Walk Between Shadows | Chapter 11 – Hunter and Prey

May
16

Walk Between Shadows | Chapter 11 – Hunter and Prey

DISCLAIMER – This story features images of violence, adult language, and some adult situations.

The following story is Copyright © 2015 Padraig O’C. Copying this story without permission from the author is strictly prohibited.


 

The mountain baker highway was situated on the northeaster edge of the town. Coming up just beyond Shadey Meadows and out toward Barkley. It was a long winding road that went through the lower foothills or ‘mountains’ that licked the edge of the cascades. Jack’s abode was situated on one of the small hills, and deep within a thicket of old wood. A place set aside for quiet, and solace away from the bustle of the college bound city dwellers. It was already starting to darken as she wove her way along the open prairie like boonies that marked the outer county. Whatcom was a large territory making up the northwestern corner of Washington state, with three cities, and a few large towns it was still very folksy in a lot of areas.

The Fae thrived in it. The ability for them to live in large open space filled with wood, and high trees was something they relished in. Connections to the mountains was a reason why the various Fae Clans were so prevalent in the region. Sky Clan or flying Fae lived in the high peaks of the mountains; where as River Clan were numerous in the large streams and bodies of inland water on county lands.

She neared Bellingham, and could tell by the slowly increasing quality of the state of the road. More money was spent in the local municipalities then out in the outskirts of civilization. Some roads that were nothing but dirt, or open paved road with cracks and pot holes. Most of which were dedicated to logging or local mining operations for quarry work. Her attention was lost as she focus on the road, and thought about the case, and where her life was heading. So far in her work on the research project Nyla had unearthed a fair bit of information on the Tsalemish end of the negotiation.

Fish, and crab were the primary industries outside of gaming, and tourism that the Tribe profitted from. Anything else was small piece work, usually for local artists, or laborers. Recent work on a new tribal center for the Tsalemish Nation, plus road improvements had unearth a deeply seated divide within the Tribe, the Colson family was openly accussed of witholding funds to some tribal members. Where as others were accusing rival families of using tribal roll purges to clear the vote. This was only part of the issue that came with the nepotism found in select seats on the council.

The situation was made worse by growing conflict within the neighboring Upper Chinook band who had purged several members of the tribe from their rolls. The smaller tribe were distant relatives of the Tsalemish, and many of their families had intermarried. Seeing the tactic used in the eastern part of the county had lit a fire under the more vocal members of the dissenters in the Tsalemish population.

From what Nyla had found in her work on the archives of the county the County Council had abused this divide for years. There was evidence in fact that members of a local law practice, Fisk and Associates was linked to former mayor Fillmore, and his cousin, current county executive Michael Fillmore. She had to find more evidence of the wrangling on the pra tice, but once she did she was sure that her boss would flip his lid. The Fillmores were primary minions in the works of the Cunningham family and their bid for cash via real estate.

“Oh what a sierding tangled web they weave,” she muttered. Her usage of Fae slang was evident as she switched to a word that she swore was simply a mutated archaic word of something from the middle ages. Fae were like that, clinging to ideas, or notions that were hundreds and at times, thousands of years old. Something she respected, and at times abhored pending who she was interacting with at the time.

The ride into town did not take long. Nyla was even able to do a bit of speeding, but avoided getting a ticket. If Mateo was on duty that evening, and he heard about a ticket it would be even more reason for the man to pester her. Too bad the Brazilian born man was such a pain in he rass, he was pretty good looking in a rugged sort of way.

Losing herself on the ride into town allowed her to burn away a half-hour’s worth of boredom. By the time she shook herself out of the fugue she was in the city limits, and on her way to a local used book seller. A small place known as Silver Crescent Books, a mixture of local book dealer, and new age neo-pagan supply shot. It was really a two part store located on the lower streets of Fairhaven, and recently opened. She had yet to fathom if the owner was Fae, but she was sure that the emblem on the door to the shop was a triskele. The favorite mark of the Sidhe Tribes.

The ride took her out along te bay as she watched the ligh golden yellow of the sun starting to droop over the horizon. Being mid to late november, her life was already beginnning to be dictated by the newly established lack of daylights savings time. Which meant she would have to go and change her clocks when she got home. Damn, How did I forget about that.

Nyla was in many ways an utter scatter brain. Her work and the freedom of being freelance afforded her a lot of leeway in that way. Her entrance into Fairhaven would be met by another eerie feeling, not out of the ordinary at all, except for the fact that once again her arm was burning. Stupid Sol Invictus. She was growing annoyed with whoever was stalking her. That was only way to really describe it. She stopped the bike and pulled over. Her eyes leaked glooming mist as she peered into the Shadow, looking around she noticed a few figures down on the shore along the boardwalk that swung along the bay. No one was following her, that she could see.

The flickering of street lights caught her attention as they lazily started to turn on. In the Shadow this appeared as a slow glow that show small will’o’wisps of energy that filtered out of the air. As if the lights were eating up the necessary energy to come to life. They awakened and cast their dreaming gazes upon the street as the sun dipped out beyond the horizon. She then turned, and before she did she swore she saw someone watching her. A mid-heighted figure with a thin body build androgynous by far.

The figure was gone in under a blink of an eye. Just a periphereal image that had born out of paranoia. Yet, her arm burned, which meant that her paranoia was not at all unfounded. I’ll need to place a ward before I go to sleep. Her eyes narrowed as she geared the bike and took off toward the bookstore. All the while the strange feeling stayed with her like some unwanted irksome leech.

Silver Crescent was located on the third row of streets found on the lower section of the hillside that made up Old Fairhaven. The build itself was a brick, and morder piece that dated back to the turn of the century, and still had its old timey store front windows. Inside, the Silver Crescent was filled with row upon row of books. It was a haphazard place with piles of old books ranging from first editings of classic fantasies, to philosophy works from Aristotle. It was all chaotically organized, managed, and kept by a small round looking woman with fiery red hair named Aoife.

The shopkeep was not at the front desk when pushed the door open to hear a small tingling bell to announce her arrival. Strange Aoife must be off trying some Buttered Rum mix from her beau. The Fae sho owner was known in local circles for her love of sweets, and it was not at all uncharacteristic of her to be in the back trying something new from her long time partner, Klaus.

She tapped her hand as she tried to think of where to start. The incantation was a snarky little annoyance, that was proving hard for her to place. Whatever, the words were they had a deep meaning for whoever had used them. Magic in the mortal world was broken said most Fae, so the usage of words, and emblems to direct a spell was ow one did something, big, and specific. What bother her the most was the wording. There was a deeper meaning. Whoever was doing all of this was going to great lengths to found something big, something that could change the balance struck in the region for a hundred years.

Nyla flipped open a book and started to page through it. She came to a stop when she reached a line that caught her sight.

‘The sun turns black | the earth sinks in the sea,
The hot stars down | from heaven are whirled;
Fiercing grows the steam | and life feeding flame,
Till fire leaps high | about heaven itself.’

A segment from the Poetic Edda, the holy texts of the modern heathen or nordic faiths. In the time of the ancient Norse it was more of a book of sagas, and legends. What caught her interest was the line itself was from a section describing the end times in Nordic Legend, Ragnarok. Leave it to me to get the doom listed from randomly paging through a book. Many ancient faiths had a concept of the Doom, to the Fae it was a time when members of their own race had turned on them. Many of the Tribes had fallen in that time when the Children of the Horrors rose against them. Jack had told her the story a few times when she was young.

“Aoife?” she asked aloud as there was still no one answer. That was utterly peculiar, the woman walked down stairs and started to walk between the five foot shelves of the internal isles. The lower room was a large L-Shaped configuration with three rows of books near the stairway. A series of rows then bend at the corner. Even larger shelves ringed the edge of the walls of the room. Large open windows faced out toward the bay. She was alone in that room when she heard foot steps behind her. The young woman’s reaction was to exhale, and take in her awareness. Someone was behind her.

“Meddlesome-” the words were cut short as she whirled around and punched the person in the face. The thin faced individual fell back as the reported drew back her leg and stomped hard on the persons arm. The assailant keened in pain, as Nyla withdrew a piece of Iron and held it over them.

“What the hell,” the teenager said, as he held his face revealing long dark hair, and the blue eyes. A young boy with gothic makeup, and a black muscle shirt. How damn bloody typical. She was about to punch the kid even harder when he raised up his hands, and she noticed how her earlier punch had nearly ripped out his silver nose ring.

“You were going to attack me,” she barked at the boy

“Cool it lady, some freak paid me money to come down here and say you were some kind of meddlesome person that was it god!” the kid screamed as he slowly stood up. Nyla caught his arm, and glared at him.

“Where is the one who paid you?” Nyla was more than angry, she was close to breaking a bone or two. Her eyes were completely stark and without emotion. She could sense the rising tension of her Fae side roiling in the back of her mind. A boiling tide of anger, and aggressive reaction just awaing to be unleashed upon the poor sap. She bit the bullet though, and gritted her teeth, obvious sharpened incisors, and canines. Her hands clenched into fists as the boy stood up and started to run, she grabbed the edge of the coat he was wearing and held on with an iron grip.

“TALK!” Her voice rang loudly into the room as the kid tried to speak. “It was a woman – I – uh – think. She was wearing a hoody, and paid me to come down here. Her skin was pretty pale.” The boy then was let go as she let him run off. Stupid teens.

So the attacker who had sent the golem was a woman, or someone related to her was. There was only one person stalking her and it had to be athe alchemist, or a related individual. There was no denying that fact. Her adversary was now taunting her trying to goad her into doing something foolish, or driving her off the scene. Previously the Shadow-Man had appeared when she discovered the link to Clan Douglas through James in the picture of the town founders. Then there was the golem that attempted to kill her at the Daniels murder. Then earlier.

This was going from simple loose threads to personal. She walked upstairs to see Aoife standing in the doorway holding a basket filled with muffins. The fae was surprised to see her and then set the basket aside before asking, “Why did a goth kid with a bloody nose go runnin’ out me store?”

Aoife’s brough had thinned from years of living in the states (since the Declaration of Independence in fact), and so when she spoke there was only a soft undertone of her native land. Wearing a simple red dress with a black belt, the curvy woman walked over and placed a hand on Nyla’s shoulder as the girl let out a frustrated yowl. Aoife had known Nyla for years, and years. Jack was the one who had stepped in when the young girl’s Changeling abilities had manifested at a young age. It was Aoife who had stepped in and helped the young girl realize that her biology was different than that of a human.

Fae dealt with a overwhelming sense of emotion that they called Léthas Fé, the Fated Fury, a rage or emotional toll that built up over time. To act upon the Léthas Fé was to break a major Geas or Taboo of the Fair Folk. Aoife sang quietly to the young woman as she bit her tongue and growled loudly.

“What caused this? Did you push yourself to the edge repeatedly again?” the aging Sidhe asked. Her countenance shifting as she seemed to become taller, her ears becoming pointed, as her eyes slanted. The woman was dropping her glamoured mortal form to display her true self. A tall elfin form with slanged epicanthic nearly black eyes, set upon an oval face with rosebud red lips. Hair that shimmered with bright metallic copper, and a pair of small curved horns growing just above her brow.

“I…I’m being hunted by someone – someone created a grand incantation using a mayoral candidate,” she muttered. Her voice was creaking as Aoife snapped her fingers causing the door to shut on its own, the shades on the windows to fall, and locks on everything clicked into place.

“Richard Daniels was used in a grand incantation. Fascinating, I wondered why O’Shadows was asking about Ancient Chinese,” the woman laughed. The sound was reminescent of the tinkling of bells, as she turned and walked toward the back area of the shop. A series of new age items were filling the shelves as the Fae woman lifted one of her long lanky arms and held open her hand. Several items located on a small table nearby began to shake as she clucked her tongue. The tip of her index finger lit with a green flame with a coppery finish. She then drew a circle in the air, and stated, “Ocain cael raimh má!” The circle glowed as words were spoken in Elder Tongue.

The circle shuddered as it leaped forward and imposed itself upon a ring. Several emblems in Elder Tongue ogham suddenly scrawled themselves in a calligraphic script. A moment paused as the mirror’s reflection shifted and the Fae woman suddenly tugged her toward the mirror. What was on the other side was -not- the Shadow, but something else. The Faerie Courts, the realm where the Fae held their highest office, Aoife was dragging her into a can of worms.

“You and O’Shadows have some explaiingn to do,” her friend said, as she felt the warm grasp of the mirror as she was pulled into another realm. Then she was gone. The door outside shook suddenly as the sign on the front flip itself over to declare, CLOSED. Meanwhile a feminine form sat in front of it. Her right hand covered in series of alchemical emblems, and ringed circles.

“Dammit,” the figure said before suddenly winking out of sight, vanishing into thin air.


Next Part: Chapter 12

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