The Arcane Light’s
TALES OF THE ARCANE
Cover art by: LC Schwartz
The Arcane Light’s
TALES OF THE ARCANE
Copyright © 2016 by LC Schwartz
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This book is a work of fiction. The characters are productions of the
authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.
The Tale of Mr. Eric Garner – by Teeko
Casefile: The Butterfly (Chapter 5) – by LC Schwartz
The Teeko Tales
The Detective looked at the man at the opposite side of the table in the small interrogation room. The man’s name was Eric Garner and he was a familiar sight as he had been here far too many times before. It seemed Mr. Garner had a knack for being at the wrong place at the wrong time but it had never been possible to prove his involvement in any crimes – until now.
“Let me see if I got this straight.” The Detective started as he stood up. “You’re peacefully walking past “Mortimer’s furs and coats” on your way home from the pub when a…”
He paused for a few seconds to emphasise how ridiculous the following statement was.
“…a goblin looking creature carrying a dozen fur coats breaks out through the window of the store?”
He paused for another second and then repeated “goblin-looking” while making quotation marks in front of him with his hands.
Mr. Garner smiled sheepishly and shrugged, realising how unlikely his story sounded.
The Detective frowned and started to slowly walk around the table as he continued.
“Then a woman dressed in red hotpants, a black corset, a red leather coat and knee high high-heeled boots, with…” The Detective again made quotation marks with his hands. “… ‘Wolverine’ claws on her hands, shows up from nowhere and attacks this…” Yet again the Detective made quotation marks. “…goblin-creature… who drops all the fur coats on you?”
He stopped and gave his suspect a look. Mr. Garner could do nothing but answer with another sheepish smile.
The Detective finished his summary as he completed the full circle around the table.
“The woman shreds the…” Yet again the Detective makes quotation marks. “…goblin to pieces and then sets off on her merry way, leaving you standing in a heap of fur coats?”
The Detective slammed his fists down hard on the table, which made Mr. Garner jump where he sat on the chair. He then leaned in towards Mr. Garner and raised his voice.
“Mr. Garner! Do you take me for a complete fool?”
Mr. Garner was highly uncomfortable by the situation and it clearly showed. Squirming in his seat he made an attempt to defend his story.
“No sir! Of course not sir! But that’s exactly what happened sir! I swear it’s the truthiest truth ever!”
The Detective gave Mr. Garner a look of mixed disbelief and disgust.
“Truthiest?” The Detective sighed at the criminal abuse of the English language and sat down on his chair again, as if he needed to recover from the assault of sheer stupidity thrown at him from the man he interrogated. After taking a deep breath, he continued.
“Well then, let’s for a second assume that I believe your story. Could you please enlighten me on what happened with the ‘pieces’ of the shredded… goblin?” Again his hands got busy doing quotation signs to mark the words.
“There was nothing on the ground except you, a dozen fur coats, and broken glass from the window.”
Mr. Garner swallowed hard as he realized his answer would sound just as unlikely as the rest. But it was the truth, so what else could he say?
“It… it vaporized!”
He tried to sound convincing, but his voice failed him and he was met with another look of disbelief from the Detective.
Mr. Garner made another attempt to sound convincing, backing his words with vivid gestures.
“Yes, vaporized! As the woman ran away the pieces on the ground just went… poof… like in a cloud of smoke… with the foulest smell I’ve ever smelt. But in a few seconds it was all gone.”
The Detective sighed and his voice made it obvious he wasn’t believing any of this.
“Well isn’t that convenient…”
There was a firm knock on the door before it opened and a policewoman stepped in with an apologetic look on her face.
“Pardon me sir, but we just received orders to let Mr. Garner go.”
The Detective couldn’t believe his ears. Clearly annoyed, he turned to the woman.
“What? Orders? Whose orders?”
The policewoman, even more apologetic, shared what little knowledge on the matter that she had.
“Apparently from higher up than anyone wants to talk about, sir.”
The Detective dismissed the messenger. She closed the door behind her after leaving. After lots of cursing and grumbling he turned to Mr. Garner again.
“Well well Mr. Garner. It seems you’ve acquired some new friends in high places since last time you were here. I wouldn’t count myself too lucky though, if I were you. Those kind of friends tend to demand far more in return compared to what they give…”
Mr. Garner happily stepped out onto the pavement. He had been a guest at the local police station many times, but never before had he been allowed to leave this quickly. He chuckled to himself over the fact that when he for once had told the truth, they didn’t believe him.
Though he couldn’t really blame them; if he hadn’t been there and seen it with his own two eyes, he wouldn’t have believed it either. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t quite sure he could really believe what he had seen. But he had neither been high, nor especially drunk, so it must have actually happened.
Something almost equally hard to believe was the fact that some high-and-mighties had given orders for his release. As happy as he was that it got him out quickly, as worried was he about what it could mean. He didn’t know any high-and-mighties, he never had. He had been at the bottom of the food chain his entire life. He must have stumbled into something big. And that usually meant problems.
It was early morning. Even though the big city never really sleeps, this part of it hadn’t quite woken up yet. The street was almost empty.
As Mr. Garner started walking away from the police station, deep in thought, a long black car came driving down the street. It slowed down as it came up alongside the lone pedestrian and stopped a short distance in front of him. The back door opened and out stepped a giant of a man, some 6’6’‘ tall and almost as wide. Dressed in a dark tailored suit, he adjusted his tie as he stepped into Mr. Garner’s way. The big man interrupted Mr. Garner in his thoughts with a deep, authoritative voice; suggesting that he takes a seat in the car.
Mr. Garner’s instincts told him to turn around and run away. That had kept him alive on many occasions. But curiosity got the better of him. Could this be his mysterious benefactors? Surely it had to be! He tried to peek into the limousine before deciding what to do, but it was too dark inside for him to see anything.
With slight hesitation, Mr. Garner followed the big man’s suggestion and stepped into the limousine. The big man closed the car door behind him and stayed outside, somewhat to Mr. Garner’s relief. He wasn’t quite sure how that huge man would fit into the vehicle and he absolutely hated riding in the back seat with someone taking up way too much space. The interior was quite spacious though, with a small round table in the middle and comfortable leather seats for at least a couple people on either side of the table. Mr. Garner sat down in the seat facing forward.
The foolish Mr. Garner. He should have trusted his instincts…
As the car door shut behind him, Mr. Garner realised he wasn’t alone. There was someone in the seat opposite him. Although it was too dark to see who it could be, it was clear it was a man, dressed in an expensive tailored suit.
A male voice, serious, but calm and kind of welcoming, spoke up.
“Mr. Garner I presume?”
Mr. Garner tried to not sound nervous or reveal his curiosity.
“Yes, that’s… that’s me. Who… who are you?”
The voice replied immediately, but still in the calm, welcoming tone.
“You do not need to worry about that Mr. Garner. Our time together is limited however, so I’ll get straight to the point.”
Mr. Garner swallowed loudly, still nervous and curious but at least a bit relieved by the assurance this apparently wouldn’t take too much time.
The calm voice continued.
“It has come to my attention that you had an interesting encounter during the night-time hours.”
Of course! This was about that goblin, Mr. Garner thought to himself. Had he stumbled upon a government cover-up about fairytale creatures living among us? Or was it perhaps some failed scientific experiment on the run? Whatever it was however, Mr. Garner knew he was in way over his head and that scared him. But at the same time, he was also excited. It certainly wasn’t everyday he stumbled onto things like this!
“Oh yeah! That goblin thing…”
Another immediate reply interrupted him, and this time a slight tone of annoyance could be heard in the voice.
“Mr. Garner, that was a ghoul and I couldn’t care less about such an insignificant creature. The woman that ended its miserable existence however; that’s a completely different story.”
So this wasn’t about the goblin after all? Mr. Garner was puzzled.
“Wha-… The chick in the leather coat and hotpants?”
The reply was instant, and to Mr. Garner’s relief, the voice was calm again.
“What can you tell me about her?”
Mr. Garner started to think. Pretty women he saw every day, even if they usually weren’t wearing huge metal claws on their hands. But goblins he had never seen before. Or what was it the man had called it? Ghoul? Whatever it was, the creature was what had got his attention in all the commotion.
“Uhm… well… she just kinda appeared out of nowhere. I guess I was kinda too busy staring at the gob…” Mr. Garner quickly corrected himself. “Ghoul?”
“What a pity.”
The man’s voice revealed disappointment over the answer. Mr. Garner thought harder on what he could say to please him.
“Then… uhm… everything went so fast. She started swinging at the gob…” Quickly he corrected himself again. “Ghoul! …with those long claws on her hands and shredded it to pieces!”
“Did you get a good look at her? Please describe her as detailed as you can.”
Mr. Garner seemed to have piqued the man’s curiosity.
“Oh… uhm… She was kinda short. Looked Chinese or something.”
“Chinese? Not Japanese?”
A hint of curiosity could be heard in the man’s voice, but Mr. Garner paid no attention to that.
“Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, whatever. They all look the same, those Asian rice farme-…”
The man leaned forward from the shadows, revealing his Asian facial features. Mr. Garner realized he once again had put his foot in a bucket of shit and quickly attempted to repair any damage done.
“Oh! Uhm… I’m sorry sir… I didn’t mean any…”
To Mr. Garner’s relief, the man interrupted him in the same calm tone of voice as before.
“Of course you didn’t. But now get on with your description. Time’s ticking.”
Mr. Garner tried to collect his thoughts. Feeling lucky he got out of that blunder without harm.
“Uhm… she was fit. Black hair; not long, not short. Ended a bit above her shoulders. She had dark glasses! Uhm… she had a long leather coat. Red. Some crazy short red hotpants. A black corset that showed off her tummy. Not an ounce of extra fat there I can tell ya’… and… uhm… some hot cleavage… And those boots! Up to her knees they went. High heeled. I can’t understand how she could run away so fast in those heels.”
“Did she have any markings? Symbols? Jewellery?”
The man didn’t sound too impressed or interested in Mr. Garner’s description of the woman’s clothing.
“Uhm… now that you mention it. She had some kind of cross in her cleav… uhm… around her neck.”
“A cross you say? What kind of cross?”
That hint of curiosity was again in the man’s voice. Mr. Garner thought hard about how to describe it.
“Oh… uhmm… it wasn’t like those you’ll see in churches. It had a circle around its centre, I think.”
“Did it look like this?”
The man loosened his tie and pulled out a silver chain from under his shirt. Attached to it was a silver cross with a circle surrounding its center.
“Whoa! Yeah! Exactly! Exactly like that! What, she’s run away from your secret club or something?”
Mr. Garner had let his curiosity get the better of him as that question slipped out over his lips — but he was immediately told his place by the other man.
“Mr. Garner, it’s not your place to ask questions here.”
Only slight annoyance was heard in the man’s voice, but it was enough to remind Mr. Garner that he was out in very deep water; and to better be careful to not screw up any more.
“Oh. Sorry sir…”
The man interrupted Mr. Garner’s apologies, seemingly eager to get on with the questioning.
“Did she say anything to you? What did she do other than shredding the ghoul?”
“Uhm… didn’t say a beep she did. Don’t think she even looked at me. And she didn’t do anything else. It was… like… bam she’s there, those claws in a flying frenzy, and then boom she’s gone down the street!”
The phrase had clearly caught the man’s attention, but he quickly collected himself and continued in that calm voice.
“Did she look frenzied during the attack? Calm? Focused?”
“Uhm… I… uhhh…”
All these questions started to become tiring for Mr. Garner now. He really hadn’t that good memory of what actually had happened. But he still tried his best to answer.
“I think she kinda looked like in some battle frenzy as she slaughtered that gob-…” Again he quickly corrected himself. “Ghoul! Couldn’t see her eyes under those glasses but that look on her face showed serious business. And how she swung those claws… It wasn’t like when the bitches at the pub starts swinging at ya’ all sissy like, you know.”
“Yes, thank you. That is quite enough.”
The man sounded content, to Mr. Garner’s relief.
“Glad to help sir…”
Mr. Garner was interrupted when his interviewer suddenly launched forward and caught Mr. Garner’s throat in a firm grip with his hands. The man didn’t look all that strong, but his grip around Mr. Garner’s throat was solid as a vise.
“Oy! Wait! For fuck’s sa-… Hey, lea-…”
The poor Mr. Garner did his best to protest and try to break free, but to no avail. The other man’s grip tightened. Before long, Mr. Garner felt his consciousness slip away.
Mr. Garner was never seen again.
His body was dumped from the black limousine into an empty side alley in a less savoury area of the city. It was soon picked up by John and John of the cleanup crew. They did what they usually do: throw the body to the pigs.
Mr. Garner was no saint and some would probably say he deserved what he got. Still, this would not have happened had he not crossed paths with the Secret World.
But such is the nature of the Secret World. When it spills over into the ordinary lives of ordinary citizens unaware of its existence; their lives either cease being ordinary; or more commonly, their lives cease completely.
by LC Schwartz
Interviewer: Hello, Ms. Havenwood.
Sylvia: Hello, darling. Whispers wandered off?
Interviewer: I believe she became annoyed after discussing the detonation of the explosive.
Sylvia: Ah, quite. That was… unpleasant, to say the least. She does not like to acknowledge her failures.
Interviewer: That is a bit harsh, no?
Sylvia: Not at all. It was a failure on both our parts. A mistake was made in not dealing with the trap at the time — leaving a sleeping tiger lie as it were; hoping it remained silent.
Interviewer: Would that be some bitterness I hear?
Sylvia: Just irritation, my dear; that is all. Lessons had been learned.
Tuesday, 4 March – 17:16
Tetepare Island, Solomon Islands
Sylvia chokes and sputters; her mouth filling with chilling water. Her throat burns as she sucks back the liquid in a desperate effort to breathe.
Somewhere in her panicked mind, lost in this frigid world of darkness, she knows there must be a surface somewhere above her. Her hands claw outwards, trying to seek out the blessed air — but find only more and more water.
Objects bump off her, heavy and sharp — bits of rock thrown outwards by the explosion of light and sound that sent her reeling. The impacts sting at her already battered flesh.
Her lungs burn enraged, desperate for air. It takes all her resolve to fight back the instinctual gasp: a suction of air that would surely drown her.
In her desperation, her panicked need for air, finds no reward. her world remains naught but darkness, cold, and stinging pain.
But the more she scrambles, the more she loses herself into more and more water, as if the chilly liquid world goes on forever.
Something grabs her ankle, gripping her leg with a vise-tight hold — as though an icy hand reached up from the depths to drag her down into the cold, dark shadows of the underworld cavern.
The urge to fight, to lash out, is as strong as the need to breath. She uses all her will to quells the urge, shoving it down into the pit of her stomach.
As she is pulled away from what she thought was the direction of the surface, a terrible realization comes to a fragment of her mind. Knocked into a daze by the force of the explosion, she had lost her swimmer’s rationality to the shock of dark and cold water.
The grip pulls on her. The rational idea of who the hand belongs to calms her frantic terror. Her mind clears from the panic as the iron grip pulls her upwards.
She gasps out a choking sob when she breaks the surface. Welsh’s strong hands hold her weakened body above the surface of the frigid water.
“Fuck’s sake, stop hittin’ me… fuckin’ blonde!” Welsh curses in her ear. The redhead sounds like she is miles away; her cursing words muted as if she was talking into a pillow.
Sylvia sobs back two more gasps of air before forcing her flailing limbs to calm. She pushes her rational mind to the fore over the panic of instinctual fear.
As Sylvia relaxes, Welsh drags her over to the ledge. She props Sylvia against the edge before climbing out of the water. Welsh then pulls her shaking friend up onto the ledge.
“Guess tha’ fuckin’ grenade wannae so much of a dud — jus’ took its sweet fuckin’ time in tryin’ to kill us—… wut the fuck you smilin’ at, Drowned Rat?”
Sylvia looks up at the redhead in the harsh light of the remaining flashlight. She cannot help but smile despite her ordeal. Even the foolishness of forgetting to right herself in the water — diving downwards instead of up — fails to quell her warm amusement. Welsh only curses so vehemently when she’s had a real scare. She tries to use such foulness to cover up her fright in an effort to maintain her appearance of casual disinterest.
Sylvia shakes her head and waves off the shaking of her panic.
She is sore and shivering from the cold, but seemingly intact. Shards of falling rock blown into the air by the explosion have bashed and cut her smooth flesh, but the wounds appear mostly superficial. Welsh still takes a moment to look her over— inspecting the injuries under the glare of her flashlight.
“You had one job to do,” Welsh says. “But you cannae even climb down a damn wall wit’out a bunch of fuss.”
“It is not a sin to emote a little embellishment,” Sylvia replies, letting the moment’s fright pass with brief levity.
“Some o’ these injuries ain’t lookin’ to pretty, kitten.” Welsh says. Sylvia winces when the redhead pokes at a particularly egregious slash over the back of her ribs.
“Do you mind?” Sylvia says with a hiss through clenched teeth.
“Gonna need some bandagin’. Gimme the pack,” Welsh says. When Sylvia doesn’t respond immediately, Welsh pauses, looking over her shoulder. “You lost the pack…”
Sylvia sniffs with some indignation. “Well, excuse me. I am sorry I was trying to avoid getting blown apart by a seventy year old hand grenade.”
“Excuses, excuses,” Welsh mutters. “Well, I’m keepin’ an eye on that. It could fester up somethin’ nasty out here in the jungle Hellhole you threw us into. Buddy on the boat should have a first aid kit.”
Sylvia nods. She struggles to her feet, holding back the winces of pain from her various injuries in the face of her companion. Showing weakness to pain in the face of the stout redhead will only entitle her to further mocking and teasing.
Welsh doesn’t seem to notice her friend’s winces of pain — or decides to forego teasing as a kindness.
“There’s a gap here, looks like it goes somewhere nifty; or our Japanese deathtrap maker jus’ liked to go for a lit’l dip in the water now an’ then while hidin’ in his lit’l hole. You okay for some explorin’?”
Welsh looks over at her companion as Sylvia leans against the wall. Her body feels like it’s on fire.
“Yes. Yes, I am fine. Let us go,” Sylvia says with a nod.
Welsh shrugs and directs her light to the gap she noticed earlier. Sylvia carefully follows in the redhead’s wake.
~ ~ ~ • ~ ~ ~
“Well, ain’t this just the bee’s knees?” Welsh says, shining her portable lamp around the natural chamber beyond the gap. After the cleft in the rock by the pool drop, a narrow split in the wall has been widened by centuries of water action that opens into an oblong cleft in the Earth, a seemingly widened crack that has been split apart by titanic earthen forces, and the natural terminus of the crack at the base of the water-filled drop.
The mouldering debris left in the chamber leaves evidence that somebody had once lived in this underworld abode.
The narrow chamber’s gap has been taken over by the remains of a thin bamboo frame and tattered canvas — a sprawling device of some sort that has been casually discarded.
Welsh gives it a moment’s curiosity before casting her light about further.
Directly opposite to the entrance a ramshackle table has been formed out of detritus boards laid over stacked rocks. A long-since unused radio still sits on top of crude table; the device’s casing has rusted through from the moisture-laden air. Several bits of discarded papers sit beside the electronics. A small misused hand-powered generator sits forgotten on the floor. Wires from the radio head off through another cleft at the end of the chamber’s long axis — just large enough for a single small person to pass through.
Welsh considers it likely another egress point.
With the available floor space lacking and claustrophobic, makeshift bedding has been propped up on one of the jutting ledges — seemingly placed high to lift the sleeper out of any water that has obviously run through the chamber during the wet season; but also strategically locates them high should they be surprised by unannounced visitors. The bedding is long forgotten, and has been left to lie mouldering; though it still bears some telltale markings of a soldier’s kit despite the wasting of years of neglect.
“What you think?” Welsh asks while still hovering by the entrance, leery of further traps.
“I shouldn’t think the interior of a home, even so obviously temporary, should be trapped as well.”
Welsh nods. “Well, if I get blowed up, I’m gonna haunt your ass somethin’ fierce.”
The redhead steels her jaw and steps into the chamber.
She stays as clear of the broken frame as she can, first taking a look at the radio. It has long since passed its usable era. The paper debris next to it appears to be a couple more books similar to the discovered notebook safely back at the resort on Mbanika Island.
These ones didn’t fare nearly as well.
Seeing nothing of value, she turns her eyes upwards to the bedding with the curiosity of a delving explorer.
As she lifts herself up, Welsh hears Sylvia follow behind her into the chamber. She spares her companion a glance before turning back to her ledge-top discovery — and grunts with disgusted disapproval.
“Well, I found our guy,” Welsh says. Her eyes peer into the empty sockets of a moulding skull staring back at her.
Bits of hair still stick to the ratty cranial bones. By appearances of the skeletal remains the person died in their sleep. The softer organic matter has long since dissolved; even in the coolness of the underground world. In the wake of rapid decomposition, the bones have been left lying on a bed of strange gritty black ash. The granular remains are not unlike coal dust.
Welsh lowers herself back down.
“Anything else?” Sylvia asks.
“Knock yourself out,” Welsh says with a jerk of her thumb up the corpse.
“Honestly. You amaze me sometimes.”
“I donnae like dead folk, okay? Seriously. You wanna go poking around in the fuckin’ bones of a corpse, go ahead,” Welsh says with a growling retort. She then waves to the split frame and canvas. “I’m gonna look at this here… thing.”
Sylvia shakes her head. “I will need that light then.”
“Nu-uh. You lost yours.”
“You can be such a child.”
Welsh shrugs with a grin. “Ya, but who’s the one wit’ the light?”
Sylvia sighs, and turns away.
“Oh, fine, ya big baby,” Welsh says. “Here. I’ll jus’sit in the dark then,” she holds out the lamp.
Sylvia takes the offered illumination. “We actually have a reason to be here; not to indulge in idle curiosity. I would rather not make an attempt to climb back down this mountain in the dark.”
Welsh doesn’t reply, leaving Sylvia to lift herself up to the ledge to investigate the corpse on her own.
Sylvia props herself against the rock and lifts the lamp to closely examine the remains.
“This person would appear to have died in their sleep,” she says. “And were burned? Is this ash?”
Welsh shrugs in the darkness, even though Sylvia wasn’t really asking her.
“No clue. Investigatin’ dead thin’s is your department.”
Sylvia passes the light over the length of the skeleton, her eyes sharp and careful.
“However, the bones are not scorched. The only signs of trauma are several unhealed fractures of the ribs. There is no indication of any healing; as the injuries were sustained just prior to death.”
“Buddy died from broken ribs?” Welsh looks over, curious.
“Unlikely,” she says with a pause. “None are broken through enough to puncture an organ.”
Sylvia lifts herself up further, remaining careful not to disturb the remains.
“The right humerus looks like it might have been injured as well,” she adds, looking closely at the upper arm bone. “But the bone seems like it could have also cracked later from environmental causes — possibly along an already weakened injury.”
“Sure,” Welsh says.
There is a slight clatter of bones as Sylvia is forced to shift the remains for further examination. She turns the light from the bones to the strange ash material, examining both substances as they pertain to the whole.
“Ah, here,” she says, shining the lamp on a length of white bone. She finds its mate where it has been broken through with violent force. The radial explosion of damage through the material left behind a telltale signature.
As an idea forms in her head, she pushes aside more bones to sift through the ash.
Welsh looks on with some curiosity, careful to avoid looking too long at the dead.
Sylvia ‘ahs’ with some triumph as her light discovers the object of her hunt. She lifts up the small find: a bit of compressed metal.
“What do you make of this?”
Welsh steps over to have a look.
“I would say tha’s a bullet.”
Welsh takes the hunk of lead and the lamp to examine closer.
“Looks like… a .45 slug. Could be from either a M1911 or a Tommy. But definitely would be American. Think that killed him?”
“Oh, that is most certain. Given the location of the rib damaged by the GSW, he would have suffered severe organ trauma.”
Sylvia turns the light onto the chamber. “Though there is little indication that he was shot here. And for our benefit, I would hope that was not the case.”
Sylvia turns from the corpse to the middle of the chamber.
“What do you make of that device?”
Welsh takes the lamp back to shine it on the bamboo and canvas frame.
“It’s busted to all Hell; but near as I can tell, it looks like some sort of glider.” Welsh says, pulling on the frame to indicate the tortured remains of a canvas enshrouded wing.”
“Really?” Sylvia turns from the body to look closer.
“Ya, pretty damn slick how it all seems to fit together too. It has some markings cut into the bamboo all neat-like; though I cannae make any sense of. They look like Kanji, but not any kind I’ve ever seen. Still, the whole rig woulda been pretty lightweight and collapsible.
“But unless there was some form of propulsion that ain’t presently visible, it donnae look like it would be serviceable for much more than a controlled drop from a cliff or a plane.”
Sylvia nods. “Well, that could explain how he was able to jump around the islands.”
“What? You actually think he flew this thing between the islands? Seriously?” Welsh asks, looking dubiously at her companion. “He put on his wings and summoned up the spirits of Fūjin or Susanoo-no-Mikoto to launch him into the sky like some wannabe Polynesian-reincarnated Daedalus?”
Sylvia shrugs. “We have seen a lot stranger.”
Welsh snorts and waves her off.
“If he was wounded on Bougainville Island where the journal was found — considering the dates correspond to the Allied presence there — that would account for the bullet wound.”
Welsh stops fiddling with the broken wing to look over her shoulder at her friend.
“He hung around after bein’ shot for like two days while an invasion was explodin’ all around him. Then decided on flyin’ back across the fuckin’ ocean on a hang-glider — wit’ the bullet still in his gut?”
“Seriously, who the Hell is this asshole? Superman?”
“Well, I would not presume so. Superman was bulletproof.”
Welsh snorts. “Geek.”
Sylvia rolls her eyes.
“But seriously; after all that, he just dies here? Why the Hell do the flight? He had to know the strain would totally kill him.”
The taller woman ponders a long moment before stepping back up to the remains. She folds her arms on the rim of the ledge. She hunches a little to rest her chin on her folded arms and looks deeply into the skull’s empty eye sockets.
She ponders several long moments. The silence of the cavern fills in the audio void between the two women.
“He knew he was dying,” she says finally, her voice almost a whisper.
Sylvia looks back at her companion. “He knew he was going to die. The Americans had already taken the other islands and it was only a matter of time before Bougainville also fell…” Sylvia lets her voice trail off in thought.
After a few moments, her eyes light up with realization. She quickly sets to sifting through the gritty ashes.
“Oi, now what? Tha’s really messed up.”
“The Americans were driving the Imperial forces off the islands. He could not let himself be taken by them — alive or dead. Neither himself and perhaps something he was carrying.”
“The acquisition?” Welsh asks, her curiosity overcoming her distaste for the dead as she steps up next to Sylvia. “He put himself through Hell so the Yanks wonnae get it…”
“It would seem,” Sylvia says as she pushes through the thick ash.
Welsh gives the skull a nod. “Damn… Props to you, sucker. Shitty you had to die for it.”
Sylvia gasps. Her fingers touch on something hidden under the bones and ash. She tightens her grip and pulls it loose; drawing up a slim length like a blackened yardstick.
Even after seventy years, the silken tsuka ito handle wrapping remains taunt and pristine. The scabbard is unmarred beyond the previous difficulties of daily use.
“Well, donnae tha’ jus’ beat all?” Welsh says, her eyes examining the ash-dusted weapon.
Sylvia stares at the sheathed blade, enamored by the elegant beauty of the craftwork under the harsh glare of her the electric torch. Yet even ensorcelled by the majestic beauty, she cannot fail to notice the flash of shadowy movement at the edge of her vision, and the faintest swish of cloth against cloth.
Reacting from the purest instinct against an unknown threat, she shoves Welsh back away from her. The redhead stumbles into the broken wings of the glider — just as the flare of a blade flashes through their lamplight. The weapon’s razor-edged tip nicks into the redhead’s deltoid muscle; though was fully intended for her exposed throat.
Thank you for reading this month’s Tales of the Arcane short story anthologies.
It is our hope to bring you a selection of short stories and longer chapter serials each month.
Tales of the Arcane is a collection of works by members of an online community, The Arcane Light; and endeavors to promote the written word and story-crafting by giving those wanting to develop their own writing style an outlet for their creativity — or who simply just enjoy the opportunity to create worlds and stories.
Tales of the Arcane is a monthly collection of short stories by those with a love for the art of story craft - both amateur and professional writers. The Tales will be mainly themed in the genre of the supernatural, though will cover a host of genres with changing short stories; or the continuation of longer stories as told in a serial chapter format. These works have been created by members of an online community, The Arcane Light, and endeavors to promote the written word and story-crafting by giving those wanting to develop their own writing style an outlet for their creativity. In this issue: Silken Whispers - Casefile: The Butterfly The continuation of previous chapters, as the ladies of Silken Whispers Artefact Recovery Agency pursue their new job in the South Pacific. After seemingly finding what they seek, danger strikes as the ghostly hand of a seventy-year dead warrior reaches out from beyond the veil of death to strike back with unrelenting vengeance. Teeko Tales; The Tale of Mr. Eric Garner A man's strange encounter with a secret world leads him into the arms of the law, and a mysterious benefactor.