I hated the cold more than the witch we was chasing. Dark, nasty forest filled with ethereal beings were not my cuppa. Nor was Brogan, but he’d sooner slit me throat than let me go. Damn roots and cold moss, whisperin’ trees and the witch floating through ’em. The sooner we catch her and gut her, the sooner I get back t’ my hole in the wall in Pauper Street, of course after we raid tha’ Masquerade Ball.
‘er body jerked as Brogan grabbed it and threw ‘er across the forest. No sound she made. The crack from ‘er skull musta shut her up good. Eh! Brogan slapped me for gigglin’ and told me to shut my pie hole. It’s okay. I’ll have me fun with her later. He slowly removes the amulet from her neck, a wee thing it is. So fragile ‘n I could snap it in a second. He pushes me back as I try to reach for it. The darkness in me tries to reach for ‘er. The solid punch lands me in the dirt again. I hate Brogan and watch his thick neck click as he tries to reach for ‘er again. I trace the pulse throbbing in the sinew along the yellowing skin and watch the life blood flow through to his puny brain. So easy to kill him.
She sighs and her soft breath eases my mind. I watch her flimsy body float against the cold mossy ground and she looks fragile. We ‘ave the amulet and the power to destroy the keeper. Brogan promised I could play wit ‘er. My turn.
Suddenly a burnin’ light from the ugly ol’ tree she was climbing into flashes and somethin’ awful climbs out. He is big ‘n strong an’ I run for cover, hoping he doesn’t find me. He knows. He knows the darkness that lives in me.
The creature, for I dare not bring myself to call it anything close to human, skitters away from me in a manner proving its inhumanness.
“No, it’s not me you be takin’ so easily,” it screeched in a high pitched voice. Before I knew it, the filth was upon the lady.
“Stand away from the Lady Alore and you will live long enough to die by beheading. Touch her and burn before Hades comes for you!” I said as I made my way forward towards the filth threatening the lady. My skin burnt as I strode further into this strange world and closer to the thing hovering near Lady Alore.
“One more step Lord Dre’gon and I do more than kill the girl.” The black teeth smiled as I paused. “Yes, it’s no secret in this realm about what it is you ‘ave for ‘er.” The foulness of its thoughts were a stench greater than the strong odour emitting from the form itself.
“You have a choice to make,” I said. “Touch her and I kill you. Run and I kill you. Or you can give up and die at a later time in a less painful manner.” My matter of fact smile brought a return of the fear he had shown moments before. I stepped closer.
“Eh! eh! eh!” it cried. Fingernails grew into claws before my eyes. “If I am to die, then I choose to die enjoying what I like most.” It slipped its claws down toward Lady Alore’s dress.
My movements were quicker than the vermin-like creature expected. The skin on his wrist burnt inches above the ball gown as my hand grabbed his in a vice like grip. His screams reached through the dark dense forest and winged creatures took flight bringing a commotion to the heavy silence.
“Timmins will not die like this,” it cried in defiance. “We will break through the realms!”
“So you’re Timmins,” I smirked. “For someone so well known for killing, you are certainly . . .” the pain hit me suddenly. A blinding pain so strong it blotted out everything else.
“Let go!” Timmins screamed. My grip tightened as the pain increased. “Nooooo!”
The scent of roasted flesh drifted through the silent air.
A hand touched my vested shoulder. My eyes opened to the vision of Lady Alore, her mahogany eyes filled with concern.
“He’s dead,” she declared as I turned to find the filthy creature I had held just a few seconds before.
I turn to the charred bones at my feet. He looked better dead than alive, the black teeth grinning out of the scorched skull.
“But I’m not,” huffed a deep threatening voice.
Large arms wrap around me clamping my arms to my body, restraint my burning touch from reaching his skin. A hissing sound pierced my ears, growing to a roar. I turned my head to see Lady Alore standing tall. Her eyes burned a fierce golden brown, the soft folds of her dress vibrating as the energy around her grew with every passing moment.
“I forgot about her,” said Brogan.
“Your mistake,” I said with a smile.
His sack cloth shirt turned to drifting mist as Alore lifted her arms to the sky. His evil soul, unable to stand against her energy, slowly disintegrated into the darkness. He struggled and staggered backwards. I turned to stop his retreat. Brogan’s evil was stronger than the many souls Alore had fought in the past. She shivered as her strength waned. My hands found his throat as his found mine.
“You will die too,” he groaned as the pain of his burnt soul ravaged his body.
“No,” said the quiet voice of Lady Alore. “Filth will be defeated with filth.”
Dirt pelted the eyes of the big man. Brogan loosened his grip slightly and that is all I needed. The burning took longer than it did with Timmins. This evil was deeper, blacker in the heart. I watched as his insipid body disintegrated under my heated touch. It was over.
Alore ran to me, enfolding me in her warm embrace. We both knew this moment wouldn’t last and relished the sweet embrace. I would return to my world and she to hers, but for this one moment, we had each other.
A soft light glowed from the old tree whose trunk seemed covered with baby ferns. Alore turned towards the light and grasped my hands, my deadly hands without flinching.
“Come with me Dre’gon. Let us go to the keeper of the realms together.” She pulled my willing body towards the old gnarled tree, only stopping to pick up a strangely shaped amulet from the ground. I frowned, recognising the shape of a dragon bracelet, but said nothing. She didn’t need to know this amulet belonged to the Dre’gon family. She had no need to worry of its curse.
The light shone brighter as we approached the tree and with the flexibility of a garden imp, she bent forward and pushed through the small wooden door to another realm filled with music and laughter. I sighed, knowing the implications of showing my face at the Masquerade Ball. My family were not welcome at such events and a strange feeling of foreboding filled my chest. My bright blue eyes flashed green as I pushed through the portal, a shadow following as deftly as death itself.
The final instalment of Masquerade will be tomorrow. Happy Halloween!
Special thanks to Ronovan, Lord Dre’gon, for this instalment of Masquerade II, as he shared his story of how he saved Lady Alore.