The Demons Inside

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Alright this is a small part of a larger novel that I am entering for a contest. Feel free to send me a message of suggestions and things you like and/or dislike.

            Brilliant silver eyes glinted with a dangerous light as the sharp clang of metal striking metal rang in the air. Faces inches apart, noses barely touching, the hilts of our swords were the only things separating us. Sweat glistened on his forehead, as well as my own. Our breathing was heavy from the repeated drills.

            “Again,” he growled softly and we sprang away from each other. I widened my stance, my rapier held out at arm’s length as he stalked towards me. Jakob lunged, the tip of his blade aiming at my chest. I heaved my own weapon, almost staggering back from the force of impact as our bladed collided.

            Seeing his advantage, Jakob pushed harder . I slid my foot back to make up for the difference in our strength and moved away from him. My eyes strayed from his to take in his whole form: Right leg in front with the toes pointed forward, knees slightly bent. He widened his stance and gave a jerk of his chin, daring me to attack. His arms were raised, holding the rapier horizontal to his lean body.  Adjusting my hands, I gripped the hilt of my bastard sword tighter, raising the blade above my head. We began our deadly dance again.

            Our hilts locked together again, causing him to chuckle, “You’ve gotten better.” He advanced. He swung his blade in a wide circle, teasing me into defending. He gave a laugh as I played right into his hands. Jakob took a  step back, holding the blade away from his body. He is leaving himself open, fool. I lunged, only to find the tip of his rapier pressed to my throat, “But lack concentration.” He removed the blade. The shock of it caused my feet to slip from under me.

         I scrambled to my feet, retreating quickly. I panted, palms slick with sweat and grip failing. I passed my blade between each hand Jakob smirked, raising his weapon to the ready. Gripping my weapon, I sprang forward, my blade barely missing his chest as he danced away. He is toying with me, I thought… My mistake. He swung forward, the blade of his weapon slicing through my doublet and biting into the flesh. The burning of the fresh wound caused the heavy sword to slide from my slick palms. Jakob leaned in close as my hand covered the bleeding cut, his lips pressed to my ear. “Was sehrt, das lehrt.” What hurts, teaches.

            Jakob reached down and scooped up my fallen sword, “What is that now, twenty to nothing? Maybe more?” He grinned mischievously and grasps my uninjured arm, lifting me to my feet. There was read surrounding my vision. My blood was boiling.  Panting, I raised my eyes, glowering at him. “Oh now now, don’t be that way,” he pleaded with me, a hint of laughter in his eyes.

            I heaved a pained sigh, tugging my arm from his grasp with a wince. My hand felt heavy as the blood dripped from my fingertips. He was still wearing that grin, but in his eyes showed concern. I felt woozy, but I wouldn’t tell him that. I wanted to be strong, for him. “A-aye, I’m fine.” I offered him a wavering smile just to show how fine I was.

            “That’s good.” He extended his arm. “Here, let me bandage that for you.” I placed my bloody hand in his and he led me over to our packs. Gesturing for me to sit, he searched through his bag until he could find fresh linens. His calloused fingers grasped my arm, not so gently, and ripped off the shredded sleeve. “Ohh.. I cut a bit deeper than what I was hoping…” I grit my teeth, a hiss escaping as he wound the bandages around my forearm.

            “I am impressed by how much you have improves, Onyx.” He ripped the bandage with his teeth and tied the two ends together before tossing the extra into his bag. “But it is not enough… the solstice grows closer and you have yet to master the skills you need.”

            I pulled my arm from him, making an awful face. “Maybe if I have a hint about what I am actually fighting?” A hint of smile tugged on my lips. Jakob frowned at me, but I could see a glint of humor in his bewitching eyes. He shook his head, black locks sticking to his sweaty face. “We will train more after we have a rest. Go get some kindling for the fire.” I turned to leave, but froze when I felt his breath on my ear. My heart jumped. “I am proud of you, you know…” Jakob took my hand, running his thumb along my palm. I gave his a squeeze before pulling away, heading towards the forest surrounding the clearing.

            Soon after stepping into the tree-line, I was consumed by a world of darkness. The fading sunlight was unable to pierce through the heavy leaves of the surrounding trees. I stood still for a moment, allowing my eyes to adjust before continuing on. The small branches and dried leaves I needed were easy to find, and I headed back into the clearing with no trouble. Night had fallen fast due to the days getting shorter and shorter and the sun was setting just behind the trees, casting the clearing in shadow. Jakob was seated on a blanket spread out in the grass, his blade beside him, ready to be sharpened. The campfire was set up and prepared, waiting for me to light. Standing to meet me, he beckoned me over, crouching beside a group of stacked logs in a ring of stones we collected from a river nearby. He motioned with a finger, pointing where he wanted the kindling. Flint and steel sparkled in the dying light as he fished them from his pockets. With a wink, he struck the two together, sparks eagerly jumping and consuming the feast before it; soon, flames licked up the logs, creating a decent sized fire. “I’ll keep watch,” I murmured, eyes on Jakob as retreated to the blankets The dancing shadows from the growing flames played with the contours of his face, making it look haunting and surreal, his bright eyes shown. I suppressed a shiver.

            One my one, the stars peeked from their hiding places. My eyes turned from surveying the area onto Jakob’s sleeping form. The rising moon cast a silver low onto his sharp features. It highlighted his high cheekbones and arched nose. All in all, he amazed me, and soon thoughts of us sharing a house together, him getting down on one knee before me, us spending the rest of our lives together other than teacher and student, pervaded my mind. “After I have done my duty.”

            I thought about the task ahead of me. I don’t know what, or who, I should kill. I know it is serious, a life or death situation. If I don’t succeed, the world as I know and love with me utterly destroyed. But why does it have to be me? I heaved a sigh and glanced out campsite. The treeline was difficult to see as it lie outside of my ring of light.

            Something caught my eye. I turned and stared at the flickering fire. I suppressed another, surprised at how cold the night had gotten. The flames beckoned me, promising warmth and comfort for my chilled body. I rose from where I was seated, closing the distance. But the closer I got, the colder I seemed to be. The light of the fire drowned out everything around me, bewitching me.

            Strange beings filled my vision, their faces skeletal and contorted in strange ways. These figures seemed to glow with a light of their own, beckoning, wanting me to join them with raised arms and haunting whispers. A shiver ran down my spine and I stopped, inches from the cold fire. I felt their icy hands grasping my clothing and hair. They seemed to be reaching for my very soul. They tried to pull me closer, just a bit closer.

            I could feel myself slipping away as I grasped their hands and entered the comforting darkness. I was falling, my heart beginning to slow as their whispers drove further into my mind. With a painful beat of my heart,  my body froze, the falling stopped.

            A voice broke through the fog, calling for me, a familiar voice and brought memories of laughter and warmth. My heart thumped, and my body jerked. Rough hands touched my face and shook my my shoulders. My body jerked again and I pulled in a gasp of hair, coughing. My eyes shot open and the light of the new day blinded me. Jakob’s face filled my vison, blocking the sun. His silver eyes were concerned.

            “Onyx…” he breathed, reaching up to stroke my cheek. “You we…were cold… Your body was still.” His voice quivered. I was confused. My body felt numb.

            I blinked, shaking my head as I tried to clear my mind. What happened… I felt the soft surface of the blanket beneath me and I murmured, “What happened…” Jakob shook his head, eyes glancing at the dying fire. The distant sound of laughter filled my mind. “Jakob, what happened?!”

            Smiling gently at me, Jakob helped me onto my feet. “We need to get moving.”

            “You aren’t answering my question. Damn it tell me what happened!”

He didn’t sound convincing. “You probably just had a bad dream. Sleeping on your watch, tsk tsk.” He voice wavered.

            I was amazed by how quickly he packed our stuff. He threw my pack to me and said, “Come, we need to move.”  “Wait, what,” I questioned, “We aren’t supposed to be moving for another two or three days!”

            With a yell, Jakob turned to me, fury brightening his eyes. “It is not safe for you here Onyx! The sooner we make it to the village, the sooner you can surpass me, and the sooner you can-” He fell silent. Something dark danced in his eyes, causing a pang of fear to stab my heart.

            “Jakob?” He didn’t respond as he turned and walked quickly to the north. There is something he isn’t telling me. I hurried to catch up with him, shouldering my pack. With a shake of my head, I decided to not push the subject. I hope he will tell me soon… I thought back to what I saw. What was that? I raised my bandaged arm and pressed it to my pounding chest as I trudged on in silence.

                                                .                              .                           .

            Keeping it from Onyx killed him. She deserved to know the truth, but he knew if she did, she wouldn’t go through with it. He clutched at the bags and looked back every now and then to make sure Onyx was still with him. They are already making their move. He ran his fingers through his hair and felt the stirring within his heart. It was a black feeling, malicious and dark. It wanted to destroy all in it’s path. He can’t let her know.

            A few hours of this uncomfortable silence pass and they reach the village, a small thing with a few cottages and an inn in the center. They would be staying here for about a week. Hopefully she will be ready then.

            He turned to her, “Okay go buy us a room for a week. I need to go take your sword to the blacksmith around here.” Pulling the longsword from it’s baldric, she tossed it to Jakob before heading inside without a word. Watching Onyx as slip into the doorway, he jogged a few houses down, looking left and right. He dropped his pack and raised the rapier, lifting his hand to his mouth. He brought his finger up and bit down into the flesh, hissing as he drew blood. The metallic taste covered his tongue, causing him to grimace. He held his bleeding finger over the blade, squeezing the blackened blood across the steel. A dim light began radiating from within as the blade drank. With each drop, the blade darkened until it took on the color.

            With a satisfied grunt, Jakob licked at the healing finger, the wound closing. He shouldered his pack and dragged his finger along the newly forged blade as he headed back to the inn. The innkeeper greeted him with a smile and motioned with a free hand to the stairs. “Room that way, son. Your bride is waiting for you.” Jakob opened his mouth to correct the foolish man, but only nodded and approached the room he and Onyx would share. He gave a series of three knocks before opening the door. You can’t be too careful.

            Onyx was seated on the edge of the bed, dressed in only her shift. Her dark hair was swept away from her round face, pulled back into a twisted braid. Her black eyes met his as he entered and he felt a smile relax his features. His heart pounded. “Here.” He held the sword to her, hilt first before disposing of his armour, tossing it near he door.

            Raising her brows, Onyx held the blade in her hands, frowning at the blood red of the steel. “What did he do to it?” Jakob shook his head and smiled. “He reinforced the blade. It will now prove even more useful.”

          “That was vague,” she muttered, sheathing her longsword as she rose from the bed. “Listen… when this is all over with… will you…” Her voice trailed into silence. Her pouting lips turned down in a frown.

          Jakob stepped behind her, beginning to pull apart her braid. “Of course” he murmured, pulling her against him.  His hands roamed her slim form as he buried his face in her beautiful neck. Make the most of it, Jakob thought to himself. He pulled the shift over her head, exposing her to the cooling hair. He won’t let her know that the life she has planned for them won’t be possible. Their lips met.

         He won’t let her know that he is the one she has to kill.

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