Saturday, March 29, 2014


It was daybreak. The blinding whiteness of the sun’s rays illuminated the entire valley. She only had a day left. If she wanted to save her, she had to make it through the death wood before dusk. The rays brought hope. A hope that would die along with them.

She had no time to waste. She picked up her things and woke up her companion. The massive gray wolf yawned and stretched. His steel eyes met hers and she knew he understood perfectly. He bowed his head, allowing her to climb his back. She grabbed a tuft of fur and, with bow in hand and supplies on her back, she gently patted the beast on the neck. The wolf howled a howl that pierced the very sky, sending multicolored flocks of birds flying in all directions in a cacophonic panic. Then, he started to run.

The wolf ran faster than the wind. The grass seemed to bow down before him in fear, so as not to get trampled by the extreme force that the wolf was. It was hoping it could avert the fate of the daisies, whose petals were mercilessly being torn one by one by the storm whipped up by the gray behemoth. She paid them no heed. Nature would always find a way, she though, yet only she could save her and only if she ran faster than the wind.

They passed many trees. Still far away from the death wood, these loosely standing trees shook in terror as the duo passed by them. The squeaks of terrified animals could be heard as they desperately sought shelter. She cared not who she trampled over. As long as no beasts hindered her journey, she cared for them even less than for blades of grass.

Finally, a shade fell on her face. The death wood stood looming in front of her, its ominous greenness obscuring the freshly awoken sun. Unlike the previous groups of trees, the death wood was completely still and silent, not a leaf rustling, nor a squirrel scratching. The only sound was that which the wolf made. The smell was also most peculiar. It was not putrid, nor fresh, one could say it wasn’t really there. But it was. She and the wolf could both smell it. It was still. It was death.

She could tell the wolf grew tired, so she patted him on the back. There knew there was a stream nearby, where they could both drink and keep moving. And a stream they found. The wolf drank and drank for what seemed like hours, but afterwards, he seemed completely rejuvenated. She filled sacs with water and hung them over the beast’s back, just in case they could find no more fresh water. She mounted the wolf once again and took a look around the forest. The trees were black as tar, coloring the entire wood ebony, with only hints of the sun’s white rays visible up above, between the thick leaves. There was no time to waste.

The wolf once again ran. His paws seemed to glow in the total darkness of the forest. Many hours passed with no trouble whatsoever. She started to get suspicious. They were getting so close. The sun had already reached the midpoint of its journey a couple of hours before, so the end of the wood should be nearby. And yet, no attackers so far, even though she knew people would try to hinder her journey. Perhaps she was too late, she thought, but quickly brushed away that notion. They ran ever faster, making fewer and fewer stops. The situation seemed to fill the wolf with enthusiasm, as he would not feel the need to stop and drink so often anymore. His fur looked lighter, almost white, almost as if he was a glowing beacon among the black treed.
That’s when she heard a loud, piercing noise. A sharp pain in her shoulder. She put a hand there to see if she was injured – blood. She looked back – four horsemen were shooting at her. The wolf sped up. She pulled out her bow. One, two, three arrows were sent flying towards the riders. She’d hit one right between the eyes and he fell of his steed, but the others missed. Her wound was burning. She could tell it was no ordinary wound. She was prepared for the devil’s poison, though. She had been given a vial with a liquid most precious, one that could heal any wound, even poisoned, but only once and  only if there was one.  She knew she had to be more careful, so she shot out another barrage of arrows. One shot in the leg, one in the eye, two horsemen fell. Only their leader was left, wearing chainmail and a closed helm, he was going to be difficult to take down. Her strength was leaving her. She could tell the devil’s poison cursing in her veins. She was dying. She could tell the wolf wanted to help, but urged him to press on. In that instant that she turned away to face her companion, she heard an ominous sound of a sword being drawn. He was right beside her, ready to deal the finishing blow. He swung his sword fast and steady, his red eyes glowing from behind the helmet. She covered her face with her hands.

A stream of blood splattered in front of her eyes, dying the black wood a dark crimson. But it was not her blood. She felt a strong jerk and suddenly hit the ground. She could hear the vicious roars emitted by the wolf, accompanied by the panicked cries of a man and a horse neighing in desperation. She could hear the wolf tear limb from limb, she could hear more blood spill on the austere forest bed. She could feel the life leave her arm. When she fell from the wolf, she lost her things. Gone was the vial, her only chance to make it out of the wood alive, and she had no strength left in her to look for it. The curse was devouring her from the inside. She winced in pain, but the pain soon stopped, if only briefly. That’s when she heard there were no more sounds of struggle. She could only hear slow steps. She recognized them immediately and uttered a huge sigh of relief.

She soon saw the wolf approach her, blood dripping from his white teeth, staining the object he was holding between them. His tired eyes met hers as he dropped the vial with the miraculous liquid in her hand. She looked at him lovingly, as words could never express how grateful she was for such a loyal companion. His eyes closed. The beast fell down on its side. That’s when she noticed the huge gash on his side. His fur turned darker and darker. The same curse that was plaguing her was eating him away. The vial could only heal one. And yet he opened his steel eyes once again, looked into hers, as if nudging her to drink it herself. She pondered that for a minute and felt a huge pain, different from the one caused by the curse. She knew there was only one way out. Twilight was upon them, and the place they were holding her was near, but not near enough for a human to reach it on foot. She struggled to get up and forced the contents of the vial down the beast’s throat, disregarding his growls of protest.

“Go,” she told him, as she dropped to the ground. “She is my light, just as she is yours. Now, you can be her light. You can be mine, too. Please.”

The wolf stood up. He sniffed at her face as she ran her fingers through his mane which was now white as snow. He licked her wound, but she pushed him away. After one final exchange of gazes, she embraced his neck one last time. It was soft, warm, comforting. She knew she had made the right decision. He was always there. He would finish the job. She was sure of it. As she let go, the wolf ran. She could hear him stop for a second before resuming his run. That made her smile, if only just a little. She faced the sky. It was a mixture of orange and pink. She knew that meant there was little time. She didn’t know if even he could reach her in time. And yet, that small, weak light was enough. Her job was done, if cut short. As death engulfed more and more of her body and the view of the sky was taken away from her, she remembered the light and warmth of the wolf’s fur. She smiled once more. He truly was always there with her. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Crosswords I (3/3)

WARNING! More strong language!

“Is everything OK?” Jess asked. The three people in the kitchen were all looking at me with wide eyes. The doorbell rang once again.

“Someone should get that,” Freddie said.

“No, I think we’d better not,” I said. I could hear my voice tremble a bit. “Martin said we shouldn’t.”

“What,” Freddie asked flatly.

“I dunno. I mean, we’re all seriously hungover, maybe we shouldn’t be talking to strangers in this state. Plus, he did say he mixed up the DVDs and those are definitely not crosswords.”

“So? What does that have to do with anything?” Freddie was getting increasingly irritated.

“Like, seriously, what the hell?” Brandi demanded.

“He said there’s something dangerous on this DVD and we should take it and get out of here. He said he’d meet us later.”

“I really doubt anyone would send the fucking cops to confiscate his blinged-out porn stash,” Freddie sighed. “Fine, let’s just wait for him, then.”

Just then we heard the front door open. We stood there motionless, hearing only bits and pieces of a conversation between a couple of men, one of whom was talking very slowly in his deep voice. It was Ian. After the conversation ended, the door closed and the chubby man approached us, ruffling his wavy brown hair with his hand.

“Hello,” he smiled at us, his beard miraculously clear of any leftover potato chips. “This is quite the welcoming you’ve prepared for me. Would you grace me with some coffee, my dear?”

With a look of complete bafflement, Jess poured him a mug of coffee. He thanked her and swallowed it down in a couple of gulps. Three, to be exact. Our collective gaze followed each and every one of them. Even when he finished, smacked his lips and fixed his blue-eyed gaze at each of us one by one with that silly grin of his, we continued to stare at him in disbelief.

“Um, Ian?” Freddie ultimately approached him and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Who was that?”

“Who was who?”

“You know who.”

“I don’t. Who?”

“You tell me, sweetie,” Freddie rubbed his temples, his voice growing impatient, his face once again became a bit redder.

“You’re not making any sense today,” Ian grumble as he adjusted his glasses.

“He means the people at the door,” Jess said in a calm tone. Ian looked at her in confusion.

“You know, the front door. You opened it, talked to some guys,” Brandi explained.

“I open- Oh, right. Those guys. Hell if I know. They just asked if Martin was here. I told them I had no idea. When they asked if they could come inside, I said I would have to ask Leo first. Oh, right. I forgot.”

“Well, that doesn’t matter anyway, ‘cause Martin said we can’t let them in,” I said. “I just hope they can take a hint and just us alone.”

“So now we wait for Martin to come?” Jess asked me as her fingers ran through the DVD.

“He was gonna call me and-” my sentence was interrupted with a loud bang coming from the living room. We all glanced at each other, frozen in shock for just a moment, and ran over to where we’d heard the sound.

“Well fuck me backwards,” Freddie whispered. That was pretty much the reaction I had in my head. How else do you react to a car crashing through your living room wall and landing on the sofa, cutting it in half in the process?

“Aw shit,” I grunted. “The landlady’s gonna kill me.”

Two men in black suits and sunglasses left the car and pointed guns at us. We all raised our hands, more out of disbelief than anything else.

“I’m sorry I forgot! I sincerely apologize! That was so rude of me!” Ian cried out.

“Just give us the disc and everyone’s free to go,” one of the men said.

“Don’t!” I heard Martin’s shout from behind. He had Mia with him, along with two other guys I didn’t know, all of them pointing guns at the men in black. Considering the cloud of dust surrounding them, I had a bad feeling about this.

“I think there’s a moral in all this, somewhere,” Brandi sighed.

“Drink responsibly?” Jess suggested.

“Keep your promises,” Ian sobbed.

“I need to print out some sort of house etiquette sheet over here, cause damn, you guys just don’t respect the money I have to pay that woman to rent this house.” I said through gritted teeth.

“Martin, your coffee is so disgusting it’s a fucking disgrace,” Freddie summed up. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Crosswords I (2/3)

WARNING! Strong language

“God, you guys are so fucking noisy,” said Freddie. He was scratching his black beard and adjucting his ruffled fauxhawk as he came in. His protruding ears reflected the morning light in a peculiar way. They were almost mesmerizing. “My fucking head is killing me. And I know you guys have coffee. I mean, if they weren’t all dead wasted, the entire fucking house would’ve heard your conversation.”

“Dude, I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize we were so loud,” I said to him.

“Here you go,” Jess said as she handed him a large mug of coffee.

“Thank you,” he said and pretty soon half his face was obscured by the mug. “This is fucking terrible.”

“Don’t blame me,” Jess shrugged. “The coffee was in the pot when I got here. I just reheated it.”

“I think Martin was making coffee during the game,” Freddie said. He winced every time he took a sip of the liquid. “Guess he forgot about it when he rage-quit. Still, congrats on winning again, man.”

“Yeah, we’ll see how long this winning streak keeps up.”

“I’ll bet you ten bucks the next one will be the end of you,” Freddie grinned. His tanned skin made his teeth seem unnaturally white.

“Oh, that reminds me,” Jess said. She seemed very excited all of a sudden. “Martin said pretty much the same thing before he stormed off. Plus, he left this.”

She picked up something from the kitchen table. It was a golden DVD sticking out of a plain white envelope.

“Well fuck me backwards, a blinged-out DVD! Just what I always wanted,” Freddie said in a mocking voice. Jess looked at him in disapproval. She was still avoiding eye contact with me. “Seriously, though, what is it?”

“He said it was a new batch of crosswords.”

“But we still have a month before the next meeting. Why would he leave it here, with his rivals?” I asked. She turned to me and finally, our eyes met once more. Thank God, she didn’t look like she still remembered how our previous conversation ended.

“That’s the thing. He wants a rematch,” she said. She was apparently awaiting some sort of reaction from us, because what followed was a couple of seconds of silence, then an irritated sigh. “As in, today.”

“Let me see that,” Freddie demanded. Jess complied, handing him the DVD. Our eyes met once again, but only for a brief moment. As Freddie was carefully examining the disc, my phone rang.

“It’s Martin,” I said. Jess and Freddie exchanged surprised looks. I answered the call. “Martin, my man! What’s up?”

“Hi, Leo,” he said in an urgent tone. At that point, Brandi joined us in the kitchen. She waved at me as she entered, grasping at her forehead where I’d seen the bruise. Jess gave her a coffee mug which she graciously accepted. Freddie sent her a malicious grin and said something to her, to which she punched him on the shoulder and then flipped him off. “Listen, there’s something important I have to tell you.”

“Yeah, Jess already told me about the rematch you’re planning.”

“Leo, I was drunk and I was furious and I’m sorry I lost my composure. But this is serious,” his voice was raised. I could almost see his pasty face get red with irritation as it usually did. “It’s about the disc I left with you guys.”

“The golden crosswords DVD?”

“It’s not crosswords, Leo,” his voice was shaking. “I can’t really tell you what it is, but it’s really important. I’ll try to be there ASAP, but until then, you have to keep it safe. They might come and try to get it from you, but you just can’t let them have it.”

“Dude, you really need to work on this sense of humor business, you know? I know you’re pulling my leg and it’s not even funny.”

“I’m not joking! I mean it!” he really sounded like he wasn’t joking. It made a weird kind of sense, actually. Martin never really joked. “You guys are in danger as long as you have the DVD. I’ll be there in a couple minutes. Just hold on to it for a little longer.”

“Can’t you just tell me what it is, then?” as I said that, the doorbell rang.

“Was that the doorbell?”

“Yeah, I think I need to-”

“Oh God, it’s too late,” Martin was almost sobbing. “Just, don’t let them in, don’t believe anything they say. Just get the hell away from there and then we’ll arrange a meet-up, OK?”

“Dude, you’re not making any sense!” I said to him. He hung up. “Huh.”

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Crosswords I (1/3)

My head. That was the first thought that came to my mind as I opened my eyes. The sunlight pouring into the room was aimed straight at my face. I tried to cover it with my hand, but after a while it just made my arm feel all fuzzy, so I turned on my side. The bed felt strangely hard, and there was this weird smell in the air. I opened my eyes once again. A table leg. Interesting. That and the carpet covered with potato chips, beer cans and liquids of unknown origin tipped me off that perhaps this was not my bed. I did my best to sit up, trying to ignore the pain in my head. It wasn’t that bad. The table was tipped over and the carpet was a total mess, but aside from that, the room was relatively undamaged. The sun was pretty low over the horizon – it must’ve been early morning. I slowly turned my head to the right and saw two sleeping figures cuddling on the floor in front of the TV. The bearlike Ian lay flat on his back, his large gut pointing at the ceiling, his wide-framed glasses askew, bits of leftover food stuck in his beard. Embracing him was Freddie, who had his head on Ian’s chest, exposing one prominent ear. He had an empty beer can in one hand, while in the other he was clutching a Wii remote. My memory was still a bit hazy, but that little detail made me recall how they’d been playing something during my final waking moments, started arguing after one of them lost, and then a steamy make-out session commenced.

I stood up, swayed a bit and made my way towards the kitchen. I needed coffee. Badly. As I made my way through the narrow hallway, I tripped over something and almost fell down. It was a pale, thin, tattooed arm that extended from an unseen body in the bathroom. I took a peek inside and saw Brandi sprawled out on the floor in a black tank top and tattered jeans, her curly, platinum blonde hair forming a sort of halo around her skull. There was a small bruise on her forehead, another Wii remote lay by her side. Once again, the haze in my head cleared and I could see her triumphantly teasing Ian and Freddie after she’d beaten them at Mario Kart. Unfortunately for her, Freddie was a sore loser. I wondered whether it was the blow to the head with the controller or the booze that ultimately knocked her out.

After what felt like a long and arduous journey, I finally reached the kitchen. The morning sun blinded me once again. I held up my hand in front of my face. The space between the fingers was big enough for me to spot a shadowy silhouette standing in the light.

“Mornin’, Leo,” I heard a female voice say. As my eyes were very slowly getting used to the light, after a couple of seconds I was able to make out who was talking to me. Standing by the counter was Jess, her wavy black hair falling loose on her back as she smoked a cigarette. She was wearing the same white sundress she had on last night. She smiled at me. Her slanted gray eyes felt almost seductive as they fixed on me from beneath her straight bangs, the freckles on her pale face emphasized the how petite her nose was. Her full red lips made me recall that Ian and Freddie’s make-out wasn’t the only one that took place last night. “Here’s your coffee, crossword champion.”

“Ugh,” I grunted as I took the coffee mug she gave me. As I sipped on the disgusting black, muddy substance, my mind got steadily less fuzzy and the image of the woman standing before me became clearer and clearer. That dress wrapped quite tightly around her body, emphasizing certain curves Jess was particularly well endowed with. It took my brain nearly a minute to compute what she’d said to me. “Crossword champion?”

“Surprised? It’s the third month in a row that you’ve won,” she said as she rolled her eyes. “Martin went berserk. His face was so red I thought he was gonna explode.”

“Oh right, now I remember,” I said. I did remember. The party that had laid such waste among my friends was our monthly crossword get-together. “So I won again?”

“Yeah, though I’m not sure how legit that victory was. I mean, everyone was too wasted to tell the difference between real words and made-up ones. You convinced most of us. I say most of us. Martin flipped the table, grabbed Mia and went home.”

“Really? I can’t remember that.”

“Well, there you go,” she smiled at me and sent a hoop of smoke in my direction.

“By the way, why are you smoking in here? Didn’t I tell you you can’t do that here?”

“You told me last night it was OK if I smoked,” she raised an eyebrow.

“OK, rule #1: don’t listen to drunk me. He’s kind of an idiot. If the smoke detector goes off, the landlady’ll-”

“You turned it off yourself,” she said as she pointed to the smoke detector way up on the ceiling. “That was quite impressive, actually. I wouldn’t believe you were agile enough to do that if you told me. You don’t seem like the athletic type. Still, you looked pretty desperate to have it turned off.”

“I,” I started. I could feel my face get hotter and hotter. “Well, I guess that paid off then.”

“What do you mean?” she seemed genuinely puzzled.

“Um… I’m not making this up, right? I thought we… You know. Last night?”

She seemed completely baffled. I immediately regretted saying that. I couldn’t tell if her face was expressing embarrassment, disgust, or a weird, awkward mixture of both, with some physical nausea added into the mixture. The shameful silence didn’t last too long, as someone had just entered the kitchen.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


WARNING! Strong language.

The candles gently flickered. The door to the confessional opened. Tall and dignified, Father Louis took a couple steps forward and stopped. He looked at me, his deeply set eyes obscured by shadows cast by the dim candlelight. The high walls made the distance between us much more prominent. I finished my prayer and got up.

“Felix,” he said in his soothing voice. “Just what are you doing here at this hour?”

We were the only people in the church. His voice, though quiet, echoed throughout the whole building.

“Look, Father, I know this is weird,” I said as I approached him. He made a small step backwards. His kind face expressing an emotion I could not wrap my head around. “But you’re the only one I can turn to now. The police keeps sending me home, no one wants to talk to me.”

“Listen, Felix,” his voice trembled a bit. “We’ve already talked about this. Jonah is gone. He’s dead. And you can’t bring him back, no matter what you do. Revenge doesn’t solve anything.”

“Please,” I said. The shadows of the saints etched in stone hovered over me, staring down. I felt small, helpless. Judged. “I promise I won’t do anything like that. I just want to know what happened.”

“What makes you think I know ?” his voice was somehow calming.

“You do, don’t you?”


“Please. I know you’re lying. You’ve been lying to me for all those years. We’ve known each other even longer. I was there when you baptized Jonah.”

“Go back home, Felix.”

“Why won’t you tell me?” my voice was raised. I somehow ended up right in the middle of the building. The priest was standing before the altar. He slowly went up to me. I still couldn’t make out his eyes, but his silver hair gleamed orange in the candlelight.

“Trust me,” he whispered into my ear. “It’s better this way.”

“Don’t you fuckin’ say it’s better like this,” I said through gritted teeth. “You don’t know what it’s like to be living like this. You don’t know what it’s like to lose your brother to some mother fuckin’ lunatic.”

“Felix,” he placed his arm on my shoulder. “You do not wish to meet this man. Deep down, you know it.”

He took his hand off my shoulder and turned to face the altar. He raised his head so that his eyes met the pained gaze of the Messiah on the crucifix. After a moment that seemed like an eternity, Father Louis let out a sigh.

“I do know the man. His confessions have moved me for all those years. How tragic and pathetic his state was. Had he sought help earlier, such a tragedy might have been averted. They were so close…”

“Why are you telling me this now? Who is he? What do I care about his confessions? I thought you guys had to keep that a secret.”

I suddenly saw him standing face to me. I could see his kind blue eyes looking at me. I could feel his sympathy. His pity. His helplessness. A thought arose deep within me. A dark one. I dismissed it.

“Felix, when was the last time you confessed your sins?”

“I… I can’t really remember,” I turned away from him. I really couldn’t. Frankly, there were a lot of things about my recent memory that were pretty spotty. Blanks, that I couldn’t fill out for the life of me. Blanks that would not fill out. An abyss I was too afraid to gaze into.

“That’s alright,” he smiled at me yet again and beckoned me to follow him as he made his way to the confession booth. “It’s never too late to confess again.”

“That’s not what I-“

“I know. I know. But it’s the only way I believe I can help you now.”

The shadows obscured his face again. Many candles had already burned out, the light ever dimmer. I approached the booth, opened the small door and knelt down on the cold wooden step. Once again, the memory stirred. I let a blank fill out. I mustered all my courage to let it finish. Now, everything could make sense again. My hands clasped together, I began to weep. I could finally recall my last confession.

“I so wanted to spare you this, Felix,” Father Louis’ voice trembled. “I really did.”

“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…”

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Fabulous Misadventures of Matoya, the Witch I (2/2)

I decided to step out of the cabin and admire the stars reflected in the clear surface of the black lake, whilst collecting some wolfsbane. The thorny blue petals pricked my fingers ever so gently, though I was prepared to face any torment for the gold the weed warranted. I soon made my way on the overgrown grass back towards the cabin, when, with a muffled thunk, I received a soft blow to the head. It was Nevermore. He was holding a small leather package in his beak. I took it from him, hissing at him, to which he turned his head, seemingly upset, and I noticed that the package seemed to have been assembled with great haste. Within were three objects. Our crystal eye. A small vial with two liquids – one red, the other glowing silver. And a torn note with a peculiar symbol and the word:


Not again, I thought to myself. I took another look at the symbol – it matched the one I saw while admiring the chiseled young lad. It all seemed pretty obvious, yet I needed to make sure. I made haste to the Tome of Clarity in my cabin, while listening closely to the sounds of the forest. Nevermore was following me. The forest was still, until I reached the door. That’s when I heard a nightmarish howl from deep within the woods. It sounded nothing like a wolf’s.

Knowing that time was flying ever faster, I quickly dove into the basement. The door to the underground library had a padlock, to which I seem to have misplaced the key.

“What the bloody whorechild of a leshy!”

Nevermore seemed to be fed up with my tantrums and quickly disabled the padlock with his solid beak.
“Bloody brilliant! Now I need a new padlock!” I screamed at him, but then caressed his little bird-brained head slightly, while sighing: “But thanks anyway.” Nevermore didn’t seem to care in the slightest, however, and quickly made his way into the library, right next to the pedestal with the Tome of Clarity.

I blazed through its parchment pages and found what I had been looking for. The peculiar symbol was that of two straight lines forming a cross, with a curved one forming a crescent above it. That lad was no lycanthrope. That was a strix. Beings similar to werewolves, yet they only took control of their hosts under a New Moon and were thrice as bloodthirsty. Servants of the bloody Lord of Malady. I’m sure the poor lumberjack had no idea what he was doing, only knowing he wants the crystal eye for his master on an instinctive level. Time was running short and I was sure I saw in the small basement window a figure making its way towards the cabin door. The eye was safe in my pouch, yet I still held my life quite dearly. If only there was a way to undo the curse. That lad was still young, I was sure he could woo a lady or two if he got to live a bit more as well. The book did not elaborate much on that. It only stated that while silver was the bane of a werewolf, sulfur was what made strices shiver. I figured an antidote would then be similar to one for lycanthrope. As fate would have it, wolfsbane was what I needed. I sighed at the thought of losing some of the gold I could get for it instead, but what’s the point of being a witch if you’re not a good witch?

I ran up the stairs and found the beast in all its glory standing in the doorway. A bipedal lynx of sorts, with a flowing auburn mane and three rows of knife-sized teeth, it just stood there, sniffing the air. That’s right! The newts reeked of sulfur. It gave me all the time I needed to prepare the antidote. Nevermore was standing at the table, glaring at the beast, fearless, though the strix’s enormous claws could tear it to shreds if the beast decided to enter the house regardless of smell. And it looked as though it was trying to. It made a shaky step forward and let out a low, guttural growl, all the while flailing its arms at me. I made nothing of it and lay the vial my sister gave me next to the raven and asked him to take care of it. He glanced at me and grabbed it in its talons, but later turned his gaze back at the strix.

I threw all the wolfsbane I had into the mortar and poured some water and honey. I then added a powdered head of grilled newt, just in case. I stirred the solution for a good two minutes when I heard a cat-like roar, a raven’s scream, and the sound of large chunks of wood being devastated. I picked up a silver knife and started pouring the solution into a vial, when Nevermore landed on my shoulder and the beast appeared right I front of me, his mouth gaping, his nostrils growing and shrinking rhythmically, his limbs shaking, as if he was fighting with himself over whether he should enter the stinking hellhole of sulfur, or stay where it was moderately safe.

“Ye whoreson!” I shouted. “That was mahogany!” I ought not have taunted the creature. That  utterance was enough to provoke him to leap at me. I made a quick dive to the floor, barely escaping the creatures enormous claws sliding my reagent table in half. Glass vials fell to the floors, breaking into thousands of shimmering shards. I’d had enough. I clenched the crystal eye in my pouch, praying to the goddess Tylia for protection against curses and absolution to those suffering from them. The orb began to glow and flew out of the pouch, hovering straight above the monster. I wasted no time and hurled the vial with the antidote at him. As the bursting vial made contact with the monster’s fur, the creature let out a growl and exploded into a million pieces. I covered my face, so as to avoid direct contact with beast flesh. Sadly, a large chunk of a tongue landed right on my forehead. I could see Nevermore grabbing and consuming sizeable pieces of meat in one gulp. When the storm subsided I took a look at the middle of all the filthy flesh. The lumberjack lay there, naked, his bare chest visibly raising and lowering at a steady pace. He was alive and well. In an act of uncanny decency, I took out one of my blankets from an old drawer and covered him with it. Before that, though, I took a peek at some parts I could not see when I only made him take of his tunic. I wasn’t disappointed.

I then took a long look around the mangled pieces of the strix. There was one more important detail I needed to seek out. And there it was, right beneath the fireplace. A long strand of yellow hair – Isolde’s hair. The instant I received her package I knew she went and got herself killed. Which meant the regular procedure was to be carried out. I picked up one of the empty jars that had not yet been shattered, placed it over a small flame and poured in the liquids she sent me, placing the hair I found in the bubbling mixture. I picked up the crystal eye that now lay on the floor and offered another prayer, causing it to float above the jar. A little fetus soon formed within the liquid, quickly developing a backbone, limbs and a clearly distinguishable face. I could see a little smirk on the homunculus’ petite face.

“Don’t ye be smilin’ so, my little sister,” I whispered to Isolde. “This time, I’ll be keepin’ the eye by my side, since you clearly lack the responsibility. And for not willing to share with me, ye’ll receive no sweets till the ripe age of eighteen.”

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday Update #1

The time has come for the first Saturday update. Now, these posts are going to be a little different. I figured Saturday would be a day I would regularly update you on my status with regards to writing, along with posting a new story or piece of a story. Granted, stories can pop up anytime, but Saturday is the day that I want to be a given when it comes to new content. That way you at least get to read a new story once a week. So be sure you check in once a week - there's guaranteed to be new content :)

I've noticed there's quite a bit of people already reading and following this blog. I thank you for your commitment and hope you find these pieces enjoyable ;) However, today's update may have come as a surprise to many, as it was only one half of a full story. Most of the stories I've written so far are substantially longer than the first three entries I've posted. The Internet has little patience for long-winded blog posts, often prompting such comments as "tl;dr". For that reason, I've decided I'd divide my longer stories into sections, so that you may pay as much attention to a particular story, as you'd like. Worry not, though. If you're hooked on a story, you need wait no longer than a day to keep reading it. Whenever I divide a story, I'll do my best to post the following bits one by one in the following days. Thus, Matoya's story will conclude tomorrow.

Another interesting trend the Fabulous Misadventures of Matoya, the Witch have started are series. You may have noticed the number I next to the title. This indicates, that I intend for this story to be a part of a greater cycles. To put it simply - you can expect more chapters with Matoya in the future. I know some people have been asking for this, but at this moment I have no plans to follow-up on A Wedding and blue skies. However, if the demand is high enough and I have a good idea on a follow-up story, I may one day continue those ;)

So yeah, that's it for this week's update, I guess. If you have any suggestions or tips on how I can run this blog better, make it more interesting for you guys, or perhaps even some suggestions on what kind of stories you would like me to write, feel free to put them in the comments. I'm still relatively new to blogging, so any support you guys can give me would be great. I really appreciate your support so far and hope you guys have great fun reading my blog ;)


The Fabulous Misadventures of Matoya, the Witch I (1/2)

A knock on the wooden door awoke me from my afternoon nap. And what a nap it was! The Grand Hierophant himself was about to propose to me after a romantic dinner of stewed lamb and leek. And leek is so hard to buy this season! He was dressed up, so fancy like, and his powdered face gleamed white as the moon on a midsummer night’s eve. That bloody knocker better have a good reason to be disrupting my fantasies in such a cheeky way. The stench of grilled newt filled my nose as I took my breath. It was none too pleasant, but the ointments that I can make with it sell for a fortune. I put on my shoes and made my way through the dimly lit, tight room cluttered with pots and flasks galore. To the ignorant eye it all looked like a normal kitchen. Probably for the best. Not all of my ingredients are exactly legal, mind. As I pushed the door, it creaked open, revealing a tattered young man, his skin as pale as a water lily in full bloom (they sell quite nicely, and the love potions they can help make – even better; pity they give nectar only once a year). He had large shadows under his eyes and he was shaking despite the warmth of the spring evening.

“What?” I demanded.

“Ar- Are you the h-holder of the eye?” he asked in a meek voice, stuttering as he did. “I seem to have been c-cursed.”

“Really? Well, my sister Isolde’s the one with the eye, but I can take a look at yer curse for ye.”

“I-I’m afraid that won’t s-suffice,” he stuttered. “It’s ly-ly-lyca-ca-“

“Lycanthropy,” I finished his sentence. “Fine, I’ll give ye a geas that will take ye around the lake to the forest yonder where my sister lives, but let me take examine ye first, why don’t ye.”

He nodded in silence and entered. The lad seemed much larger in the house than outside. He was as tall as a house and built like an ox, if a bit dried up due to the illness. His face, though worn-out, was quite handsome, I must say. Even the bushy auburn beard could not obscure his good looks and those electric blue eyes. Once he took a whiff of the house’s current stench he made a grimace.

“What is that?”

“Newt. The sulfur’s what’s disagreeing with your nose. Now take off yer tunic.”

I examined his body. The sculpted stranger had scratches all around. All of him was as pale as his face. A full moon must have been imminent, then. Another thing I noticed was a curiously shaped burn wound by his neck. He did seem like he did plenty of physical work, small wonder such injury was sustained.

“Aye. Ye’re a werewolf if I’ve ever seen one,” I told him. I placed a hand on one of his shoulders once he finished dressing, a soft glow shimmered for a quick moment. “There, I placed a geas on ye. Ye should make it to Isolde’s by midnight.”

I kicked him out and saw him walk away by the lake, towards the woods. I quickly went up to the table and picked up parchment and quill.

My Dear Isolde,
a young lumberjack of sorts is heading your way. He’s a werewolf, so be prepared, as it’s a full moon tonight. Once you cure him, remember to send a third of the gold to me. I did do the initial examinations, after all.

“Nevermore!” I shouted as I opened the kitchen window. A raven black as tar and large as a boar landed on the windowsill. “Get this to Isolde, why don’t ye.”

The raven flew away with a flap of his wings, leaving some feathers on the grass. I quickly ran outside to scoop up some of them. The solutions I could brew out of those would fetch me 30 tusks! I tucked them into a dusty jar that I forgot to put back in the pantry. I then went to the back of the cabin to turn my grilling newts a little. A tapping on the window nearly made me spill the lot on the ground.

“Ye bloody birdbrain!” I said to the bird angrily. He was having none of it, though, the expression on his beaked face defiant. “Knock gentle next time, why don’t ye.” I unrolled the pinkish piece of parchment the raven delivered.

Dearest Matoya,
I do not recall us having an agreement on sharing the gold we receive for the treatments we give. Though I suppose there is no harm in giving you a piece or two once I’m done with the young man, considering how stale business has been for you lately. I also think you should pay more attention to the moon calendar, as today the moon is clearly absent from our skies. I should be safe from the lycanthrope’s transformed form for at least two weeks.

Smug little witch. We’ll see how she likes it rough.

Dear Isolde,
ten gold pieces is the least I’m expecting, lest you be expecting a basilisk at your doorstep.

Enraged, once Nevermore flew off (no feathers this time around), I returned to my newts. I did find it peculiar, though, that it turned out I was mistaken about the moon phase. It seemed obvious to me that the human forms of lycanthropes grew weaker the closer the full moon was, and that lad looked as feeble and sickly, despite his stature, as they come. And yet my sister’s words rang true – no moon shone its pale light on the lake that night. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A rough week

WARNING: Contains some strong language (Oh my!)

So I’ve had quite the week.  I cannot remember the last time so much stuff happened almost at once. Now, where to begin. Well, it started pretty promising. Last Friday I decided I’d had it with drowning in student loans and went looking for a job. Then, on Tuesday, I went to an interview and I got the job. Oh yeah, but then I came home and found Emma had packed her things.

“Emm? What’s all this?” I asked her in a quiet tone. I had this huge, awkward smile on my face, as I had just opened the door, bursting with pride, eager to tell my lovely girlfriend about my job interview. She was sitting at the bar stool, holding the silver keys to our apartment in her right hand, playing with her beautiful brown, loosely-curled hair with the other. She had braided them into a couple of stray plaits. God, I’m going to miss that hair.

“I’m sorry, Trip,” she said as she stood up. Her voice was faint, as if this was all a huge embarrassment to her. “But I think you and I both know things have been slowly falling apart between us for some time now.”

“What?! NO! No, no, no, wait,” I uttered as I approached her, trying to grab her hands to prevent her from taking those suitcases and leaving. “Wait! I got the job! I’m not deadbeat anymore! And I’m finally making progress on my research project. C’mon, Emm! We can work this out. Let’s at least talk this over, alright?”

“We already have, many times,” she said as she flung off my hands off of her wrists and grabbed her bags. “I just… I don’t need this anymore. And neither do you. We both deserve better than this. So please, just stop. Don’t make this any harder for yourself.”

With those words she stormed off. I would not let go just like that. I followed her down the spiral staircase of our apartment building.

“Emm!” I shouted. I could hear someone open their door upstairs and approach the railing to gawk. “You can’t just leave. For God’s sake, we have a life together!”

“If you paid any attention to what I said, you’d know that’s not the case. I’ll be back for the rest of my things some other time.” And with that, she shut the door to the building.

“Oh yeah?! Well fuck you, too!”

Needless to say, I was a bit on edge after that. But I digress. Nobody wants to hear this, all this personal drama. The week had only just begun! On Wednesday I went to my new job. I forgot to trim my beard and my right hand was all covered in bloodied bandages and possibly some leftover pieces of mirror, so I can’t say I performed that well. I did see a note, though. Someone was looking for a room to rent. Considering I now had twice as much rent to pay, I gave the guy a call.

I saw him Thursday after work. His name was Kurt, though I could not for the life of me decipher his last name from that impressionist handwriting. He couldn’t have been much older than me, and yet there was something surprisingly dignified about him. Not in the way he dressed, though. His long, raven hair was tied in a loose pony tail and nicely complimented with a goatee. He was wearing an acid green baseball cap, coupled with sunglasses he refused to take off. He was as pale as a corpse. That was all coupled with a simple black t-shirt and denim slacks. Not exactly dignified, and yet he somehow felt the part. He moved in right away. It was all kinda suspicious, though. He had next to no things and would sleep through the whole day. He told me he worked as a DJ, so he would need the rest. I would have thought he was a vampire.

And then came Friday and boy, what a day it was! On my way to work I saw Emma, complete with a brand new short, blonde hairdo, red lipstick and a whole entourage of beautiful, blonde-haired people. I know she noticed me, she was looking at me right when I threw a gaze in her direction. Then she whispered something into some muscle-bound, blonde Apollo’s ear. Fuck that bitch. Too bad that made me angry. I lost my job that day. I don’t want to go into detail, but the case was pretty ugly. Let’s just say I need more money now than I did before that. That evening, when I finally returned home after all the proceedings, Kurt asked me if I wanted to go with him to the club he works at. I said yes. I don’t really know why. I think I just needed to get my mind off all of the crap that happened last week.

The music was great, the girls dancing at the club were hot, the booze was incredible, but it was all so joyless. I just couldn’t stop thinking about her. I stepped out of the club. It was raining, just my luck. I tried to call her, but to no avail. I tried for another fifteen minutes. My hair stuck to my face. I finally got fed up with waiting and hurled the phone to the ground. It bounced off the sidewalk and landed somewhere in a nearby alley. I instantly regretted doing that.

I hurried over there to search for my phone, but was suddenly sucker-punched in the face and fell down on the wet pavement. I got up and noticed none other than the blonde pretty-boy from before holding me by the throat in midair. He gave me a twisted smile, exposing prominent fangs. Holy fuck, I thought to myself, as I desperately fought for my breath. He then threw me against a wall in the alley. I could breathe again, but my back and head were aching really hard. He was crouching right above me as his fingernails extended into extremely long talons. I saw him take a swing at me. I was sure I was done for. But then I heard a loud thump, and two voices growling at each other. It all sounded pretty feral, kinda like cats fighting for territory, only much more terrifying. I took a look at what was going on. Someone was wrestling with blondie-boy. Although “wrestling” might be a bit of a stretch. The Adonis was trying to get up, as the other person had him pinned down. The blonde guy tried to grab him by the throat – his signature move, I assume – but as he did that, the other man cut it clean off with talons similar to the blonde guy’s. Blood gushed out of the open wound and the man started screaming. I saw the severed hand writhe in a pool of splattered blood. Then it stood up on its fingers and lunged itself at the attacker. He easily dodged it, though, and the hand crashed into the wall, falling down limp like a dead fish. The men were speaking to each other in some language I couldn’t understand, though my college education tells me it might have been Hebrew. The conversation soon ended, however. As the blonde man squirmed, his attacker performed a finishing blow, piercing his victim’s heart. The victim suddenly became still. The winner took out the talons out of the body, and licked them clean of the blood. He later turned his face toward me. His eyes were glowing red, there was a trail of blood trickling from his lips, and yet I instantly recognized that long, black hair and goatee, that pasty white skin.

“I’m sorry you had to see that, Trip,” said Kurt in that deep voice of his.

“Yeah,” I whispered. What did I tell you? My week was fucking fantastic.