Story Time: The Revenants

For those of you who have not read The Revenants Part 1, you might want to go back and read it so that you know whats going on in this one. Otherwise, please enjoy!

 

 The Revenants

Part II

Gwen Cosmos

   It felt like the world had slowed, that her feet were made of lead, that she would never get anywhere. She ran through her village with one goal in mind, but it felt like she would never reach it. She had failed, and she had failed in the worst possible way. She had lost her mother.

On the horizon, she could make out the change in the sky, a lessoning of the darkness. She had been up all night. Exhausted, she continued to run until finally she reached the grand old house. With a bang, she slammed her fists into the door.

Minutes passed, but they felt like hours. Desperately she began shouting, trying to get someone’s attention. Finally, the door swung open to reveal a perturbed maid. Before the maid could open her mouth to scold her, Yvonne pushed herself inside.

“Wait a moment!” the maid called after her, but Yvonne wasn’t listening.

She made her way to a large pair of wooden doors. Without even waiting to ask if the person she wanted was inside, she pulled them open and found a dim interior lit by a low fire in the fireplace to her right. The room itself was richly decorated with dark wooden furniture and red cushions, and the windows were covered with thick curtains blocking out the night. The room felt small as she entered and she felt confined as she spied in the center of the room The Patron looking over at something on the table. She barely noticed the four other figures standing around the room, all clad in armor with swords at their sides, watching her as she moved towards the center of the room.

“Patron, I need your help,” She cried, feeling the tears prick her eyes. “Mother is gone, she is gone and it is my fault.” Her voice evaporated as the emotion hit her, tears streaming down her face.

“Yvonne, what are you talking about?” said The Patron, walking over.

“My mother has been taken.”

At the fireplace, arms across his chest, one of the strangers stood up straighter “Taken by what?”

Her eyes traveled to his, and for the first time, she took in the group of armor clad warriors standing around the room. “Who are you all?”

The man at the fireplace stepped towards her. “We are the Revenants, I am Malcolm. Now tell me, what took your mother.” His voice was soft as he said it and she felt herself strengthened by his willingness to listen.

 

“A monster I’ve never seen before.”

“Describe it.”

She told them as best she could, even explaining her silly, childish idea to kill it by herself. When she was done, the room grew very quiet. Malcolm looked over at a young man with brown hair standing by the table and addressed him, “Got any idea’s Donneric?”

“It sounds like an Elven Protector.” Donneric replied.

“I thought those were myths.” A red headed woman, said curiously.

Donneric let out a puff of air, and crossed his arms. “You’re right, Marigold, and even still there are no elves that live here…” His voice trailed off as he looked up at Yvonne and saw the tip of her pointed ears sticking out from her hair. He walked over and pushed her hair behind her ears, revealing her heritage, “You’re a half-elf.”

She didn’t say anything, just took his hand and removed it from her hair.

“What happened here?” Marigold asked anger tremoring her voice as she walked up behind Donneric. She turned to The Patron, “Explain.”

The old man gave an icy stare to them all and said, “An elven man was hanged for necromancy.”

“You don’t seem to understand the severity of the situation.” The dark-haired woman said softly, “Protectors don’t come unless the elven are killed wrongfully.”

“My father was killed because people do not understand his kind.” Yvonne answered, all eyes turned to her and she glared at The Patron, “He was a healer, he cured illnesses.” She swallowed,

“Well, it seems you’re getting your comeuppance.”  Malcolm said and glancing towards The Patron.

The Patron glared around the room, “I didn’t ask you here to pick apart my faults. I hired you to kill a monster.” He stormed towards the door, “Once the job is done, I want you gone.”

The door slammed shut and the room grew quiet again. “Pariahs again, it seems.” The black-haired woman said sitting down in a chair and steepling her hands. With cat like steps Malcolm walked over and placed a hand on her shoulder.

“We’ve had worst partings, Yseph.”

She patted his hand gently, like they were old friends.

Yvonne watched them silently, the question brewing in her mind. “What is an Elven Protector?” she asked hesitantly.

For a second she thought no one was going to answer, but then Donneric said, “An Elven Protector is a creature from Elven legend.” He swallowed as confusion swept across her face, “The story’s say that those who die leave a guardian to protect those they love, keep them safe from harm.” He took in a breath, “they also say they only appear if an elf is killed wrongfully.”

Malcolm took a seat in another chair, “I remember a story I read where a widow used her protector to kill those who had wronged her husband.” His cool blue eyes met hers and she felt her mouth go dry. “Was your mother acting strangely? Did she speak to it? Did the monster seem to listen and obey?”

Her heart hammered in her chest as she remembered her mother, talking to the creature and then being snatched up and taken. Slowly, she nodded her head her eyes wide at the realization of what he was saying.

Donneric cursed under his breath and the two women looked at each other. Marigold threw an angry glance to her pale friend, “Nice touch, Malcolm.”

“Like you would do it differently?”

“I would actually.” She snapped, and his eyes hardened in return.

“Now’s not the time.” Donneric said, “How are we going to deal with this creature?” His eyes darting towards Malcolm.

Malcolm nodded, closing his eyes and muttering under his breath.

Yvonne watched with amazement as a light seemed to radiate from him. Her eyes took in how pale he was and a shiver ran down her spine as she saw through a parting of his high collar a choker of scars across his throat. The light slowly faded as his eyes opened and met hers.

“It’s not far from here, it has a cave near the beginning of the forest.”

Before anyone could say anything, Yvonne piped up, “I’m going with you.”

The Revenants glanced at each other, “I don’t think that’s a wise idea.” Marigold said.

She steeled herself, “My mother is out there and I’m to blame. This is my chance to make it right.”

“You wanting to make it right is admirable, but you’re going to slow us down and possibly get in the way.” Malcom retorted.

She felt her pride wither at the statement.

“She can still be useful to us.” Donneric said an idea forming behind his brown eyes, “We’re taking her along.”

***

A couple of hours later, they were trudging through the undergrowth of the forest, Malcolm leading the group. Donneric and Marigold stayed together, talking softly to each other. Yseph strode on behind them, quiet as a mouse. Yvonne watched them all from the back, her heart sinking with every step.

Her mother had done this. Images of the dead men in her village flashed in her mind. Her mother had allowed it all to happen. She was so lost in reverie on it that she didn’t notice the others had stopped and ran into Yseph.

She backed away slowly, apologetically, as the Revenant turned. A slight sadness lay behind her blue eyes but Yvonne couldn’t meet her gaze and glanced towards the ground.

“We’re here.” Malcolm called back to the others, turning to a large tree with a hollow near the roots. The others were spreading themselves out, Donneric and Marigold on either side, Malcolm straight towards the center.

“What should I do?”

“Stay with me,” Yseph whispered, “I’m sure the monster has a few tricks.”

Yvonne watched the forest around them, her ears sharp to any sound. In front, Malcolm had taken a staff from his back and was pounding the ground with it. Like a whispered wind, Yvonne could just make out his muttering. From the sides, Donneric and Marigold had drawn their swords. Yseph pulled out a crossbow, and readied a bolt. As quietly as she could, Yvonne pulled out her own blades, her breath taught, her chest tight with anxiety.

There was a rustle from the cave and the world seemed to hold its breath as slowly a figure appeared. It was a woman. As she stepped from the shadows, Yvonne’s heart seemed to stop. The woman’s long dark hair was loose and fell over her shoulders, her clothes were ripped but Yvonne knew who it was immediately; her mother.

“Something’s wrong.” Yvonne muttered, “Her eyes aren’t violet.” As the words slipped from her mouth, her mother found her face and Yvonne felt her blood chill as she saw a cruel smile cross her mother’s face.

Smack! Yvonne fell to the ground as a roar bellowed above her. A familiar elven face, contorted in rage, towered over her. A bolt crashed into its side, it angrily lashed out, hitting something nearby with a sickening thud. Shouts emanated from the cave and a sudden dash of red appeared  as Marigold charged, dodging its monstrous limbs and striking her sword into its abdomen. Behind her, Donneric attacked, leaping up onto the embedded sword and aiming for the throat. A large hand batted him away and he crashed to the ground, quickly rising, without his sword.

At the mouth of the cave, Malcolm and her mother were stuck in a dance as he tried to strike her with his staff along with bolts of magic. She dodged them elegantly while trying to rake him with monstrous claws. What had her mother done?

Another bellow came from the monster and a clawed hand struck the ground, barely missing her. She rolled to her feet, swords at the ready as its slitted eyes found hers and hissed in recognition. Its other hand lashed out, but she was ready. Like twins, she aimed her swords and sliced into its palm, a stream of blood coming from it. A growl deep in its throat reverberated as it lowered its head and tried to knock her down with its antlers.

She quickly jumped onto the lowest antler and hung, her swords still in her hands. It was like climbing a tree, except the tree was moving. A bolt whizzed by striking it in the face. A shudder ran through it as it reared its head. She slid down towards its antler and a frustrated growl escaped it. For added measure, she brought a blade against the velvety bone and as she slid sliced through it. Down below, Donneric and Marigold were slashing at its legs, but the creature just swatted them away like flies.

As the blade cut through its antlers, an elk-like scream bellowed from its lungs. It tossed its head harder, trying to knock Yvonne off. She just held on tight, waiting for her chance.

***

Malcolm was slowly losing his battle.

With her wicked talons, she scraped his face, tearing away flesh. She struck him in the ribs and the chest, his robes becoming slivers. Blood was spilling out of him and he could feel his power waning. “Give up,” she hissed at him, her glowing violet eyes piercing into his very soul, “Give up while you still can, Revenant.”

“I don’t make promises to monsters.”

She hissed as she went to strike him again. Her face suddenly contorted in pain as the creature screamed. She bared her teeth in rage and looked up.

It was his only chance. With a quick flurry of movement, he cast the spell. A shard of glass cut into her chest, piercing her heart. She looked down, blood spilling from the wound, and the light in her eyes died. Her claws retracted as she fell to her knees, her eyes filled with horror as she now recognized her own daughter on top of the monster.

“What have I done?” she gasped falling further backward.

Strong hands caught her and held her in place, “Tell it to stand down,” he ordered.

Without a word, the monster seemed to slow and glanced over at her. Just as it turned Yvonne, Marigold, and Donneric shoved their weapons into the creature’s skull and heart. With a shudder, it fell to the ground, causing the leaves to rise from the ground and gently resettle themselves.

The battle was over. Yvonne slid from the monster’s head and ran towards the dying figure. She slid in beside her mother, tears in her eyes as she took her hand.

“I’m so sorry.” Her mother breathed, “I’m sorry I put you in danger.”

“You didn’t have to hide it from me.” Yvonne whimpered, lowering her head to her mother’s shoulder, “You didn’t have to carry the sorrow alone.”

“I was so angry.” She shivered, “but now I have paid the price.” Her cold dying eyes met hers one last time, “I love you,” she said and with the last bit of strength, she lifted a shaking hand to her daughter’s face, “and I am so proud of you.” Her eyes dulled and the breath escaped her lungs.

Silence fell around the clearing as tears streamed down Yvonne’s face. She held her mother there, clutching her like a doll.

An hour later a grave was dug and Yvonne’s mother placed within. Her arms across her chest as she was lowered. When she was buried the group made their way to town and Yvonne made a decision.

“I want to become a Revenant.” She said shakily, “There’s nothing left for me here.” She pointed back towards the woods,

The other four turned, to watch her.

“You were helpful, surprisingly.” Malcolm said coolly.  She couldn’t help but notice a slight smile on his face. The others nodded in consent.

“You won’t be able to live a normal life if you’re with us.” Donneric pointed out.

“Who’s got time for normal?” she retorted.

Chuckling, he put out a hand, “Then welcome to the family.”

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