• ERIC BUTLER

The Ephraim Godwin Chronicles - The Early Years: The Awakening Part 21

Updated: Jan 28

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 21 contains Chapters 40 & 41.


CHAPTER FORTY


The Baron stood in the shadows, a frown upon his lips. The giant dragged the vicar away while his children fluttered around like the annoying gnats they were. His vision blurred as the red intensified and the throbbing of the gem nearly brought him to his knees. He tasted its disappointment at the back of his throat.


Weighing the element of surprise, the Baron decided now was not the time. There was still a chance to recover poor Henry Godwin. He need only wait for the giant to let his guard down. Soon enough.


Giggles and whispers from the wood nymphs drew his attention back to the pond. They sat on the shore, their feet in the cool water. He studied these creatures with disdain. How dare they frolic so easily in my woods? How dare they even exist? The Baron paused for a moment, was this his thoughts or the gem? Does it matter?


"Good afternoon, ladies," he said as he stepped from the shadows.


His hand grabbed the closest nymph and held her struggling form before him. The others released a collective screech as they flew to their sister's defense. Laughter bubbled past the Baron's lips as he tore the first dryad in half. Blood sprayed across his chest, sitting on his flesh a moment before soaking into the gnarled knot and feeding the stone buried there.


Maybe not as powerful as the vicar's blood, but he could feel a burst of strength as the stone fed. If one feels this amazing... He let the thought fade as he snatched two more from the air. He held them tight, all the while laughing, as they burst in his grasp like overripe grapes.


The final nymph turned as if suddenly realizing there was no hope, but the Baron's fingers wrapped around her leg and held her above his head. She screamed in terror as he lowered her to his gaping maw and bit through her neck with a crunch. Her blood filled his mouth before running over his chin to cover his chest. His body hummed with the newfound power.


Oh, yes...much better.


CHAPTER FORTY-ONE


The giant slung Henry to the side as he entered the clearing. He continued to stomp towards the pod containing Selina Farkus. Well, her essence at least. He paused a moment, hovering over his handy work as he searched for any clue when she might emerge. It was taking much longer than he remembered, but then again the last time the giant had attempted such a transformation Rome was nothing more than a thought.


He shook his head, driving the memory away. That attempt had ended in spectacular failure; so much so, he avoided even thinking about using that specific magic for many centuries. Desperate times require desperate measures. At least he hoped, otherwise he may not be able to avert catastrophe this time.


No point in destroying this plague of man if it, in turn, removes all signs of life in the process. A low moan from Henry grabbed his attention and he stalked to the man of God. Squatting he studied the vicar before offering him a sneer. This hairless ape will not be the cause of our destruction. I will see this land overwhelmed with faerie once again.


The giant picked a flower and crumbled the petals into a fine powder. This man's brother was trapped in a field of such flowers. One should be enough to keep the vicar slumbering until the necessary time. The giant blew the dust into his face. Henry swiped absently at his nose before slipping back into a deep slumber.


***

Ephraim lay in a heap on the ground. His chest heaved as he took giant gulps of air. Every inch of his body ached and he wondered if he would survive another wave of attackers. The bodies piled high in front of him, forming a wall and offering him the brief respite he was now enjoying.


Well, enjoying is a bit of a stretch. He grinned at the thought, unable to find the energy to form a complete smile. His side burned and he lifted his arm to probe the area. Long scratches covered the area and as he ran his fingers over them, they began to bleed once again.


Ephraim winced as he studied the amount of red covering his hand. Is this my fate? To suffer in this hell while my family is lost? Are my sins so great? He shuddered as his mind wandered to the actions that led to his predicament. If only Henry was here to offer guidance...or at least provide another arm in defense. He giggled at the thought of Henry swinging a sword. His side exploded in pain and he moaned as he clutched at the cuts.


"Regret that," he growled through clenched teeth as he drove his blade into the ground.

A horn sounded in the distance, announcing his enemies were advancing. A small pile of bodies burned off to his right, and Ephraim stumbled to the blaze as he tried to ignore the smell of cooked flesh. His stomach rumbled in hunger, and he fought the urge to lick his lips.


Ephraim reached into the fire and pulled free a branch burning on one end. He shook it to extinguish the flame before pressing the red hot offshoot to his side. Howling in pain, he stumbled forward before slipping to his knees. His vision blurred and Ephraim feared he would lose consciousness any moment.


The horn sounded again, closer this time. The ground shook from the footsteps of the approaching force. Ephraim struggled to his feet and shuffled to his sword. His fingers wrapped around the hilt and he freed it from the ground.


"Today is as fine a day as any other," he whispered, stepping through the wall of bodies to face his approaching death.


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