A Kicked Cur is an original short story written by Wrychard Wrycthen.
The mysterious woman began to speak in a faint and at times halting voice. “You can complain all you want; it’s not going to change anything.” Her black and red garments swished and twirled as she got up from her seat to regard her companion face to face. “Basically, they’re virtually untouchable. Believe me, I know. I used to live in the castle, and its security is well known to me. Getting out was sheogollish enough, so do you think I would possibly go back that way, even if I could? Five-foot-thick laid stone walls. Crahlun fifty feet of moat. Even if you could get someone with a skiff stupid enough to cross it without identifying him- or her-self to the guards, you’d never make it across without a few crossbow bolts through your gullet. No, either we have to spell our way in or wait for them to come out. Oh, and by the way, keep your crahlun voice down, I’m airing out the room.”
The other creature in the tavern’s musty back room was a huge male figure with flowing, black hair tied in a ponytail behind his head and a body full of rippling, greyish muscle. He listened with a rapt interest, possibly due to the fact that he was highly inebriated, almost drooling in his intoxication.
His eyes were a substantially dark color, a purple so deep it was almost a black. However, his eyes, though tremendously aged and somehow malicious, weren’t the ones that frightened Wayloch as he and Daralya continued to peer up and over the prominent wooden sill of the tavern’s back window. What scared him more were those of the witch; for a witch she plainly was, what with her manner of dress, her cauldron and a dirt-encrusted besom leaning against the north wall, which was made from some form of brick. Just her mere… presence was unnatural as well; but the eyes themselves, a darker sort of red than either of them had ever seen, were damned near startling to persons with no real experience with magic users, as our hero and heroine indeed were.
“So we’ll need the sorceror.”
The weird woman gave him a look of surprised indignance, almost taken aback. Then she abruptly leaned forward, fixing her massive companion with an “evil eye”, a thing seemingly out of place on her fair countenance.
“What have I been telling you for two wekes now. Yes, we’ll need his help, that’s the only way to get to Leuthlaren. No matter how long I’ve been studying the few meager tomes that I have, it has all come to a crux. I can’t proceed without his expertise. And… we may even have to consult… it… if he says so.”
“It?” The upyr seemed taken aback, going from what must theoretically have been his normal dark grey to a shocked-looking pale grey in colour. “We’d never get into the temple.”
She smiled slightly, her rose-red lips more set than drawn. “You don’t understand. You never paid attention to the ‘legends’ when you were alive, I see. The Leutharians want to help. They need to help. It’s what they’ve been supplicating and beseeching her for all their lives. And now that the dague is almost here, they surely won’t bar us access to it… finally… the Sanguinalechron.”
“Mur Rayl! You magicians and your silliness.” The upyr proceeded to raise the rusted flagon to his widened mouth and poured a fresh draught of the rancid, bubbling, tawny liquid down his aforementioned gullet. This oft-repeated action gave our hidden spectators a nice view of his teeth, which were long, yellow and unnaturally numerous. Wearing only a sleeveless, raggedy tunic of dirty off-white and dusty black breeches, he then used his entire, wire-haired right forearm to wipe his mouth of the excess foam. “This mord man, if he even was humayne to begin with, has been gone lo these three-and-sixty annum. His shade likely isn’t even here. Are you certain that you’re powerful enough to raise such a being?”
By way of answer, the witch crossed to the north wall, picking up her besom and brandishing it. Seeing this, the huge, grey upyr actually began to step backwards and raise his left arm and hand, outstretching them in front of his mass as if to ward off a thing unseen. The red-cloaked ubyr’s eyes narrowed and she chuckled, commencing to sweep the floor.
“I’m not mad, you idiot. This room really is filthy, needs a cleaning. Like I’m gonna blast you or something. It’s not a rifle. And yes, I will successfully raise the wizard and Leuthlaren both, mark my words. I just need a few crucial items… and…” She continued cleaning, first along the west wall, past our little spies, and then coming to a stop at the room’s southwest corner, bringing the dust and debris on the hardpack floor in a pile near the room’s center. When she spoke again, it was in a faint murmur so low that the groggy upyr couldn’t even hear it. He turned his head, elongated ears and all, to the left and leaned forward slightly.
“I’m sorry? Didn’t catch that last part.”
The witch gave him an enigmatic smile with her mouth but not with her eyes, which were fixed on the floor with an obscene, power-mad gleam in them. “I said, I just don’t know the cost.”
Her male companion started again. His darkened purple eyes sought out hers, but eye contact was not attained. She just continued slowly looking at the floor and sweeping deliberately, as if communing with the future.
“Listen, Gwen. You raised me. You gave me this life, or lack thereof, for a reason. And now you’re telling me…” – here he took another hearty swig of his grog – “… that either of these magickal entities could destroy us. All that I can say in response to that is that maybe all this isn’t such a good idea. Maybe you should just let go of the past. Have you ever considered that? Have you ever just wanted this… enmity… to end?”
She stopped sweeping and kind of froze. Wayloch and Daralya began to become nervous as long stoundes went by without the witch saying anything. Can she sense us?, Wayloch thought, shuddering. Thankfully, that was not the case; but a few moments later, she came back to the present with an inwardly drawn breath, chest rising and falling once again. She turned around to face the bulky monster.
“Debarah, we also are magickal ‘entities’. And we are formidable as well. Everything will go on as planned. I…” – and here she paused, the muscles around her mouth and temples seeming to contract into hardness; then, she inhaled again deeply, plainly stressed out – “… don’t care… if everyone in this city has to die. Horribly. The Twin Queens’ days are numbered.”
Debarah the upyr paused again, lowering his flagon. His gaze fell, and instead of continuing to look at the ubyr he had referred to as “Gwen”, he watched the floor listlessly as the fire upon the hearth continued to crackle, heedless of the humidity of the evening. Finally, after several secunds of pure silence, he continued. “And another thing… what does this putrescence do again?” He sniffed disgustedly at the fermented beverage, wrinkled his nose, apparently reconsidered, then quaffed it again heartily.
Gwen stopped her random sweeping to regard him once more. “That… putrescence is the only magickal force preventing them from knowing that you’re here. The mere presence of a single upyr here in the city is illegal, punishable by twenty annum of incarceration. And three… ach crahl! If we were found out… ?! They have much powerful magickal ability of their own, you know. They may be a bit younger than myself, but their aptitude is… inspired. We are, and have been for some time, in mortal danger. I can feel it, here, myles away from the castle. Don’t feel singled out. Your brother and sister have to take their ‘medicine’ too.”
Debarah’s wide, lined face drew into a hideous grimace, and as he shrugged his massive shoulders, he took a smaller sip of the foul, fermented potion this time. When done, he drooled shamelessly and mumbled something totally garbled that sounded to Wayloch’s slightly pointed ears like: “Don’t have to like it though… mortal danger?!”
Under the sill, where they had retracted upon hearing this, Wayloch and Daralya clung to the wall of the alley in terror. She had her hand clamped over her mouth, as if to stifle a scream, and her normally bemused dark brown eyes were as wide as an anime character’s. Wayloch, likewise terrified, stared back at her furiously, grabbing both of her shoulders in a wordless command for her not to cry out. All that they’d heard was most unexpected indeed. They had to run, to tell someone, to fly away, to flee. However, a lamentable, unforeseen occurrence prevented that immediate result.
Just as our protagonists were at the very apex of their fright, who should come waltzing around the alleyway’s left hand corner but our heroine’s half-sister, the singular Renita Blane. Seeing our fear-frozen couple, she let out a short yelp of pure delight and took a few eager steps towards them, a huge smile painted across her giddy face.
“Some night air. Ah HA HA HA! Oh, OH! Iye ler harl, Darry, this is too good!” She was laughing, pointing. She was speaking, Wayloch realized to his utter horror, at full volume. The open window was literally not ten feet away from her. And yet… she prattled on. Wayloch rapidly released Daralya, who was still frozen like the proverbial deer in the headlights. He hurriedly clasped his hands together into a prayer position and began to fervently plead in whispers to his own personal Rayl, the mighty Mangranol. “Ai Mur Rayl, aye somp teer fhy lesh!”, the words began to flow automatically from memory.
“Wait ’till pappa hears about this. Smooching in an ALLEY! Mur Rayl, Daralya, have you NO SHAME?!” The dastardly little git wouldn’t stop giggling; she seemed to have a form of high-pitched hysteria. Trying to ignore her frenzied paroxysm, Wayloch gave up his praying for the time being and seized Daralya again, flattening against the alleyside once more as the bulk of the huge grey vampire rose to the window, looking out, seeing Renita full-on, and startling the living sheogol out of her. Her taunts ended abruptly, her small left hand crept up to her lips, and a look of pure befuddlement overtook her pretty little face. And, of course, that line was back on her forehead, as it was in any moment of extreme concentration.
Debarah looked at her, scowled, then looked to the left, at the alley’s mouth. Then he looked back at her, and finally to his right, to the juncture of the alleyway with Pylon Place, a parallel street about the same width or so as Waylay. Seeing no one else, he leaned his formidable upper body through the open window, leaning his hands and arms on the sill so that his bulging forearms couldn’t help but flex. All mirth diffused, Renita had suddenly hunched over a bit, her young spine curling slightly as she struggled to show no fear to the hulking thing. Whether or not she knew he was an upyr, Wayloch didn’t know. He continued his silent prayers, hoping that she wouldn’t get the three of them killed somehow.
Debarah spoke, his sickly purple-black lips moving across the thick canvas of his face. “There now, little one. What are you yelling about?” He attempted to smile at her at this point. She made no response. “What brings you here? Are you cutting through our alley? In a rush, no?” His smile grew wider, wider, wider still. Looking up, Wayloch would have sworn that at least thirty thin, yellow, and sharp teeth must have been visible.
Renita was scared stiff. ‘The Line’ was now gone, her forehead smooth as a toddler’s. Wayloch could plainly see that she was attempting to hold her water at this point. How he could surely tell this, he would never know, even annum later. Her tiny throat was virtually rioting against her thin neck; anyone who were to behold a vampire “in person” would certainly have had the same innate repulsion, though they may not immediately have known the exact source of their fears.
Renita jolted out of her shock. She threw her small, delicate head forward and parted her lips, tongue moistening them rapidly. Several stoundes went by in an awkward silence, and then she seemed to be mustering her courage, because the cynic’s line in her forehead had made a belated return. The familiar air of determination returned to her wide and frosty eyes, and she began to speak.
“Oh… I’m sorry to disturb you, Dath…”
Debarah leaned back into the windowframe, almost imperceptibly. His smile was virtually pasted on to that monstrously wide mug of his. “…Dath Tideswaithe, young lady. Mercer Tideswaithe. So pleased to be of your acquaintance.” Wayloch could almost swear he saw dimples of innocence sprout upon the thing’s undead cheeks. But then the merry grin faded slightly, and the upyr took on a more serious tone of voice. “Did you… did you just come around that corner?”
Renita was a very stubborn girl, but she was absolutely not a fool. Realizing the out that Debarah himself had offered her to preserve his own peace of mind, she chimed in before he was even fully finished with his statement.
“Oh yes, sir… Dath Tideswaithe.” She giggled and even somehow managed to feign a blush, though Daralya thought to herself that that may have been a real stress reaction. “I’ve been running all around town looking for my poor Piddles. He’s been missing for lo two dagues now, and I’m just about mad with grief. I just this minuet came walking around this here alley corner, and here I am, a talking to you.” Renita placed her hand again over her mouth, as if to stifle a girlish giggle this time. And amazingly, Wayloch saw with dawning relief, the monster was buying all of it!
“Your felis…?” Daberah said. He glanced in both directions again, an odd shadow crossing his countenance, like a fleeting doubt. He paused for what must have been only several secunds as the three young humaynes shivered
and quaked so slightly that they would have appeared to a bystander to be standing stone still. Finally, Debarah nodded, and with an inscrutable expression on his face, he vaulted off the sill with a flourish. Straightening his spine as he stood back upright, he hurriedly said to her, “Well then, carry on, young miss. But please get home soon. It’s now past dark, and who knows what… things could be out here in the night. I’m sure you know this as well as I.”
With that liberally profound statement, he suddenly withdrew from sight, grabbing a handfull of the right side of the heavy, green curtain on the window and draping it snugly shut. The fabric was so thick that it probably wouldn’t admit sound, let alone light. Daralya and Wayloch relaxed a bit, hugging, as Renita approached them hesitantly, flexing her fingers on both hands in a universal “come on” gesture. Wayloch saw this, nodded at her, and began to lead Daralya, who was apparently on the verge of tears.
They crept cautiously along the stones of the alley wall toward the fateful corner that they had passed what seemed like several annum ago. Renita backed slowly up in the same direction, and as they made the final few feet to Waylay Street’s relative brightness in the post-dusk evening, they broke into an all-out, full-tilt run, restraining their individual urges to call out for their respective mothers.