Authors: Harmony Raines
Tags: #General Fiction
Note from the author:
My books are written, produced and edited in the UK where spellings and word usage can vary from U.S. English. The use of quotes in dialogue and other punctuation can also differ.
All rights reserved. This book, or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner without the express written consent of the author or publisher.
This is a work of fiction and is intended for mature audiences only. All characters within are eighteen years of age or older. Names, places, businesses, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, actual events or places is purely coincidental.
© 2015 Harmony Raines
Silver Moon Erotica
Fin looked at the vial in his hand. Charlotte had come here to offer him the chance to be someone else, to be something other than the Minotaur. He would no longer be a creature who, if people ever saw him, would run from in fear.
“This is the picture I drew of you,” she was saying. “This is how I really see you.”
He looked closely at the drawing she presented him with. Fin was unable to believe he could ever look anything like the image of the handsome young man. Fine features, a perfect nose and a charismatic smile. Only the eyes held something of the real Minotaur. Yes, those eyes she had captured perfectly. Dark, but not brooding, with a kind of knowledge of his own imperfections. They were the thing that stopped the face becoming too perfect.
“But this potion comes from the witch Tara?” Now, she was a person he didn’t trust. A witch and a seer: on more than one occasion, Tara had allowed events to take a certain course without conscience. To get the right outcome was all that she cared about, no matter who got hurt. It was how Tara worked.
“Yes. But Zoah used the same potion. It’s quite safe.” She smiled encouragingly at him.
He looked around his gloomy labyrinth. It had been his home for so long. For centuries, he had been hidden away here. The thought of leaving, even if he looked like one of the Gods, was the most frightening thing he could ever imagine.
“This is my home.”
“And it always will be. We just wanted you to come to Spellholm and stay with us for a couple of months. Any time it gets too much, and you want to return, just say the word and either Connor or Zoah will fly you back.
Fin looked at the two men, noting their expressions. These two huge, well-muscled men were dragon shifters. He had helped both of their mates over the last few of years. He could see that was the only reason they were here. It certainly was not because they felt any sympathy for the Minotaur.
Born with the body of a man and the head of a bull, cursed to stay hidden from the world. Once upon a time, he would have hungrily feasted on human flesh. Now he had become more civilised, outgrowing that which he had been destined to be. His myth had fallen out of mind and here he stood, able to make a choice. Live here alone and be forgotten, or leave with the only two true friends he had in the world.
He pulled the stopper from the vial and tipped it up, to empty the contents into his mouth. His eyes rested on the picture Charlotte had drawn. Nothing happened.
“A falsehood,” he said. Fin cursed himself for not knowing better. Hope was for fools.
“Wait,” said Serena gently, putting her hand on his arm and watching his features closely.
A twitch started in the corner of his mouth; it spread upwards, pulling his face painfully with it, as though he was a fish caught on a hook. Then the other side started. The pain increased, so bad he fell to his knees, his hand holding his face. He roared in pain and anguish. It was as though his skin was peeling off and his teeth were being pulled, all at the same time.
For endless minutes he writhed on the floor, his eyes looking up, pleading for it to end. Serena and Charlotte stood looking at him in horror, frozen to the spot. Then Charlotte knelt by the side of him, her hand on his shoulder, comfortingly rubbing his arm while fire consumed his flesh.
And then the pain subsided. Serena smiled and fished in her purse for a mirror. Fin sat up with Charlotte’s help, his whole body trembling as the pain passed. Looking in the mirror, he felt confusion, for there, staring back at him, was a face he didn’t recognise. Only the eyes reminded him of the reflection of himself he would glance at when the sea was calm enough to mirror his hideous face.
“Are you ready to face the world, Fin?” Serena asked.
Feeling dazed, he pushed himself to stand. His hands went to touch his face, feeling for his broad, long nose, which was no longer there. Now pain free, he looked once more at his own reflection, seeing his own hand touch the smooth skin of his new human form.
He smiled. It wasn’t hideous. “Yes. I believe I am.”
She walked through the woods, taking a shortcut that led to her house. It was a path she had walked countless times before, but this time she felt a presence around her; she was being watched. Trying not to let her fear show, she kept her pace steady and did not look around. If they didn’t know she was on to them, it would give her a few more precious seconds.
To do what?
That was a good question and, despite the imminent danger she was in, she had no idea. This kind of thing never happened to her, no one ever took any notice of her. In the whole of Spellholm, she was remarkably ordinary amongst creatures most definitely extraordinary. Apart from her visions. But those, she kept firmly to herself.
And for good reason. When she was a child, before she moved to Spellholm, she had told her teacher, Mrs. Monckton, not to take the main road out of town, for there was going to be a big pile-up. Her teacher had looked at her good naturedly and smiled. Sybil liked Mrs. Monckton and wanted to save her. However, as many adults did afterwards, she looked at Sybil as if she had been marked by the devil and went home on her usual route. Mrs. Monckton, along with ten other people, died when a truck crushed her car into the vehicle in front of her.
Sybil’s next encounter with her gift left her with a caning when she foretold a plane crash. The priest was called, and her mom insisted he performed an exorcism. At six years old, Sybil figured that unless she wanted to suffer the consequences, it was best to pretend her gift was gone. She then spent the next twelve years pretending to be so ordinary that people would walk past her in the street and never give her a second look.
And then she had found Spellholm. Or, it had found her. By way of a vision, she had come here. Unusual, because her visions usually only told of momentous happenings, like wars, plane crashes and bombings. Or natural disasters, like floods and earthquakes.
The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end; she could feel eyes watching her, and not just a single pair. There was one directly behind her. She thought that if she turned around, she would come face to face with whoever was stalking her. But she didn’t want to know. Instead, she kept her eyes fixed firmly on the path ahead, trying to think of the closest house to here.
The one where the dragon lived with his mate. She didn’t know them; she kept herself firmly to herself, only venturing out when she needed groceries, like today. But they would help her, surely. Often she had watched the dragons flying above her in the early evening and thought how wonderful it was to have the power of flight. Now if only she had she could spread her wings and fly away from the danger behind her.
A rustle in the leaves told her they were becoming braver. Soon they would make their move. Her heart began to beat rapidly. Would she be able to outrun them? Should she run now or wait for the last moment? She didn’t know. Her quiet life had kept her away from all danger; even as a teenager she had stayed in and read books rather than going out and mixing with ordinary people. They scared her, because she knew she was different and that one day she would slip up and the world would know just how extraordinary Sybil was. Therefore, she had been very careful.
A sound up ahead made her start; she peered through the trees, looking to see who was there around the bend in the path. Was there an ambush waiting for her?
Feeling sick, struggling to put one foot in front of the other, Sybil had the strangest feeling that the reason she came to Spellholm was waiting for her right there in the bend of the path. For good or bad, she was about to meet her fate.
With a sob, she stepped bravely forward, turning around the bend, the trees clearing to reveal a man. She stopped. He dropped the wood he was carrying and turned his head away from her. Why wouldn’t he look at her? But right then her pursuers pounced, and she realised he looked away so that he didn’t have to watch her being torn limb from limb.
The creature before her looked like a gargoyle; it had small wings and an ugly face with sharp pins for teeth. It was small, but she knew she shouldn’t let that fool her: they were deadly. She looked around for something she could use as a weapon. The flour she carried in her grocery bag would not do enough damage, but it was better than nothing. Then another creature landed. Turning, she tried to decide which one to take on first, her hands trembling as she made ready to strike.
Then one of the gargoyles flew through the air, hitting the tree opposite with a sickening thud and shattering to pieces. With Sybil distracted, the second one pounced, its teeth slicing along her arm. Pain filled her; blood ran down to soak her dress, turning it from white to red. She didn’t scream—her visions had shown her enough strange things that this was nothing in comparison.
From her peripheral vision, she saw the man step forward again; this time he used his big strong hands, wrapping them around the creature's neck and holding it tight. As if it didn’t need to breathe, the gargoyle fought against her saviour. It thrashed about, trying to strike out with its sharp claws. But the man held it firm. Then, as if tiring of the fight, the man made one of his hands into a tight fist and smacked the gargoyle in the head. There was a sickening crunch, but the creature did not shatter; instead, it drooped limply in his hand.
Taking great big gulps of air, she tried to calm herself. It had suddenly hit her that this was real. She had spent so much time immersed in her visions that she sometimes forgot that the waking part of her life was real. Feeling faint, she went to a fallen tree and sat down. Her arm hurt; blood was pouring from it and she knew she was going to pass out.
She looked at the man in front of her, knowing he was her only hope. He held the gargoyle firmly, but he hadn’t moved. Instead, he stared at her with his beautiful, soulful eyes. “Thank you,” she managed to say.