Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Night Phoenix - Chapter One, Part Two

Viggo hesitated, shooting a quick glance at Rowan. The shapeshifter was standing motionless, his bright, copper-colored hair tousled and messy. He looked remarkably like a young man who had just gotten out of bed—not dangerous at all.
“Both of you put your hands up. Now!” snapped the tall man. “Or me and Ron here will shoot you right off.”
Ron was as short and stocky as the other man was tall and thin. He swallowed and shifted from foot to foot. “Zeke, maybe we shouldn’t—”
“Shut up!” Zeke didn’t look over at his comrade as he spoke; he kept his eyes on Viggo, who was watching the exchange with one eyebrow higher than the other.
“But Zeke, we’re already gonna be in trouble for kidnapping the girl…”
As Ron continued to complain—and Zeke continued to ignore him—Viggo shifted his gaze to the fireplace behind the kidnappers. Aelfcynn was still there, standing in a half-crouch. Her fingers twitched with pent-up energy and adrenaline—though she was in human form, her behavior reminded Viggo of a wolf getting ready to ambush its prey.
“All right, we’ll just shoot them and bury the bodies. No one will ever know!” Zeke snapped, interrupting Ron.
Viggo turned his gaze sharply back onto Zeke. The man slid the hammer back on his revolver, aiming at the spot where Viggo’s heart was.
Anois, Aelfcynn! Now!” Rowan shouted.
Viggo threw himself to the ground, just as Zeke fired. The bullet whispered past Viggo’s head a millisecond later.
Aelfcynn had darted out of the fireplace and wrapped her arms around Zeke’s head in a chokehold, throwing off his aim. He was screaming curses now.
Ron lunged for the door, dropping his gun. Viggo jumped up and dodged in front of Ron, cutting off his escape. Ron stared at him with eyes that were wide with disbelief.
“Just do what I say, and you won’t get hurt,” Viggo asserted.
Ron yanked something out of his jacket pocket. It was a knife encased in a leather sheath, which he threw down immediately.
Viggo leapt forward, seizing Ron’s arm before he could move and twisting it sharply backwards.
He didn’t break any bones, but the man screamed just the same and the knife clattered harmlessly away across the ground. Rowan sprang forward and picked the knife up, pushing it safely into the pocket of his jeans.
Viggo released Ron’s arm, and then sent three quick punches at him. Ron crashed to the floor and did not move.
Viggo ran towards the corner of the room and retrieved his gun. Then he turned around, ready to defend himself from Zeke.
He need not have worried. Aelfcynn’s chokehold had restricted Zeke’s breathing for so long, he had blacked out. She let him drop to the floor with a loud thud.
“Thanks,” Viggo said, addressing both Rowan and Aelfcynn. “I swear, you guys are absolutely amazing.”
“You’re welcome,” Rowan said, grinning happily at the praise.
“It’s about time you admitted our superiority. Or mine, anyway,” Aelfcynn replied, crossing her arms with a smirk.
Viggo laughed quietly, and then looked down at the limp forms of the kidnappers. “We probably should have asked one of them where Connie was.”
“We can find her easily enough,” Aelfcynn countered. “This cabin isn’t all that big.”
“She’s right.” Rowan nodded. “We’ll stay in human form for now, so we can open doors and other things like that.”
“All right,” Viggo said. He went over to the door, where he had dropped his duffel bag, and rummaged around in it for a minute. He pulled out a coil of rope and tossed it onto the ground next to the unconscious kidnappers. “First, though, tie those guys up. I’ll start searching for Connie.”
Aelfcynn and Rowan busied themselves with the task of tying the men up, while Viggo walked down the hallway, opening doors and peering into the rooms behind them.
When he was sure that there was no sign of the kidnapped girl downstairs, Viggo turned around and headed back to the staircase. Before climbing up the steps, he saw that Aelfcynn and Rowan were just finishing tying knots in the rope.
A door was ajar on the second floor. Viggo moved towards it with a silent tread, and looked inside the room.
One glance told him all that he needed to know. A girl who looked as though she was about six years old sat on the bed, blindfolded. Her hands were tied behind her back.
Viggo’s fists clenched at his side, and he fleetingly wished that he had roughed up the kidnappers more than he had.
As he moved forward, Connie shrank back against the headboard of the bed. Why wouldn’t she? She couldn’t see who was coming. For all she knew, it was the kidnappers again.
“It’s all right,” Viggo said, talking in the same tone of voice he would use to soothe a trapped animal. “I’m a friend.”
Connie did not seem to be convinced. She pressed herself harder against the headboard, as though she could disappear into the walls if she did so.
Viggo took out his knife. He tried hard to keep it quiet, but it gave a metallic clink when he took it from its sheath. The girl, panicking, tried to jump off of the bed.
Viggo lunged forward and took her by the arm. “Wait a minute, Connie. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m trying to help you.”
Connie froze, not moving as he cut her bonds. Once he finished, Viggo reached up and gently pulled the blindfold away. “There you are. You’ll be back home in no time at all.”
Connie stared at him. He gave her a reassuring smile, quite aware of the fact that he was dirty from spending all night in the woods and had blood on his face from where the kidnapper had punched him. I wouldn’t be surprised if she thought I was some sort of man out of a nightmare or something, he thought wryly.
Connie blinked a few times. Her eyes began to grow misty, and her lower lip trembled.
Viggo frowned. “Hey, don’t cry,” he pleaded. “Everything’s okay now.”
Despite his efforts, tears started to roll down the little girl’s cheeks.
“Oh…no, don’t…” Viggo murmured, sighing. Without thinking twice, he moved forward and put his arms around Connie. “No, don’t cry, please. Calm down…no one’s going to hurt you now,” he whispered, gently pulling her onto his lap.
The little girl managed to get out something about being ‘so scared’ and ‘wanting Mama and Daddy’ in between her sobs. She buried her head in Viggo’s black coat.
Viggo absentmindedly stroked Connie’s hair, trying to soothe her and decide how he would get her home. Town was a three-hour drive away, and Viggo had parked his car about a mile from the cabin.
Eventually, Viggo got Connie to settle down; she had fallen asleep, her head resting on his shoulder.
Poor kid’s worn out, Viggo thought, picking Connie up and heading back down the stairs.
When he got downstairs, he saw Aelfcynn and Rowan standing by the tied-up kidnappers, vigilantly keeping watch while they waited for him to come back. They looked up as Viggo entered the living room.
“All right, come on, you two,” Viggo said, shifting the little girl to his other arm. “Let’s get out of these woods and back to town. Then I’ll call the police and have them come and arrest these guys.”
Aelfcynn and Rowan both nodded. They left the house, talking quietly to each other. Viggo followed them, using his foot to pull the front door of the cabin shut behind him.
Sorry it was so long!


  1. I love it! I can already see some of the characters personality. If I had this book in my hand I would have kept writing and that's an author's job. (Sort of) Two thumbs up on the first chapter.

  2. I meant reading not writing. My bad.