By Silva Noir
"In a minute, I said!" I croak at the banging on my door of the one level suburban house in which I live alone.
I hate mornings. I hate Mondays. Monday mornings? Forget it.
I'm the picture of loveliness. If your idea of that is bloodshot eyes, impossibly snarled brown hair, mussed tan fur, and a pudgy coyote's body in plaid pajamas ... then yeah, a real beauty.
I drag myself out of bed and into the kitchen for some orange juice. Some people can't function without their first cup of coffee. Me? Give me my Vitamin C.
Refreshed after lapping the juice and washing my face in the sink I head to the hall. Before I answer the door there's something I need to put on. A robe for modesty? Nah. My nightwear is hardly risqué ... it's frumpy, if you want to get technical.
No, I need to put on my inner demon, Eryth.
I'm one of what you would call a Y-being, two pieces merged into one. If you look at how the lines of the letter point downward and inward and become a single line, it makes sense. That would be why there are Y’s in the same of each stage of such a being. My pieces are apart at the moment. I used to think I would die if I was to remove her, but it has been ok to do for a short time, as long as we're both resting.
I keep the parasyte in a potted plant. The swamp colored immortal dragon's element is earth. She can sleep in dirt without losing her powers as well as she can sleep in me. I discovered this little trick a week back. One can only take so many nightmares of a supernatural being. Sharing one body and mind during the day is tolerable, but when I want to sleep, I want to sleep, not wake up screaming.
I should rewind, tell you the whole story of how this came to be, but I don’t have time for that. Not with the way this idiot is threatening to break my door down.
“All right! Keep your pants on!” I shout at him.
Well, I’m not all alone …my shouting’s woken up Luther. That’s my pet dragon, totally different from Eryth. Luther is a small, vegetarian, one hundred percent mortal dragon. He wants his breakfast. I don’t blame him. I could go for some pancakes myself.
Eryth’s yellow eyes glow in the dim light of dawn. From the floor, her sharp claws dig into the back of my leg. She climbs up, finding the hollow she chewed between my lower shoulders in what seems like a long time ago now. She pushes her way in, head first, wriggling her thorny body into the cavity. Only her wings stick out once she is settled.
Her breakfast is my energy. My body changes with her reconnected to me. Her thoughts and powers flood my senses. My stomach tightens, fingers and claws grow longer, eyes turn a bright green (the hue of her magic), and hair switches from brown to black with streaks of silver.
This is who I am now, who I’ve become.
I’m used to it …
“Silva Noir?” the flustered Jack Russell Terrier mailman on my doorstep asks me.
“You should know, if you’re delivering to this house. If you don’t, I think you should get in line for a new job.”
“I have a job for YOU.”
“Oh yeah?” I take it as a challenge. But he really means it, handing me a rolled up paper with the official red wax stamp of the president. “I should be so special.”
“You were hired to protect the Middlelands from the demons known as Watyr. He has been attacking ships off the coast of the Whalebone Isles. Military ships, commercial ships, and private ships have all been destroyed in his wrath.”
“And you want me to stop him? Fabulous.” I meant that with the deepest sarcasm. “One problem: Eryth’s powers are drained over salt water. She won’t be able to fly it. I can’t take a ship. What do you expect me to do?”
“We trust you’ll find a way. You found your way to Dantain six years ago. Find your way there again and work your way over.”
“But that’s …!” Insane? A million miles away? Stupid? All of the above.
They’re paying me, though. It’s not fair. You can be one of the fantastical undead and still have taxes and a grocery bill.
Before he left Mr. Mailman who didn’t trust I had the intelligence to read my own mail reminded me the clock was ticking.
Every minute I wasted another life could be lost, blah blah blah.
First, I need a muffin. At least! And to get dressed.
I’ve designed an outfit especially for when I am on a mission. It is spy-chic, black on black on black… black work boots, black dungarees, a sweater close to black with leather elbow pads and metal plating on the shoulders, topped of with a pair of oversized goggles. The goggles are to keep the flying debris out of my eyes.
That out of the way, I packed Luther into my sidebag with some basic supplies and was off to the abandoned cathedral.
I love it. You think maybe they would have figured out the supernatural activity might have to do with an old place of worship? Nah. That’s too obvious for them. In a country where it’s out of fashion to believe in anything beyond the proven and mundane, no one but we freaks take notice.
This is where I first found the Dark Gate. Or rather, a charm given to me by a professor found it for me and unlocked it. If those in charge knew what he was researching in his free time, he would be fired for sure. I take out the charm from my pocket. It is a half moon cast in pewter whose tips connect to form a circle in which a blue gem star sparkles. He figured it wouldn’t be appreciated in the local museum, it should be active. I always keep it close to my body. It gives you an extra sense to find your way to anywhere from anywhere… to the places you are meant to go.
I remember that first long journey. The dark gate brought me to the other side of the world… Luther was just a hatchling then. I hadn’t used the gate since. It hadn’t stopped working or anything like that but… the first and last time I went through it I came home in a coffin. If not for Eryth possessing me, I would have stayed dead.
I’m not too eager to try it again.
From out of the weeded yard surrounding the hulking cathedral I look fro some way in. I pull back the plywood boarding up the windows. With some doing, I squeeze in to land in the spider webs and hundred year old accumulations of dust. Six years ago, in my naive mortal days, I needed a torch to explore this place. Eryth’s vision, enhanced by the charm, is incredible. I see it all in green monochrome. Potent magical items are lit up like fireworks. The dark gate … couldn’t miss it for a mile.
This place used to scare the bejeezus out of me … which is why I ran straight into the gate, which the charm was telling me to go towards, thinking it was an exit. What I am now is a million times scarier than anything down here. Unless you’re an arachnophobe …then the spiders are where it’s at.
“Ghost Moon and the Midnight Star… show me the truest path!” I call as I trace its shape into the air. The gate opens.
I step into the swirling dark gate. The dark gate isn’t fun. Imagine a tangible blackness trying to swallow you whole. Just when you think you’re done for, you’re spit out on a cold stone floor somewhere far, far away.
With a familiar face…
(to be continued...)