The Winter Witch

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~Chapter Four~ Creatures after Dark

Enya and Will spent time going over the strange old book speculating ideas of what some of the pictures could mean since neither of them could read the parts that were written in such an odd language. And from what Will could deter it wasn’t that of the Elven language or even that of the Sidhe, which could also be equally confusing when it came to understand the differences in both languages alone.

Though it was the artwork that had been drawn in such detail, making it look as though such artwork could jump off the very pages that they came from. Of monsters made of darkness and shadow with eyes that glowed red like fire. Even though they were only drawings Enya couldn’t help but feel warry of them.

For these were called Grau-Böse, often simply called the Grau for short. They could appear in many different forms, some even human shaped and looked to be both rather formidable and dangerous. Enya had heard stories of such creatures from her parents, and even though there were those who did not believe in magic, those people had no choice but to believe in these monsters for they weren’t afraid to make their presents known to humans when attacking.

It was why so many would refuse to leave their homes at night, and why Enya’s parents had always told her to never go out when the sun set. Lest she wished to be attacked by such formidable creatures.

But what held Will’s attention the most were the people fighting back, those who seemed to have their own form of magic that did not rely on any of the elements but the sole power of their very soul. At least from what they could tell. Some of the drawings depicted of these people where some had markings inscribed on their skin to control their power.

Yet there didn’t seem to be any other forms of information on these kinds of people besides the ones in this old book.

A lot of this new information made Enya’s head spin, but in truth all that they could really do was speculate, since they were only children no one would take them for their word or that of a strange book that an unknown man was more than willing to part with. The strongest hypothesis that they did have was that someone who could control the elements, and ultimately the season of winter itself, was making the snow fall from the top of the mountain. But as for the reason behind it that was left unknown.

The sun had begun to set making Enya realize just how much time had truly passed. “I need to return home.” she told him. “Before it gets dark and the temperature drops.”

“You could stay for the night,” Will offered.

Enya merely shook her head and gave a slight smile. “Thank you, but I’d rather not bother you any further. At some point, I’d like to look over this book again if that’s okay. Maybe we can find someone who can translate the language.”

He nodded in agreement as he placed the book back inside the wooden box. “That would be something, but would anyone be willing to even help?”

“All we can do is ask and see.” Enya said as she put on her coat, as Roux suddenly rose up, ears twitching as his golden gaze went to the window followed with an aggravated snarl. Enya frowned and went to the window only to see in shock of what was happening behind the church before turning and running out of Will’s room with the fox quickly following pursuit.

“Enya?” Will called after as he hid the book back under his bed and followed the two to the back of the church were a number of older boys were hassling another, throwing him to the snow-covered ground and laughing.

“Hey!” Enya shouted at the three boys drawing their attention to her. “Leave him alone!”

The three older boys stopped what they were doing and looked to Enya, the biggest one, who was also the oldest of the three, gave an arrogant smirk when he saw her.

“Well if it isn’t Fox Girl, what are you doing here Fox Girl? I thought you left school because you were too stupid.”

The boy in question was Edward, and his two younger brothers Thomas and Jacob, the three of them were the nephews of the Mayor’s wife. They always ran around acting like they owned everything, never caring if they hurt someone in the process. It was something that Enya couldn’t stand for and would often get into fights with them because of it. And it was the main reason her parents took Enya out of Bartholomew’s school since the teacher almost seemed okay with turning a blind eye, afraid that the boy’s might turn to their aunt and demand that the school be closed.

Enya’s gaze then fell to the blond boy that was lying in the snow, soon realizing that it was the same boy that she had seen earlier that day at the hospital. He looked to have further injuries then before, he also seemed to be using his own bruised body to shield something from the three older bullies. Protecting it as if it meant his life.

She glared at Edward. “Why are you doing that to him?” she demanded.

“Why?” Edward laughed before kicking the boy as hard as he possibly could. “Because he ruined our fun! We go to all that trouble to catch that stupid thing and he gets all high and mighty about it. It’s nothing but a bug!” he kicked him again.

Thomas and Jacob then follow suit and begin kicking the boy as well.

“Stop it!” Enya shouted as she rushed to help the boy only Edward was much bigger and stuck her with the back of his hand before she could even get close.

“And what do you think you can do to stop me?” He laughed as Enya fell into the snow. “You’re nothing but some scrawny brat who talks to animals like they’re people.” he then grabbed Enya by her coat. “You can’t do a thing to me.”

In that moment Roux leaped at Edward. Fangs and claws bared as he let out an enraged snarl causing the boy to move back in fear letting Enya go only to fall face first on the ground when the boy kicked Edward hard in the back of the knee.

The other two let out a yelp of fright as the fox growled circling around Enya, his ears lay back as his fur stuck up on end as he glared at them in a silent warning.

“You stupid fox!” Edward roared as he went to lunge at the girl and the fox, only to fall once more when Will slammed his own body into the thick lad.

“William!” Enya couldn’t help but say with surprise as the Will now struggled with Edward in the snow and dirt. But her concern then turned to the other boy who had now grasped her wrist and shoved a medium sized jar into her hands.

“Run,” the blond boy demanded in panting breath. “Hide it and run back home. Now!”

“Go Enya!” Will proclaimed. “Go!”

With slight hesitation her expression turned stern as she took the unknown jaw from the boy and hid it within her basket and ran, just as she had begun she clearly heard Bartholomew shout. “What is the meaning of this? Stop fighting this instant!” but Enya kept going, running through the heavy snow until she ran out of breath.

When she was far enough, Enya collapsed against a tree as she tried to catch her breath, her heart thundering loudly in her ears as her lungs and legs burned from running. When she relaxed Enya looked into her basket to the jar that the boy had forcefully given her and to her shock and surprise what she saw was something she just couldn’t believe what she was seeing.

For within the jar was a Sidhe, one of the fairy-folk, thin and frail. Looking no taller than a spoon with wings shaped like a butterfly and translucent like a dragonfly. The creature looked like a flower come to life with it’s light green skin and light pink hair done up in a bun as the dress seemed to be a pink flower itself fussed to the skin.

Edward must have trapped and tormented this poor being as a way for sick amusement. And that the boy that Enya had met briefly before was only trying to protect it from harm. New found anger and rage directed towards Edward came leaving a bitter taste in her mouth.

How could one being do this so easily to another?

Though that was a question that Enya would always ask herself when one person would easily hurt another for their own enjoyment. It was one of the reasons why she did didn’t like bullies but then she never knew anyone who did like bullies in the first place.

Roux let out a whine as he propped his head on her legs and stared up at her almost worriedly as if he thought that she wouldn’t be okay.

“I’m alright Roux…” she said with slight smile that soon turned into a look of dread, the sun had already slowly faded as the darkness of the night started to envelop everything. With the cabin was still nowhere in sight. Not good.

Fear and worry began to slowly creep its way into her heart; she clutched the basket which now held the unconscious fairy inside.

“We need to hurry.” Enya said to herself as she pushed herself up off the ground and continued forwards up the hill. The temperature dropping as the cold snowy winds began to pick up, making it almost impossible for her see what lay ahead. She knew moving blindly was not a wise decision to do. Enya couldn’t stop where she was, or even go back, not with how far she had come. What’s more, with the small fairy she had hidden in her basket who knows what some of the villagers would say.

She continued forwards, pushing her weight against the barrelling winds that showed no signs of stopping, her eyes squinted as she made through the snow, only stopping every so often to catch her breath as Roux remained close to her side. Even with the freezing winds that whipped passed them he showed no signs of leaving her behind, even though he clearly could with his nimble speed.

Enya couldn’t help but feel extremely grateful to have such a wonderful friend, he wasn’t human, but it didn’t mean that creatures could not care for those who they had made bonds with.

But the darkness of the sky still worried her even when they had reached the last slop of the hill, that feeling of dread would not leave Enya’s skin. They were so close to home now, just a bit away from where they were now and all would be okay.

Until Roux began to growl lowly in his throat, fur spiked and ears lay back as he slowly moved in front of Enya with bared fangs. As the wind slowly began to subside she saw something in the distance, a dark thin creature with burning red sunken eyes and red glowing markings all throughout its thin boney shaped body as if it was burning internally from a fire. It looked like a shadow, but with its long gnarled clawed fingers and the way it swayed showed nothing but horrible intentions. Though it had eyes it had no mouth from what she could see, and thin almost non-existent wisps of hair. Seeing those dark red markings and the black mist that seemed to come off of its body Enya knew exactly what she was looking at.

It was one of the creatures, the Grau-Böse.

Quickly Enya moved towards the treeline, the creature hadn’t seen her yet thankfully. Its sight must have also been hindered by the snow storm giving her what she thought as a chance to get by without being noticed. But it didn’t last long, for as she was just about to pass by the beast let out a low groan, sounding like an elderly injured man, the sound alone sent a chill down Enya’s spine freezing in place. Against her better judgment she looked back to see the thin creature had changed, sharp thin quills protruded from it’s spine, it’s gnarled nails growing long and sharp as it’s jaw unhinged showing a mouth full of razor sharp teeth, while the inside of it’s throat looked like a burning fire that now matched its eyes as it let out an ear-splitting screech before leaping towards the girl and snarling fox.

Enya turned to shield the fairy in her basket as she closed her eyes waiting for the end only to hear the sound of something being cut with the creature letting out one more roar before all Enya could hear then was the wind. Slowly she opened her eyes and found that nothing had happened to her or to Roux.

She received her answer when she looked back to see the Grau-Böse’s black body slowly turning into mist, evaporating into the dark sky. And standing near the fading remains was that of a man holding a sword that glowed with strange symbols etched into the blade.

Enya looked to the man dressed in black, almost the same shade of his hair, his black cloak moving strongly against the wind. Yet at the moment he seemed to pay little attention to her as he continued to look ahead, holding up his left hand and let loose a blast of white light into the sky illuminating the darkness. And what she saw ahead of them made Enya’s blood run cold.

For there were more of the Grau, many taking in various shapes and sizes, some looking more like animals while others had a more human appearance like the first one that Enya had seen. Why were there so many? Was one of the many thoughts that surfaced to Enya’s mind, it was as if these creatures were gathering for something, but for what?

The man then spoke in a strange language, a golden light came from his fingers as he wrote in the air before slashing through the words with his sword, the light scattered hitting the black creatures many of which howled in pain before falling and turning to dust in the wind as the snow storm itself slowly ceased to be. But those who that remained rushed forwards, as did the man. Reacting with such swift reflexes, avoiding their claws but dealing heavy blows with his sword that seemed to cause a great deal of pain for the Grau as with one strike they faded away into black dust taken up by the winter howling winds.

Awestruck, Enya found herself unable to move. That was until he knelt to the ground, grasping at his chest. Reason overcame her sense of awe as she struggled to move towards him, wondering where he might be hurt. When she reached him, she saw him pull out a small vial with a clear dark blue liquid that gave off a faint glow, pulling the cork out with his teeth and proceeding to drink it until it’s contents were gone. He let out several gasps of breath before it slowly eased into steady breaths as the faint glow disappeared all together.

“Are you okay?” she asked as she reached for him, unsure of what she could do to help him if any. Only for the man to tightly grasp her hand in turn as Roux let out a growl of warning, he spoke in his language to the red furred animal which caused the fox to look almost perplexed and sniff the air only to growl again. The man merely gave a faint amused look before turning his eyes on Enya then to the injury to her cheek with a faint frown.

Now as close as they were to one another Enya finally could have a proper look at the one who saved her only to swiftly realize that he was one of the Elven folk. With pointed ears and a striking beauty for a man. It was not the first time she had come across those of the Elves, many she had seen were merely passersby or were half human, the few that she did see reminded her more of a human but this man that knelt before her now gave her the strong impression that he was anything but that.

What held her attention the most was not how he looked but his eyes, his eyes were a deep rich golden orange colour, Enya had never seen such a colour before for someone eyes.

The man frowned faintly when looking upon her then spoke softly as he removed the glove from his left hand and placed it on her bare cheek, to her surprise his touch was warm and it became even warmer as a slight glow started to appear from his hand but soon vanished as it showed. When he moved his hand away Enya touched her cheek to realize that it no longer hurt, had he healed her with magic?

“Thank you.” she said to him as he stood and offered her his hand to get off the snow-covered ground, which she accepted. The Elven man lifted Enya up off the ground with little to no effort then slowly let go of her hand and stepped aside allowing her to continue on her way.

Unsure she began to walk past the man, still reeling over what had just happened only to stop and look back at the Elven man. Did he intend to fight more? Were there more? Why would he risk to do such a thing that could have easily gotten him killed? Yet with just how skilled he seemed to be in the snow she had a feeling that this was not on a simple whim.

Enya looked to him, she knew she had to keep going, but felt like leaving him alone would not be a good idea even given what had just taken place.

But then as if sensing her thoughts Elven man merely stared at her before revealing a kind smile and simply shook his head before looking into the darkness of the forest with a stern yet determined expression, the man didn’t need to speak for Enya to know what was happening.

More of those creatures were indeed coming, he intended to fight them and he wanted no one in the way to be harmed. It bothered her that this man seemed more than willing to fight them alone, but then again seeing the power that he held she had the distinct feeling that he would be alright.

“Be careful!” she called out to him and the man faintly smiled before Enya ran off back towards her home as quick as she could, refusing to look back.

The wind had picked up once again, the snow now pelted her skin like bits of ice nearly stinging her eyes, thankfully thought she did not have to put up with it for long, when she saw the outline of her home Enya internally felt relief and rushed to the door.

Quickly she unlocked it, the harshness of the wind made the door burst open, putting the basket down Enya used all of her might to close the door, bracing her back against the wood as the fox used the entirety of his body to assist, with a bit of time and a whole bunch of effort the door was finally closed and locked. Enya let out a tired groan as she slid to the floor and allowed the warmth of the house to sooth her.

In that moment it made her so very grateful that she kept the fires going in the house so it would be relatively warm on her return. Even though there was no one to greet her. She fought back to tears that threated to fall as a swarm of memories from several months prior enveloped her thoughts. And as she clutched the foxes fur as he pressed himself close to her form comfort she whispered. “Mom… where are you?”

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