Found

I decided to do a number of Sword and Sorcery novels after I finish the Core series. The Warriors, Heroes, and Demons stories came from that. I have always loved those types of books, ever since I came across the first set of Conan stories in a bookmobile many, many, years ago.

In addition to the WHD stories, this concept started to percolate in my head after something I wrote as a writing group exercise. I will continue to play with the idea and see what develops. The following is what it consists of so far.

Found

The cabin sat in a small clearing surrounded on all sides by forests of pine. Flashes of birch and beech were visible through the green. From his vantage point in the trees on one side, the watcher could see that it wasn’t a large building, probably not more than a small combination kitchen/living room with two small bedrooms in the rear. A roofed over porch extended from the square logs of the front wall with large flat rocks forming single steps at the front and on the side he could see.

The porch was occupied by an old woman and the almost old man, sitting in wooden rocking chairs, watching the light seep out of the day, the watcher assumed. They were unaware they were being observed. He was sure of that. He had not made a single sound since they had come outside, which was shortly after he had sent the ‘found’ message to the others.

The others will be here shortly, he told himself. Then he would be able to kill and eat. His stomach growled at the thought of food. It had been almost a full moon cycle since he had last eaten, on his first day in this dimension. He still wore the appearance of the soft, fat, human he had killed—soft, fat, and delicious. His stomach growled again as the hunger gnawed at his insides and at his reasoning.

“I should kill them now. Why wait for the others? Why share the meat?” They are old, helpless, and their meat is probably tough, nothing like the fatty softness of his last meal so long ago. His stomach growled again. They are to be killed anyway, it won’t change the outcome if I do it now, and they could hear my stomach growling if I wait any longer. That last thought helped him decide.

He released the human shape he was wearing, and the cloths that covered the soft, pudgy, disguise ripped and shredded as he regained his true shape. Muscles swelled, claws extended, fangs grew as he shape shifted, and the rags fell away from his true form. This time when his stomach growled, saliva drooled from his snout. Puffs of acidic smoke occurred where it struck the ground.

Five leaps he reasoned, five leaps would take him to the porch and the old woman’s throat. Both victims would be too started to react--rip her throat out with a swipe of his clawed figures as he passed, and then take the man’s throat in his jaws. More saliva drooled from his snout as he bunched his muscles. With a roar he leapt forward. The man’s head had turned by his third leap, a startled, incredulous look on his face. The old woman was slower. He was leaving the ground for his final leap before she turned her head and smiled.

Something that felt like thick syrup enveloped his body. Forward movement stopped immediately, and he hung in mid-leap before the woman who rose easily from her chair, walked to his now immobile form, and placed her hand on his shoulder.

“How long?”

He tried not to answer, but the words were torn from him. He tried to make them sound like a snarl, but they escaped as a pitiful, fearful, whimper. “Ten.”

The old woman spoke to the man in a voice that left no room for argument or question. “Get the packs, now! Exit by the back door.”

As the man darted into the cabin the old woman smiled again. “Thank you, it has been too long.” She kept her hand on his shoulder as his body shrivelled to an empty husk. He was aware of what was happening to him until almost the very end. The old woman turned to the chair and placed the dead husk into it, stepping off the porch she headed to the back of the cabin. The man was coming out the back door as she arrived. Handing her a pack, he led them into the woods.

They had only walked for five minutes when she called a stop. “Remove your pack and place it here beside mine. Now squat behind them,” she instructed as she removed a silver belt from around her waist. She shook the belt, and it became a silver rope which seemed to lengthen as she handled it. She stood behind the man, reached over him, and allowed the rope to lie before him on the ground.

“Spread your arms and hold the rope on the ground about three feet apart.”

He did as instructed. The rope seemed alive under his palms as the woman pulled on it to achieve the length she wanted. She stepped over him, and holding the ends of the rope in each hand she shaping it outwards with her elbows to make a rough rectangle.

“Remove your hands from the rope. In a moment the area bound by my rope will change. When I say ‘go’, throw the packs thru and spring through yourself, but be careful not to disturb the rope. I will be right behind you.”

He looked up at her hands as she pressed the ends of the rope together, but it wasn’t necessary. He felt the change in the air as the two ends met. The space encircled by the rope shimmer and then changed. Suddenly there was snow on the ground ahead of them, the trees were not the pines of this forest, and the air caressing his face had a different, sweater smell. When the command to go came, he did as she had instructed, turning quickly after his forward somersault to see how she followed. She ducked her head, stepped forward, and let the rope ends come apart. The portal shut with a bang.

“Grab your pack, Junior. We aren’t safe yet. They could track us here, so we have to keep moving.” She shouldered her own pack. “You first,” she indicated a direction through the trees. “I have to hide our trail.”

As he led the way he could hear her chanting words behind him. After an hour or so they came to a small stream where they drank and filled their canteens. He took the opportunity to ask a question. “Where are we, Mother?”

“We are home, boy. We are finally home.”