Praelium

Praelium

A Story by Lacie Gray
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A short fantasy story I wrote for my creative writing class. I might continue it, we'll see.

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The breeze kisses my skin, stirring the skirts of my mint-green dress. The sunset on the horizon paints the sky a blazing colors of red and gold, gradually fading out to a deep indigo. I lean out the massive lancet window of the tower, gripping the cold, stone sides, careful of the broken glass at the edges. I stand on tiptoe, leaning out as far as I can without feeling like I’ll lose my grip and fall. Closing my eyes and breathing deep, I let the fresh breeze dance across my skin and through my hair, and listen to the sound of birds above and below.
The clock tower chimes seven, and I unwillingly pull myself back inside the tower. I give the fiery sunset one last glance, and then turn back toward the dank innards of the tower. The tower is musty with mold and damp, as well as bird droppings. I pick up the lamp I left at the top of the staircase and begin the spiral descent. Cobwebs and dust are my companions on the way back down, and there are several times I am afraid the wooden steps will splinter and break under my weight, they creak and groan so loud.
I finally reach the bottom and push open the heavy door, coming out onto an upper walkway that extends between the four chapels at the corners of the cathedral, connected by a semicircular enclosed walkway over the ambulatory.  The staircase down is between the ambulatory and North-West chapel, and it leads into the apse. Adrian is leaning against the pillar closest to the staircase door, waiting for me.
“Did you get it?” he asks. He sounds tired; it’s been a long day.
I nod, walking up to him and jabbing my finger into his stomach. He has already flexed though, and doesn’t react. I frown. “Yeah, it was right where they said it would be.”
He nods, then says, a little wryly, “Took you long enough.”
I defend myself, “The view was incredible. You would have stopped too.”
“You know I wouldn’t have.” He pushes off the pillar and starts walking through the cathedral towards the entrance. I follow, rolling my eyes.
“Prick,” I mutter to myself.
“That’s the pot calling the kettle black,” he says, not looking at me. I’m sure he’s smiling a little though.
“Shut up!” I hit him in the arm, playfully.
We reach the doors and he pushes them open. The sky is now an inky blue-gray, stars peeking out from the eastern end of the sky.
“New moon tonight,” I murmur, not to anyone in particular. “Adrian, do you think there’ll be any trouble?”
Adrian looks up at the sky quietly. The curves and angles of his sharp jaw and defined Adam’s apple are set off against the dark sky by his pale skin.
“There shouldn’t be,” he answers. “At least not any more than normal.”
We make our way down the quiet street, the silence sending goosebumps running up and down my arms. I try to tell myself it’s just the time of year, which is a contributing factor, but I know there’s more to it than sudden and violent storms that freeze every solid surface.
Adrian stops abruptly and I look at him imploringly.
“We should hurry,” he says, a nervous edge in his voice. We start moving again, our pace quickening.
“Can’t we just-” I start.
He cuts me off, saying firmly, “No. We can’t take any risks.”
“But we’re on the street! That’s risk enough.” But I fall silent when he casts me a heavy look. I shut my mouth, looking purposefully toward the end of the block, where the cobblestone street turns sharply to the right.
Something growls from the shadows of an alley to our left. We both freeze, staring down the alley. Adrian reaches for his belt and puts another out in front of me protectively.
“Adrian, I don’t have any dolls with me,” I tell him in no more than a whisper.
“I know,” he says. Every muscle in his body is tensed. “Liz, no matter what, you have to get back. Okay?”
“But-”
“Okay?”
“Okay,” I sniff, whimpering a little.
The growling is getting louder. Adrian steps cautiously towards it, but I hang back. His hand is still hovering inches from his belt, ready to grab his stela at a moment’s notice.
From the shadows emerged an enormous man, covered in unusually thick  tawny hair. His yellow eyes glint as he appraises first Adrian, and then me. His eyes rest on the emblem tattooed to my chest, and then at the object hanging from my belt. He snarls, then turns his attention back to Adrian, who now has the stela in his hand.
The man, a wolf-man hybrid, is one of a type of creature commonly confused for a werewolf. They were genetically engineered decades ago by madmen who decided they could help humans evolve - by, essentially, devolving them. But it wasn’t long before the multiple types of hybrids felt suppressed. They killed all the men responsible for their creation and began their own small societies. Besides a few deviant groups, they don’t harm mortals. But some, becoming bored, hire themselves out and end up running amok. It seemed like this hybrid in front of us is one of those deviants.
Adrian doesn’t even have to tell me to; I take off down the street, sandaled feet slapping against the uneven cobblestone street. I hear the hybrid snarl and growl, and Adrian say something in a low, threatening voice. I keep running, knowing that Adrian will keep him from chasing me. I just pray Adrian comes out alright.
I reach the inn without further interruption. I open the door and shut it behind me quietly. The little tavern dark, save for a single candle at the far end of the room. I make my way toward it slowly and see a hooded, shadowy figure in the corner behind the candle.
“Marwen?” I call out tentatively. The figure stands up, and I freeze. The figure standing in the corner is at least two heads taller than Marwen.
I spin around and dart for the door, and hear the imposter thunder after me. I streak out the door, again pounding down the street. Something crashes behind me, meaning the door must have been blown off its hinges. I run as fast as my legs can carry me, which probably isn’t fast enough to get away; as tall as Marwen is, this person is taller.
What happened to Marwen, and who sabotaged us?
I’m running even further away from where Adrian is. I feel a pang in my stomach when I think of him, and I hope he’s okay.
The dark streets are silent, deserted. Calling out for help won’t do any good; this is a ghost town and the only inhabitants are ghosts. Drawing their attention would be tantamount to suicide.
There’s a bang behind me and a bright green ball flies past my head. He has magic.
The ball of magic flew into one of the abandoned buildings, and it erupted into green  flames. I swerve away from it, and then see a gap between two buildings. I dart into the shadows, hands out on either side to feel the sides of the buildings.
I hear an angry yell behind me, which must mean my pursuer is too big to fit in the small space. I hope he doesn’t find another way.
I come out into a small courtyard, shared by five buildings. There’s a stone fountain the center, covered in ivy. Uneven, cracked stepping stones circle the little fountain. I step forward, breathing hard, steeling myself for just a little bit.
Something gleams  in the pale moonlight, something inside an upper room of one of the buildings. My breath catches in excitement; it’s a mirror.
I look over my shoulder at the shadowy gap, and right then I hear crashes and bangs from inside the building on the right of the gap. I dash across the courtyard to the building I saw the mirror in. Considering that the door might be locked, I hurtle into it full-speed. It gives way, taking some of the doorframe with it, and slams into the floor beneath me. I stagger to my feet and run towards the front of the building - which looks to be a house - where the stairs are most likely to be. I find them and hurtle up them.
There’s a window at the first landing, and through it I can see the courtyard. My pursuer, whose hood has fallen back to reveal a cat-like face, is bolting across it. He sees me through the window and I duck to avoid the magic he shoots at me.
There’s a hallway at the top of the stairs and I begin looking into the rooms, searching for the mirror. I find it in the second room I look in, at the same time I hear the cat hybrid stomping through the main floor. I hurry across the dusty room, halting in front of the mirror.
I wave my hand over it, and it ripples once, following the motion of my hand. An image of the seminary appears on the silvery surface. The hybrid is thundering up the stairs. I take a breath and then step into the mirror.
It’s like walking through a sheet of water. The cold slides across my skin, leaving small droplets on my body, like dew. Then I’m flying forward through darkness until I meet another sheet of water. On the other side of that is my room in the seminary.
I break the connection between the mirrors. If the hybrid followed me through, he’s now stuck in limbo.
I leave my room quickly, heading for the great hall. I burst through the door, and see Helga, sitting exactly where she was when we left, reading a book.
“Helga!” I gasp, and she jumps, the book flying out of her hand. “Someone knew! Marwen - Adrian...hybrids-”
Helga shushes me, hurrying up to me. “Did you get it?” I nod, and she turns to the fireplace and pulls a pouch of powder from a pocket in her dress.
“Helga, I need you to send me to Adrian,” I say, pulling the little orb from my belt.  It.” It’s made of copper and inlaid with small stones, one of every birth stone. They spiral across the orb, and in between the spirals there are carved inscriptions in sanskrit. I put it on the chair she was sitting in without waiting for a response, and then hurry out of the room, going back to my room.
Once I’m in my room, I shut the door, leaning against the cool wood, closing my eyes and taking a breather. But I only have a few moments; I have to get back to Adrian.
I walk over to the oak trunk at the foot of my bed, kneeling in front of it. The key is on a chain around my neck. I pull it out from under my dress and unlock the trunk. Inside are a plethora of neatly placed, beautifully hand crafted ball-jointed dolls. Their glass eyes stare up at the ceiling, unblinking. I move a few, and then pull two out; one of them has cat ears poking out of its ginger hair, and the other is a graceful yet fierce looking she-elf.
I close and lock the trunk, leaving my room with the dolls clutched to my chest. I run back into the hall; Helga is standing there with a pouch of powder in her hand, tossing precise pinches into the far while murmuring incantations.
She turns to me. “Five minutes, and I’m bringing you back.” I nod to let her know I understand.
Without hesitating, I run into the massive fireplace. The fire doesn’t burn, but engulfs me so that all I see is orange and white flame. Then I’m flying through streaks of colors, and then suddenly standing at the bend in the road from before. I hurry around the corner, and there’s Adrian, somehow fighting off three hybrids. The only reason he’s still standing is because of his magic.
“OI!” I shout at the top of my lungs. The hybrids, one of them having just pinned Adrian to the wall, look over. Before they can react, I throw the elf doll into the air, shouting, “Praelium invoke!” In a cascade of silks and gold thread, the doll transforms into a life-size, human proportioned doll, now able to move of its own volition.
The hybrids start when they see my doll; I’m known for my Praelium dolls, and the dolls for their finesse in battle.
I toss the cat hybrid-doll into the air just as the elf doll launches itself at the hybrids. The one drops Adrian, running, and the other two brace themselves for the onslaught. Out of nowhere the elf produces a delicate yet menacing looking double scythe. As it slices into the chest of one hybrid, the hybrid-doll’s feet hit the ground and it instantly catapults itself into the other.
I run through the mess, unnoticed, stopping in front of Adrian. He’s slumped against the wall he was previously pinned to, his breath shallow. He’s bleeding from the side of his head, his left shoulder, and deep gashes in his chest. It’s a wonder he was still fighting at all.
He mumbles weakly as I pull him away from the wall and support his weight. “Liz?”
“Yeah,” I say gruffly; he’s heavier than I’d imagined. “You’re crazy, you know,” I tell him.
He chuckles feebly. “Not any more than you.”
We hobble down the street, the hybrids roaring as the dolls silently force them back. We make it to the corner and I set him up against another wall, then look back down the street. One of the remaining hybrids has fled, but the other is stubbornly holding his position. He’s weak though, and I expect it won’t take long…
There’s a yelp, then silence: Most likely a body and decapitated head. Moments later the dolls glide around the corner, glass eyes considering me with obedient expectation. I hold out my right hand and snap my fingers, telling them to return to normal size. If they could show emotion, they would look disappointed.
They shrink back to their dormant, harmless state. I catch them as they fall through the air, and then turn back to Adrian. I put one arm around his waist so he can lean against me, and his head falls to one side, resting against my head. Despite myself, I smile.
It isn’t long before I feel the tug of  Helga’s Summoning Flame, and then next moment, I find myself tumbling out of the lit fireplace in the seminary again.
Helga helps me drag Adrian to his room, which is right next to mine, so we can clean him up. As we do - peeling his clothes off his torn flesh, cleaning the wounds, and wrapping them in bandages - I feel a dull ache as I have to tell Helga I don’t know where Marwen is. Her face does not betray any emotion, but her eyes go glassy. She leaves once I’ve assured her I can take care of Adrian without her. She’s most likely going to try to summon or locate Marwen.
I sit on the edge of Adrian’s bed, a cup of bitter-smelling tea in my hand. “Hey,” I say, poking him in the nose. He doesn’t stir, but mumbles, “You git.” I smile to myself, then touch the cup to his lips. He immediately opens his mouth and drinks the tea. “How the hell did you manage to hold them off so long?” I ask him after a few moments.
He doesn’t answer at first, then answers, “I just kept thinking of you.” I blush, glad he can’t see and make fun of me.
It isn’t long before he’s breathing deeply, the tea having relaxed his sore body. I sit on the edge of his bed, finally recounting the events of the night to myself. Someone had sabotaged our hush-hush operation to get the auricle, and it was extremely concerning that someone had been able to find out at all. Besides that, one of the hybrids had magic, and hybrids were never supposed to have magic. But the auricle was safe, and so was Adrian.

I get up and leave the room, looking back at Adrian as I step out the door. As I look at him, I know that this is only the first step.



© 2017 Lacie Gray



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Reviews

Hi Lacie,

This is a great story! I really enjoyed your description, and you've created some really believable dialogue between your characters. Have you considered starting writing a novel set in this world you've created?

Posted 5 Months Ago


Lacie Gray

5 Months Ago

I actually have several novels in mind, but I would like to continue this story at some point. Thank.. read more
GavinWilliamsAuthor

5 Months Ago

No problem! I'm the same, I have loads of book ideas too. It's finding time for them all!
Lacie Gray

5 Months Ago

Indeed! Well good luck to you!

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Added on April 26, 2017
Last Updated on April 26, 2017

Author

Lacie Gray
Lacie Gray

Cincinnati, OH



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Fantasy, horror, gore, a little bit of romance...and a lot of coffee. more..

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