gone, gone, gone
February 1, 2013 3 Comments
If you’re enjoying The Dark Calling series, I have good news for you: it’s far from over. In fact, I’d guess it’s just getting started. There’s plenty more story to come.
This week’s prompt comes from Flash Fiction Friday:
Prompt: Write a story about someone stranded
Word Limit: 1,400
If you haven’t read the other parts of this series, click here and be sure to read them in the order they were published, starting from the bottom and working your way up.
gone, gone, gone
Arawn smiled. He had attractive features.
Of course he does, Kenna thought. He is Nordic.
His hair was long and blonde. It cascaded to his shoulders in a way that was both beautiful and rustic. It was windblown then, sweeping back to frame his face like the mane of a lion, but it would have looked equally impressive splattered with blood fresh from the battlefield. He wore leather armors–a breast piece with intricate decorative pressings, wrist guards, a wide belt and leather pants that appeared both thick and well broken-in. From his belt hung his namesake: the Darksword. A heavy glaive cast in darkened steal. Its blade was reputed to be unbreakable, like the one who wore it. Some said blood had stained it black. Others, magic. Whatever the source of its coloring, the result was an image not soon forgotten by those who saw it and lived to tell, though they were few.
He turned in a slow circle, breathing in the cool air. The day seemed darker for his presence, but he hadn’t bathed in the sun’s light for hundreds of years. He soaked it up.
Kenna made a conscious effort to appear casual, her hands open and hanging at her sides, her face relaxed and her expression neutral, but she was, in fact, ready to take to flight. Without making it obvious, she shifted all her weight to her right foot, ready to push off and run to her left and away. She doubted she would make it far. What would it feel like?, she wondered. That black metal slicing into her back. Would he give chase and plunge the blade straight in, using his weight to pin her down? Would he swing it in a wide arch, its edge severing her head from her body while her legs continued to pump, carrying her decapitated form a few more steps before collapsing to the ground? Or would he stay were he was and simply throw his sword, end tumbling over end until it connected with her spine in a sickening thud that would knock the wind out of her and splay her body before her knees even made contact with the earth?
She hadn’t given much thought to death in her long life. She was practically immortal, at least by human standards. Demigods live millennium. She had the health, appearance and vitality of a human in her mid-twenties paired with unnatural strength and the wisdom of well over a hundred years of experience. She reeked of youth, the seemingly eternal kind. The idea of growing old was as foreign to her as the idea of living on a budget to the offspring of the wealthy.
Granted, she lived dangerously, at least at times. Despite her mother’s warnings and the condescending looks she got from others like her, she interacted a great deal with humanity. Sex, drugs, single malt whiskey and absinthe all played reoccurring roles in the soap opera of an average weekend, though, in truth, there was no real risk in these. Addiction was rare among demigods, and she could get neither sick nor pregnant.
The gods don’t fight much these days, but when there was a battle to be had, Kenna found it. Sometimes she started it. She took to combat meditation as soon as her mother explained the concept, but it didn’t satiate her blood lust. The world felt right when she was dancing, a sword in one hand, a dagger in the other, her arms flying out in smooth, fluid strokes that separated limbs from torsos and the living from the dead.
In all of that, she’d never encountered any obstacle she thought could actually be the end of her. Each adventure was lighthearted in her mind. She would have said she was frolicking, not courting disaster. But here, before her, was one who she could not flirt, feign or fight her way past. If he wanted her dead, dead she would be.
When Arawn looked to her again, his eyes had the purposed look of a man who knows his next action. “No answer from you, then? Very well. Your role in this is not done, young one. We will meet again.”
And then, without prelude, he vanished, his form lost in a swirl of smoke and fire that any Vegas magician would have envied.
Kenna hmphed to herself and dug her phone out of her pocket. Curious, this turn. Where had he gone to? Had it been a normal cell phone, she would have probably been well out of range of the nearest tower, but her phone relied on satellites and she always had a signal. She dialed Ormar’s number.
“Is it done?” he asked.
“After a fashion,” she said.
“You killed the human, didn’t you? Kenna, I told you not to! The Völur were adamant about that. It bodes poorly for all of us if he isn’t kept safe!”
Kenna pinched the top part of her nose, just between her eyes. This was giving her a headache. “I didn’t kill him,” she said.
“He’s safe, then?” She could hear the relief in Ormar’s voice.
“But you said–”
“I said I didn’t kill him. I didn’t say he was safe. He finished the working. The spell drained his life force. He was dead when he said the last line of the incantation. There wasn’t a damn thing I could do to help him.”
“He finished?! Arawn is coming?”
“Has come. Past tense.”
The connection was perfect–no static, no echo. Its clarity magnified her last words, leaving them to hang in the air after she spoke them with a dead weight that could be felt on both sides of the call.
“Odin help us,” Ormar said.
“Save your prayers, Ormar. I need your help now.” Quickly, she filled him in on what he didn’t know: her flight, the message to Arawn, her awkward conversation, and his theatrical departure.
“Did he say where he was going?” Ormar asked.
“Do you honestly think I would have left that detail out?”
“I need to inform the Völur. They may be able to use their sight to determine his location. Maybe even scry his actions. We can’t do anything until we know what he plans. Even now, he could be leading his hounds back to the mortal plane and we wouldn’t know it.”
“He’s not. He seemed happy to be out of the Otherworld. I don’t think he’ll rush back to it. He’ll linger here, planning his assault and enjoying anonymity. If we can find him now, we should strike.”
There was a fumbling sound from the other end of the call and when it ended, Skadi’s voice broke the newly formed silence. ”We should do as the Völur command, just as you should have in London. If you had, this whole mess would be over and you’d be on your way home.”
“Mother, I know. I’m…I’m sorry.” The apology pained her, but she knew when to take the blame.
“Words are wind,” she said. “Fix this.”
“You’re not bringing me in?”
“Not unless the Völur command it. Otherwise, you’re the best warrior we have. We need you in play. I’ll send a helicopter for you. As soon as we know Arawn’s location, you will go.”
“Very well,” Kenna said.
“And, daughter, there will be no second chances this time. If you do not stop him, this realm will burn, and all of us with it. Do you understand?”
“Then to your duty. My heart follows ever with you.”
“And mine with you.”
“Keep safe and kill him quickly.” With that, Skadi broke the connection and Kenna was truly alone, stranded on the Vaalserberg until her mother’s helicopter came. She sat on the ground and began to meditate, pushing all doubt and fear from her mind. There would be no place for either in the days to come.