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

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Bound to a beast.

Evanora.

Never in my life, have I felt exposed, even in my nakedness.

But this man.

This hunter.

Makes me feel like he can see all my most vulnerable parts.

I glance down at my now covered chest, and blush.

I supposed he had.

But it was more than that.

He awoke something foreign and dangerous within me.

Something I have never felt, at least not to this extent.

Curiosity.

But warring with that, is a deep sense of injustice.

This beast had dragged me from the only home I’d ever known. Intent on taking me somewhere unknown. Even in our destinations mystery, the thought of going with him, chilled my blood.

But no amount of struggling or crying out for Haygarth, had stopped the man from pulling me out of the safety of the canopy, and into a small camp filled with unfamiliar furnishings.

And Haygarth never so much as showed her face as we went.

Entering the camp, he walks me over to a stump, and secures my restraints to it.

“Sit.” He orders in a low voice.

I obey, only because keeping up with his long strides all this way, has worn me out.

He moves around behind me, and I flinch as he pulls down the unfamiliar garment he’d covered me with.

But to my relief, he doesn’t try to repeat his earlier actions. And instead cleans whatever it was that he’d squirted on my back, off of my sensitive skin.

My body reacts, rebelliously at his touch.

A shiver of delight runs through me, leaving me baffled. But I don’t have long to ponder this, as the hunter begins to speak.

“Your hair is too long for our journey. I’m going to cut it, stay still.” He announces after a moment.

Cut.

My.

What?

I jump away from him in alarm, and my precious covering falls off the rest of the way as I do. I count myself lucky in this moment, that my hair is long enough to give me some coverage.

The rope around my wrists bites into my flesh, but I hold in my wince.

There is no way he is cutting anything off of me.

On instinct, I grab my dirty, tangled hair, and pinch it slightly.

As always, there is no feeling to the extremity, aside from a slight sting at my scalp.

But I was not about to risk finding out if cutting it would hurt.

“No.”

“And why is that? C’mer and stop being such a mule, you’ll just slow us down with all that length.” He pinches the bridge of his nose, clearly agitated.

Good.

“First you relive yourself on my back, as if I am some bush to squat behind, and now you wish to remove a part of me? I decline, my tolerance for pain may be high, but Impervious.” I shriek, gaining volume, sounding more delirious by the second.

His eyes shoot up in surprise, likely part in due to the fact that this is the most I’d spoke to him thus far.

“Ok, first,” he begins, rising to his full height, from his squating position. “I did not use the bathroom on you... I...Um... never mind...you’re right, I shouldn’t have done that, I apologize.” He averts his eyes, and I notice a light pink hue to the tips of his ears, peaking out from his tousled hair.

Curious.

“Second, cutting your hair won’t hurt you. It will help, and I’m going to cut it, even if I have to hold you down to do it.” He looks annoyed.

Let him be, I

He folds his arms across his chest and rolls his eyes with a sigh.

“Are you going to sit back down, or are you going to make me come and get you?”

Weighing my options, I decide that I’d rather him not touch me more than he has to. I don’t know what this strange feeling I have towards him is, and I’m not keen on finding out, especially without the protection of the fabric he’d given me.

If I were repulsed and terrified towards him, maybe I wouldn’t be so confused...But I’m not...

I feel safe with this stranger.

And that scares me.

As my luck would have it, and to my dismay, my cooperation does not spare me from the brigade of butterflies that begin to dance to life in my stomach, as I return to my seat, and his large hands begin to work at my hair.

“Good girl.” He rumbles behind me.

“My name is Kane, by the way.” Kane informs me before falling silent.

“Little devil.” I reply after a moment of silence.

Kane stills from behind me, “Excuse me?” He asks, his eye brows pinched in confusion.

“My name is little devil.” I reply, craning my entire body away from his.

He slowly blinks at me before throwing his head back in a laugh.

My fluttering heart, sinks to the pit of my stomach.

His laugh is beautiful, baritone, and warm. I almost sigh in appreciation, but somehow, I remain composed.

What’s so funny anyways?

Wiping an imaginary tear from his eye, Kane levels me with a serious stare.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Haygarth didn’t tell you your name. And although, little devil might be fitting. It is not your moniker.” He says, returning to my hair. I tense as he makes the first cut.

But the pain that I expected never came. Instead the only thing I felt, was relief. I hadn’t realized how heavy my hair was, until lock upon lock, began to fall around me.

The slicing noises of my hair being sheared away by a sharp, silvery stone, with a handle fixed to the bottom, we there only sounds too be heard for a long moment.

“Evanora. Your name is Evanora.” He says softly, running his fingers through my now shoulder length hair, he then pulls the fabric he’d removed, back over my nakedness.

My head spun, not only from the weight lifted, literally, off my shoulders. But from the realization that I have a name.

A real name.

My mind drifts back to the first time he’d called me by my name. Back in the woods... he’d also said he was here to take me to my father...

At the time, I’d been to terrified to connect the dots.

I have a father.

Could that mean that my mother is alive as well?

“You said earlier, that you are here to return me to my father... what kind of man is he... and i- is my mother still alive?” I ask, though the possibilities for his answer are boundless, and send an acute wave of dread throughout my being.

Still sitting behind me, absent minded in his diligent combing through my hair. Kane remains silent for a moment.

“Your mother lives. I spoke to her before coming here.”

His words are low and if it were not for the unease that’s crept up my spine at his almost guilty expression, I would have been overjoyed at the news that my mother is alive.

But something told me that she was not well.

“And my father?” I press, turning to look him in the eye.

“He is very excited to meet you.”

“That’s not really an answer.” I narrow my eyes in suspicion.

“That may be the case, but it’s the only one I’ll provide.” He stands to his feet abruptly, giving me zero time to look away, before coming face to face with that bulge in his pants.

My mouth instantly goes dry, and fear pounds in my chest, stealing the calm I’d felt in his presence just moments ago.

Realizing his mistake, he turns away from me, with a cough.

“This has never happened to me before.” His words are almost inaudible, grumbled under his breath.

His admission takes me by surprise, and eases my fear.

I’m not sure exactly what it is that is happening to him.

But whatever it is... I think it’s happening to me too.

And it would seem that neither of us are overly thrilled at the prospect of this mystery.

“Why don’t my powers work against you?” I blurt, needing to change the subject.

Kane visibly relaxes, and I get the impression that he’s relived by the distraction.

He turns back to me, and this time I keep my eyes trained on his.

“I am immune. No magic has ever harmed me. The out come is always the same, it just seems to fizzle out if it’s used to try and cause me harm.” He walks over to a bag, sitting by a large piece of leather stretched between a cluster of small trees. Two sizable fur pelts piled at the base of one of the trees, would suggest that he slept beneath it.

He returns to my side, with the bag, and places it at my feet, then kneels in front of me.

“While we are on the subject of your powers... do not let anyone aside from me or your mother know that you can wield two of Gia’s gifts. Not even your father, do you understand?” He holds my gaze with an intensity that screams life or death.

“Why?” Maybe curiosity held a larger staple in my personality than I thought.

“It is rare for a wican to be blessed twice. And there are people who would use you if they found out.”

“Like my father?” The question falls from my lips naturally.

“Yes... like your father...” He averts his eyes, suddenly finding his fingernails more interesting.

“And you think you are going to deliver me to him?” I’m appalled, even though Kane is a stranger to me... he’d still managed to foster a small amount of trust for himself, in my eyes.

Trust that he’d just crushed beneath his strangely wrapped feet.

“I don’t ‘think’ anything, I am bringing you to your father. You are my bounty, and he is my boss. Nothing more, nothing less. And if you have any sense, you’ll heed my warning, and keep your abilities hidden.” He snaps, but the anger in his tone doesn’t reach his eyes. Instead all I find within them, is a desperate plea for cooperation.

Just what kind of man is my father? To strike fear in someone as capable as Kane.

He has to be a monster.

A monster that I now realize my mother had been trying to spare me from, in leaving me here.

My father had to be worse than Haygarth.

And my mother is still trapped there with him.

“I’ll go.”

Kane’s eye brows shoot up in surprise.

“Come again?”

“I’ll go. My mother left me here to protect me. But it’s my turn now, to protect her.” I rise from my seat, and Kane stands along with me.

A look of respect and understanding crosses his face, but quickly shifts back to his seemingly natural, stoic expression.

“You’ll need to get dressed. My jacket alone, is not going to cut it out here.” He says, reaching for the bag he’d brought over.

He pulls out a long, soft looking, dark piece of fabric, much longer than the... jacket? I think that’s what he called this heavy grey thing.

“Here, let me untie this.” He leans down, loosens the rope around my wrist, and hands me the new garment.

I stare at it in confusion.

Then an idea strikes, of course that’s how you wear it.

I flip the fabric and begin to attempt to pull my legs through the small holes at the bottom.

Kane’s amused snort freezes me in place.

“What?”

“Let me help you with the dress.” He pulls the dress? From my hands, and over my head, he then help’s my arms through the small holes I’d been attempting to put my legs in.

As a last touch, he pulls my hair out from under the dress, letting it fall around my shoulders.

My breath catches in my throat as I look up at him, our bodies so close, they almost touch.

He reaches his hand up, and cups my cheek. Instinctively, I press my face into his touch.

I should be afraid.

I should pull away.

But, I’d never experienced an affectionate touch.

Haygarth, was not one to be gentle.

And my body screams in delight at having its life long craving addressed.

But before I can relish the warmth, he suddenly pulls away. Leaving me cold, and to my confusion... disappointed.

“You should get some rest, we have a weeks journey to the sea.” He states, avoiding my eyes.

He juts his thumb towards his bed.

“You can sleep in my bed. I don’t think I’ll be getting any sleep tonight anyways.” And with that, he sits down on my stump, his back turned away from me. And I get the feeling that our conversation is over.

Conflicted, confused, and most of all, worried about my mother. I lay on the furs, and allow sleep to claim me.

The last thing I see before darkness falls over me, is Kane’s tortured expression, as he sits lost in thought.

And then my dreams claim me.

Dreams of a faceless mother.

A monstrous father.

And an unwilling savior, with amber flecked eyes.










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