be here in the kingdom if you didn’t love a bit of magic, here is something wonderful for you to read.  This is another collection of stories from four very talented writers that you will enjoy… So…  Go get it, read it, love it!

Accura, the goddess of chaos, has begun to unleash her newest plot to send Cetros spiraling into turmoil. Once her brother and sister gods and goddesses learn of her scheme, most bring forth their champions to try and restore order while the others attempt to take advantage of the situation for their own purposes. Will their lack of a cohesive plan only serve to further Accura’s cause and doom Cetros to be forever ruled by chaos? Or will the champions succeed in their quests and allow their world to regain some semblance of normalcy? This anthology includes seven stories, one for each of the gods and goddesses of Cetros: Chaos, Magic, Death, Plants and Earth, Animals, the Seas, and Weather.

You can buy it here.

And, you know, write review or I’ll have Allent cast some spells…  You’ll know what that means once you’ve read the book!

pot of gold

dav

The colors burst across the sky in a banded arcing spectrum.  The warmth of the sun on their backs as they marveled at the bow was an odd sensation considering the icy drops of rain that still fell.  The puddles at their feet churned and their hair was soon drenched.  They stood in silence, mesmerized by the beauty and strangeness of the moment.  Then the storm shifted again and the rainbow faded away, taking its promise of gold with it.

The day held many such magical moments as the sun slipped in and out of view and the rain fell in starts and stops.  They never seemed to tire of it, though.  It didn’t become routine or mundane.  Each new spark of beauty was a reason to stop and revel.  Perhaps that was down to their youthful naivety?  Or, perhaps, that was the full power of nature on display?  The truth may never be known and doesn’t really matter anyway.  They didn’t need to know why the day was magical to appreciate it.

apart

He ran his hands along the fabric of their existence, caressing the invisible strings that connected all things and sending reverberating melodies strumming before him.  He smiled, sad and euphoric.  The song was beautiful, the song of life, of connectivity, but he would never get to share it with anyone else.  Long had he traveled the world looking for someone like him, someone who could see the threads of life, the connections and interdependencies, and had never met anyone who could see as he did.  The magic of who he was did little to quell the loneliness.

He stood apart, disconnected from the grid.  He could walk through it, manipulate it, and, with a brush of his hand, send a thousand songs cascading forward, but he was not a part of it.  In all his wandering, he was the only living thing he had come across that was not intertwined with the rest of the grid.

When he had been young, he had tried to tell his parents and friends about what he was seeing.  They all just said he had a vivid imagination.  When he got older he considered trying to bring it up again but had grown less naïve in the intervening years and was loathe to risk being labelled as something he was not or being drugged into conformity.  As lonely as it was to be the only thing set apart from the rest of the world, he didn’t want to give that up, didn’t want to lose his unique view.  Not to say that the world wasn’t beautiful for everyone else as well but getting to see how all things were joined and hearing the music that came with those connections must, absolutely must, enhance the experience of that beauty.