Sunday, 12 September 2010

David awakes to darkness. There is a smell of warm, damp straw. His head feels cut, like a knife has been driven through its centre. His eyes hurt, there is a pressure through his head. His senses strain, searching out the cause. Bello's breathing is the only sound, a contented rasp of breath from the other bed. David reaches for his sword and peels back the blankets. Drawing the blade quietly he lays his feet on the cold floorboards, stepping to the window. Looking through the cracks of the wooden shutter he sees the graveyard lit by moonlight. Frost settles from the air.

A scream causes him to jump. THe stab of pain in his head increasing. He opens the door, feeling his way quickly down the stairs. No-one else is awake or stirring. The scent of magic stings him. His grip tightens on his sword and he heads outside, barely noticing that he is still barefoot. Listening for the scream, he looks about. The night is clear, filled with silver reflecting from ice. A dangerous night.

The scream comes again. David spins, running to the church. TUrning the corner to its entrance he sees the thing. A sliding mass of scales, a grating movement like steel rubbing against steel. It is digging in the graveyard, the scream comes again from below the ground. David has fought djinn and banshees across the Middle East and Europe so he is no stranger to the sight of this creature, its tail balancing the thrust of its misshapen claws into the tough soil.

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