Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Awakening, part 9

My mouth begins to water when I see the fish cooking on a grill. If the smell is any indication then the Elf can make great food.

Maybe I should ask for his name? Referring to him as “the Elf” all the time is weird, even if I’m doing it only in my head. And probably impolite, too.

I try to ignore the fear and unease he makes me feel and sit on the ground opposite him. Some of the fish is already done and he hands me one of them. When he sees me hesitating he says “It’s not poisoned. If I wanted you dead you wouldn’t be sitting here. Eat.” I take the fish, putting the knife down, and keep an iron grip on my self-control, afraid the inner voice might want to say something again. I’m beginning to think it hates Elfs.

“Thanks.” I try to eat slowly, despite my enormous hunger.  Oh, this fish is even better than I imagined. I gather my courage and ask for his name between bites. As I look at him, our gazes meet. In the light of the day his piercing light blue eyes seem almost… magical. It’s like he can see right into my soul. And with his golden locks he might as well have stepped out of a fairytale. Then I remember that I’m probably crazy and I really don’t want anyone seeing that about me. I quickly avert my eyes.

There is a long pause before he answers. “Caleb.” I can still feel his eyes on me and my nervousness escalates. Why is he staring at me?

“So… Caleb. I apologize for coming here and staying in your house without permission. And, um, also for borrowing your clothes.” I look down on the tunic and pants that are both too big for me.

“I can see that.” His gaze is not wavering.

“I, ah, don’t have any money with me, but I will repay you before I leave. Somehow. Maybe I could help with some work or chores that need to be done?”

That finally got his attention off me. He looks around before asking “Does it look like I’m falling behind with anything?” I follow his gaze. Everything around us is nearly perfect. The house appears to be in great condition, and it even has plumbing. The grass around the house is cut short. The house was tidy from the inside as well, before I made a mess of his bedroom and kitchen. I eat another fish while I think.

“Earlier you said that if I decided to stay, I’d have to earn my keep. How exactly would I be doing it, then?” I suddenly have a very unpleasant idea. Ugh. I hope I’m wrong.

“There are things I might need your assistance with.” He smirks. “But you won’t get off as easily as you were obviously hoping to. I won’t require these kind of services from you. Who knows which diseases you might carry.” He’s clearly baiting me, but I can’t help but fall for it. I stand up, fuming. I almost hit him, but he’s too fast for me and catches my hand half-swing. His grip is so strong it hurts my hand.

“I told you, you’re no match for me. Control your temper when you are in the company of someone superior to you.” He doesn’t look upset about my attempt to hit him, but I can see he means every word he says. It makes me even more angry.

I step closer to him. All the fear and unease I felt are now forgotten in my rage. I hear roaring in my ears, but since I feel it’s not the inner voice I won’t do anything to stop it. As I look into his striking eyes, I see them widen. He lets go of my hand with an awed expression.

“Who do you think you are to imply that I am a whore? What right do you have to talk to me like that?”I push him. Hard. He takes a step backward, his eyes glued to mine.

The wind has risen and it’s blowing in circles around us. He just stands there, silent, doing nothing. But by the look on his face… I’d say he’s having a damn good time. Which in turn makes me even more upset. Is he having fun at my expense?

“I am worth just as much as the next person. I am inferior to NO ONE but my king! I am definetly. Not. Lesser Than. YOU!” I pour all my pent-up rage, disappointment, and sadness into that last word… And Caleb flies back about thirty feet, making a spin in the air and landing on his feet. Now he really is laughing, but not at me.

I look around. What the hell happened here? It’s like something exploded. The grill and fish are scattered on the grass. They are even further away from me than Caleb. And all the windows this side of the house are broken.

My anger is forgotten and I’m starting to shake. I check myself just in case, to make sure I’m not injured. I literally jump back when I notice Caleb approaching.

“Stay away from me!” I take a couple of unsteady steps backward, then turn around and run for the woods.


The Awakening, part 8

I wait, not daring to move just yet. After a few moments I hear the front door open and close. He’s gone. At least for now. I raise a shaking hand to my neck, inspecting the injury. It doesn’t feel like he cut very deep, but it’s still bleeding. I slowly stand up, keeping my hand in place. Maybe it’ll help if I keep some pressure on the wound.

I try to ignore the dizziness as best as I can while limping to the window and pull the curtains aside. The sun is so high that it must be nearly midday. I sigh sadly at the pretty sight and turn around to take a better look at the room. I’t nice and cozy. The ornamented furniture looks like it’s from another century. And there is a beautiful copper bathtub in one corner. I get a very homely vibe here.

Maybe I really should stay? I mean, where else could I go? You shall certainly have to leave. And fast! He’s an Elf. They can’t be trusted.

“Oh, shut up!” As the words leave my mouth I realise I said it out loud. Talking to my creepy inner voice is definetly not a good sign. I try to close off the part in me that gets a weird feeling every time the voice emerges. When I’m done with that I realize that the bleeding on my neck has stopped. I look at the dried blood on my hand with distaste. I’m a complete mess.

Then I remember the comment about my smell. I sniff the air around me and let’s just say that the words “you smell funny” were quite an understatement. I absolutely stink. I think I’ll take the opportunity to bathe. And after that I’ll decide what to do next.

I take a closer look at the tub and am glad (though very surprised) to discover there’s running water in this house. I’ve read about it from one of mother’s books, but I’ve never actually seen it. I turn one of the faucets and water starts coming from a pipe, straight into the bath. I explore the mechanism for a while and discover there is no hot water coming from either of the pipes.

I rummage the cupboards and drawers for a towel and also borrow some of the Elf’s clothes. If he’s friendly toward me now, he might not mind. And should he still want to kill me, he’d do it anyway, even without me taking his stuff.

As I clean myself, shivering because of the cold water, thoughts keep spinning in my head. Should I, or more importantly, can I trust my life in his hands? Because that’s exactly what staying here would mean. Was he only protecting his property when he threathened to kill me, or is he prone to using violence? I’d be a nervous wreck if I had to watch my back and fear for my life all the time. And where did he go, anyway? I wonder if he left to give me some privacy or to find a bigger weapon to kill me with.

I sigh. The day before yesterday my life was ordinary and predictable, though not entirely pleasant. I already miss it.

I still haven’t come to a conclusion by the time I’ve scrubbed myself completely clean. I briefly think about finding my aunt and asking her for help, but I discard the idea right away. She lives in the capital, Lekolla, which is about a two-week journey from my home. But I’ve only been to her place a couple of times, and I was very young then. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t find her house even if I managed to choose the right path toward the city. Plus, I’d be travelling by foot. And my feet are currently in a very sad shape.

After I get dressed in clean, but ill-fitting clothes, I sit on the bed to catch my breath and wait for the black spots to fade from the edges of my vision. I definetly need to eat something, or I’ll collapse. I raise slowly and limp to the kitchen. A thorough search proves that there isn’t even a single breadcrumb here. Don’t Elfs eat?

As I go out of the cottage, I take a knife I found from the kitchen along as a precaution. I take a couple of steps and the first thing that catches my attention is the smell of fried fish, which makes my stomach rumble. The second is a voice right behind my left shoulder.

“Should I decide to attack, your weapon would be useless. You are by no means a threat. But you may carry it along if it makes you feel better.” My heart is racing again and as he steps away from me, I force myself to calm down. He leaves my company without a single glance toward me. I look at his back as he rounds the corner and dissapears behind the house. I feel IT inside me again and mercilessly push it down. I have enough problems as it is. Dealing with my madness would currently be one too many.

I take my chances and follow the Elf, gripping the knife in my hand. It really does make me feel more confident, even if the feeling is delusional.

The Awakening, part 7

I wake with a start as I feel something cold against my neck. I make an attempt to sit up, but it only results in pain. I see a hooded figure leaning over me and holding a knife to my neck. Now I feel a bit of blood oozing from an incision. Apparently the cold thing is a pretty sharp knife.

I blink back tears of frustration. Yes, I’m terrified for my life and wellbeing, but this rotten luck is getting fairly ridiculous. First, I nearly drown, then I begin hearing voices in my head. Well, a single voice, but that still means that I’ve probably forgone my sanity. Not to mention an Elf-priest wants to exorcise, or in other words, torture me. And now this!

Plus, the stupid voice didn’t even alert me of danger this time. I was starting to depend on that. Maybe it’s gone? Don’t blame it on me. You sleep like the dead. It is not in my power to wake you. Nor is there a reason to warn you now, since you are already as good as deceased. Nope, still there. I sigh.

“Could you remove the knife please? I mean no harm.” I use a soothing voice, hoping it would have a placating effect.

“Give me a reason why I should let you live.” The voice is slightly accented and sounds like it belongs to a young man.

“Because I don’t want to die yet?” I ask hopefully.

“Not good enough.” The knife presses harder on my neck and I feel more blood flowing down the side of my neck. Well, it was worth a try, though I kind of guessed that he wouldn’t care much about my opinion on the matter.

I raise my gaze and look under the hood, trying to make eye contact, but it’s too dark. There’s a bit of light coming through the slits in the curtains, but it’s not enough. I know nothing about this man before me, but I really hope that he is the lesser of two evils.

“Please make it quick, then.” I whisper, a lump forming in my throat and tears brimming my eyes. “I ended up here because I didn’t want to be tortured.”

“Tortured by whom?” It seems I’ve somehow managed to cath his interest. The pressure on my neck lessens.

“There was an old man. A priest. I heard him tell my father I need to be exorcized and that he would deal with me himself. And…” I can’t help it and begin to sob. “And I’ve read about how they… do it. I beg you, don’t make me suffer like he would have.”

“That priest, what did he look like?” He removes the knife and sheaths it. I might have a chance of survival after all.

Should I tell him about the Elfin features I saw or just about how I originally percieved him? If I told him the truth would he think I’m crazy and kill me anyway?

“Well, he was very old and he had white hair.” As I debate with myself on what else to tell the man in front of me, he removes his hood. The room is very dimly lighted, but I can see he has somewhat handsome features, dark hair, light eyes and… pointy ears! Now that’s just great. Have I angered the Gods somehow?

I rub my forehead and say, “And his ears were just like yours.”

“Did he have a scar on his left cheek?” he asks. I squint my eyes, trying to remember, but I can’t give him a definite answer.

“He was wrinkled and it was dark when I saw him up close. To be honest, something told me to get away from him as fast and as far as possible. I didn’t stick around long enough to memorize all his features.”

“Your instincts were probably correct. I believe I am familiar with that priest of yours, though.” He looks at me as if he were assessing me. I guess he is satisfied with what he saw, since his next words were “You can stay here for a while. It is the safest place for you at the moment. Naturally, you’d have to earn your keep.” He mowes toward the door and opens it. Before leaving, he looks back at me.

“If you do decide to stay then first thing you need to do is take a bath. You smell funny. It almost reminds me of… Never mind.” He shakes his head lightly and I think I catch a glimpse of a small smile before he leaves and closes the door behind him.

The Awakening, Part 6

It feels like I’ve been going for ages, but I know I’m probably no more than ten miles from my home, if even that. I have no idea whether the strange priest is coming after me, but I’m definetly not planning to stay and find out. If only I wasn’t so tired…

I stumble on a root and nearly fall flat on my face. I sit on the ground and try to catch my breath. The day will be over soon enough and I have to find some place to sleep. The forest is so thick here that I can’t see the sky at all. What’s even worse, I’m not sure where I am. I went through the woods and avoided every path that I knew of. I even walked in a small creek that I found, hoping it would hide my trail in case I’m being followed.

My stomach aches, reminding me that I haven’t eaten anything since yesterday morning. Now that the adrenalin has worn off I just want to curl up and fall asleep. However, I force myself to stand up and go on. I wince with every step, since my soles are scratched and bleeding. I should’ve remembered to put some shoes on before I ran.

As the night grows closer and I stumble onward, I wonder if I made the right decision by leaving. The only reason I disliked and feared the priest in the first place was because of the strange voice in my head. But what if I’m crazy and the voice is only a trick of my mind? I mean, the priest could’ve hurt me when we were by the Dark Lake, but he didn’t. He even offered me food.

But if Brian was truthful, then it wasn’t him who saved me. And that talk about exorcism… I shudder. I thought the days of with-hunting and killing demons were long gone.

When I was five, my mother taught me to read, and after her death her books passed on to me, since my father can’t read and he wasn’t interested in learning it. Among those books was “A History of Faith” which described how the priests tried to eliminate anything that they considered unnatural. I only read it halfway, and had nightmares for weeks after that.

I rub my hands, trying to fend off the chills. The air is getting colder by the minute, and it won’t be long before it’s completely dark. I know I should pick up the pace, but putting one foot in front of the other is all I can manage at the moment.

Just as I begin to feel very sorry for myself, I reach a small clearing in the woods. For a second I think I’m imagining it, but no! There’s a small house on the other side of the small meadow. The Gods must still be with me. This is more than I expected to find. Way more.

I allow myself a small smile as I near the cottage. I try the door and it’s open. I sigh with happiness and enter. The place looks like it’s habited, but at the moment there’s no one here. If the owner returns, I’ll explain my presence. Now… to sleep! I search the small cottage and find a single bed in the back room. I crawl under the covers and fall into a dreamless sleep.

The Awakening, part 5

The morning sun is shining through my bedroom window and I find myself surprisingly well rested considering yesterday’s events and the late hour when I fell asleep.

I change out of my soggy clothes and make a face when I see the condition of my linens. I should’ve put on a nightshirt before going to bed. Now I have to change the linens. The bed is just too dirty otherwise. But first things first. Brian.

I put on a worn brown dress that I usually wear when I work in the garden, and head for the door. I almost run into it when I try to push it open on my way out. The door won’t even budge!

I let out a startled laugh and try again. No, it’s not my imagination. But how is this possible? There is no lock on this door, or even a hook for that matter. One thing is clear, though. There is no way I can open it on my own.

I try my window next and am somewhat relieved when I manage to push it open. Good thing this house only has one storey. I climb out without a problem and walk around the house toward the front door.

I almost expect it to be locked as well, but it’s not. As I move through the kitchen and into the hallway, I can’t help but notice a very large pile of furniture in front of my room. I can’t even see the door from behind it. Wow. No wonder I couldn’t open it from the other side.

“What the…?” I shake my head and move on. I’ll wonder about this later. But first I have to talk to Brian.

I thank my lucky stars when I enter his room and find him all alone. He is asleep, but I quickly rectify that. I shake him lightly and call his name. I’m relieved to see he doesn’t look flushed or feverish anymore.

But he does appear to be terrified of me when he wakes up. The moment he recognizes me he tries to back away from me. That doesn’t help him much, though, since the farther side of his bed is against a wall. I can see from his expression that screaming is his next course of action and I press my hand on his mouth before he has a chance to make any sound at all. He struggles against me, but I’m bigger and stronger. I hold him down easily.

“Brian, calm down. It’s just me. I only want to talk. I will remove my hand now, but if you scream I’ll tie you up and gag you and take you to somewhere more private for our little conversation. Do you understand?” It’s an empty threat, and I’m pretty sure Brian will see through it, but to my amazement he stops struggling and nods. I let him go and he actually sits still and remains quiet.

“So, Brian. Why are you so afraid of me?”

He swallows and when he speaks he’s so quiet I can barely hear him. “You didn’t come back to kill me? For what I did?” I can see he’s blinking back tears. For the fisrt time in years I want to comfort him. “I thought you came back from the dead.”

“Why would I want to kill you? I’m alright, as you can see. You did nothing.”

“But the monster…I thought it… I don’t know… and then it looked at me… and… and…” He struggles to keep calm, and again I feel sorry sor him. I know he probably wanted to have fun at my expense and didn’t even think that something bad might happen. He’s careless and can be quite mean, but he’s not evil.

“What monster?” Last night my father said something about monsters as well. I feel something awakening in me again, but force myself to ignore it.

“You were under water for so long I didn’t know what do to. I swear, I didn’t want to kill you. Please, Please, believe me!”

“I do, Brian. Now about that monster?” I try to comfort him by akwardly patting his back. Get away from here… I’m hearing it again, but the voice is much weaker than yesterday.

“It… Something pushed you out of the lake. With it’s nose, I think. It was so big. And then it looked at me and went under the water again with a huge splash. I got all wet and it scared me so bad I ran straight home.” His lower lip starts wobbling. “Your skin was so blue I thought you were dead.”

“Oh, Brian.” I hug him. “I’m alive, don’t you worry. But where are our parents?”

“Mum went to the neighbours’ place to trade our eggs for some fresh milk. And dad… I’m not sure because they were whispering, but I think they talked about fetching a priest for you.” Get away…Run! Quickly! The voice in my head grows louder, but when I look at Brian I’m convinced only I can hear it. Shit.

I hear a clatter of hooves through Brian’s open window and turn my head. I see my father riding in with an old priest in tow. He looks a lot like… The elf-man by the Dark Lake!

“Oh.” What do I do? My heart beats fast like a rabbit’s. For a second I panic. Then I have an idea. My parents’ room faces the garden in the back of the house, just like mine. And their room isn’t blocked.

I dash out to the hallway and straight into the room next to mine. Just as I get the window unlatched I hear the front door open and close. I try to be as quiet as possible while pushing open the windows. As I lower myself down on the ground I hear the priests voice filter through the closed door.

“The girl’s condition sounds very bad. I believe it would be wisest if you and your family left the house during the exorcism. For your own safety. She might hurt you if given the chance. I will deal with her myself.”

I shudder. That doesn’t bode well for me. I hitch up my skirts and run as fast as I can.