Autumn – Chapter 3 – Marin – 05

            She moved so quickly that none of us had any time to react.  Our boys went flying—Rory scythed through my legs at the knees, toppling both of us as Vammatar grasped Phelan by the collar of his shirt, pulling him close enough to whisper in his ear.  I fought to disentangle myself from Rory, watching Phelan’s expression go slack and his face pale.
            Then she lifted him like a rag doll.  She might have thrown him like one, too, if J.T. hadn’t plowed into her ribcage like some kind of deranged football player.  She uttered what I can only describe as a sound and dropped Phelan as J.T.’s momentum carried her past me and Rory, past Thom and into the gloom of the starlit night.
            Her voice carried in the stillness.  “So eager to fight and die for someone who could so easily discard you?  My, my, aren’t we the heroic fool?”
            “Shut up.”  J.T. cocked his arm back to punch her.
            She headbutted him before the blow ever landed.  He stumbled back with a grunt, holding his head.
            “Jay!”  Carolyn surged past me before I could get a grip on her sleeve.
            “Rory, grab a torch,” Thom was shouting.  Drew already had one in hand, holding it half as a talisman, half as a weapon.
            I could see J.T. setting himself for another rush before Carolyn eclipsed my view of him.  Vammatar’s eyes glowed menacingly in the light, catching hints of starlight and torchlight and throwing them back at us, like a predator’s eyes stalking prey by night.
            That’s what we were to her, I realized with a jolt.  Prey.
            Phelan grasped the leg of my jeans.
            “The staff,” he rasped.  “Hit her with the bloody staff!  I can do the rest.”
            I cast a dubious look at him as Drew and Rory ran toward the fight, where the sound of flesh meeting flesh with a wet smacking sound told me things were going poorly for one side or the other—or both.
            J.T.’s roar of pain confirmed that it was a bad night for him tonight.  Carolyn was yelling something I couldn’t quite make out.
            In the distance, will’o’wisps swarmed.
            “Do it, Mar,” Kellin said, suddenly at my shoulder, pale as death as she stared wide-eyed beyond me—maybe at the others, maybe at something I couldn’t see.
            There was a crunching sound followed by a soft woosh of flames catching, crackling against damp grass, catching on spilled oil from one of the torches.  My head snapped to the side, a sick feeling growing at the pit of my stomach as my eyes adjusted.
            J.T. was down on one knee and Drew was flat on his back a few feet away from Vammatar, whose hood had fallen back, cold, white-blonde hair wreathing her head and picking up ruddy, bloody highlights from the flames slowly curling to her side.  Rory held his tiki torch in a guard position, Carolyn half behind him.
            “No!”  Kellin shouted suddenly.  “Stay there!”
            I realized after half a second that she was talking to Greg and Jacqueline, who were still on top of the burial mounds.  They hadn’t broken the perimeter of lanterns.
            Oh god.  That didn’t take more than a few seconds, I realized.  They’d barely had time to react.
            All of us had barely had the time to react.
            Jacqueline looked helplessly at me, as if begging me for permission to move.  I gave her a quick head-shake.  No.  Stay there in case this goes even further south than it already has.  I looked at Thom, caught sight of the grim set to his jaw as he lifted the staff toward me.
            “Got a job to do, sweetheart,” he murmured.  The wood felt warm against my palm, warm and somehow right.
            “Thom,” Phelan said, his voice shaky.  “Start drumming.”
            Thom looked startled for a moment, then nodded, groping for the drum even as I slowly turned toward Vammatar in time to see her snap Rory’s torch in half.
            Never without an option, though, was our Rory.  He kicked her in the stomach as hard as he could.  She oofed, stumbling backwards, and I began to run.
            Just touch her with the staff, Phelan had said.  I was looking to do a little more than just touch her with the six-foot length of wood in my hands.
            She recovered from Rory’s blow, turning at the last second.  She caught the staff in one fist as I swung it as hard as I could at her head.  Her arm barely trembled with the effort to hold back the blow, but the muscles and tendons of her fingers were taut with the effort.
            Just touch her with the staff.
            What now, Phelan?
            The night began to scream.
            The will’o’wisps surged toward us, swirling like a cyclone, turning black night tinged with the glow of flames to incandescent day.  I was aware of Vammatar screaming in front of me as I fought to keep my grip on Phelan’s staff.
            It glowed the green of summer leaves in my hands, then mellowed to amber.  Vammatar jerked back, releasing her grip and howling.  Hate-filled eyes focused on me and she lunged forward.
            My eyes widened in horror as a dozen images of my face laid open by her sharp nails whirled through my head.  I stumbled back half a step, trying to lunge backwards and out of her reach.
            Then Rory was suddenly on her back, one arm wrapped around her throat.  She whirled, trying to dislodge him.  After two revolutions she shook him loose and he went flying somewhere off into the brightness.
            Vammatar, seeming disoriented, turned from one side to the other, her hair a wild frenzy, her fine-boned face drawn into a mask of hate.  “This was not a victory, Wandering One!”
            The earth swallowed her and she was gone.

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8 Responses to Autumn – Chapter 3 – Marin – 05

  1. Antonious says:

    What … the … Ffff … ? What the hell is she? The only reason they are still alive … for now, is Phelan was able to send her away. I just know it is not far enough, nor will it be long enough, but I hope it gives them time to “fix” what is “broken” and get their butts back within the wards to help even the odds.

    • Ah, but did Phelan send her packing, or is there more going on than meets the eye? As for what Vammatar is, that question will be answered in due time…on Wednesday next week, I believe. Either that or Monday, I don’t remember which.

      Glad you enjoyed the little mindscrew. Things keep getting more complex from here on out.

      • Antonious says:

        You are right. I just re-read the part from where Vammatar grabbed the staff on and I have no idea what the staff contact did do, but it sure did not send her away. She left with the same attitude as someone who is out of time or patience to deal with what is balking them right now. I do wish she would get lost for a long time.

        Btw, I did wiki Vammatar and I really, really wish she would go pester someone who deserves her attention.

        • The Finnish connection caught, then?

          I’m a fan of wikipedia when pantheon.org fails me. It tells me interesting things. I thought about using Loviatar, but I decided against it for the time being. It would be much more fun later to have someone look at Phelan (or Teague, Neve, or Aoife) later and ask “What do the Forgotten Realms have to do with anything?”

  2. Juan H says:

    More evil creatures appearing, cool but i hope any of the principal chars dpnt die, in starting to care about them,maybe some secundary guy its okay. XD.

Got thoughts?