I’m revisiting Mun and his adopted human this week. The story has actually turned out pretty long, so I broke it up into two parts. This first part introduces the plot line I will be following for the remainder of the heroine’s – Kara’s – story. So I guess in reality this might turn out to be 20 parts, or 40 parts, or 100 parts! Wow, wouldn’t it suck if I got to part 99 and then never finished the story?!
Actually… don’t laugh, it could happen.
Part 2 can be found here.
And a completely unrelated story, starring her and Mun, can be found here.
Writing Prompt: A Druid’s Spell – part 1
Taking a deep breath, Kara hesitated just outside the large, imposing oak door before her. The dark wood was polished to a shine, the tree carved into it standing out in relief with it’s ornate leaves and branches. Rumor had it the door was spelled and if you weren’t careful, when you stepped through you could end up anywhere in time or space.
Forcing a laugh, Kara glanced up and down the hallway. The stone lined walls and granite floor gave every indication of an older era, but the overhead lighting and intermittent cameras revealed the influences of modern times. The halls remained empty, no help in her desire to delay facing what waited for her beyond.
Eyeing the closest black domed camera, she wondered if Jimmy was watching as she dithered before the doorway. She shrugged at the camera. She had every right to feel nervous. It wasn’t everyday the leader of the guild demanded an audience. Jimmy had texted her moments before that Roric wanted to see her. That was it. No other information. Just that he wanted to see her. And then the jerk had failed to respond to her return text asking why. She shot a glare at the camera on the off chance he was watching and pulled the heavy door open.
She found herself in a small antechamber, smooth granite shining everywhere, a large chandelier sparkled from the high ceiling. An ornate table sat off to one side with a an out-of-place rolling chair behind it. Nothing except a thin laptop sat on top the table’s surface. A large set of double doors stood open on the opposite wall and she made her way towards them, her purposeful strides echoing around the room.
She meant to stride confidently into the inner office as if she hadn’t a care in the world. Hell, she wished the doors were closed so she could kick them open, all bad ass and everything. Just as she was about to cross the threshold though, a tall thin woman with silver hair, and clutching a tablet, nearly ran into her.
“Oh!” Stepping back, the woman looked her up and down, then smiled. “You’re here!” Kara tried not to stare at the pointy ears poking out of the woman’s angled bob. This could only be Nym Daesatra, Roric’s gate keeper. “That makes everyone.” Smiling politely, she turned back into the room and Kara followed dutifully, all thoughts of acting out suddenly banished at the thought of other people also called to see Roric.
Stepping into the large office, her first thought was that it fit Roric perfectly. Dark wood colors lined the walls, bookshelves, and coffered ceiling. A large, commanding, fireplace took up the majority of one wall. The many, many, bookshelves were laden with books of all shapes and sizes. Though there was a large ornate chandelier, and several wall sconces for lighting, the room was still shrouded in shadows. All in all, it was a very manly, very imposing, office. A large desk took up the far section of the room, purposely situated so that visitors had to walk the length of the room while being silently judged.
She recognized a briefing when she saw one though and immediately felt less nervous. A different type of tension took it’s place. Like everyone else in the guild, she loved a good hunt. Before the desk stood three people, all guild hunters.
Zaros Soran stood stiffly tall as if holding himself in check. A rogue vampire and not affiliated with any coven, he was tall, with hair the color of dark chocolate. They nodded in greeting to each other. She had worked with Zaros before and even though he was sometimes too serious, he was a good man and could be trusted to have her back. She didn’t know the other two personally, but she – and everyone else – knew who they were as they were part of Roric’s inner circle.
Silvie, a petite valkyrie, looked the most relaxed of the trio. She had long pale blonde hair, currently pulled into a long braid and piercing blue eyes. She was also Zaros’ mate. Kara wondered if their differences are what drew the couple together. She had heard that their story had started out stormy, but from the loving glance Zaros shot Silivie, you would never know.
The other person in the group sent chills down her spine. Drejeik was a death mage of the highest order. He radiated a darkness that made those around him uncomfortable. Of average height, with a slim build, he had slicked back the sides of his pitch black hair, and rimmed his eyes in kohl. He wore an ebony, high collared, long-waisted suit coat with dramatic black feathers edging the left lapel. Though she couldn’t make out the designs, of the little skin she could see on his hands and neck she knew he wore the traditional mage tattoos. She assumed his would depict images of death and the dying.
The leader of Darklight himself sat behind the desk. She’d seen Roric only a handful of times; and each time she had the same sense of… other. No one knew what Roric was. He appeared human; tall, with shoulder-length salt and pepper hair, and brilliant emerald eyes. However, those eyes sometimes shifted in the light, flashing metallic and so alien that you knew he was more than what he appeared. Rumors abounded among the hunters, but no one knew for sure. Kara doubted even his inner circle knew what he was.
As she and Nym reached the group, Roric stood up and addressed them. “Kara. Thanks for joining us. I’m assuming you know the others.” Without waiting for her confirmation or denial, he continued, “We might have a problem on our hands.”
He nodded to Nym who began swiping and tapping on her tablet. A few seconds later a holographic video of a man appeared above the projection cube on Roric’s desk. The man was casually walking down a sidewalk and glanced back at something behind him. When he turned, he smiled and then moved out of camera view. “That man was seen leaving the Calabrook scene.” The Calabrooks were an affluent couple who had died a gruesome, violent, death about a week ago. Ava, one of her closest friends and a guildy, had told her that one of the hunters first on the scene had thrown up. Hunters saw a lot. For one of them to lose their lunch on the job was saying something.
Kara glanced at Roric, then focused on the video again as it began to replay. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Nym messing on her tablet and the image zoomed in a bit on the man’s face. Roric folded his arms and frowned deeply. “If you look closely, you can just make out the tattoo on his left temple.” The scene froze on what she assumed was the best shot of his face.
Zaros leaned closer, his eyes squinting in concentration. “An H?” It did look like a wonky capital H.
Silvie also leaned in, her thick braid falling over one shoulder. “No. It’s an N.” It did look like a wonky capital N.
Drejeik and she remained silent.
Roric nodded again at Nym and the man’s face was replaced with a new image of the symbol.
“It’s the symbol of Eukithor.” Roric sounded grim and angry. “A demon who hasn’t been around for almost a thousand years.”
Another image appeared above the desk. It was a charcoal sketch of a nightmarish scene. Demons and imps feasted joyously on a mountain of humans. Bodies twisted together in agony, their mouths open in silent screams. At the very top of the pile of bodies, a demon wearing a man’s face watched it all, smiling coldly. His hands were raised out to either side, one holding a crying infant upside down by a leg, and the the other holding a human skull emblazoned with the strange symbol.
“Not much is known of him. It’s all been lost in time. What we did find is similar to other ancient demons… similar to those today, he wanted to cause as much death and destruction as he could. Liked to feast on human flesh. Generally not good for those around him.”
Roric glanced at Nym and a new image appeared. It looked like a snapshot of a very ancient book. It’s pages were yellowed and appeared to be flaking in places, and the ink was fading so much that whole sentences were illegible. Of course, it was also written in a language Kara didn’t know and she glanced at the others to see if they could decipher it.
Drejeik finally broke his silence. “That is some form of a demonic language, but it’s not one I’ve ever seen before. And I’ve seen them all.”
Roric sighed. “Damn. Though it was a slim chance, I was hoping you could read it.” He glanced over at Kara. “Drej is fluent in all the demonic languages… well, almost all of them.”
Zaros moved aside so that Drej, mumbling under his breath, could get closer. “So you think this person fleeing the Calabrook estate was Eukithor? Just from a face tattoo?”
“That, or a follower.” Picking up his own tablet, Roric pulled up a file and came around the desk to show it to them on the screen, not wanting to interrupt Drej’s concentration.
He swiped through several images and then stopped on a particularly gruesome one of… “My god!” Kara looked away, but the split second view had been enough to burn the mangled body into her brain forever.
Silvie and Zaros continued to examine the picture, but both looked shaken. Silvie even requested Roric to zoom in. She raised sky blue eyes in question. “That wasn’t in the papers.”
Roric nodded. “We didn’t want it known that strange symbols were carved into the victims’ flesh. It might start a panic, or worse, copy cat killings. We don’t even know what we’re dealing with here.”
Zaros took the tablet from Roric and started swiping through other photos of the crime scene. “You want us to find out.”
“I need to figure out if someone is trying to summon a demon in my city.” Roric’s fists clenched in anger, his eyes flashing silver. Danger emanated from him so powerfully that Kara took a step back, her hands itching to perform a shielding spell.
Though Zaros hadn’t looked up from the tablet, Silvie moved to place herself between her mate and her guild leader. Kara found the protective move endearing and liked the Valkyrie on that gesture alone. Loyalty was important to her.
Roric was saved from studiously ignoring their reactions by the sudden appearance of a white furred animal that popped into existence right in front of his face. “What the?!”
Without even thinking Kara shouted and threw a shield around a squealing Mun just as a jet of fire encased his small form. Thankfully, though Roric had acted on instinct, he had stopped his fire breathing spell within seconds. His spell had been so powerful her shield wouldn’t have lasted more than five seconds! She grunted when Mun launched himself into her arms, squeaking frantically and burying his furred face in her arms. She absently made soothing noises at him and stroked him as she turned a thoughtful stare on Roric. There weren’t many mages who could breathe fire, and even less beings. She tucked away that juicy tidbit to talk about with Ava later.
Roric glared at Mun furiously. “Atamun! How did you get in here?” He turned towards Nym. “This room is supposed to be sealed!”
Nym’s eyes took on a slight haze for a moment before she responded. “I just checked. The seals are in place.” She peered curiously at Mun who was now crawling up to sit heavily on her shoulder. He was heavier than he looked, which was frustrating as the damn rat could float!
Mun was a fera imp. About the size of a large cat, he looked like a white furred rat with very large rabbit ears, a long fur-less prehensile tail, big black pupil-less eyes, and a large grinning mouth full of pointy teeth. Fera imps were known for their insatiable curiosity and mischievous natures. And unfortunately, several months back, this one had taken a liking to her. Seeing as how he was constantly popping up on her at unexpected moments, and had once saved her life, she now allowed him to live with her in her small one bedroom apartment. That was a recent development that she was still regretting.
Nym’s eyes went hazy again as she checked her seals. There was more than one reason she was called the Gate Keeper. “He shouldn’t have been able to get in.” She set down her tablet, but must have accidentally pushed something when she did, for the image of the demonic language was replaced by a video of a cat being scared by a cucumber. Everyone froze in amazement for a second before Nym’s squeal of excitement caused everyone to jump. He then literally flew off Kara’s shoulder in a flash of white and streaked to land on top of the projection cube in his attempts to grab the leaping cat.
Blushing furiously, Nym snatched up her tablet and the cucumber hating cat disappeared. Kara and Silvie’s eyes met and they both tried to hold back their laughter. Zaros grinned openly. Drej simply stood there, frowning with his arms crossed. Roric sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose when Mun started chittering furiously and snatched up the projection cube turning it over and over like a squirrel examining a nut.
Now Kara was the one feeling embarrassed. Rushing over she reached for the cube. “Mun! Stop that!”
Evading her grasp, he leapt into the air and hovered about five feet off the floor, absorbed in trying to get the cat out of the little black square. Lunging, Kara managed to grasp the thing, but Mun held on tight, angrily squeaking at her. Even though he was floating, whatever magic he had, it allowed him to ignore the laws of physics in other ways too. She should have been able to easily pull him around the room, but it was if he was standing on the ground resisting her. She couldn’t budge him at all! “Mun! Let go!”
Met with more resistance and angry chittering, she threatened him with the one thing that might make him listen. “If you don’t let go right now, you will never taste my cupcakes again!”
He immediately let go. And unfortunately she unbalanced just enough to land on her ass. Glancing around, she noticed everyone was now grinning at her. Even Drej and Roric, the latter of who, held out one hand to help her up, one eyebrow raised. “Cupcakes?”
Blushing, Kara handed him the cube, mumbling, “He likes sweets and I make damn good cookies and cream cupcakes.”
“I’d like to try one some day.” Startled at the thought of baking for the guild leader, all Kara could do was nod as he placed the small black box back on his desk.
Nym started swiping on her tablet again. “Sorry Drej. I’ll pull the text back up.”
Curiously inspecting Mun, who was now hovering upside down inspecting the death mage just as curiously, Drej absentmindedly said, “Vrandolph Poseedaeh.”
Roric perked up at that. “Poseedaeh? Prasedah? Castle?
“That’s what I assumed too. I couldn’t make out – or understand – much, but it looks like the text was talking about atrocities at a Vrandolph Castle. Could it have been his seat?”
“Possibly.” Taking his tablet back from Zaros, Roric began taping the screen rapidly. “Nym?”
As fast as Roric was, Nym was even faster, her fingers practically a blur. “Running a search now.”
Zaros and Silvie spoke quietly to themselves. That left Kara to attempt small talk with Drej. Thankfully he seemed more interested in Mun – who was floating towards the desk, clearly focused on the projection cube again. She reached out and grasped his tail, halting him midair. Freezing a moment, Mun tensed, and she wondered if he was thinking on just popping over to the cube and then popping home before she could stop him. She hissed low, “Don’t even think about it.” After an irritated squeak, he returned to her shoulder, wrapping his tail around her neck for balance.
“Facinating.” Drej moved closer. She caught a whiff of mint oil and wondered if he had been working on something before being called to this meeting, or maybe he used mint to cover other unpleasant smells. Or, maybe he likes spearmint gum. You don’t always have to be so suspicious.
Interrupting her thoughts, Drej reached out one hand to let Mun sniff him. “He follows you everywhere?”
“Unfortunately.” Kara reached up to loosen Mun’s tail a bit.
“And he lives with you?”
She fought a smile. “He didn’t give me much of a choice.”
Drej opened his mouth to ask another question, when Nym exclaimed, “Got it!”
Everyone moved closer as an image appeared above the desk of a castle on an island in the middle of a large sparkling lake. High outer walls edged the island, and a stone bridge with a double portcullis guarded the entrance of the bridge. The castle itself looked very modern with light stone walls, and the addition of modern roof angles. Similar to the guild’s base of operations, it appeared that the main keep was now a mansion with modern window frames and outdoor lighting speaking of a remodel. It looked like a castle-lovers fantasy rather than the seat of a soulless demon.
A new image appeared from a different view, and they could now see the back of the castle which hosted a large inner courtyard. The greenery and pathways made a lovely geometric pattern, at the center of which a giant tree stood on display.
“It’s now known as Randwolf Castle. It seems the name slowly morphed over the centuries as new owners took over. And Roric…” Nym hesitated as Roric looked away from the floating castle. “The current owner is Vax.”
Roric looked as grim as Kara had ever seen him and his eyes took on a faraway look. “Maybe he’s finally making a move.” Vax Montgomery was the well connected patriarch of the Montgomery family. The family had ties with anti-guild groups and so were on a watch list. However, the family itself had never spoken out against the guild, and Vax had even contracted with them on occasion. “But why call forth a demon?”
Silive shook her head. “No, it’s too convenient. Why summon a demon who’s house you now live in? It would lead us right to them.”
Zaros nodded his agreement. “Yes, but it still bears looking into.”
Kara moved closer to the image of the courtyard, seeing it, but not seeing it at the same time, her thoughts flying through scenarios and possibilities. “But how to investigate without angering the Montgomery family? It would do no good to irritate them if they aren’t involved.”
“We’ll need to get on the estate and look around.” Roric looked to Zaros.
Nodding, the vampire folded his arms across his chest. “It’s a shame there’s no one still alive who might be able to identify the suspect as Eukithor.”
Just as suddenly as Mun had appeared, he disappeared, only to reappear over the desk. Worried he was making a grab for the projection cube again, Kara tried to shoo him away, but he easily dodged her waving hands. Instead of the little black box though, he tried to grab the image itself, his little paws passing through the large tree. Without really thinking it through, Kara mumbled, “We could always ask the tree.”
Silvie gave a short laugh, and Kara found everyone grinning at her. Slowly though their looks turned thoughtful, and then they all exchanged glances. What if they could ask the tree?
Roric turned to Nym who was rapidly tapping on her tablet again. She smiled after a moment. “I think I know a way.” She turned a mischievous smile on Kara who was immediately suspicious.
She had the feeling she was going to be talking to a tree.
Part 2 can be found here.
And a completely unrelated story, starring her and Mun, can be found here.
I hope you are enjoying this story! Please feel free to leave comments below. I do welcome constructive criticism in the comments, but please give me more than, “I didn’t like it”. Don’t be afraid to tell me it sucked, but tell me why you think it sucked! And, of course, if you did like it, I would like to know that too.
And if you feel inspired to write a story of your own and would like me to post it on my blog, please feel free to shoot me an email! I’ll be happy to review it, and possibly highlight your story in a post of it’s own!
Please don’t mind the mess.
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