The Ravening

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Not Gone

“He’s not gone, Zyra. Never gone. But he is broken.”

“Broken?” I breathed. Feeling my whole body shaking again. In disbelief perhaps.

“He cannot live without being attached to a human soul.”

“He doesn’t have you anymore?”

“No, Zyra. He doesn’t.”

“How? But you said-”

“I’ve no idea how it’s possible.” He squeezed my hands. “Or how long it will last. But for a moment, this moment, I’m free.”

It was a strange night. Van held me throughout it.

We made love. The slowest, tenderest lovemaking he’d ever done with me. He truly did touch every part of my body.

And afterward, he tugged me tight against him. Molding my body with his. Curving his legs up to frame behind my knees with his. His arms clinging to my waist and chest as though he couldn’t bear the idea of letting me go.


Good. I don’t want him to.

“Zyra…” He said against my hair. Kissing the top of my head and leaning forward to press his lips to my temple.

He’d built a fire and beyond the firelight I watched the glittering orange and yellow gazes of fey peering through the leaves at us.

Wanting to hurt us and steal our things.

But they sensed the power of another creature, even now. And the fire. I heard the crickets twittering in the dark and nightbirds screeching hungrily.

But I couldn’t sleep. So afraid Sel would return for Van or that the demon might return to claim his body.

What would I do then?

Despite all my fears, I fell asleep just before dawn.

And that must’ve been when he’d gone.

I woke to empty grass and a still raging fire. But I could feel Van’s presence lingering there. Indicating he’d watched over me until first light.

To make sure fey couldn’t get to me.

Then he left me.

Van was gone as soundlessly as he’d come to me.

I closed my eyes and thought that I would feel his touch. But there was nothing. Just the bow and arrows he’d made for me lying on the mossy forest floor near my elbow. And the freshly laid traps in the trees surrounding my caves.

He’s gone. And I felt his absence far more clearly than I’d ever felt his presence.

Everything in me ached. Missing his voice in my ear. His touch.

“Why did you go?” I whispered. Half expecting an answer in my mind.

But none came.

It didn’t matter. I knew why.

Because he doesn’t know when his demon might come back.

And he thinks he’s my dangerous animal…

Days which felt like months passed. And soon Winter came. Coating the forest in a white blanket. Bringing with it the icy frost which made the branches of the skeletal trees look as fuzzy as if they had hair.

The animals became scarcer, yet they still managed to find my traps enough to keep me better fed then any Winter before.

Van taught me how.

And when my traps were less successful, I crouched in the woods with my bow and listened.

Truly listened.

Like he’d taught me to.

And I realized that it’d really only been a few months that Van had been with me. Yet it had seemed like I learned so much.

Now he’s in everything.

Everything I looked at, reminded me of things he said. Even the utter silence made me close my eyes and inhale. Hearing his voice drift in from far away again.

I became an adept hunter. Taking on everything he’d told me he’d done as a hunter. And soon I wore furs heavy enough to keep me adequately warm even on the coldest day.

And tracking became easier. I could spot the tracks, broken branches, stirred leaves in a way I never had.

And that’s how I spotted the track.

It was toward the end of Winter. And it was a human track.

A man’s barefoot.

In the Wintertime.

It was just on the other side of the trees bordering my caves and I knew instantly what man would be barefoot watching me in my cave.

“There you are…” I fingered the track.

I rose from the snowy track beneath my layer of furs. My dark hair coiled around my head beneath a fur hat. But my eyes narrowed on the trees around me.

“You came back to me. You’re not going anywhere I can’t find you now.” I tipped side to side to see far into the woods.

Then I returned to my cave. I gathered my bow and enough setup for a couple traps and put them in a deer’s stomach I had dried into a bag.

If he came back, he was checking on me.

If he came back to check on me, he does love me. I’m still in his thoughts. And that had been all I’d wanted to know.

And I’d needed that track.

Because now I can find him like that buck.

Or the man that aimed for my heart.

“I’m coming for you this time, Van.” I whispered as I set out. Determined to follow those tracks to the end of the world if I had to.

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