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The Winding Path

 
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FinMack
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A smoldering cigarette was perched between Fin's lips as he strolled down the lane toward the Marketplace. There were still a fair amount of people thronging the streets but it was slowly starting to taper off and shops closed so the proprietors could have their supper. Others were out seeking an ale or a friendly smile, buying things last moment before nipping home or trying to head somewhere else, as he was.

Weaving between moving bodies, smiling and nodding to any faces that seemed vaguely familiar, Fin's steps slowed as he reached the fountain in the middle of the marketplace. The musical splash of the water seemed louder tonight, drawing his gaze while he lingered at the edge. Naturally, he looked across the space to the other side and saw something that made him frown and cant his head.

A pair of young lasses were standing just across the way, holding hands. Which might not seem so strange in itself but for the brilliant color of their hair: one was a dark, royal blue that shone in the sun while the other was a fiery garnet red. This was RhyDin and people with odd colored hair didn't stand out so much to Fin anymore but the colors flashed in the fading light, bright jewel tones that had him taking a step closer.

One of them had their head bowed as if sad or shamed while the other looked about impassively. People passed by without looking and Fin thought surely they were waiting for a parent or guardian to come out of a shop, to collect them and scold them for running off. Maybe apologize for taking so long and bring a treat to the patient wards.

Minutes passed, then more but still they stood and finally he noticed that deep red eyes were resting upon him. Fin blinked and then gave a warm smile to the lass, who canted her head and echoed the smile but...it didn't reach her eyes. Something gave a vague warning inside of Fin but he pushed it aside, moving around the fountain to see if the lasses needed help.

He sat on the rim of the fountain because the lasses were shorter than him by a foot and he didn't want them to be intimidated. "Are ye lasses lost?" The one with red hair maintained her mimic of a smile and shook her head. The one with blue hair looked up at him with the exact same expression and it gave the Scot pause because they were identical.

"Eh..are ye hurt?"

Again, they shook their heads, staring at him steadily and he realized that they weren't blinking. That...that wasn't normal. But they obviously weren't human so maybe that was normal for them. "Are ye waitin' for someone?"

Another head shake. He faltered, not certain of what else to say. "Can ye speak a'tall?" thinking perhaps they were mute. But they nodded, their smiles widening.

Thick brows flicked together and he thought that maybe he should leave and so he stood. Their attention was unwavering, staring up at him as he towered over their slight forms. "Eh, well...m'name be Finlay an' I be goin' to the Red Dragon so if ye need help, come by there an' ask for me or leave a message, aye?"

"Finlay Mackenzie," came a pair of reedy sing-song voices, speaking in perfect unison. It raised the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck but he nodded to acknowledge what they said.

"Aye," he murmured, frown deepening. How did they know his surname?

"We have a message for you," they said, taking a step closer.

Fin tried to edge back subtly, not wanting to incite further interest by running the other way. Glancing up, he wondered if he could pretend to know someone and exit smoothly when suddenly, one of them grabbed his hand. It seemed so small and slight in his that his fingers curled around it instinctively instead of jerking away.

He waited for them to speak again, but instead they turned their faces to the other and grinned widely enough to show teeth. They started to giggle, chittering softly in a language he didn't understand before releasing him and turning around.

"Eh, wha' be the message?" he asked but they ignored him and slipped into the crowd, soon lost to sight despite their brilliant coloring.

Looking down at his hand, he thought it felt a little warm but nothing was out of place. No pain, nothing glowing, no visions of his own grisly death. Rooted to the spot, he wondered if he should be worried about this interaction, if he was missing something that every other person would recognize easily, some danger hidden only by his ignorance.

Or maybe they were just daft, strange lasses that heard his name around his shop and were not in their right minds. After all, this was RhyDin.

Fishing out another cigarette, Fin decided it was a good night to stay home and read a book. Turning back the other way, he tried to shake off the strange encounter, hoping it would come to naught.






(These twins are actually played characters, Sapphire and Ruby, on loan from the wonderful and talented Crispin Ashwood who graciously allowed me to use them for my story. Thank you!!)
_________________
“[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.”
~Jack Kerouac
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FinMack
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 2016 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The night of Lucy’s party, Fin passed out on one of the swinging benches on the porch. He loved those benches and often let the sound of the waves lull him to sleep while the breeze rocked him as gently as a babe, especially after a night of drinking and smoking.

Normally he didn’t crack open his eyes until the sun forced it but this night, he found himself tossing and turning restlessly, never fully asleep but never fully awake, caught in a limbo that offered him no respite. Just beyond the edge of consciousness, it sounded as if someone was whispering; there was a rhythm to it, almost like a song but he couldn’t make out the lyrics or the melody.

It felt as if he’d only gotten a few minutes of sleep when he finally sat up and rubbed at his eyes. They were gritty and itchy, but he knew that if he lay back down he wouldn’t find sleep. With a huff, he rose to his feet and headed for the stairs that led to the beach. The two moons above were thin waxing slivers, providing just enough light so that he didn’t face plant on the steep stairs. They gave way to soft sand that still held the warmth of summer in each grain, comfortable under his feet.

Signs of the party still littered the beach though there wasn’t another soul down here. That couldn’t be right, he remembered some people celebrating even after he’d gone to lie down so this must be a dream. That would explain the whispering that, in retrospect, was even louder down here. He thought the sound of the waves would drown it out but it was more intense, clearer. Fin had been right - it was a song and now he could hear the faint tune as it lilted through his mind. Each step he took closer to the water caused the song to swell until seafoam touched his toes and the song burst to life inside his head.

This had to be a dream. That right there clinched it.

Realizing this couldn’t be real gave him courage to stare mesmerized at the waves that raced toward him. Rooted to the spot, he reached out a hand and the water actually rose in a thin column to meet it, brushing his palm with dampness before he gasped and snatched it back. The column fell down abruptly to the sand, collapsing and splashing over his feet, but the song never stopped.

On a whim, the Scot stripped from his clothing and lay on the wet sand, the ocean washing slowly over him as it climbed higher on the beach. Closing his eyes, the warm water gradually engulfed him until he felt as if it were tugging at him, pulling him from the protected cove of Lucy’s beach and bearing him on the waves out to the open sea. Instead of inspiring fear, it only made him smile and when he opened his eyes again, there was nothing above him but the vastness of the night sky. He was alone in the middle of the sea, no landmarks in sight, nothing and no one to save him if needed.

Fin wasn’t afraid, though. The sea cradled him, sheltered him, sustained him on its surface while he watched the stars move slowly overhead. The water moved around him, lapped at his ribs and neck, moved through him as it sang to his blood. He knew deep in his bones that the sea would watch over him, deliver him safely home before dawn. Closing his eyes, he sank into this dream and finally slept.




The next morning, Fin woke on the beach, Liath curled next to him. His clothes were in a pile in the sand, no one else around to see him in all his glory. Dry as a bone, he sat up and looked down at his dog. That...had been a dream, right?

Then why, when he closed his eyes, did he still hear that song?
_________________
“[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.”
~Jack Kerouac
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FinMack
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Men stood on either side of him, chanting in low voices - he knew this because they’d been at it for some time before the pain started. Now, there was just a ringing in his ears, a loud pressure that blocked out all thought or external awareness. How could he know how his body arched off the slab, despite the magical bondage keeping him in place? Lips were pulled back in a tight rictus, every muscle straining under sweat-damp skin. White stars burst in his vision, blinding him to the small room in which he was held, where his hoarse screams echoed off the stones.

Off to the left, Stefin watched dispassionately, gesturing for the robed men to stop. They ceased, immediately obedient, as Stefin moved toward Fin’s head. He stroked the Scot’s slick brow with a tender touch. Insensible, Fin sagged against the cool stone, blood pooling in the inguinal valley where hip met thigh, a slow river that oozed down his hip. Muscle and bone were exposed, in the process of being healed though Fin would much rather die than endure another second.

Leaning down, Stefin whispered in the Scot’s ear. “Next time, it will be your eyes.”



The Scot woke with a whimper trapped in his throat, heart pounding loudly enough to wake the neighbors. Sheets were damp and cold with sweat, cheeks and chest flushed as adrenaline spiked through his system. Liath was prancing at the side of the bed, barking insistently but it took time for that to penetrate the mental fog. A mumbled word and she was silenced though she jumped up on the end of the bed to sit and fret silently.

The dark was no balm, providing a blank canvas to replay those memories, so vivid and fresh from his nightmare. Weak and trembling, Fin rolled to the side of the bed to fumble with the lamp, nearly knocking it off the table in the process. Collapsing against the mattress, a half-hearted snap sent the dog down to the floor where she settled on her own bed. Every sensation, even her slight weight on the end of the bed, was an abrasive scrape against raw nerves.

Staring sightlessly at the wall, Fin tried to put some order to his scrambled thoughts, clawing his way to full consciousness while his body lay limp. Gradually, his heart rate calmed down and when his limbs didn’t weigh three stone each, he pushed himself to his feet. Waivered for a minute, clutched at one of the bedposts until he had his sea legs and then made for the kitchen.
Guzzling a glass of water at the sink, Fin poured himself another. Next, he shuffled toward the futon and sprawled the length of it, flipped on the small television while Liath slunk out to settle herself on the floor next to him. Licked tentatively at his fingers that hung over the edge of the cushion; they flexed and moved away, reaching instead for a cigarette and lighter on the coffee table. Pale colors washed over him as cars chased each other through the streets of Chicago - Fin couldn’t have cared less what the movie was, just wanted a low background noise to help bring him back down, something to distract from the grisly images of his past.

Magic. For so long, it held only pain and horror. Now, it seemed he had ignorantly, unwillingly joined the ranks of Stefin’s pets.

Smoke swirled toward the ceiling while he tried to direct his mind toward more pleasant things. Lucy.


Lucy pressed her lips together, trying to put words together. But then she was distracted by the water again, her attention turning to look that way. It was a convenient distraction again, but this time she knew it was really happening. She squinted out at the waves, then looked at Fin. "Did you--did you see that?" She distractedly took the joint from him.

Brows rose as he looked out toward the dark water. The particulars had been lost to him up to this point, despite the moon that had just been full the day before. "See wha'?" He squinted but didn't notice any shapes looming above the water or anything coming at them.

"The waves are doing something weird." She frowned at the sea, sitting up a little taller in her seat. She squinted out at the water too. But since he hadn't seen anything, she sank back into her chair.

"The...waves?" He squinted harder and this time, the water came surging toward him, reaching reaching reaching for his toes as if it was the sole purpose of this ocean to exist for this moment, to touch him and bring him closer.

Lucy watched the water, and almost started, thinking the water was coming for her too, disrupting Liath's nap in her lap as she half-rose. But then she realized the water wasn't coming anywhere near her. Just him. "Fin!"

Fin saw the water surge for him, saw it reaching with greedy, foamy fingers toward his feet but just like in that strange dream, he didn't feel afraid. Not yet, because he thought maybe this was another dream. Maybe he fell asleep in his chair and this was like an echo of the last one.

So he stared, entranced, waiting to see what would happen. Once it did reach his feet (and he couldn't help that he pulled back a few inches reflexively), the water caressed his toes and he thought it was...beckoning him. "Lucy....?" he asked quietly, finally meeting her gaze. He looked faintly worried. "Is this another dream?"

"No--Fin you're awake." Lucy was standing too, her brow furrowed, watching. "What's happening?"



Reeling back from that memory, the heel of his hand dug against one eye where a dull ache had set up residence. The light from the t.v. was bright so Fin looked up at the shadowy ceiling, watching the smoke until it dissipated and disappeared from view.


"Well, if you really think it's just the water and not something else.... But that kind of thing only happens when you've got talent. And that's nothing against you, because I bet you're fantastic with your hands, and you bang a good hammer. But you're a mundane," gesturing with her coffee. Then she pointed at his kitchen sink. "You want to try here instead? I don't know what we're trying here. Maybe it'll tell you your pipes need a good snaking."

Salome scratched all over her head and neck. "I don't know, that's what I said. What were you doing when you were out there?" Reaching, she turned on the sink, then searched for the plug.

"I was lookin' up at the stars, playin' on m'guitar...only no' a true song, just...notes. I was no' payin' attention. I was talkin' to Lucy abou'...some problems she be havin'." That was it.

"So it was idle. Subconscious. You were just hanging out." Stuffing the plug down into the drain, she shook her hand free of water and dried her fingers on her leggings. "I don't know here, like----maybe stand next to the sink when it fills up? We'll talk, hang out, see what happens."

This whole thing felt...strange and surreal. How could he pretend to ignore the sink full of water after watching her fill it and waiting to see if it...did something? Fin wasn't very good at games like that. Blue eyes kept dipping down to peek at the water, expecting...well hell, he didn't know what to expect.

"How is Crispin doin'? Have the medicines an' tonics been helpin' him a'tall?" Thought of his friend made him forget all about the water behind him, though the surface rippled from the center outward as if a pebble had been dropped.

"He's-----he's uh...." She wrinkled up her nose. "He'd come if he could. But he can't right now. Not for a couple weeks. Shae talked to you, didn't she? About what was going on with him?" Bit of a glance to the sink.

Another ripple, this one prolonged for the space of two heartbeats. "She did." He glanced down at Liath, chewing the inside of his cheek. "She...asked me to...to help. Possibly. If the other ye asked did no' work out. But she ne'er told me if they said aye. I..." Fin swallowed hard, the surface of the water bobbing in several different spots now. "I could no'."

Salome moved away from the counter far enough to hop up on it instead, scooting back to give her coffee some room to sit. It was a ruse, all of it, to get some distance between herself and the sink, and to give herself a better eye, but she wasn't that great at subtlety in the first place. "We asked Lirssa. She said yes. It's okay you couldn't, you know. He wouldn't have wanted you to get hurt."

"That doesn't mean she did instead. Just that we didn't know what we needed to do, so----" shrugging. Elbow to her knee, she idly looked at the water.

"Lirssa?" Brows rose as he absorbed that information, thinking of the last time they spoke to each other.

She blinked, watching the water, her brows rising a fraction. Then her gaze slid on over to Fin. "From what I saw this morning? He's getting a little better. He's----the thing we had to do----" Her head came up off her fist and she spread her claws. "We figured out a way to push back what's trying to get out of him. And that was to kind of----stick him in this little scooped out dimension that's kind of like Hell, but it really isn't. It's not, it's really not, I promise. But I mean, you know when you burn yourself. And you put ice on it. He's burning, and this dimension is the ice. You know?"

That...was a shock. The entire surface of the water roiled with bubbles as if it was boiling though the temperature hadn't changed. It only lasted for a second before subsiding while Fin stared at Salome. "Ye put him...elsewhere? For how long?"
"Couple of weeks," Salome said, looking back at the water. She wasn't anywhere near upset enough to do that to the sink. "When Lucy had her ghost hanging onto her ass, could you see him?"

"He has been there for some weeks or he will need to stay there for some weeks?" It was a big distinction! "Does he know where he is? Are ye speakin' to him? Did he agree to go there?" It hurt him to think of Cris alone and afraid. The bubbles roiled again and it took him a moment to realize she changed the subject. "Eh...no. No' until Shae gave me the wee trinket," lifting his left hand to show the metal chain around his wrist. Even though Reg was gone, Fin still wore it.

She rubbed her upper lip as she divided half her mind to their chat, and the other half to what the hell could be causing this to happen. So far, it seemed like Fin, Fin's feelings, specifically. "He'll need to stay there for a couple weeks, that's how long the dimension will be there, and yes, Fin, he agreed to go." She looked to the trinket he mentioned. "You've been collecting jewelry from all the girls, huh?" grinning. "What's it do?"

He eased up slightly to hear that the Nephilim had been willing but it still sounded lonely. "Wha' sort o' place is it? Does he...need anythin'?" Could Fin send a care package, maybe? "Oh, well when we were wardin' Lucy's home, I wanted to be able to see Reg, speak to him. Shae gave this to me so tha' I could do it. He had the same so tha' we could converse back an' forth." His was a ghostly version, of course, but the Scot didn't even want to think about how it was made or how they'd been linked up.

"It's like Hell's broom closet. We needed demonic taint to offset the holy volcano Cris has been spewing for the last couple months. He said it's dreary and disgusting. Not quite as hot as the last time," dryly. "If you want to go see him, you can, you know. You've got to go through Shae's room at the inn to get to the room he's in? You don't have to go in the Hell closet." And switching. A pair of linked pieces that allowed communication. "Because he's on another plane though----you might not be able to. He's like Reg right now. Maybe we can fix your thing, or just give it a shot anyway."

"He is back in Hell?" his voice cracking a little, blue eyes wide. There went the fake boil again. "Shae...has a door to Hell in her room?" Christ Almighty, that was a lot to take in. Sinking down to the floor, Fin pulled his dog close for a hug. "D'ye speak to him often?" looking up at Salome with a puckered brow. "Or Shae?"

She gave him air quotes. Hell, but not Hell, it said. And it was only because she'd had this conversation too many times, with too many of the same people, and had seen it work that she could take such a devil may care attitude with it. "It happened last night. I'm staying in the room with the door leading there. Leena stopped by this morning, before you called. Shae's right next door. He isn't by himself."

With a deep steadying breath and the panting of Liath against him, Fin eased up a little. To him, hell was back with Stefin and that was how he'd imagined Cris - naked and alone, blanketed by blackness and oppressive silence, fear a living thing inside him. That was how Fin had lived for so long that the thought of it happening to someone he cared for was a physical pain in his chest. The knot in his gut would take a little longer to loosen itself but a cigarette would help that. Maybe a stiff drink. "Good," he murmured, giving her a tight smile. Just a bobbing ripple from the water this time.

Bobbing ripple. Once, twice. Salome pillowed her cheek in one palm and let her other hand fall out of sight next to her leg. "Let me see-----" She stirred the air by her knee with her claws, then balled them into a fist, and all at once, the cupboard doors, the fridge doors, and any unlocked drawer burst wide open and slammed shut.

Good thing Fin had been sitting against the island or else he would have been given a concussion by a drawer to the back of the head. Not only the sudden motion of them in unison but the loud noise of everything slamming shut had him jumping to his feet. Liath started barking and the sink spouted a geyser of water straight into the air, this time steaming with heat. He knew he shouldn't be scared because Salome was here and he was wearing the amulet again but it still startled the *** out of him.
Salome shrieked and ducked her head behind her knees, throwing up her hands to ward off any water, any steam, from scalding her. "Sorry!!! I'm sorry, I needed to see something, and if I told you, it wouldn't have been the same!!"
"I'm not doing it, Fin. .........I think you are."

"How could I be doin' tha'? I..I canno'." Physically incapable. “It canno’ be me, I am nothin’.”



But it wasn’t nothing that was happening to him. No, it was definitely something.
_________________
“[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.”
~Jack Kerouac
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FinMack
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before dawn was a whisper on the horizon, the last vestiges of night saw the Scottish blacksmith leaving his home. A large grey hound was at his side, wagging her tail as she followed along willingly, hopping up into the open door of the pickup truck at Fin’s gesture.

A bag was slung over his shoulder, stuffed full with both hope and regret, hindsight and a longing for a better future. The stars twinkled overhead and whispered their advice but his head was too full of memories to listen. The car door slammed shut, loud in the sleeping streets. They did not wake but slumbered on.

Resting on the dashboard in front of Fin was a manila envelope, still sealed, the pale color reflected in the windshield. His attention was drawn to it again and again all the way up to the cabin, fearing what he might find inside.
_________________
“[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.”
~Jack Kerouac
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FinMack
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 12 Aug 2014
Posts: 298
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: at Iron Clad forge
18293.24 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roses are red...

Starbursts of sunset bled into a deep red, pulsing with the beat inside him. Inside him? Alive?

Vermillion fingers reached out to caress his cheek where Stefin’s handprint was permanently tattooed. The Devil smiled sweetly, ever the charmer. Tricksy tricks. Pulling away from the touch, he curled in on himself, facing the wall. The cool touch of stone and the ground underneath his feet were the only things he could trust. Red hair cushioned his cheek, the scent pink. Kind. Not real. Ignoring it, he closed his eyes and burned.


Violets are blue…

A melody painted in blue slipped through the bars, a lover come to soothe him. Cerulean eddies swirled around him, cool and gentle, carrying him away on a false memory. The sea stretched all around him, stars swallowed. The Madonna cradled Jesus in her lap, both baring pointed teeth. A flare of orange interrupted the velvet deep; a beacon. It lured him toward smiling faces. Made flesh. Bloody and sharp. Pressure settled on his chest. Gasping, he broke the surface where lonely darkness met him. Cradled him in his sorrow.


Pocketful of posies…

A bed of flowers underneath. Petals with teeth that tore at him, tearing old scabs so they bled anew. Hot tears tracked down a blank face, ignoring the feral snarl of an empty stomach.


Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

Nowhere. Shadows haunted the entrance of the cell, passing back and forth to remind him. Hands streaked with ash, stinking of violence. It coated his tongue, gritty and sour. No escape. Death was a lie. Life was a lie. Nothing. It stretched from horizon to horizon. Hollow, he waited for rage to fill him but blue dragged him down. A ruin lying at the bottom of an ocean of blood and tears. It was exactly where he belonged.
_________________
“[He] scares me because he has been the most miserable of all men, jailed & beaten and cheated and starved and sickened and homeless, and still he knows there's such a thing as love.”
~Jack Kerouac
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