Reads: 68


Groaning as he started to wake, his head was pounding and his body warm and covered in a cold sweat, Hal blinked, trying to clear his eyes and saw that he was still in the same room, the torches still burning bright. Standing up, he raised his hand to rub at his head, halting when he noticed black markings on his arm; his eyes widened in panic and quickly twisted his arm to view the black marks snaking up his arm like flames.

“Pa is gonna kill me” he groaned as he looked at his other arm and seeing it was clear and sighed in relief, “so it wasn’ a dream.” Looking down he saw the sword lying by his feet and bent down to pick it up, closely looking at the blade and its orb, the weight felt natural in his hand and he twirled it, testing its balance. Quickly grabbing its sheath, he clumsily slid the blade into it and tied it to his belt before hastily leaving the room, making sure to not look back, his steps staggered slightly.

As he slowly made his way back to his village, he noticed that the forest was silent; no birds were singing making him uneasy and nervous. So used to the forest being filled with noises, he knew this wasn’t a good sign, something was coming, he knew animals could sense danger and change. His steps snapped dead branches on the ground, the sound echoing across the emptiness as he looked around frantically for any sign of life but found none, he couldn’t even hear the stream.

The dark forest became lighter as the trees thinned out, allowing daybreaks light to penetrate through the trees allowing Hal to see his village and the small camp besides it.

“Pa is seriously gonna kill me” he whined, pulling his sleeve down to cover his marked arm, hurriedly heading to his home, the earths dust kicking into the air as his feet hit the ground.

Getting back to his house was the easy part, sneaking in was the impossible task. As soon as Hal quietly nudged the door closed and breathed a sigh of relief, his father’s voice rang out behind him.

“Where’ve ya been lad!?” he demanded angrily, making Hal jump and spin around in panic, seeing his father sitting at the table looking at Hal angrily, “well!?”

“Pa! I-I thought I saw som’at outside” he stammered out hurriedly, scratching his marked arm through his shirt.

Wyatt glared at Hal, his jaw set tightly as he slammed his fist down onto the table as he stood up, “don’ lie ta me lad!” he growled, stalking around the table to grab Hal’s wrist “wha’ are yer hidin’?” yanking up the sleeve his eyes fell upon the mark. Jaw becoming slack and his eyes widened in fear, darting around the mark and looking at the sheathed sword on his son’s hip, he trembled. “…No” he muttered stepping back and dropping Hal’s wrist as if it was fire, “…no, this…this canna be ‘appenin’” he almost wailed as he looked at his only son as if he was dying.

“…Pa?” Hal’s voice was weak as he reached out to Wyatt, his eyes looking at him fearfully; he has never seen his father act this way. Like he was scared for or of Hal, the young boy didn’t know.

“Wha’ ‘ave ya done son?” even his voice trembled as he stared at the markings before turning his fearful gaze to Hal’s eyes. Trying to cover the mark with his hand, Hal looked at his father, his eyes showing that he didn’t understand what had happened and what was so important about the mark and why his father was reacting like this. “Come with me” his father said in urgency, grabbing Hal’s arm and pushing the sleeve down and pulling him out of the house. The village was still deadly silent as Wyatt dragged Hal to the strangers camp, the only sound was their footsteps and Hal attempting to pull from his father’s tight grip and winching in pain.

As they entered the camp, a few of the men were already out, setting out supplies and cooking over the burning fire, Ragnar was sitting on a log pondering over a map as Wyatt and Hal came to a stop in front of the elder man.

“Ragnar” Wyatt said quietly, “we need to talk, alone” he mumbled, nodding his head to the forest, his grip on Hal never lessened as Ragnar’s eyes fell upon the sword strapped to the young boys side and widened, setting aside the map and standing up promptly, following the father and son as Wyatt pulled Hal along, ignoring his son’s discomfort.

When Wyatt deemed that they were of a safe distance away from the camp, he pulled Hal to a stop, yanking up his sleeve and showing it to Ragnar. “Why!” he demanded, his eyes blazing at he glared at his friend, “why now? Why my son!

Carefully holding Hal’s arm, he looked at the markings and released a sigh of remorse, “this…this is impossible” he mumbled, his eyes looking over every detail, turning over Hal’s wrist, “only humans that are compatible with spirits can get these markings.” He looked into Hal’s eyes as if he was looking for something, “on what moon was Hal born?” he turned Wyatt as he let go of Hal.

“He was born earlier than he was supposed to, he was born on a full moon” he remembered that night clearly, the night his wife died to give him the greatest gift she could give. Hal looked up at his father sharply, he never talked about his birth and only giving small details about how he knew Hal was going to be a troublemaker from the moment he screamed. “Why? What has that got to do with it?” he demanded, removing any sign of emotion on his face.

Rubbing the bridge of his nose, Ragnar looked down at Hal tiredly, “when the moon is at its fullest, the spirits powers are at their peak” he called upon his vast knowledge he had gathered throughout his years, “there was a prophecy made many decades ago, when the Goddess first gave this land fertility and powerful beasts roamed free. I-I don’t remember it fully” he explained to Wyatt, “but it went similar to this. ‘The one who truly holds the courage of a lion will be granted its strength. They will reform the land to glory or her light will fade. The scholars didn’t really understand what it meant.”

“I KNOW THAT DAMNED THING! WHY MY SON?!” Wyatt roared, grabbing Ragnar and pushing him against a tree, holding him there as Hal called out to him, “quiet Hal!” he looked over his shoulder before turning his angry gaze back to the elder man.

Hal took a step back in fear as he watched his father fearfully; he felt something building inside of him, telling him that his father wasn’t right to take his anger out on Ragnar, it made him angry that he didn’t understand what was going on. His pupils narrowed into cat-like slits and his mind was taken over by a blazing anger, he lunged, pulling his father off of Ragnar and throwing him to the side to land ten feet away “STOP IT” he heard himself roar, his voice sounding beastly to his own ears. Ragnar grabbed hold of Hals arms, holding him back in case he went further.

Only as Wyatt slowly climbed back to his feet and looked at Hal in shock did Hal calm down, slumping in Ragnar’s grip as he looked down at himself fearfully. “Wha’ was tha’?” his voice trembled as he looked up at his father, his fear clear in his eyes at what he just did.

Wyatt hastily walked to Hal and pulled him into his arms, “you’re gonna be fine Hal. I won’ le’ anythin’ get’cha. Tha’s a promise” he mumbled into his hair as he clasped his eyes shut. Ragnar watched the pair, ready to step in, in the case that Hal lost control again, his eyes filled with sadness ‘hasn’t this family given enough?’ he thought to himself.

“Come, let’s go back” he voiced, motioning for the pair to follow him as he headed back to his camp. As they entered the campsite, Hal caught eyes with the lad from the day before and he hastily turned his gaze away as their eyes made contact. If that boy could be rude then so could he. “Hal, go back to your house, I need to talk to ya Pa” Ragnar placed his hand on the young boy’s shoulder and gave him a light push.


“Go on Hal, I’ll be with ya soon” he father assured him, his smile tight and didn’t reach his eyes before he turned and followed Ragnar into a tent. Sighing and realizing how tired he was, he kicked the ground before stomping back into the village. The villagers were out now, going about their daily business and Hal saw Edgar cleaning the windows of his family’s shop, his mother watching him with her eagle eye. He gave his friend a halfhearted wave and a tired smile before he went into his house. It was quiet as expected; it didn’t help his unease that something was going to happen as he flopped onto his bed fully clothed, set on napping until his father came back.

Stupid spirits’ he thought angrily to himself as he drifted off into a deep sleep.

Submitted: April 21, 2014

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