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The following is a collaborative story between 6 blogs, organized by Akira Okihu at http://dreamyidea.wordpress.com/

This is my contribution below, Manes, Part Two.

For part 1, please go to http://certainlyshort.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/manes-part-one/

For part 3, please go to http://anelusivehero.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/manes-part-3/

For part 4, please go to http://dreamyidea.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/manes-part-4/

For part 5, please go to http://therosespen.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/manes-part-5/

For part 6, please go to http://vozey.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/manes-part-six/

MANES, part two

At first Kyrian could see nothing.  The light crescendoed with an intensity that convinced Kyrian he was blinded.  But a darkness began to swell up from the ground, enabling him to see, and realize that he was not alone. An uncertain silhouette was facing him.

As Kyrian stood with both his hands held out before him in order to block the final flashes of light, and to prepare himself for defense, he saw the creature take on a similar stance.  He began to think he was staring at himself, as if his soul had become trapped in the realm of demons, to be forced to watch his physical self being ripped to pieces.  He heard of demons that were devourers of the soul, destroyers of the flesh, yet he never believed they existed.  Victims of these supposed beings suffered indescribable and infinite agonies.  The Manes would not open again with time enough to save Kyrian, if this was his fate.

Kyrian forced himself to divert his mind from those thoughts.  Fear would cloud his wits, which he needed since he planned to survive.  Lowering his arms in response to the dimming light, he saw that it wasn’t himself standing before him; it was a young man.  The man was clad strangely; with a red tunic of sorts, bearing symbols which possibly formed words; dull blue hosen; and brightly colored footwear not appearing to be made from skins but from an odd fabric.  Kyrian and this man dropped their arms and faced each other.

Before either of them had a chance to speak, a vile sound emerged from beside them.  They held their ears which burned inside from the penetrating bellow.  They looked around and could see no other place to go but down a narrow tunnel.  Both men were reluctant to enter, but as the sound continued, and they saw in the shadows a large, pulsating mass squirming towards them, they nodded to each other and entered the passageway.

They ran the best they could, squeezed in, barely able to see and bumping into each other.  When it seemed as if the creature was no longer behind them, and the tunnel broadened, their pace became a steady walk.

Once he caught his breath, Kyrian’s new companion turned and said, “My name’s Abin.”

“Kyrian.”

“You were bringing gifts to your ancestors?”

“I was.”

“And you don’t know what that…thing is.”

“I don’t.”

“A demon, maybe.”

“Maybe.”

“Then you don’t know any more than I do.”

“I probably do, but not in this situation.”

There was a pause before Abin exhaled a brief laugh, and Kyrian felt a little at ease by the amusement.

Abin resumed his point, “I’m just wondering why this has happened and if it has ever happened before.  And why me?  And now, why you?  Why us?  And where are you from?”

“I’m wondering all that too, but–” Kyrian turned in the direction of the demon.  The echo of its movement slurped through the long tunnel, a sound so disgusting it was gut-wrenching to hear.  “I don’t think we have time for these questions right now.”

Abin shook his head as they hastened their steps.  The faster they moved, the swifter the demon pursued.  They could feel the putrid heat from its form exuding against their backs.  They began to run, clearly seeing the tunnel; their path was vivid ahead of them.  As they turned around a bend, despite that they had seen another entrance, it was the cave wall.  Kyrian and Abin crumbled to the ground, uninjured but stunned.  Within a few seconds following the impact, they roused up to confront whatever had been chasing them.  Instead, they faced something else altogether.

It was tall and thin and didn’t appear to be solid.  Rather its body was comprised entirely of a thick, black and silken mist, taking on the shape of a stalagmite.  Wisps of mist dispersed with every wavering movement of the creature.  The young men looked around and saw that they were enclosed in this niche in the cavern, no doorway, no escape.  The entity gestured with what would be hands as if to have them sit, and they obliged it.  It turned and its form broke and spread, while it moaned in a saddened melody.  Kyrian and Abin were consumed with melancholy so intensely, that when the creature collected its shape and wisped around to face them, they were willing to do anything to please it.

The thing attempted to speak, or so it seemed, in rasp of a voice that sounded as if whatever vocal chords it might have had were being shred and torn apart.  Kyrian and Abin didn’t respond, prompting the thing to release a guttural shriek which caused blood to leak from their ears.

The hot, rancid fumes that were its breath nauseated Abin.  He struggled not to get sick, in the case that his vomiting would insult the creature.

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