Leisbeth crooned to her pet dragon, Brand. She had raised him from when he was nothing but a babe, pushing his way out of his golden egg.
Brand would never be a huge dragon, but he was worth a lot of money to many people. His scales, his wings, and his teeth were valuable so Leisbeth protected him. She cared for his wounds from hunting for large animals and after locals injured him.
Despite being gentle, Leisbeth could be fierce. She knew she was fragile, but she possessed a gift, sorcery not even Brand knew she possessed.
In turn, Brand was Leisbeth’s protector. He knew she was a soft woman, her voice small and melodic. Her hands uncalloused and her long blond hair shiny and flowing. All these traits of beauty put her in danger.
She knew nothing of the cruel world, that men spilled blood, both dragon and human for small amounts of silver. Brand still remembered the screams of his dragon parents slaughtered, as he fought his way from his golden egg. He was tiny then, but he remembered their terrified roars.
However, Liesbeth had saved him so they would always be together. Brand would protect her inherit gentleness while she would guard him with her magic. Those who would hurt her intelligent companion would regret it.
To Leisbeth, Brand was her friend who in private, loved to be held and stroked. Both their abilities would keep the other alive for thousands of years.
We’re balancing on the train tracks, walking them carefully with our arms held out like acrobats. The tracks start to rattle, at first minutely, but gradually the rattle increases as we hear the train nearing.
Remaining as long as we can, we walk and balance, challenging ourselves and testing the fates. When the train whistles loudly, we step off. The tracks are clanking and clambering, as if the bolts holding them down might come free.
The beast approaches and with it comes the wind from the train’s speed and the smoke from the coal fed engine. We stand as close as we can, without it hitting us.
It’s an electric and deadly thrill when the train rushes past and we’re not even grazed. We don’t fall back, we ride the wave between life and death as it passes.
Thanks to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting last week’s Tale Weaver Prompt. The prompt is to have a character visit this centre of relaxation and cover and recount their experiences. I will use it as continuation of my Teegan’s Potion story. This is Part 4. Here are the links to the other parts of the story. I apologize for taking so long with this last part.
Teegan couldn’t recall ever being at a spa before or a place of retreat. But he hadn’t been given a choice. He was a thief, a crookster. He conned people out of their money, he had been doing so for a couple of hundred-years.
He was almost nomadic, roaming the forests and the woods. He could not help when his curse took over him. He was learning to control it, but even to control it a little was difficult for the first one-hundred-years he lived as this ‘thing.’ Whatever you would term him.
Teegan wasn’t sure himself what he was. But he knew when he was upset, he was still prone to rages where darkness, the shadow of the beast hiding inside him took over. He was in a little town when it happened this time. He’d been in a lodge having a bath, cleaning himself up, shaving his beard when his room was suddenly filled with men. They had come to collect him and in turn the bounty on his head for his years of murderous deeds.
“Teegan of the Forest, we’ve been after you a while. My Father spent his life chasing you and my Grandfather, half his life too. I’m ending it here and bringing you in. You’re a plague on society. I don’t care you can control your wickedness at times. I only care when you’re angry you cannot,” a man named Henry Barger said. He was the brother to a son of the local earl, who had come across Teegan on a bad night.
He vaguely recalled Henry’s father and grandfather, both had been named Henry and hunted him. It wasn’t Teegan’s fault they’d died. They kept pushing him, attacking him, refusing to leave him in peace.
Presently, the men surrounding Teegan tried to rough him up, so he’d be easier to take the Earl of the land. But this wasn’t going to happen so he let his anger grow and consume him. In moments, Teegan’s bedroom had become a bloody battle field. Not one of those men had stood a chance. He hadn’t wanted to kill them, but what choice had they left him? Why in God’s name had the wretched wizard cursed him in the first place? He hadn’t been that evil had he?
He sighed getting back in his still warm bath among the carnage, bathing himself clean of blood before changing his clothes. Teegan snuck out the window and with his wits about him, entered into the forest he knew well.
Hours later, he found himself surrounded again by monks from the local monastery. He laughed, but at the same time, definitely did not want to kill men of the cloth.
“Please let me go,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt any of you. Especially since you’re holy men. Leave me in peace and you’ll never see me again.”
A priest appeared from among the monks. His face lined but his stature regal. “Teegan of the forest, I know a greatdeal about you. I’m Father Matthews. I know you were cursed to live a long life, to suffer. I know what you initially did to invoke your curse. I’m not here to turn you in for coins to the Earl, I’ve come to save you.”
“Save me, why?”
“Because Teegan,” Father Matthew’s replied, ” More killing or trying to kill you, only results in more death. Also, I have a bit of insight into the souls of men and I can see, yours is shredded from your deeds. You will never be able to stop the monster inside alone. But I know someone, a woman of blessed magic who can.”
Teegan rolled his eyes but Father Matthews continued talking.”I have spoken with Hazal and we both feel, she can help you. As long as you drink her potion twice a year withher, she says you will not turn evil when your temper ignites, when you’re unable to harness the beast inside you. We can help Teegan, please let us.”
“I don’t want, I don’t need some witches help,” Teegan sputtered indignantly.
“She’s not any witch and not pureevil as the Wizard who cursed you. He was a ‘Wizard Demon,’ and know one wants to find him after dealing with the fall-out of the curse he gave you. You don’t have much choice Teegan. You need to retreat with Hazal and her clan, they will help you.”
“But if you don’t,” Father Matthews said ominously, “We will end your life right now and we know how to do it. If you choose to meet Hazel, I will bring you to her and once you’ve worked with her for a while, you can go about your life. As long as you always find Hazel and her femaledescendants, to take your potion twice a year, you’re a free man.”
Teegan nodded his understanding at Father Matthews. He gazed around him at the monks in their sack clothe, with torches lit. He peered confused at the priest who instead of trying to hurt him, wanted to help Teegan with his curse. No one was kind to Teegan, not since he’d been human.
He felt the priest was a good man in his heart, trying to help Teegan for Teegan’s sake and everyone Teegan came upon, so he didn’t hurt them unknowingly. Father Matthews promised him what he had always wanted to be able to do, to live his life without the darkness, the shadowy curse which made him a monster.
“Alright Father,” Teegan said. “I will come with you. But promise me this woman Hazel, she will not harm me? Or kill me, herself?”
“I promise and she will say the same.”
Teegan followed Father Matthews back to the monastery. He hoped no one found him before he saw Hazal. He would have to start over in the new world he thought, perhaps, convince this Hazel to come with him if she was pretty? But for now, the monestary was the safest place for Teegan to rest. As he fell asleep, he wondered about this witch, could her potion actuallycontrol his curse?
Sighing he dreamt of a woman with hazel eyes and a soft touch. When he awoke he found himself not in the monestsry, but asleep in a tranquil room in a comfortable bed as those of nobility slept on. The room was ornately decorated and sighing, thinking it was all a dream, Teegan faded back into sleep.
When he awoke again, and the sunlight was pouring into the lavish room, Teegan arose from the softest bed he’d ever slept on. It was plush with furs and woven sheets. He longingly gazed back, wishing he could sleep forever away, but he realized he was here to receive help from the gifted witch of blessed magic named Hazel.
Her family lived well, he thought to himself. He wondered again why, the priest would save someone as terrible as him. Teegan had murdered and hurt so many people when the beast overtook him, especially in the beginning of his cursed life, when he had no control at all. The priest knew what Teegan had initially done to be cursed. Teegan thought back to that day ages ago, almost two-hundred-years.
Back then, he’d only been around twenty-five winters, he wasn’t exactly sure. He’d grown up spoiled, a son of the aristocracy. A future Lord and Vassal, yet he hadn’t known enough to value his position. He hadn’t cared much but for mead, women, and fun.
No women ever caught his attention long. He imagined he had a few bastards here and there among the village lasses and the barmaids. Then there were the maids and courtesans.
There had been a lovely one with dark black hair and blue-eyes. Eyes such a stormy blue, he felt he was drowning in them the first time he saw Eleanor’s eyes. But everyone knew Eleanor was off-limits. She was the Earl’s personal and most current favourite mistress.
But Eleanor had beguiled Teegan as a young man. She was a seasoned suductress and she drew him in.
“Such a handsome man as yourself, all alone in the Earl’s court? I’ve noticed you’ve stopped bringing the servant girls and other courtesans to your bed? The Earl prefers his vassals to be properly taken care of, is something the matter?” Eleanor had asked him, fluttering her lashes and rubbing his arm.
“No Madam, nothing is wrong. But I’m not interested in those women because they’re all the same after a while. I have in my eyes the picture of the most elegant and graceful women in the land and no other woman compares with her beauty or kind manner,” Teegan told Eleanor, who laughed.
“Ah, so is the son, of the Lord of the Forests, in love then?”
“He thinks perhaps, but he is waiting to see what the woman he longs for says to his request. He cannot touch her, but desperately wants to be with her. He would defy all authority to have her. Do you know who she is Eleanor?”
Teegan must have shown he was a tad nervous. He’d never had to proposition a woman before. He’d known what a dangerous situation he was getting himself and his family into, but the price was more than he’d ever dreamed.
Eleanor laughed again,”You play a complicated and deadly game young Teegan. You wouldn’t be the only person defying an Earl or the wretched wizard who follows him around. You’d best consider some other courtesan. Then you will not be killed or worse for touching me. Then again, I like a guy who lives a bit dangerously. Shall we go for a walk in plane sight, so no one thinks we’re doing anything wrong?”
Teegan had agreed and Eleanor had been a wonderfully skilled storyteller, entertaining him, but never touching him, making it seem as if they were keeping each other company, while she waited for the Earl to call for her.
Then, Eleanor had pretended to fall and while Teegan aided Eleanor in righting herself, she whispered: “Meet me at the gamekeepers cottage, tomorrow night.”
Teegan had agreed and they had made love madly there for hours when the Earl and his consort, walked in on Teegan and Eleanor. Eleanor pleaded and was instantly forgiven, the Earl adored her so much. She did nothing to try and save Teegan, saying the whole idea was his fault.
“I’m only a woman, how could I resist him, he charms all the women where ever he goes,” she told the Earl.
He kissed Eleanor, “I forgive you, my love. You couldn’t help yourself. My Wizard will deal with this scoundrel. He’ll make Lord Teegan sorry.”
Then the Earl and Eleanor left the cottage and it was only half-naked Teegan and the evil Wizard. The old man cracked his fingers, his dark eyes eating into Teegan’s soul. Teegan was terrified . . .
Then someone was shaking him awake.
“Teegan,” a melodic and gentle voice said. “Teegan wake-up, we need to have your potion now.”
He mumbled something than yelled. When he was finally awake, a woman with auburn hair, milky skin, and vibrant green eyes was staring at Teegan appearing worried. She brushed the hair back from his face and rocked him as the edges of his nightmare faded.
There are certain places a woman avoids in the dark. She might choose a lighted pathway on the sidewalk rather than a dark alley. She also might avoid walking home on the river valley trails late at night. Both are places women are often attacked or are just plain scary to be walking out late in.
Sidney didn’t care too much for her own safety. She often worked late into the evening as a legal assistant. She walked home every night no matter how late it was. She wasn’t afraid of the vagrants who roamed the streets at night and didn’t believe because some guy was walking behind her, he was out to get her. Generally, Sidney might be right in assuming she was safe walking home alone through river valley trails in the dark. She was only fifteen minutes from her apartment.
But there are things out there that are unesplicabley evil. People or creatures who prey upon the innocent and the ignorant. Sidney was both.
She was crossing the street from the sidewalks lit by lamps to the off leash trails in the park. Every now and then she would see a dog and it’s owners and they would wave and pass her by. But as she went deeper onto the gravel trail a strange sense of foreboding overtook her. The hair on Sidney’s nape prickled and her eyes searched the foliage for some form of life.
Suddenly, a large white northern dog took off down the trail nearly knocking her over. He pushed into her and whimpered. In barks and howls he talked to her, nosing her away from the trail and back the way she’d came. But Sidney crooned to the dog petting her and said: ” Oh it’s alright girl. Are you lost? Want to come home with me tonight? Maybe will find your owner on the way?”
The dog put up his ears as if he was listening before his ears went back and a deep growl came from his throat. Sidney backed away but the furry white dog went in front of her. He was trying to protect Sidney. But Sidney only paused a second before shaking her head at the dog and continued her way down the off leash trail. She stared back at the white dog who refused to come with her and was almost at the trails end when someone stepped out a few feet ahead of her in the darkness.
Sidney had never been afraid of the darkness on the trails. But the incident with the dog had made her heart pound loudly against her chest. And as she stared at the person she could barely see infront of her, all the warnings about strangers and dark places came into her mind unbidden.
The person was not moving from the place he stood on the trail. Sidney could tell it was a he from the person’s large stature and how tall he was. She casually reached for her iPhone illuminating the path slightly and ready to call 911 should she need to. “Hello” she ventured “was that your dog that came down the trail. She was a large white one, maybe a husky or some breed like that?”
The stranger walked closer and Sidney held her breath. The light from her phone illuminated the large man in a hoody now so close to her she could smell his cologne. He was what she would consider hot in a different situation. But his eyes were so dark that his pupils seemed too large. He took off his hood and Sidney saw he had short-cropped black hair. He had yet to answer Sidney and she was feeling scared. She was about to run for home when the stranger put a strong hand on her arm and smiled at her.
Sidney blew out a breath and tried to break free of the man’s grip but she couldn’t. She began to struggle and he gripped her other arm too.”Let me go!” She shouted and screamed until she was hoarse. The man only smiled alarmingly at her. Her Iphone fell from her manacled sweaty hand.
” Are you done?” He asked quietly. She shook her head and tried digging her nails into his arm but he didn’t budge. “That wasn’t my dog Sidney” the man said “but it was a good opportunity to go back and take a taxi.” Sidney stood in shock, a tear escaped her eye. “We should get going” he said.
“What, where?” Sidney cried. “How do you know my name?”
He shrugged. “We’re going to my place” he rasped. And before her eyes the man transformed into a giant creature, half eagle and half beast. He scooped Sidney up with his claws and she screamed and cried as they flew through the air and into the ever-deepening night.
Jadea’s Grandfather had believed the woods to be a magical place full of herbs, cures for illnesses, and food to eat. Jadea had loved going into the forest with her Grandfather and learning about what kinds of plants were good to use and which plants were poisonous. She had disliked hunting for animals.
Grandmother had never minded that Jadea had went into the woods with her Grandfather saying even the bears were afraid of him. Grandfather was a mystical man and he brought protection with him through magic wherever he went. But one day Grandfather had disappeared as twilight had began to fade and the dark had crept in like a lion looking for his prey.
Jadea had yelled and screamed for her Grandfather but all she could find was his white staff. Jadea had hung onto it for dear life as she had run out of the woods through branches that seemed to rip at her hair and roots that tripped up her feet. She could feel something chasing her so she hurried, holding out the staff in front of her as if it were some talismane. It was the last thing she would have of her grandfather’s and it protected her from the beast that chased her. When she finally reached home and ran into the house she cried and told her Grandmother what had happened. Her Grandmother told her to never go into the woods again.
“Jadea listen to me” said Grandmother, “You must never go into the woods alone, ever. It’s not safe now little girl,”
“But Grandfather showed me everything. I know what’s good and bad about the forest” protested Jadea but Grandmother shook her head.
” Never go there Jadea. Promise me.” so Jadea swore to her Grandmother that she would never go into the woods again although it pained her to do so.
But one day years later, having long moved away from the cottage her grandparents had lived in by the forest, Jadea remembered the night her Grandfather disappeared into the woods. It was daylight and Jadea had a mind to go into the forest and explore. She was pleased to remember which plants and herbs were good and she gathered them as she went but it wasn’t long before Jadea realized she was not alone.
Every step Jadea took something dogged her foot steps and then as Jadea rested from picking out herbs something terrifying came towards her. She could not identify it it was invisible but it sat down beside her and bound her feet and hands. Then hands made of air cut off the breath from her lungs and Jadea knew no more but as she was asphyxiated she recalled her Grandmother’s words: ‘ Never Go into the Woods Alone.’
Two gentlemen looking, saw very different things,
One saw a girl with laughter in her smile and sunshine on her face.
One saw a girl serious and cold, she sat in the shade and hid her plane face.
The other saw beauty breath taking delight, rosy cheeks, and butterfly kisses.
The other saw skin deathly pale, and ugliness that had crept in with the promise of death.
And those two individuals they saw what they saw, one caught up in grace and in an ethereal light.
The other saw darkness and more to the point, the blackness which invades the soul and can not be vanquished but with the sun.
And they saw two dissimilar faces as that girl walked before them, one touching his view point with the brightest of smiles, one pressing his point with the darkness of frowns.
The girl wore a dress delicate and refined, the whitest of whites that shone in the dawn.
The second one saw that the dress was tattered, fading in places, ripped in some, bleached until it was a white that could be destroyed and torn.
The first man thought her hair was golden blond, glossy and brilliant and floating round her head, the veil of an angel as she danced down the street with vitality.
His partner saw hair fake and discoloured, no one had hair as shiny and blond as that, so he called her an imposter and judged her appearance, said she was vermin, and that he knew it.
And the girl flitted down the street disappearing, while one man called her nimble the other called her rude.
But it’s the strangest of things what two different people will see.
One will see good things, the other only misery.
As a fairy tale might mention, one man was a prince, the other a beast.