His senses sharpened and in one smooth movement, he rose—the labrys in his hand. The lamp had died during the night. But dull moonlight filtered through the clouds, shading his room grey. He stood still. Held his breath. He had that alertness in him. A gift—a curse—of premonition. He did not have to wait long.
A howl rendered the night. A long drawn out cry coming from—what seemed like—right outside his door. In the living area of the inn.
Alastor kicked the wooden staff off the bars and pushed his door open. The place was dark. Unlit. He heard a movement. Then, silence.
The innkeeper did not answer.
‘Carenos, is that you?’
The boy did not reply too.
Alastor reached into his waist pouch. He took out the flints and some tinder, and struck. Again and again. He squinted as the sparks flew.
‘Don’t!’ It was Lycaon.
Suddenly, the door swung open and something rushed out the inn. Was it a man? A beast? Alastor could not tell. For a fleeting moment, the moonlight silhouetted the thing.
Then, it was gone.
Note: I shall borrow a word, phrase or the theme from your comment—a maximum of five primary comments or until the next post, whichever the sooner—and develop this story via my replies. Thank you for your assistance.
*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018 ***
Thank you to: Paul, Willow, Windy, Ina, and Ian – that makes it five primary comments and contributions.
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Have a great weekend, all,
You are the master at ending each section at a point where anticipation is the highest. Waiting to see how the story develops from here.
In was morning, and Alastor prepared to ride out. The stallion nudged and snuffed him. Confident that the horse has got used to him, Alastor mounted it. The horse snorted, eager to set off.
The innkeeper and boy came to the shed.
‘Whatever lurks out there, bodes ill for you,’ said Alastor. ‘You’ll be well advised to find a safer place to stay, perhaps at Theron’s, until the bounty hunters sort out this matter.’
‘Thank you, master blacksmith,’ said Lycaon, ‘and we’ll consider your good advice. And yet, sir, you venture farther into the unknown.’
Alastor, sitting high on the horse, looked down the narrow path. He knew the innkeeper had lied; the man had no intention of taking refuge in Theron’s. He turned back and said,
‘Good day, then.’
‘Safe journey, master blacksmith.’
Thank you for following the story. And thank you for the compliments too. But as you can see, the sections are first drafts and need plenty of revisions.
I’m finalizing a novel and also working on the first draft of another. Both projects are historical works and demand much research, and take up most of my time.
For now, I’ll see how this blacksmith story goes.
Trust your weekend is good,
You create a wonderful sense of atmosphere in just a few paragraphs. I like the way you are stringing your bits of the story like beads for readers to enjoy.
‘No sir,’ said the boy.
‘It was in the inn with you,’ said Alastor. He had turned on Lycaon. ‘What was it, who was it?’
‘I don’t know,’ said the innkeeper.
‘Speak, old man, or blood will be spilled tonight,’ said Alastor. From the corners of his eyes, he saw the boy tense.
‘The danger is not here, master blacksmith, but out there,’ said Lycaon.
‘You will answer me, old man,’ said Alastor.
The boy, Carenos, moved and stood beside the innkeeper.
‘Very well then,’ said the innkeeper. ‘I woke into the dark; sensed someone moving in the foyer. It was not the boy, I knew that. So I went quiet, remained still. I thought it was you, and was about to call your name when you kicked open your door.’
‘Do you always sleep here, in the shed?’ Alastor asked the boy.
‘Not always, sir, but only when we have guests.’
‘My snoring keeps him awake,’ said the innkeeper. ‘And so he complains and does not share the foyer with me.’
Though their answers strung up like well-selected beads, Alastor did not trust them. He was convinced they were not telling him all that they knew. But for now, he decided not to press.
Stringing bits like beads in a story. Now someone with your talent can easily turn that into a haiku 🙂
Thank you, Ina, and have a great weekend ahead,
I think it is Carenos the boy, by day he is normal, by night he transforms. Lycaon protects the boy and has the power to restraint the beast’s attack.
Perhaps Alastor also has the inner force that he had not known it exists.
It was the innkeeper, Lycaon.
‘I could have axed you,’ said Alastor.
‘Let’s check on the boy.’
The panic in the innkeeper’s voice had left him and he looked and moved in a more assured manner.
‘Carenos, its Lycaon. Open the door, boy.’
The dull clatter of wood, as the cross-bar was withdrawn, reached them. The door pushed open with a squeak of hinges.
Alastor held up the lamp. He could hear the horse and mules stamp and move about in their stalls but the boy did not appear.
The men entered the shed.
‘Over there,’ said Lycaon.
He pointed to a torch in a cradle on the wall. Alastor lit the torch and turned.
Carenos was by the stallion. He looked calm, unaffected by the night’s event. He was speaking soothing words into the horse’s ear. The mules stood against the far end of the stall.
‘You all right, boy?’ asked Alastor.
‘Yes, sir,’ said Carenos.
‘You have a way with animals,’ said Alastor.
‘Yes, sir,’ said Carenos. ‘When they sense you mean no harm, they settle down fast.’
‘Did you hear the howling?’ asked Alastor.
‘Yes, sir, this night I did,’ said Carenos.
‘Did you see the beast?’
Hello Windy, dear
I see you’ve been trying to connect the dots 🙂
All good tidings for the weekend,
A close escape someone or something is watching over Alastor..
Holding the lamp in one hand and his labrys held at the ready in the other, Alastor stepped out the door and into the gloom. The innkeeper was right. There was a torch wedged into the wall outside the door. Alastor lit it. The thick fog smothered the light and allowed only a dull glow to radiate.
He stood on the stoep and allowed his eyes to accustom to the soupy swirls of the fog.
Alastor sensed something move. He peered into the night. Nothing. A rustle of mulch. And it was gone.
The braying of the mules and whinny of the stallion attracted his attention. He crouched, ready to spring away from danger, as he moved towards the shed. He reached the door. It was barred from the inside.
‘Carenos.’ Alastor called.
The horse and mules continued to move about in the shed. But their panic had bled off and they had quietened down.
A heavy hand landed on Alastor’s shoulder. He swung, the axe raised to strike.
Hello Willow dear,
You’re right – he is being watched 🙂
All good days ahead,
This is all so intriguing Eric!
Lycaon, ‘The Wolf’, probably fled from the flame, preferring the comfort and concealment of the dark. Did he ever wonder the horrible story behind his name?
Great visuals. I can just see the creature loping through the gloom, perhaps wanting, in his lycanthropic state, to mean Alastor harm.
Intrigued with the story, sir, and look forward to the next installment!
Paul 🙂 🙂
The tinder caught. It glowed orange and the flame gathered life. Alastor lit the lamp on the table and held it up. The feeble light fought to penetrate the fog that had entered the door.
Taking careful steps, he peered into the gloom and found the innkeeper cowering in a corner.
‘Where’s the boy?’ asked Alastor.
Lycaon did not reply, he kept staring at the flung open door. Alastor repeated himself in a stern tone. The innkeeper spoke in a trembling voice,
‘In the shed, with your horse and mules.’
‘Are there any torches outside?’
‘By the door, on the wall,’ said Lycaon, in a whisper. ‘But don’t go out. If you value your life, stay inside.’
‘What of the boy?’
‘He’s bolted himself inside the shed. He is safe for now.’
‘What was that thing?’
Just then, another howl rendered the night.
Yes, the name Lycaon does have a colourful history. It is also an ancient Greek name. Hope you continue to enjoy this story.
All good wishes, dear friend, for the weekend ahead,
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