Dancing fingers

Kahasai

United States

I'm 17
I like to dream

Homeschooled
Maybe a fool

Trampolinist
and classical guitarist

Archer
Let us barter

Mountain girl
I like burl

River otter
Viking daughter

Wolfdog owner
Forest roamer

I'm no fighter
But I am a writer

Message to Readers

I don't know if I'll publish the rest here, but what do you think?

Wraiths of the Moon: Chapter 1

August 10, 2018

FREE WRITING

9
In the dark of the silent ritual room, the only light came from Vanessa; her silver gown shimmered with the light of the dead moon.

Vanessa fell to her knees on the black, mirror-like floor. She stared at her pale reflection, at the blood seeping from her bare shoulder and into her dress.

A drop of blood splashed across the floor, hiding her crowned head from sight.

She looked up at the carved wall in front of her. It held images of devils and angels warring each other, fighting over the last moonrise. A selfish act.

"Why?" she whispered. Her voice echoed across the grim room.
Something scuffed the floor behind her.

She sprung to her feet, her foggy head suddenly wide awake. She darted to the other side of the room, heart pounding. She wasn't safe. It would still be searching for her. It always would.

She flung open a small door hiding beneath a carving of a grinning skull (they always grinned) and a robed warrior angel.
She ran around the corner, pulling the absurdly long gown. She shoved the door closed, but not before she glimpsed a giant shadow enter the other room.

She gathered up her gown and ran down the small hall. Just before she reached the end she swerved into a storage room. Her hands scrabbled across the lone table and snatched up a small glass orb. She clutched it to her chest, hands shaking.
The light from her dress ebbed away. But the light never disappeared. Instead it grew inside the orb. Soon, the light had drained completely into the orb.

She sighed. Then she stiffened, remembering that the wraith still followed her.

She darted around the room, searching cupboards, drawers, and cabinets. Out of them she pulled rope, a pouch on a leather strap, and a black robe. She gathered her skirts and tied it around her waist, violently shoved on the robe, and placed the orb in the pouch before she hung that from around her neck. The light disappeared. She kicked off her dainty dancing slippers, quickly losing them in the darkness.

Angels and saints, forgive my sacrilege, she thought as she ran out of the room and continued down the hall. It opened into a courtyard, the stars shining down on the large fountain at the center. Arches lined the walls, and over her head was a balcony, held up by vast columns.

Something moved in the archway to her left.

She stumbled away from the creature approaching her, glimpsing its long, spindly arms, and its silver slits for eyes. It was a creature of shadow; a wraith of sorts. The only thing left of the moon.

She sprinted across the courtyard, heart in her throat. Her muscles tensed and tightened as she stumbled and slipped across wet grass and tiny pebbles. She crossed under an archway, then she was running down a grassy hill, her terror preventing her from slowing. Her bare feet smacked into twigs and rocks, sending spikes of pain up her legs.

She tripped onto a road and followed it farther downhill, keeping her eyes on the orange glow of the town ahead of her. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the wraith move down the hill. From the other side, more shadows seemed to dance from the trees. She pressed her lips shut and tried not to waste her breath on screaming. Instead, she just ran.

Mud splashed. Scents of rain and horse manure assaulted her nose. An owl hooted. Another owl cooed.

She stumbled, legs burning. She looked back. Her heart jumped. The wraith had come closer.

She kept on her feet, continued to run. Sweat leaked down her skin. The crown tore at her hair as it tried to escape, tethered only by a small braid and a lot of luck. The wound in her shoulder burned, stretched, screamed.

Then she was surrounded by lantern light. Houses were stacked atop one another. They stretched into the sky, laundry lines strung out between them. People stared at her as she passed. Their stares turned into shrieks as they saw what followed her. Words pelted the walls, disappeared into cracks, smacked her with painful force.

"It's the moon wraith!"

"A moon wraith is here!"

She dashed around a corner and into an open square. Light spilled through windows and reflected of a fountain pond with welcoming warmth.

She ran up a flight of stairs, the wood rattling beneath her steps. She burst through a door and slammed it closed behind her. Light and chatter filled her senses, warm and full of laughter.

She sighed and sagged against the door, panting.

Spread out before her was a wide floor of tables, chairs, and people. Lanterns hung above every table and in a row above the bar at one side of the room. At the other side was a large balcony where there were even more people, who were now peering down into the street below.

Muscles trembling, she forced herself upright, clutching her pouch so tightly her knuckles turned white. People stared at her, but not many. More and more of them were being drawn to the balcony, where the word "moon wraith" was being passed around. They were safe in the light, but it didn't stop some of them from whimpering. Others watched with fascination at the sight of people fleeing.

Pull yourself together. People are watching. She straightened and forced her hand from the pouch. She threw back her screaming shoulders and strode to the bar, well aware of her strange appearance. There she waited as waiters ran around. After a few minutes, a dark-skinned waitress came over. "What would . . ." her words faded as her gaze took in her appearance: muddy robes, a silver-colored skirt hanging out below that, bare feet, a messy but intricate bun, and the crown she'd forgotten to take off.

The waitress's eyes widened. "My lady," she breathed. She dropped to her knees and bowed, not noticing Vanessa's cringe. In a louder voice, she said, "Princess Vanessa Lunara! How may we serve you?"

The room, bit by bit, went silent. Heads turned.

Vanessa composed herself. "I require basic needs. A hot bath, proper clothing, food--"

"You brought the moon wraith, didn't you!" a man said. He stood by the open doorway to the balcony. He jabbed a finger, aimed toward the streets. "Why anyone would help you for this is beyond me, princess."

Vanessa lifted her chin. "I'm sorry for the trouble I've caused, sir. I intend--"

"Intentions are good," snapped the man, "but what about actions? Your family has had a bunch of 'intentions' for generations, but nothing has ever come of it."

The last of her composure broke. "My family is dead!" The words came out before she could stop them. Tears burned her eyes. "My family is dead, because of that--that thing! I want that creature gone as much as anyone! I always have! And I'm going to do something about it!" She turned away from the room, wiping the tears from her face. Don't lose control, girl, the rational part of her chided. It'll only make things worse.

Maybe the rational part of her was wrong. The restaurant was completely silent now.

She turned back to the room. People were staring at her with varying emotions on their faces. The waitress leaned against the nearest table. In a low voice, she said, "The royal family's dead?" Her eyes were wide with shock.

Vanessa took a shuddering breath. "They are." She closed her eyes. Everyone knew it was coming. Ever since that first death, so long ago, they've been coming for us. Now I'm the last. The last Lunara.

"I'm sorry for your loss," said a soft voice. She opened her eyes. The speaker was an older woman with a long, graying braid.
Vanessa nodded brusquely. "I appreciate your sympathy." She composed her face into smooth features once again. "Sir, I am going to fix this. On my life I swear it. If I fail, you may execute me as a traitor and stop the wraiths from coming here. But I suggest you wait until I've made an attempt." She locked her gaze on the man. "I am the only one who can return the moonlight, after all."

A woman in a dark purple dress spoke. "Fix it how?"

Yes, good question. Think, Vanessa. "I'll go to Iryna."

A rumble of voices burst up at that. Closest to her, the waitress spoke. "But you have to go through Mistwood! The creatures in there will kill you!"

Thank you for that clever observation. "Well, then, I am in a conundrum," Vanessa said. "The moon wraiths kill me if I leave town; undoubtedly someone here will kill me if I stay; and the only way to learn how to return the moonlight is in Iryna." Her lips set in a hard line. "I appreciate your concern, but my options are limited."

"But--there has to be a way!"

"Let her go in there," said the man by the balcony. His accusing expression had changed into a curious, tilted expression.

"She's an adult. It's her decision."

"How about a vote?" said the woman in the purple. "All in favor of Princess--Queen Vanessa going to Iryna through the Mistwood in order to save us?" She raised her hand. As did nearly the entire room. "All in favor of protecting her in town where she risks our lives by bringing the moon wraiths?"

A few hands went up. The vote was clear.

Vanessa felt her heart thump a bit harder. I'm dead, she thought. With effort, she kept the expression from showing on her face.

The woman in purple turned to Vanessa. "If the restaurant won't pay for your necessities, I will." She raised a finger. "But for tonight and tomorrow morning only. Then you better be off, before you lose your nerve."

Excellent idea. Before I lose my nerve. Have I already lost it? She only nodded. "Thank you."

The waitress pulled herself together. "Alright, then," she said briskly. "You've come to the right place. We have sleeping quarters upstairs and there's a clothing shop across the square. The only question is, which one to do first?"
As Vanessa responded, she was beginning to wonder: How long can I last in the Mistwood?
 
What do you think? 

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8 Comments
  • Kahasai

    Thank you! I'm glad I introduced the concept right.


    12 months ago
  • rainandsonder

    Whoa, this is such a cool concept, and you’ve pulled it off so well! I’m intrigued— what are these wraiths? What happened to the moon and how? Your descriptions and writing style are fantastic, too. Can’t wait to keep reading!


    12 months ago
  • Kahasai

    Thanks!


    about 1 year ago
  • rosemarywisdom

    Reviewed!


    about 1 year ago
  • Kahasai

    Wow, thank you!


    about 1 year ago
  • rosemarywisdom

    I just reread the first chapter. ALWAYS AMAZING!


    about 1 year ago
  • Kahasai

    I'm so happy. Thank you, Luna Lemon. =D


    about 1 year ago
  • Luna Lemon

    This was so gooooooood!!!!!!! You created your own world in just this one short chapter. This is SUCH an interesting concept, everything about the royals and her being the only one who can return the moonlight. Your imagery is off the charts AMAZING! Everything about this, dialogue, writing style, plot, characters, is great! I'm so intrigued about the Mistwood as well! Now I have to go read chapter 2...
    Great job:)


    about 1 year ago