It was a warm spring day and I was in my room at the guild hall with Kian. Ferros had wanted me to practice up summoning so I’d be ready for when we called upon Ilien to ask for passage north. I was not very good at it. All I had managed was to summon a small wisp into my room, which promptly darted out the open balcony window. Thankfully the startled screams had died down so I was hoping that the wisp had dissipated. I had tried a few other summoning spells from the book Ferros had given me but only a gust of wind had resulted. A really gross smelling gust of wind. I was a bit worried I had summoned a Demon’s gas or something. It was a bit discouraging.
“Kian thinks Tiris needs break,” Kian informed me from her small nest in the corner. Her tiny snout was covered by a cloth. “Kian thinks the room needs fresh air yes?”
I’d long lost my sense of smell to the horrid summon but I nodded anyways. I was developing a massive headache and even if I was use to it the smell probably wasn’t helping.
Kian and I split up after leaving the room. She said something about roses and went off towards the gardens. I was hungry so I headed towards the cantina.
The residential hallway, that everyone’s rooms were off of, was empty. It was a bit unusual. Most times at least one member of the guild would be out and about. Ferros never gave everyone assignments at the same time. Just incase there was an emergency. Figuring everyone was off getting ready for the summoning I didn’t pay much mind to the oddity. Though it did make me a little nervous.
I made it to the end of the hall, where Sir Breken’s room was, before I saw anyone. Breken had his door open and was leaning over his desk with a very rapt expression on his face. His cheeks looked rather flushed and he was tight knuckled while holding the edges of his desk.
My curiosity got the better of me and I knocked on the open door to get the warrior’s attention. I had to find out what had such a stoic man so flustered.
The reaction I got was not what I was expecting. Breken grabbed a piece of vellum from his desk and slammed it into a drawer before spinning to face me. His face went whiter than a skeleton in the sun and he almost tumbled over his desk chair trying to straighten up.
“Are you okay Sir Breken?” I asked rather concerned. He looked sick. “Do you need me to get Liam?”
“No,” Breken waved me off with a shaky hand. “No need to bother the healer. I’m sure he is busy and I’m perfectly alright.”
“Are you?” I wasn’t convinced. Breken was almost sweating now and it wasn’t something I was used to seeing from the overly poised gentleman.
You needn’t worry about me Lady Tiris,” Breken took a few shaky steps towards me. He hesitated a bit before leaving his desk unguarded which made me want to see what he’d hidden in there even more.
“You look really ill though,” I stepped forward and Breken’s face grew bright red. I made a mental note to get Garrett to break in and see what he was hiding if I couldn’t get him to tell me. Whatever it is had to be good to make such a calm man so jumpy.
“It isn’t what you think,” Breken wiped his hand across his forehead in a nervous gesture. “You umm… You haven’t seen anything unusual today have you? I mean more out of the average?”
“I summoned a wisp that escaped,” I offered. “I tried a few other times but nothing came through.”
Breken nodded and swallowed, he looked to be preparing for a huge confession. “You… You haven’t seen any odd drawings or anything then?”
“Well one of my failed summons caused a wind that left behind a sort of smiling face but I don’t think that’s what you’re asking about.” In fact I’m pretty sure that was just the emotion of the creature that had released the wind to begin with.
“No,” An awkward laugh and a hand through his normally well kempt hair told me he was talking about something that made him really uncomfortable. “I’m sure it is nothing. Just… umm… Have you seen Garrett lately?”
“I see him everyday,” In fact he was a bit of a stalker. “I’m actually surprised he isn’t here now. Usually I can’t go a few hours without him popping up.” I had the suspicion that the smell from my summoning had chased him and his sensitive nose off for awhile. At least one good thing had come of it. “Why?”
“He hasn’t done anything he shouldn’t to you has he?” Breken’s voice was serious and his own shaking had disappeared in lieu of what he deemed a earnest danger.
“He keeps eating my food,” Garrett was more of an annoyance to me really. He took it upon himself to be my unofficial bodyguard and was always keeping me from causing trouble, even when I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I didn’t really dislike him, I was quite fond of him being there when no one else was, he just got on my nerves sometimes with his teasing. “Garrett has never really been dangerous.” I pause a moment. “Well not to me at least. Why? Do you think he did something?”
“I, ummm…, I woke up this morning with an… inappropriate… uh. Picture?” He seemed unsure of what words to use and I found myself wanting to laugh at him.
“What kind of picture?” I asked. “You think Garrett put it on your door as a joke?”
“I…no,” Breken sighed. “I had thought maybe he’d umm… drawn it, and someone else stole it. I don’t think he’d let something like this… get into my possession.”
“You aren’t making this sound good,” I peeked past him to the desk and crossed my arms. “Is it a picture of me?”
“Let me see it!” I was shocked quiet for a split second before I demanded and tried to push past the larger man. “What kind of picture is it!?” I expected such things from Garrett but never Breken!
“See what?” The instant I was doing something slightly inappropriate Garrett appeared at the top of the stairs leading down into the main hall. He didn’t look too pleased that I was trying to push my way into Breken’s room.
“Someone posted a picture of me on Breken’s door this morning! He put it in his desk!”
“What kind of picture?” Garrett’s tone was it’s normal hostile tenor it took on whenever he spoke to Breken. “Where is it?”
“Safe,” Breken snapped back. “It will remain so until I know who the culprit is.”
Garrett stepped towards the other man, he was slightly shorter than Breken, not including his horns, and looked up at the other like he was facing his worst enemy. “I think it would be safer with Tiris. So why don’t you hand it over? Then we can find the culprit.”
“I can handle it Garrett,” I push the Delgen out of my way and confront Breken again. “If it is a drawing of me that makes you blush so, then I want it.” I cringe at the thought that what Breken was so flustered about was a picture of me. Was it that bad?
“I…” Breken was about to object when there was a scream from downstairs. Followed by a loud crash as a vase was hurled against the wall. Fragments of glass flew to the stair landing closely pursued by Kinsley, the guild’s treasurer.
Kinsley was about to run up the stairs when he spotted me, Garrett, and Breken. His thin face went deathly white and he looked about to faint.
Nihla, our courser and assistant cook, appeared right behind him and she looked beyond upset. She stopped when she saw us and immediately grabbed Kinsley and jerked him down the stairs again. I heard her cursing about inappropriate pictures and getting himself killed by a crazy dragon man with a bow.
“Wait!” I called after them the moment I heard her muttering about the pictures. “Nihla!”
She stopped and turned back to me. “Missus please know that I will take care of this cretin. You needn’t worry about such vile defamation around here.”
“Was it attached to your door this morning?” I asked Kinsley. He was cowering behind Nihla’s legs trying to hide from Breken and Garrett. Both of which stood peering over my shoulders with fearsome frowns. “Breken had one on his door too. Did you see who did it?”
“No-o,” Kinsley said, his voice quivering. “It was just there. I swear I was going to burn it.”
“Where is it now?” Garrett demanded. He glared down at Kinsley, his normally handsome face stoney.
“I threw it in the fire.” Nihla answered for the terrified treasurer. “I wasn’t about to let him keep it.”
“So neither of you saw who did it?” Frustration and embarrassment warred for victory in my heart and made my stomach a little bubbly. “Do you have any ideas who might have done it?”
“I’m afraid not missus. I thought for sure this worm had done so. But if good Sir Breken is also being targeted I suppose I can’t blame Kinsley.” Nihla turned a scornful gaze to the man behind her. “Though he shouldn’t of been ogling it like he was!”
“Was he now?” Garrett stepped towards the pair and came to stand at my side. He wasn’t loud, or seeming angry, but the look on his face was scary. Almost like he’d seen a bug that had insulted him.
He moved to go past me but I grabbed Garrett’s arm by his leather gauntlet and shook my head at him. “It’ll pass for now. We need to find who is doing this and stop them before it gets any worse.”
“Perhaps Sir Liam will know something,” Breken said from behind me. He hadn’t fully came down the stairs and towered over the rest of us. He was normally intimidating but was somehow even more so in his vexation at the loss of my honor.
“I will ask some of the kitchen staff if they’ve seen anything,” Nihla offered before grabbing Kinsley by the scruff of his shirt and tugging him along after her.
With no one else to ask I headed off down the hall to the infirmary. It was on the opposite side to the cantina so I couldn’t help but grumble to myself about missing lunch. I decided then I was going to double up on dinner even if Garrett sat there the entire time telling me I’d get fat.
Liam was at his desk in the infirmary when we got there. His normally immaculate robes were rather fluffed and his long blond hair looked like he hadn’t bothered to brush it. He turned to us when we entered and I saw him twitch a little when he looked at me.
“Not you too?” I whined. “How many people have pictures of me?”
“It’s a Grent!” Liam held his hand up to stop Garrett from advancing past me to confront him. “I don’t know how it got in here! I did see it fleeing earlier when it came to my office!”
“You say it’s a mangy little goat demon that’s been handing out pictures of Tiris? Something out of a fairytale?” Garrett snorted in disbelief. “You know those things can only be summoned by a high level spell and a lot of power? I’ve never met a mage who could summon one and I’m sure there isn’t a mage around here who could pull it off.”
A nervous chuckle made it’s way out of my throat the moment I heard Garrett’s disbelieving words. I looked up at the Kyegan Healer and gave him a brittle smile. “Umm… could a Grent be summoned on accident?”
Everyone turned to me. Liam looked sceptical but nodded. “I suppose so. It would take someone of great power to do so however… Have you been summoning things?”
“I was earlier… But I didn’t put any real magic behind it and all I summoned was a wisp and some really bad winds.”
I heard Garrett growl and saw him cross his arms like he always did when he felt justified in his overbearing level of watchfulness. He thankfully didn’t say so this time and instead turned to Liam. “How do we unsummon an accidental chaos demon?”
“I only know of rumors but you should be able to unsummon it if you can catch it. They’re not fond of being seen so most likely once it’s in the open you can sever Its bindings to this plane with a decently powerful cleansing.” Liam offered. He then took out a small piece of paper and handed it to me while keeping a wide berth around Garrett who was already steaming. “But be careful. They’re dangerously stubborn and I can’t rightly say what you’ll have to do to make it show it’s true self. I’ve heard they’re weak to elemental magics but I don’t know which element exactly. I’ve never seen one in person, only read of them in training. So my advice may not work.”
“How should we find this thing?” Breken asked. “No one has seen it aside from you.”
“Well it seems to be trying to cause trouble between our group. I suppose since Tiris summoned it she is the object of desire, and the link to our plane, in this situation. It most likely has no other connection to this realm.” Liam pointed at the crude drawing in my hand. It was of me lounging on my bed with no clothes on save for a wiggly line that might have been a blanket covering one of my hips. I felt dirty just holding the thing. “My bet would be if you actually start fighting it’d show up eventually. Demons, like it, feed on that sort of energy. A large enough aura of discord might draw it out.”
“Easy enough,” Garrett said with a grin. Before any of us could realize what he had meant he’d thrown a punch right at Breken who hadn’t expected it.
Garrett’s fist connected with Breken’s cheek and the next instant both men were in a full on wrestling match. Garrett had the advantage of speed but Breken had the strength built from wearing his armor. It was a brief brawl, but bloody, and the fight ended with a stalemate as both tumbled into the hall and were promptly snatched up by their necks as Ferros passed the doorway on his way up the hall.
Our guild master looked rather intrigued and somewhat amused by the scuffle as he sat the two men down out of each other’s reach. I rather admired the fact that, as a half giant, Ferros could do such things. My own small size made me a bit envious at the easy way he just picked up two full grown men in the middle of combat as if they weighed nothing. “Finally decided to kill each other huh? Mind tellin me what sparked this bit of nonsense?” The half giant chuckled and looked to me as Liam and I cautiously peeked out of the infirmary.
“The brat summoned a demon,” Garrett huffed and wiped a bit of blood from his nose. Breken had gotten a good swing in towards the end and Garrett looked rather murderous when he saw the blood on his hand.
Sparing the Delgen a warning glance to not start another fight Ferros turned raised brows to me. “Really now? What’d ya manage to call?”
“Liam says it’s a Grent, some chaos demon.” I shifted a bit away from Ferros, so that Liam was in front of me, in hopes that his good humor wouldn’t let him fuss. The summoning practice had been his idea after all.
Luckily it seemed he was more amused than angry. “Hells. How’d ya do that lass?”
“Accident,” I sighed. “I was trying to practice like you said but nothing went right.”
“Something went right if you called a Grent,” Leaving Garrett and Breken to glare at each other Ferros walked by me and made a signal for us to follow. Liam stayed behind to clean up the mess the other two had made. We went up the hall to the master’s chambers and Ferros let us in behind him. “I suppose the two of you were hoping to make it show up, eh?” He asked the two sulking men as they entered the room behind us.
Breken, who was now sporting a blackened eye and scuffed jaw, just snorted and glared at Garrett who had retreated to his usual spot, hovering over me. “That would seem to have been Garrett’s plan. It didn’t work.”
“We could always try again,” Garrett growled but stayed where he was. His nose was starting to puff up and was still dripping blood. I was half tempted to pinch it to make him behave but I was more than a little sure he’d attack me too.
“Not in my office,” Ferros rumbled. He drew out his decanter from the giant sized desk in the corner and offered up a slug to me, Breken, and Garrett. Only Garrett accepted. After a shot of it himself Ferros leaned back onto his desk. “Ya had the right idea Gar but not big enough. How many people was it targetin?”
“Breken had a picture, Kinsley had one, and so did Liam.” I answered. I suspected Garrett probably had one too but he had probably hidden it and wouldn’t admit it if asked. “Not sure about any of the others. I haven’t seen any of them.”
“Three we know of then huh?” Running thick fingers through his fluffy red beard Ferros hummed and seemed to think on something. He smiled after a minute and snapped his fingers before pointing at me. “Get everyone that is still here into the Cantina. We’ll have a mock fight in there and catch tha little bastard!”
“Liam says we have to break Its link to our plane before it’ll go away. Do you have a plan for when that thing shows up?” Breken said with a frown. He was side eyeing Garrett as if the idea of another chance to fight was appealing. Garrett, for his part, looked just as ready.
“Well we gotta catch tha thing first. We’ll worry about the nitty stuff later.” Digging through his desk Ferros came up with a small collar that I recognized as the subduer that Garrett had gotten stuck in during our last mission. Garrett seemed to identify it too as he slipped towards the door and planted himself squarely behind me, not that it helped, him being a good foot or so taller. “Snap this on it and we’ll be able to deal with it easy enough.”
“So what? We just fight it out until the demon pops up?” Not liking the idea much, I’d seen how a Lich reacted to being fed energy and wasn’t looking forward to seeing what a demon would do, I had to voice my objection. “Isn’t that just giving it what it wants? I don’t know much about demons but feeding it seems like a bad idea.”
“Any other ideas princess?” Garrett sneered angrily, and a little pettily, that I was taking away his legitimate chance to beat Breken. “Seeing as how this is your fault? Go ahead and tell us how we should fix your fuck up?”
“It was an accident,” I glared up at the Delgen who just looked down his swollen nose at me like he usually did. “If this thing is attached to me then it should come after me eventually. I say ignore it. It hasn’t hurt anyone yet just been really rude. I bet if it doesn’t get what it wants it’ll show itself.”
“I don’t think that is a good idea.” Shouldering past a stiff backed Garrett, Breken beseeched me.
“Of course it isn’t a good fucking plan.” Garrett snarled, for once, agreeing with Breken.
“Well it’s what I’m going to do.” Crossing my arms I turn away from the two men, I was agitated at the entire ordeal, and address Ferros. “I’m going back to my room to look through my spell books to see how to banish this thing. If you find anymore pictures just destroy them and ignore whatever the demon does.”
Ferros nodded. He didn’t look happy about my plan but then again he could’ve just been upset that I wasn’t letting him have a guild wide bar brawl. “Be careful lass, and if the beast comes, you yell for one of us.”
“Done,” I move past Breken and Garrett before either could stop me and head down the hall.
I came across Liam at his office and let him know Garrett probably needed his nose set and that he should catch him as soon as possible before he escaped. I was mostly concerned for the angle it sat at but I was also hoping that Liam could keep the man away from me until I’d dealt with my mistake. While he was always angry and bitter about everything I did Garrett was rather stubborn in his way. While Breken would be happy enough doing as I asked Garrett would never do so. If for principle alone. I had no doubts that he’d be in my room within the next few hours, invited or not. I didn’t want him to be on the front line if the demon proved hostile.
My first goal was to retrieve the demon compendium from my pile of spell books in my room. The place still reeked so I hurried out once I had it. I decided to finish my day up as planned after that, looking through the book as I went for any clue about how to undo the summoning.
I managed to snag some leftover lunch in the Cantina and found that Grestle, the head cook, had also had a picture and that most of the kitchen staff had seen it. That is until Grestle’s wife, Juniper, found it and went off on them all. She’d then sent the majority of them packing and locked her husband out in the larder until he apologized to both of us. I told her that it was fine but that she should just let him sit there for awhile and that every now and then whisper through the door that she was going to tell Garrett about what he’d done until dawn came. A bit of juvenile revenge, yes, but I didn’t really have much else.
That seed of short lived chaos sown, and my belly full, I went out into the gardens behind the hall where Kian was tending the poultice herbs. I didn’t see her at first as she crouched behind a rose bush but I spotted her wing tips easily against the sage plants in the last bins.
“I summoned a demon,” I announced plopping down into the dirt beside my Dragonling friend, sending up a small cloud of dust in the process.
“Kian believes you,” Clipping some of the sage Kian placed it into a small basket. The musky smell made me hungry again. “Kian thought to cleanse room yes? Mistress agree yes? Make smell go away.”
I laughed at the idea but nod in agreement, I hadn’t even thought about it. “You think that’ll tick the demon off? I was going to ignore it until it got upset but I suppose a cleansing will help. I can’t find much else on how to banish it anyways. Seems my book doesn’t have much information on Grents.
You should have heard the others. They just wanted to beat each other bloody until it showed up.”
“Kian know common sense. Asides, I think smell be enough to be upsetting anything livin in there,” Wiping her claws on the tiny yellow apron she wore Kian pushed the basket of sage to me. She added some crushed mint to the pile and poked a few holes in the leaves with her talon tips. “Kian may need more. Smell is strong.”
“I was hoping it’d aired out enough,” I follow Kian back into the hall and up the stairs to my room. I noticed Breken was in his as we passed. He was digging around his desk, frantically looking for something. I tried not to think about the ‘what’ he was looking for. He didn’t seem to notice us or the sweet smelling pile of mint and sage we carried. Probably for the best I didn’t really feel like explaining to him our plan of simply annoying the demon via common smudging. That and I wasn’t looking forward to his reaction at seeing me. I was probably going to hide in my room for a few days after all this mess was dealt with.
My room was a bit pungent still but it’d gotten better. Kian set up the herb basin I used to burn incense and piled in the whole basket of sage and mint. I lit it up with a small fire spell and we set about with small wafting plates to get the smoke into all the cracks and crevices. Nothing happened. At least not demonically. The room smelt much better though.
“Looks like that isn’t going to work.” I look over everything to make sure we hadn’t simply missed a demonic episode but found my room pretty much like I left it. Not a thing out of place. “Maybe it isn’t a demon at all. Liam probably saw a goblin or something.”
“Liam be Kyegan Priest.” Patting out the last of the herbal ashes Kian turned to study me. She tapped a clawed hand on her chin in consideration. “He not be mistaken a demon. He be poor priest if so.”
“But if it is a demon wouldn’t it have done something by now?” Patience had never been my strong suit. I didn’t fancy sitting around waiting for the thing to do something if it really was here. “I mean it’s already drawn and handed out pictures of me. I’d hate to see what it’ll do next if it is hanging around.”
“Frettin be no use.” With arms crossed, Kian shook her head. She didn’t look pleased. “We sleeps soon. Maybe it creeps out. We find it then.”
“I really do not want to go to sleep with a demon running around handing out naked pictures of me.”
“Yous one say ignore it.” Kian countered.
Couldn’t argue. I sigh and shrug. “Fine. I guess we wait it out then. You’re going to stay in here with me right?” Magic or not I didn’t like the idea of a demon sneaking up on me in my sleep while alone.
“Kian be in nest.” The dragonling assured me as she wiped out the basin and returned it to my spell station. She settled into said nest with one of my books and looked at me with a sharp tooth lizard grin. “Yous sleep fine.”
“I doubt it.” I scoff.
Kian paid me no mind and began to flick through the book, lighting a candle by her nest for light.
I end up on my balcony where I could see the darkening sky. The day was nearly done, only some last streaks of red and orange lingered from the fallen sun. The chill of the night had also begun to set in, my skin growing cold under the thin cotton clothes I wore. I close the balcony doors and light a few candles. I set a fire in the hearth and fed it enough for the night, my magic sustaining it longer than a normal blaze. I find a decent book, not one of the many spell tomes I had lying around, and snuggle into the downy softness of my bed.
I must have fallen asleep reading. I woke to shadows and the sound of my balcony doors opening. I stiffen in my bed and dare a peek towards the doors.
There is a figure there. Hunched down with its hands on the ground between Its feet. It doesn’t so much as twitch, even though I’m looking right at it. I want to scream but find my voice gone. Terrified all I can do is shiver in my bed as the thing just sits there, staring back at me. Then it moved. It leaned forward as if to crawl across the ground, but then it was there in an instant, at my bed. Large, black, lidless eyes set in an iron grey face, horns curling down around it’s cheeks, sharklike teeth gleaming at me through the moonlight.
I shrieked at the shock of it’s appearance and my first reaction is to lash out with fire. But it wasn’t there anymore. Instead I hear my bedroom door slam open and find Garrett rushing in with an odd look on his face. He was in his night clothes still and looked somewhat ruffled. I didn’t care. I bolted to him the second I saw him and threw my arms around him in a death grip.
He stiffened under me at first but his arms eventually wrapped around my shoulders. “What the hell happened?” He asked finally when I’d calmed down a little.
“It was in here,” The tears burnt my eyes as I thought about that thing rushing at me. “It was right at my bed.”
“Did it hurt you?” Holding me by my arms Garrett pushed me back away from him to look me over. His amber eyes purposely avoiding my tear soaked face.
“No, I used my magic when it startled me and it was just gone.” I rub the tears away furiously. I was so happy that Garrett was there that I was practically sobbing.
The commotion had been enough to rouse Kian and she hurried over to me. Through my shaking and tears I manage to tell her what happened. She ended up looking between me and Garrett before she turned to the door and left. Most likely to find Ferros. Breken came in soon after she had gone, woken by my screams like Garrett had been.
The two of them began to search the room. All they found were claw marks on the edge of my bed.
“We can’t leave her in here alone,” I heard Breken whisper loudly to Garrett as I huddled near the front door.
“The dragon was in here with her and it still came fucking close.” Garrett snapped, not even trying to be quiet. “She isn’t safe with or without someone here. We need to deal with it. That’s the only way she’ll be safe.”
“We can’t deal with something we can’t find.” Breken argued. “At least if someone stays with her we might have a chance of catching it.”
“I suppose you want to be that prince charming?” The bitterness was thick in Garrett’s voice. He didn’t look like he’d slept much and he didn’t look too happy about dealing with it all.
“Someone has to. I am the most skilled with a sword. It will not get by me.”
Garrett laughed humorlessly at Breken. He shook his head then held his arms out wide. “It’s a fucking demon! Twisted, dark energy all over it. Your sword isn’t going to do shit, but piss it off. Besides, you’re a heavy sleeper. Took you quite some time before you came running in here to see what’s wrong.”
“This isn’t a joke.” Voice low and dark Breken glared at Garrett who just smirked back.
“Do you think I’m joking?” Garrett asked. “I’m serious. You’re beyond useless dealing with this. If I can catch the little bastard, I can cut it’s ties to this realm. Rip the thing to shreds. Or have you forgotten I can dispel magic? It picked the wrong night to pull this shit.”
“Can you really get rid of it?” I’d grown tired of the feud. It wasn’t helping. “If you can then please do. I can’t find anything on how to banish it in my books.”
For a moment Garrett looked shocked that I had asked him to help. It didn’t last long as he grinned at me. “I’ve been doing a bit of reading myself on dealing with demons. Just like I can seal your magic, I can close off it’s link too. But I’ll have to be close to catch it. Think you mind sharing your bed for a few days?”
I was still too shaken to get offended at his jest. Right now he was the only one who had a plan. “Please Garrett, just make it go away.” Was all I could manage.
Garrett nodded, his grin gone. “Don’t worry Princess. I’ll take care of it.”
The rest of the night passed silently. Garrett stretched out on the outer edge of my bed while I curled up against the wall swaddled in every blanket I could find. The next day was rather uneventful too. I saw several warped shadows throughout the hall but I couldn’t tell if it was the demon or not. Garrett seemed to notice them too so I had little doubt as to what they were.
We settled into my room again that evening after dinner. Kian and Garrett playing some game with dice and knuckle bones and me reading a little more of the book I’d started the day before. None of us saw anything wrong. We really should have paid more attention.
I heard breathing. Heavy and fast. I opened my eyes to find myself lying on the floor. It was really dark but I could tell I was still in my room from the shape of the shadows around me. Garrett and Kian were gone, but something else had come to take their place.
“Such pretty skin,” A ragged voice hissed by my ear. I jerked away and scooted until I hit a wall. I couldn’t see the thing but I could feel it edge closer to me.
“Please leave me alone.” Frantically I look around trying to see it. To have some comfort in knowing where it was. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to summon you. I can undo it. Just stay away from me.”
“But you didn’t summon me,” The voice said from over my shoulder. I twitched since I was backed against the wall. There was no way it was there.
“Then why are you here?” Trembling I began to pray that Garrett or Kian would appear. I didn’t know where they were and I hoped they were okay. “Why are you after me?”
“I’m here because of him,” The grey face loomed from the darkness right in front of me. It stayed a few feet away but it’s unnerving black gaze was locked on my reddish one. “I’m with you because the males of your breed are not as easy pickings. Puca are such delicious creatures. Especially when they’re afraid.”
My heart froze at it’s words. I hadn’t been called a Puca in a long time. The others didn’t even know I was a half-breed.
“I’m not a Puca,” My voice was barely a whisper.
The creature tilted it’s head and it’s mouth opened wider, sharp teeth glittering at me. “Oh, but he says you are and I can smell it in you. Oh how He rages now that I’m here. But He can do nothing, trapped down below. He didn’t mean to call me. A dream of his gone wrong. That’s the price of power though. We can’t always choose how things work.”
“Who are you talking about?” It couldn’t be Wesley could it? I could see him enraged because he couldn’t do something. It’d been so long since he’d disappeared I had thought him gone for good. Was he just resting still? Had he summoned this thing? And what in the hell did it mean when it called him a Puca too?
As my thoughts became more and more confused I saw movement further in the room. By the size it looked like Garrett. He seemed to be sneaking along the wall towards my bed. I hoped I could distract the thing long enough for him to make it. I just needed to keep it talking.
“You don’t know?” It leaned in further. Just a little. Enough to make me almost tear up in fear and silently beg Garrett to hurry. “Can’t you feel him? Deep below? Within his den? His power bleeds out even if he is locked away.”
It couldn’t be. My Grandfather’s clan was the only living Puca in the lands nearby. The other clans had been hunted and killed for their power and pelts long before I was born. If there was a Puca den below the Guild Hall then it had been there unprotected for centuries. If this ‘him’ was sealed down there, then a demon was the least of our worries. Puca didn’t imprison their kin lightly. On top of that if it was Wesley then he was far more powerful than I had thought. Sealed away and yet able to project enough power to save me from a Lich’s curse. Perhaps I should have tried talking to the ghostly Wizard more before he’d disappeared.
“I don’t feel anyone and I didn’t know there was a Puca den here.” I say while trying to avoid looking at the shadowy Garrett moving towards us.
“Poor little Kiten didn’t know,” The creature cooed, coming closer, ever so slowly. “He knows about you. It’s why he’s awake now. Well, why he is waking up. It was his mumbling that led me to you. Him and those sweet little spells you used. I’ve been down in the dark with him for so long. To see such a pretty feyling within the light of the moon was far too nice to pass up. So come little one. Down into the dark with me. We can repopulate that old empty den. I’m sure he’ll like that.” It was reaching for me. It’s long foul nails closing in on my throat. I couldn’t move and I couldn’t call my magic. Garrett was too close with his talisman, my salvation also the thing rendering me vulnerable.
Garrett tackled it. From the darkness on my right all I saw was his broad form leap out of the shadows. The force of his jump took the demon by surprise and they both went sprawling into the center of the room. I could hear the thing snarling and hissing. It’s shrieks bloodcurdling. I was too petrified to do anything but watch as the two fought. Garrett was larger and seemed to have the upper hand.
The thing began cursing ‘him’ again. About how it wasn’t fair. About how ‘he’ was cheating. But Garrett didn’t seem to give it any heed as he straddled the demon and began to blatantly bash the thing with his fists. Over and over again I could see his shadow beating the creature as it lay prone on the floor. Garrett didn’t stop, even when the demon began to flake away. It’s body glowing a sickly purple color as it dissipated. It wasn’t until Ferros burst into the room with his axe that Garrett finally relented.
Things went back to normal after that. I told Ferros about what the demon had said but he denied anything below the Guild hall. He’d seen to it’s construction himself and the ground had been solid enough when they’d dug out the cellar. He put it off to the demon lying. They were untrustworthy creatures and I couldn’t deny that he was probably right. I couldn’t explain how the thing knew of my father’s people but I also couldn’t sense the power it claimed lay below us. If Wesley was that powerful I should have felt him. I’d been able to sense him before when his shade had come to me.
Just to be sure I sent word to Grandfather who claimed no knowledge of a den there. He came to me to under the cover of a merchant. His strength recovered enough to hold a simple, if unimaginative, form. It was the weakest I’d seen him in a long time. After I told him what had occurred he promised to look into it but that I shouldn’t worry. He was more concerned about what I told him of Wesley then what the demon had said. I’d never seen so much fear in the normally serene Puca before, even when the Lich had taken most of the Warren. I was told to report any sightings of Wesley to him at once and that while he didn’t know of who I spoke he did not trust it. He said that if there was an imprisoned Puca then he wouldn’t get free, whatever was claiming to be one was no such thing. None escaped imprisonment, if he’d been there that long then he’d stay there. I felt wrong with the instructions given to me. Grandfather wasn’t telling me the truth.
I never did recover any of the pictures either. The one Liam had given me vanished and Breken’s had too. I suspected Garrett might have snatched them but I didn’t dare ask. The man’s attitude had gotten pretty vile for a few days following the incident. It wasn’t until almost a week later that he just went back to being grumpy and not openly hostile. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with him but he just seemed to want to act as if the whole thing never happened. I was more than happy to oblige.
There was something that stuck with me though. The demon was dead and gone but I couldn’t forget the look of pure hatred on Garrett’s face when the torch light hit him as he kept beating the corpse. Nor the red of his eyes that flashed to amber when I looked at him. It was only for a moment, but I don’t think it was Garrett who saved me that night.