Mar 28, 2017

Chapter Two -- The Wraith

The air inside the house was charged with fire and a soft smell of brimstone. Sybil was busy pulling bags and things from under her bed, looking for the long case that contained the sword.

There were things coming for her son and she needed to be ready.

She was half under the bed, when she felt her son stir above her. She held her breath, like a thief caught in the act. He stirred some more, and then she felt him crawl closer to the sleeping form of her husband and he went back to sleep again.

Sybil released the breath she didn't know she was holding. She slowly picked up another bag and pushed it out of the way. The case was lying behind the bag. She hooked her finger around the strap and pulled it out as she crawled out from under the bed.

The kitchen was dark.

Sybil took a candle from a shelf and lit it. She placed the case on the kitchen table. Black and ominous. Last time she had opened the case, people had died. And this was when Jorah was but a twinkle in some star system that she didn't even know the name of.

The black case vibrated with an evil energy. She was almost scared of opening it, but the storm was picking up and soon she'd be the only defense her son would have from the things out there.

Sybil put her fingers to the opposite ends of the case, pressed them in. Felt the case confirming that it was her and not someone else.

And the black case fell open -- a flat black piece of cloth on the table. A sword pommel, ivory carved with the scene of an ancient battle, stared back at her. There was no blade. There wouldn't be one till it was needed. And when it was needed, it would appear.

She picked up the handle and tested its weight.

It felt familiar. The slight twinge of excitement that she felt in her belly disgusted her at the same time.

Sybil grabbed a chair and sat down facing the door with The Wraith in her lap.

She was ready. For whatever the fuck dared to knock on her door next.

She thinks she is ready. She thinks...

Also, cool sword name, bro!

Mar 27, 2017

Chapter One -- The Phantom

Sybil sees the entity standing in front of her. She knows her knife is useless. The transparent apparition floats a foot above the ground. She can see the night and the stars outside through the figure's white robe. If it's even a robe. Aren't apparitions dressed in clothes they die in?

"Can I come in?" the weak voice again. Sybil feels like saying yes, but she's seen and read enough bad fiction to know that's a no no.

"No," she says. "First state your purpose for knocking on my door."

"Dark forces are rising."

"I know. A storm is coming. But what of it? I can control the storm as much as I can control my husband. What does it have to do with me?"

"Not you. Your son. His life is in danger if she stays here while the storm is here, too."

Her grip tightens around the handle of the knife. "What the fuck did you say? How the hell do you even know about my son."

"Sybil," the apparition speaks again in the weak and tinny voice, "your son is important. Too important for the war that's coming. You need to let me take him to a safe place so that I can train him for the war that will put humanity's fate on the stake. Your son is the only person who can turn the tide in favor of humanity against the threats that we're going to face."

"Fuck you!" Sybil slams the door in the apparition's face. She takes long, deep, quick breaths to calm herself down. Her knuckles are white around the handle of the knife. Her hand shakes and her head is full of thoughts.

"Fuck this." She puts the knife back in the block and walks back towards the bedroom. Suddenly, the house feels colder, malevolent and she can't put her finger on what's wrong.

She reaches the bedroom and there is something standing next to her bed, bending over her son, slowly moving closer, like a figure swimming through molasses. She takes off running and slams her body into the figure standing over Jorah. It makes a sound like a bursting balloon. A dreaded stone settles into the pit of her stomach. Something is wrong, but she can't figure out what.

The wind howls like a hungry wolf outside and Sybil knows she won't be able to go to sleep tonight.

Her husband is still sleeping, just like his son, who only stirred a little when she made all the noise.

Her mind goes through all the options available to her and it zeroes in on the sword. 

Mar 25, 2017

Chapter Zero -- The Ghost Inside

"Mother, I cannot sleep."

Little Jorah, eight years of age, stands in the doorway of his parents' bedroom. His mother groggily wakes up from her fitful sleep. She pulls the covers aside and beckons the child to her. Jorah climbs in beside his mother. Comforted by the familiar shape of her posture, he closes his eyes and slowly falls into the quicksands of sleep.

Outside, wind whistles through the trees. A storm is brewing on the horizon. It will destroy the crops that are yet to be harvested. The family will have a hard winter. But maybe not.

Jorah's mother, Sybil holds tight to her son as her husband snores away, lost in his own dreams. She feels worried about the crops, but there is little she can do in face of the storm. Her thoughts often divert to the sons of the royals who'd come to her village and take their pick of fair maidens. She'd wanted to be chosen by any of them. Had it happened, she'd have never had to worry about mundane, pedestrian things like wasted crops and how to fill the bellies of her family in the season after the storm.

Her arm aches under the head of her son. She tries to move it, but the boy stirs and moans in his sleep. She decides to bear the discomfort for a little while longer.

The storm is picking up. Leaves, slapped by the wind and spray of water make sounds like ghosts trapped in their bone cages. Chained in responsibilities and customs of the world that forces them to live a civil life. Sybil thinks all this. She sighs and holds a little tighter to her son. She keeps drifting to sleep, but the sounds of the storm keep waking her up, too.

In a tiny moment of sleep, she dreams she is tied to a cross and a man in a crow's mask is hammering nails in her hands and feet. There is no pain, but her blood flows freely, staining the ground, her clothes, and painting the sky in bronze and ochre. Everything is bright with light, but the hammering doesn't stop.

She wakes up to realize the sound of hammering is from this world, and not the other. It could not be the wind making all this ruckus. Probably a traveler trapped by the storm. She lifts Jorah's head from her arm and softly puts his head back on the pillow. Like a thief, she steals herself from the bed.

On her way through the kitchen, she picks up the biggest knife in their house and holds it in an underhand grip so that the blade is shaded by her forearm. She twists a knob in one of the lamps and it glows brighter.

"Who's there?" She asks as she gets closer to the door.

"I need help," comes a low, weak voice. She's not sure if it's a man or a woman, but it doesn't sound dangerous.

She opens the door and her life changes forever.

Are you ready? Are you fuckin ready?