CONFUSION AND PEACE by Lisa Barry

For Alanna ~ May books be ever present, comforting and dark. Cheers! 😉

It is dawn and the devastation that surrounded me made it look as if the earth were weeping blood.

I know I was.

I could feel the tears running down my thick jaw, thick and sweet. Holding my head high, I dared someone to find it a weakness. If there was anyone left and they thought to find it so, the dragon blessed sword in my right hand, dripping in time with my tears and the dwarf spun dagger in my left hand still glowing from untold numbers of the life essence it had consumed would change their mind.

Wars were won with death and loss. I felt both clamped tight to my lifeless heart as the first rays of sun reached over the horizon.

I searched the field for the rest of the clan, hoping for some movement, some sign that I was not the only survivor. A pool of spit overflowed my tired mouth as I scanned, and I let it drool to the ground. The groans of portending death I listened to were not of my people. They were a malicious brand of enemy, brought together with hopes of removing mine from the Earth’s surface. They failed. Of course, they failed. Barely.

The tears started to dry and the day heated. Behind me, an old castle was crumbling away. I ducked into its falling walls and searched for shelter. An old staircase, partially supported by a lone beam would have to do. I ducked beneath it and dug out my grave for the day.

~~~

All day I waited in the cool dirt to worship the moon again. I could handle the day in partial sun, but I needed to regenerate after the destruction, the completely unnecessary cost of survival. All because one race could not leave enough alone and stand down.

I had stopped praying many, many years ago. There didn’t seem to be a point. I knew I was not of the demons below like many might think but I also knew I was no longer of the virtuous above. I had killed. Not just the initial one by accident. No, I had grown strong and fast and found I enjoyed the flesh a little more than maybe I should have. Rumors say it is common in our kind. I was not of one kind though. I was more. And I had been too far gone at the time to really notice or care one way or the other.

I licked my lips in memory only to be sadly reminded that I was a half foot under the ground. I didn’t bother trying to clean my mouth. I would wait. It was almost time.

Then I would take the time to search the area and find any evidence of the rest of us. Of him. He was really all I needed.

He had helped bring me back. From whence I had vanished. A place of lust and blood, death and life. A dark place with much laughter but no mirth. I hated and loved it. I would have been killed for my being lost in it if it wasn’t for him.

He must be alive else I’ll go back to wish for death.

The moment the sun was about to dip, I dug myself out. I spat. I was tired of being dirty.

I searched the entire field from end to end and across. I found evidence of some of my kind; Gedian’s time piece, Abel’s favorite buckle, Sessley’s gold broach. All littered across what was once a lovely green pasture, filled with flowers, pixies and small animals. All gone now.

I no longer had tears; my eyes were drained. It was he I needed and did not find.

I had fed so much yesterday that I would likely go a week before needing to eat again. I pulled in a large breath of air, took in the copper scent of blood, the decay of rotting bodies and ever so faint smell of new life. I would remember this moment.

I could reach the Den by dawn if I hurried. It was my last hope that he would be there.

~~~

A light was on in the Den.

I prayed.

When I opened the door, I heard the sound of pouring, smelled the deep cinnamon and orange of a fragrant tea. Such a simple thing, a cup of tea. And yet, it meant I wasn’t the only one left.

I ran down the hall and into the sitting room. Sessley sat in the high-backed chair, the tea set laid out carefully on the table next to her. She was covered in gore, her dress torn, her broach lost in the field where I had left it. She smiled when she saw me. I kneeled at her knee and licked her hand. We both inhaled the tea for a few moments before I sat in the love seat nearby.

Sessley always found the scent of the tea calming. She missed the taste but settled for the aroma and it appeared to appease her as he appeased me.

I met her eyes; I knew mine held questions. Her mouth turned down and she shook her head. I let go a breath I didn’t need. There are some human things that never seem right to lose.

I growled in acknowledgement.

Is there anyone else? I wondered.

“I feel several though they have hidden themselves well. I am not certain why they do not come home. There is one. Slow and odd but he moves closer with each motion of the moon,” Sessley said.

She must have heard my mind. Sessley had a built in tracker. She could feel where our Kin were located. If she had shared their blood, she could even find specific people. As far as I know, she had never done so with him. I felt confident that if she had she would have told me if she felt him or not. Or where he might be.

I was even more glad that there were more of us. Perhaps hiding for a time from the evil that wished to see our demise was sensible but there were as few of us as them now. I didn’t think it would be trouble again until our numbers came up once more. A massacre of two races. I shook my head. Like the world wasn’t big enough for everyone.

I left Sessley to her tea and took a long, hot bath. I felt better but still empty. The darkness could come in so easily. I needed light.

~~~

It took him two days.

He was light. And dark. And fear and joy. He was confusion and peace.

As soon as he came in, I dropped down and rubbed my face on his knees, licked his hands and face. He laughed and rubbed my head. I growled and chuffed and licked his face again. He took my furry hands in his and gave me a very humanlike hug.

“You made it, boy! I should’ve known my pet would make it home.”

~~~

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