Two moons over, p.29
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       Two Moons Over, p.29

           Levi Shipley
 
grew larger. He stood at the gates of the lost city, Chrissenia. A place fallen to the hands of Dahzir, and soon all its former inhabitants would have their heads in baskets. Their faces would be spit upon before their lives ended, and they’d be mocked and falsely judged by the Leviathans. The public would see Dahzir’s iron fist and respect him for protecting them from these people, for that is how he would have it presented. Like all those inside the walls of this old fort were monsters, but in truth it was they, the prosecutors, who were monsters.

  He expected to see a contingency of guards stationed around the walls, but the place was empty. Even the animals that had made this place home, since the old residents had been evicted, were gone. The place was hollow for Cecil to behold. He walked in and saw the town square, now overgrown with weeds. He saw the fronts of houses with shattered windows and missing doors. The place had been ransacked.

  He walked into what might have been a store. The inside should have been absolute dark, but he saw it all without light to aid him. The counter had been wooden, and the smashed and rotting stools were as well. Not a single thing was as it should be. Everything was ruined.

  Cecil thought of five friends sitting at one of the overturned tables when it was upright. They sat and drank coffee, because it was ceremony. They talked about where they were and where they were going. And they raised each other’s morale, though they were missing one of their closest. As he stood thinking of them, his third person point of view started shifting. Now he was sitting with them, because he was one of them. He had been looking at their backs, but now they turned to him as he spoke, though Cecil couldn’t hear his own words. He stopped hearing all the words. Instead, he remembered them, and he saw their faces.

  Three

  The Order was here, and there were others. Normal citizens with happy faces walked all about. They all talked, and Cecil was one of them. And they were going for Hodge. These memories flooded in and filled him with joy. Darkness yet lied ahead, as what happened after leaving Chrissenia was still dark. But from Earth to here was all very clear again.

  He had been a werewolf, and it was Salina that gave him the power. She did it without the consent of the others, and for that Arthur had chastised her. But Cecil was special even among them, he remembered. He was in the line of the first, Siegfried. How to bring on the change still alluded him for now, but he could remember having control over it. He was no monster after all.

  He stepped outside, his thoughts clearer than before. He looked up at the sky and saw Artemis and Orion looking down at him. Both were crescents and overlapped, just as they had two years ago. Cecil looked up and let the beams of moonlight light his face. He remembered the ring they made then.

  Cecil sat against the base of a fallen statue, what it once depicted was lost. There were toys and other trinkets lying on the stone. The residents had been evicted in haste and left many things behind. But everything was now rotted or had been trampled underfoot. He remembered himself bringing the orc boy here. Partheus offered to take the child in while they journeyed for Fraushein. The elf had been different then, happier maybe. The fortress had been full of life, and the werewolves made an agreement. Cecil made an agreement. And if these memories were to keep their meaning, he had to keep his promises.

  He walked through the north exit, just as he had before. But this time he was alone, and there was not a soul left to wave to him as he departed. The gate that had been on this end was torn down and lying in its own rust to the right of the exit. It appeared to have been ripped from its fastening, as the stone above him was broken where the gate had once rested when drawn up. The path ahead appeared better worn than the one he’d just come through, and he knew this was the route of the exodus.

  Four

  Again the trail through the forest lit itself for him, and Cecil was guided along his old path. The shrubs and plants along the path had been trampled and beaten down. He knew the flora had time to recover, but it was as if the forest was in mourning and refused to let itself heal. He stepped over a shoe no larger than his hand and wondered what child had lost it. There were many relics along this path. He thought it made a fine Hansel and Gretel bread crumb trail.

  He came to Ruby Run, but where he was along the river there was a steel bridge going across. As he stepped on the bridge he saw three corpses in the middle. They hadn’t rotted and, preserved by the forest for Cecil to see. The largest of the three was a dogman female. She had the face of a German Shepherd and was clutching two children in her arms. Their throats were stained with dry blood, and the fear in all three’s eyes was swimming.

  As the full horror of what Cecil saw dawned on him, the corpses vanished in a mist. In their place were five figures now, all of which seemed to be made of fog. There was a male dogman arguing with a man wielding a buster. The man looked like Hodge.

  He couldn’t hear them, but the dogman (also German Shepherd) seemed to be yelling at the man with the sword. The three other dogmen, his family most likely, were behind him. The children were the farthest from Hodge’s body. Cecil supposed that other refugees were standing around, but he was only shown these main players. Dahzir in Hodge’s form wordlessly and effortlessly took the man by the neck and held him over the edge of the bridge. The woman got on her knees and pleaded with Dahzir, but he didn’t seem to hear her. Dahzir plunged that horribly lethal blade into the man’s belly. Cecil didn’t see any ethereal blood, but he supposed that there had been much of it. Dahzir retrieved the blade and dropped the man in the river. Now the woman was crying hysterically, and her children were doing likewise.

  Dahzir appeared to realize that the woman existed and turned around, staring not at her but her children with an uncaring smile. The woman began shaking her head as if to tell Dahzir not to continue whatever he planned on doing. He took a step at her, and she charged him in response, her teeth bared and her eyes streaming. He knocked her away with a quick swipe, never even taking his eyes off the children. She went sprawling on her hands and knees and stood up again almost immediately, but almost was too late. Hodge’s body was too fast, and in Dahzir’s hands it was a fearsome tool. Dahzir had both children clutched in one hand by the skin and fur on their necks. Cecil couldn’t tell what gender the children were, as they were too young and furry to be distinguished, but he thought he saw the woman’s lips say “Don’t hurt my girls, please!” She might have added something about not resisting anymore, but Cecil was never any good at reading lips and thought he got the most important part anyway.

  Hodge’s face contorted in a very odd manner. The left side of his face seemed to be frowning, and its eye welling up. He looked as if he was having a stroke of some sort, but then the right side seemed to move over the left and it all became the same. Once the face settled, Dahzir’s blade leveled at the children’s necks. The woman screamed and rushed forward. Hodge’s left leg rose and kicked her in the stomach hard. As she sprawled again and was unable to get up for pain of a broken hip, the blade’s edge slid along the necks of the pups. Again he saw no blood, but the crying faces of the children went limp and they were dropped in front of the woman. The mother grabbed her two dead children, and now the tears flowed faster as she mouthed the word NO over and over again. The fur on either side of her face was being matted down by the water, and she took no notice or care that Dahzir was now behind her with his sword coming down.

  The new king of Destursha whispered something in the woman’s ear and gave it a lick. She seemed to not hear or feel either of these things but clutched her children more tightly to her chest. Their lifeless faces were pressed against hers. Dahzir pulled her head back so that her neck was exposed, and her head complied if only a bit reluctant. She was too distraught to fight back. All her energy was in clutching the pups and letting her eyes run free. Dahzir smiled down at her unnoticing face as he pulled the blade across her throat. He let the woman’s head fall forward. She
was left to sit upright, dead and holding her dead children. The leader of this country, this world, was enjoying every moment. All hail the king, murderer of families.

  When this was done, the mist faded away as if by a strong gust of wind, though the air was calm. Cecil saw what he was meant to, and he didn’t care for it. In fact, he was appalled by what had just happened. He could just be thankful that he didn’t hear the screams or see the blood, or his unbeating heart might stop a second time.

  Now Cecil felt a twinge on the stubble of his face. He put his right hand to it to see what decided to disturb the bristles of his cheek, thinking it was a spider’s web. The wet surface told him it was no web. Caught in what he called a beard and what the girl at his job called fuzzy stuff, was a tear. Just one, and he was unsure when his eye released it. Any part of the event could’ve made it fall, but he supposed it didn’t matter.

  He hadn’t noticed that the path went dark until it lit again. The forest waited for him to absorb the gravity of what had happened before urging him along. He let loose a sigh, knowing the oxygen didn’t help him, but it was a hard
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