• ERIC BUTLER

The Ephraim Godwin Chronicles - The Early Years: The Awakening Part 24

Updated: Mar 3

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 24 contains Chapters 46 & 47.

CHAPTER FORTY-SIX


Ephraim Godwin paused by the pool of water. Blood floated at the surface and covered the plant life at the far edge of the sand. His heart fluttered at the amount of damage needed to create such a vast quantity of the liquid.


Henry, further along, stopped and spun around. He cradled his arm tight against his chest; the pain obvious by the expression he wore. Impressed, Ephraim thought back to when they were young. Henry had a laughably nonexistent pain tolerance.


"We don't have time," Henry called out, moving back towards Ephraim who was studying the pool.


"We also can't afford to blunder ahead with no plan or way to defend ourselves."


After a moment, Henry nodded his agreement. A shimmering caught Ephraim's eye, and he motioned his brother to join him. He glanced up, but the sunlight was coming through the leaves at the wrong angle to create such an effect. Pushing through the foliage, he stepped to the water's edge and knelt. His hand moved to his chest as his heart began to pound. The surrounding leaves rustled as Henry followed him.


Resting his hand on Ephraim's shoulder, Henry asked, "What are you looking at?"


Ephraim stare ahead and couldn't force himself to glance at his brother to ascertain if he was in fact joking. There was a calm that descended on the area so completely that Ephraim became unsettled. A low hum filled the air, gaining in volume as the seconds ticked by. The hairs on Ephraim's arms and neck stood as a tuneless roar soon deafened him.


The water in front of him began to circle counterclockwise, moving at first at a lazily slow pace but quickly gaining speed until the water swept by in a frenzy. At the center of the pond, an area of space appeared. Ephraim leaned forward until his brother's grip was the only thing stopping him from plunging into the water.


The space seemed an absence of light more than an actual hole in the water. The darkness in a depth that pulled his thoughts back to the void he recently floated within. Could this be the same? Am I still trapped there...is this all a dream? The darkness grew in circumference as the water pulled closer to the shore, building an ever-increasing wall in all places save where the brothers occupied.


A crack of thunder sounded from above a moment before a streak of lightning flashed into the darkness at the center of the pond. Ephraim blinked away the stars suddenly filling his vision. In the center of the darkness was a sword, held aloft by a feminine hand. Ephraim finally glanced back at his brother, but Henry now frozen stared blankly ahead.


Ephraim leaned forward, straining to reach out to take the blade. Henry's fingers slipped back from Ephraim's shoulders but instinctually grasped his shirt to keep him from falling forward. Ephraim held his breath as his hand wrapped around the hilt and took the sword from the hand. Another flash of lightning struck the pool, blowing the brothers back from the edge.


Ephraim and Henry landed in a heap as the blade spun through the air. He followed the sword as it flew through the air until it landed a few feet away in the ground. At least, I have a weapon now...


CHAPTER FORTY-SEVEN


The Baron stood off in the shadows. His body pulsed with the energy provided by the nymphs. The stone produced a heat that radiated throughout his body, feeding his muscles with a newfound strength. His mind flashed to his earlier transformations which he now realized paled in the power he once thought godlike.


His vision, now a permanent red hue, locked onto the giant in the clearing. He cradled something to his chest. No matter, the time is now. The heat continued to build throughout his body, the pulse of the stone speeding up until it seemed to be a continuous glow.


The Baron slumped down until he was on fours, his fingers digging into the forest floor. His nerves screamed out in pain as his skin writhed and pulsed in rhythm with the stone. Long brown hair pushed through the skin as his limbs stretched and popped. He threw his head back, grinding his teeth to hold back the howl pushing to escape. His face elongated until it no longer held human form. Snot and spit mixed as his mouth spread wide and his nose opened at the end of his newly formed snout.


He pushed off the ground, standing on his hind legs. The Baron stepped forward, each step allowing him to gather his balance to the new form he found himself in. All thoughts of his true self now gone. There were only the red haze and the now steady pulse of the stone. He burst into the clearing and let out a long, full howl of anger.


The giant spun around and smiled. He kissed Lady Farkus on the forehead and placed her on the ground in front of him. He spread his arms out and reached to his antlers. The Baron pawed at the earth but stayed in place, glaring at the giant as he snapped off two pieces and held them out to the woman.


Lady Farkus snatched the horns before sprint forward at the Baron. He snarled as she slid next to him, slashing at his side with the weapons. Blood sprayed out, splashing her and the ground in his dark gore. He turned in a circle, swiping with his large paws. Lady Farkus ducked and wove herself away from the beast's awkward attacks. She landed three more strikes with the horns before his claws connected. The four talons ripped into her skin at the side, sliding through her body until striking the hardened armor closer to her chest. Green blood ran freely down her side as she stumbled to her knees.


The Baron pounced, driving his weight upon her until her chest burst open like an overripe berry. He clawed and tore at the body, slinging her insides around the clearing with glee. His head snapped back as he howled once again.


"Well, I expected a bit more of a struggle. So in the end it will be you and I once again," the giant said with a sad smile upon his lips. "To the victor goes the spoils."

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