Tag Archives: Arts

A Random Short Story. (rated TVMA) ;)

Forgive the light details. I jotted this down in about 45 minutes for someone, and have decided to share it here. I don’t even have a title for it. Any ideas for one would be appreciated.

 

            The young woman, red hair pulled back from her face, pushed through the tavern’s double doors. She was dressed in dark leather armor and carried daggers on her back; a mated pair at her waist, and another set sticking above her shoulders. She strode though the smoky and crowded room, ignoring the smells of stale ale and unwashed bodies. As she walked by, a drunken patron reached for her. Without losing stride, she broke the outstretched wrist, never taking her eyes from the burly orc behind the bar.

“I’m told Dirge is here,” she said. Her voice was mellifluous.

“Never heard of him.” In contrast, his was coarse.

She slipped a hand into a pocket and slid a sliver coin across the counter. A swipe of a rag, and the coin vanished. The barman tilted his head towards the fire. A shadowy figure lounged by the flames. As she watched, a small ember flared. A pipe, or cheroot. The woman walked over without a glance back.

She reached the leather chair, and stopped in surprise. A shadow was there, moving as if it were a real person, mimicking the act of smoking. A thick hand gripped her by the hair and cold steel kissed the tender flesh of her throat.

“Why are you asking about me?” A heavy voice growled. It made the orc’s sound musical in comparison. The owner of the voice sniffed her neck. “Not a vampire, nor a thrall.” She was spun roughly.

She found herself staring up at a rugged, worn and weathered face. Skin the color of new leather with deep lines carved into it gave proof to a harsh life. Dark eyes danced across her face, analyzing her. Oiled black leather covered his wide frame. This must have been how he was able to sneak up on her.

“You are the vampire hunter known as Dirge?”

The blade at her throat wiggled, reminding her of its presence. “Answer my question.”

“My companions and I wish to hire you.” As she said this, she glanced down his torso, taking in the broadsword with the onyx grip and ruby pommel sheathed in gleaming silver. His eyes automatically followed hers and his estimation of her went up a notched when he saw the silver crystal blade pointed at his belly. He knew that weapon. “You recognize Killswitch, do you?”

“I do. It was my brother’s. How did you get it?”

“It was in the horde of a green dragon that we killed last autumn.”

Dirge sheathed his knife. “Who are you?”

“My name is Jennifer. How much will you charge us?”

He sat in the chair that had been occupied by the shadow. “That all depends on what you’d like to hire me for.”

She sat in the other chair. The vampire hunter lit his pipe and the pleasant tang of red weed filled the air. “We’d like you to teach us how to effectively combat vampires.”

“That is easy enough to do. When would you like to begin?” He crossed his ankles as he slouched further into the thick seat. “I warn you: I charge extra for rush jobs.”

“Immediately.”

He nodded. “Forty thousand sovereigns. Half upfront, the other half when I feel you’re ready to fight the parasites.”

“Done.”

Something about her tone intrigued Dirge. “Care to share why you have this urgent need to learn these tactics?”

“Vampires are planning on using my sister as a sacrifice to summon their eldest from his slumber.”

The hunter sat up. “I’ve not heard anything like this. How did you find out?”

Jennifer rose and paced to a window. She stared out at the snowy darkness. “While on a rescue mission for the Jarl of Windhaven, we managed to capture the ringleader. It turned out that she was a thrall. She asked me how I escaped Scarward Keep.” Dirge half rose from his seat. “Shortly afterwards, we learned the vampire’s plans, and determined to stop them.” Jennifer turned, and froze at the distress on the vampire hunter’s face.

“Did you say Scarward Keep?” he asked in a strangled voice.

“I did. Why?”

He traced his fingers along a wound that she could not see. “Long ago, the master of that place left his mark on me a few years back.” He motioned for her to follow. “I’m coming with you to the keep. Never mind the training fee. Most of your group won’t be coming back alive.”

 

***

            Outside, Jennifer waved towards a group lounging near five horses. An elf, half his head shaven, dressed in green and brown leather, bobbed his head causing metal in his ear to flash in the torchlight. He shouldered a long bow and a quiver of arrows and glided over. He was followed by a large half-orc in grey full plate mail. His head was shaven except for a blue-black topknot. The hilt of a great sword showed over one immense shoulder. The half-orc stepped fully into the light, showing a scar over where his left eye should have been. A pair of women approached in lockstep. One wore half-plate mail that gleamed. A holy symbol was etched in the breast-plate. Her helmet was carried loosely in her left hand. A mace hung at her hip and a large shield was slung over her right shoulder. Her brown hair was cut short. The other was clad in bluish-silver chain mail. Blonde hair was tied back in a braid. A well-worn book held in her hand proclaimed her to be a cleric. ‘Sword sisters,’ mused Dirge.

“These are my companions,” Jennifer said. “This is Rohir Mandrane.” She gestured to the elf. “Gromm.” A wave to the half-orc. “Leigh Grimbane the Pure.” This time the short-haired woman was indicated. “And Astred Blake.” She placed her hand on the vampire slayer’s shoulder. “Everyone, this is Dirge the vampire hunter.”

Leigh said, “How did you get the name Dirge?”

His head dipped, then his left eyebrow rose. “Banshee was already taken.”

Astred laughed. “Good one.”

Leigh scratched her head. “I don’t get it.”

“A dirge is a funerary song expressing mourning in commemoration of the dead. In some cultures, it is the last thing the dead hear in this world,” Gromm said. “A banshee is a female ghost who’s wail is the last thing her victims hear.”

“Is that why you call yourself Dirge?” Leigh said.

Rohir snorted and turned away. Dirge chuckled. “No. I usually call myself me, I, or myself.”

“Asshole,” Astred said under her breath.

Leigh bit her lip. “Jen? Help me out here?”

The vampire hunter placed a big hand on the close-cropped head of the woman. “I’m going to have an easy time training you, Leigh.”

“Wait, what?” said Gromm. “How is that possible?”

“Hey,” Leigh said.

“It’s possible because she’s going to be willing to follow my instructions to the letter, and not assume she knows what I’m intending before I say it.” Leigh beamed. Gromm narrowed his eyes. “Come, the night is short. Let’s begin your training, eh?”

***

            A week later, the party arrayed themselves outside the perimeter of the castle walls. The pallid sun tried weakly to shine through the clods before giving it up as a hopeless task. Shadowy figures could barely be seen wandering the ramparts in the dim daylight. A chill wind blew from the north, bringing the scent of a coming snow storm.

“What-” Rohir said.

Jennifer clamped her hand over his mouth. She leaned over. “Werewolves have excellent hearing. Even better than that of elves.” Her lips grazed his ear as her whispered words warmed it.

Dirge cast his hand in the air, sending what appeared to be dust into the wind. He looked at his students. “Keep out of sight. I’m going up to that ridge.” He pointed to the mountain they’d just descended. Jennifer’s eyes went wide, and she motioned frantically for him to be quiet. “Relax, girl. I cast a spell of silence.”

She sagged as if a weight had been removed from her shoulders.

“Why are you going back to the cliff?” Astred said.

“I’m going to reach out and touch some lycanthropes. We are downwind of them, so along as you all keep low, you won’t be found.”

“How will you reach them from back there?” Gromm said.

The vampire hunter took a pack from his horse. He spread it out on the ground and unrolled a collection of odd objects. The party watched in awe as the assortment of metal and wood slid together with a series of clicks. The finished thing was about 4 feet long, had a dark metal tube in the front, and a strange wood block at the end. Two metal legs extended from a little past the middle of it. A cylinder was affixed to the top as Dirge held it. He attached a box to the bottom somehow, and using a strap, slung it over his shoulder like a bow.

“Remington M24,” he said. He pulled one more strange item from the pack, and handed it to Jennifer. “Hold the small holes up to your eyes, and look towards the werewolves.” She did and gasped. They were suddenly close. “These are binoculars. They allow you to see things that are far away as if up close. The wolves don’t know you can see them. I will return after I’ve disposed of the vampire’s bodyguards.” Dirge mounted his horse and rode off, disappearing into the gloom.

 

***

An hour passed. Taking turns with the binoculars had worn thin some time ago. Leigh watched the distant werewolves at Jennifer’s insistence. A crimson spray of blood flew from one’s head and it collapsed. Seconds later, a crack, like far away thunder, echoed. A wolf ran over to its fallen companion. Blood erupted, and this one fell also. Again, a couple heartbeats passed, and the sharp report came.

“Jen! Look at this!”

The red-haired woman rose from the log where she sharpened her blades and took the offered binoculars. She trained them on the keep in time to see a werewolf drop where it stood. Once more, the noise arrived. “I guess it’s not thunder after all.”

“What do you think that Remington M-24 is?” Gromm said.

“I think it’s a gun,” Leigh said. The others looked at her, surprise written on their faces. “It looks like one I saw in a picture book when I was a girl.”

“What is a gun?” Jennifer said.

Leigh shrugged. “Magic?”

 

***

Near midday, Dirge rode up. A fire burned, cooking the carcass of a deer. He dismounted and beckoned the others around. “We’ve got about four hours of daylight left, so eat quickly. It wouldn’t do to be caught by those parasites.”

“Do you have any idea how many vampires are inside?” said Leigh.

“Based on the number of bodyguards, I’d say it’s an elite nest. Probably about twenty to thirty.”

“Well, shit,” said Gromm. “That’s gonna suck.”

“Pun intended?” said Dirge.

“Huh?”

“Never mind. Where is Jennifer?”

A nearby tree rustled, twigs and leaves falling. The lady in question dropped out, and landed in a crouch. “You want me?” The vampire hunter gave her a big grin, causing heat to rise to her cheeks. “Um…”

“Let’s eat, and then mount up. We’ve got a hell of a chore in front of us.”

“Right.”

She turned away, lightly scratching the scab at the side of her neck. Part of it flecked away. A small rivulet of blood tricked down. She glanced at the crimson on her fingers.

 

***

Jennifer lowered her blades in surrender. No one had ever pushed her like this before. It was arousing.

“I want you,” she said.

Dirge sheathed his sword. “Alright.”

Her eyebrows went up. “That’s it?”

He gave a wicked grin. “Of course. I enjoy ruining women for other men.”

She tilted her head. “Good, or bad?”

“When you wake, you tell me. If, that is, you are able to stop grinning long enough to.”

That quiet assurance sent a frission of heat to her belly, and she felt herself go damp. “You’re pretty cocky.”

He unbuckled his sword, and laid it on the end table next to the bed. “No. I know what I’m talking about.”

She unbuckled the daggers at her back, and put them on the dresser. She turned back, and unfastened the straps of her jerkin. “Prove it.”

The vampire hunter crossed the room in a single stride, and with a few deft movements of his fingers, finished undressing her. He stepped back and allowed his eyes to run over her body. He noted the diamond-shaped scar where someone stabbed her with a short sword, the jagged scar where something with claws had ripped at her belly, the otherwise smooth and creamy skin, her defined muscles, the luscious curve of her hips, and the red curls over her pubis. “Delightful,” he murmured.

Dirge scooped her into his arms and carried her to his bed where he gently lay her down. He sat on the side, and took a few minutes to look her exquisite form over.

She squirmed, and a flush crept along her neck and cheeks. “Why are you staring at me like that?”

“I’ve never seen a more beautiful woman in my life.”

She sat up, and tried to slip off the bed. “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.”

“Why not?”

“Because.”

He took her wrists in his large hangs, preventing her from rising. “Because isn’t an answer, it’s a word.” He pulled her back down, and trailed his fingertips down her body, eliciting a shiver.

She closed her hazel eyes. “I’ve not been told I’m beautiful except when being mocked.”

“Jennifer.”

“What?”

“Look at me, please.” Reluctantly, she opened them. Moisture, from shame, made them glint in the candlelight. “The only thing you heard in my voice was reverence,” he said softly. “You really are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.”

“What about my scars?”

Dirge took in her face. She refused to meet his eyes. Her brow was furrowed, and she seemed to be trying to melt through the bed. “Jennifer. Look at me, please.” He locked her gaze with his. “All of you is beautiful. Let me show you?”

She swallowed hard, then nodded, again closing her eyes. “Alright.” Her nose wrinkled adorably.

He decided not to push her to watch him. Both her wrists were linked together in his hand, and raised above her head. His other hand skimmed over her cheek. The smooth softness of her skin fascinated him. Feathery kisses followed his touch. She tried hard to not respond, but these sensations were new.

His fingernails barely scraped her skin, raising more goose bumps, as they went down the side of her neck to the upper curve of her breasts. When his lips followed, she moaned. His teeth lightly scored her flesh. She trembled. His tongue, soft and damp, traced her same path, setting her on fire. Her lips parted, then the lower one was captured between her teeth.

The same pattern was followed over her breast. First his fingertips trailed over the lushness of her boob, then feather soft kisses came after. Teeth lightly followed the tender scrape of fingernails, and ended with a soft lick of his tongue. ‘Stop teasing me, please.’

His hot, wet mouth closed over her erect nipple and lightly suckled it. Her heart nearly leaped out of her chest. She cried his name as the building heat exploded through her body in an inferno of passion. He pulled back and blew cool air over her nipple. She pulled hard, trying to free her hand, to push his wonderful mouth back to her breast. His mouth returned to her chest, but she was slightly distracted by his fingers gliding over her belly, going further south, and ‘Yes!’, his fingers grazed her vulva. Her hips came up to meet his touch.

At last her hands were freed! She reached for him, but he had slid further down the bed. ‘Where is he goi-’

Her mind went blank as his tongue slipped over her mound. He then slid it down the left side of her sex, and dragged it back up. His glacial pace was maddening. Her fingers found, and knotted in his hair. Her legs wrapped around his neck, giving him greater access to her. His magical tongue next traveled down the other side of her. The fire inside her raged, demanding to be freed. Instead, his talented mouth moved to her thigh. She wanted to scream, she was so close to climax.

He nibbled along her inner thigh, then kissed the nibbled area. Then, his tongue traced the same path his lips and teeth had traveled. She panted. His attentions had her feeling feverish.

“Dirge.”

“Hmm?”

“What are you doing to me?”

He chuckled at her panted question and raised his head. He locked eyes with her, then slipped a finger inside her. “This.” Her eyes rolled back in her head as her back came off the bed. He grinned, and licked the center of her heat, eliciting a drawn out moan.

The vampire hunter grinned again. He paid close attention to the sounds she was making. Each time her noises indicated she was about to go over the edge, he altered his movements, or licked another place on her, denying her release.

“Please,” she begged.

“Please what?” he said.

“Let me.”

“Let you what?”

“Come.”

Another smile spread across his face. “Put it all together for me.”

“Please, let me come?”

“Not yet.” He gave a wicked chuckle, then moved further down her body. She wanted to scream. “No coming without permission, either, Jennifer.”

What?”

“You have to wait for my permission before you have an orgasm.”

Why?”

“Because of how sweet it will be. Trust me. Just enjoy what I’m doing to you.”

“You’re driving me crazy.”

“That’s the plan.”

She looked down her body. “That’s mean.”

“So am I.” He gave her a gentle nip behind her knee.

That sent another rush of heat to her center. That was unexpected. ‘What else on me is sensitive like this?’

He continued on his way down her body, licking, nibbling, caressing, and kissing. After spending a few minutes suckling on her toes, which initially tickled, but then felt amazing, he made her turn over to her belly. He began to slide his fingers over her muscles, pausing every so often to add a bit of pressure to select muscles, utterly relaxing her. Her eyes grew heavy and her breathing slowed, and grew deeper. His fingers stopped kneading her thighs, and moved in between. He traced her sex from behind, causing her breath to shorten again.

When she was wet enough, he slipped two of his fingers into her. From behind. She moaned at the new sensation. And then he gently pressed down with the two inside her. Lightning went off behind her eyes and she squealed. She then sank further into the bed. He scraped his nails over her back, then withdrew his fingers from inside her.

She turned to her back at his direction, and gazed deeply into his eyes. They were even darker than they had been earlier. He rose from the bed in a single smooth motion, and stripped his clothing off. She sat up, and took his hardness in her hand. The pattern of callouses and smoothness on her hand caused him to moan. She smiled and pulled him down beside her. She rose up on her knees. “My turn.”

“As you wish.” The roughness of his voice delighted her. She was no inexperienced farmer’s girl, but Dirge had shown her things she’d never experienced before.

She slid her hands over his rough chest, noting he was covered in even more scars than she. Puckered craters on his chest indicated he’d been tortured in the past. She’d seen too many of the scars from hot pokers before. She lightly traced them with her fingers, then impulsively dipped her head, and ran the tip of her tongue over the marred flesh. His gasp told her he enjoyed that. She trailed her tongue over a set of crisscrossed scars over his abdomen, wondering how he got them. She went lower on his body, using his sounds to guide her movements. She reached behind her and drug her fingernails over his erection, grinning at his groan. She reach his hip, and paused at an odd-shaped scar. It looked like a, “Gods, Dirge. Did someone bite you?”

He rose up and flipped her to her back. He held himself above her, and placed his knee above her thighs. She willingly parted her legs and waited for his response. “Do you want me to answer that, or do you want me to do this?”

She forgot her question when he slid into her. Her hips came up to meet his. He nibbled her neck, and slowly withdrew about halfway, then slammed in. Her legs wrapped around his hips and he pulled back a bit again, faster this time. He thrust into her slowly. She moaned and wrapped her arms around his neck. He then kissed her for the first time.

Their tongues swirled and played. His thrusting picked up speed. She pulled away from the kiss to breath. Her legs held him tight, as did her arms. He lowered his head and whispered, “I want you to come for me.”

“Huh?” Her question was gasped out.

He thrust faster, and harder inside her. “I want you to come for me. Right now.”

His words sent a shock of pleasure through her, adding more fuel to the inferno within. He reached between them and brushed his thumb over the stiff nub at the center of her sex. The roughness of his calloused digit sent her over the edge.

All her muscles tightened and then released abruptly as pleasure swept through her. Her limbs fell from his body. He remained still, watching the pink fade slowly from her features. Her eyes fluttered open and a smile spread over her face. Still watching her, he resumed moving in and out. Her jaw dropped and her eyes widened. Soon the heat rose through her again.

“Want to try something different?”

“More different? How so?”

He slid out of her, causing her to moan in protest. He then guided her over to her belly, and up on her hands and knees. He slid into her once more, somehow, ending deeper inside her.

“Oohh!”

He grinned as his hands gripped her hips. His body slapped hard and fast against her rump. She was lost in a sea of new, wonderful sensations. It had never crossed her mind that sex could be done this way, or for so long. She gasped with unexpected pleasure as he gathered her hair in one hand and gently tugged on it. The pleasure/pain shot from her head down to where they were joined. His finger found that sensitive nub again. She cried out, and collapsed, hugging the pillow. He followed her down without missing a beat and stretched over her. The sensation of his hard belly against her back as his hardness rocketed in and out of her sent her over the edge again. This time, he didn’t stop. Instead, he increased his movements, sending her immediately over the edge again.

Sweat rolled over their bodies as he pounded away. He used his grip on her hair to tug her head to the left. He brushed his lips over her ear. “I’m going to come, Baby Girl,” he whispered.

His swelling within her pushed her close to the edge again. He gave a last thrust into her, and bit her neck extremely hard as he erupted within her. The teeth on her neck coupled with his spurting into her womb made her orgasm harder than she had all night.

After they lay together in the darkness, as his hands wandered over her, soothing where they’d previously aroused, she touched the place he’d bitten, wanting to know how hard he’d bitten her. She jerked her head away from the sharp sting. With greater care this time, she once more touched her bite. She felt wetness. Brow furrowing, she brought her fingers to her nose. The familiar copper tang of blood flooded her nose. ‘Damn. He bit me hard!’ For some reason, this sent a tingle down her belly. She ignored it, and pushed her back against Dirge’s hard chest.

 

***

The party entered the keep by the main gate. The smell of damp, sour earth, and rotting meat hit them like a fist. The great hall was filled with drifting zombies. When the undying creatures detected the warms of Jennifer’s group, they shuffled to attack.

“We seem to be expected,” Jennifer said, cutting a rotting zombie to ribbons.

“I would wager you are correct.” Dirge slammed a zombie that stumbled too close face first into the floor. Its skull cracked like an egg.

Astred raised her clenched fist, and a burst of brilliant light shone from it. A wave of the zombies burst apart. “Back to the Abyss with you, wretched creatures. In Ra’s name, I command it!”

Leigh swung her mace in wide, controlled arcs, splattering undead brains left and right. Her shield protected Her side, and was sometimes used to decapitate her attackers. Gromm slung his great sword around as if it were a broad sword. A swath of the zombies dropped with the first swing, then he switched hands as he spun, and carved up another group. Rohir stood near the portcullis, whistling as he fired arrows through zombie skulls. Dirge pounded zombies into the ground, gripping their heads, and slamming them with terrific force.

“Do you not like zombies, Dirge?”

“Their existence is an offense to me, Leigh.” He grabbed on that was about to grab her from behind, and flung it into another oncoming group. “Be aware!”

“Right, sorry.” She cringed as if in anticipation of a swat to the back of her head.

He looked to see how the others were doing and noticed Astred being pressed backwards. “Astred, what are you doing?”

His shout caused her to look from her book. “I’m loo- Guh!” Blood flew from her mouth as her body jerked and twitched. She fell, her back turned to a pin cushion by the arrow trap.

“Nooooo! Astred!” Leigh charged through the swarm of zombies, her mace hammering down the undead in huge swaths.

“Leigh, Watch out!” Gromm’s shout came too late. The short haired woman with the quick laugh, dropped from sight with a scream as the floor disappeared beneath her.

“No one move!”

“Go to the Abyss, Dirge! I must help my friends.”

“Jennifer, you don’t know what other traps are in here. Don’t run off recklessly!” A cold decayed hand fell on his neck. In a blink, Dirge whirled and gripped the zombie by the throat. An arrow grew from its temple. He glanced at the elf, and nodded thanks. The dead again corpse dropped without care as his eyes flew around the room. The half-orc knelt at the edge of the pit, shoulders slumped and heaving. “Regroup. Gromm, grieve later.” The huge warrior whipped his head around with a snarl. “Save it for the parasites. They took Leigh, and Astred.” Dirge dropped his head. “I should have thought to scout the interior before we came in.”

Jennifer knew if she hadn’t stepped over to speak privately with him, no one would have heard his words, or the despair in them. “Dirge,” she said softly. “Don’t blame yourself. Focus on the parasites, remember?”

“Do as I say, not as I do?”

She smiled. “Nope, nope. That’s not going to work for me.”

He attempted to return her smile, but failed. He shook his head, and started to turn away. He paused, mid-motion, then spun back, and kissed her firmly. “Thank you, Rishka.”

“What does that mean?”

“I’ll tell you when we’re finished. I promise.”

“I look forward to it.”

Gromm rose, and strode for the door near a plain wooden throne at the top of a dais. “I’m going to kill them all. Wait for me, Leigh.”

“Gromm! Wait!”

A roaring crackle, and the half-orc began to dance, screaming, his hand locked on the door. Smoke rose from him as the sickly sweet odor of cooking flesh filled the air. Occasional flashes of his skeletal system could be seen as electricity ripped through him. An arrow thudded into the back of his head, and the screaming mercifully cut off.

Rohir stepped beside Dirge. “We are going to kill them all.”

“Indeed.”

The elf nodded. “Lead the way vampire hunter.”

 

***

Hours later, they were deep in the bowels of the castle. All three of them were covered in black gore from hammering stakes into twenty-three vampire hearts. Rough cut stone, covered with lichen and moisture, showed how far into the earth they had traveled. A faint breeze brought the odor of stagnant water, decayed blood, and corruption to their noses. An iron gate barred them from what they hoped was the final vampire in the place. The master. At Rohir’s insistence, Dirge had checked every few feet for traps.

As they carefully approached, the gate lowered into the floor. The vampire hunter looked at his companions, brow furrowed. They shrugged at him, and he returned the gesture. Jennifer’s eyes widened when Dirge drew his sword from his sheathe. She swallowed when she realized that at the other end of the onyx grip and ruby pommel was a green tinged crystal blade. She handed him Killswitch without hesitation when he held his hand out. “Killswitch, Engage,” he whispered, touching the two together.

The silvery crystal seemed to flow and meld with the green tinged. As the colors joined, a brilliant viridian glow illuminated the tunnel. Dirge pulled the blades apart. Both had taken on the color of the other: a silvery green was the color of each blade. A spark leaped between the two. The short sword at his waist, pointed forward, and the brother held above his head, Dirge turned his body side on, and stepped with care into the newly opened door. Jennifer followed, the daggers at her shoulders in her hands, in a similar stance. The familiar creak of yew assured them Rohir had an arrow drawn.

The room was more of a cavern, roughly shaped. Here and there, stalagmites, and stalactites. Their pretty colors almost distracted from the rest of the décor. Scum covered the surface of a wide, shallow pool of bubbling stagnant water. An iron sarcophagus stood upright next to a blackened altar. An unconscious woman lay bound to the top of it. An ancient stone effigy of a man towered over the scene.

“Longinus.” A throbbing vein in the side of his neck, and the bulge of his forearm muscles were the only sign of the intense hatred Dirge was feeling. He lurched across the water, then stumbled, an arrow growing from his back. He went to his knees as another sprouted from the back of his thigh.

Jennifer whirled at the first twang of Rohir’s bow. He aimed at her. She dropped into a crouch, ready to leap at him.

“Don’t. This is an ironwood bow. My arrows travel at four hundred fifty feet per second.”

She growled at him. The elf smiled, showing his small fangs. “You’re a vampire? How? You were walking around in sunlight!

He sighed. “No. Not a vampire. Yet. I’m a dhampir.”

“What?”

“He’s not a real vampire, but a wanna be.”

Jennifer turned at Dirge’s words. “You’re okay!”

Dirge flashed a smile, but didn’t take his eyes off the elf. She looked back to the man that had been a dear friend.

“How dare you.” Rohir’s upper lip curled. “I’m going to enjoy watching my master devour you. But first, I’m going to watch as he raises the great Longinus. Look!” The elf pointed to the altar.

Dirge didn’t move. Jennifer turned to the altar, alarm on her face. Behind the vampire hunter, a huge shadow rose.

“Dirge, watch out!”

Before she could do anything, the vampire grabbed him, yanked his head to the side, and sank his fangs into the hunter. Almost instantly, the undead monster thrust the human away, gagging and spitting.

Dirge rolled to his feet, blood gushing from the wounds on his neck. He leered at the vampire crouched before them, vomiting steaming, bloody froth. “Avery. Former king of the elves. How are you feeling?”

Glowing red eyes glared back. Shaking hands wiped blood from trembling lips. “I’m going to kill you, fampir helwyr.”

Dirge laughed. “I’m Dirge Silverblood.”

Eyes wide, Avery stumbled backwards. “That’s not possible. We killed you all.”

The smile vanished. His eyes went hard. His large hangs clenched and released. Clenched and released. “Not all of us.”

Jennifer swallowed hard. She looked back and forth between vampire, and vampire hunter, the dhampir forgotten. She edged over to the dropped blades.

A scream erupted from behind them. All whirled to the altar. Rohir raised a knife, and plunged it into the girl’s exposed belly. She cried out in agony, blood spewing from her lips, staining her teeth.

“Noooo!” Jennifer screamed.

Crimson light shot from the gaping wound and hit the moon. It slowly turned scarlet. The red stained moonlight spread across chamber. Jennifer raced to the altar. Rohir jumped in front of her, intending to stop her. He drew his short swords from their scabbards. Without missing a step, she punched the elf in his throat, crushing his windpipe. The dhampir collapsed, gagging, and gasping for air. Frantic, she tore the ceremonial knife from her sister’s belly.

“No, Linden,” Jennifer said brokenly, tears dripping onto her body.

The sound of stone breaking and fragments striking her reminded her of the battle going on. She looked up in time to see Avery stab Dirge through the stomach, hard, spinning the vampire hunter around. Her jaw dropped as he met her gaze and winked. He gripped the hilt of the sword in his middle and slowly pulled it out.

He turned to the vampire, and beckoned for it to continue the fight. He paused, seeming to size up his opponent. Dirge doubled over in pain. His arms out to the sides, his torso began to twist from side to side. Hair began to sprouted over his exposed arms, and flowed down his back as his clothes ripped from his expanding body. His fingers elongated and thick, black talons sprouted from the tips. His body began to elongate, his muscles stretching and growing bigger. His feet extended, and narrowed, the toes, capped with long black claws, ripped out his boots. With sickening pops, his knees snapped and reversed like a dogs.

Longer, heavily muscled arms stretched to either side, shoulder height. His head tilted back, his mouth stretching and lengthening, merging with his nose until a teeth filled muzzle pointed at the cavern ceiling. Growls filled the air, as where a man stood, a werewolf now reared, snarling. The beast roared at the vampire and lunged at him. The vampire hissed, fangs becoming more pronounced. He lunged for the werewolf.

The two ripped and tore at each other. Fur and blood flew as claws sliced through flesh. The werewolf ended up on top of the vampire. Black claws flashed in the dimness as he ripped at his enemy. Left, right, left, right. Blood and gobbets of flesh flew. Avery managed to throw Dirge off him and rolled to his feet.

He had Rohir’s bow and an arrow nocked. As the werewolf came back up, the vampire loosed the arrow. It whistled through the air an plunged into the lycanthrope’s eye with a sickening squish. His head snapped back, and he gave a mournful cry as he sank to his knees.

Avery straightened the rags of his clothing, then discarded the remains of his shirt. He cast aside the bow and stalked towards Jennifer. His wounds closed as he approached. She gently laid her sister’s head to the altar and backed away. The vampire followed her around the platform. The moonlight was nearly to the sarcophagus which started to shake.

Avery licked his lips as he watched Jennifer back away. “You look so tasty.”

“I’m not really. I’d gag you.” She backed though the water, raising a horrible stench.

“You wasted a useful servant. You must pay for that.”

“Would you bill me?”

“Jokes. Is that all you have left?” His voice was filled with contempt. A groaning crash caught his attention. He spun. Dirge lay against the fallen sarcophagus, panting. “What have you done?”

Jennifer lunged for Killswitch and Engage. The vampire turned back. The short sword was waist level, pointed forward at him, the broad sword above her head. Her body was side on. “Sorry, but Dirge was merely the distraction. I did not intend for him to weaken you at all. The fact that he did is merely a bonus.” She gave a death’s head grin. “You’ve always been my goal.”

“Cocky little bird. I like that.” He flew across the room.

She tried to dodge, but was tripped up. She fell to her knees, and saw Rohir had her ankle. The blade flashed, and the elf’s severed head rolled down the steps. Avery pulled her up and peeled the blade from her hands while holding her in the air. As he cast them away, she kicked him in the throat, causing him to loosen his grip. She back flipped through the air. She landed, and her ankle buckled. She fell. Before she could get up, the vampire was there.

He dragged her upright again and pulled her head to the side, exposing her neck. Pain ripped through Jennifer as fire tore at her side, just above her hip. The vampire dropped her, and kicked at something she couldn’t see. The pain caused her to fall again. She placed a shaking hand to her side, and slowly looked down. Ragged teeth marks bled in a semi-circle though her leather jerkin.

Warmth spread up her arm. She glanced down and saw the moonbeam on her forearm. It looked solid. Idly she wondered if she could touch it. She reached, and discovered to her delight that the moon light flowed through her fingers like molasses, only warm. She scooped more into her arms, coming further into the moon’s glow. More warmth flooded her body. Jennifer rolled her head back, and moaned. It was like the light was making love to her. Her eyes closed as she realized the moon sang to her. She stepped fully into the light and felt stronger. She stretched like a cat, luxuriating in the sensations.

Something made her open her eyes. The moon seemed so much bigger and brighter. It called to her. Her blood raced. Her breathing increased as her heart rate went up. She rose up on her tiptoes, reaching for the moon. Her mouth dried. She noticed she could hear the shush and whush of her blood flowing though her veins. Then, she caught scent of corrupt decay. She could taste vileness. Vampire.

Her nostrils flared. Her hand clenched so hard her knuckles popped and her tendons creaked. She tore at the moonlight, suddenly hating it. It clung to her skin. Enraged, she tore at it. Chunks of her skin were torn away, revealing golden fur underneath. There was a pounding in her ears. She gripped her head and screamed. It turned to a howl as the loathsome, yet delightful, moonlight turned her skull to tallow. Her skull flattened, her mouth growing longer, and more pointed as her palate merged with her nose becoming a muzzle. Her teeth grew into fangs. Her muscles stretched painfully, tearing as they filled out and became larger, infused with the moon. Her joints popped and tendons creaked as both grew. Her thighs, bulging, ripped through her leather armor. She ripped at the remains of it with razor sharp claws. Her feet elongated, tearing though her boots. She threw her head back and roared her rage at the moon.

A hiss caught her attention. She whipped her head around. Vampire. Where. There. Kill. A vampire stood on the dais near another wolf. It wore tattered trousers. Blood flowed from its mouth. She tore across the cavern, claws ripping the stone beneath. The vampire met her partway. Its claws ripped into her, enraging her further. She slapped at the vampire, sending it on a short flight which terminated at a stalagmite. The mineral column exploded from the impact. She crossed to the vampire in a bound and slapped it into the cavern wall. It hissed at her again, and picked up glowing things. The sight of them made her angrier. Her heartbeat raced, nearly exploding out of her chest. She roared and leaped to attack again. The glowing things flashed, and burning erupted in her belly. She roared in pain and rage. A clawed hand slapped out and the vampire’s head flew through the air. It hit another wall, and burst into a cloud of dust. The body before her collapsed, and decayed into a pile of dust.

She turned, looking for more to destroy. The sight of a human on the dais made her blood boil. She raced over to rip it apart. The moon slowed her, sending soothing warmth through her body. She walked on all fours to the top of the platform and stalked up to the human laying there, blood flowing from wounds. Its scent was familiar. Father. Mate? Dying. Her long, tubular tongue crept out and lapped at the wooden shaft sticking out of his eye socket. The other eye opened and looked at her. His mouth opened and soothing sounds came out.

“Rishka. I’m sorry for what I’ve condemned you to.”

Soft hands caressed the dying man’s cheek. A familiar warm body her him close to it. He looked down her wonderful nude body. Her scars had faded, replaced by new flesh. His head was cradled in loving arms. Tears fell from his eyes. Clear ones from the right, pink ones from his ruined one.

“You’ve not condemned me to anything. You enabled me to get my revenge.”

He looked up at her, but her lovely featured were blurry. Blackness hovered near the edges of his vision. Her scent, honeysuckle and jasmine filled his nose. He drew it in deep, closing his eye as he did. “Darling, help me to the moonlight? I want to see the moon one more time.”

“Of course, my love.” Tears fell on his face. One touched his lips, leaving a taste of salt and warmth. For some reason, he felt cold. He shivered. “Here you are, Dirge.”

He opened his eye, basking in the warmth of the moonbeam. Dark, course hair slowly sprouted along his bare forearms and rippled across his chest. The fur spread to his belly and slowed. She held him tighter. Don’t cry, Rish-

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Grrr, Grr, and Grrr, again.

I recently finished reading a romance novel. No, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I read pretty much everything. No, I’m not giving you the title, nor am I linking to it. I only do that with stuff I like, and this was not one of them. Holy crap this book was poorly written. Not just with clunky sentence structure, and flat characters, but it was like the author had a checklist of romance novel tropes and ticked off each one. See what I did there? I didn’t even mention whether the author is male or female. Yes, males write romance novels, too. I’m trying my hand at one.

“But, Rob, didn’t you write a post about arrogant writers a couple of days ago? Aren’t you being a hypocrite?”

Yes, I did write said post, and no, I’m not being a hypocrite. Here’s why: This post isn’t really about that book, it’s actually about a particular trope within it. One with ties to the real world. Big ones. I’ll explain. About the mid-point of the story is the obligatory break up scene. I’ll give the author credit: They didn’t go with the fight and break up, nor the misunderstanding and break up. No, it can about a week later. I guess you could call it the fallout break up. Or the post-fight break up. Okay, so maybe it was the fighting break up. Back to the point I was trying to make.

The female lead is having a conversation with the male where she says she just wants to be friends (ouch). Then, she goes on to tell him how wonderful, and amazing this guy is (also “ouch”). At this time, I rage quit reading; I tossed the book across the room, and punched a wall. Why? Because that is the most aggravating, and bullshit thing ever for me*. Every time I read it, or worse, hear it, I want to scream: “If he (or I) is so fucking great, why don’t you want to be with him* (or me)?!”

Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with being “friendzoned”. I have a few female friends that I see as folks who are fun to hang out with. What I do take issue with is the inherent lie in the “you’re a wonderful guy*” speech. Evidently, there is something you find wrong with wanting to be with him* (or me). For Feck’s Sakes, be honest with him* (or me). Tell me where the guy* screwed up. Help him* out so he* doesn’t keep messing up relationships, and going years between them. Especially, if during the “You’re a wonderful guy*” speech, you tell him* you want him* to be happy. If any of that is really true, you’d want him* to improve his* chances, right?

*Note: This rant is from a heterosexual point of view because that’s what I am. I’m not edging anyone out intentionally. The same things are for any and all relationships. If you’re gonna break up with someone, maybe be honest with them? Also, that book makes me want to stay away from them for a while.

I Have A Confession To Make

Disclaimer: The authors I mention below are not among those I’m referring to in the post. All have helped me immensely, and are willing to do the same for other author-wannabes (like me). Two even have a website, and books dedicated to that. Another has a book too.  

 

Not too long ago, I read a couple of lines that made me realize: We writers are a rather arrogant bunch. I did some searching online to double-check, and I discovered, yep, we are. Here’s what I mean: I have read over 1,000 books, blog posts and articles over the last year that says not everyone can write a novel. I’m not going to cite any of them because a few were written by folks I’d like to consider my friends. Almost everyone said that only a select few can write novels, or they’d quote some statistic that says 80% of people think they can write a book, and then say that was bullshit. What we do is so hard. Um, no it isn’t.

Technically speaking, nothing is hard to do unless you don’t put in the time, and energy in learning how to do it. For me, building a space shuttle, a nuclear reactor, calculating pi, or even making bouillabaisse. I don’t know how to do those things. However, I can go learn how to, if I had the drive to. It’s the same thing with writing. Anyone can put words together to form sentences, then paragraphs, and then a manuscript. It’s not that hard.

What separates we writers from Joe, or Jane, Average is our drive to put words to paper, or screen. We have a compunction, or a predilection for doing so.  Hell, you can even say it is our obsession (some of them anyway. I’m pretty damned lazy for the most part). Something within us makes us get to a desk, or table, pull out our notebooks, pads, typewriters, or computers, and start stringing words together to form a story. Sometimes it is great, sometimes it sucks. Great thing is, what is awesome, and what is sucky, are subjective. For example, millions rave over The Twilight Saga, and 50 Shades of Grey. I can’t stand either.

“You’re not the target audience, asshole.”

Fair enough. I also can’t stand Terry Pratchett novels. Or some R.A.Salvatore ones. And you know what? Not one of those four I just mentioned even notice that I haven’t bought their stuff. They have millions of fans.

If you have any interest in some authors I do like, I can rattle off a couple of names (maybe you could go check ’em out, see if you agree with me): R.S.Guthrie, L.T.Kelly, Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi (Anglea & Becca are a writing team. They have separate links because I want to show both pages, and not have both names go to the same place. I’m weird like that. :P), Kevin Rau, Jen Boyce, Fabiola Surya. Jen & Fab don’t have links because their novels are not yet published, and they don’t yet have websites, though Fab does have a blog. Wondering how I can say Jen & Fab are some of my favorite writers? Simple: I get to assist these wonderful ladies in crafting their stories. I’m kinda blessed that way.

Why did I title this blog “I Have A Confession To Make”? I was one of those arrogant writers I mentioned. I am no longer. Now, if someone says to me, “I want to be a writer,” or “I can write a novel,” my response will be, “Go for it. I’ll be cheering you on. If there’s any way I can assist, let me know. I’ll be glad to.”

Wanna check out some of the above author’s works? Here’s a series of links to their stuff on Amazon:

Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi –  The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, The Negative Trait Thesaurus

R.S.Guthrie – Black Beast, Ink, Blood Land (This one is Free)

Kevin Rau – H.E.R.O: Metamorphosis, H.E.R.O: New Markets, Necromancer’s Ascent

L.T.Kelly – Falling to Pieces (her debut novel. The second is in the works).

Why not show some love to these wonderful authors? Tell them R.w.Foster sent you.

Rob Meet Robby III

Dearest Baby Girl.
Seriously? That’s how you’re going to start?
 
What do you mean? I always call her Baby Girl.
And that’s the problem. She’s used to it, lunkhead. Use your imagination to wow her.
 
Keeper of My Heart.
 
What the fuck are you smoking, man? That’s not how you romance a woman!
 
But she does hold my heart.
Yeah, but “Keeper of My Heart” sounds wrong. Creepy even. Try again.
 
My Darling Rishka.
 
Better, but don’t you call her that pretty often?
 
Yes. So?
So, stretch a little further. Ooh! I know! Go with Gaelic. She loves Ireland, right?
 
Love it? She hasn’t said so. She just wants to visit.
The Land of Unicorns? Trust me: She loves the place.
 
Grádhág
 
What’s that?
 
Gaelic for “Beloved.”
I think she’ll like that.  What’s next?
 
I want to tell her what she means to me.
Good plan. Go for it.
 
Grádhág,
     There is a woman who makes my heart go pit-a-pat.
Hold it!
 
What?
You did that one before. Snakry pointed it out, too. Also, don’t use, “Little did I know that back in the summer there would be a day that would change my life forever.” Two reasons: you did it before, and it’s summer now. We’ll rule out, “There is a lady who makes my heart sing.” as well. Did that one, too.
 
Alright. Let’s try this:
Grádhág,
 
I love so much about you. I love the way you laugh. I love the way you make me feel giddy inside with just your smile.  I am so in love with you that not a minute goes by without the thought of you passing through my mind. While I know it’s not possible, I long to spend all of my time in your arms.

You have turned me into myself by helping me discover who I truly am inside, which is something that no one before you has done. I’ve always felt changed with others and with you I am me. You have allowed me to open my heart, without fear, hurt, or anguish. You have allowed me to trust again, both in love and in life. You have allowed me to smile and be happy. You have allowed me to laugh and enjoy the simple moments. And for these reasons, I love you. I will forever cherish our moments and memories and look forward to the many more than will come out way.

 
I Love You.

It may sound like a simple I Love You, but it’s so much more than that.

I love every little thing about you —

I love your sexy smile. I love your gorgeous hazel eyes that melt my soul. When I look into them, I see magic, comfort, and love. I love your gentle touch and the warmth I feel in your arms. I love thinking about you and dreaming about you. I love discovering ourselves together. I love the intimacy with you and letting go with you. I love each and every moment and memory we share, for they are all once-in-a-lifetime moments.

I Love You.

Today, tomorrow, and forever, Le mo ghrása mise agus liomsa mo ghrá (I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine).
Love forever, and always yours,
-Rob

 

I Found A Cool New Book On Sale

It’s called Bella Notte and it’s the first book in the Bella Vampires Series. You can buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kubo from now until the 11th of this month at $.99. That’s down 94%.

BellaNotte Cover

Vampires? Check. Werewolves? Check. Death prophecy to hang over your head? Double check. Seventeen year old Emma Hutchinson struggles to find her place in the world she has been born to as she tries to decide whether she should be with Michael, the boy she has been dreaming about since she was three or if she belongs with Dominic, her betrothed.

To whet your appetite for this awesome title, here’s an excerpt:

The sky was growing dark crimson over the clearing in the forest behind our house as I drifted across the glen toward the edge of the trees. I walked as if I knew exactly what it was I was looking for, and where I was going to find it as well.

A small crackling noise caused me to stop halfway across the field. I turned to look in the direction the sound came from- that’s when I saw him.

Those dark green eyes and his dark auburn spikes were so familiar after seeing them for the past fourteen years, that it was always a relief to see him.

He walked towards me, and stopped at my side. The dry winter grass beneath our feet was barely audible as we took a step forward, lacing our fingers together.

The sky was no longer crimson, but had transformed into a deep indigo and a slight breeze had picked up. The hairs on my arms rose as the chill in the air assaulted my body. I moved closer to him out of instinct. His body temperature seemed to be so much higher than mine that just being near him kept me warm, strangely from the inside out. The moon had risen. The color was a frightening shade of blood red and the wind strewn clouds blew across the face of the cratered orb. He held suddenly, very still, as the breeze brought scents from across the clearing. With his eyes closed, he breathed in deeply. Those dark emeralds popped back into view and carried the fear that the grimace on his face displayed.

That’s when we heard it- the howl. The sound was terrifying, like a large wolf. Somehow, inside, I knew it wasn’t a wolf, at least not in the conventional sense, and that scared me more than anything. My body froze and my mind blanked with fear. I watched his grimace change to a visible snarl and those beautiful green eyes flash a dangerous shade of ruby. The next thing I knew, he was pushing me out of the field and into the cover of the trees.

I wanted to plead to him, but no words would form with my dry tongue sticking to every ridge in my mouth.

He grabbed hold of me and whispered “run” very softly into my ear- then he was gone. It took me a minute to get over the shock, but then my feet moved as quickly as possible.

I could not escape the sound of his scream as the forest closed its arms around me.

I knew it was a dream, not any dream but the dream. The dream I’ve had since I was a little girl. Every scene was memorized from beginning to end, and I again knew the sting of the silent tears that cascaded down my hot, flushed cheeks.

About the Author:AuthorPicKimmelFreeman

Jesse now lives in a small town in the middle of nowhere. She moved from the chaos of Los Angeles. Yes, she misses it. It is not uncommon for her to be asked why she moved from such a busy place to the one horse town- the answer is simply to allow her kids to grow up closer to their grandparents.

Jesse has studied anthropology and used her “education” as an excuse to hang out with vampires- her masters’ thesis was going to be modern vampire culture. They really do exist. Vampires have been her obsession since she was about five years old when she swears she was bitten by one.

She enjoys reading and writing. But most importantly being a crazy mom to her son, new daughter, and ever growing pet family. Singing silly songs at the top of her lungs and embarrassing her son is one of her favorite activities. She considers herself to be an odd duck.

Check out her wonderful website: http://www.jessekimmelfreeman.com

First Time Blog Hosting

atkinsons admin largeToday is my first time as part of a blog host for Faebooks. The owner is doing a favor for a friend of hers in asking some fellow bloggers to mention his book. It’s free for the next few days on Amazon US & UK. I’ll get myself a copy and give it a read. Maybe you guys will too. The links are after the blurbs.

Book Info:
Title: Atkinson’s Administration (Book 1 in series)
Author: John Paul Bernet (aka JP Bernett)
Page count: 214
Published: March 7th 2012
Blurb:
The reaper has walked among us ever since time began. Our meaning of  time is different; three score years and ten give or take the over or  under run of sand in the reapers time piece. That is what the ancient  philosophers would have us believe.
But now the bells are chiming us  into the 21st century and there is a problem. The real reaper system has had a spanner thrown into its works; the repercussions of this could  and will end the world as we know it. Can mortals battle with ancient  Gods or is this the apocalypse that revelations predicted.

“Have  you ever wondered what that feeling is when you are falling in your  sleep and you wake just before you hit the ground? Well, that is me  twanging the cord that one day I will cut in my realm and you will die  in yours”.
Atkinson

Author Link:
Coordinator:
Fae Books
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Show, Don’t Tell Lesson Pt I

81ImYB6fptL__SL1500_Yesterday, I posted an excerpt from R.S.Guthrie’s book Ink. The section I chose was about Showing the reader the events of the story, rather han telling them what happened. When you show the events, it serves to draw your reader further into your story. Conversely, when you tell, you pull them out. I think I learned the lesson (am probably wrong), and I’m going to use a scene from my Work In Progress Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I to illustrate. I’ll post the section, then tomorrow, I’ll break down what I was trying to show. It’s up to you to decide whether I showed you, or if I told you. Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

I stole along the hallway that lead to my former cell as I had when I escaped. I still didn’t know why it had been switched from the one closer to the arena, but didn’t really care either. Cool air from an unseen opening to the outside blew gently across my face. I soon found myself at the intersection from my previous journey through here. I wondered if I should continue forward towards the source of the breeze, or to my left and into the darkness. After several moments of indecisiveness, I resorted to eenie-meenie-miney-moe. I went left, into the darkness, with some trepidation. I had no idea what was down here. I was bothered by the fact that I hadn’t heard anything since I left Weijia on the elevator, and the dark silence was kind of spooky the way it seemed to lay heavily on me. As I walked, the air seemed to grow thicker, heavier and more ominous. Oddly enough, even though there was no light in the hallway, it appeared to get gradually darker. Just ahead of me, I heard a little boy giggle suddenly. I froze, the hairs on my body all standing at attention, goose bumps running over my body. The sound stopped with no echoes. I drew the sword I had gotten from a clan Silverhame smith. I was glad to have its weight in my hand.

I resumed walking, and then I heard footsteps behind me. I whirled around, bringing the longsword up in a defensive posture. When I halted, the footsteps also stopped. I held my breath, straining my ears for any sounds, but there were none. I reluctantly began to walk again, but this time I heard nothing except my own heartbeat which had ramped up remarkably. The silence didn’t remain for long, however. Just ahead of me, I heard a baby begin to cry. I began to hurry, the fear in that young voice spurring my steps. The crying baby changed to a young girl shrieking, then a young woman screaming, then an old woman choking, then stopped. I admit, my nerves were now completely shot. I stumbled to a halt again, and simply leaned against a stone wall, trembling like I had a cold.

After I had caught my breath again, and regained my composure, I pushed against the wall, intending to go upright. Instead, I felt the hardness of the stone give way to the soft yielding of flesh. At the same time, I felt a long, wet tongue slide up the side of my face. I screamed in revulsion and disgust and thrust my sword at who, or whatever had just licked me. The only resistance my sword felt was went it impacted the far wall of the hallway. Malevolent laughter echoed through the darkness.

A sinister voice whispered near my right ear, “If you do not study…”

Then, it moved to just in front of me and thundered,

“YOU! SHALL NOT!! PAAASSSSS!!!!”

As the booming of the abrupt shout died away, I started laughing aloud.

“Really?” I said, wiping tears of mirth from my eyes. “Are you really misquoting Lord of the Rings at me?!”

There was no response. Still chuckling a bit, I resumed walking. I gradually became aware that I could faintly see the stone walls and floor of the hallway again. I walked further, and the light grew only a little brighter. I soon realized it was due to a mist that somehow hung in the air. After another five minutes of travel, it was like I was in an ethereal realm. I moved to touch the wall on my right hand so I wouldn’t get turned around, and my hand met nothing. I stumbled forward into the mist and landed on my stomach, knocking the wind from myself.

I took a couple of minutes to recover, not fully noticing the moisture that was sinking into my clothing. I finally stood, and when my clothing clung to me, swore. ‘Just what I fucking need: my clothes to be wet,’ I thought. I trudged across the sodden, muddy ground, grimacing with disgust with each step. I really hated the feel of wet deerskin against my flesh. Thunder rumbled off to my right, causing me to wonder if I had wandered outside somehow. A warm rain began to fall on me. Finding it infinitely better than the cold dampness that had already surrounded me, I paused to enjoy it. I tilted my head back to better enjoy the feel of the rain. I soon caught whiff of a familiar, coppery scent. I opened my eyes. Sure enough, blood was falling from the sky like rain. I heaved a sigh and trudged onwards. Ten feet later, I tripped over a stone block. I rolled onto my back, clutching my injured shin and swearing like a sailor.

Something made me roll rapidly to my right. The world imploded around me. I smelled ozone an instant before a shockwave sent me rolling further away. When the world ceased spinning, I sat up and opened my eyes. The mist cleared enough for me to see a blackened crater where I had been laying just moments before. ‘Okay, somebody doesn’t want me to continue. I must be going the right way,’ I thought. Curiosity had me check out the stone I tripped over earlier. I picked up my dropped sword as I approached it.

The stone looked to be ordinary granite. It was largely white with striations of grey and black. It was also polished to a high sheen. From the angle I approached it from, I couldn’t make anything else out. I walked around and froze, my heart in my throat. Claws had gouged out a name and two dates.

CARTER MARCUS BLAKE

10/9/20XX – 5/6/20XX

I must admit: seeing that freaked me out. For one, I never use my middle name. I can’t stand it. For another, I had an inkling that the second date was today. I heard a sliding step as if someone was attempting to sneak up on me. I whirled, sword up in a ready defensive position. There was no one there. I cautiously made my way passed the stone with my name on it and began to move faster, something telling me that time was running out.

A large dark shape plummeted to the ground in front of me. I leaped backward instinctively. Lightning flashed rapidly, illuminating the newcomer in staccato bursts. It was one of the largest demons I had ever seen. It was crouched in front of me, black wings furled over its massive muscled back. It had four long, thick arms, the lower two of which were planted on the ground and two hugely muscled legs, coiled and ready to launch it into action. It had long and sharp looking horns sticking out of its skull-like head. An elongated, heavy tail swished back and forth like a cat’s. It watched me with glowing silvery orange eyes, licking its face occasionally. Its wings unfurled and began to lazily flap, stirring up a surprisingly pleasant breeze. The wings were black near the demon’s shoulders and gradually faded to red near the primary feathers. There was a stripe of yellow at delineating the covert feathers. Keeping its eyes on me, the demon slowly raised one of its arms from the ground, carefully moved it forward, and then lowered it. This movement was followed promptly by a matching step forward by its opposite leg. ‘This thing is stalking me,’ I thought with wonder.

Trying to show that I wouldn’t be intimidated, I twirled my sword before me, then snapped it down to my right. Outwardly, I was bold, ready to fight. Inwardly, I was nervous and scared as hell. The demon lowered its body, ready to pounce. I dropped my right foot behind me, turning to that I would present a smaller target and so that I could put more power behind my first swing. I brought my sword up into my left hand and gripped it lightly, yet firmly. The demon took another slow step forward, this time moving the opposite arm and leg from last time.

The demon launched into its attack. My swinging sword was tore from my grasp. Sword flew in one direction, I in another. I rolled a few feet, and lunged upright. The demon was on me in an instant, ripping and clawing at my flesh. I frantically threw up my forearms and knees to block its unrelenting assault. After four frantic minutes, I saw an opening and took ruthless advantage. It swung both of its right arms at my head. I ducked under the upper fist, blocked the lower one with my forearms and launched my right knee up into its jaw, staggering the monster. It roared in frustration and swung both its left arms. I landed in a crouch. When both left fists whistled through the air over my head, I slammed my left elbow into its right knee. The demon’s knee buckled as it bellowed in pain. It crashed to the ground.  I rose to my feet and raced for my sword.

I reached it, and took it gladly into my hands once more. I turned to the demon, ready to resume the battle on more equal terms. Moving faster that I thought possible, the demon charged. When it reached me, I found myself lifted in the air. The demon had each of my limbs in one of its colossal hands. It roared in my face and then flung me. I flew on a short, hard trajectory and crashed into a wall. My skull bounced against it, sending sparkles of light shooting across my sight. The impact knocked the wind from me and caused my vision to go blurry. My ears rang, and I felt nauseous. I wasn’t sure of where I was, or what had happened to me. I slowly pushed myself upright and saw two four-armed demons charging at me. I tried to get to my feet, but couldn’t seem to get my limbs to work together. The demon yanked me up and slammed me against the wall again. It began to batter me with its free fists. My body twitched and swung from the thud of its fists. It was interesting: I was able to feel the impacts, but I felt no pain.

The demon flung me away from it again. My flight was once more short, and remarkably, pleasant. The landing, a lot less so. Fortunately, the jarring landing served to clear the cobwebs from my mind. I rolled to my feet just as the demon landed hard where I had just been lying. Instinct had me rocketing my fist up to explode against its jaw as I shoved my feet against the ground to provide extra force. The demon’s head snapped back, and it crashed to the ground. Pain raced up from my damaged hand, grabbed a dance partner in my shoulder and did the tango in my skull to the tune of a throbbing headache. I tasted copper in my mouth and spat to one side. Blood and a tooth hit the ground.

“You bastard,” I said.

I looked at the demon which was just getting to its hands and knees. I ran up and punted the demon in its head as if I were trying to kick the winning fifty yard field goal at the Super Bowl with the entire New England Patriots defensive line attempting to stop me. The arch of my foot caught it on its jaw. My knee caught the side of its horn. The demon collapsed, semi-conscious. I collapsed, clutching my knee. I rolled around for a couple of minutes until the demon let out a gasping snore, reminding me of its presence. I got up, hobbled over to where I last saw my sword and picked it up, swearing under my breath. I balanced on my non-bruised leg and kicked the other one out a few times, trying to work the pain out. I gingerly set my foot back down and tested my weight on it. When it held up, I turned and limped back to where the demon was just beginning to stir.

‘Hey, I’m Dr. Gregory House,’ I thought randomly. The demon had pushed itself back up to it hands and knees once more. I poised near its shoulders, my sword held tightly in my hands. I held it above its neck and paused, waiting for it to come further up. As it did, I brought the sharp blade down with all my might. A scream of fury issued from my lungs as the longsword impacted, then sliced though, the demons thick neck. Crimson blood shot up from the stump like a geyser. It slashed against me, hot and delicious. I stood over the demon corpse, savoring my victory. My chest heaved as I thrust my bloody sword in the air and bellowed my triumph to the sky.

Tomorrow, I’ll break it down for you.