Rise, Rise – Chapter Twelve

By JKolasch

Xanthiilus stood on the ledge of the warehouse, cigarette hanging from his lips with the smoke curling around his head.  The morning sun was fighting valiantly to burn through the mist that had gradually taken over the city, but there were only patches the light managed to shine radiantly through.  Saleena stepped up next to him, slipping an arm around him.  Xan puffed on his cigarette and pulled her closer, leaning his head against hers.

            “We need to find a way to locate the demons, so we can hunt them.”  Xanthiilus flicked the cigarette out into the empty air.

            “Or at least set a trap.”

            “A trap, huh?  How do you propose that?”

            “Not really sure, but it’d have to be in a park.”  Saleena slipped her hand into Xan’s cloak and pulled out a cigarette.

            “Do we try to get them all, or just a few at a time?”

            “Now,” Saleena took a single drag and gave the cigarette to Xan, “that is the tricky part.”  She blew out the smoke and it spiraled through the air.

            “Where are they entering our world from?”  Sympheros’ voice was unexpected.

            Xan and Sal turned around and found Sympheros eating an omelet.

            “Where’d you get the omelet?”

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Eleven

By JKolasch

Xanthiilus woke up abruptly.  The forest was dark, and he could barely make out the sleeping forms of Maryanne and Sympheros a little distance away.  Saleena was asleep next to him, her hair spread out like a blanket over the foliage and her chest rising and falling peacefully.  Xanthiilus looked around the forest, trying to find something that could have caused him to wake up so suddenly.  He stood up silently, not wanting to wake the others.  Why was the forest dark?  When they had arrived last night, it had been glowing green.  Would the new wards have changed that?  Or had something come here.

            “…Xanthiilus…”

            Xan looked up at the broken skylight.  The voice was incredibly quiet.  He wasn’t sure he had heard it, but a star suddenly blinked out of existence as a dark form moved in front of it.  In a blink, Xanthiilus was standing on the roof, naked blade in his hand.  His eyes roved across the roof, looking for the dark form.

            “Xanthiilus!”

            The voice screamed right in his ear, and Xan dropped to the side, lunging out with his sword.  It met resistance with an earsplitting clang.  Xan looked up.  His sword was resting against a curved and wicked looking blade.  It was red, with scratches carved throughout the entire surface.  Xan quickly stood up, jumping back to give himself some distance.

            The figure in front of him was the size of a human, and it wore a black cloak with the hood drawn low.  The entire being seemed to exude darkness.  There was only a dark form beneath the cloak; Xan couldn’t make out any discernible features, and he could not see through the darkness of the creature’s hood.

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Ten

By JKolasch

It was almost daylight when Xan got back to the safe house.  He could have gotten there instantly, but he decided to walk, to have more time to think and smoke.  The shock of the werewolf and what the werewolf had said were still bouncing around inside his head.  Xan had lived through so much, yet it was unsettling hearing this wasn’t the first life had been through.  He had always accepted that nature had created him to help combat evil, but he never thought that he had been different than the others.  His thoughts left him when he reached the front door of the safe house.  He was suddenly so tired, and he just wanted to crawl into bed with Sal and hold her as he fell asleep.

            “There you are, Xanthiilus.”

            Xan turned around groggily, to see who was addressing him.  Wings sprang from his back and his sword was in his hands in the blink of an eye.  A demon stood before him.

            “Is that anyway to welcome a guest?”

            Xan couldn’t believe he hadn’t recognized that voice as demonic.  They all sounded like chains being dragged over stones.  “What the hell do you want?”

            The demon chuckled.  “I certainly do not want hell.  I have been locked up there for a lot longer than I would like.  I just thought I would stop by and see how everyone is doing.  I would especially like to say hello to that little slut of yours.”

            A streak of fire pierced the demon, and Xan stood behind it, fire dripping from his sword.  The demon gurgled, a large cut appearing through its middle as black blood oozed from the wound.  It placed its hands on the cut, and black wisps of clouds drifted from its fingers followed a sharp hissing sound.  Xan watched as the cut began to mend jaggedly, leaving a large scar on the demon’s middle.

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Nine

By JKolasch

Maryanne was walking slowly down the stairs into the subway station.  She pulled her coat closer around her tiny form to better fight off the cold.  It wasn’t very effective.  Cold, dreary days like this made her feel frail and frozen.  It was dark; only a few of the lights were left on.  She was not entirely sure why she was coming down here.  It was out of her way going home.  She had just finished closing the greenhouse she worked at.  Just thinking about the ferns, roses, and evergreens made her feel momentarily better.  Plants always did that.  And the station was closed.  The schedule posted on the street above had informed her that the last tram had left several minutes ago.  Still, one foot and then another lead her deeper into the darkness.

It was odd, she thought, that the station would be so dimly lit.  It was heavily traveled while it was open, but now it just seemed like it had been separated from the rest of the city.  She felt a vague sensation tickle her spine, like she was walking into a nightmare.  Her heart started as she reached the bottom of the stairs, causing her to gasp and throw a hand over her chest.  Those red eyes…  No, it was just marquee stating that the B and B2 trams ran through this station.

That night still haunted her.  It had disturbed her, shocking her very core of normalcy.  Could it have really happened?  A crack in the mirror.  That was real.  It had only appeared after the cold, after the initial shock of fear, after seeing that white creature with terrible eyes.  A part of her had shoved the incident aside.  She must have just been tired.  It had seemed so real.  Could it be?  Another part, a deeper and almost mystical part, of her knew the answer.  She didn’t like it.  The feeling of something brushing past her soul was hard to argue with, and she rubbed her arms trying to get warm.  It was cold again.

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Eight

By JKolasch

He sat by himself.  The bench was faded, only a part of the Subway ad clung to it.  People bustled around him, waiting for the tram.  Some people stopped and stared at him; he was a peculiar sight, a man sitting alone in a black cloak with the hood pulled low over his eyes.  He was lost in thought and didn’t notice them.  A loud grating of steel on tracks announced the arrival of the final tram.  The lights dimmed, and the last of the people waiting for the tram got on.  It left, screeching and shooting sparks as it disappeared into the open mouth of the tunnel.  Xan was really alone now.  The station was empty.  He pulled out a cigarette and lit it, now that no one could tell him wasn’t allowed to smoke here.

They had never really fought before.  He didn’t know how to handle his feelings of loneliness.  Saleena had been acting strange.  She was high strung, irritable, and much quicker to lash out in anger than usual.  He took a slow drag, and held it in his lungs for a while, before slowly exhaling.  His head was still clouded by what Saleena had said.  He took another drag and cradled his head in his palm.

“Smoking isn’t allowed here, you know.”

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Seven

By JKolasch

“Why can’t we ask the council?”

Xan sighed, cradling Saleena in his arms.  The last of the sunlight trickled down through the skylight and tumbled down over the trees of Saleena’s forest.  “I wish that was an easier option.  Even if they do agree to a hearing, they are slow to move.  And, if they are experiencing the same problems, they may not be able to spare any help anyway.”

She frowned, the forest around her darkening.  “And that means we can’t even try?”

“The council hasn’t contacted me for several hundred years, Sal.”

Saleena shifted as Xan moved from cradling her to cradling his head.  His mind was running into obstacles he couldn’t get around.  His eyes slowly became as readable as mirrors; it was the first time Xan had ever been so withdrawn.  He glanced up, and saw those all familiar green eyes, unfamiliarly full of concern.

“Xan, I…”  She leaned forward and kissed his forehead.  “Why would they stop?”

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Six

By JKolasch

The cigarette was bitter in his mouth.  It had become harder and harder for him to enjoy his one, simple pleasure in his eternal life.  He sighed, looking over the top of the neighboring buildings, and took another drag, trying to drown his lungs in smoke.  Even though it was snowing lightly, it was warm on the roof of the apartment building.

Demons had been slipping into the world with frightening increases in activity.  Even the mortal world was slowly becoming aware that something was going on.  Xanthiilus watched the fifth patrol drive along the road several stories below him.  He sat on the ledge of an apartment building he had visited only a few weeks ago.  The patrol car had slowed to a stop a short distance away.  The last four had as well.  This was happening all over the city: increased patrols, the sense they were looking for something even though they were unsure of what it was.

Xanthiilus grimaced and flicked the cigarette into empty space.  He watched it fall, sparks trailing in a spiral.  It flared briefly with life before landing on the pavement below; small flakes of fire burst around it and died.

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Five

By JKolasch

It was snowing.  Those nice big, fluffy snowflakes that make the world suddenly seem so peaceful.  Xanthiilus was walking in a park, the fresh snow crunching softly under his boots.  He glanced around, his silver eyes taking in as many details as they could.  He was almost completely alone.  There was a jogger ahead of him, and a couple sitting on a bench farther along.  It was a fairly open park, with trees spread sparsely around the walkway.  The playground was quiet, and had collected a fair amount of snow.  Even though he was in love with a dryad and had lived for thousands of years, nature never ceased to amaze Xan.  It had just started snowing a few hours ago, and already there was a good five inches on the ground.  He stopped in the middle of the path, and listened to the silence.  He reached into his cloak, and grabbed his pack of cigarettes.  He smiled, looking into it.  He had picked up a fresh pack on his way to the park.  He pulled one out and put it in his mouth while he searched his cloak for a lighter.  A frown crossed his face.  He couldn’t find his lighter.  With a sigh, he glanced around the park.  The jogger was far gone now, and the couple looked like they best not be interrupted.

“Wish I had a light.”  Xan reached for the unlit cigarette, just as the tip burst into flame.  He barely had time to react.  In one fluid movement, he drew his sword and dove off the path, feeling the heat from the blazing fireball as it roared past.  He looked up just in time to see a tree explode into flame.

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Four

By JKolasch

Xanthiilus was sitting by Saleena’s tree, trying to read a book.  It was one of those vampire books that the people of this era loved.  He never understood them.  These people simply did not know anything about the other world, the one he lived in.  Honestly, garlic?  He took a deep breath, relaxing.  The Soulthief was still fresh on his mind, and he enjoyed the limited amount of leisure time he had.  The warehouse they lived in was large, and half of it was dedicated to Saleena’s forest, dominated by her large oak in the center.  The other half was Xan’s living area, although he and Saleena slept in both areas equally.  Sometimes they liked the bed, and other times the soft forest floor was pleasant.  He tried to get back into the book again, but he was distracted by the frolicking Saleena.  She was beautiful, as always.  Her almond colored skin was smooth, almost creamy looking.  She was radiant this close to her tree.  He enjoyed her like this, naked and free in her nature.  Xan smiled, remembering their awkward meeting.

It had been several thousand years ago at this very spot.  The War of Darkness had ended.  Xanthiilus had just joined the order, but had already proven to be one of the most powerful members.  So, he had been one of several chosen to guard one of the seals.  The seals were scattered throughout the world, to better ensure that they wouldn’t be breached.  Each seal served as a lock to a prison of sorts.  The strongest of the order were chosen to guard the seals, with the aid of a dryad.  Xanthiilus had been nervous, stories of dryads filling his head.  He had heard they could be cruel, cold, aloof, and demanding.  His heart was racing when she walked in.  The others that were there to seal the ritual had told him nothing, save that a dryad was required to finish the binding magic.  And he was to guard them both.  Xan had accepted.  It was his duty to protect.  His heart stopped when he saw her.  She was all the beauty of nature concentrated into that single, nude female form.  His heart skipped into beating when she spoke.

“Hello, Xanthiilus.  I’m Saleena.  Looks like we’re getting married!” Her voice was full of laughter and the sound of wind singing through autumn leaves.  Her eyes gleamed with an alluring playfulness.

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Three

By JKolasch

Maryanne lived alone in an old rundown apartment building.  The bricks were faded, and the fire escapes were almost a certain death if one tried to actually use them.  Her apartment was cozy enough, though.  She took joy in the simple decorations she had.  Plants abounded in the apartment, as did pictures of cute animals and stuffed bears.  She lived alone, but she never felt like it.  Her pictures and stuffed animals were company enough for her.  She stood in the bathroom, in front of the mirror, adding the finishing touches to her burgundy hair before she went out tonight.  She didn’t have a date, but there was a bar she enjoyed going to; they always played good music.  Maryanne was adjusting a bobby pin, making sure it was in the right place when a flash of white streaked down the mirror behind her.  She spun around, her heart racing, and she looked around frantically.  Nothing was there, save the doorway leading into her sparsely furnished living room.  There was the sofa, coffee table, and television that almost never saw use.

“Hello?” she whispered to the empty room.

Hearing nothing, she turned back to the mirror to finish her hair.  With a chilling scream, she spun around, her eyes wide and the blood draining from her face.

“Hello?” Her voice could barely be heard and her rapid breathing misted out in front of her face.  She had been so certain of what she saw.

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