Category: Spirits

Never Angela

Galen landed almost gracefully on the roof of a building. He knew he was in another realm. A mage had summoned him – to use his powers once and then release him without sending him home. The man had given him a physical form – one that was basically like unto his own. Unlike his natural form, his wings would not disappear if he willed them away. The hair and eyes were also fairer and he seemed to emit a sort of glow.

A rather young man in a flowing robe looked up in wonder as he landed and their eyes met. “An angel?” the man whispered.

The young gryphon spirit had no idea what an angel was but he didn’t want to stick around to find out. People were approaching the young man from three different alleys. “Look out,” Galen called back before he flew away.

He didn’t stop to see if the young man was alright. He had sensed – for just a moment – the opening of a portal to his home world. He would be able to get home through it. He would shed the borrowed form and return to his natural one.

The warning was enough that the young man was able to flee just a step ahead of his pursuers. He ran down the only alley they were not approaching from. Of course it was a dead end. He leapt up to catch the bottom rung of a metal trellis. One of the witch catchers stabbed his foot just before he swung it up to reach the base of the trellis. He climbed over and swung back down. Was the being an angel? It had saved his life; there was no doubt. He glanced back at the roof he’d seen the being on but it was empty. He sighed and limped off toward the Underground.


Roses Are Red

Roses are red, violets are blue
You know how this goes,
But it’s not any less true.

Tindara sighed. Tonight was the full moon, when people of their region traditionally declared their love by the silvery light. She wondered how many platitudes would be exchanged. She wondered how many of those who declared their love would be finding someone new by the next month.

She glanced toward the other captain and smiled slightly. He would not be the kind of person to blithely give his heart away. If he ever declared his love by the glow of a full moon, she was sure that he would mean the words.

A jealous part of her wanted those words to be hers. A more reasonable part told her that Galen’s heart was his own to give. The only way he would give it to her was if he learned how she felt and they began a relationship. She stepped up to him and her smile broadened. “Would you like to join me for some tea?” she invited.

“Sure,” he replied, his voice soft and uncertain. It was a step in what Tindara hoped was the right direction.

Two Meters of Snow Without a Shovel

Myka looked around them, careful not to make eye contact with any of the wolves. They seemed unaware of the presence of the stagsmen in the thicket. “Captain, they have us surrounded,” she hissed.

“Yeah, but they don’t know that,” Galen hissed back. “If we’re careful, we might be able to sneak away before they realize we’re even here. There’s too many of them for us to fight.”

“There’s a saying for this situation,” Diamonto murmured. Galen frowned and shook his head. The other stagsman had a saying for every situation. They were never common ones either. He seemed to make them up on the spot. Heedless to his captain’s ire, he continued, “Stuck in two meters of snow without a shovel.”

“Up the creek without a paddle,” Galen murmured. “We’re not. Follow me.” He ducked beneath the heavy growth and led the way out of their hiding place toward the main road. Hidden by the plants and downwind from the wolves, they weren’t likely to be found. The message would get through, he was sure of it.

I (Don’t) Hate You

Galen sighed as his eyes met Adrien’s. As always the older captain scowled at him. He bit his lip and focused his attention on the commander. In the past year since he’d become captain of the stag division, he’d gotten used to the idiosyncrasies of most of the captains. The only thing he still couldn’t get used to was the quail division captain’s intense hatred of him. He had never done anything to the man, so where did the negative feelings come from?

“The wolf masters seem to be the ones responsible for both the organization of the wolves and the difficulties in communication,” Captain Xylander said softly. “We still don’t know how they’re disrupting communications, though.”

Galen stepped forward and waved a hand. When the commander nodded at him he said, “We think it might be a result of how they communicate with the wolves. The two spells cross each other and cause disruptions. The wolves might be having as much difficulty as we have been. We’ve noticed that when there are a lot of us in a given area, and our communication is more stable, they seem less organized.”

“That makes a certain amount of sense,” Commander Kokinos said softly. “Perhaps if we can boost the energy behind our communications we can break through the disruptions and give them trouble; like they’ve been giving us.”

“We’re working on just that, sir,” Galen replied. He bowed and stepped back. A brief glance at Adrien showed a surprised expression that was quickly hidden behind one of bland disdain.

It wasn’t long before the meeting was adjourned and the captains began to disperse. Stealing himself, Galen approached the older man as he spoke with Captain Sideros. “Excuse me,” he murmured.

“Yes,” Adrien said coolly.

Galen looked down and then, meeting the man’s eyes said, “Why do you hate me?”

Adrien blinked in shock and replied, in his usual cool voice, “You are a child. You aren’t ready for the responsibility that comes with a captaincy.”

“I didn’t ask for all our officers to be killed,” Galen snapped before he spun on his heel and stalked out of the room.

Philart frowned at Adrien and shook his head. “You don’t hate him,” he snapped. “Why do you let him think you do?”

“It’s better for him to think I hate him than to think I pity him,” Adrien said softly. “Given opposition people rise to the occasion. Given pity, they sink.” His shoulders twitched in a sort-of half- shrug and he followed the younger out of the room.

How To Laugh Forever

Vasilis smiled as the newest captain entered the room. That Galen was young, there was no doubt. Perhaps Adrien was right and he was too young to be a captain, but in their trying circumstances they couldn’t afford to pass over anyone with the needed skills.

So he smiled at the boy. While Adrien scowled almost menacingly; while Cleta looked on anxiously; while almost a dozen different, distressed looks crossed the faces of his colleagues, Vasilis smiled.

No doubt, his colleagues thought he was daft. He was forgetful, of that there was no doubt. If it weren’t for Kyriakos, he’d forget his captain’s cape at their barracks every day. He’d lose important documents or not fill them out in time. However, propriety and documents were of secondary importance to Vasilis and his lieutenant knew this. The most important thing to the often flaky captain was the happiness of those around him.

Galen looked so frightened, so lost that Vasilis knew that he needed a smile. “Welcome,” he said without hesitation. “I look forward to serving with you as a fellow captain.”

“Thank… thank you,” came the soft reply. It was followed by a hesitant smile. The boy would be fine, Vasilis was sure. He just needed to learn some things.

This Morning I Found a Dream

this morning i found a dream
tangled in a web
overhanging my bed

“What is it?” Galen asked softly as he fiddled with the strange circular item. Feathers dangled from it and crystal beads were woven into its web-like center.

“It’s a dream catcher,” Polibia said. “It’s for Tindara.”

“Why would she want to catch dreams?” Galen asked softly.

“She gets nightmares. The story is that good dreams can get through the webbing but not bad ones. They disappear with the dawn’s light,” Polibia explained.

Galen nodded and turned to look out over the darkening forest that surrounded the compound. “If only all troubles disappeared so easily,” he murmured as the howling of the wolves began.

So Eden Sank to Grief

Philart shook his head as he listened to the lieutenant of the Owl Division describe exactly what they’d found. “What about their older son?” he asked softly. The other baby had died about a year before, when he’d been almost the same age. “Don’t they have an older daughter?”

“They do. She’s a young child still,” he reported. He tilted his head and shrugged. “Perhaps if you get the parents alone, one or the other will…” he trailed off uncertainly.

“Implicate the other,” Philart muttered. He nodded and armed with the evidence, went to question the parents of the dead infant. It was his first solo investigation as well as his first investigation involving a child. He hoped it could be resolved satisfactorily.

Galen woke slowly, to the sound of raised voices. He sat up and looked around, realizing two things very quickly. The first was that he now wore soft flannel pajamas instead of his uniform. The second was that he was not alone in the room.

“Father Carey said that we should give you every hospitality,” the woman said as their eyes met. “But if it’s all the same to you, perhaps it would be better if you left.”

Galen stood and made a small circuit of the room. “Where are my clothes?” he asked finally.

“Laundering,” the woman said shortly.

“If it’s all the same to you, then, I’ll wait until they’re clean. I can’t exactly leave in borrowed pajamas,” Galen said. “Is that Father Carey arguing with someone?”

“Father Carey don’t argue,” the woman corrected. “Them as are butting in where they ought not to be are the ones what are arguing. They’d best not make trouble with the good Father on your account.”

“I’ll endeavor not to be a bother,” Galen promised with a small bow. He settled back on the bed, feeling a little dizzy. “I really need to find a way back to my own realm,” he added as his head cleared.

“Why don’t you rest some more? Martha will get you some soup,” a new voice said. Galen looked up to find the priest who had brought him to the little house standing in the doorway. He smiled at the sour-faced woman and she left.

“I do not think she likes me,” Galen murmured as he settled back against the pillows. “I honestly mean no trouble for you.”

“You’re no trouble. As I said earlier, the mages won’t intrude on the sanctuary of the church. You can rest here as long as you need to.”

Galen settled back on the grass and looked out over the beach. Behind him, the starflowers danced in the wind. In front, the waves lapped rhythmically at the shore. All at once he heard soft footsteps behind him.

He turned slowly toward the sound and was surprised to find Captain Lithanos approaching him. Ribbons held her hair in twin ponytails. Her uniform, like Captain Floros’, was bedecked with lace and ribbons. Unaccountably, he felt his face grow hot.

“Hello, Captain Ceraunos,” she greeted. “May I join you?”

“Of course,” he replied softly. He looked down at his lap and fiddled with the hem of his cape. “I figured I’d be the only one awake at this hour – besides those on watch, that is.”

“I came to gather starflowers,” she said. “The only time that blossom is in the twilight. It’s been weeks since we could actually get out of the compound. I was getting a little… stir-crazy.”

“The commander said no one can remember the wolves being as bad as they have been lately,” Galen murmured. “Maybe it’s because of the influence of the wolf masters. I went from being the lowest officer in my division to being the captain in a matter of years, rather than decades. Sometimes I wonder if I’m ready.”

“You’re doing fine,” Captain Lithanos assured him. “You’re very focused and intelligent and you do have a control over the full release of your sword.” She looked away, toward the blowing starflowers and added, “You aren’t the only recently made captain. Half of us only made captain in the past year and most due to the turmoil caused by the wolves.”

Galen nodded and smiled. “Thanks, Captain Lithanos.”

“Call me Tindara,” she corrected. She stood as he did. “Shall we walk back together?”

“Certainly,” he replied. “You may call me Galen, if you wish.”

She smiled and walked with him back toward the Compound. It might take some time, but she would certainly be able to draw the shy captain out of his shell.

In a Silent Language

Galen watched and waited patiently as the professor explained the objective of the exercise. He knew the man would call on him first. He took great delight in trying to show up his youngest student. All that mattered was that he understood what the man wanted him to do.

“Ceraunos, you’re up first,” the man said, as expected.

Galen bowed and trotted over to the line. He took aim at his target and concentrated on the words to release the spell. Seconds later, a dozen small arrows, one at a time hit the target dead center. He lowered his hand and stepped back, with an expectant look at the professor.

“Well done,” the man said, grudgingly. “Next.”

Galen bowed again and stepped back to where the rest of the class waited. “He wouldn’t hate you so much if you spoke to him,” Elias whispered.

“I’ve tried,” Galen said. Whenever he tried to talk to any of the professors, it was as if his voice was somehow turned off. The only reason he could answer verbal questions in lecture classes was because he focused on the blackboard and not the teacher.

Elias shrugged and murmured, “Your eyes do all the talking you really need in this class anyway.”

Monica Ferris

an author with many hats

A Land of Curiosity

From the files of Shynian Intelligence

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