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This is the companion piece to Shadows, so I do recommend reading that one first.

“We cannot stay here long.” Even the whispers seemed too loud for this place, regardless of how far from the family manor they had gotten. Dietrich couldn’t hear the screams anymore but if he looked back over his shoulder, he could still see the faint glow of the fire that devoured his home.

“We have to go back!” Vivian’s outburst echoed off the trees and Dietrich winced. It wasn’t that he didn’t agree with his twin, but she hadn’t seen what he had. Their uncle had grabbed him first and they’d barely made it to her bedroom before the demons. In between, there was nothing but blood and fire and a mockery of the home he’d grown up in.

“Vivian,” their uncle’s eyes were dark, they always had been. Warren was their father’s brother. He’d come to live with them and teach them history. His lessons had been fun, with his magic bringing some events to life in front of their eyes. But they’d always been fascinated by his eyes. They were not dual colored, as was the family trait. Nor did they catch the starlight when he did magic like their own. Tonight, that darkness to his gaze spoke volumes of what he had seen that he shielded them from. “There is no going back now.”

“No! We must! Our parents are still there!” Vivian argued, stomping her foot on the ground like she did when she was six. It was such a little thing, a habit she’d broken herself of when Father called her childish, but it told Dietrich how upset she was. “We can’t leave them to the demons, Uncle Warren, we have to help them.”

While his sister and uncle argued, Dietrich only half-paid attention. His mind was elsewhere, numb for the moment. Shock is what his uncle had called it when they had stopped the first time and Vivan had shaken him for a reaction but for him, it was like watching a horrific movie that he couldn’t pull himself away from. The demons had come from thin air as far as they could tell. There were wards to keep out such dark entities, to protect their safety of the family and all who lived there. The Percival Manor hadn’t been breached for thousands of years, there was no way that they’d broken down now. None of it made sense and no one was prepared for the horde.

“She was the one who let the demons in!” Warren’s harsh, emotion laden words pulled Dietrich from his thoughts just as quickly as they had gotten Vivian to shut up. Though Dietrich let his own tears fall freely on the way out here, seeing his sister’s eyes water had never sat well with him. These weren’t tears of frustration like when she couldn’t get a spell just right either, these were ones of shock and pain.

“But,” Vivan whimpered, the disbelief clear on her face. Dietrich was there in an instant, quick to take her hand and offer what comfort he could while glaring at their uncle. Making his sister cry was unacceptable, even now.

“Odessa is the one who called the demons. She has put everyone in that manor to slaughter. I told your parents that I would keep you safe.” His words had softened in tone but they could hear his emotions just as well. He was angry in a way they’d never heard before, even when they’d caused an explosion in his work room and killed all his rare plants. However, it was the sliver of fear that he let slip that terrified them.

Nothing scared Uncle Warren. He was only their father’s half brother, making him half Percival Sorceress. He’d spent his childhood with his mother, among the Fae. It was why he was only teaching them history and not any magic. His other half made his magic different, something that they would never replicate and something that did not quite work well with the family spells. Fae magic was always dominate in mixed breeds, or so their father said, but it was formidable and made him a force. They always thought it made him invincible, fearless.

Two things that were proven wrong that night.

“They…they aren’t…” Dietrich couldn’t get the words out and Vivian’s hand turned into a vice around his. They’d both scoffed at their Mother’s insistence to practice some evacuation scenarios. It was a recent addition to their lessons, only added after their long lost cousin had come to visit. They knew that Odessa wasn’t safe, that she was likely to do something dangerous and hadn’t bothered to say anything.

“No.” The single word was back to a near whisper and neither twin could hold the tears back at that. Their parents weren’t coming, they weren’t going to meet up with them at the safe place that they’d all spoken about. As the realization sunk in, they clung to each other and then to their uncle who dropped to his knees next to them in order to draw them into the safety of his arms.

“Why would Odessa do this?” Dietrich had been happy to play with the older girl, to show her little tricks when they were alone. She had been so kind to them, had even taught them some advanced magic. Such things were not easily shared among magic users but she seemed to be willing to do anything to get in their parent’s good graces.

“One day, I will tell you all that I know about the woman. But like I said, we cannot stay here. She will be after you.” One day. That was always something their Uncle and Father said when the twins were deemed too young to understand something.

“Okay,” Vivian sniffled, pulling back and rubbing her eyes furiously. Dietrich could feel her slipping control, her power pulling at his. He let his answer, hoping to help give her comfort. It was his job to take care of her, his father had told him so but he couldn’t help but also agree with her next words.

“But she won’t get away with this. We can make her pay, somehow can’t we? For Mama and Papa?”

Both of them looked up at their uncle, their eyes glittering with the same light as the night sky above them. Twin sorcerers of the Percival line and heirs to all that that entailed couldn’t do it alone. They were still in training and couldn’t outrun the demons on their tails. Neither one of them expected Warren to pull out their father’s grimoire from his coat, the cover etched with the stars from which they drew power. It was a sacred text, passed down through the years. One day, it was supposed to be Dietrich’s. For now, it was all they had.

“I will do what I can. For now, we survive.”


#72: A Winter Tale


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A Winter Tale

Prompt: He was willing to back up his claim that he could climb that tree.


It was the second week of winter vacation for the school kids. I remember being like them: energetic and giddy from the excitement of being out of school. Boredom would come eventually, just like it always did, but till then, everything was fun and different.

Maybe that was why I picked the park for my date. It was different compared to our predictable daily routine of work, eat, sleep. It wasn’t a restaurant or a cute busy bistro. It wasn’t the most sanitary place to be either but that didn’t deter Bailey.

Bailey showed up with everything and then some. Blankets, little hand warmer packets for our pockets, and a cooler – or in this case a warmth keeping container – full of food and hot beverages ranging from hot cocoa for him to sweet milk for me. And so we laid out the blankets and made ourselves cozy. We talked about the kids running around us, which, naturally turned into comparing our childhoods to theirs.

It was easy to talk to him but had I known that the topic would reignite a deeply buried and equally deeply rooted childhood wish, I would have steered the conversation towards anything else. I didn’t grow up in Hallow Hills like him. I didn’t know about the big tree that loomed over the town or that nearly every kid had to climb it. Both of which I had the misfortune to learn about while staring at the backside of my tree climbing fiancé.

The kids of Hallow Hills enjoyed carrying on the tradition of climbing, what they call, Old Uncle Rootie. Nobody knows how the tree came about the name but they use it all the same, including Bailey.

“Old Uncle Rootie was my first real tree,” he said proudly. “I worked my way up to it though. I didn’t want to fall and break my arm like my dad or not make it up at all like my brother.”

I probably should’ve stopped him then. I didn’t. Instead I smiled and asked him when was the last time he climbed anything. And that was it. That sealed the deal. Bailey grinned. You could almost see the kid he used to be in his brown eyes. He was going to scale that tree and “show the kids how it was done.”

And so there I stood, watching my fiancé climb higher and higher. His footing was sure and his hands knew exactly where to go. Still, I was nervous. “Come back”, I called up to him. “I get it. You’re a forever climber.” But he didn’t. He kept going. He was willing to back up his claim that he could climb that tree, and I had no choice but to watch as he made it only for his foot to slip on the way down.

I’ve never seen someone fall out of a tree before. He didn’t fall backwards. No. He went straight down, narrowly avoiding limbs, one of which he must have grabbed long enough for him to kick himself away from the tree. That was how he ended up on his back instead of his feet. Neither option appealed to me. A fall was a fall.

I rushed over, asking him if he was okay while calling him every name in the book and all he did, after catching the breath the landing knocked out of him, was grin. This idiot was all teeth. There was even a chuckle in his throats as he told me he was going to go again.

That was how a fun date in the park landed us in the emergency room.

© Maura D.,, 2017

Prompt Source: tehuti‘s 100 Writing Prompts

#71: Child’s Play

Child’s Play

Prompt: I need some bandages. For my arms.

“I need some bandages. For my arms.”

Mona looked up from the nurse stitching her own bloody arm and smiled at the familiar face in the crowded room. As if the other girl felt Mona’s eyes, she looked Mona’s way. Their eyes locked and soon enough the girl was scooting around nurses and doctors to get to Mona’s bedside.

“Couldn’t stop following my tail, huh?” Mona asked once the grinning red-head was close enough. “So much for hoping the great Maisie would avenge me.”

Knowing a possible hit was coming, Mona leaned over, which only earned her a stern reminder from the nurse. “Sorry,” she mumbled. She cast a heatless glare Maisie’s way as she righted herself. The fight wouldn’t end because a few of them were down. “Ho-“

“They took out Val and Asia.”

Mona nodded along. She expected more to come but when she looked up, Maisie was already gone. “Silent as air, that one.” Mona searched the beds till she saw the red-hair. If the boys were able to send someone like Maisie to the medic tent then they had someone on their team equally as good, or, if possible, better.

Mona looked down at the nurse. The stitch work was almost done. By her count, it would only be a few more pass throughs with the needle and then her twitching fingers could be back in the fray of things. They’d lose the battle, she could feel it, but the war was far from over. Winter wasn’t a friend to either side, which meant the girls had till spring to strengthen their final wave of attack. Then, and only then, would they be able to go home.

© Maura D.,, 2017

Prompt Source: tehuti‘s 100 Writing Prompts

Grave Whispers

“I’ve never been the confrontational type. I wouldn’t say I don’t have a backbone, though I do know some people who would tell you stories to prove me wrong. I also don’t think I’m shy–well–maybe I’m a little shy but sometimes even a shy person like me can break. For me, I guess it was because of the bigger picture.”

Out of all the people she could look at, Diana couldn’t bring herself from staring at the two girls in the second row, each mirroring the other. Their dresses, though different in style, were both made of soft lace the color of a small blush. A color that contrasted with the none-too-soft and innocent air around them. The diablo duo.

“I know some of you were forced to be here.” Her gaze drifted over to her best friend who nodded his support, and she sent a silent thank you his way before taking a breath. “But I thank you for coming here to honor…” Diana turned to look at the large framed photo of her in a soft yellow blouse “…this top.

This shirt used to be my favorite top, but the people in this room took that from me. I thought about taking something from you too but, instead, I want to give something to you. Something you probably don’t want. So I want to thank you and that top for a few things.”

Diana turned back to the group, her gaze returning to the girls who helped tear her world apart. “Thank you for being there to remind me that no matter how much someone may try, they will never fit in. I remember the day when you all laughed when I ran out of the classroom in tears because you thought it was funny to talk about my dead mother. That top was the last thing I had from her but you didn’t care. So thank you for showing me that valuing people means nothing.

Thank you, Riley, for helping me to see that a hundred dollar bag was worth more than a life. I remember the day I asked you to donate to saving children in need. You told me you didn’t have money for that but you couldn’t stop bragging about your shopping spree. I think that’s what you made fun of my shirt and offered to donate to me instead.

Thank you, Peter, for teaching me that even a prude like me can be worth your time. Do you remember spilling beer on me? I was in that top. And you told me at least now you can see what I hide under my shirts.

Thank you all for showing me that what matters most in this world isn’t love, trust, or honesty. It’s what we can buy, right ladies? It’s what you can charm or bully out of others, right, Peter? Sierra? Riley? It’s sex, popularity, money, power…but who cares, right? Cause I’m dead but you’re all here, at my funeral, shedding fake tears and lying about who you were to me.”

© Maura D.,, 2017

Rallying the Wolves

Prompt (source: The Writer’s Digest)

Soccer Threat: You’re a star soccer player for your country’s national team. Your team has made it to the finals of the World Cup. Just before kickoff, you are hit by a wadded up piece of paper that is thrown at you from the stands. You pick it up, open it and there’s a note: “I’ve kidnapped your spouse. If you don’t lose today’s game, you will never see him/her again.” What do you do? Write this scene.

What? Armin looked up to the stands but there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Fans were cheering, eager for the game to start. Arms and flags were waved proudly but they were all he could make out from the field.

“Heads up, man.”

Armin stared up at the VIP section with his arms over his head in an X till he heard the familiar thunk of the ball. The game was on. He gave one last look to the stands, but still nothing. He only hoped his sisters got the signal. And boy did they.

Within the second it took for the final goal to be made, and counted in their favor, he was escorted off the field by one of his favorite bodyguards. “How was the flight, Uncle?”

Bol smiled an easy smile. “Relaxing. Your sisters booked a private jet to get me here in time to see your winning assist.”

“It should have gone in,” Armin grumbled. But then he remembered why the old man was there, ushering him away from the crowd and the onlookers. His game was important but it didn’t outweigh the life of whoever got kidnapped. “Mom is okay, right?”

Bol didn’t answer despite Armin’s growing nerves. He didn’t have a wife. Not even a girlfriend. What time he had in between practice and games were spent with his friends and his family, when they had time to spare. Francis had his photography. Emma had the clan. Gisela had her interior design company. And their parents, they had the family business. But it was the business or the clan that could have put one of them in trouble.

“Bol.” He tried to stop his Uncle but the old man just pat his shoulder before opening a door and showing him the one person he needed to see. “You’re here,” he sighed at the sight of his mother.

“It’s your first time at the World Cup,” she smiled at him, offering him a water, “and we all saw your signal.”

His father didn’t waste time buttering him up. It reminded him of his uncle. A thought that allowed him to smile despite the confusion. “This hit my head before the game.” He handed over the sweaty paper with a shrug. “It could be for someone else.”

“Not likely.” His father handed the note to his mother, who took her time with it. “Have you been seen with anyone?”


“…Didn’t Anna say she couldn’t wait to be the next Mrs. Wolf?” Everyone looked at Emma expectantly. “Why am I the only one who knows what’s going on online?”

“Because it’s your job?” Gisela grumbled, flicking her sister’s arm. “And why didn’t you tell me?”

The dual sound of their parents clearing their throats cut the girls’ bickering down to secret jabs. But Armin was still lost. “Isn’t she the one who used to sleepover when you were kids?”

The girls nodded in unison. “That’s the one.”

Armin sunk into a nearby chair. The last time he saw the girl, she was a crying mess after his sisters left her to take the heat for one of the pranks. Now, she was a hostage. “I didn’t–” he rung his hands together, the guilt slowly eating at him.

“I know who has her.” Rikku slipped back into the room and passed her phone to Dreu while she smiled softly down at the top of her son’s head. It was hard to ignore her when she was so close. Even harder when he didn’t notice when his mother left or returned but he was glad she had something. “It’s a small group of high stake gamblers who haven’t done their research. Go celebrate. We will take care of it.”

Armin looked up in hope but when he saw the all too familiar dark glint in his parents’ eyes, he sighed. “Don’t kill them.” Twin snorts echoed behind him. No doubt from his sisters. But he couldn’t bother with them. Not when he knew what his mother mean by, take care of it. “Come on. We can’t kill everyone who does something stupid. Plus, mom, you’re retired.” But it fell on deaf ears. Both mother and father smiled as they left.

Desperate, he turned to his uncle. “Stop them.”

“My job is to take care of you three.”


Bol shook his head. “No one will die. But someone may be severely injured. We won’t know till your parents come back. Till then, have fun.”

Armin sighed as he sunk further in his seat. His parents just had to be assassins.

© Maura D.,, 2017