Phantom of the damned. (First draft, unedited.)

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The reluctant hunter.


“I’m pleased that you have responded to my invitation.” The arena master grins, swirling his cup of moon shine.

Invitation? I glance over my shoulder, to the men behind me.

My “invitation” had been more of a escort, than anything else.

One was not simply invited to the arena. If the master called, you came.

My irritation bubbles just under the surface.

Yes, he is the arena master.

But I am a hunter.

The hunter, if I am to boast.

My skills are known throughout the Island, and all who know of me. Know that I am not one to be ordered around.

But I played along all the same.

Curiosity, and no small amount of necessity, winning out, over my prudence.

“Cut the pleasantries, Favion, I haven’t the time, nor patience for formality. So if it’s all the same to you, get to the damn point.” My tone leaves no room for argument.

Favion’s eyes narrow, his lips twisting into an aggravated pout.

“I respect you as a hunter, Kane. But make no mistake in fancying yourself as anything other than that. By treaty, I am the law. And I’ll not hesitate to track down that mother of yours, and throw her in the next culling, if you continue your lip service.” He smiles, his teeth too white, matching his sickly complexion.

I imagine that much evil packed into one man, would cause some vanity issues.

“You keep my mother our of this, I’ve come when summoned, just as I always have.” I growl. Cursing the day he’d discovered my weakness.

I’d been reduced to little more than a lap dog in the years since.

“Gladly, so long as you cooperate, and fulfill your next mission, without fail.” Taking a deep swig from his drink, he smacks his lips with a loud, “ahh.”

Reigning in my temper, I speak through clenched jaws.

“And what is my mission, exactly.” I lean forward, my palms splayed on his desk, the nicest piece of furniture in this wretched, stone office.

The cool damp air curdles my stomach.

Enclosed spaces are not my thing. And I’m ready to, Get. The. Hell. Out. Of. Here.

Favion’s eyes light up in a disturbing way, that suddenly makes me regret asking.

“You, my dear boy. Shall find my daughter and bring her back to me.”

“Daughter? I wasn’t aware that you and Lyla had conceived a child together.” I quirk a brow at him.

A shadow passes his face, but he quickly shakes it away.

“Yes well. Unforeseeable events took place, and she was taken from me. Spirited away by that damned, Haygarth.”

Haygarth? If the child was with her, I doubt there will be much left to return.

“Ah, I see now. You need me because of my imperviousness to magic. Am I correct?” Of course that is why he called for me, rather than send one of his other lackeys.

“Sharp as ever, Kane. But that is not the only reason.
It has been years since she was taken. I imagine she has grown into a fine young wican, just as her mother. I don’t trust my other men to bring her back to me... intact. If you catch my meaning. And well, it’s no secret that you are unable to... stand to attention.” His eyes twinkle with mirth.

Ha, not like I’m not used to it by now.

My blessing, also doubles as my curse.

Magic may hold no power over me.

But all things must be balanced. And Fate is a cruel mistress.

It was obvious early on in my teenage years, that wrapped in my inability to be harmed by Magic, was also impotence.

Unfortunately, my condition, hadn’t dampened my lust. Hence my perpetual shit attitude.

“Bring her back. Don’t fuck her. Got it.” I fight the urge to roll my eyes.

“Exactly, should be a walk in the park for one of your skill. I expect nothing less than perfection from you. And as always, I will compensate your troubles, handsomely.” He picked at stray piece of lunch, clinging to his teeth. Seemingly done with our conversation.

“I’ll be going then.” I nod, stepping back towards the door.

His only answer is a noncommittal, wave of his hand.

Making my way out of the favion’s office and it’s confined walls, is always the worst part about coming here. Because I have no choice, other than to pass Lyla’s cell.

Over the years since I came to be “employed” by Favion. I’ve watched Lyla’s soul slowly wither.

She had already been a hollow, if not still beautiful, woman, when we first met.

Her hands stretched through the grate, reaching for me, spouting nonsense as she did.

“Your blood resonates with magic. You are the only one who can help...Help her!” She cried.

As a young man of only fifteen, her words had registered no higher than that of a deranged, abused, wife.

And no matter how I yearned to help her.

I was in no better of a position. The difference, being my prison, had no walls.

Ten years have passed since that day. And every visit after, lyla would repeat her plea. But today, she was silent.

Curious —a trait that I have no doubt will be the death of me, one day— I step closer to her cell, and peer inside.

In the corner, curled so small, she barely looks grown. Lyla sits, rocking.

Her long hair, unbrushed, and wildly long, surrounds her pale face, like a veil. With only her thin, quivering lips visible.

“Lyla?” Her name leaves my lips before I can think better of it.

Her head snaps to me, and she’s at the cell door before I can react. Her cold, bony hands, grip my grey blazer.

“You...Must... Help....Her... please.” Her speech is broken, halting it delivery. Her vocal cords sound torn.

And my suspicion is confirmed at the bruising around her, too slender neck.

I growl, yanking myself away from her.

Her pleas finally make sense, partly at least.

She’d been begging me to save her daughter all this time.

But why me?

Human, and not to mention, employed by her husband. I can’t picture myself being her, pick of the crop, in assisting her.

Ignoring her strained crys, I turn and leave the woman behind me.

It doesn’t set right, but I can’t allow myself to be bothered with the pain of others.

My own mother is favion’s collateral. And I will not allow myself to be swayed by an imprisoned wican.

Her kind, are no friend to mine, anyways.

Though I do wonder for a moment, how the wicans may react if they knew their peace offering, was being treated worse than stock.

On second thought, however, I can’t imagine them caring much. They are a vile, wicked race, wrapped in magic and deceit. So one of their own being sacrificed for this so called “peace treaty.” was likely of little consequence.

Lyla’s daughter...I wonder if she will look like her mother, as her father hopes.

A part of me prays that she does not.

That she is ugly and talentless.

An eyesore to the Arena master’s image.

That would really get his panties in a twist.

A wicked grin splits my face.

Wouldn’t that just be, poetic?

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