Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Wednesday Snippets Will Not Die

 Ooh, okay! I still have some non-spoilery snippets, apparently.

At first all she saw was darkness. The candlelight died away as her mind drifted, leaving her floating in shifting shadows. She breathed deeply, slowly, and didn't fight the darkness. Wandering through the aether to scry was nothing like being dragged along by the relentless rush of the ley line; she was confident that she could bring her mind back to her body any time she liked.

She focused on Tristesse. The taste of her lips, the scent of her skin. Her cool, cat-like amusement at human quirks, and her alien disdain for human weakness. The shocking red of her hair and her sly, quiet smile. Her dry sense of humour and her infuriating secrecy. All the things Lola knew about her, all the things that drew her to the demon and drove her crazy, she gathered them up and flung them into the aether, and hoped her senses would hook into something.

She didn't know how long she'd been floating when the darkness slowly began to brighten, as if the moon had come out from behind night-sky clouds. A scene formed, dream-like and surreal. A cemetery at midnight. Dead leaves rustling amongst weathered tombstones. Stone angels staring down sightlessly while bats flitted past soundlessly. Lola could almost feel the chill of the wind, the first touch of frost in the air. It was Crown Hill Cemetery. It had to be.

A black-garbed figure caught her eye, bent over one of the burial plots. A flash of crimson hair and pale skin confirmed it was Tristesse. And she was digging. The scrying spell didn't allow Lola to move closer; she was no more physically in the cemetery than if she'd been watching on TV. But even from her distant viewpoint, it was obvious the demon duchess was working hard. Lola saw clods of dirt flying into the air, splatting wetly around her. What the hell was she doing?

A twig snapped somewhere off in the darkness. Tristesse didn't pause her digging, but Lola's nerves fired. She scanned the shadowed graveyard warily, hoping it was just a fox or a raccoon. But a light burned in the shadows, like coals in a dying fire. And it grew brighter and bolder as Lola watched, until she could clearly see the hulking canine form slinking through the trees ringing the cemetery. Its eyes glowed a baleful red in the blackness of its fur. Sparks trailed in its wake, and a smoky cloud billowed around it like a halo. It moved with a slow, deliberate pace that chilled Lola.

She wanted to be sick. Tristesse seemed oblivious to the creature, digging away with single-minded purpose. Surely she must hear it? Or feel it, feel the oppressive weight of its presence? Lola could and she wasn't even there. It beat against her psyche like a war drum.

There had to be a way to warn Tristesse. Lola readied herself to drop out of her scrying trance, already trying to work out how fast she could get to Crown Hill. Already knowing she'd never get there in time.

In the split-second before she dropped out of the aether and back to herself, she saw the hound leap in a blazing arc. She saw Tristesse whirl, her shovel raised like a weapon. She heard herself scream a warning that fell into the void.

And she snapped back into her body sharply, flooded with terror.

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