He left, leaving the corpse in the company of those who knew not of what was happening yet. Pestorus didn’t know he was heading to her house until he was in front of it. The slanted shingles falling off a rusted tin roof, the door barely able to close as its swelled wood expanded from the heat of hot summers. He took a deep breath and went to knock but the door was already open when he reached the top step, the fresh face of Soun standing there holding a cloth in her hand as it lazily dried out the china cup in the other hand. Her smile was thin, but otherwise welcoming in his presence. She had barely aged since their last encounter and he grimaced at the thought of how long ago that was.
“Well, if it isn’t Pestorus. How long has it been…twenty? Thirty years?” she said as if she’d read his mind but her smile never faltered, “come. I’ve prepared tea.”
She stood there still, holding the door open and as he passed her he couldn’t help but take in her intoxicating smell of beauty and fresh summer wind. Her house was the same as it had always been, slightly cluttered but in a pleasing homey feel. Cabinets lined the walls with trinkets of every sort, and books marked with hundreds of assorted bookmarks claimed couch cushions and fancy oak chairs. He knew his way to the kitchen and by the time he entered the little cooking area, she was already pouring tea into the freshly washed cup. She handed it to him and sat down on a stool, gazing at him lovingly like she always used to.
“To what do I owe such a pleasant surprise?” she asked in that sing song voice of hers.
“There’s been a murder,” he said choosing his words wisely.
“And you suspect me? The honor I must be feeling right now,” she said in mock entertainment.
“No, Soun. I don’t suspect you. It was…dark,” he said looking away.
“Drink your tea. I promise there isn’t any poison in it this time,” she smirked.
“A boy was found with no face,” he said. Soun’s smile disappeared rapidly.
“You know we’ve seen this before. And you know I cannot help you this time. Pestorus, I may love you still but there are some things that even I cannot change, I pray you understand that. That kind of power exceeds my own.”
“I just wanted you to look at the body. To confirm my suspicions,” he said. Soun looked fretful, but she stretched her fingers across the table and clasped his worn hand.
She was cold, but then again she always was. Her eyes were ice blue, so chilling but mesmerizing, mimicking the coolness of her skin. He longed to stroke her cheek, to feel her smooth skin under his rough hands once more but he settled for a gentle squeeze instead.
“Fine. To make you happy once more, I shall do as you request.”
“Thank you Soun,” he said huskily, breaking contact with her.
“Don’t thank me yet, love. If this is what you think, our sorrows are only just beginning.”
. . . . .
Darmi’s hand shook violently as she tried to stick the thread through the eye of the needle. The thread shivered violently in her hand before missing once more and she cursed, tossing the needle on the table. Arthritis was a bugger, and in her old age she couldn’t seem to have a moments rest from the crippling condition.
“Terei? Can you bring me some of those herbs from the cellar? Unless you want your pants done and sewn proper, I’m going to need a tea for my fingers.”
“Maybe I don’ wanna wear pants,” he grumpily called from the kitchen.
“Shut your damn mouth and get the herbs. You’ll wear pants and you’ll like it,” she fired back at him.
She could hear him grumbling as the chair legs squeaked against the rough tile floor. She added a second log to the spitting fire and checked the pot, making sure there was enough water in it to sustain enough tea for the rest of the day. She made a mental note to pick up more of the herbs from Soun. It had been well over three weeks since her last medical resupply. The village had grown quiet over the early hours of the morning since the death of the small child. She had not a single clue where the children came from but she felt it had been her motherly duty to calm and claim them as her own until their parents showed up. The young girl, Sierra, sat on the patched couch sipping a cup of tepid water quietly. She hadn’t said a single word since leaving the inn but it was not Darmi’s place to question her after such an ordeal—some things were better left unasked. Darmi offered a cookie to Sierra but she merely shook her head and continued to stare at the back wall. There was a loud crash from the cellar door and Darmi dropped the platter of cookies to the floor and rushed as fast as she could.
“Terei? Are you okay?” Darmi flicked the light but the bulb flickered and burst.
“Terei? Sierra dear, please go fetch the neighbours. I think Terei fell down and my old legs can’t get down the stairs,” but when Darmi looked back at the couch, Sierra was gone. She narrowed her eyes.
“Darmi? I fell. Blasted shelves fell on ma’ head,” he called from the darkness of the basement, “I think I broke my hip.”
“Shit,” Darmi said taking the steps one at a time as slow as possible, “Hold on you old idiot, I’ll be there in a minute.” When she reached the dirt floor, she scanned the darkness for any sign of Terei. A few spilled jars littered the floor in the immediate circle of light but Terei was not among them.
“Alright where are you?” But he didn’t answer. In fact the only answer she received was a child’s giggle.
“Sierra? Did you come down to help Terei?” Darmi said smiling.
“I came down here to eat his face,” said the child’s voice and Darmi stopped advancing into the cellar, goose bumps riddling her arms.
The voice was human, but it had a supernaturally charged demonic quality to it that chilled Darmi’s spine to the core. When Sierra came into view she was not alone. In her hands was a young boy. Neither children had a face but she had the strange sickly feeling that this boy was the same murdered boy from the front gate. Darmi backed up and fell, tripping over a glass jar and landing hard on her hip.
“W-where are your parents?” she asked.
“Wh-who are you?”
“Cha…cha…cha. Only the Nell of the Cha can save you…Darmi,” said the little girl tilting her head.
Darmi screamed and in the corner of the cellar her husband huddled unseen, afraid to move as the demonic children ascended onto his wife. He held back his silent tears as Darmi’s screams escalated and then stopped altogether.
. . . . .
- The Cha Forest: Part Two (terrinjarrell1991.wordpress.com)
- The Cha Forest: Part One (terrinjarrell1991.wordpress.com)
- The Blood Mage’s Sacrifice (fantasyforthekinky.wordpress.com)
- The Zozo Demon (weird.answers.com)
- Film Gives Indonesia View of Bloody, Obscured Past (irrawaddy.org)
- The Butterfly Casket Part 2 (terrinjarrell1991.wordpress.com)
- The Demon’s Mate – Book 1: Royals of Sheoldris (trsparties.com)