Mist Eri

I was dying.

Cold, hungry, thirsty, and weak, lost in the mountains, with no stars to guide as the rain fell, and fell, and fell.

I slipped, staggered, stepped into mud, cut my fingers, wrists and arms fighting for life on the sharp crags that seemed determined to defeat me.

When night came, I was blessed with a shallow ledge that had some cover above it, and I rested, sure that this night was to be my last, hoping too, that the indifferent god I served heard at least this one prayer, and granted me leave to depart.

He did not.

**********************

I woke before the sun, and the rain had stopped.

Not in a hurry to start another weary journey to get nowhere, I took a moment, in spite of my dire needs, to admire the grim, sodden beauty of the view.

Mist was everywhere, gray and somber, moving across the valley like spirits in purgatory, neither light nor dark, trapped in a slender slice of the bleak void where nothing laid claim to anything.

It wrapped around the mountains too, like soiled white banners, and as I rose and stretched, something cold seemed to touch me.
A patch of skin on my forearm grew wet from the contact.

I gasped, and turned, and there she was, insubstantial as the wind, and present as the rocks all around me.

“What?”

I dared not move, lest it shove me from the ledge.

I am no ‘what’, but ‘who?’

I could see the shape of her, white in contrast to the gray, but there was no face to speak of; I could see through where the eyes should have been, and what would have been her hair kept bunching and dropping across her what would have been her shoulders, all of mist, all rolling like the banners and spirits, spreading apart, and gelling together in a rhythmic cycle, as if hands were moving it, as if in tandem with a heartbeat.

Human shaped, but nothing close to human.

“Has my rest here disturbed you, spirit?”

No. Indeed, it has given me company through the night. You are far from home.

A hole again, where the mouth was, but the mist moved around it like living flesh, in the manner of a woman speaking.

“I do not know which way my home lies.”

Then I will guide you.

“I am too weak to descend, now. I won’t survive the journey down.”

Then I must make you strong.

“How will you accomplish that?” My voice grew annoyed; I just waste

If you but follow, I will make you strong. Come.

“Very well. You said that you were ‘who,’ not ‘what.’ May I know the name of my savior.

I am called Eri. It has been long since I last saw men here. They passed through in days of old, with instruments of harm. We did not let them cross, and they rest below these paths you trod.

“The mist in the valley below…”

The shape gave a single nod. “They are the souls of men, unable to find respite, desperate to attain peace, but their many victims pursue. The valley is ever shrouded with their hunting.”

I shuddered at the thought.

How many? How long?

The sun rises, and I will leave you then, despite my will to stay. I cannot fight the sun. Will you follow?

“Yes, Eri, I will follow.”

She engulfed me, and the coolness of the droplets that made her refreshed me; my bones were free of pain, and my muscles of stiffness. My vision sharpened, as did the contrasting shades of pewter and silver, iron and lead, metal and steel, and she appeared again in front of me now, and began to glide over the narrow path.

The sun began to glow on the eastern horizon.

I could feel my mouth smiling in amazement.

“Follow. We don’t have long.”

And I followed her.

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.    2015

The Making of Vy Rill (3)

3)

The taste of her blood was bitter and cool on his tongue, and his jaw clenched.

It was in that moment he knew she was fully aware of what he’d done, and in his eagerness, he played right into her trap.

He made no sound, and she did not stir.

A contest of wills, then.

   The aftertaste was sweet like raw honey, and his spine tingled as the sugar infected his blood.

His stomach roiled, but it was too late.

What did you do to me, Janyris?

 

**************

Her father stood there, mute, dumbfounded that she would walk out on him.

   “Janyris, who will take care of me?”

   “Mother has taken lovers from the Underworld; you have choices, father. Exercise them. I will not stay here tending you in your dotage, I don’t want her crown, and I have my own life to live.”

   Her father’s voice was gruff from grief. “How have you come to be so selfish?”

  “In much the same manner as you came to be impotent: gradually.”

  “Your mother, it seems, was a whore at heart. They are voracious creatures.”

  “Mother enjoys sex; that does not make her a whore. She married you, and had none before you. Whatever perverse delights you introduced to her, she took a liking, and has now chosen to indulge.”

  He hung his head, remembering those long, lust-filled nights when his own voraciousness had exhausted them both.

“Go then, and return not. I will die alone.”

   She gave him a pitying look, reinforcing his.

   “And you will die unloved; that’s what truly sad.”

   She closed the door on him, and jumped as an axe blade split the door, heard him roaring damnation at her, the power of his words seeking to bind around her soul, and she felt them hit, and soak in. Her heart twisted in her chest, and doubling over, she retched,

   Staggering out into the sun filled day, wiping her mouth on the sleeve of her gown, struggling to breathe, she began running, her father’s curse on her life pursuing her, running effortlessly alongside, filling her ears with mocking wrath.

  

**************

“Is that what brought our paths together, dear Janyris: I in you, and you in me, in a way far more intimate than physical love?

“We hold each other’s strings now, and the better puppet master will win this fight.”

He left.

What a tawdry, common life. No wonder she fled.”

   He returned to his own tower, the effects of her blood still at work in him, not quite making him intoxicated, but doing things to him that he remembered distantly feeling as a mortal.

His walk was unsteady, and he was shivering, but he felt flushed with heat.

Rest, I need to rest.

He stumbled, and grabbed a lamppost, sagging, but trying to pull himself up.

In reaching out, he saw his skin was changing, the veins prominent and shades of bruises against his flesh.

The tower was too far away, and the sky was turning pale.

He saw lights begin to come on in windows, for those who had to start early.

If they saw him, if they called the authorities…

With the last of his remaining strength, he saw an alley up ahead, and as his vision blurred, he shuffled past a couple of vagrants already in occupancy.

No one will pay attention to me here, except these vagrants, but I’ve nothing to steal, and they can’t murder me.

  There was cardboard, dirty, wet, and doubtless crawling with things.

The alley, being what it was, and where, reeked of things best not considered.

Covering himself as best he could, the infection took him under, and what it would do, for good or ill, he would not know until he was awake again.

It’s like a virus.

Then it came to him, her new name, partly what she’d done, partly to show ownership of her. It was a term used by the young when something was widespread in their world of technology.

Viral.

   Vy Rill. That will be my name for her, and I will make her embrace it, and me, until fate claims us both.

The illness pulled his eyelids down; darkness took him under to let the infection have its way, and he had one final thought before he surrendered.

I will be a new creation.

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.    2015

The Making of Vy Rill (2)

2:

She was very much aware of his presence, though her body had been sleeping.

He did not realize that there was nothing he could do to her that she did not allow, for as he smeared her blood across his fingertips and tasted her, a thread of his dead spirit filtered in through her, and initially corrupted, then enhanced her nature.

Enduring the sickness, she did not let him see her tremble, and through some miracle, managed to hold her gorge.

He was not merely old, but ancient, and smelled of the dust and bones of ancient catacombs long buried and forgotten.

She also felt the essence of his lust, a thin, light band of energy over the corruption; she saw the faces of women, lovely and in their physical prime, saw the bodies writhing beneath him, grinding over him, and what he did with them when it was over.

Multiple abattoirs dotted the landscape where he’d been at work.

She made a silent vow to avenge them all.

 

************

   “Janyris,” said her father, “this dabbling in things mortal is not for you; it will come to no good end. You must be ready to ascend your station when your mother passes.”

   For awhile, she complied, and played the dutiful daughter until her mother actually passed, not in the traditional sense; she merely went to the underworld and never returned.

   Her father was suspect that she had gone voluntarily, to be with the gods that dwelt there, but he dared not go after her, for fear of finding out if that were true.

   He’d been a good father, but as to husband, Janyris couldn’t say.

   She left too, unannounced, unsuspected, and left her father to fend for himself, and find succor where he would.

   She observed the mortals for awhile, creatures of habit, and routine, much like ants and migratory birds, scattering in panics when crisis came, then banding together to rally and rebuild, if they could.

   They were boring, but she admired their tenacity to survive and keep their mundane species in existence.

   In time, they came to amuse her, and she was content to meddle in minor ways, until one day, she saw something that piqued her interest, and went into a deeper world.

   A small boy was sleeping, the moonlight soft on his innocent face, and she saw a shadow in his room detach itself, and come to stand by his bed.

Its eyes were open, and a pale violet shade.

She grew intrigued, and looked closer.

The shadow reeked of death and evil; she dared draw no closer, lest it sense her presence; indeed, it had already looked up at the ceiling twice, sensing something, and she wasn’t sure she’d hidden in time, but as it didn’t pursue her, she knew she wasn’t seen.

   This was the sort of being that killed when discovered.

   He took the boy’s hand, and pricked the skin of his index finger with a long nail of his own.

   The child thrashed under his covers, then grew still, and the shadow retreated.

   As the sun rose, the boy’s body simply dissipated, skin melting into bone melting into the dust motes in the light of the morning sun, and his body simply drifted apart, his soul taken and his flesh removed.

   The parents were in agony, and did not last long together, and in their isolation, grew despondent, and died not long thereafter.

   She wanted to go to them, but she dared not.

 

Then came the fateful night they met, and she made her vow in front of him.

He saw the glimmer of something in her, and showed his true face, and she knew in that moment she had him.

And now he was a part of her, and she of him.

It was going to be glorious fight.

Ah, my dear Rillion, you don’t know what you’ve done. Taking your soul will redeem my own, and the damnation that awaits you is beyond description.

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.   2015