Tag Archives: fantasy

Lover in the Painting

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Lover in the Painting

She looked at me when I stroked her hair in perfect brown oil. She was beautiful, curvaceous with lips like apples. A small dip of my brush gave her legs longer than the days I’d spent dreaming of her. The corner of her right eye was smudged slightly in the one place I’d lost my focus for just a moment. It was in that small moment I’d lost myself in the joyous expression nestled in her soft brown eyes. She was perfect.

Her lips began to part as if to say something to me. My heart nearly sputtered out of my chest, my breath caught in my throat at the beauty of her hesitation. The ballerina cradled her reddening face in two small hands.

She reached a slender finger away from her face and towards my brush which hovered just on her hairline. I was unprepared for her girlish smile when she tapped a fingertip to the hairs on the brush. Had I heard her laugh, I may have tried to fall into the easel to be with her. A gentle stroke gave her flowing chocolate hair in a precarious bun atop her face heart shaped face. Curious, she followed each line as I made it, her cheeks ablaze and her smile deepening. Her eyes flitted to the other blank canvases behind me. She galloped away.

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I ran to her side, following her chasses and turns in awe. She flitted from easel to easel with grace swaying her arms about. I ran to her stumbling over wooden stools and old paints to see where she may have gone next. I found her hiding in the easels just above my window, the sun bathing her in morning light I hadn’t even noticed until now. Just a wink and she flitted off to my sketchbooks. The pages came to life, flipping one after another as she danced across them. Her laugh was infectious. She galloped with ease and jumped from sheet to sheet.

She paused suddenly and turned her brown pools and rosy cheeks to meet my gaze. I hadn’t noticed until this very moment I had been holding my breath. She reached out a delicate hand to me. My quaking fingers inched towards the paper, yearning for a small touch. I found myself in the notebook at her side, my hands reduced to ticks of charcoal strokes. She placed her hand in mine and together, we ran from page to page, canvas to canvas, nearly missing the water spots ahead of us where earlier I’d become frustrated with my work.. We danced- or rather, she danced circling around me in giddy turns and strides. But she found her home in her easel. My work was completed and it was time to part ways. All too soon I found myself on the outside of her world, always looking in and longing for her love. I was shut out, trying to tap fingertips of canvas to feel her joy once more. She was all oils and paper again, leaving a melancholy ache in my chest. But her smile always reminded me of what I had. I always had her. Always had the dancer in the painting. My lover in the painting.  

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Anybody wanna buy a heart?

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Anybody wanna buy a heart?

She passed the fragrant smells of cheap perfumes and diamond dreams. The thrifters and salesmen of the market buzzed past her in negotiations as she neared the dingy wooden table in the corner of the booth. She padded the footsteps that wheezed out of her scuffed shoes, black bag in hand filled to the brim with hope that this would be the week she would sell her most valued possession. The usual pleasantries were exchanged between her and her neighboring stands. The conversation kept closely to the topic of weather and avoided the obvious darkening rims under the two chestnut traitors spilling over her fears down her face. She is patient. She has no more fear of the hours soon to stretch past her. Her frail hands reach into her black bag with barely enough strength to lift the glass jar out of it. She’s given up trying to display her possessions as her fingers, with nails chewed to the bed, had no strength to wrap around the lid. Her stone body sat still, head hanging low as she was unwilling to watch the hands one after another pass her by.

Closed fists with knuckles white from their turn in the jar, squeezing, bruising, crushing, bleeding her dry.

The few hands that took pity and pried her open only left but few cents behind for all her troubles. At first the hands were generous, leaving one or two gold coins. Eventually, the bruises blackened her only good to offer and copper coins rang against the wooden table much more often.

Who would want something so bruised? Who would want her damage?

She snatched her heart in a jar off the wooden table, clutching it close to her chest. This was hers. Bruised and beaten as it was, her heart would no longer be subject to the buyers negotiations. If nobody wanted to buy a heart, it would no longer be for sale.

She couldn’t take anymore and was near her emotional end when he walked up to her table.  He tilted his head for a moment, eyes locked on her face. Reaching deep in his pockets, the stranger left all the gold he had. His eyes flooded with hope, but her fingers clutched her jar close. She stared back with her chin pointed forward and her arms clutching the jar. Her eyes were steely, her mouth set in a hard line. He frantically checked every pocket and crevice, his eyes mouth twisted downward, and cheeks flushed. A pocketful of lint, two more coins and a rubber band later, he’d met his wits end with a sigh. Shoulders slumped, he reached into his black bag to pull out a jar with a heart inside the size of a dying rose petal. Blackened, and in shards, the barely beating heart was bloodless with promises bought but never received.  He left the jar on the table and began to walk away.

She stood, hesitant at first but presented him with her jar.

“Wanna buy a heart?”

Who can blame Irma….

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Who can blame Irma….

The funny thing about Florida is that it only really has two settings when it comes to whether: Hell hot or hurricane. Today seems to be masterful combination of the two as we await for Irma’s arrival. Kind of makes you long for the old Florida before the madness. Just a few days ago, there was no breeze but plenty of sunlight- sunlight that would gladly remind you that nothing is safe from the 90 degree heat. The air is humid, moist and a bit hard to breathe. It makes you feel like you’re finally suracing from deep under water, only to shut you down and sink you five feet further. Florida. A place where it rains on one side of the road and not the other, where it pours for literally 5 minutes then blesses you with sunshine for the rest of the day. What a bitch. She makes you think she’s doing you a favor by giving you sunshine, but really it’s a cruel way to heat the air she has already moistened and made difficult to inhale. What a bitch. Maybe I’m a pessimist who doesn’t like sunshine or flowers. Actually, I am in fact a pessimist who hates sunshine and flowers. But before you gather the mob and pitchforks allow me to explain. I didn’t want to be here. Ever. Florida seems to have an alluring nature about it that never quite appealed to me. Most will ignore the flying roaches, mother nature’s mood swings and the bloodsuckers with wings in favor of Disneyland and vacation homes. Let us just ignore the fact that Disney is overrrated and unnecessarily expensive and that the US’s largest pedophile population resides in the sunshine state.

These things aside, truly the weather only bothers me for one particular reason. It is too personal. Even mother nature weeps violently in the summer months, tries her hardest to cover her sorrows in sunshine. She licks her wounds in glowing light to compensate for her human moments. She only makes things so much worse.  In her Fall months she whips and howls along the coasts and warm waters of the ocean. Destruction and terror are her only path as she hides her pain. She is ripped of her resources, leaving scars in her body only to continue to care for her abusers. She is left bled dry with gashes on her skin. It sounds too familiar… maybe I’m just overthingking things. I suppose I cannot blame Mother Nature for her cries. Maybe we’re too much of the same. What a bitch.

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No More Prey

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No More Prey

Sometimes…. I just want to be like you

I long to be like you

Unbothered with the burden of breathing

Unbothered by the effort of living

I long to be like you.

I long to escape my own mind.

I long for the silence normality would bring me, sweet solace in the emptiness of emotion

I long to break the cold embrace my thoughts constrict me in

I long the luxury of keeping you at bay so this monster is unable to wrap you in its terror

All i want is for you not to see and for me not to live it

I could scream and claw myself away from the tundra, breaking fingernails to crawl out of my own skin

I long the sanity of the sleeping of my demons, may they rest eternally

I long for the darkness to be gone, for my mind to remain strong

For the deepest corners of my mind to empty out its horrors so I may be at peace

I long the warmth of happiness effortlessly felt

For dreams of candy sunsets and nightmares chased away

I long for no one to be wrapped in the siren of my sorrows as they rip from themselves away from us

And I…. Only I remain it’s humble prey.

 

SilverFang Episode 10: Sink or Swim

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SilverFang Episode 10: Sink or Swim

I flailed my arms as the ground quickly approached me. My stomach sank with every inch I drew closer to my death. Instinctively, I shielded my face with my forearms as I awaited impact…

Impact that never came.

Instead, I sliced through the surface of frigid water. My elaborate Solstice shawl cocooned itself around me, weighing me further towards the bottom. The freezing temperature shocked my body into a temporary standstill. I struggled under the pressure of waters so deep, begging my limbs to allow me to swim. I fought my way to the surface, ignoring the numbness running from my fingertips to the rest of my body. I kicked; I flailed; I swam with all my might. Just as I felt I had no breath left in my lungs, my head broke the surface of the waters.

I gasped, grateful for the air entering my lungs. I coughed violently as the water pushed its way out of me. I was so cold and so afraid, all the while confused at my improbable survival. My legs grew weary as they struggled fought the weight of my dress. As I struggled to stay afloat, I saw an edge to the waters just off to my right. Water poured in from aqueducts, creating rushing tides in the massive pool. The last bit of strength my body had pushed me towards the stone edge. My breath was ragged, and my vision was only slightly better than before. I laid my cheek on the cool granite, hugging it closely to my chest as if I would fall of the surface of the earth if I let go. As I looked up, I saw a massive statue of Mother Earth. She was naked and powerful in all of her glory, bent at the waist and weeping as she reached towards the water. I’d fallen into a sacred basin and tainted Her waters with my blood. If the Mother wasn’t watching over me before, she certainly wouldn’t be now.

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I found the feeling in my arms again and pulled myself out of the basin, finally realizing that I had never left the cathedral. The prayers and scriptures were finely etched into the stone walls of the sacred room. The orbs illuminated every corner in their soft yellow light, creating a reverence in the tomb. I didn’t know much about religion, but I’d heard the stories of how the world supposedly had come to be. The Mother mourned as she had lost her only son and cried for seven days , creating an ocean. She rose above her pain and took the salt from her tears to craft a world of new beings she could call her children. Her vulnerability poured from her eyes, flooding the basin in deep waters. Most would find comfort in an all powerful being. But there was no comfort here.

My attackers wouldn’t be far behind me, and I had to make an escape. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get far in my condition; I was running out of options. My immediate reaction was to run in any direction as fast as I could. I dragged my lead body to the grand double doors of the prayer room.

As I touched my fingertips to the cool wood, I realized that I didn’t have the strength to open them; I didn’t have the strength to do anything. The fog in my head was thickening, and I could feel my limbs weighing me down. For the first time tonight, I felt  I might actually die. My hands shook as I fought my body to respond. I was desperate to find strength where there was none to get me through this night. I leaned my back against the stone wall as my legs began to give out from under me. I tilted my head towards the Mother. I had never spoken to her, mostly because I didn’t quite believe she listened, but I was willing to try anything for a miracle.

A pound at the door made me flinch. Sheer panic washed over me. There was nowhere to run. Another brute thud came from the double doors.  I let my fingertips stroke the carved prayers along the stone wall, bracing myself for what was to come. I felt the hum of my magic flicker, and with it came my last bit of strength to fight for my life. I couldn’t be sure how much longer I could hold out, but I had to try. I mustered my last bit of energy and burst into smoke. I could feel the grain of the stone scrape between my cells as I disappeared into the wall. I could only hope I could hide better than I could run.

 

SilverFang Episode 9: The Phantom Pt. 2

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SilverFang Episode 9: The Phantom Pt. 2

My breath was trapped in my throat. I was thankful the agony had ended, but I couldn’t be sure of what would come next from my captors. The side effects of the girl’s torture left me dazed. I peered over to the man approaching, not daring to make eye contact. He was still wearing his masque from the festival. As he removed it, his face held the same ghostly expression. It was as if the life had drained from his face, leaving behind a clenched jaw, broad lips in a tight line, and a haunted expression. I could feel all warmth leave me the moment his winecolored eyes fell on my face. I couldn’t help but feel as though he was looking through me- as if he was doing his best not to rip me apart.

“I don’t foresee anything in our way,” he said to the girl, his eyes locked on me. “We’re clear to move out.” His purple irises dissolved into auburn, and I could feel his once vibrant energy settle into a hum. It was evident by the change in his eye color that he was an oculus- a type of shadow user able to envision the future. If I so much as thought about getting away, he would predict it.

“But we were just about to play,” the girl pouted.

His eyes never left my face. I cowered away from his spiteful stare. “You can do that later.” He sauntered over to her, his gait aggressive as if to size up and intimidate every piece of ground he walked on. I could hear him murmuring to her, surely planning how they would end my life in a painfully slow way. I couldn’t imagine what they wanted from me. The only thing that was certain was that they needed me alive- at least for now.

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My mind struggled to find logic in this situation. The phantom mentioned that they were clear to move out. So we should be leaving here soon, I thought. I couldn’t underestimate their resources. If they were able to stalk and corner me in public, then there was no telling what they could do in private. To no avail, I kept attempting to summon the tingly feeling of my magic. No matter how hard I tried, it was always just out of my reach.

I listened intently for any indication of what they might do to me. They couldn’t get too far with a body; that was for sure. If they were going to move me, they would have to untie me first. I would only have a small window to escape. Even then, I wouldn’t be able to fight them both off. My eyes darted around the room in search of options, ultimately landing my sights on the slate gray floor beneath my feet.

I could hear the heavy footsteps of the man coming towards me. I kept my head low, hoping to make myself small enough to be spared. He stooped down to meet my eyes, his brow furrowed and his face serious. His brute fists carried a delicate flower the color of blueberries.

“This is going to hurt,” he said. He placed his hand over my nose. As I gasped, I could feel the heat in my sinuses. I choked on the burning winter in my senses. A numbness fell over my throat and nose. Before I could scream, I was slumped over in my chair, barely conscious.hydrangea-419061_960_720

The world moved slowly, and through my tunnel vision, I could see his feet walking towards the girl. I couldn’t hear anything except the slowing of my heart rate. My only chance at survival was to listen to my instincts; however, that was proving to be a difficult task. I felt the cotton building along the walls of my head. The effects of the flower were quickly weighing me. I forced my mind to focus on something besides the echoes of their soft voices or the surreal melting of the colors I saw. The phantom reached down to steady my limp body.

The knife… I dragged my eyes away from the spiraling objects in my vision to the breast pocket of his cloak. Wait until she goes for the ropes… My subconscious was much more focused than I was. Grab knife… Sink… Run. My senses were overloaded by the simple act of tapping into my shadow magic. I was tingling all over, but not in the way I needed. My eyes rolled around, trying to steady the spinning room. I had to stay focused.

“Grab… SinkRun…” I murmured to myself. I felt the girl loosen the ropes around my wrists. My arms were too numb to put up a fight; they fell heavily to my sides. I knew this was my chance, but I couldn’t remember why. My mind was in circles trying to remember, and I could feel the warmth of my magic in my belly.  I kept my attention on my arms, trying to make small movements.

“Grab… Sink…” I muttered to myself. The girl seemed concerned over her new toy. The seemed irritated that she would care at all about my well being. I could feel his grip around my torso tense.

“What’s wrong, pretty doll? What do you want to say?” I could feel her cool breath on the nape of my neck.

Through the haze, I could clearly see the dagger shining in his cloak. My adrenaline ran high. The bit of focus I had left allowed me to remember my plan. I wiggled my fingers, testing my motor skills. As she came closer, my body awakened. My vision was steadying, but not by much. This was it.

“Hit?” she misinterpreted.

“Yeah,” my hoarse voice cracked. “You hit like a bitch.” I grabbed for the knife, immediately turning to black smoke. The knife sliced clean through her pretty porcelain skin as I sank through the floor.

Silverfang Episode 8: The Phantom

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Silverfang Episode 8: The Phantom

The dagger was firm in her hand. The girl with the violet eyes squatted down to meet me at eye level.

“Such an interesting little doll you are,” she repeated. Her doll was shifting in appearance. The milky skin melted under her new sun-kissed skin. Her once lilac eyes shifted to a deep auburn, and chocolate-colored curls cascaded down her back.

“She wants to play. See? She looks just like you.” Her eyes wavered downward. “Except, you have this pretty necklace.” She reached for the dog tags around my neck. Out of instinct, I jerked my chest away from her bony hand. I felt a sharp pang in my side. I’d nearly forgotten about my injuries.

“Very interesting,” she cooed. I felt the cool tip of the dagger pressed against my cheek.
She slid the dagger along my face and across my jawline, coming dangerously close to my jugular. My heart beat wildly in my chest. She didn’t cut me; she only cut a thick lock of my hair.

“I’ve never had a brown-haired doll before,” she said, tucking the lock of hair into her pocket. She looked at me, holding a skeletal finger to her lips. “That will be our little secret,” she gave a sinister giggle.

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“Crazy bitch,” I murmured to myself without thinking.

The anger boiled out of her face. “Pretty dolls don’t talk like that!” she howled.

One punch to my right eye came, and then one to my stomach. I felt like my lunch would make a guest appearance, and the cracked rib from before began to throb.From her tightly pulled raven colored bun, she revealed a small needle. I didn’t get the chance to speak before I realized what she was doing. The girl hummed a softly as she began sowing the mouth of her doll. 

“We can fix you right up pretty doll,” she said. I felt my mouth close. My lips felt sharp pressure beneath them, as if the needle was worming it’s way through my skin. I felt the burn of the thread as she stitched my screams in my mouth. I bucked in my chair, desperate for sound to come out of me. I only heard my own muffled cries. Her slim fingers were surprisingly strong as they clutched my throat for me to meet her gaze.

“Do you see what you make me do, pretty doll? Now I have to punish you!” She cradled her doll close to her ear with the other hand. “What’s wrong, pretty doll?” She listened intently. “You feel pain?”

Pain. So much pain. My head felt like it would explode. There was a drill in my skull, and it was not letting up. I screamed at the top of my lungs begging Mother Earth for mercy. It was as if she were actually inside my skull pounding against my brain with a sledgehammer. I had never felt anything so excruciating in my life.
Her words to her doll were quiet daggers. The pain was unbearable. I felt my brain melting into nothing, and my temples felt like knives were squeezing out of them. Her hand was still firmly clasped around my throat, forcing my gaze on her. Her lips moved furiously against the doll’s ear. I could feel my skull begin to split at my crown. I could feel human nails clawing from inside the walls of my cranium to break it open. I could feel my throat rasping as I continued to scream.

“Enough!” A booming voice filled the room. The pain stopped, but my tears didn’t. I choked and gasped in my chair. But the worst was yet to come.

The phantom had arrived.

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Silverfang Episode 6: Run

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Silverfang Episode 6: Run

Run. Run fast. Run far. That was all I could think about coherently. I knew my way around the backstreets of the city, and with my working knowledge of the aqueducts and shortcuts, I had a chance to escape my tormentors. Whoever these people were, they were on my turf. My heavy breathing seemed insignificant with the adrenaline pumping through my body. I didn’t dare glance backward. I knew he was there, and boy, was he fast. I needed to get away, but if it came down to it, I would have to fight.

I allowed myself one backward glance. The male assailant was no more than a few yards behind me, his female accomplice nowhere to be found.

I felt the fear slithering up my spine as I realized she could be anywhere.

I had finally gotten out of the alley, but I had a bigger problem now. I paused momentarily to look around for another route to take. That was a mistake. I didn’t have much time; he was still behind me. I could hear him, and those large violet eyes seemed to burn right through my back. I turned left and darted towards the pitch black night.

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The street’s orbs turned on a second too late as I continued on the abandoned streets. It was near midnight; of course everyone who was sane would be at the canal right now. The stranger suddenly appeared behind me. He was faster than I thought. A glance over my shoulder told me he was not slowing down anytime soon. He was a shadow-walker like me, except his experience far surpassed mine. I used my own shadow ability to run right through any obstacles in my way.

I wouldn’t stand a chance at this rate, and I could feel my legs beginning to struggle to keep the speed I was going. The street wouldn’t last forever though, and I was getting closer to another corner. No, not another corner. A dead end.

I needed something fast. I felt the pressure in my chest and the fire in my lungs. I couldn’t keep running for long, and I was not about to fight him. An idea dawned on me. I noted that he had to shadow-walk around the objects in the street; he couldn’t run right through them like I could. Bearing this in mind, I searched for something big enough to wisp through. My legs were beginning to give in. There were only two buildings left on the street. What would I do when the pavement ended?

Then, I saw it.

Ashel’s largest cathedral stood majestically ahead, a massive statue of Mother Earth above it’s doors. If I could run through the building, he would have to find a way around it. I might be able to get away with that kind of distance between us. I focused my energy, calling upon the warmness in my fingertips. I closed my eyes and hoped my magic would hold up long enough to phase through the church I was about to crash into.

My concentration was high as I melted through the massive cathedral. I ran through pews and walls, unwilling to slow down. I closed my eyes and gave all I could, feeling the tingling sensation turn to painful shock on my skin. I pushed my ability to its maximum. As I ran away from the church, I looked back and found no one following me. My instincts were right.

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But Something hit me. Hard. The wind was knocked right out of my body. My vision turned black. It was like being hit by a boulder at 100 miles an hour, and I could have sworn I felt the rib on my right side crack. The impact of hitting the concrete drew blood from my head. I could feel the warm liquid seeping out of my head. My legs were shaking, my heart was racing, and the blood was rushing to my brain.

Through my blurry vision, I could faintly see her features. It was the girl with the doll. My pathetic attempt to fight her was no use. The masqued man was back- the phantom. I could hear the heavy breathing behind his masque as he picked me up to put a black sack over my head.

“Rozalynn,” he said.

Silverfang Episode 5: Unmask Me

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Silverfang Episode 5: Unmask Me

My heart beat wildly as the fear paralyzed me. The vibrant colors, once beautiful, were now disorienting me. The crowd herded towards the heart of the city, the music getting louder.
“Pretty doll,” the voice called. It was as if the malicious coo was coming from the walls in my head. I felt the crowd knock me over in one wave as it moved towards the town square, swallowing me whole. The flashes of light shocked me.
I reached my hand out for Vera. I wanted to tell her to run- to sprint as far away from me as she could. However, the bright lanterns blurred my vision, and my panic left little ability in me to make sense of my surroundings. I couldn’t find her anywhere. I was overwhelmed by the noise, the smells of the street vendors as the people squeezed me along. My senses became sensitive to everything, until that coo came back around.
“My dearest pretty doll,” it cried.
My breath was ragged, my eyes frantic for an explanation. I wanted to run. I wanted to scream. I couldn’t find my voice or my legs. A cold slithering came over my limbs, locking me in place. It was as if the fear itself had manifested and entombed me where I stood. My stone body was only passed along the streets in the crash of the crowd. A slithering came over my chest, knocking the very wind out of me.
From the shadows, I could see a figure forming. My eyes widened in bewilderment. A white masque emerged atop a black silhouette. The piercing violet eyes behind it were haunting as the figure emerged. A large hand extended from the shadow, as if it could reach out and take me for its own. I choked in a feeble attempt to live. I began to feel a numbness in my body.

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I saw her appear slowly out of the darkness behind the white masqued man. She stood there in the middle of the sea of people, eyes centered on me. The violet in her eyes glinted against her pallid skin, hidden behind a black masque- a devastating beauty. The rest of her was hidden away behind her red satin hood. I could feel the world fall away. All of the lights and noise were silenced. She cradled her porcelain ragdoll in her arms, stroking its dark brown hair gingerly. She and the masqued man made no movements; they only stared.
I closed my eyes for a moment, wishing for the figures to disappear. As I reopened my eyes, I found nothing but the crowd. I wanted so badly to believe I hadn’t seen anything, but their faces were etched in my mind. They were waiting for me.
My eyes darted throughout the horde of slurring bodies, stumbling along the streets.
And there she was- the girl with the doll- not even 30 feet away from me. She was getting closer. I looked to my left and found the white masque and violet eyes coming closer. There was no doubt they were coming for me. Regardless of what that meant, I was not about to become a victim. I pushed past the crowd, trying to find a way out. My instinct told me to run, but in this mass of people, it would be impossible. They were gaining on me. I had to think fast.

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Think, dammit. There had to be a way out of this. In my mind, I could see the map of the city square. I needed to put as much distance between us as possible. If I used my shadow magic to pass through the crowd, I would be exposed.

Or would I? I thought. A flash of bright colors overhead sparked my mind. The populous around me was the perfect cover. With all the lights and sounds, no one would be paying attention to me. I’d have to take a risk with my newfound magic to get out of this one. I could feel them gaining on me. I’d have to time it perfectly. I had no way of knowing if it was just the two of them either.

“Don’t go pretty doll,” the girl called.

I waited, ignoring the loud noise and all the while settling my nerves. Another flash in the sky exploded. I conjured the warm feeling in my belly. My nerves hummed with life. I wisped into smoke, putting three more people between me and my assailants. I let the cold feeling settle. I had walked through objects before, but never people. The feeling made me sick to my stomach.

Pull it together. I forced myself to look back. The two were gaining on me.

Another flash let me wisp through four bodies this time. My stomach was turning. The crowd moved painfully slow as another flash let me wisp through seven people. I felt like I would actually be ill. I could see my hands reforming from the smoke at a painfully slow rate. I wouldn’t have much left in me if I kept this up.

The male figure was still gaining on me, and in the inside of his hood, I could see something shiny and metallic. There was no doubt in my mind what it was: the hooded stranger was carrying a knife, and as the crowd overflowed into the open fields for celebration, my mind and body agreed on only one course of action to take.

Run.

Silverfang Episode 4: Pretty Doll

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Silverfang Episode 4: Pretty Doll

Ashel was a beautiful city, to say the very least. During the holiday season, the florescent lights were even brighter, filling the senses with life in the heart of the city. The paper lanterns illuminated the ebony sky and the crowd of hundreds. Every Tribe was represented in the magical floating orbs the people carried. It came as no surprise to me that there were clusters of the same color orb in the crowd. Tribal history had a tendency to bring people together.

The Winter Solstice was the most extravagant of Empirical holidays. It represented the combined history of all our people, Silverthornes and Thunderfangs alike. Our abilities manifested from the five Silverthorne tribes and the seven Thunderfang tribes. Although our race was either one or the other, our heritage and magic stemmed from our ties to our tribe. Vera was a Thunderfang with ties to the Curratrix tribe. Though I had no knowledge of my tribal history, I knew for sure of my race: Silverthorne. At least, to them I was. I was actually something far worse. I was a foul half-breed. I had the birthmarks to prove it, and in a mostly Thunderfang city like Ashel, that was a very dangerous thing to be.
Since the battle of the races began, hostility between the 12 tribes had risen to an all-time high. Had I known my tribal heritage, I would have been smart enough to keep it to myself in a primarily Thunderfang city. Luckily for me, the sinuous silver lines that would give me away were primarily down my back and torso; they also ran down my arms, which were completely covered by the four layers I wore.

My birthmarks aside, none of them would ever know what I am.  Without that one mutation in the pigment of our skin, no one could tell what anyone was. I became overwhelmed by all of the silver and violet birthmarks I saw. They were proudly on display tonight, and I began to feel even more insecure. I knew that under all my layers was the silver, violet and ice blue secret that would cast me out of this celebration.

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Vera beamed as we waded through the crowds of drunken people. She seemed unbothered by them or anything else that took her attention from the food cart she was hunting. Even she showed off the violet and silver lines on her forearm. The music rattled my body, leaving my skin tingling with the energy of the city. The streets were filled with laughter despite the grim realities of the morning. That was the most incredible feature of the Thunderfang people: even as their homes were destroyed by warfare and bloodshed, they found a triumphant spirit to celebrate the days. When everyone is masqued, there are no sides; there is no war. It is only people celebrating.
The streets were crowded with merchants and vendors selling precious stones and antiques. Women of all ages lined up to have a new necklace made of rubies or jade stone, very well aware that they were fake, but all the while determined to find something sparkly to compliment the elaborate masques they wore. I could smell the fried foods and appetizers from the carts up ahead, and although the cuisine was questionable, I found myself nearly willing to eat.

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As per tradition, we were handed an orb of light and took our place within the throngs of people. An older gentleman, who I assumed to be the head council of Ashel, took the podium at the front of the crowd, which blocked entry into the center of the city. He cleared his throat, and a booming voice came with it.
“Brothers. Sisters. Good evening. I welcome you all to Winter Solstice night,” he began. I immediately snorted. This man had graying hair that was well kept, his face was paler than the rest and the elaborate mask on his face was full of feathers, real gold and rare jade stone. He hadn’t worked a day in his life and still managed to find the nerve to call these people his brothers and sisters. Nevertheless, the crowd roared in celebration. The gentleman raised a hand for immediate silence. “Let us remember the true purpose of this night: we are here in celebration of our tribal heritage, despite the atrocities occurring in the world between our two races”.
I rolled my eyes without so much as a thought. The speech never changed. It was always about and love conquering hate. There was always a part about our race determining what we look like and our tribe determining our magic, and ultimately, those qualities defined who we are.

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However, the reality was that our tribal history didn’t matter. It was always us versus them- Silverthorne versus Thunderfang. As much as we wanted to put aside the tension, the fact remained that we were at war for a reason no one could even remember. I couldn’t be sure of the reason, but I felt the uneasiness in my stomach return.
“Let us rejoice in our heritage! Let us remember the bonds we have regardless of our race.” The gentleman waved a hand, levitating a large white orb.
“Triba Elimanta,” the naturalists cheered. My stomach was in knots. I could feel an eerie presence nearby.
“Triba Curratrix!” The mayor levitated a topaz orb into the arc in the sky, which was followed by a roar of applause from the crowd. Vera stood a few feet away, having climbed up a man’s shoulders for a better view. New friends of hers I suppose. My breathing suddenly became painful.
I felt the familiar slithering feeling along my legs. My eyes darted around as I tried to remind myself that there was no reason to be paranoid. I tried to call out to Vera, but the roar of the crowd swallowed my cries. And then I heard her.
“Pretty doll…”

Silverfang Episode 3: Not Yet

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Silverfang Episode 3: Not Yet

The thing about ascending is that it happens nearly overnight. There is no warning when your magic will mature and manifest within you. In most cultures across the empire, it was a rite of passage into adulthood. Vera had not only matured, but she’d ascended into one of the most respected forms of magic.
“It happened a few weeks back,” she explained. “I started noticing that no matter how much I hurt myself, every time I would get a cut or a bruise, I always healed right up. No matter how bad, it went away immediately. So I decided to push it and see how far it would go. And this happened,” she gestured again to her once wounded wrist.
I was ecstatic for Vera. Now that she had her magic, her life could change drastically for the better. She had all the opportunity in the world now. “Congrats, but I could have gone without the theatrics,” I laughed in relief.

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“You know I live for theatrics darling,” she said with a hair flip. The excitement was oozing out of her. “This means in a year, I can take my Triads!”
Only Vera would be optimistic enough to want to take the single most difficult exam offered by Silverfang. The test consisted of 21 days, 12 different examinations, and a lot of crying. It was the Elders’ way of making sure no talent went without their chance to exploit it. I couldn’t blame her though. If I had the chance to be taught by the top clans in Silverfang, and also make as much money as they do, I’d cry all 21 days, and then I would ask for seconds at the end. Poverty had a funny way of taking your pride that way.
“Can’t wait,” my words dripped with sarcasm.
“What about you? Any luck?” Her childlike eyes were wide.
I could tell Vera felt bad. She wasn’t being insensitive by being happy about her news; I was just a pessimist. Sometimes, I felt like Vera was more excited about my blossoming into adulthood than I was. It was a chance for a glimpse into my tribal heritage- a chance to know where I came from. However, shadow magic was a rare manifestation that was frowned upon, because it was a result of generations of tribal cross breeding. I don’t know any more about myself now than I did a few months ago before I’d ascended.
“Nope, not yet,” I lied casually. I averted her eyes.
Her demeanor fell a little. “Well, that’s okay,” she smiled. “It’s bound to happen soon. October babies are usually late bloomers from what I‘ve heard.” Her optimism was unfaltering. Her enthusiasm was infectious, and I couldn’t help but entertain her antics. “Put your masque on! Last one to Scarlet Keys buys the first round!” she yelled as she sprinted away.

Silverfang Episode 2

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Silverfang Episode 2

“Rozalynn!” I heard Vera shout. Her hand on my shoulder startled me. “Calm down! Are you okay?” she asked. The air was still now, and to my relief, the only presence was Vera.
“V, you can’t just creep up on people like that,” I said, slightly irritated. I let my heart settle into its natural rhythm, relieved that I wasn’t losing my mind after all.
“Creep? It’s not my fault you were completely spaced out,” she defended with a laugh, exposing the deep dimples in her cheeks. “Are you sure you’re okay? You look a little pale,” she giggled.
“I’m fine,” I frowned. “Just not used to being out and about this late. This forest is creepy at night.” My breathing settled, and for the first time, I noted the elaborate web of cloth Vera wrapped herself in. Always one with a flair for the dramatic, she did not come up short in the silver and violet labyrinth she called her dress. Oddly, her small frame wasn’t swallowed by the fabric. It always seemed as if her large personality made up for the difference in height she had with most people.

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“You look really nice,” I said.
Her wide grin touched the corners of her bright eyes. “I made it myself,” she boasted, giving a full spin like a child in a beauty pageant. The detailed shawl shimmered in violets and ice blues with an exaggerated white and blue collar meant to imitate snow. It was far from lavish, clearly having been sown together from leftover fabric, but she wore it well. She even had small flecks of shimmer in her tightly coiled curls. The things she could do with scraps of fabric and a needle never ceased to amaze me.
Her mask was probably the greatest spectacle on her. It shimmered with garnet greens and topaz flecks to match her eyes. She was a clear descendant of Triba Curratrix, the Tribe of the Life. When Vera matured, she would no doubt have a spectacular ability. Maybe she would be able to talk to animals, or she would be able to grow plants anywhere. Triba Curratrix was one of the most respected tribes in history, and its ability had been passed down through years of pure breeding.
“Well, it’s much more subtle than the stuff you usually wear,” I said, feeling a playful swat against my shoulder without enough reach to get to my head.
Vera fanned herself as she gave me a small pout. “I’m sure the Guardians will find my shawl quite charming,” she cooed. I rolled my eyes, laughing at her overall ridiculousness. Vera liked to talk in her ‘regal voice’ whenever she was feeling extra confident.
“Can we go now?” I asked, the uneasiness settling in my stomach. “It’s freezing out here.”

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“Not just yet,” she beamed. “There’s a reason I was late today.”
“Besides getting your giant ‘fro through that complicated collar?” I smirked. Her excitement only faltered long enough to give me the finger. My laughter was stopped short as she revealed a small blade from her boot. She peeled back her sleeve and stroked the blade across her wrist.
“V! What are you doing?” I yelled, grabbing a hold of her hand.
“Roz, relax. Look.” She pointed to the crimson flowing down her honey colored arm. The wound was disappearing before my very eyes. The cut left no scar or trace, leaving Vera’s skin smooth and seemingly untouched. “I’m ascending,” she whispered.
Her eyes glittered in the moonlight. Vera had become a woman.

Silverfang Episode 1: Solstice

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Silverfang Episode 1: Solstice

model-1428081_960_720My heartbeat was loud in my ears. I tried my very best to control my breathing, narrowing my focus on this one moment. I felt the familiar warmth in my belly as I willed myself to disappear. Maybe one day, I’d go farther than I ever had before. Maybe one day, I’d close my eyes and disappear to a place far away.
I took a deep breath, focusing all of my energy. I listened intently to the air entering and leaving my lungs, and felt the cool September breeze on the nape of my neck. My left hand clutched the dog tags around my neck. I fixed my gaze on the stone about 20 feet in front of me. All of my barriers were prepared to be lowered so I may lose myself and become one with the warming sensation in my nerves. The tingling in my toes made gentle was up my legs, touching every part of me. I took a deep breath and released.
Somehow, I only managed to teleport 10 feet. As I opened my eyes and realized I’d missed my target completely, I let out a low groan. I crossed my arms as the stone I’d used as a mark mocked me from a distance. I wanted to be rational and remind myself that shadow-walking wasn’t the easiest skill to master. After all, I’d only known I was capable of it for a few months now. However, I couldn’t help my self-criticism. No matter how hard I tried, I still wasn’t able to flash more than a few feet. Not to mention, I could only go in one direction.
I let my body ride out the shock of my new found ability. I could never quite get used to the cold feeling that lingered in my cells after using my ability. I watched my hands catch up with the rest of my body, reappearing in wisps of violet and black smoke. They never teach you these kinds of things in school.
I remembered the very first time I’d tried to shadow-walk. I was terrified as I began to disappear into black and violet smoke, unsure where the warm feeling in my belly would take me. Even after I’d experienced wisping into black, the feeling of shadow-walking was very bizarre. It was becoming natural to me now, but there are nights like these when I come up short in my own expectations. Papa warned me it would be difficult to master my abilities. Shadow magic didn’t come with a manual like everything else in this godforsaken empire.
I sighed and looked down at the dog tags glistening from the moonlight around my neck. Papa would have been so much more patient than me. Now more than ever I needed his guidance, and the grieving hole in my chest reminded me I was on my own- that I had always been on my own.
I dismissed the thoughts immediately. I wouldn’t allow my grief to get the better of me tonight. Not on Solstice, when the Empire would be at peace for a few hours and vibrant with the standard blue, silver, and violet of our combined people.

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My tags weren’t quite suited for the bright blue shawl I wore and looked awkward cradled in my hand next to my masque. Vera spent hours decorating it with all the feathers and jewels she could find. She was never one to take no for an answer, even when I’d rejected her friendship at first. Truth be told, I would not have made it on my own for this long without her, and in the last three years away from home, she was the only friend I had. She was a runaway like me, except she’d been on her own for much longer.
After her home had become another hot spot in the war, Vera was separated from her family and had no choice but to leave them behind. She’d opened herself up to me almost immediately after meeting me. I thought her an odd one, having so much trust in me so soon. However, it was her raw honesty that allowed us to get so close. I could relate to her homesickness, and her sense of loneliness. Even only in listening, I could see the good in her, and so the open book found her way to the iron maiden.
I’d been waiting for a while for Vera to make an appearance tonight. I mentally cursed her for wanting to meet just outside the town in the cold. She never had the knack for being on time, and so I stood alone among the trees in the forest just outside the luminous city of Ashel.
My thin shawl was no match for the frigid wind, forcing me to keep my arms around myself to keep warm. A rustle in the leaves gave me hope Vera had finally arrived, but instead of the usual grand entrance Vera would make, I heard a whisper. I had the overwhelming feeling someone was watching me. My muscles tensed. I listened intently, scanning the trees and all the while hoping Vera would appear. The fog circled me until it wrapped itself around my ankles. I couldn’t even see my own hands. A shadow crossed in my left peripheral. I turned quickly to catch it, only to find nothing. The wind brought with it whispers that caressed my ears.
“Pretty doll,” a raspy voice sang to me.
I tried to reason with my fear- to keep my mind calm. Surely the forest was playing tricks on me. This is what happens when you’re alone in the dark for so long. I listened again, hoping to make sense of what I was feeling.
“My pretty little doll,” the voice hissed.
I felt a firm hand on my shoulder and let out a scream.

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