Pact with an Ancient



She paused at the edge of the glade, her heart sinking, pounding. Only on a night like this would such a manifestation appear. She took a few steps out of the safety of the trees, grass scratching at her ankles.

There hadn’t really been much choice to begin with but to come.

A breeze rustled the leaves of the trees and the grass joined the whisper. She could make out the words.

so you have come complete what we have demanded very good

She stopped in the middle of clearing. She closed her eyes, turning her face toward the rising moon.

yes very good indeed are you ready then

Yes.” She stood straighter, but kept her eyes shut.

The rustling condensed in sound around her and the moonlight darkened. What felt like branches and leaves caressed her cheeks. Still, her eyes were closed.

Good.” The voice sounded stronger than before. “Then go ahead. Open your eyes to my splendor.”

She opened her eyes. A hunched shape towered over her. Long branchlike antlers sprouted from its head, and its limbs were grotesque, twisted trunks: thick and corded. Despite its visage, she smiled.

Its face groaned and creaked into a grimace she supposed was a smile. It reached a vine-like hand toward her and cupped her face. The rich smell of loam and leaves filled her head. Slowly, its bark-crusted face grew larger until it filled her vision.

A reedy tongue flitted into her mouth. She hadn’t been prepared for this, but held still by force of will. The magic of the forest surged around her. Green light filled her mind.

Slowly, the reed receded. The figure shambled back into the gloom of the trees, but continued to face her, its eyes glowing blue now.

The moon held court high in the sky. Running back from where she came, she tugged on the green light linking her to the forest’s magic. With this power, she would be able to save her daughter, even the village. If this pact didn’t kill her, then those who hated the Ancients would ensure she died. A fair transaction, no matter what.

 

K. Andrew Turner writes literary and speculative fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. He teaches and mentors creative writers near Los Angeles, where he lives, works, and writes in the San Gabriel Valley. He is the Editor-in-Chief of East Jasmine Review and a freelance editor. You can find more at his website: www.kandrewturner.com

 

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