It’s been a while since we’ve heard from our friends Aevyrn and Donovan, hasn’t it? Time for another excerpt!
[On holiday, Aevyrn and his friend Donovan, two elf military trainees, decide to go for a forest romp and get hopelessly lost. After being attacked by unknown creatures, Aevyrn finds himself in the company of a fairy woman who tends to his wounds, but he fears for the safety of his friend.
Where is Donovan? What has become of him?]
This was just supposed to be a little romp. Oh, Aev. You always get me into trouble. Donovan chuckled dryly. The sawing laugh sounded muffled, swallowed by whatever bound him hand and foot… whatever was blocking out the light all around him. It felt as if leaves and slimy vines clung to his body. He hung by his ankles, though how far off the ground he sat, he couldn’t say. The darkness was complete, oppressive. It squeezed his chest like a vice. He was light-headed; his skull felt as though it were being pressed from every angle. Guess we got your adventure, after all, Aev. His laugh turned into a thick, phlegmy cough. At least, he hoped it was phlegm. Though the pain that wracked his body seemed to suggest otherwise. Then he felt and heard something enormous—something heavy—shift, the sound like that of a forest being billowed by the wind before a squall. Have our attackers arrived at last? Donovan wriggled against his bonds, but whatever ropes held him fast were too tight to release him so easily. “Not very nice to throw your house-guests in the broom closet!” he called in the direction of the shifting noises. Then he heard the windy noise he’d heard during the attack: like a storm ripping a hundred trees up by the roots. The bitter chill wind rippled down his back and hit him full in the face. It felt like being frozen solid. But even these things paled to the dreadful sensation of evil sizing him up. He could feel more than see a presence now looming in front of him, eyeing him. Compared to the darkness all around Donovan, this massive shadow before him—half the size of a house—was even more dark. Rather than obscure light, this… thing seemed to nearly absorb it. Donovan gritted his teeth into a grimacing smile. “Well? What’s the matter? Afraid to show your face? Ugly one, are you?” Another bitter wind billowed, this time buffeting Donovan side to side. Suddenly, he could sense more of the creatures, standing all around him. Staring. He couldn’t see any eyes or faces, but he knew they were there; he could feel their gazes boring into him, as if peeling back his skin, muscle, and bone to stare straight at his soul. The creaking of wood echoed in his ears, and a massive branch with claw-like talons reached out of the darkness toward him: a gnarled, twisted, ash-black thing. Each of its fingers twitched and wriggled unsettlingly, its claws flexing closer and closer toward him. “Keep your paws to yourself!” Donovan barked, again pulling against his bonds and setting himself swinging further side to side. But the hand ignored his cries. A talon reached for his temple and touched it. A cold like the dead of winter rippled down his skull to his spine. Then, Donovan watched in horror as the talon sunk into his forehead! He could feel no pain. He was still alive. But he something worse than pain or death seeped into his bones. Something much worse. Something impossible to rightly describe, colder than a chill. It felt as though his very life-essence was slowly eking away. The shadowy figures began to sway side to side. They made no sound. The talon didn’t move from its place, still seemingly piercing his forehead. He could feel them drawing energy from himself… and doing who knew what else to him. But he couldn’t move. He couldn’t even scream! All Donovan could do was watch in horror as the evil beings fed off his energy. And when that was spent? Who knew what wicked purposes they’d have for him next. Ave, you’d better get here soon! Donovan thought… but his mind was beginning to feel muddled. Who was Ave, again? He couldn’t quite recall…
Characters and story inspired by Mitchell Anderson and me.