Lookit! I wrote another smidgen of Soulless! This time it's the bit where our two main characters meet for the first time. I use meet in a rather roundabout way here...
Rook cursed and removed his heavy pack. The binding on his tail had come undone – again. The pack fell to the forest floor with a thump and a rattle. Rook reached around behind him, caught up the offending appendage and began carefully unrolling the scraps of rag that were wrapped around it. He then retied them in a neater fashion and hefted the bag back onto his broad shoulders. He despised his tail. He longed for the times when it hadn’t been there. He sighed gruffly and moved on. He had to find somewhere to camp before it got light. And something to eat. He had been existing solely on strips of dried deer for a week now.The clearing was small, but dry. Rook set down his pack and stretched his back. He took a guzzle from the flask hanging from his belt. Some may have quailed at the burning, bitter drink, but Rook was used to it. He set about rooting around in the evening light for some firewood and when that was blazing merrily in the middle of the clearing, he trudged back into the forest. The tall man squatted, closed his burning yellow eyes and scented the air. A rabbit had been this way. He took a few steps forward on all fours like an animal, still sniffing, until the scent was strongest. He rose and sprinted into the twilight.The small grey rabbit hung limply from Rook’s hand as he made his way back to camp. It would make a fine meal. He navigated the way back by smell. The scent of wood smoke was very easy to follow on such a still evening. After a few minutes though, he stopped. He sniffed deeply. Something was wrong. The wind picked up now as the sun began to vanish over the treetops, bringing with it a billowing cloud of smoke. This was not coming from his tiny campfire. Rook’s first instinct was to flee. Smoke like this could be an imminent forest fire. But there were none of the usual signs to indicate a wildfire. No fleeing animals or frightened bird calls.“You know better than to go and investigate, you idiot,” he said to himself. There were a few more moments of indecision, but finally curiosity won out. Rook turned towards the source and started running again. He wove through the forest, as light on his feet as a doe. The smoke grew strong and acrid in his sensitive nose as he approached the source. He slowed as the forest began to thin. He crept slowly forward now, peering through the dark, spiky needles and smoke. The roar of a fire was audible now. He could hear it devouring matter like a hungry beast and the occasional crack and groan of burning timber. Then above all of this, a thin, piercing scream. Rook’s eyes widened. He rushed from the cover of the trees into a field. Up a small hill, illuminated from behind by a glorious red and gold sunset was a small farmhouse engulfed by writhing yellow flames and black smoke. Rook’s feet carried him towards the blaze. The scream came again, twisted and warped by the hot air billowing from the flames. Gritting his teeth, Rook flung himself up the front steps and through the door. The smouldering timber gave easily under his weight and he immediately felt the fire begin to scorch his face and hands. He looked around, coughing, his eyes watering. The scream came again, this time much weaker. Rook barrelled through the flames towards the flaming staircase and bound up them. Near the top, the burning wood gave way beneath him, leaving him dangling from the top stair. He grunted and cursed, heaving himself up, using claws for traction on the smoking wood. He burst into the first room he saw and glanced around. There, huddled on the floor in the corner in a singed white dress was a girl. Rook dove through the flames and scooped her up. Her head lolled and she was heavy in his arms. He turned to leave the room, only to find the way solid with flames. The house creaked and shuddered around them. A section of the roof fell in and Rook leapt back, narrowly avoiding it. There was no other way out of the room – except the window. Rook struggled towards it. He turned and kicked out as much glass as he could. He looked out and down at the two storey drop and groaned.They hit the ground harder than he could have imagined. He rolled several times, becoming separated from the girl in the process. He stopped, sprawled in the dust on his back. He was winded and dizzy, but nothing appeared to be broken. He sat up and cried out. He took back his previous thought. One or more of his ribs was broken. The heat of the fire still seared his flesh. He hauled himself to his feet in a haze of pain, grabbed the girl’s wrists and began dragging her further from the fire. A relatively safe distance away he flopped to the ground with another growl of pain. He sat, trying not to pant, still holding the girl’s wrists as he watched the farmhouse collapse in on itself, spewing gouts of flame and ash into the evening sky. He sighed. He was going to stink like smoke for ages now. Prey would be to smell him coming from the next valley over. One of the girl’s fingers twitched and brushed against the skin of his hand. Rook looked down to see a few small white points of light slither from her smooth white skin onto the back of his hardened, leathery hand. He felt his blood run cold. He snatched his hands away from hers.“No.” He scrabbled for the gloves in his pocket. “No, no, please no...” His hands shook as he pulled the gloves from his pocket. In his haste they fell from his grasp. “No, no, no...” He snatched them up again and hurriedly pulled them on. He took the girl’s face in his hands and shook it. “No!” Her pallor had become even paler than before. “NO!” Rook shook her shoulders, willing her to wake and be untainted. He shook her again, oblivious to the sharp pain in his chest now. “NO!” But part of him knew. Deep down, he knew that the damage was already done. He let go of her, his hands shaking. He bowed his head in rage and guilt. He had infected someone else. Something he had sworn never to do. He looked up again, wild desperation in his eyes.“Undo it. There must be a way I can undo it.” He ripped the gloves back off and after a second of hesitation, took her hand into his again. Nothing happened for a second, but then the white sparks began flowing slowly from her body to his again. Rook growled and forced his eyes shut. The flow of energy slowed. Rook hunched forward in exertion till his brow was almost touching hers. Slowly and for the first time in the history of Geath, the flow of energy slowed, stopped, and began to run back into the victim of a Soul-Wraith. Faster the sparks rode between the two and Rook roared as he felt the life draining from his body into the girl, spilling over onto the earth. His breathing became shallow, his thoughts distant and he fell back, releasing her hand. The smoke-filled evening sky above him was swallowed by blackness.
Critiques, comments, spelling and grammar checks welcomed. Also other checks. The money kind. Preferably signed. Pretty please?
Listening to: One Way or Another: Blondie
Eating: Considering more Wizz Fizz.