- Mary always liked this dream. The feeling of the cool spring air blowing on her face. The feeling of the green grass tickling her back. The bright blue clear skies that hung overhead, with cluds drifting across the ocean that was the great blue. The sun hung overhead, not shining so harsh to make her feel uncomfortable as with the cool air keeping her relaxed. It reminded her of back home – her home on the prairies of Milkwater. The refreshing feeling of being awoken by the early birds who reminded her of when she used to wake up bright and early to help out on the farm would never leave her mind for as long as she lived. She brought her hands to the back of her head and continued to watch the skies above. It wasn’t something rare that she would have this dream, quite the opposite. It brought her peace, as if it was a way to be away from all life had in store for her. Even though it was just a dream, she took a deep breath through her nose. The same scent of wheat and grass filled her senses, with a hint of freshly prepared pancakes, and she let out a sigh in content. She wished she could always stay like this.
- But something was wrong. Something was off about the whole scene. It wasn’t as if the grass wasn’t as green as it always was, or the sky wasn’t as bright of a blue as it usually was. Something FELT wrong. Her brow furrowed, and her long cow ears seemed to flicker at a sound. It was hard to hear, but Mary swore she heard something. She sniffed the air again, and sneezed. The air wasn’t as fresh anymore. Something smelt as if it was charred. And it wasn’t the distinct smell of her father trying to make pancakes and fail, but something different. Another sound was heard, this time closer, and she sat upwards. The green plains and hills looked the same, but the colour was off. The sky wasn’t as much of a bright blue as it once was, but instead looked faded and washed out. Something was definitely wrong, Mary said to herself, and she looked around frantically. The same sound was heard once more, but it sounded closer and much louder. The green plains were turning brown, as if the grass of her dream was dying. The skies turned into a painting of orange and yellows as the sun began its descent to the horizon. But it was there Mary found the source of the sound.
- A beast, or something, stood in front of the sunset on the horizon, casting a long shadow that seemed to almost reach Mary. Its bright orange eyes were the only thing to distinguish from the four legged bipedal beast that stalked towards her. The sound she heard was its low growl, a growl which made goosebumps ripple down her arms and legs. A long tail swished and swung back and forth behind it, as if it was trying to hypnotize her or lure her. But the eyes, the piercing slit eyes which were locked onto her fear induced blue eyes seemed to burn through her with ease. It growled again as it walked towards her – she could practically feel its hot breath from the far away distance it was. Fear clutched Mary’s heart, and her legs trembled, unable to get up and run. She began to crawl backwards, her hands gripping and tearing out the dead grass, her legs kicking up dirt.
- “S-Stay away!”
- The beast growled once more, low yet booming. She felt it shake her to the very core, and she clutched her heart. To say she was scared was to say kids really don’t like clowns. She didn’t even realise she was sweating, or that her voice sounded cracked and hoarse when she spoke. She was afraid. She was horrified. It growled once more, and Mary felt it. She could feel the heat that was radiation off of the beast from the distance she was. Her heart was banging against her chest, demanding to be released and to be as far away from the stalking creature that never left its gaze off of her for even a second.
- “Stay away!”
- It roared, and Mary covered her ears. She didn’t care if she closed her eyes out of impulse, she was scared. Its roar seemed to shake and rumble the ground as if an earthquake was passing through. She screamed in fear, tears feely flowing down her cheeks and onto her lap. It reminded her of when she was a child. She was always afraid of storms and would hide under her bed, crying until it passed. But this wasn’t a storm that would just disappear, but a monster with the intention to devour her limb from limb. But even when she covered her ears, she heard it. The thumping of its paws picking up speed. She didn’t want to open her eyes, but she felt as if she had to see it. As if she had to see the face of the beast that was going to be her end. And she did. She did see the metallic beast that was running towards her, its metal teeth gleaming in what was left of the suns light and its bestial, almost lion-like face, in a permanent scowl. She was frozen in fear. Her body refused to move. Her legs refused to allow her to get up and run. The only thing that allowed her to use was her voice. And she screamed.
- “STAY AWAY!”
- Mary awoke with a start. She sat upwards, breathing heavily as if she just ran a marathon. And considering how hard her heart was beating and how she seemed to be drenched in sweat, it was a believable excuse. She clutched her heart, as if trying to calm it down. But every time she closed her eyes she saw it. The beast from the dream. Any remaining spit that was in her mouth she swallowed, and she swallowed hard. Her pink blouse that she wore to bed was drenched in sweat, sticking to her back and chest like a child not wanting to leave their parent’s side. And, after a nightmare like that, she wanted her parents at this exact moment.
- “Mary, hurry up and wake up!” A voice seemed to call from beyond the door to her girly room. “You’re going to be late for school and I don’t want my pancakes to go to waste.”
- She tried to call to her mother, but her voice was hoarse. Mary knew it was just a dream, but her throat felt as if she was really screaming. How her parents never heard their daughter screaming bloody murder confused Mary, but maybe she never screamed in the first place? She placed a hand on her throat and rubbed it as if she could remedy her vocal cords to work. But what she really needed was some water.
- A feeling on her neck made her pause, and her senses were beginning to finally activate. Her eyes were now aware of the blinding bright light which shone through her curtains, and she winced and narrowed her eyes. Although she was beyond fully awake at this point, it was early morning. Her nose caught whiff of her mother’s pancakes, and it caused her to shiver in fear. Her mind would never be able to associate the smell of freshly made blueberry buttermilk pancakes as something good again without the reminder of the beast from the dream. She heard the sound of scraping, as if someone was eating downstairs. And by eating, she more meant scarfing down a stack of pancakes. Her father was always weak to Mary’s mother’s cooking. She also heard the songs of the bird from outside, once again reminding her of the time in which she was waking up to. As if the constantly ringing alarm wasn’t any indication enough. She glanced at her clock, which rang the twin bells that sat atop its round metal body. It was after seven in the morning, and school started at nine. She still hasn’t changed the alarm to grant her some more time to sleep in, but she’d to it later. Eventually, she assured herself. With a sigh, she slammed her hand onto the clock to make it stop. But something was amiss.
- “What is that?” Mary asked to particularly no one, addressing the large metallic band that was on her middle finger. It seemed to be made of silver, but the red trim around it made her confused about its metal’s name. It didn’t look painted, nor did it look fake-- but Mary has never heard of a red metal that wasn’t painted. It also seemed to be engraved, having flame-like marking all across it. It seemed to have a faint orange glow to it, but it wasn’t that which made Mary’s heart stop and her face fade from all colour of life.
- It was the lion-like face that sat on her knuckles, staring upwards at her from the ring.
- Its piercing orange eyes reminded Mary of the dream. Its teeth were bare, silver like the band except gleaming in the light of the sun. What was the face was the same red metal, with engravings of what seemed to be some sort of foreign language Mary didn’t know that twisted and turned on the perfectly sculpted lion face, creating what seemed to be almost a permanent shadow on its permanent scowl. Its orange eyes were never-moving, but Mary swore it was looking directly at her. At her fear ridden face. Her pin pricked eyes. If she didn’t know any better, she swore it know that her heart was no longer pumping blood through her body, and instead frozen in fear that the beast she saw in her nightmare was before her, a bit smaller but reality no less.
- She didn’t know what to do. Screaming would scare her parents downstairs making them think she was being kidnapped. But considering she was already screaming but only small squeaks were coming out, it’s not like they would hear her anyhow. Felicia was right; she must be related to Dormice. Her next course of action was to try and remove it, but it didn’t take the fact that her body refused to move to know that it wasn’t going to happen any time soon. But by the permanent glare it was giving her, it looked as if it would bite if she tried.
- But her left hand moved towards her right, shaking in fear and no anticipation whatsoever. She didn’t feel it before, but due to the fear which now replaced the blood in her veins, she felt it. The heat in which the ring gave off. It felt like fire, raw fire. As her hand drew near, she began to retract it. The heat was too intense, and it felt as if she were to touch it the fiery heat would sear her fingertips clean off and make them no longer have fingerprints. But it was impossible. The heat in which it gave off she should’ve felt on her right hand, considering it sat snuggly around her finger. And yet she felt nothing but the cool metal around it. Was that the feeling of being eternally burnt? Was that the feeling of what Salamander’s and Hellhounds felt? A cool heat instead of the scorching they gave off? She wanted to know. Her curiosity which now impacted her with newfound vigor seemed to fight against her fear, causing her left hand to continue closer to the scorching hot metal around her finger. With each millimeter closer her fingers got to it, the heat seemed to increase. Mere centimeters away and she was hissing as the heat became almost unbearable. But Mary pushed on; as if she was injected by the same bravery she had the day before. She bit her lip, trying to stifle a cry of sheer pain. But what she didn’t know –or, what she didn’t know for a few moments- was that her fingers were already upon the ring, and instead of the feeling of sticking your hand into a Lava Golem, she instead felt a frigid cold that chilled her to the bone. It was strange, to say the least. Mary blinked when she finally noticed that her index and middle fingers were on the lions face.
- The metal was smooth, as if it had been forged by the greatest of blacksmiths to perfection. The snout and even the fur that was on it were all sculpted in perfection. The feeling of the engravings on its face made it feel as if her fingers were brushing onto the metal lion’s hair. Its mouth was closed, only its rows of teeth bare to the eyes. The pair of fiery orange eyes seemed to watch Mary as she dragged her finger across the smooth metal, as if it was waiting for her to do something. Although its entire face was the deep crimson red, its lower jaw was the silver which made up the rest of the ring. A silver trim divided its mane, almost making it look like real hair. She almost waited for it to bite her, but it never did. But no matter how hard Mary looked into its eyes, she swore it was staring back at her. It was a marvel of metal ingenuity, Mary had to admit. But she wanted it off. She wanted it as far away from her as she could make it. But a knock at her door shot her out of her marvelled state.
- “MARY! I know you’re awake. You’re going to be late for school!”
- “C-Coming mom!” Mary didn’t know when her voice returned, but it sounded like it always did. Her once dry throat was lubricated and her voice had the same vigor and spunk it always had. She was perplexed, but she had other things to worry about than her voice. Like how she was going to hide this ring.
- “Earth to Mary, do you copy?” Felicia’s voice shot her out of her thoughts. She looked around in confusion, as if trying to find her best friend, not realising that she was sitting in front of her the whole time. She placed a hand on her head, and Mary flinched as her cold soft hands brushed her forehead. “You’re not running a fever. But you’re acting like you are.”
- It was lunchtime in the school in which the two went to. Mary was tempted to call in sick, to avoid not only having to see her parents and avoid their constant pestering of questions revolving around the metal lion-faced ring that hugged her delicate middle finger, but to avoid trying to explain to her best friend the origins of set ring. It’s not like she didn’t like her friend, quite the opposite. But she knew that Felicia was more curious than a Nekomata could ever be in their entire life. And the way she managed to leap to conclusions via mental gymnastics were on par with her actual gymnastic abilities. Of course, hiding this ring would be easy if she could take it off. She’d keep it in her bag to avoid her mother from finding it, and try and find out the origins when she got home. But considering not only was it flashy, but also on her right hand, the very hand she wrote with and used the most, made hiding it nearly impossible. And at a time like now, Mary wished the impossible were possible.
- What confused her about the ring was not the fact that it looked exactly like the beast from her dream. That was one of the many unanswered questions. But how it seemed nigh weightless. It wasn’t big enough to reach a pound, but how solid the metal seemed, she would at least be able to feel its weight on her finger, let alone her hand. And yet, when she wrote, when she took things into her hands, she never felt it at all. It was as if it wasn’t there to begin with. As if it was a figmentation of her imagination generated by the nightmare she had in the morning. But were that true, how come her mother and father asked her why she had a lion ring on her finger? If they could see it, then clearly anyone could see it. So how was it able to assume that its weight would be heavy, yet feel like air? Mary gazed at her right hand, something she’s been doing since she woke up with the ring on. The fiery orange eyes of the beast seemed to glare at her, and it reminded her of the almost vivid beast that would’ve mauled her in her dreams were she not able to wake up. Where was it from? Was it someone else’s? Or did someone give it to her? She tried to think back, but the only thing that came to mind was everything that happened the day before. From dragging Felicia away from the delinquent, to the alley, to that Jinko.
- Mary shivered at the recollection. She hasn’t felt her heard beat any faster than it had when those thugs in the alley almost shot the both of them to pieces. But then that Jinko appeared, seemingly in thin air, and broke one of their noses. Who was she? Why was she in armour? Where did she even come from? Was she the one who gave her the ring? But how? She remembered after she defended them both, she fell to her knees. Felicia called the ambulance and they all took her to the hospital. Police questioned them both on how and where they found such a heavily wounded person and Felicia and Mary told them all they knew. That she just appeared like that, and what Felicia said ‘sliced bullets in half’. Mary of course didn’t see that, for she was too busy closing her eyes in fear as the bullets rang. But the rest she saw. She saw the speed in which she moved towards one and the power the dished out in a single punch. Mary wasn’t amazed, she was awe struck.
- Maybe she was the one who gave it to her?
- “Helloooo?” Mary shook her head out of the clouds at the sound of Felicia’s irritated voice. She looked at her friend, who munched on the head of a carrot in annoyance. “Ignoring me is pretty rude, you know?”
- “Sorry! Sorry! I wasn’t ignoring you.” Mary assured, gaining no change of attitude from Felicia. She sighed. “I was just… thinking…”
- “Does it have to do with that cool looking ring on your finger?” Felicia asked, placing her chin on the palm of her hand and her elbow on the table. Mary blushed, gaining a grin. “So it does, huh? Spill.”
- Although it was a stupid question, Mary asked anyhow. “You can see it?”
- Felicia bellowed a laugh Mary knew was genuine. “See it? The thing was glaring the sun in my eyes all day!” She leaned a bit closer, her chuckle fading. “But seriously, where did you get it?”
- “I found it.”
- “Where?” Felicia was quick to ask questions, and Mary knew there was no way to avoid the onslaught. She tried to look away; to avert her gaze away from her friends’ curiosity filled green eyes.
- She didn’t know what to say, and Felicia knew it. If she were to say she found it at home, Felicia wouldn’t believe it. She’s been at her house enough times to know every single corner. She could follow it up by saying she found it in the attic, but Felicia would definitely know that’s a lie. Mary has always been afraid of the attic, even to this day. The basement was also out of the question, since it was barren other from the freezer. That would only leave her to say outside, but then that would also be a lie Felicia would see. Considering how close they were together, Felicia would’ve been the first to notice a crimson red lion-faced ring on the streets of Steelwater. And even when they were going to the hospital and the police station, Felicia would’ve noticed is Mary bent over to pick up something, and would even ask what it was. To say that she found it in her room was the mere definition of a lie, for Mary’s room was miles away from even being capable to generate a ring that looked like this. Stuffed animals, a comfy bed that seemed to mimic a Weresheep’s wool; it was the mere embodiment of femininity. And it had been like that since she was a child. It also didn’t help that Mary didn’t have any brothers, or an older Minotaur sister, but a little sister that’s going to turn four two weeks from now. Felicia had driven Mary into a wall the minute she acknowledged the rings existence. And Mary didn’t know how to get out.
- “I-I found it…” She repeated. Felicia was about to open her mouth, but Mary quickly changed the subject. “Hey, do you think that Jinko’s OK?”
- Felicia gave her a look, a look Mary knew all too well. But she sighed and shrugged. “I don’t know. She seemed pretty messed up when we were riding in the ambulance with her. The field medics said that they haven’t seen someone so torn apart since back in the day.” She scoffed. “Maybe we should visit her one day.”
- “Maybe…” Mary looked back outside.
- The gentle breeze that blew through her silver hair felt refreshing. A hint of coffee could be smelt, probably from the teacher’s lounge downstairs. She placed her chin on her palm, the cool metal of the ring causing a ripple of goosebumps on her skin. It really was cold, yet why did it feel so warm? She breathed in through her nose, and sighed. Maybe her being born on the farm made her particular about smells, but the air wasn’t as fresh as it is in Milkwater. Diesel and oil were the first things that Mary could smell, among other pollutants that were in the air. For a city person, this was fresh air. But no matter how long she’d live in this city, it would always make her head feel weird. She really did miss home. Most of her friends and family were in Milkwater, probably tending to the farm while they were gone. At least Felicia came with, saying she’d never leave Mary’s side even when her mother and father came to Steelwater for ‘a change of pace’. It’s not like Mary hated the city –it was a marvel. The tall sky scrapers compared to the farms and short building and houses that were in Milkwater were astounding. Most would dream of being that high in the sky, but here it was a daily event.
- But then her memories seemed to become fuzzy. The once green pastures she knew and remembered were turning brown and black, as if they were charred. The sky was no longer the bright blue it usually was, but an explosion of oranges and reds. The hills of green were now endless hills of black. Trees of apples and pears were nothing more but sticks that jutted out of the surface of Gaia, barren of leaves and death instead hanging off the mangly branches. The air and atmosphere seemed to shift. No longer were the fresh smell of freshly cut crops and the feeling of happiness and joy were what she smelled, but now the feeling of dread, the feeling of anger and hatred, of fear, and the smell of ash and fire. She spun around in fear, looking at her beautiful memory turning into a nightmare. But then she saw it. The beast. The same beast from her nightmare earlier in the day. It`s metallic teeth were bare, and its orange eyes glared at Mary with hunger. She took a step backwards, her legs trembling in fear as the beast that slowly prowled towards her, and fell backwards. The ground was hard, and Mary felt it. But pain was secondary to the dire situation she was presented. The low growl of the beast shook the very ground she sat on, and it made her heart almost leap out of her chest. She swore fire was puffing out of its mouth, through its teeth, but Mary didn`t care. She wanted to be away from it. She wanted it no closer than the 20 feet it was. Its metal tail swished and swirled behind it, the tip gleaming in the fiery sky. Where the stubby tip of a tail would be was a curved blade, and Mary almost screamed when the beast roared.
- “GO AWAY!”
- Mary woke up to the sound of her friends voice. He throat felt dry and pained, and her legs felt weak as if she’d been running for ages. She looked to her friend who sat across the desk in front of her. Felicia’s hand was on her shoulder, and her look of concern worried Mary. She was shaking, something Mary could tell by how Felicia’s arm seemed to shake. Her whole body was trembling in fear, and she was drenched in sweat. She looked back at her friend, but they she noticed the other looks. The rest of the class was staring at her, causing her to blush. They all had different expressions. Worry. Fear. Surprise. To name a few. But the look of her friends face would forever be plastered in her mind for years to come. She tried to speak, but only a squeak came out. Had she lost her voice? No, she was unable to speak. She flinched, something no one would be able to tell by how she was shivering, as Felicia tightened her grip on her shoulder. She looked back at her friend, visibly and emotionally distressed.
- “Let’s go take you to see the nurse.”
Knights of the Demon Chapter 2: Beast
GWS Aug 19th, 2015 (edited) 593 Never
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