Tag Archives: Fantasy

28. Wand

“This is you getting back at me for dragging you to the Temple of Black Water, isn’t it? I knew it was coming.”

“Why on the War God’s Earth would I want to willingly run through the desert? No, this is not payback. This is me wanting to get paid. The reward is a good one.”

“But the desert is awful.” Absinthe groaned, looking over the paperwork that Alnyx had put in front of him. “It’s so hot and dry. Not to mention that the sand gets-Wait that many zeroes?”

“Yes. That many.” Alnyx preened the feathers of the hawk that had delivered the papers and then perched on his shoulder. “But you are right. We can always tell Garnet that we are not-”

“Fine fine, we can go to the bloody desert.”

“Should the heat really bother you that much? I mean…You are a demon so…You come from a plane of fire, do you not?

“Oh my Darling-”

“I told you not to call me that.”

“Mildly racist elf. Yes, I’ve got demonic blood. But, we aren’t ALL from planes of fire. My line hails from the plane of darkness.”

“I have literally seen you incinerate large groups of people.”

“We’re fire plane adjacent.”

Alnyx rolled his eyes, picking a scrap of meat from his plate to give t the bird. Once it swallowed, the creature flew out the open window it had come in through. Alnyx took the paperwork back from Absinthe, rolling it up carefully so not to tear or smudge anything.

“If we leave in the morning, we should have more than enough time to get there, complete the task ,and get back home in time for the new recruits ceremony. Malja will be so happy.”

“I hate those stupid things. The robes are so damn stuffy. There’s a reason I don’t like to stay in the Red City.”

“Yes, but Malja was our first LIttle Bird. So we have to be there.” Alnyx shook his head, the massive wolf at his feet standing as he did the same. “Try to get some sleep tonight. You are more of a pain when you do not.”

“Bed already? It’s barely half past ten. The night is so young.” Absinthe frowned at the elf. “Surely you can manage to stay up a little longer, Grandfather.” he batted the lashes that protected those bright, green eyes.

“We have a job to do. You can feel free to be exhausted and put yourself in danger. I have no such desire.”

“Does the stick ever come out of your ass?”

“You will never know.”

“Never say never, Al. I love a challenge.” Absinthe licked his lips as he watched the elf go. “And you are a fantastic one.”

 

As Alnyx had predicted, Absinthe was far from well rested for their ride to the southern desert. The elf constantly had to wake his companion who fell half asleep in the saddle at every chance.

“We are not taking the horses into the desert with us.” he warned. “And I doubt a camel will be as good about following order from you half asleep.”

“What are we even romping into the stupid sand for anywhere?” Absinthe shifted uncomfortably as Alnyx stared at him. “I didn’t actually read the contract. Just the number.”

“You…I am not surprised.” Alnyx shook his head. “We are going to find the tomb of an ancient wizard who was a religious leader. A collector is paying well for artifacts from the old world. The one attached to all those zeroes you saw was a very specific one. A wand, likely buried in the hand of the wizard’s corpse.”

“So we’re grave robbing?” Absinthe arched an eyebrow. “From a powerful dead wizard.”

“Grave robbing is such a strong series of words. The contractor is from the same religious tradition as the wizard was. Think of it as….Securing holy relics.”

“And I’m the evil bastard.”

 

It took them almost four days of travel by night to get to the site marked on their map. Alnyx rolled the parchment back up, lowering his hood.

“The entrance should be here.” he squinted his eyes. “Probably a rune on one of these stones. Start looking.”

“That’s hardly helpful.” Absinthe wrinkled his nose. “There are like a hundred rocks here.”

“If it was easy, they would not be paying us to do it.” Alnyx shook his head. “It will likely be some sort of warding glyph. You know what those look like, right?”

“I’m not an idiot.”

“Debatable.”

“What was that?”

“Nothing. Just get to looking. You too Fish.”

The wolf let out a single park before starting to sniff at some of the smaller rocks. Absinthe shook his head, waving his fingers to cause small whirlwinds that blew sand off of the stones.

“This is ridiculous.” he huffed, kicking one of the stones. “MOrtal wizards hiding their toms…If you were any good you wouldn’t have died in the first place!”

“As he kicked another stone, the ground under them rumbled. Fish lowered his ears, growling as his master rolled his eyes.

“Yes. Kick rocks outside the dead wizard’s tomb. An excellent idea. You certainly are not an idiot.”

“Hey I-”

“Move!” Alnyx lept, tackling him as the ground opened under where he had been standing.

“Wow that was-”

“Shut up.”

“But you-”

“You are annoying but I need you alive.  Alnyx dusted himself off as he stood, shaking sand out of his hair. “That is all.”

He walked to the edge of the hole as Absinthe pulled himself back onto his feet. Fish sat on the ground beside Alnyx, peering into the hole as well with a tilted head.

“Should be easy enough to climb down if we anchor a rope up here.” Anlyx nodded to himself, removing the backpack he wore and setting it in the sand. “Would you stop staring?”

“You save me.”

“Hardly the first time. It is not a big deal.”

“You normally just let me fall.”

“Would you like me to cut the rope as you go down? It would have the same effect.”

“Well no-”

“Good let us go then.” He started by trying off one end of the rope to a larger, half-buried stone. “FIsh, you stay here. You know what to do if anything comes up.” The Dog barked once after his master before the two began their climb.

 

“Better than the temple, right? No spider women.”

“No, just a wraith and his undead minions. The blood loss is making you delirious.”

“Maybe a little.”

They had managed to retrieve the wand, safe in its box within Alnyx’s cloak. But, in doing so they manage to wake the dead wizard from his “slumber,” along with the small army of skeletons that were buried with him.

“The way up should be this way.” Alnyx grabbed Absinthe’s arm before he could go the wrong way again. “Come on.”

He could nearly see the rope now. But, unfortunately, so could the wraith. Alnyx growled, pulling Absinthe harder as they sprinted down the corridor.

“Get up it. I can hold them back. Once we are in the sun, it should be easier for us to fight them off.”

“But I-”

“Go!”

Alnyx turned to face the oncoming skeleton horde, drawing the two short swords that were at his sides. He’d much have preferred having Fish down here with him. The wolf-

He felt the fireball before he saw it soar over his head. THe skeletons turned to ash before him, the wraith dissipating into smoke with a howl. He covered his mouth with a sleeve, smirking behind it.

“Is there a reason you didn’t so that a few minutes ago before you got chewed up?” he put his swords away, frowning when there was no biting response. “Absinthe?”

As he looked up, the man was limp, barely hanging on to the rope only a few feet above his head. Cursing under his breath, he climbed up and managed to get Absinthe on to his back, and carefully on to the ground. He head a single bark and a whimper from Fish above them.

“We are fine. Down boy.” Alnyx spoke calmly as he located Absinthe’s pulse. “Shit.” Faint. Very faint. “Come on you bastard.”

He moved and straddled Absinthe’s hips before digging into his bag for bandaging. They has a single tonic left that would help as well. Making a mental note to pick up a few more with their earnings, he undid the ridiculous clasps on the chest piece. He wrinkled his nose as he smelled more blood than he had before.

“Idiot.”

Working quickly, he bound the gashes tightly in order to stop the bleeding. With a pop that echoed in the empty tomb, he uncorked the small bottle of tonic. Alnyx leaned over his mostly unconscious partner, pouring it down his throat and coaxing it down with his fingers. He relaxed only when he finally saw his throat move as he swallowed.

“‘s that a wand in your pocket,” the acidic green eyes cracked open just to slits as he croaked the words out. “Or are you just happy to see me?”
“You great stupid bastard. You know well-”

The kiss silenced Alnyx faster than any argument in the last three years ever had.

“I…” the elf stood quickly, high cheekbones suddenly very pink.

“Bit of both I’d say.” Absinthe picked up the ruined chest armor from the ground, grabbing the rope. “Comeon. I hate the damn desert.”

The silence that followed him up the rope made him smirk. Nearly dying aside, it was quite the successful mission indeed.

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26. Rhythm

She still couldn’t figure out how Gray got his fingers to move like that. They seemed to glide across the frets, barely touching the wood. As he continued to play up on the stage, she glanced down at her hands.

They were too small, she rationalized. As she looked back up at the stage, she spread her fingers as far apart as she could manage. She tried to match the way Gray’s fingers bend, using the edge of the table as her own instrument. No matter how hard she tried, they just wouldn’t cooperate the way his seemed to.”

“Why so grumpy, Ophelia?”

“I can’t do it like you and Gray can. I’ve been practicing for at least an hour every day, just like you said. My fingers don’t work, Wraith.”

“Nonsense, they work just fine. Here, let me see them.” The woman held her hands out for the girl’s, turning the hands over front to back as they were placed in hers. “Hmm, as I suspected. They’re just fine.”

She bent each blood red digit, causing the girl to giggle. Wraith even bent them to take the shapes of the chords Gray played.

“See? Working perfectly. It just takes lots and lots of practice.”

“How does he do it so fast, though? It’s the extra joint, isn’t it?”

“Could be.” Wraith nodded. “He also has been playing for longer than three lives. You know how he loves that story.”

“It isn’t fair. I’ll never be as good as he is.”

“Aww, never say never.” Wraith tousled the girl’s violet hair. “Tell you what. I’ll ask him to stop over here after his set. He’ll be glad to hear that you’ve been practicing.”

“Okay. He won’t be disappointed that I can’t do it like him?”

“Of course not, Hun. Now enjoy the set.” Wraith was very careful to avoid the horns that hadn’t finished growing as she kissed the top of the girl’s head.

 

“There’s my favorite little Bardess in Training.”

“Gray!” The girl threw herself at the elf’s knees, hugging them tightly. “You sounded really good.”

“Thank you.” he ran his hand through her hair. “Wraith told me that you’ve been practicing.”

“Yeah.” she nodded, releasing his legs and plopping back into her chair, staring up at him. “I’ve been working on the fingerings that you showed me the last time you were in town.”

“Good, good.” he smiled, pulling up one of the other chairs. “Let’s see then.” When the girl went to grab the edge of the table, he shook his head. “Here.”

He removed the strap from his lute, smiling when her eyes widened. He remembered, for the briefest of moments, what it was like to be that young and excited. She took it carefully from it when he held it out, running a finger along each string. Once they made their way to the fret board, she had less a look of reverence, and more one of determination.

“This one is….A, right?”

“Yes. Go ahead, strum. Your fingers are correct.” he nodded as she did so. “A good first try. Now, move them to F.”

 

Thi went on for a good hour: he even walked her through the basics of a very short song. The girl was a quick study, which was good. They only lived as long as humans did, even with the horns.

“I have to go back now.” Ophelia sighed sadly, holding the instrument back out to Gray. “Do you know when you’ll be back?”

“I never know, Red.” he looked down at the instrument and smield again. “Know what….Keep it.”

“What? No, I couldn’t-”

“I have others.” he assured the girl. “I want you to keep it. That way, when I come back through town again, you’ll be even better.”

Ophelia stared down at the lute with wide eyes again. Setting it on the table she stood, hugging him tightly again. Gray smiled, rubbing the girl’s back gently when he heard the tiny sniffle.

“I wish I could go with you.”

“When you’re older, Little Red.” he promised her. “We’ll get into all sorts of trouble, and you’ll wish you had stayed here where it’s quiet and boring.”

She shook her head about the second half, slowly stepping back and releasing him.

“You promise?”

“Cross my ancient heart.” he drew a little “X” over the center of his chest. “Now, get home before you get into trouble with your mother.”

He watched her delicately put the lute across her back with the strap he handed back to her, as if it was something far more precious than stained wood. She ran out of the inn, beaming as she bounced.

“She’s going to be trouble one day.”

“I’m counting on it Wraith.” Gray chuckled. “Otherwise, I just lost a perfectly good lute.”

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95. Life

There was so much ash, it was hard to believe that there were ever trees in this place at all. Once the elementals had begun, there had been no stopping their assault until they had run out of kindling. Even then, it had proven costly to send them back to the Eternal Flame from which they had come.

“Are there any left, Peri?”

“Some of the old growth at the outer rim, Lady Shana. But not much.”

“I see.” The blonde elf woman shook her head in dismay as the dryad beside her pawed at the ground with one hoof. “I don’t see what the council thinks we can do here. Too much of it was raised.”

“Don’t talk like that, Lady Shana.” As the dryad tossed her head, charms in her hair tinkled and struck one another. “It may look dire, but I am sure there is something that can be done.”

The elf shook her head again in return, stooping down to pick up a handful of ash. Even months after the final fire burned its way out, the fine granules were still warm to the touch.

“The soil is baked. Saturated with the negative energy.”

“That isn’t a surprise.” Peri picked up a branch that crumbled in her nimble fingers. “It just needs a little more work that normal, that’s all.”

“These trees were older than the two of us put together, Periwinkle. We will be lucky to coax weeds to grow here now.”

“Always such a pessimist.”

Shana sighed, dusting off her knees as she righted herself once more. A sudden breeze kicked up clouds of the ash and soil, forcing the woman and foal to cover their mouths.

“Gods it tastes like death!” The poor dryad gagged as the wind howled a moan of pain across the barren landscape.

“There, while we wait for the wind to pass.” Shana pointed to two husks of tree that, while were long dead of anything green, were solid enough to hide beneath to block the worst of it.

 

“There were no survivors from your clan’s settlements, you are certain?” Periwinkle didn’t risk speaking again until they were safely under their make-shift cover.

“None. They were taken by complete surprise. Too deep in the heart of the trees for anyone to get word before the Candles made it to them.”

“How many?”

“Fifty-three. Ten are…Were…Children. We did not even have bodies to give their families back in the capital.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“As am I.” Shana leaned slightly against the badly damaged trunk. “But, sorry doesn’t break the dead back to us.”

“Perhaps that is a good thing. They are never quite the same the second time around.”

 

When the wind finally died down, it seemed to have taken at least some of the clouds with it. The midday sun peaked through , making the ground a little too warm.

“We’ll need to leave soon and come back. With the clouds going, I’d rather not get heat stroke out here.”

Periwinkle nodded to agree, starting to turn back to the circle they used to arrive. Her bright eyes widened as she paused in her turn, suddenly beaming.

“Shana wait!” she sprinted off to the west as quickly as her four legs would take her.

“Peri quit-” the elf groaned, running after her. “You do know how much faster you are, right?”

“I see green.”

“I think that the heat has made you delusional.” Shana shook her head. “Let’s just go back. We can return with a green mage and a few water skins tomorrow and-”

The dryad kicked up more and more dirt and ash as she dug in with her hooves. Shana coughed and covered her mouth again. She rolled her eyes but stayed put, waiting until the rhythmic pounding stopped before she lowered her arm.

In the space that Periwinkle hand cleared away, a small sprig of a plant stood. Probably a weed. Or likely something parasitic that was feeding off the latent magical energy…But it was a start.

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27. Sword

“It’s only a little further now. Come on, keep up.”

“You said that almost an hour ago, Absinthe. You will have to forgive me if I do not believe you.”

“You’re just upset that you got mud on your boots.”

“Yes, a warning would have been appreciated.”

“It’s called The Temple of Black Waters. What on Earth were you expecting?”

“Water. Not mud.”

The man named Absinthe laughed, stepping over yet another puddle of mud that was deceptively deeper than it looked. His companion’s growl made it that much sweeter.”

“You had better hope that it is here, Absinthe.”

“Or what, Alnyx?”

“You know exactly what.”

“Oh baby, don’t tease me like that.”

Alnyx rolled his eyes, pushing past the other man and towards the tree line, where it finally began to thin out just a little. Absinthe followed behind him, fingers glowing violet as they stepped forward.

“Ancient crumbling stone and ominous clouds? Looks like the place.”

“Good. Let us get your toy and get out.”

“You’re so fiery today. I like it.”

“Shut. Up.”

 

“There it is. Have you ever seen anything so perfect before in your life?”

“You’re kidding me, right?”

Alnyx was covered in mud from outside, a spike from a trap had torn his cloak, and a skeleton managed to sink its teeth into his left forearm. Murder was more present than usual in his almond shaped eyes.

“It glows, look at it! It’s going to be fantastic. Formerly owned by a Chaos lord…You can’t tell me it’s not the most beautiful-Oww!” The almond-eyed man rammed a dagger into Absinthe’s thigh, pulling it back out only once he was silenced. “You’re not mad at me are you? Seriously?”

“You dragged me through a swamp. For a stupid glowing sword.” the elf wiped the blood off of the blade onto his torn cloak. “Yes, I am mad at you.”

“You know that I don’t-”

“No no. Go on. Get your stupid sword. Clearly you need it.” Alnyx moved his hand in a shooing motion.

Absinthe growled, placing a hand against the fresh wound as he stepped forward. He’d have to do something to placate his moody elf later. First, there was treasure to-

He shouted as the ground fell from under him, revealing the six foot deep pit full of asps that had been under it. Removing his hand from his leg, the glow from before began to surrounded the beasts.

“You knew that was there, didn’t you.”

“Yes.” Alnyx smirked, pleased with himself as he walked to the edge of the pit and looked down as the asps began to explode into goo one by one.

“And you aren’t going to help me out of this, are you?”

“No.”

“Would it help if I said I was sorry?” Absinthe lowered his hand as the last snake popped.

“No.”

He groaned as he carefully pulled himself out, using his magic to make himself footholds in the stone. Once he was finally on the temple floor again, he took the last steps across to the black stone altar. He removed the longsword from the stand it was displayed in, unsheathing it from the scabbard. As he held it up, a deep red aura began to pulsate from it.

“Nothing to it.” he picked the scabbard up, inspecting the violet gems that it was inlaid with.

“Absinthe-”

“Oh now you want to speak?”

“Put it back in the scabbard. We need to go. Now.”

“I don’t know. I think I rather fancy this place.” Absinthe walked across the dias, swiping at the air with the blade. “We should clean it up. It would make a nice little base.”

“We need to go now.”

“Ugh, Alnyx stop. I’m sorry, okay? I should have told you that it was in a swamp, I get it.”

He blinked when he looked to the elf and saw that he had his longbow drawn, pointed upwards at the ceiling. Specifically, at the half spider-half woman that was descending from it.

“Oh now we HAVE to stay.”

“If you do not stop talking and start stabbing-” Alnyx snarled as the blood spatter hit him.

“Sorry!”

“No you are not.”

“Nope, I’m not!”

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39. Hunger

“Do you really have to hide under that ridiculous thing?”

“Do you really want to carry a pile of ash back to the apartment? I’d rather not come back missing a finger.”

Christopher laughed. It was hard not to with the way his fiance’s fingers tightened on the handle of the black umbrella. With the fact there was not a single cloud in the sky, it probably looked strange to anyone else walking down the street. After all, the messily cropped black hair and deep brown eyes meant that Erik wasn’t an albino or anything.

“I could deal with a missing finger or two. Though there is one appendage I’d rather not risk you losing…”

“Why did I let you drag me out here again? It’s so bright out.” Erik withdrew his sunglasses from his pocket, putting them on so he could stop squinting.

“Because I want ice cream, that’s why. And you love me. So quit your bitching and keep walking.”

Before Erik could groan back at him, Christopher leaned up and kissed him, faces hidden under the brim of the Umbrella. The taller man sighed, wrapping an arm around him while being careful not to poke it out from the shade.

“I hate you.”

“Liar. Ohh, Baskin Robbins!”

Christopher grabbed Erik’s hand, pulling him down the street to the store. The umbrella stayed up until they were fully inside, which got a few looks. Erik’s glare kept them quiet though.

“I’m gonna get a pint.” Christopher’s smile made Erik smile.

“Whatever you want, Love. Just make it quick.” he nudged him toward the counter.

 

Curled back up on the couch in their two bedroom apartment, Christopher tossed the lid of the ice cream at his dark haired partner who was headed into the kitchen.

“Babe, grab me a spoon!”

“After you throw things at me? Have you ever heard the saying you get more flies with honey than with vinegar?”

“Grab me a spoon please?”

“Better.”

He came back with the spoon and sat beside him before handing it over. Christopher curled up happily against his side as he dug the spoon into the container.

“Want some?”

“Seriously?”

“Sorry, habit. At least I offered.”

He pulled up a chunk of the green colored ice cream and slurped it off of the spoon. Erik looked down at the noise, licking as he watched Christopher suck the cream from the spoon. The next spoonful was accompanied by a moan that wasn’t normally reserved for eating. Erik licked his own lips as he watched the smaller man lick partially melted ice cream off of his hand that had dripped onto it.

His dark eyes flashed black, saliva building in his mouth and fangs extending as he watched Christopher’s eyes closed. Christopher paid no mind, continuing to moan and wriggle happily over the ice cream pint.

“I haven’t had mint chocolate chip in so long. I wish that you could-”

He opened his eyes and glanced up at Erik. The way the vampire licked his lips made him swallow what was still in his mouth. He set the spoon on his knee, putting the container on the coffee table in front of them.

“Hungry?”

“Thought you’d never ask.”

The spoon clattered to the ground as Erik pinned Christopher to the arm of the couch. The moan as fangs pierced skin was the same as when the mortal had his first taste of ice cream. The rumble of a laugh against his flesh caught Christopher off guard.

“What’s so funny?” He panted, trying to catch his breath as the fangs shifted under his skin.

Muffled through a mouth of blood that tripped across his chin, Erik managed to get out:

“You taste like mint chocolate chip.”

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20. Poison

The Midsummer Ball was always the best one of the year if you asked any of the bards with a lick of sense. It paid the best, and there was no snow to trudge through. As the leader of the Court Musicians, it was Ophelia’s job to see all the visiting bards in. And check them for contraband, but that was much lower on her list of priorities.

“Davish, how are the kids?”

“Marchelle, you’re married now?!”

“A wild boar you say? Shame, he was always so handsome.”

She missed everything thanks to this contract. Sure, the pay was fantastic, and her rooms in the castle were beyond exquisite….But her blades had grown dull, and her adventuring boots hadn’t seen oil in ages. The itch to learn a new story with her own eyes and ears was no longer satisfied with just a gentle scratch.

“Now now, my sweet Ophelia. Why the frown?”

“Grey…”

The next name on the list, and the tall, slender man who came attached to it were always a sight for sore eyes. He signed his name on the line before hugging the woman who threw herself against his chest.

“I’ve made a terrible mistake, Grey. I”m not ready to settle yet. But I have a year left on the stupid paper I signed.”

“Oh my little Ravenwing.” he cooed, running a hand through her dark hair, fingers brushing across a feather that was hidden in the strands. “I told you that before you came up here to the frosty north, didn’t I?”

“I never listen.” she sniffled, releasing the man. “Can you help? I don’t know how to get out of it.”

“I may have something that I can work out…But I won’t do it for you. You’ll have to do it yourself.”

“I can do the hard part. I’m not a child.”

“Sure you aren’t.” he chuckled as she fussed and fixed her hair to again lie flat. “Come and find me when you’re done playing scribe.”

“You’re the best, Grey.”

“Don’t I know it.”

 

“It was the damndest thing. Lord Alaris was healthy as a horse just a few days ago. His poor wife. And the children!”

“Oh don’t think too hard about his wife. She was sleeping with the jailer, didn’t you know? She’s not half as innocent  as that pretty smile makes her out to be.”

“The jailer? No! You don’t think that he…”

“The man locks murderers up for a living, you don’t think that he could have learned a few things?”

As Ophelia walked at Grey’s side, she absently twirled a glass vial in her fingers. Green liquid sloshed with each twitch. She frowned as she listened to the little whispers, looking up at Grey.

“You know my way would have been a lot more fun.”

“And obvious considering the man paid you to do the same to his rivals.” Grey patted her shoulder gently. “We’ll make a lady out of you yet, Ophelia.”

“Says the man whose plan ruined a perfect good set of silken sheets and woke half the guard.”

“But we’re leaving, aren’t we? And you didn’t have to do anything but whisper. Much less messy. Words are a much more effective venom than your Nightshade.”

Ophelia rolled her eyes, leaning on him as they walked through the gates. It didn’t matter how she got out of the city. All that mattered was her boots were oiled, her blades tended to, and she could work again. And the Gods help the Northern kingdoms because of it.

 

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11. Shadow

Kelsey was always warned that it was dangerous for pretty girls to walk alone late at night. Men were monsters, or at least that was what her mother and the news always tried to tell her. And after Jessica got attacked on her way home from school a few weeks before, maybe Alicia Martin and Fox News had been right. Kelsey never much cared, or worried, about these sorts of things, though. After all, summer in Nevada was way too warm to wear anything but shorts and tank tops.
Maybe an inch above her fingertips was a little shorter than her father, and her Good Christian upbringing, would have liked. But, that was why she didn’t live at home any more. Well, that and her mother couldn’t cook for shit.
With her headphones on, she couldn’t hear much else but Brittany pre-meltdown as she danced her way down the sidewalk. It had been a long shift at the bar, but she was still burning with energy. As she spun around at a red light, her backpack hitting against her back as she did so, hips swaying as she stopped. The woman in the car beside her smiled and waved back before the light turned green.
Kelsey didn’t know that she wasn’t alone until she passed under the street lamp and saw the second shadow up against the wall of the drug store two blocks away from her apartment. The figure’s breathing was erratic, as if it had been running to keep up with her. Or, more likely, from adrenaline. She did not turn to face it, but instead reached up to remove the buds from her ears, tucking them under the strap of her bag so they wouldn’t hit the ground. She slowly raised her empty hands when she saw the shadow’s arm go up.
“You really don’t want to do this, dude.” She said, wincing when she turned around to see the barrel of a gun not far from her pointy little nose.
“Give me your wallet, now.”
“Okay, but it’s in my bag so I have to-”
“And your phone too.”
“Calm down, Buddy.” she slowly began to lower her arms, in order to shift to remove her backpack.
When she heard the gun cock back, she froze. Her shadow, however, did not. A scream pierced the air as she turned back around and un-tucked her earbuds from the backpack strap and readjusted it to balance the weight again. She only heard the scream for a moment before putting the headphones back in. She looked to the wall though, watching as the tendrils that extended from her image against the wall. She turned up the music when she watched two of them go clear through the other human shape, so she wouldn’t hear the screaming. She frowned a little when she felt the first splash of blood hit the back of her neck.
“I told you that you didn’t want to do it.” she wiped it off of the back of her neck, glad the tank-top was black instead of the pretty pink one she was going to wear. The tendrils slowly began to take her shape once more as she walked out of the small circle of light. ” They never listen.”

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