This week, Ronovan challenged us to write a story based on an image (below). To find out more, click here.
I mentioned last week that my story, Feverish, would be a two part tale, and that I would incorporate the new prompt. I did manage to weave in the tree, but I couldn’t complete the story without going over the word limit I gave myself (1000 words). That means it’s turned into a three part story. Hopefully, next week I can finish it, while incorporating a whole new prompt!
You probably need to read part 1 to follow the story, but here is a summary:
Maddison Wood is a mercenary. She is also a powerful witch, and a member of the Enchanted League. When the Hympe King contracts a virus, and his people begin to get sick, Maddison agrees to help. With her partner in crime, a werewolf named Riley, Maddison is searching for the origin of the virus. Riley drank a potion in order to search out the source. In his wolf form, Riley was able to pick up the trail and is on the hunt.
Feverish Part 2
If it hadn’t been for Fitz and his band of merry cats, Maddison would have lost her friend’s trail. In wolf form, Riley was fast. Too fast. And now he was burning off some seriously bad mojo, given the spell originated from a powerful god.
The wolves held back, keeping to the shadows of the mighty forest. Maddison knew they wouldn’t intervene unless one of their own was in trouble. Until then, they were merely along for the ride.
They found Riley a few minutes later. He was circling a large tree, a species foreign to Aronmyre and the Enchanted Forest. The base was large and swollen. It gave the strange impression it had split at the seams, considering the large opening at the centre. The upper branches, thick and heavy, reached up toward the sky like an offering.
The tree looked alien, so out of place, Maddison wondered why they hadn’t been drawn to it. It was like a homing beacon of discontent.
She could feel the sadness coming off the tree; it was in the air, in the land beneath their feet. When she glanced around, Maddison saw the others felt it too.
“Hey, wolf-man, what have we got?” she asked Riley as she approached. His responding growl surprised her. “I don’t have time for a wolfy chat,” she said, following his progress as he made another lap of the tree. “So I kind of need my friend back for the next part.”
Riley’s wolf usually recognised her. The animal responded to her voice, to her touch. But not this time. Instead of obliging, she got another low, threatening growl, and a flash of dark amber eyes.
Maddison watched him for a second, and then she grew tired of the show. She dropped to her hands and knees and waited out the next lap until they were face to face. Riley stopped, fur bristling, and lips pulled back in a snarl. She knew when he crouched, he was way past angry and had hit pissed off territory.
She ignored the aggressive posture and gathered power at her core. Maddison felt it build. It travelled up through her lungs and gathered in a pocket of air, which she blew directly in the animal’s direction. Under normal circumstances, it was a risky move. A sure way to get your head bitten off was to blow in the face of a wolf. But this was Riley, and it was no ordinary breath. It contained the same kind of energy she used to purge her system of foreign substances.
A second later Riley appeared in his human form. He moved forward, and touched his forehead to hers. Maddison allowed the gesture for a beat or two, and then sat back to look into his dark eyes. “What have we got?” she asked again.
Riley motioned to the tree. “That’s the origin of the disease.” He glanced at the bulbous base, which was at eye level, and then back. “Want to huff and puff and blow the thing down?”
She grinned as she got to her feet and held out a hand to him. But not before she waved a hand in front of his body and clothed him in a colourful pair of shorts. “Isn’t that my line?” Maddison asked, her attention back on the tree.
If the thing was in fact the origin of the fever, it meant it wasn’t a tree at all. It was a hympe and, despite Riley’s teasing, she had no idea how to return the hympe to its true form.
Maddison pulled one of the gold rings from her hair and threw it into the air. It expanded on descent, so it was a hundred millimetres in diameter by the time it hit the ground. She waved a hand, her lips forming a soft chant until a shaft or circular light appeared. A moment later Maddison was looking at Marcus, head guard to the Hympe King.
Her lips twitched when Marcus sucked in a breath. Not surprising when the glass chamber in front of him became a window to their location. “We found the source,” she said, forgoing the pleasantries.
Marcus’ gaze moved to take in the view. “I’ll be there in thirty minutes. You need to clear out before we arrive. I’ll need Tobias for this, and he’d perform better without an audience right now.”
She wanted to laugh. What Marcus meant was that Tobias was difficult to control in the throes of his fever and he didn’t want to clean up the mess. “So that’s it. We find the main player and we don’t get to enjoy the show?”
“It’s your funeral.” Marcus shrugged. “As long as you’re all aware of the risks and don’t get in our way.”
“That’s what I love about your, Marcus. You’re all heart.” Maddison waved her hand and the connection terminated. She moved to retrieve her ring, before turning to the group. “You heard Marcus. Our role here is done.”
Both packs began to disperse.
“You’re staying aren’t you?” Fitz asked, glancing around the clearing.
Maddison shrugged. “Whether Marcus likes it or not, it’s my job to help him contain the situation. I still work for the League, and Tobias needs me.”
Fitz moved when Maddison held up her hand to him. He pressed his palm against hers and bowed. Then he turned and went after his pack.
“After this is over, I want to discuss your wardrobe choice,” Riley said, frowning down at the yellow shorts. When Maddison shrugged, he turned serious. “What’s going to happen?”
“Tobias is the only one who can coax the hympe out of hiding, given his control over living organisms. Once he does that, he’ll need some of the hympe’s blood for an antidote.” Maddison thought of his rage the last time they met. “But he has no control, so I’m not sure Tobias can tap into the power he needs to pull this off.”
Riley nodded. “Whatever happens, I have your back.”
“Why do you think you’re here fur-face?” Maddison laughed when he snapped his teeth at her. “In the meantime, we might as well take a load off. We’re in for a bit of a wait.”
Thanks for stopping by.