• ERIC BUTLER

The Ephraim Godwin Chronicles - The Early Years: The Awakening Part 16

This story takes place 5 years before the first Ephraim Godwin Chronicle Serial. It will be longer than a simple stand alone story so I will be releasing parts of the tale every Wednesday. Part 11 contains Chapters 31 & 32.



CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE


Selina Farkus stood in the middle of a wide-open field of wildflowers as the sun warmed her bare skin. Balanced on her tip-toes, she stretched her arms towards the sky. A gentle breeze flowed through the tall grass, delivering the field's sweet fragrance to her. She took a deep breath, giggling as she became lightheaded.


Selina twirled in a loose circle, her feet gliding over the earth. The grass caressed her naked skin as she moved back and forth, dancing with an imagined partner. Her mind filled the blank with Ephraim Godwin for a moment, before Selina found herself in the arms of the vicar. Her heart raced as he spun her in a circle, their eyes locked.


"My dear vicar," she called out as her feet left the ground, "I've never imagined you would be so bold."


Her laughter slipped out as the two bodies twisted together in the mad spinning motion. Selina blushed as his fingers slipped between hers on her left hand, and his other slid down her bare skin. His hand stopped at the small of her back before pulling her tighter against him. The two spun even faster, and Selina's body began to merge with the vicar. He leaned his head closer, his lips seeking hers. Panic flooded her for a moment until the scent of wildflowers returned to her nostrils. She sighed content to let the man do what he wanted as they spun faster. Blasts of static tickled her flesh, sending shockwaves throughout her body as a moan slipped past her lips.


"Stop...oh please," she whimpered, her limbs quivering from the contact. His lips cut off her breath, their faces blending together.


For a moment, Selina glimpsed into his mind and witnessed a darkness she believed impossible. Under that shadow, the vicar's brother lay stretched over a rock in the very field below. His wrists and ankles bound by thick green ropes, the antlered giant stood next to him his arms held high over Ephraim's chest.


His head swung toward Selina and she saw the desperation in his eyes. He whispered towards her, but Selina no longer understood the words slipping past his lips. The spinning pulled her deeper into the vicar, her identity dissipating. She wondered if there would ever be a way to free her true self. The man's kiss deepened, their faces pressing together, yet she struggled to keep her vision locked on Ephraim.


A look of horror painted the man's face as the giant thrust his antler down into Ephraim's chest. Blood bubbled past his lips, and a scream of anguish tore through the field. Selina attempted to pull away but they spun faster until her vision blurred into a kaleidoscope of colors. The breeze, no longer gentle, built in strength as Selina and the vicar spun higher into the sky.


She struggled to break free, screaming wordlessly into the vicar's mouth. Not like this. The words echoed throughout her head, thundering over the howl of the wind. Not like this. Her skin flaked away as this man of the cloth devoured her essence. Not like this. Once more she struggled to focus on the horned giant, to plead for his mercy, to make this stop.


The wind died suddenly. Ephraim Godwin lay slain on the stone altar, and Selina Farkus stood in the middle of a wide-open field of wild flowers as the sun warmed her bare skin. The hollow skin of Henry Godwin lay at her feet; the empty sockets glaring at her with a darkness she never knew existed. She closed her eyes and sighed. For a moment she held still before nodding her head in understanding.


"Soon child," the giant's voice caressed her ears. "You will awaken reborn. Until then sleep...dream."


CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO


As Ephraim spun to investigate the voice an explosion threw him against the tunnel wall. Stars filled his vision as he tumbled to the ground. Shards of stone pelted down from above, striking his face and arms as a cloud of dust settled down over his body. His brother's torch lay propped against a pile of rocks and Ephraim wondered the odds of such an occurrence.

He started to fade a bit, his vision darkening around the edges when he noticed the shortest man he'd ever seen standing in the middle of the tunnel. The fellow stood around three and a half feet tall. He wore a simple outfit of dark pants, a short-sleeved shirt, and his once pointy hat had a slight bend at the top. Must have been caught in the explosion.


The tiny man snapped his fingers as he advanced towards Ephraim, "Now don't ye be falling asleep." His accent so thick Ephraim struggled to understand.


"Did we hit a gas leak?" Ephraim mumbled as he began to close his eyes.


"What did I say?" the tiny man bellowed as he grabbed Ephraim's nose and twisted. "Stay awake."


A jolt of pain shot through his face, and Ephraim found himself wide-eyed. He blinked at the man and struggled to decide what he was looking at. He reached out tentatively, his finger pressing against the man's chest.


"What are ye doing?" he snarled as he gripped Ephraim's finger and twisted.


Ephraim let loose a yelp and jerked his finger back, cradling his hand to his chest. It could still be a gas leak. Nothing else explained the earth-shaking explosion. At least the entrance is cleared.


"Oh I wouldn't say that laddie," the little man said with a snicker.


Ephraim rolled to his side, searching the tunnel and the rubble for a sight of his brother. He gasped when he found Henry lying on his back partially buried in the debris. He struggled to pull himself closer when the tiny man spoke.


"Look closer," he hissed, stepping to the shadows.


Ephraim studied the newly created opening in the tunnel in disbelief. The Baron stood there, but there was something different with the man. Something Ephraim couldn't quite place his finger on. The torchlight flickered low and yet Ephraim realized he could still see the man, bathed in a red glow.


"He's a man no longer. You must be careful."


Ephraim glanced to the shadows and nodded. He thought he understood what the tiny man was suggesting. With all the dirt and stone on his body, it wouldn't take much for Ephraim to play dead. As he lay on the ground, the Baron stepped forward. He pointed to the torch and the light extinguished. Ephraim closed his eyes to slits studying Hall as he moved. Hopefully, he'll think us dead and pass on by. The tunnel filled with the strange red light and the tiny man slid farther back to keep to the shadows.


"I'll never understand what fascinated her about you," Hall said as he stopped by Henry's still form. The red light pulsed and Ephraim wondered if it meant something. He studied the pattern but it was nothing he recognized from his time in the military or before.

The Baron gripped Henry by the ankle and began to drag him back through the opening. Ephraim struggled to get up, hoping if not to stop the man, at least follow them when tiny hands gripped his shoulders.


"Now is not the time...I know where they will go."


Ephraim shook his head, confident there had been some type of exposure to gas, and moved to rise. A sharp blow struck the side of his head and he slumped back down as the Baron faded into black.


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