Cloak & Dagger Author: Michel Lee King Genre: Fantasy
A demonic howl rips through the air. Panicked voices call out. Women race through the fields to the sanctuary of their walled village. The wolf howls again. Men barricade the entrance, daughters are wrapped in the protective arms of their mothers. Sons race to assist their fathers. It is a scene I've seen many times. Heard many times. Caused many times. Their fear does nothing for me. I'm not here for them. I am here for the one they harbor, the one they protect. The harpy in maiden's clothing. I am here for the one who changed me. She stole my life, my husband, my future, my sanity. Now with the wolf inside I will find her. I will shred her. That harpy will never fly again. My name is Ashleigh. I am the big bad wolf. And I am here for Rosamund.
The sun rose languid over a desolate land. Scrubby trees stood at sparse intervals throughout the woodland. Their pathetic limbs scrabbling for the few rays of clear sunshine making it through a perpetual blanket of thin clouds. They ringed our valley, presenting a wooden barrier at the edge of our fields. Their brethren stood stripped and bare, spiked and roped together around the village, an impenetrable wall of twigs. High above, the jagged peaks of the Carpathian Mountains looked down on us, waiting to unleash ancient evils from its cliffs. Everything about that land appeared masked in a veil, obscured by a constant fog more smoke than mist. Mysteries and the mysterious played through the everyday. Plagued by nightmares at all times, we were a people bereft of hope or happiness. We children did not run and play as we were meant, instead we bent to our tasks staying near the parent we were obliged to mimic. Bend, cut, throw, heft, carry, do not get left behind. I trailed after Mother in the fields, a bundle of decrepit wheat bouncing at odds with my mood in my arms. My only present from my father, a too big leather cloak stained red, kept the wind off my back. A wolf’s call rent the air. Not the yip of a normal, average, livestock-devouring creature. But the howl of the hungry demon, of a soul stealing devil who took from maidens their essence and left a flame of hell in their bodies. We ran. The crimson leather flashed in the mist like some morbid omen as it tugged on my neck slowing me down. The blacksmith’s eldest daughter tripped in a gopher hole, yelping in pain. I rushed to her side pulling with all the strength I could muster at ten years old. Fur flashed between the trees, glowing orange eyes tracking us as it weaved closer, and closer. The sturdy woman beneath me lurched backward as her foot popped free of the hole. She hoisted me up by the cloak and shoved. “Run, Ashleigh!” We raced through the fields back to the safety of our village, feeling the monster stalking behind us. We crossed the painted and carved totems and symbols still maroon with dried blood thinking ourselves safe from evil. Talismans were meant to protect, sacrifices would stave off the beast’s bloodlust. Or so we thought, and we had slaughtered a fair few of our sick and weak kinsmen in those deluded hopes. Men in leather and wool urged us deeper into the village. My mother helped them slam the heavy door closed and hold it. I ran into my father’s arms, the customary crinkle at the edges of his blue eyes tight and fierce. “Do not fear, my Ashleigh.” His voice, a soft tenor thick with our Hungarian accent, set a soothing balm across my frenzied nerves. He gave me a tight squeeze before shoving me toward Mother. “Miriam, get her inside and barricade the door.”
I drink copious amounts of coffee while writing light and dark fiction. It is an obsession of mine (both coffee and writing). I love to create different world people can delve into. Whether set in our world or a fantasy, I love to push my characters through experiences that most of us can relate to. We’ve all been embarrassed by our own actions. We’ve all had those moments you wish you could take back. We’ve all had the “naked on the first day of school” dream. Our idiosyncrasies are what make us human. And, I love to force those traits on my characters to see how they cope with them. I live in western Washington state in the shadow of Mount Rainier with my husband, son, dog, and the cat that adopted us and refuses to leave. When not writing, I can be found in a library, in the woods, or reading next to the fire. I am a raging introvert, but I can be found on social media through: Facebook - King.Michel.Lee Twitter - @Michel_Lee_King My website- http://www.MichelLeeKing.com