Chapter 1: Moving On

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Fantasy Realm

Reads: 162
Comments: 2

 

Candle light flickered over hundreds of stacked books scattered about the very tiny room. There was only one door and a window which was covered by a black blanket that had been stapled to the dark wall around it. The brown paneling was something out of the 1970’s, though the occupant didn’t seem to mind. The only furniture was a wooden table with a matching chair in the middle of the room. It was covered in leather bound books, most opened to pages depicting symbols, charts, and writings in different languages. There were three candles on the table among the volumes and many different candles around the room; on the floor and on various stacks of books.

The only other thing in the room was a red symbol painted on the wood floor. To the unknowing eye it looked like a star with a ring around it, but to the man sitting in the chair, it was a symbol of protection; the pentacle.

He had a braided Mohawk that continued midway down his back with pieces of bone and feathers tied into it. They brushed his bare shoulders as he read, hunched over a very old book with smudged lettering. It was hand written and from the 1800’s, but it was one of his favorites. He had read it multiple times over and could recite it from memory if the need arose, which was helpful when he practiced his craft. He read aloud softly under his breath, almost as if he were putting himself in a trance.

As he read, the scar on his chest began to glow.

It was a dull blue light that outlined the tree of life that had been carved into his skin. It was detailed; a large thick trunk with thicker and smaller lines depicting the bark right above his heart and many limbs sprouting from it, holding up many tiny leaves that ended just below his collar bone. The roots seemed to dig into his skin where his pectoral muscle ended and the light had started there, coming out of his body until it light up every leaf.

He stopped reading and put his right hand over the mark as if it hurt. The candles in the room dimmed all at once, leaving the room with a dull orange glow that was hard to see in.  The man stood slowly and moved both of his hands into the pockets of his jeans.

“Go ahead and speak to me, I shall listen.” He said into the dark and waited. His breath was loud in the silence. His heartbeat thumped steadily in his chest. This wasn’t anything he hadn’t experienced before, but usually he called the dead, they didn’t just show up unannounced.

He waited a moment more, but still nothing happened.

”Come on. You sought me out for a reason, there must be something you want to say. Speak and I will hear you. I will help you pass on if I can, but please, stop playing games, I am busy.”

He looked around but still didn’t see anything except for the faint outline of his book collection decorating as much space as it could. He was about ready to sit back down and find a spell to make the presence go away when a hand touched his shoulder.

He turned quickly, startled, but resisting the urge to shout.

A woman stood behind him, nearly solid in appearance except for the fade on her outline. It was almost as if she were a painting and the artists had smudged her along the edges. She was short with long brown hair that was loose and messy. Something was matted in it on the left side. Her skin was so pale she was nearly translucent; so pale that her skin had a bluish tint.

She was naked, which let him see the bruises all over her body. They were purple and black and varied in size, but the biggest one took up her entire left thigh. Her fingertips were bloody and missing a few fingernails, scratches were all over her arms. She looked like she had been attacked and she had done a good job of fighting them off, aside from the fact that whoever had attacked her ripped her throat out.

She looked at him with sad, scared eyes, purple lips open wide in a silent scream.

“No wonder you didn’t say anything.” He muttered, tilting his head to the side and used his hand to move her hair behind her shoulders. He placed his palm over her neck and squeezed. The woman’s eyes got bigger in shock and she started to struggle, but it didn’t last long. He released her neck. Where he had touched her was healed, the skin no longer savaged and bloody.

She reached up and touched her own neck, amazed.

“You… You healed me.”

“Sort of. I healed your spirit. For the time being.”

“My spirit? I’m...” She looked down at herself then looked back up to him with tears in her eyes. “I’m dead. Aren’t I?”

“Seems like it sweetie.” He placed a comforting hand on her cheek. “I’m sorry. Is there something I can do? You had to have come to me for a reason."

She shook her head and stepped back, putting her hands on her head. “I… there… he… what….”

“Hey relax. Here, sit down.” He ushered her into the seat. She sat down putting her hands between her knees and hunched forward. She was breathing fast, nearly hyperventilating, and if he hadn’t been 100% sure she was dead, he would have tried to find her a paper bag to breathe into or something. “What’s your name? Mind if we start there?”

“My name is Nyla” she managed to stammer out. He squatted before her and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“Do you know what happened to you?” He asked. She looked at him with eyes that didn’t see him. She was remembering, trying to put the pieces together.

“I… I can’t…”

“Well give it a minute. Clearly you’ve been through a lot. I would offer you a glass of wine to calm the nerves, but unfortunately I don’t believe it would do you any good.” He smiled at himself and her eyes snapped to him and out of the memory, or lack thereof.

“You’re laughing at me.”

“No, Nyla, I’m just making light of a horrible situation and trying to give your thoughts time to collect themselves.” He stood up and started clearing the table; placing bookmarks in books and closing them, stacking them on the edge of the table. “I can bring the memory back for you but I would rather not do that. From what I have witnessed, it would be extremely painful for you.”

“Oh.” She sat quiet a moment, watching him move in the candle light, admiring the marks and tattoos all over his body. The man wasn’t covered by any means, it just appeared that each piece, like the runes going down his spine, meant something. “Who are you? We haven’t met before have we?”

“No, not that I know of. Unless you frequent the Starbucks down the road. I have been known to be very fond of the dirty chai.”

“No… not that I even know where I am… I just don’t drink coffee or tea.” Nyla replied and tucked her hair behind her ear. It didn’t matter to her that she was nude, the man didn’t seem to notice, so if it didn’t matter to him, why should it matter to her? “What is your name?”

“Gunnar. How can you not drink tea? Are you insane?” He asked, picking up a candle and moving it to the center of the table. It was more or less clear now, showing the scratched, stained and gouged table top.

“I just don’t like it. What are you doing?”

“I’m cleaning.”

She snorted and looked around the room.

“No offense, but it doesn’t look like you are worried about the room being clean.”

“No, when I am looking for something I tend to leave a trail. I started in that corner,” He pointed to his right, “continued looking until I hit that corner,” he pointed in the opposite corner, “And then when I found the right books I went to the table. It’s a process.”

“What were you looking for?”

“I was looking for a spell.”

“A spell?”

“Yea if you haven’t noticed I’m not a normal human being. I’m talking to a dead girl.”

“Well I’m not your normal dead girl.” She chuckled. “I am however your normal dead werewolf.”

Gunnar stopped cleaning and looked at her, his head slightly tilted to the side.

“Well then, color me surprised. Why are you…” He waved his hand at her, a book tucked under the opposite arm. “Fleshy and not furry?”

“I don’t know.”

“Were you bitten or born?” He asked and took a seat on the table near Nyla.

“Bitten, why?”

“Your soul returns to your human self after death, because the werewolf is a disease. You, in death, are healed.”

Nyla watched him and looked like she was going to respond, but her jaw went slack, her eyes glazed and her hand went to her throat. Gunnar waited, watching her reactions. He knew she was losing time that she was soon going to fade and go where ever souls go after. Right now she was remembering. Waiting and distracting her brain worked.

“I… I was captured. I had gone out for a run, shifted in the woods…I ran my normal trail, was headed to the pack grounds…. Then, pinch in my side. I started to feel numb, but I couldn’t figure out why…I fell down the side of the mountain… hit my head…”She put her hand to her head. She was trembling. “He hung me upside down and slit my throat.”

“Who is he? Who did it to you?”

“I don’t know, I don’t remember what he looked like. I just remember him saying he was sorry.”

“Odd. Murderers don’t often apologize to their victims.”

“Have you met many murderers?”

“More than you would imagine.”

Nyla closed her eyes. Her shape began to ripple, like she was a flag moving in a gentle breeze.  “What’s happening to me?”

“You remembered how you died. Your soul is ready to go.” Gunnar answered, watching her fade.

“But I need to know who killed me. I need to know why. I need…”She looked at her hands and watched them fade into nothing. “I need you to find out why.”

Gunnar shook his head. “Sorry sweetie, it sucks what happened to you, but I’m not a detective. I know the dead, I can talk to you from time to time, but I leave the snooping to the professionals.”

Nyla opened her mouth to speak, but her voice didn’t come. She looked upset.

“I’m sorry, I can’t. I have rules.” Gunnar insisted and watched Nyla fade into nothing. “I am so very sorry.”

 

 


Submitted: December 10, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Jennie Jeanne. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Celtic-Scribe63

An interesting start to your story.
It is nicely presented and well written.
The banter between characters was good.
Your descriptions of the surroundings were clear and easy to envision.
Regards

Thu, December 10th, 2020 3:28pm

Drinks Much Soda

Hanging a werewolf upside down before killing it. Ballsy. Kinda wanna meet this guy now.

Fri, December 11th, 2020 5:59am

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