The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. What could it mean? It chilled Keith to the bone, that cabin had a dire tale. He made his way quickly back to town, the mayor had recently summoned a demon hunter to purge the land and free the townsfolk. The demon hunter had arrived only a few days prior with the promise of a substantial reward and Keith knew exactly where she’d be to give her his report.
He entered the tavern, night had already fallen some hours prior and the light from the roaring fire hurt his eyes at first, squinting back tears he moved towards the bar at the farthest end near the tavern’s large fireplace where sat the demon hunter, Talisia. She was dressed in black leathers, a cross bow upon her back and a short sword belted at her hip with a dark colored cloak clasped with a single broach; a skull with black diamonds for eyes. Keith feared her, demon hunters were said to be part demon; they had tried for years to bring a demon hunter to their land but only one came, Talisia. Keith and the other townsfolk were too afraid to ask Talisia, why of all her kind, did only she respond and why had it taken so long? As Keith approached, he cleared his throat.
“Madam…” Keith spoke with a rasp.
“Report scout” Talisia spoke in a clipped voice.
“Madam, you know of the cab-in?” Shuddering Keith could not even say the word.
“Stand up straight man and speak! What have you to report?”
Keith took a step back, she had black bands around her iris, never had he been this close to a half breed! Gulping down fear he spoke more quickly “Madam, a light, a candle is in the cabins window! It’s been abandoned for years, no one goes there!”
Smirking Talisia watched the man “Why does this cabin frighten you so?”
“Madam, it is a dire tale… I could recount it...?” Breathing deeply Keith waited. He knew better than most what had occurred.
Talisia nodded for Keith to continue, grabbing her ale and she turned her back towards the fire. To Keith, her form was silhouetted by fire, shivering Keith hollered at the tavern keeper for a drink of his own. The demon hunter would not know but rarely did the townsfolk speak of the tale surrounding the cabin, so many patrons scooted near or cocked their heads in his direction as Keith took a drink and began his tale:
“Five years ago I was working the land for Garret, a widower with twin daughters… “
It had been a rough day, the draft horse had taken a stone deep in its hoof, lame the two men had to pull the plow by hand to finish tilling Garrets land. Keith had been hired last year by Garret when he had arrived and bought the cabin on the outskirts of town. No one wished to live so far from town but the newcomer, Garret, would not be persuaded by the locals and bought it anyway.
Once dusk had fallen the two men, dirty and exhausted entered the cabin where Garret’s two daughters were setting the table for dinner. The rabbit stew smelled wonderful, Keith and Garret sat down with his daughters to eat supper.
“Tomorrow I will go into town to fetch Damian” Garret spoke around a mouthful of soup.
“Sounds fine, I will stay in your barn tonight and go with you in the morning”
“No! Take the other horse, I won’t need her tomorrow. Leave tonight” Garret spoke quickly and knew it was too fast.
“Garret, what has been bothering you?” Suddenly frustrated and angry, Keith did not want to travel back to town at night, not only was it dangerous for a horse but there had been strange killings the past few weeks. The townsfolk were spooked, even more so when a child had been nailed to a tree with three dead crows at her feet just last week. Animals being ritualistically killed had put terror into peoples hearts but last week the Wilkinson’s daughter… Keith had not seen the body of the child himself but the description gave him shivers.
“The times are black friend, I know but the road is safe. Leave tonight please” Garret rose and moved to the wash bin to rinse his bowl, both his daughters rose with him and began rinsing their bowls. Garret turned, a distraught look on his face “Please, I have a lantern and Thany is a good horse, light on the touch”
Keith was baffled, they all knew it may be a demon in their lands, no one wanted to risk the night until the townsfolk could afford a demon hunter! They had to defend themselves by being diligent and not stupid!
“Tell me what is going on! You’ve been acting like a skittish cat, snapping at me and your daughters! Forcing me to leave after nightfall with no explanation and why you have injuries…” Garret tried to interrupt, but even old as Keith was, he was as strong as when he was in his prime. Keith pinned Garret to the wall “I’ve said nothing! Even when asked where your bruises and cuts come from but you will be straight with me now!”
“Let go of me now…” Garret growled out but inside he was shocked Keith had him pinned to the wall! He was always so kind and passive!
“No! Tell me Garret! There are people speaking about an inquisition of you… you know what that means. Demon hunters be damned! An inquisitor will torture you and your daughters and you know it! They care not for truth, they ‘project’ protection by their interrogating and the people feel ‘safe’… do you want that for you and your daughters? Being an outsider, it will be easy to convict you…”
“I cannot, please, you must leave now!” Garret summoned his strength and shoved Keith away, tears streaming down his face as he drew his knife…
“Garret! This is madness!”
“Don’t make me do this Keith! I beg you leave now before it gets any later!”
Keith may be strong as any man in their prime but he was no fighter, based on the stories Garret had told him, Garret was an exceptional fighter… fear, anger, resentment and deep sadness in his heart Keith walked out of the cabin.
Moving quickly to the barn where the draft horses were kept vowing to never return, he alone had kept Garret from being indicted by the townsfolk putting his own reputation on the line to do it! He didn’t even bother with a saddle because through the anger and resentment fear came through like a black cloud, he needed to get to town quickly. Jumping onto Thany’s back he kicked her into motion quickly exiting the barn.
Not far from the cabin, Keith heard a screech, an inhuman screech and it came from the direction of the cabin. He pulled hard on the mane of Thany’s almost throwing him from the horses back as she reared. Once Thany’s settled, he held his breath and listened. Another screech and Thany’s reared again and bolted through the woods. Not far into the woods, he struck a branch and was knocked from the horses back, slamming hard onto his back knocking the breath from him.
The darkness seemed different, almost tangible as Keith came too. He lay as still as possible on the ground, a gurgling sound and a growl nearby put his heart into his throat… afraid to even turn his head. A tickle in his throat, involuntarily he coughed and suddenly there was a strange light, it seemed like fire from a torch but the flame seemed hollow, as if the fire was muted but the flame still burned! In the darkness next to the torch was Garrets face, blood dripping down his cheek from a shallow cut. The gurgling continued as Garret approached.
“I told you to leave!” Garret whispered
“What, how…?” Was all Keith could think to say.
“Damn fool, she is here and if we survive I’ll tell you the truth but you must do as I say! Or I’ll kill you here and now”
The look in Garrets eyes… Keith couldn’t respond, he nodded and Garret helped him up. Dizzy, he swayed but Garret kept him steady while moving forward… towards the gurgling… the light of the unnatural torch reached the sound.
“Quiet! No talking” Garret whispered harshly and yanked Keith along.
It was Pauline, a young woman from town… with her robin blue dress soaked in a dark liquid, a liquid Keith knew was blood. Her neck had been cut four times, each across her neck as if a taloned animal had slashed her throat and the blood bubbled as breath was still coming out. Her chest had been crushed, almost as if a horse had stepped on her. How she still breathed he did not know, in a daze, head throbbing from the fall, the metallic smell of blood… Keith fell away from Garret and vomited.
“Quickly now” Garret spoke with no emotion! Who was this man? It seemed Keith did not know him at all…
Keith stood and Garret pulled him along, the hollow flame not seeming to bother Garret at all. As they travelled, he tried to concentrate on the ground but his eyes kept straying to the flame… it dawned on him that there was no heat!
“Garret what is that flame!” Keith yanked his arm from Garret and stumbled away.
“Last warning Keith, keep your mouth shut or I’ll cut your throat here. Might keep her away for awhile with your blood…” Garret smiled wickedly.
Keith looked down and noticed a strange sword in Garret’s hand… slick with blood. Fear is a powerful motivator, maybe it was better to die and not know but he was not ready to die. He nodded not trusting his voice nor wanting to be cut by that strange sword.
Mindlessly he followed Garret, sometimes stopping and waiting for what he knew not but eventually his thoughts gained some clarity. Where were his daughters? They had been exceptionally subdued tonight at dinner. Why had Pauline been this far out of town? Had Garret killed Pauline? A sick feeling filled him not wanting to follow that line of thought, he didn’t want to admit Garret might be enthralled by a demon. Enthralling was an old wives tale but many old men, sitting around the fire at the tavern gossiped of strange doings of men and women from other lands and it fit they may have been enthralled.
Suddenly Garret stopped and shoved Keith to his knees behind a bush “Stay here, don’t move” in a whisper barely audible and before Keith could even nod in response Garret had moved away in the darkness. Beyond the bush was a small clearing, though there were no lights, not even a moon, he knew this was the field the cabin was in. Barely a silhouette of the cabin could be seen against the backdrop of the woods and suddenly a screech, closer now! It came from behind the cabin somewhere! Keith shifted his position ready to bolt away from the cabin, he cared not for Garret or his daughters, he was terrified!
He turned to leave and behind him was one of the twins. She looked exceptionally pale and seemed frozen as she stared at him, head slightly down, blonde hair framing her face… he knew this was Uriel as her twin had raven black hair… she huffed and growled like an animal all the while not moving a muscle. Keith was frozen in morbid terror, the growling… he had heard in the woods where Pauline was…
The roar of man came from behind Uriel and a sword slashed towards her neck! Uriel moved with unnatural speed, dodging the sword! She hissed, teeth bared on all fours and still Keith could not move, he had no control over his body!
“Run to the cabin Keith! NOW!” Garret screamed at him, this snapped him out of his fear and he bolted towards the cabin, heart beating so rapidly his chest ached. She was a demon! How could this be?! She was so human looking! Enthrallment didn’t change a human to a demon! Keith stumbled up the stairs to the cabin, fumbled with the door and fell inside…
Teresa was isnide the cabin, the black haired twin. Laying on his belly from where he fell, Keith could not move… was she a demon? She did not strike fear in his heart as her sister Uriel had…
Teresa had been kneeling on the floor in the middle of the kitchen, she slowly rose and moved around Keith to close the cabin door. He closed his eyes and prayed silently to gods he did not believe in. Before him, where the table had been was a pentagram drawn with blood, candles at each point and three ravens at the pinnacle of the pentagram. Clusters of candles at various points around the room with herbs surrounding them and the furniture there only hours prior gone…
“Are you…? A demon?” Keith opened his eyes and asked in a raspy voice, so dry was his throat! The smell of death heavy on the air, it clogged his throat!
“Be calm, stay quiet. Go sit in that corner” Teresa pointed to the corner of the kitchen near the fireplace, farthest from the door… not that it would protect him but Keith was overwhelmed with fear, he got up and quickly moved to the corner of the room as a human shriek came from outside and a man’s yell! He collapsed into the corner, putting his head into his hands and quietly cried.
He did not see Teresa make a shallow cut with her ritual knife on each palm, speaking quickly in a language Keith did not recognize she placed her palms on the floor in front of the door, under the windows and as Keith raised his head he saw her finish the ritual by pressing her palms together and causing blood to drip into the middle of the pentagram.
Bang! Craaaaack! The door shuddered as something slammed into it, a crooning voice came from the other side, seductive and alluring but not human like at all! Keith looked over to Teresa, she stood in the middle of pentagram, blood still dripping down her palms with the knife clasped tightly in her left hand and another object in her right hand he could not see.
The front door exploded inward, shards of wood clattering against the floor and walls, hitting Keith and Teresa but the twin girl had not moved. Keith cowered even more, trying to push himself further into the wall… what he saw in the doorway loosened his bladder, pissing himself and shaking violently as a woman with pale white skin stood in the doorway, her bony hand with black talons holding a semi conscious Garret by the neck as if she had been dragging him. She wore a strange dress, like nightclothes but with an odd V shape neck going down her sternum exposing bulging bones that looked ribbed. Her face was gaunt and bony, with black eyes and a mouth that looked ripped at the corners… rows of razor sharp teeth in her feral grin.
“Darling” came the guttural, feminine voice as she looked straight at Teresa. Her voice seemed to be everywhere, ethereal as Keith could only watch. Suddenly the window on the other side of the room exploded in and too fast to see a creature shot through the window towards Teresa in the middle of the room! The black haired twin had not broken eye contact with the strange demon woman in the doorway until the window exploded, she turned quickly and held the object in her hand, an orb with shiny objects imbedded into it that was solid black in the direction of the creature. It glowed suddenly, this orb in Teresa’s hand! A light similar to the hollow torch light Keith had seen earlier with Garret yet it was almost black!
The creature halted midair and it was Uriel! Her entire chest was covered in blood from a deep and wide wound on her shoulder, white bone sticking out but her face was like an animal! She growled, then howled! Keith covered his ears but could not close his eyes!
“Tsk tsk daughter, you know the blood will stop you” the demon child Uriel ignored the demon mother and continued to growl at her twin… Keith was not sure they were twins or even related anymore, they were certainly not identical but if Uriel was a demon spawned child… what was Teresa? What did Garret have to do with all this? What was going on! Keith had not moved, sitting in a puddle of his own urine, he had been ignored so far and did not want that to change!
Garret moved and moaned, reaching up for the taloned hand grasping his neck “Let her go, please” he spoke to the demon woman with a strange familiarity.
“Beloved, you will die this night” the demon woman looked down at Garret, her grin widening as her mouth opened more splitting her face!
“Lori please, I was wrong but do not punish her! Kill me! Not her!” Garret begged, he seemed to gain some strength and tried to struggled but to Keith it seemed as if the man was held by an iron grasp.
A light was gathering around Teresa, it began to pulse and both demon woman and child began to screech, inhuman screeches that seem to rip Keith’s head apart! Just as a hollow black light, pulsing from Teresa exploded outward, Garret was flung in front of the demon woman just as Uriel seemed to move towards her twin… almost in slow motion… and was suddenly flung over Teresa and collided with Keith as they both were launched with a force like being kicked by ten horses. The wall exploded outward behind them as Keith and the twin Uriel were hurtled into the field behind the cabin. Lori, the demon woman slashed Garrets neck spraying blood in front of her just as the wave of light hit her and she was incinerated into ash as Garret dropped lifelessly to the ground… blood pooling quickly around him.
Keith began to lose consciousness, his vision blurry as he tried to focus because he had once again hit his head. Teresa had buckled in on herself, holding her shoulder… something dark dampened her back… something rustled next to Keith… Uriel… half the skin on her face was missing, bones bright white in the dark night and blood dripping now from two wounds. She shrieked and ran away, on all fours… darkness, Kieth tried to remain conscious but eventually the world went black and thoughts ended.
“Two days later Matlock and a few others came to the cabin, found me and took me back to town. I have never told the true story, maybe what plagues us is the demon child, maybe she lived even though her wounds… she should have died. I do not know but a candle burns now, in the cabin madam.” Keith gulped down the last of his ale.
“Madam, why have none come until you? We have been begging for one of… your kind for years… why…” the man who spoke, whispered but the tavern was so deathly quiet that his utterance was louder than normal.
Talisia stood, adjusted her cloak and belted sword… pausing for a moment to look at Keith… then drew her sword. Keith gasped!
“That sword! How do you… how could you…” unable to even finish! He had seen that sword in the hands of Garret, it had a strange silvery glow, the blade edged like waves of water.
“She is no child but my sister. You wish to know why none have heeded your summons? Though we half breeds can fight demons, a blood connection makes us more powerful and resistant to their magic. I was on a mission in another land for a few years and when I returned it took me many months to heal. I am the twin, Uriel my sister was a full blooded demon and I was human. Twins yes but with heritages quite different. Uriel bit me and I lived, half breeds are not born but bitten; if we survive. That is why there are so few of us” Talisia watched the crowd around her and all the emotions evident on these human faces, she smirked at their reactions.
“You can’t be her! You are too old and I would know! What trickery is this?!” Keith yelled at the woman, he no longer feared her, this could not be true! He had seen the twin girls!
“I am Teresa. I came to avenge my father and kill my sister, a demons bite changes you old man but I remember you in the corner of the kitchen in a puddle of your own piss” Talisia paused, looked around and smiled. “The candle is an invite, she is still my blood and sensed me when I came into the town. I will avenge those killed and sate my own vengeance” Talisia fingered the skull clasp at her throat with its black diamond eyes, it pulsed slightly with a dark hollow light and then vanished! She winked at Keith’s astonishment.
Talisia, the girl bitten by a demon who was named Teresa, left the shocked townsfolk in the tavern with the fire roaring in the background to confront her sister.
About the author
I love stories and my passion is writing.
I am currently working on an epic fantasy book, I have posted the prologue and first chapter to gauge the reaction, so I would love feed back!
I will continue to post short stories, enjoy!