The Hills are Shadows 6.08 – Hanna

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Those who move to the unseen music have always been thought to be insane.   

— ANCIENT PROVERB

Fighting back a yawn, Hanna watched Viscount Baldur from her high-backed chair, her hands folded on her lap and blonde hair spilling down her back. It was quite ridiculous that she had been commanded to appear here at such an hour, and it mattered not that the Viscount’s wives, Lexi and Jenny, hovered just behind their husband’s chair. It was unseemly, not to mention she was not his to direct. As long as Erik still breathed. . . . You have to wake up, Erik. You have to. Continue reading “The Hills are Shadows 6.08 – Hanna”

The Hills are Shadows 6.07 – Hanna

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Don’t cry because you’re dying, smile because you lived.   

— MATANGI, TO LEON

Ascending the mountain trail, Hanna used one hand to steady Erik and the other to grip her shortsword as she peered back at the furious Nætstalkers creeping behind them. The hilt felt like a piece of ice in her hand, and the breeze that whipped her gore-stained dress was cold enough to make her teeth chatter. Mounds of gray-skinned corpses littered the slope, pregnant with the rank odor of decomposing flesh; the darkness obscured her vision somewhat and made her doubly conscious of the danger. Yet the hint of brightness in the sky promised the approach of dawn. It had been dusk when her ordeal began, hours earlier, and it only seemed right it should finish as the sun once again rose to bless the earth. Continue reading “The Hills are Shadows 6.07 – Hanna”

The Hills are Shadows 6.06 – Leon

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We are, as Fat Ned would say, “Fucked-fucked-fucked!”  

— MORGAN, TO LEON

Unclenching his hand from Ypse’s shoulder, Leon patted his own thigh with his palm but did not allow himself to relax. Ypse was still staring into the flickering jewel, his yellow eyes vacant. The Sorcerer’s obsession with the gem unnerved Leon; Ypse never parted with it, not even for a moment. The eerie crimson light that flashed within it cast everything it touched in a sinister tint. Continue reading “The Hills are Shadows 6.06 – Leon”

The Hills are Shadows 6.05 – Leon

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The very act of fighting shoulder to shoulder as we have night after night, day after day, binds us together with bonds not even the fear of death could extinguish. We’re brothers now, for good or ill. Brothers.   

— YPSE, TO LEON

Above an ancient temple, three White Cranes stretched out, ivory-colored plumage streaming back in the twilight as they whirled in long loops, wings beating a steady rhythm whenever they turned. Morgan led the way, giant crane and blue-clad rider all too visible in the fading light. Nóel’s bird followed closely behind Morgan’s own, in a tight line, matching its sorcery created brethren flap for flap. Continue reading “The Hills are Shadows 6.05 – Leon”

The Hills are Shadows 6.04 – Erik

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I find myself looking with fondness on those harrowing days spent in the wilderness. Horror and danger waited at every turn, but I think we were better for it. Everything since feels like a pale shadow in comparison.   

— HANNA ITO, TO ERIK

Erik stood in almost total shock and stared at the behemoth trying to comprehend what lay before him. A sense of otherness oozed from the globs of foul goop that covered and splashed from the unnatural monster’s form every time it moved. Rank, like something dead a year in stagnant mud, the smell of it choked him, the stench growing stronger by the moment. He felt his body gag, but the disgust seemed to belong to someone else. Continue reading “The Hills are Shadows 6.04 – Erik”

The Hills are Shadows 6.03 – Erik

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Suffering is fire they say. When we burn, we grow stronger.  

— ERIK ITO, TO HANNA

“Finish it.” The words tasted like bile on Erik’s tongue. Once Hanna had seemed so innocent in appearance until life in Vetur, the capital of Vindur, had wilted that element away. Yet there still remained the shadow of the little girl she had once been in her eyes and on her lips when she smiled. It repulsed him, but he had to help her destroy that last pure part of herself before grief and rage turned it into something poisonous. Continue reading “The Hills are Shadows 6.03 – Erik”

The Hills are Shadows 6.02 – Erik

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Weak and stupid men fear being outmatched by women, and therefore they choose the frailest and most ignorant of mates. You are none of these things. 

— ERIK ITO, TO HANNA

Erik Ito, the third Prince of the kingdom of Vindur, fingered the long, blonde hair of his traumatized wife, Hanna Ito, who sobbed into his shoulder as he lay on his back. Despite her blood-drenched dress, hair, and flesh, many would have accounted her a beauty. Her blue eyes usually held an element of sadness, but today there was something more, a hint of rage and despair. He noticed when she lifted her head to look at him with a piercing stare. Continue reading “The Hills are Shadows 6.02 – Erik”