• ERIC BUTLER

The Ephraim Godwin Chronicles - The Early Years: The Awakening Part 25

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 25 contains Chapters 48, 49, & 50.


CHAPTER FORTY-EIGHT

Ephraim glanced back to make sure Henry was still following. He assumed their time was running out to complete Lady Farkus' plan. Lord knows how long we lost after the pond incident. His brother clutched his broken arm tight to his chest, a blank look on his face.


"Do you need a break?" Ephraim called out as they worked to push through the undergrowth.


"No."


Ephraim stopped and spun, keeping his newly acquired sword close to his side. The last thing I need is for the blade to accidentally cut my brother...I'd never hear the end of it. Henry pulled up and offered a glare.


"This isn't the time for your foolishness," Ephraim barked. "I understand your entire world is being dragged into question but I don't have the time to coddle your feelings."


"I am well aware of our time crunch," Henry replied, baring his teeth with a forced smile on his lips.


Ephraim sighed before stepping closer. He locked eyes with his brother and for a moment fought the urge to strike him with the hilt of his sword. Sighing he closed the gap, hugging his brother with his free arm.


"Brother...no matter what happens, you must keep the faith," Ephraim whispered before letting go.


He spun and hurried forward, trusting his brother to follow him.


***


Blood ran down the right side of the giant's face. He blinked a few times to clear his vision from that eye. He took huge gulps of air, as his heart pounded from the exertion in dealing with the good Baron; although truthfully, the beast was more than holding up his end of the fight. The giant glanced over at Lady Farkus' transformed corpse.


All that work for nothing. The thought sunk heavy in his gut. His plan to remove the plague of humanity from the countryside was feeling less sure. All because of that cursed stone. The one thing that stood in his way the last time somehow found again just at the right time. Fate is a cruel mistress. He snorted at the thought. If he needed to prove his worth so be it.


"Well beast? Are you ready for more?"


CHAPTER FORTY-NINE


Crashes like thunder claps sounded and Ephraim began to run toward the noise. Henry can catch up. He feared if he arrived too late, it would mean a catastrophe for not only him and his brother, but England herself.


Ephraim burst through the foliage. He swept his gaze over the area, trying to piece together what exactly was taking place. Two giants locked in battle in the middle of the clearing. A body lay off to the side. Ephraim thought it might have been female but the odd coloring and extensive damage made it near impossible to be sure from where he stood.


His eyes moved back to the battle. Ephraim found it perplexing. If he was to trust his eyes, he was witnessing a horned goliath locked in combat with a giant wolf-man. Obviously, Baron Hall must be the beast but who exactly was the giant. An itch formed at the back of his head.


"My Lord," Henry said as he struggled for breath.


Ephraim glanced at his brother and signaled for him to be quiet. Henry shot him another glare, but Ephraim could tell his heart wasn't in it. He stepped back and leaned close to his brother's ear.


"I don't understand what is happening before us, but I think your Lady Farkus wants me to kill whoever wins."


"Yes...that was my understanding as well," he whispered back. "But where is she?"


A pained look flashed over Ephraim's face, and Henry straightened up. He pushed past his brother and stood on the edge of the clearing. A cry slipped from his lips as his gaze fell upon the body off to the side. He hurried to it, ignoring the clash taking place mere feet away. Stumbling to his knees, he scooped up the body with his good arm and held it tight to his chest.


The giant roared in frustration as the wolf-man threw him backward into the trees. The creature sprang forward, its claws striking out and slashing the giant across his chest and face. Blood sprayed out, soaking the beast as it pressed its attack. The giant held up his arms in a weak attempt to slow the blows landed by the wolf-man.


Ephraim tightened his grip on the hilt. There was no doubt in his mind who was winning between the two. But how am I to find victory? The giant slumped back, his blood running freely to the ground which sucked it up greedily. Flowers and vines sprang up around the body, quickly covering it in thick strands of colorful flora.


The wolf-man threw back its head and howled in frustration. Goosebumps sprang up on Ephraim's skin as he stepped into the clearing. He glanced at Henry. His brother sat frozen, his arms wrapped around the body. His lips moved in a steady flow, alerting Ephraim he was praying. Save a prayer for us, brother; the thought provoked a sad smile on his lips. At least something will come of this day...


A roar interrupted his thoughts, and Ephraim dove out of the way as the Baron swung his claws. He rolled to his knees and sprang up, holding the sword before him. A red pulse of light flashed from the beast's chest as a hum filled the clearing.


The wolf-man threw its paws over its ears and howled its frustration obvious. The hum continued to build until it drowned out all sound. Ephraim darted forward, swinging the sword from above. The wolf-man side stepped at the last moment, swinging its paw out and raking Ephraim across his side and torso with its sharp claws.


Ephraim groaned in pain as he stumbled back. His feet tangled together, and he tumbled to the hard ground, landing hard. The sword lay pinned beneath his body. He struggled to shift but found his body reluctant to listen to any of his commands at the moment. The wolf-man threw back its head again and howled until the hum was gone and there was only the beast's cry.


Its tongue snaked out and licked its maw before it sprang in the air looking to drive its weight down on Ephraim. Screaming in his head for any movement, he finally flopped to the left, taking the sword with him. The beast landed on Ephraim, tearing at his flesh as it hunched forward. Screaming in pain, Ephraim struggled to hold fast as the sword slipped into the wolf-man's chest shattering the stone there and extinguishing the red glow.


The light faded from the beast's eyes as it shifted and changed back into Baron Hall. The original monster returns. Ephraim grimaced at the thought as darkness overcame him.


CHAPTER FIFTY


The smell of chicken roasting woke Ephraim. He struggled to open his eyes as a sense of complete exhaustion seemed to have soaked into every part of his body. His mouth was somehow dry and sticky at the same time as he struggled to work moisture into his throat. A soft croak issued past his cracked lips.


A woman appeared in the doorway holding a candle. She slipped into the room, and knelt by the bed. Producing a cloth from a bucket, she wrung out some water and placed it to his lips. Ephraim weakly sucked as if he was a new babe. As his strength grew, he extracted more of the cool water.


"Slowly Mr. Godwin," she whispered as she placed her free hand on his forehead. "Oh, praise the Lord...the fever appears to be gone. I'd be lying if I didn't say you had us all worried."


Ephraim groaned as she removed the cloth and dropped it back into the bucket. The candle light illuminated the woman a moment, and he wondered who she might be. More importantly, where am I? He thought to ask, but his mouth refused to open, and he slipped back into the darkness.


A gentle shake on his shoulder roused Ephraim. He wondered how long he'd slept this time as the memory of the woman and the water flashed into his mind. He pushed to remember more, but a jolt of pain in his forehead dissuaded him for trying any harder. There was simply nothing there but a blank space.


"Ephraim?"


He forced his eyes open and looked up at his brother's relieved face. A memory popped into his head, one of Henry holding a body in a clearing but it disappeared just as fast as it arrived.


"What happened?" Ephraim asked his voice raspy with disuse. "How..."


Ephraim trailed off, unsure just what he was about to ask. Henry patted him on the shoulder and smiled. For a moment Ephraim thought he caught a glimpse of utter defeat and sadness in his brother's eyes, but like the memory it was gone so quick, he couldn't be sure.


"You had an accident. You fell from a horse," Henry said as he sat down on a chair he placed next to the bed. "You've been here now for over a week. If I'm being honest...I thought we were going to lose you."


"Now don't be so negative Vicar," the woman from the night before said as she entered the room with a bowl. "I thought we might try some broth."


Ephraim smiled at the dark haired beauty as she handed the bowl to Henry. She placed a loving hand on Henry's shoulder and returned Ephraim's smile. He studied her as his brother fed him small sips from a wooden spoon. There was a quality about her that Ephraim hadn't experienced since returning from the war. He struggled to put his finger on it, but somehow she reminded him of someone.


"She is the answer to my prayers," Henry said suddenly. He flashed a smile and continued to spoon the broth to Ephraim. "She has been a Godsend helping to get you back to the land of the living."


"Thank you...?"


"Selina, Selina Farkus. But enough about me," she said as she took the bowl from Henry. "Let's focus on getting you better."


The End...

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