Moon Time (working title)

A snippti from my JulNoWriMo novel.

This is a rough draft. Grammar and spelling have not been corrected. Names are subject to change.

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Geh stood still in the hallway, trying to remember where everything had been when the light had gone out. In the blackness even the castles heavy furnishings became his enemy.

Something became solid in front of him. Something like a face, almost. Green eyes and purple lips floated, disembodied. Sharp teeth as well, dropping foam and saliva. He could not see the rest of the beast and was sure he did not want to.

Maybe he just had too much imagination. IN the dark the insubstantial fears could become manifest.

However, his night terrors had never before smelled like wild dog and spoiled meat. A nightmare had never before breathed on him or dripped its vicious fluids with soft but audible patters on the floor.

He wanted to run. He NEEDED to run, but where could he run to? He was lost in the dark of this giant castle, and the creature in front of him surely knew every passage and cooridor well. Maybe it could even seen in the dark, as if the candles had not suddenly gone dark.

There was the baby too. She was here, of if not here then the woman who had taken her was, and he would find out where the baby was kept. He had sworn to his grieving mother that he would not fail her as his cowardly father had. He would return the girl child to her waiting arms, or he would not return.

In front of him the greed eyes held steady, the purple lips still surrounding the wet white teeth. Where there were eyes and a mouth there was a head and a head made a suitable target to aim for.

Geh tightened both hands around the end of his sturdy wooden staff.

The staff had seemed like such a strong weapon on the Forrest road, but it seemed no more than a mere walking stick in front of this apparition. He wished for something stronger, sharper.

What he did not have would be of little use to him though. What he did have was his wooden staff and his failing courage. He would have to make them both count.

Slowly, hoping the creature could not see or sense what he was doing, he raised the staff above his head, behind his shoulder. The green eyes followed its upward arc. The beast could see in the Darkness. It would be expecting the attack.

Would it duck and dodge? Would it leap and attack?

He was afraid, possibly more afraid than he had been before in his life. He could feel his heart beating a rapid tattoo, like a rabbit caught in a snare, already aware it would soon die.

His whole world shrank until it was only the size of a face, and filled only with a set of green eyes, a pair of purple lips and those sharp and dripping teeth.

In the dark he barred his own teeth at the beast. Ahead of him the eyes and fangs lowered as the beast prepared to strike. Geh took a deep breath, filled his mind with a memory of his mother and tensed his body to swing. In front of him the eyes and fangs lowered as the beast crouched for its own attack.

“STOP!”

The powerful voice filled the room, coming from nowhere and everywhere. The room filled with a weak yellow light as a woman carrying a lamp decended a set of stairs that Geh did not remember seeing there before.

The beast swung its head to look at the newcomer. In the dim light it was horrid to see. Massive and shaggy it was like a wolf, a bear, a human all in one animal. They eyes and leps set in a humanesque face, separated by a broad wet nose. Its arms and legs were thinck and strong, each hand and foot ending in fire digits. Each finger and toe tipped with thick black claws.

The wole animal was covered in a brown red fur that looked as if it might be soft to hold, silky to touch. He had no urge to reach out for or to hold it.

“Good girl,” the woman on the stairs crooned. “You did well. Go now, find your sisters.”

The beast ducked its head and made a mewling sound, wagging a shaggy tail behind it, then it dropped to four legs and ran into a darkened corridor elsewhere.

“You’ll have to exuce Mandala. We never get company up here and she’s forgotten her manners.”

The woman was tall and slender, her long black hair was streaked with silver and fell in a wild disarray around her shoulders. She wore a simple cotton dress, much like the women in the town below wore. She did not look like someone who lived in a castle and lorded over people with fear.

She must be a servant then, or more likely a slave. Surely no person would work of their own free will in a castle occupied by beasts.

“Of course, she continued, “You can’t be too harsh on HER manners considering your own. It is not exactly polite to come into someone’s home uninvited and brandishing a weapon.”

She turned her eyes, which seemed to glow amber in the candel light, toward his staff, which he still had raised over his shoulder, ready to strike.

He realized and ache had set into his arms and shoulders and his fingers had turned white in their grip.

The woman smiled as he lowered the staff, but as somethign snarled in the shadows nearby he still held it tight in his hand.

The woman frowned.

“Please Miss,” Geh begged as he stepped toward the woman. “You must help me. Your mistres has stolen a child. My sister. You must help me find her. My mother....”

“Hush!” The woman snapped. She holed up her hand and Geh noticed her fingers all seemed to be too long. Her word had been harsh but he thought he could see amusement in her eyes.

He stood silent, hoping that he had not made a mistake and judged this woman wrong. If this woman were not a slave, but was loyal to the lady Aramanth, then all was surely lost to him.

In the silence he thought ht heard a footstep, a sound of claws on stone. Very nearby somethign growled and barked a low coughing bark.

“Him again,” the lady muttered, as if talking to herself and not her visitor. Then she moved quickly. She grabbed Geh by the arm and snatched him foward so quickly he lost his grip on the staff.

It clunked down on the stone floor and he tried to go back for it, but the woman’s grip was strong and unrelenting.

“No time,” she said. “Its so very late and Castle Aramanth isn’t so friendly at night. It gets hungry in the dark. Not all the sisters listen to me as well as Mandala. Not when they are so hungry.

“He’s come out tonight too, and we certainly can’t have you meeting him. No, that wouldn’t do at all.”

They moved quickly as she talked. She drug him up the stairs she had come down. Left up one hall, right down a second hall. More stairs. More and more hallways. He was quickly lost and left wondering how he would find his way out again. How would he find the lady Aramanth and return his sister to their mothers arms?

Finally htey stopped. The woman threw open a door and shoved him into a room. She thrust the lantern into his hands and said, “You’ll stay here tonight. It is a safe room to sleep. IN the mornign we’ll see what to do about your trespass.”

She swept out, swinging the door closed behind her. He heard a latch fall into place and then there was silence.

1 comments:

Lethe said...

I like your ideas.