fantasy, On-going Stories, Short Story, World Weavers

Deviant

Chapter: Innocent Fox

The hunt is on. I leap from tree to tree as my first prey scampers unawares in the foliage.

The scent of her is divine.

Father would approve. He has collected thousands of souls and I will exceed him. I must. Just like Lucius.

My first kill will be my emblem.

A worthy creature, she is a beautiful, lonely and dangerous creature.

My Father has given me only a hundred souls while my brothers reek of so much more.

Just because I am a woman meant for procreation and multiplication. Denied the thrill of the hunt but served with the cold carcass from the hunts leftovers.

Never again.

I descend slowly from branch to branch. The fox is distracted with something underneath the foliage. It smells of earth and decay. I jump across and land upon the branch above her.

She perks up and looks around, listening. I keep my body still, stop my breathing and slow my heart.

The trees rustle and in the distance, the wind howls as it goes up the mountain.

The fox senses nothing and continues digging. I take my chance and lunge. She sees me too late. My canines pierce through her skin. She howls in pain. I taste her life entering me. She struggles valiantly but I dig my canines deeper and tear her muscles.

Yes!

Thrill bolts through my blood, the fox’s life force flowing fast through me. I’m a soul eater. A nightmare to humans and all living things.

At the corner of my eyes, I see what she was digging for. It’s a body of another fox mouldy and decaying.

I panic and withdraw immediately; apprehensive I’d poisoned myself.

The fox could be diseased. She had smelled healthy. No scent of death perhaps it was an old mate killed by the cold and hunger.

The fox bares her teeth at me. I sit back astounded. She is alive. She should be limp and dying. Only a physical shell.

At that moment I could not help but admire her. Her fierceness. The fox is a perfect mark.

Lost in a daze I did not hear the arrival of my Father until too late.

I’m lifted into the air and thrown towards the trees. Destroying them as I slam from one tree bark to another bringing them down and sending the animals into a scurry.

“You foolish child. You have no idea what you have done!” My Father roars.

He picks me up by my hair and slams me against the ground like an angry child with a broken toy.

“Father, we should at least keep Cateline alive to rectify her mistake.” Says my brother Lucius smugly, his lips curling into a half grin.

I, feeling barely in pieces look up. Blood oozing down my face blocking my vision.

Strands of my hair clumps together with the blood on my head but I could already feel the ripped skin healing instantly.

My father looks down at me disdainfully; the wrinkles on his face deepening as he scowls down at me.

“ A disgrace to our kind.”

He shoves me to the ground and my head slams hard against it knocking me out.

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I wake up to a presence beside me.

“You should have stayed in your room and kept your fantasies in your head.”

I groan as I feel all the aches of newly grown muscles and the ghost remnants of the pain.

“Be forced to bear children like a pig? Is that how you want me to be like Lucius?”

“You got yourself into this trouble by doing something you have no understanding of.”

“I freed myself and claimed my first kill. Just like you and our brothers did once.”

I stand to stretch my aching muscles slamming my head against a branch. I had not realised we were still in the forest. My body was still healing and my energy diluted. My senses were weakened.

I would have thought I’d be locked up in my room by now with the cage spells placed around my doors and windows.

“Have I been exiled, Lucius?” I knew the answer but I wanted to hear what my loving father has asked of me now.

“Yes and no little sister. Here have a drink.” He hands me his personal flask with the engraving of his name. It was a gift from our mother, who I killed at birth.

Lucius was fathers favourite and the third oldest. He was a mighty warrior and well loved by our people for his ruthlessness. However, I knew Lucius well, under all that cold marble like exterior he was soft.

He sets the young animals free from the traps. Heals them and drops them in the forest.

If he killed, he killed with finesse.

At precise points and punctures that killed the target instantly or painlessly. They see it as expert precision but Lucius sees it as mercy.

“I’m fine. What is my punishment now?”

He remains quiet, still with the flask held out to me.

I take the flask from his hand and drink.

“Well?” I gurgle impatiently.

“Kill the fox. Without trying to eat her soul. That is only for sacred hunts. What you did today is blasphemy. You have given what is not yours to give.”

Give?

“What are you speaking of, I consumed that Fox’s soul. She is mine.” I throw his flask back to him hard. He catches it easily with ease.

“That is the difference between a male and female soul eater. Men take while the women give. Father did not give you a hundred souls to spite you. He gave it as your dowry. What you have is a gift.”

Fire blazes through my blood. My skin begins to blister and flames soon erupt on the tips of my fingers.

“A gift? I must lay on a bed willingly with a man who will only want me for the souls inside of me? How flattering brother, It is no wonder you have yet to find a mate yourself.”

“You will see it your way no matter how I explain it you Cateline. Just know the fox you bit this morning is wandering this forest with a wounded leg. An easy target for any lone soul eater, hunter or ghoul.”

I clench my fist in frustration. He was not wrong.

“So I must kill her and ease her pain. Is that the best solution?”

“You will understand when you find her and it better be you who finds her first for she will be weak and innocent of this world.”

“What?” I grab my brother and look into his eyes. There is genuine worry wrinkling his forehead looking more and more like our father. A kinder variation.

“Go, find her scent again and do what you must or you will never be welcome at home again.”

He cups my face and in a blink he’s gone, his scent a mile away. He was getting faster each day soon reaching his prime. He could fight to claim father’s rule one day.

Perhaps being a lone soul eater could not hurt. It would save him from my troubles.

Although I am curious, he spoke as if the fox had evolved into something else.

We were a clan amongst many of soul eaters with the ability to harbour specific elements since birth.

I had the element fire burning inside me, always roiling and eager to rise up and burn.

It has taken me years to master it without fully going ablaze. While on the other hand, Lucius had the steady earth element and father as clan leader; the only exception had control of all elements.

One could become the leader through battle or through divine intervention. This is when a soul eater is given the gift of all the elements by the will of the gods not creature. This has not happened for centuries.

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I shut off my other senses but olfaction. I could sniff a living being from miles away. It was a lesson we all had to harness.

I could smell the cold wet earth under my feet, the stench of defecation by a ghoul a mile away and her. Her scent was different, more familiar and huskier but she was not alone.

A hunter has discovered her hiding under a tree an acre away. I bound towards her instantly. In a few breaths, I have the hunter slammed against the ground my hand an inch deep in his chest.

“Disgusting creature only able to hunt what is weak.” I lick the blood leaking out of his chest. His heart is fighting against my hand ready to take flight.

“I thought she was dead!” he begs. I take a glance towards the scent of the fox but I don’t see it. I see a woman lying nearby but she looks dead.

I feel a sudden sharp pain in my chest. The idiot had stabbed me with his metallic jewellery.

I take a deep breath and press down harder on his chest. He screams in agony.

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His skin starts to melt off turning into liquid sinking into the earth. His bones start to crack as I rise. Turning into black dust and blown away with the wind.

Nothing is left behind but a mark, a swirl of a fox’s tail blazing; like it was drawn with fire. My mark! I have a mark but what does that mean if I am not meant to be a huntress?

A moan escapes from the woman. I go to her to find she is naked on top of a large fox fur blanket.

Uncomfortable I avoid looking too closely. “Are you alright human lady?”

“You bit me, creature. Now I have become a monster and dying.”

“You’re a naked human on a fur blanket. I think a powerful man has left you for dead. He was kind enough to let you die in fox fur.”

“That is not a blanket, that is my tail!” growls the woman fighting some kind of pain. Her body shakes but she finally sits up and looks at me. It was then I see her eyes. She was the fox.

Is this what my brother meant? I had shifted a fox into a human shifter?

“I’m sorry, I had no idea. Let me heal you, I just need to touch-“ The human fox bites my hand while transforming into a fox. She was no longer an average size red fox but much larger and slimmer and she had more than just one tail. She had nine.

I had instinctively turned off my senses when she bit me. Dumbstruck by her transformation I had forgotten my hand.

It was just bone, with barely any flesh hanging on. The human fox moves back ready to pounce but she too becomes astounded and starts to whimper as my hand slowly regrows.

The human fox faints.

Due to my hands healing or because of her death minutes away. I don’t know.

“Stubborn aren’t you.” I lift her up using the last few bursts of my energy.

“Well, so am I.”

I streak into a nearby cave. A secret haunt I go to when my father and brothers go far for a hunt.

I lay her on an old worn mattress covered with blankets.

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I light a candle with my fingers and sense that my energy is depleting so I light only a few more and return to the human fox.

Her wound from my bite was deep. From her waist and down her left leg. I had bitten deep and moved away to fast slashing her.

I could have healed her instantly but I had used too much of my energy to burn the hunter down to embers.

I had barely any energy left.

I lick my forefinger and trail the cut from her leg to her waist. I could have used my blood but that would have been messy.

As long as any part of me willingly touched her or anyone that needed healing; my Essence was capable of healing anything it comes in contact with. That was why we were hunted.

The world grows foggy and I too fall exhausted beside her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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fantasy, On-going Stories, Short Story, World Weavers

The Rainbow Tree

Long ago there was a village in the deepest heart of a forest. Villagers lived in wooden homes shaped like cubes rising from the earth to the inner sanctum of the treetops. They painted their houses in bright oranges and pinks, or any bright colour they could create. They did not camouflage themselves with the forest but stood out like a splash of rainbow paint against a sea of green.

There was one little boy that did not like his village. He would slip away into the forest whenever he could.

He liked to visit a particular group of trees, untouched by paint, ordinary and simple. Browns and greens a comfort from the wildness of his community.

One day while sitting at the roots of a large tree the boy heard noises deeper in the forest. It sounded like a massive fire. He looked up at the sky but saw no smoke but the same vibrant red and blue hue of the clouds.

The boy worried it may spread to his village, followed the sound and found himself soon in a clearing.

An old man covered in multiple strips of cloth in different colours was dancing and chanting.

In his hand, he held a bright green crystal stone held above his head.  Lightening cracked out of it, and wherever the lightning hit, bursts of colours began to spread.

The boy panicked, “Stop stop stop! You are destroying the trees!” the boy yelled.

The old man stopped and looked at the boy with his beady eyes.

“Destroying? What do you mean you silly boy?” he asked.

Anger flared in the boy. He could feel it boiling to the tips of his ears. His fist clenched he marched up to the old man who was no taller than him.

“I like the trees to remain brown and green. If you like colours go visit my village!” He growled.

The old man laughed and gave the boy his magic stone. “Here, why don’t you try, you might like it.”

The little boy was surprised, he took the stone but was unsure what to do with it; he looked up into the sky and saw the same clouds passing by.

“I wish there were no colours in the sky.” He murmured.

The old man quickly snatched the stone from the boy’s hands, but it was too late.

The clouds in the sky grew white and dull, the colours trickling down into the corners of the world, disappearing like paint down a river.

“Now the sky will be forever white and dull.” The old man stated sadly.

The boy fell to the ground and cried, “Please don’t hurt my family. I didn’t know that was going to happen!” He sobbed, but the old man shook his head.

“I can return the colours in the sky but they can only appear in the morning, and just before night, once something is removed with colour and life, it takes more than a wish to fix it again. Great magic comes with a mighty price and yours was a big demand.”

The boy lost in his tears did not see the old man leave, when he realized how quiet it became he looked around and found no old man but the green stone.

The boy suddenly grew excited and mischievous, jumping up and down and shouting into the woods that he had the stone. Maybe he could make a few small changes at his village he thought.

He ran home and hid in his parent’s house and looked out the window. The streets of his village were below, and it ran with rivers of colourful sand. In the trees, the homes were decorated with bright flowers in every shade.

At the sight of it all he groaned, but he had a way to fix it.

“I wish for the paint on the houses to disappear.” He wished.

In an instant, every house in the village suddenly became grey. Shouts rang from every tree and the boy laughed crouching under the window.

His mother appears worried that something had happened to him, but he shook his head.

“I am ok. The colours are gone. I like it, don’t you mother?” He asked.

The mother shook her head, “My boy, you must understand that the colours are more than just colours. It is the sign of life that flows through our village.”

However, the boy was not listening and was scrutinizing the stone he held ignoring her. He was lost in his head full of naughty ideas.

The mother sighed, “Come, my boy, you will help repaint our house, perhaps with some work you will see.”

The boy helped repaint, but as soon as he got back by the window, he giggled and made a similar wish to remove the colours. Everyone including his parents repainted their homes again.

Stubborn and mischievous, the boy made his final wish.

“I wish for all the colours in the village to disappear!” and in an instant, a strong wind gushed through the village blowing all the colours away turning into to dust. People screamed, and children began to cry.

The boy did not understand why anyone would scream; they would paint it all over again anyway. He looked out the window and noticed splotches of darkness scattered all over the village.

In the trees, on the ground, shadows began to form, blacker than black. They came up from under the trees and in the corners of homes. They were swirling up into elongated figures, but instead of hands and feet, they had claws. They had no faces but a swirling vortex of grey. They were sucking the colours from a villagers skin. His people began running for their lives into the forest. Screams tortured the air, and the sky darkened as a rumbling sound echoed through the village.

The boy quickly sunk back into his house under his window and held the stone.

“I wish for the colours to come back!” He screamed repeatedly but the boy knew it would not work.

He quickly ran out of his house heading for the forest calling for the old man.

It was as he was running that he could feel the shadow creatures coming after him in the forest. They must have heard him or finished all his people.

He had nowhere to go; he didn’t know where he was running. He could feel his lungs burning in his chest, but it felt like it was his heart was going to explode.

The creatures ravaged the trees as they moved towards the boy, killing people or anything in their way and sucking out all colours with greed.

The little boy soon lost the monsters, but he had gone too far into the forest.

He then heard a familiar crackling sound, and soon enough he found the old man.

The little boy rushed to the old man and pulled at his bright garments. He threw the green stone at the old man’s feet. He had never been so happy to see colours as he did at that moment.

He begged the old man to help him, recounting what happened.

The old man’s face reddened, brighter than the red in his robes.

“You silly blinded fool, you had the stone of wishes!”

The boy suddenly felt foolish. He could save his people!

“So I can wish away those creatures chasing me away?” he asked the old man. “Or turn back time?” he continued as he took the stone out of his pockets.

The old man looked into the distance and shook his head. He sighed.

“It is too late. The creatures you have seen now have the Akamari from your people and the forest. When they consume such energies, they become of this world.”

The boy felt his heart turn cold with dread.

The boy screamed in a fury, “You shouldn’t have given me the stone, now you have killed my people!”

The old man stood up suddenly and began to walk away.

“Where are you going?! You must help me!” the boy shouted.

The old man turned and squinted at the boy. There was a wicked glint in his eyes.

“You should have been careful with the magic of the stone. It has killed kingdoms across Elodare.” He growled, “but since I am kind, I ask you this, would you do anything, sacrifice anything for your people’s safety?” The old man asked.

“Like what?” The boy asked suspiciously.

“It can be anything boy, your soul, your body, anything! Would you be able to let it go to save your people?” the old man asked again.

He walked back to the boy, moving so close they were nose to nose. The boy could smell the old man’s foul breath.

“Well?” the old man whispered treacherously.

The boy knew what he had to do, but he didn’t want to do it. It wasn’t his fault. Now that he truly looked at the old man, he seemed to feel like he was part of the darkness he had seen.

The boy sighed; all he had wanted was some peace from the colours.

“You made me do this you disgusting, evil old man. Why?” he sobbed dejectedly.

The old man shrugged and walked away, playing with the stone in his hand.

He turned and leered at the boy with his mad eyes glinting.

“Time will tell boy, so? I need your answer.” He says.

The boy sighs in defeat, knowing what he had to do, “I would do anything.” He answered, and it was true he could feel it in his heart. He loved his mother, his father and the people of his village. It was his home.

It was also the right thing to do. He had stolen the colours and played with magic that was surely forbidden. The evil shadow creatures had to be stopped. If he had to lose a limb, a nose or an ear he would do it.

The old man smiled, “Not so silly a boy then eh?”

The old man suddenly opened an invisible door.

The boy looked panicked, “You said you would help my people, where are you going?”

The old man shrugged, “It is done. Go home boy.”

“How do I know you’re not just going to leave me here to the monsters?”

The old man shrugged, “You don’t.” Then the old man was gone.

The boy listened and heard no sound, not a single scream. His people could all be dead, but he had hope. He ran to his people.

He passed by his group of favourite trees and noticed they had turned entirely grey. The shadow creatures had stolen their life.

As he reached his village, everything seemed normal. The colourful houses were back, the vibrant array of sand on the streets and his people with paint all over their faces.

It was like nothing had happened. Only his favourite group of trees remained as a reminder of his horrid deeds.

He went home and spent time with his family, for the first time happy to see colours everywhere, even in his food.

He slept that night with a smile on his face and planned to visit his trees and for the first time, to paint them with some colours.

The next morning, the boy woke up to the everyday sounds of the other children playing downstairs on the streets. He could hear the voice of his mother singing in the kitchen and his father building something outside by the tree bridges.

He opened his eyes and screamed his lungs out in panic. All he could see was darkness and a mirage of colours shifting whichever way he turned.

He could no longer see.

He felt around him and sensed everything was there. He was not dreaming.

It then dawned on him; the deal he made with the old man. The old man had taken his eyes.

The boy cried curled up in his bed. While in the forest, his group of favourite trees was noticeably different.

They had every colour the boy had ever seen snaking across its bark and branches in thin like threads. The leaves of the trees were in different colours too. The oddest of all was at the middle each tree’s bark; there was a black swirl that looked like an eye.

Photo by Lily Adamczyk’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

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