BOOK III The Deceiver

Lightning danced through billowing thunderheads above the volcano. A presence brooded in those clouds; its home destroyed in the fiery depths below, it looked for another. The presence would have gnashed its teeth as it boiled up into the blackness of chaos, but it had no form. Hatred blazed where its heart might have been and it held a face in its memory. The face of a thirteen-year-old named Zach.

A home. It must have a home: a thing of substance, an object with which to manipulate and control the puny minds of men. The presence left the cloud and floated above the earth—seeking, sensing, probing the minds below for weakness, for the skills it needed.

The woman sat at her workbench, her fingers playing idly with a ball of wax. On a shelf above her were a variety of figures—gargoyles, vampires, and wizards—all cast in pewter and all sculpted by her skilled hands. She was known for figures of medieval lore. Those who dabbled in the dark world of demons and witchcraft prized her work.

She seldom had a shape in mind as she began sculpting. The wax seemed to form of its own volition. Now, her fingers began shaping an animal. It was thin and hungry looking; it’s eyes curiously alive. Presently, a jackal stood on her worktable looking back at her. She could not look away. Her hands began to tremble as she reached out to touch her creation. “Cast me!” the jackal hissed. “Now!”

Unable to resist the command, she prepared the molding material and cast the figure. Not until the pewter was cooled and removed from the mold was she released from the spell. She moved back from the table and stared at what she’d made. It was immediately recognizable as a jackal, but it was twisted into a grotesquely ugly caricature of the animal. Its mouth was opened in a snarl, its tail tucked under its body. Evil radiated from it. “Give me eyes! Those rubies you bought yesterday. Put them in!”

She took a box from the drawer and opened it to reveal several small red stones. They’d been bought for a client to make eyes for two gargoyles just cast. Other work was forgotten now. Selecting two, she laid them beside the sculpture, picked up a stamping tool, and took the jackal in hand to work. She dropped it again with a cry of pain. It was white hot to the touch and her hand was blistered.

“Pick me up, fool! Give me eyes! I will not burn you a second time.”

She ignored the request and headed for the first aid kit. As she reached for the salve, she glanced at her hand. The blisters were gone, the skin pink and healthy. If not for the throbbing, she could make herself believe the incident had not happened. “I told you I would not burn you again. Give me eyes!”

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About dswan2son

Poet, author, artist, columnist from the heartland of America. Author of The Windfallow Chronicles; Rachel's Daughters and With Heart Divided.
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