Saturday, November 21, 2015

Threat of the Fire Demon - Chapter 1

Greetings my fine reading friends. Today we start a new paranormal story. Let me take you back to The Realms where creatures humans think are paranormal, mythical or fanciful actually live.


Threat of the Fire Demon


Charles squatted down beside the tomato sprout. The half dozen bushes he planted the month before were struggling. With only four to five hours of light per day, they just didn’t get enough sun here in The Realms. Nothing got enough sun to grow here.

He reached out and lifted a pale green, curled leaf. “You poor thing,” he said.

“Humans and Elves, the only beings crazy enough to talk to plants,” Saul tsked from behind him.

“Morning, Saul,” Charles said.

“Morning.” The huge cat-man knelt down on one knee beside his friend. “Think it does any good? Talking to them, I mean.”


“It is a living thing,” Charles replied. “If nothing else, it benefits from the carbon dioxide I exhale as I speak.”

Saul humpfed as he poked at another one of the bushes in the line. The sound turned into a purr and the leaf he held vibrated in his paw. “I don’t think you’re talking enough.” He grinned at Charles displaying sharp canines. “You should just give up and eat more meat.”

“Right…” Charles rolled his eyes at the cat as he rose to fetch the watering can. “What brings you out this morning?”

Saul rose and tucked the thumbs of his paws in the belt of his loin cloth. It was his only concession to modesty around the humans of The Realms. He actually found it convenient. The belt held the scabbard for his wicked looking dragon tooth knife and his carrying pouch.

“I thought we might go hunting,” Saul purred in his deep baritone. “I mean, you’re not having a whole lot of luck with the veggies.”

He gave Charles another grin. He loved teasing the elf-man.

“Let me finish up here and I’ll get my bow.” His store of meat was getting low and he always enjoyed a hunt with Saul.

“Leave the greens and let’s just go,” Saul said.

The cat was patient by nature, but Charles could tell he was hungry by the pale red rim around the iris of his bright green eyes.

“Go inside and have Brela give you some of the leftover roast from last night. She’s just put Simone down for a nap.”

Saul’s long pink tongue curled out over the soft golden fur of his muzzle in anticipation of the treat. Brela was the best cook within three leagues even if she was a Satyr.

“I’ll meet you inside,” Saul said, and immediately turned to head for the house.

It didn’t take long to water the pathetic little tomatoes, corn and beans in the small garden plot. Charles spoke with them the whole time, dealing out encouragement and good will for their successful growth. He had more than a little bit of elf in his human blood. Talking just might help. Believe it or not, his garden grew better than most even in its stunted state.

He found Saul sitting at the table just finishing off what was probably the last of the roast by mopping up the juices with a hunk of Brela’s infamous honey wheat bread. His chief cook and bottle washer looked up and smiled at him.

“I managed to save a slice from ‘Guts’ here,” she nodded her horned head at Saul. “Want me to make you a sandwich?”

“That would be nice,” Charles said. “Did he tell you we were going hunting?”

“Yep, and best you should,” she replied as she quickly threw the sandwich together. “He has eaten us out of house and home.” She loved to tease the big cat.

Her small hooves clicked on the wooden floor as she placed his plate on the table. “Come on, eat. I’ll get you something to drink.”

Brela was never happier than when she was feeding folks, unless it was when she was playing nanny to Simone. Charles lost his wife when Simone was just a baby. He hired Brela as wet nurse for his daughter and she had been with him over two years now. The Satyr was a born mother.

She brought him a glass of bubbleberry juice and started to remove Saul’s plate. The cat thumped his paw on the edge and possessively hissed. There was still a bit of gravy left.

“Saul,” Charles chastised.

The cat cast his eyes down. His ears and whiskers laid back in shame. “Sorry, Brela. It’s just so tasty.”

The Satyr had not taken offense. She knew the cat before she met Charles. He was the one who brought her to the elf-man and what she thought of as ‘her’ lovely Simone.

“Lick it and get it over with,” she said.

Saul picked up the plate and with his rough pink tongue cleaned up the last of the gravy and stray strands of roast. He handed it over to Brela.

“Best in The Realms,” he complimented.

“Indeed,” Charles agreed around a mouth full of sandwich.

Brela adjusted her apron with pride and started to wash up. “Will you be back tonight or do you want me to pack something for you for spending the night out?” She was wracking her brain trying to think of what she could throw together.

“We’re getting a late start. Maybe just throw some of the bread and cheese in a bag. Hopefully, we’ll bring down something and have fresh meat to go with it,” Charles said.

When he finished his sandwich he stepped into the other room to check on Simone. The two and a half year old was in her crib. Her blond hair spread over the mattress as she slumbered away smiling in her sleep. She was such a happy child - never a worry to her daddy - always the bright spot in his life. He leaned over and ran his hand over her baby fine hair. He breathed in her sweet scent, smiled and kissed her goodbye.

When he came back into the main room Saul was standing, waiting at the door with his cape, bow and quiver in his paws. Brela handed him the bag of supplies as he passed her. He gave her a quick hug.

“Be careful,” she said, as she always did when he left. “And shoot two of whatever you get so we have enough for the occasional ravenous company.” She winked at Saul.

Saul gave her a crooked smile that told her the barb of her comment hit its mark.

“We’ll be back sometime tomorrow before dark,” Charles said as he swung his cape over his shoulders followed by his quiver and bow. “Keep the door locked.”

This last bit was always his parting words. You could never be too careful in The Realms where anything could happen and most of it was deadly after dark.

*****

They had been following the elk herd for hours. Charles called, bugled, brayed, squealed and mewed as they moved below the huge buck on the ridge with his harem of cows. The idea was to sound like another female he might want to add to his harem. He was a massive bull, must have been over fifteen hundred pounds. They grew them big in The Realms.

The buck had finally taken an interest and moved down lower to investigate. Charles had a firm bead on him. The bull was large enough to fill his pantry to overflowing for the winter with plenty for Saul and some for the neighbors as well.

Saul was holding his breath as he stood beside Charles, his bright green eyes still as death. It was such a large elk one shot would not bring it down. They would have to trail it and that was the part of the hunt Saul was exceptional at doing.

Charles let the arrow fly. The buck turned and instead of being a kill shot from the side and through both lungs, it was a front on and probably only managed to hit one lung. The elk took flight. Saul dropped to all fours and gave chase. Charles quickly slung his bow over his shoulder and followed behind, fleetly clearing downed trees and low boulders as he pursued his friend bounding after the injured buck.

Saul vaulted up a boulder and leaped at the back of the retreating elk, but when he came down, it was on empty ground in a carpet of ferns. The elk had been ripped from beneath him by three large werewolves.

One of the wolves sunk it teeth deep into the throat of the elk while the other two held the buck down.

Saul recovered enough to growl his anger at the pack, just as Charles came to the top of the boulder the cat leaped from. He immediately pulled his bow from his shoulder and notched an arrow. The werewolves in The Realms were solitary. They were that way for a reason. They rarely got along with any other species in this world of myth and magic.

The wolves turned on Saul and growled back.

“It’s our kill!” One hollered threateningly.

“You will find the buck has my friend’s arrow in its chest,” Saul hissed back. He lifted his chin toward Charles standing above on the boulder. “It’s our kill.”

The werewolves grouped themselves possessively over the dead buck.

“Perhaps you would like to try and take it from us,” the largest of the wolves said. Of course, they were all large. Everything from a human’s nightmares was larger than life in The Realms.

“There is enough for us all,” Charles said, trying to calm everyone.

He didn’t want to give up their hard won reward from the day’s hunt, but he also was not willing to die for it. Of all that stood around the dead buck, he was the least likely to survive a fight over its possession.

Saul had fallen into a crouch ready to spring on the pack. The cat was large and quick. He might even be able to take out two werewolves to the one Charles could get with his bow, but no one would make it through an encounter unscathed.

Charles tried again to mediate. “Let’s share. Give us a hindquarter and we will be on our way.”

The leader of the pack was thinking. Werewolves were not dumb, just belligerent. He was calculating the odds the same as Charles and he didn’t like them either.

“A hindquarter,” the werewolf agreed. He motioned for his pack members to fall back.

“Saul,” Charles said and watched as the cat cautiously crept forward. “Any of you make a move and I will hurt you,” he warned the pack.

Saul removed his dragon tooth knife and quickly slit through the skin, flesh and muscle. The bone cracked as he twisted it at the joint. The cat backed away slowly, but could not keep from hissing his displeasure.

One of the werewolves took a step forward.

“Ahhh…” Charles warned and took a bead with his bow on the werewolf’s heart.

The leader threw a hand in front of the offending wolf and pulled him back into place behind the kill.

It took only two bounding leaps and Saul was at Charles’ side.

“May your pups grow strong,” Charles gave the werewolf salute, as he backed down the boulder following Saul.

They would have to hunt again before going home. At least they had fresh meat for dinner tonight and would have some leftover if they were unlucky tomorrow.

*****

They were lucky the next day and brought down a large stag. They field dressed it and packed it up between the two of them. It was not as big as the elk, but it was sufficient. The werewolves just got what Charles would have shared with his neighbors. This kill was plenty for his family and Saul.

Saul sat by the fire licking his paws and cleaning his face. Charles never grew tired of watching his friend’s grooming routine. The cat always removed his wrist and bicep cuffs to polish first. He used a light rag from his pouch which had been enchanted by a wizard from Barter Street. The cuffs were gold like Saul’s fur and embellished with fanciful creatures humans would think imaginary, but those in The Realms knew were real, dragons, hippogriffs and gryphon.

Next he would start at his face and work his way down. Much like the cat he resembled, he would lick his huge five toed paws and then run them over his face and body. Charles was pleased he didn’t lift his hind leg to clean his butt. That was done in private and he assumed, and hoped, with a rag or a bunch of leaves. He really didn’t want to think about that part of the process.

Once Saul was clean, which was something Charles had learned over the years that you could not rush, they packed up and headed for home.

*****

The two hunters were laughing at a joke Saul had told about Raven, the vampire leader of The Realms, and his second in command Tabitha, as they climbed the last ridge toward Charles’ home.

Raven was a nasty piece of work and he was the brunt of many a joke among the beings who inhabited this part of The Realms. Of course, it was always done behind his back, because it was death to anyone who had the audacity to do it to his face.

As they crested the ridge Charles heard Brela’s bleating call. She sprinted toward him, bounding as only a Satyr with goat legs could spring. He immediately dropped his load when she got close enough for him to see her tear stained face.

“He took her!” She cried as she slid to a halt, her hoofed feet scattering dirt and pebbles over his boots. “Raven took Simone!”


If you enjoy this adventure in The Realms, you might want to check out these novellas

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