Category Archives: Short Stories

Sunken Dreams

Isla was the first of her friends to arrive at the ship, as Cora and Kendra could never beat her in a race. She looked up at the ship in awe. It had sunk years before she was born, and the metal was covered in algae and rust. There was something written on the bow, but she couldn’t read much of the human language.  Kendra would know what it said, assuming she ever caught up to read it.

Isla scanned the area for signs of sharks; sunken ships were one of their favorite haunts. She thought she saw something in a porthole, but it was gone before she could identify it.

“Isla!” Cora had finally caught up with Kendra not far behind, “Why do you always feel the need to swim ahead?”

“Sorry,” Isla said, “but I was so excited to see the wreck, I forgot to slow down.”

Continue reading Sunken Dreams

Castle of Crows – Part 14

The hall was empty when I slipped into it, and I grabbed onto the Fortuna coin once more as I tried to decide which way to go. Left felt luckier, though it was the way we’d come from, and I quietly crept down the hall. I continued on like that, holding onto the coin and letting it guide me, always following my first instinct.

Continue reading Castle of Crows – Part 14

The Adventures of Thalia and Friends: Candy Run

Springtime is a good time for my friends and me. It starts warming up, for one thing, and then the humans all start spending time outside, which means we have free reign over their rooms. The best part of spring though, at least in my opinion, is the candy.

I’ve never been sure what it is about this time of year that causes the humans to start hoarding candy, and they don’t all do it. Last year a bird named Melpomene got trapped in the building, and she said the humans collected candy as part of a ritual for appeasing the little humans, but that never made sense to me since our building doesn’t have any small humans in it.

Regardless of why they do it, every year without fail, the humans gather up bags and bags of sugary, delicious candy, and then leave it all in their rooms to go sit outside on a blanket for no apparent reason.

Usually, it’s just Calliope and me who go on candy runs together, but today we’d been invited over by one of the rats who lived on the fourth floor, and oh, how that changed things.

“Thalia! Calliope! There you are!”

Erato greeted us with excitement in her voice, already practically bouncing with excitement. I tried not to visibly swoon. Erato is the cutest rat I’ve ever met, and she’s pretty much perfect in every possible way. Hanging out with her is amazing, but it’s also terrifying because I worry about messing things up by saying something dumb.

Today though, today we had candy to eat. And doesn’t that just make every situation better? Especially when Erato led us back to the room she liked to stay in and revealed the giant bag of colorful little beans that was sitting on the floor.

“Gosh, your humans are great,” Calliope said, staring up at the bag in awe.

“It’s being held shut by a bag clip,” Erato said smugly, grabbing onto the edge of the bag and bringing it down to our level. The simple plastic clip came off with ease, as it didn’t even require opposable thumbs to remove. Silly humans.

The bag opened, and a wave of sugary goodness spilled out across the floor. It was amazing. It was colorful. It smelled so good. It was absolutely—

“Ahhhh! Ew! Oh my god, there are rats in my dorm!”

The three of us looked up in panic to see that the door had opened and Erato’s humans had returned.

“Uh oh.”

“Eeeek! Kill it! Kill them! This is so gross!”

“We should run now.”

Castle of Crows – Part 13

It took a while before the fear faded enough for me to move again. I crept out from behind the couch carefully, taking in the wreckage of the once beautiful room. There was broken glass, loose feathers, and even blood scattered across the room. Several pieces of furniture had been smashed, and I flinched as my mind matched the wreckage with the thuds and crashes I’d heard earlier.

I moved towards an opened but undamaged armoire; had someone been hiding in it? I replayed the fight in my head. Baron must have tried to hide in plain sight, posing as a decoration. Lilith had also likely hidden in crow form, and probably hadn’t shifted back during the fight. Which left Nixie, who had first spoken from this side of the room.

I pulled the doors open further, finding coats and scarves and, tucked in one corner, the set of glowing bottles Nixie had grabbed. She’d called them elemental grenades and said that each color was different, but she hadn’t explained them further. I grabbed them anyway; it just felt like the right thing to do. I scanned the room again, remembering one of the other objects Nixie had taken from Aunt Pen’s tower and the clatter I’d heard when Amos grabbed her.

At first, I didn’t see anything that wasn’t broken, but I also didn’t see anything that looked like it had been a box, so I decided to peek under what was left of the furniture. In the end, I found it tucked under the splintered remains of an ornate end table. Nixie’s box, which she said was a prison, and Amos had said only a human could use.

The box didn’t look very special; it was small enough to fit in my hand, made out of light wood with a carving of a Celtic knot on the top. As far as I could tell there was no way to open it, and while I could feel its power, I didn’t know how to trigger it. I sighed, the fear from earlier coming back as I slipped the box into my pocket anyway.

I was all alone in a strange world, and the only people who could help me were captured. I thought of Macey, safe in the tower with Alexei. Would the plan have worked if I’d stayed with her instead? I thought about trying to get back to her, but I didn’t know the way, and there was no amount of dumb luck that would get me back to the human world, magic coin or not.

Thinking of the coin, I slipped my hand into my pocket, rubbing it between two fingers. Was it the reason I hadn’t been caught with everyone else? And, more importantly, would it be enough to help me slip through the mansion undetected?

I felt a warm pulse of magic wash over me at the question and had the sudden feeling that yes, it could do that. I thought back to Lilith’s advice when I picked the coin, telling me to follow my first instinct. The coin had called to me then, and it seemed like it was calling to me now, telling me what to do. I took a deep breath, then turned and made my way to the door. It was time to follow my gut.

Child of Starlight: I.3 – P.4: Walking Death P.2

Jacobus turned around to the empty clearing now only littered with possessions and the few corpses. “Grim though it may seem, it would be a shame to leave it all. They may come back and re-arm themselves.”

Aliene handed him his pack and nodded as the two began collecting up the supplies. Jacobus dressed, adding the Schillian armor and sword, as well as a pair of heavy boots from a pile. Aliene found a purple tunic without sleeves as well. She took a recurve bow, testing the draw; satisfied, she smiled. The two picked up as much as they could and began walking, never catching sight of the other bandits.

Within an hour, the two reached a large road made from smooth stone. It stretched far into the distance in either direction. The Fuschian Road, as it was called, became a bridge of equal splendor reaching over the river they had been following. Aliene knelt down, rubbing her hand over the stone. “So this is the great pathway carved by an old Divine Mage.”

“It is the safest way to travel; some think that the magic the Divine used lingers. This keeps the beasts at bay to a degree,” Jacobus said, looking around along the tree line.

“You think magic could last that long? It was hundreds of years ago.” Aliene rose as she asked the question. Continue reading Child of Starlight: I.3 – P.4: Walking Death P.2

Castle of Crows – Part 11

The change was instant. As dim as the woods had seemed before, they were even darker now, and when I looked up I could no longer see the sky above me, but it didn’t seem like it was day anymore. When I turned back I could still see the castle, and it was even still day there, but everything past the fence was foggy and seemed distant. Baron stepped through behind me, and as he stepped through he became clearer. It was a strange thing to watch, and I turned back to look at the woods instead.

The feeling of power was intensified here, and I felt other kinds of magic besides the trees. The trees were tall, and it almost seemed like they moved every time I looked away from them. There was a clear path leading away from the fence, but it branched off the further we moved from the fence. Everything about this place seemed unnatural to me, and I was very glad that I wasn’t alone.

Lilith was leading now, and no matter how many times the trail split she never seemed unsure of where to go. It was quiet as we walked, quieter than any forest ought to be, and while we saw no creatures of any kind, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were being watched. The forest didn’t change as we walked, and the only way I could tell that we’d moved was that I could no longer see the fence behind me, which didn’t really make me feel any better. I almost thought we must have gotten lost, but the others showed no signs of unease past their extra alertness. Continue reading Castle of Crows – Part 11

Child of Starlight: I.3 – P.4: Walking Death P.1

“I, Abijah Crimson, am a priest Cruor, the master of bloodshed.” Abijah let his arms fall slowly, then drew the claymore from his back. “You can make your deaths easier by” – he paused, fixing his gaze on Aliene – “removing anything of value.” He traced over her outline in the air with the tip of his blade, the glaring eyes shining with a dull red beneath strands of bright hair. Snickering from the group behind him made a toothy grin split Abijah’s face as his reach encompassed the two travelers.

Continue reading Child of Starlight: I.3 – P.4: Walking Death P.1

The Arcade – Part 2

When Saturday morning came, Darren had his mom drop him off at the library at 8:30, with the promise that he’d be ready to leave by four. Hopefully that would give him and Jake enough time to really explore, and maybe if the plan went well, they could do it again.

“Bye sweetheart! I love you!” his mother said, waving at him as he got out of the car.

“Bye, mom. I love you, too.”

Darren made his way into the library, greeting the librarian with a nod before moving to one of the back tables, far from her sight. Now he just had to wait for Jake to see what his friend had brought to serve as a disguise. Hopefully it would be an effective one.

Jake arrived at 9:02 and handed Darren a Walmart bag filled with clothes.

“Alright, go put this stuff on and tell me what you think.”

Darren took the bag and made his way to the bathroom to change, being careful to stay out of sight, just in case someone was in the mood to gossip. Jake’s disguise bag had several different options, and Darren took his time looking through it once he was alone. Continue reading The Arcade – Part 2

Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 4: Necessities – Part 2

The mundane noises of the morning grated on Aliene as she caved in, asking, “Do you have a large family?”

Jacobus flinched slightly. “Yes,” he paused, gathering the words, “as far as I know, my parents still live and I have a few brothers and sisters as well.”

“A few?” Aliene took a moment; most parents only had two or three children within the tribes. “That normal for most families in Schillia?”

“Generally, though mine is still bigger than most. I was the ninth child of ten.” Jacobus was staring at his fish as if it would disappear. “Most of us had joined the armies, I don’t know where they all are now.”

Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 4: Necessities – Part 2

Castle of Crows – Part 10

After all the noise of the night before, I’d expected there to be a little damage to the staircase outside the door, but given how firmly shut the door had stayed I had figured the rest of the hall would be similarly resilient. I was very wrong.

The walls were covered in large scratches and scorch marks, and what was left of the staircase was mostly just rubble.

“Careful going down, Dillon,” Nixie said, leading the way down. I didn’t know how she felt comfortable walking down the stairs barefoot, but I very thankful for my sneakers as I picked my way around the rubble. As soon as we had all made it through the door Macey shut it behind us, and the hallway was plunged into darkness. It was quiet except for the sound of the locks clicking into place, and I wondered if the others were taking a moment to let their eyes adjust too. Could crows see in the dark? Or did that not matter, because they were technically magical creatures?

I could see the faintest light from up ahead, but the stairs curved so much that it didn’t really help me. I could barely even see my own hand in front of my face, let alone a safe path down the stairs. It made me wish I’d thought to take the candle with me, at least then I’d have something to see by. Although… Nixie never said that I had to have a candle to make fire. Continue reading Castle of Crows – Part 10

Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 4: Necessities – Part 1

Dreams of gnashing teeth and yellow eyes plagued Aliene as she slept; the vague sense of danger scratched at her mind until it broke through, snapping her awake. Under the pale light of a waxing moon and shimmering stars, numerous eyes peered at her from the edge of the campsite. Aliene grabbed hold of the instinctual fear within her and strangled it angrily, sharing the feelings through her reach as she let it expand. The watching eyes blinked, dissolving back into the forest, leaving only the slight rustle of grasses and leaves.

Aliene woke up again to the more pleasant greetings of the sun reaching over her and Jacobus. Blinking away sleep, Aliene sat up looking around the camp listening intently. Beneath the calls of birds and other small animals the steady slushing sounds of the river beckoned to her. Aliene rummaged through her pack, retrieving the replacement shirt in a similar style to Jacobus’, and the pair of loose pants both were dark blue. As she took her clothes out and stood to leave Jacobus sat up yawning, “Be back in a few.” She ventured away from their camp as he signed a thumbs up.

The small river Jacobus found a few days ago had been working well as a guide for the past couple of days. They had shared each other’s skills to determine what work would be best, she had come to accept the monk was going to be better in direct combat, the man was tough above all else. He had been interested to learn of her stealthy approach but wasn’t surprised given her hunter label. Aliene let her mind wander to the many questions still lingering within her mind as she became accustomed to the rivers chilled waters. She scrubbed herself as best she could finding a few scratches and bruises that had yet to heal fully. After rinsing her old clothes she stepped from the water, placing her palms together. Aliene focused her reach to the surface of her skin gently raising the temperature and drying away the water. Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 4: Necessities – Part 1

The Arcade – Part 1

Darren had never been to an arcade, but they’d always seemed like fun when he saw them on TV. So, when his best friend proposed that they check out the new one that had just opened across town, Darren had initially been excited by the idea.

“So you’ll come with me this Saturday?” Jake asked, grinning over the homework that only Darren was bothering to do.

Darren slumped, feeling defeated. “I can’t, you know how my mom is. I never get to do anything fun. She’s only letting me hang out with you because she thinks I’m tutoring you.”

“You could tutor me just as effectively at the arcade,” Jake argued, leaning back in his chair and twirling his pen between his fingers. Darren rolled his eyes.

“You mean because I’m completely ineffective as a tutor?” Darren said, glaring at Jake’s unfinished, unstarted, math homework.

“Nah, you’re a great tutor, dude,” Jake said. “I totally understand this stuff thanks to you, and if I actually cared, you’d have gotten my grade up to an A ages ago.”

Darren snorted, turning back to his own homework with a shake of his head. Jake’s math grade was a lost cause, and everyone knew it.

“So! Arcade?” Jake asked, leaning forward again and slamming the front legs of his chair down. The librarian shot them a dirty look, and Darren gave her an apologetic smile.

“Jake, I’d love to, but my mom’s never gonna say yes,” Darren said, shaking his head in dismay. “Sorry man.”

“So don’t ask!” Jake said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “Just say you’re going to the library or something.”

“And what if someone sees me at the arcade? If it gets back to her that I lied, she’d never let me out again,” Darren said. “It’s too risky.”

“So then we’ll disguise you!” Jake said. “Look, tell your mom you want to spend the day studying, then I’ll meet you here with a killer disguise that no PTA mom would ever see through, and then we can sneak over to the arcade and actually have fun and be normal teenagers for once! Then we sneak back to the library, you change back into your boring regular clothes, and your mom is none the wiser! It’s genius.”

“It’s certainly something,” Darren said, giving his friend an eyeroll.

“But is it something that you’ll agree to?” Jake asked, looking at his friend imploringly. Darren knew that if he said no, Jake would respect his wishes and drop it. Jake was a good friend like that, always encouraging Darren to have fun without ever really pushing him out of his comfort zone. If he wanted to, Darren could end this conversation. But I don’t want to.

“Alright, I’ll meet you here on Saturday and if your disguise for me is convincing enough, we can go to the arcade,” Darren said. “But only if it really is convincing!”

Jake grinned, “Whoo!”

“Shhh!” the librarian practically hissed, and Jake at least had the decency to look ashamed.

“Sorry, Ma’am,” he said, “I’ll be quiet.” The librarian didn’t seem very convinced, but she left them be.

“Alright, well I’m gonna go get started on your disguise,” Jake said, shoveling his things into his backpack. All of his papers were going to be crushed, but Darren did his best not to be worried by that fact. It wasn’t like Jake was going to turn any of them in. “I’ll see you Saturday morning at nine, okay?”

“Okay,” Darren said, putting his own homework away, though much more carefully than his friend had. Saturday was three days away, and Darren couldn’t wait.

Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 3: Cage of Freedom – Part 2

The two trekked in silence for a while until Aliene interrupted the quiet. “Where do you think we should go?”

Jacobus bit his lip as he thought. “To find a map, get supplies, or wait. Do you have any money or something we could trade?”

Aliene stopped walking her eyes widening a bit. “So, is it just me or is having so many choices just as annoying as having none?”

Jacobus smiled. “We assume freedom is a luxury, something so enjoyable, but structure gives us focus, and focus makes us better,”

Aliene laughed dryly. “Didn’t realize monks became so versed in the ways of life.” Aliene spread her arms dramatically, punctuating her statement with a smirk.

The monk mimicked her laugh. “They do not mostly. That was from my first commander.” Jacobus looked into the distance, caught in a provoked memory that smeared a thin smile on his face.

Aliene adjusted the straps on her shoulders, taking a moment to appreciate the plant life thriving around them. Small creatures scurried about, the pleasant smell a welcome relief after the Morbid Row had clouded the senses with smells of wet rot. She was pulled from her instinct to catalog her surroundings by an itching thought. “You said first commander. Did you have many others?”

“Three in total, all great leaders, but the first and third were good men as well.” Jacobus lost the subtle smile he had been wearing. “Did you have only one?”

Aliene hesitated to answer. It occurred to her that the world at large didn’t know a lot about the tribes; it was something Misten wanted apparently. Her stream of thoughts was brought to a halt when she realized she had thought the tribes, not her tribes. Aliene felt her stomach tighten. She had to blink rapidly as she processed her realization. She wasn’t a member; had she ever been? Was she bound to the rules still? Should she even care?

Jacobus looked over to her as she had been quiet for a few minutes. She looked back at him and cut him off before he could speak, “Yes, just one. The tribes prefer a one-to-one mentor system as it keeps the training focused.”

Jacobus nodded. “Sounds logical. We train in such large groups that much of what we learn must be uncomplicated and easy to build on quickly. Simply a difference in scale again.”

The two finally reached a small clearing as the sun began sagging on the horizon and made camp. Aliene left the fire to Jacobus and set out with her short sword to catch something to eat. She managed to catch a rabbit and returned to Jacobus weaving a cone of reeds by the fire.

“I’ll go and place this in the stream I found nearby,” Jacobus pointed, indicating the direction. “Should be able to trap some fish overnight.”

Aliene nodded and set to preparing her catch. “I’ve given it some thought, what we should do first.” Jacobus looked up but continued weaving, waiting for her to continue. “If we want to do anything, we will need money, but I don’t really know where we could go to earn anything quickly.”

Jacobus nodded. “I passed a small village that’s along the coast east of here; they should have some problem that we can solve.”

Aliene stared into the fire watching the flames dance, some jumping up to lick the meat of her rabbit. Is such a mundane path really all I have? The thought pressed to escape her mouth but she held it back by pursing her lips. She looked up to the stars as they glittered above, so detached from where she sat.

Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 3: Cage of Freedom – Part 1

Songs from a dozen birds filled Aliene’s ears as she woke, and she nearly jumped from her bedroll, the quick movements causing the birds to flutter into the sky. Aliene let her mind run down its list of questions quickly – she was awake, sore but not injured; good start. The thought of her magic bow sent an alarm through Aliene until she slammed her hands down and found it by her side. Her pack was at the foot of her bedroll. She finally caught up with her instinctive thoughts as the fog of sleep left and she noticed Jacobus off to the edge of the small clearing. He was facing away from her, sitting cross-legged, his tunic gone, and Aliene had the answer to what happened at the end of their fight.

Jacobus’ back had numerous marks all over it, from small scrapes to deep ragged slashes. He had caught her; the bow had drained too much from her and knocked her out. The force of the bolt firing had sent her flying since she wasn’t on the ground. In a split-second, Jacobus had caught Aliene and shielded her as they both slammed through the wall of branches and thorns. Aliene was about to speak then noticed the monk had old scars along his back that outnumbered the fresh wounds; the thought twisted her mind from thanks, to concern, to questions.

“The scratches look worse than they are. How are you feeling?” Jacobus’ voice was calm, as if they hadn’t just faced a forest guardian and lived to tell.

“I’m fine, did the Leshii come after us?” Aliene asked, adjusting her shirt and trousers after sleeping in them for what must have been the whole night.

Jacobus turned just his head looking over his shoulder. “So, you did not see what happened?”

“No, it all went dark after I fired.”

The monk turned the rest of himself around. He looked ragged with darkened bags beneath his eyes. “All that was left of that beast was the two small stumps it had for feet.” He paused for a moment then finished speaking. “With that bow, you vaporized the Leshii. That shot was awe-inspiringly powerful.”

Aliene would have been shaken if she wasn’t so physically tired. She pulled the bow from her side and examined the blue, metal-like frame. She ran her fingers over the fins that extended out. “But it has a drawback.” Aliene smiled lightly from her vocalized thought, though Jacobus didn’t seem to catch her second meaning.

“Indeed, you were left basically comatose for nearly twelve hours.” Jacobus’ voice was calm but his eyes pierced her. The monk pulled his pack to him and began searching through it before pulling out a Misten Shirt made of silk. He rubbed the material, examining the dark green garment, putting it on he asked, “Are you feeling well enough to walk again?”

Before he pulled the garment down, Aliene caught a glimpse of a tattoo in blue ink, a lion head encircled by symbols. She decided against asking as many tattoos were for private matters in Misten. Aliene nodded and began rolling her bed up, lost in thought for a moment as she considered where to travel. Schillia was out but she did need to get supplies. As she lifted her pack she had another thought. “You still have the ingot, right?” Aliene asked as the two started walking along a small trail leading away from the campsite.

“I do. Centauri said the being that could use it was north, in the Thundering mountains I assume.” Jacobus winced a bit as he stepped down hard on the train as it dropped sharply.

“I guess.”

“Finding a specific place in them though is going to pose a problem. Without a map, we could wander the mountain range for a lifetime and never find anything.” The monk moved slower to stay by Aliene’s side as the path widened.

Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 2: Creeping Rot – Part 2

The bolt from her bow struck much harder than the monk had, causing the still airborne mass of monster to nearly land on top of Jacobus. The monk reacted by pulling back his fist, letting his magic fill him; as he punched the monster a loud crack preceded the leshii being planted into the ground. The monk leaped towards Aliene, making it halfway back until he spun around to see the leshii rising from the ground. The monster shifted on its legs, repeatedly snapping its body back and forth, resetting its limbs and head after the assault it endured.

With a hissing exhale of mist the leshii reached out its hand, splaying its long twiglike claws as a ragged moan filled the air. The sour scent of the leshii’s magic filled the air as the monster’s reach expanded over the ground and narrowed on the pools of black sludge. Foul air bubbled from the dark pools as the water boiled violently. Jacobus and Aliene stared as the waters calmed down; from the stillness bulged forms of flowing oily sludge, and they rose out of the different pools as a pack of grotesque wolves. Gurgling at the pair of stunned mages, the pack spread into a semi-circle and marched towards them as the leshii lumbered behind them.

Jacobus backed further towards Aliene then said, “Any changes to the plan?”

Aliene flexed her jaw, eyeing the wolven forms approaching. “Just one; don’t let the water get on your skin.”

Jacobus nodded, raising the point of the short sword he held towards the leshii. “Taking him out should dispel this, right?”

Aliene shrugged, aiming her bow again, and drawing another arrow of magic, the air close to her shimmered, then glittered as the arrow grew. Jacobus rushed away from her suddenly while flinging the sword at the wolves, getting their attention. Four of the oily beasts pursued the monk as two charged Aliene, but those stopped short at the crunching sound of Jacobus ripping up the remains of a tree half submerged in water and earth. The whole pack and leshii turned towards the monk; Aliene then figured out Jacobus’ plan and jumped up. Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 2: Creeping Rot – Part 2

Castle of Crows – Part 8

It turns out that magic is a little more difficult than it looks in the movies, but that mostly has to do with how finicky artifacts are. The first artifact Nixie gave me was a pocket watch that was supposed to be able to freeze objects and enemies in mid-air. The plan was for her and Baron to throw apples at me and see if I could stop them from hitting me. I didn’t like the plan, but I figured if I argued I wouldn’t get to help, so I agreed and moved away from the window.

“Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work for you right away,” Nixie said. “Artifacts have to be attuned to your energy before they’ll work properly, and some of them may not be able to do so right away, or at all, in some cases.”

“What cases are those?” Macey asked, eyeing the watch like it might bite her, and holding up the recipe book like a shield. I thought that was silly since nobody was going to throw fruit at her.

“Sometimes artifacts grow attached to their users, and then they won’t work correctly for anyone else,” Baron said. “Other times their energy just isn’t meant to match up with their would be user. There are ways to test for that other than just trying to use the artifacts, but we don’t really have time for that.”

“Okay, so how is this watch supposed to work then? Like is there a word, or—Ow! Hey!” Continue reading Castle of Crows – Part 8

Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 2: Creeping Rot – Part 1

Under the falling rays of sunlight, the Morbid Row took on a surreal appearance. Such subtle tones of pastel reds and yellows in the sky were contrasted by the bleak ground of dying trees and smoking oily waters. Stepping lightly over the stray branches, Jacobus and Aliene moved as smoothly as they could over pools and brush.

When they were close enough to whisper, Jacobus waited for a moment before saying, “We are being watched.”

“Quiet,” Aliene whispered as she crouched beneath a large tree mostly fallen over. “I know, and we should avoid disturbing them.”

The pair had to resist activating their reach as invisible eyes cast chilling glances from every direction. Their pace was labored and tedious, and it took hours for the edge came into view, a wall of twisting gnarled branches from shortened trees. As the two travelers reached the wall, Jacobus breathed a sigh of relief as the hidden glares fell away. Aliene looked down one way and then the other, unable to see a clean path through the branches.

Jacobus turned to Aliene asking with a look, What now? She shrugged, eyeing the obstacle top to bottom. She stepped closer to the tangled branches before waving over Jacobus. The monk stepped silently towards her, his eyes still shifting to the sides. “Think you could leap over it?” Aliene asked, keeping her voice low. Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 2: Creeping Rot – Part 1