Taking a break from the Elves and Pixies. Trying my hand at something else.
These little stories all around 1200 words are my down time. Getting the story across clearly and cutting the detail has been hard but worth the effort. This is the latest of three currently available on Wattpad-if I manage 6 or 8 I think they might be a little e-book. A first dip of the toe into the murky waters of publishing!
Drifts of fog curled themselves around the Magister’s feet as he walked. It had been a very long day and he was looking forward to a hot bath and bed.
In Paris Autumn was a fickle beast. Bright cool days gave way to foggy nights with the mist rising off the river, folding around the gas lights.
Tom waited anxiously for his masters return. He was worried, the Magister wasn’t behaving quite right and he didn’t like it.
Normally even tempered he had been snappy and almost gruff. There was a killer on the loose and it was making everyone nervous and Ill at ease.
Not just a killer, a savage beast was stalking the streets, ravaging anyone who happened to cross his path. The things he did to them were enough to freeze the blood. On nights when the moon was high and the shadows were long he stalked the alleys waiting to pounce on unwary citizens going about their lawful business.
Walking the fair Doucette home to Madame du Champ’s after a trip to the theatre they had been overtaken by a horse and driver which came clip clopping through the empty streets. The driver grunted and they got in. The Magister had sent Gruffeau and the carriage to fetch them. He was worried and unusually distracted, leaving early and returning late, hardly eating or sleeping.
Twice the killer had almost been caught, but somehow he had escaped his captors in a feat of daring that defied belief. Cornered in a narrow courtyard with no other exit the Gendarmes had moved in for the capture. They had searched every fetid inch with lanterns and dogs but he had gone, vanishing like smoke into the night.
The Magister threw down his gloves and sank into a chair. Tom cautiously put a glass of brandy next to his masters elbow and scuttled back to his corner.
The Magister smiled, “Thank you Tom I won’t bite!” He put a hand over his tired eyes.
“There has been another one Master”
“Then we will have to catch him Tom” he said “are you up for the danger?”
The boy nodded, he knew that look. “You know who it is dont you”
“Yes” he said simply as wheels stopped on the gravel outside “get your coat Gruffeau is waiting”
They sped away into the night
The Magister looked thoughtful “you may see things tonight that you may not wish to see Tom” he sighed “If I tell you to run then you run, as fast as your feet will carry you, Gruffeau will know what to do trust him”
Tom stared then he nodded but stayed silent.
The carriage came to rest alongside the railings of a cemetery, a damp creepy place where Ivy clambered with abandon over the ancient tombs and the stunted trees looked as if they were depressed and had no desire to flourish in such a desolate spot.
Tom’s mouth formed a word and stopped.
His master said, “you are learning, always look before you speak”
Heavy iron gates swung free in the wind.
“But why are we here master” the boy said “this a place for things that are long dead, our killer is very much alive and free to do his evil work”
The Magister sighed “we are here because this is where he lives Tom, and we have come to call” he pointed.
Tom could just see through the mist, a large house decayed and rotten. Shutters hanging loose like teeth in the mouth of a tired old man.
“Up the drive, the one we seek will be home I think”
He watched his master load a pistol. One silver bullet in the first chamber and five lead ones to follow. A charm to kill the beast!
“You take this, do not hesitate to shoot if you need to Tom” ” I must do this alone, stay with the carriage, he knows we are here look”
He pointed to one of the broken panes where a single lamp was burning and a pale face could be seen observing their every move. The Magister put on his hat and strode up the drive toward the house as Tom watched him disappear into the mist.
Cold and stiff they waited for a return but none came. Somewhere in the grounds a peacock cried, a harsh and mournful sound.
Suddenly a hare broke out of a thicket and leapt away into the undergrowth followed by a fox trotting behind him, it sniffed the air and darted off.
There was a scuffle and a huge black rat broke cover scuttling along the path toward the overgrown tombs.
Again they waited, suddenly an owl screeched down from a tree and grabbed the rat in his claws.
Tom startled took aim and fired catching the birds wing. It screeched and dropped its prey, flying off into the mist.
The rat lay suffering on the gravel, twitching and trying to right itself, Gruffeau edged the carriage wheel forward but still it grasped at life. He grunted, Tom took aim and put a bullet through its brain. He had no wish to see the creature suffering.
Gruffeau cracked his whip and the horses took off, Tom protested loudly but the muffled driver wouldn’t stop until they were safely back at 23 Avenue Chaise du Pont.
Tom climbed out giving Gruffeau a look, the driver grunted and trotted the carriage off to the stables. He was most particular about the horses. There were not a better cared for pair of animals in the whole of Paris. By his feet sat a large grey owl, quietly hitching a lift back home.
The apprentice let himself into the kitchen where he sat head in hands desolate, not knowing what he should do next. It was clear he had failed in whatever task he had been given.
A familiar voice from upstairs said “Tom bring brandy and water, quickly now”
The Magister sat in his usual chair by the fire one arm in a sling.
“Don’t look so worried all is well” he said
Tom stared, ” I don’t understand Master did we catch the killer”
The Magister nodded, “he is dead, there will be no more killing”
The boy waited for an explanation he knew would come.
“It was a Loup Garou Tom, a Werewolf” “Once long ago a nobleman lived in that house, he was a good man and a Magister but weak, he dabbled in things that he should have left alone. He practiced the ancient art of shape shifting and one moonlit night he found the Loup Garou hidden deep inside him”
“From then on he was a lost soul doomed to wander the earth, turning into a beast when the moon was full” he yawned “We Magisters thought that we had seen the last of him but we were wrong. When I heard about the escape from the Gendarmes I knew for sure that he had returned. The place was surrounded, only a rat or a bird could have escaped from that courtyard so I knew it was him”
“You shot him Tom, a bullet through the brain” I was luckier, you just winged me. What you saw tonight was a rare thing, a duel between Magisters. He is gone and that is all that needs to be said, now off to bed with you”
“So it is true what they say-a silver bullet to kill the Loup Garou, I will write this down” then he frowned ” no that cannot be right, the first bullet the one that I fired at you, that was the silver one I am sure of it.”
The Magister shook his head ” They are expensive but traditional, I owed him that much. But an ordinary bullet through the brain that is far cheaper, and it works on everyone!”