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The Demon's Dagger

Novel By: lobsterpotmayhem

Wide-awake watched helplessly as the demon slunk into her Mistress's chamber night after night to conjoin with her and steal her soul, piece by piece. There had to be a way to defeat the monster, and it may lie through the enchanted doorway... View table of contents...


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Submitted:Jul 24, 2011    Reads: 689    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   

Once upon a time, in a land beyond the mountains, a girl-child was born into a family which had already been blessed with six beautiful daughters before her. This bairn inherited the rather grand name of Catoptricia, a name which had come down to her from her Grandmother, a Wise Woman who had herself been a seventh daughter, and who was well versed in the ways of the Old Religion.

It was said that Granny Catoptricia had had the Sight, among other kenning skills, but none in the current family had it, not even an inkling, and so they were all struck an unforeseen blow when the tiny babe's mother died suddenly amidst the travails of birth, drawing her last breath before the wee-un had even drawn its first.

Denied her mother, the babe was also to be denied her name. Baptised half-heartedly with her grandmother's name in the village millpond by a distracted Priest at one year of age, having survived the perils of childhood long enough to deserve the honour of a baptism, she was by then known indelibly by the family and townsfolk as Wide-awake, because of her near-constant wakefulness and her startlingly wide-open eyes.

She is looking for her mother, ran the common wisdom, and she will nary sleep without her.

The difficult baby grew into a tiresome infant, and by the time she was a free-moving child her sisters had well and truly ceased to respond to her mewling and griping, and so she gave up on looking for their attention altogether. She grew resignedly more and more quiet under their lack of interest, and disappeared as best she could into the hubbub of the family. Being the youngest, and being given to hiding, she did not learn any chores to make herself useful, and her most frequent contribution to the household was to unintentionally startle a sister when her huge, white eyes loomed out of the back of a cupboard or from beneath a table at them.

'Wide-awake! How come thee be sceering up at me like that! Get thee out, changeling!' her afrighted sister would cry, or words to that effect, and the poor child would slink away, upset at having caused such a turn.

For all she wanted, of course, was, like any of us, to love and to be loved in return.

Her father, her lone surviving parent, had been, so it was said, a good, and a kind, and a loving man. The night of Wide-awake's birth, though, changed him irreparably. At first he hid the pain of his loss as best he could, but, in his nightmind, he at first resented, and then came to hate his last-born daughter.

With the help of ale and melancholy, his nightmind came more and more into the full light of day, until finally he hid his hatred and resentment for Wide-awake no more.

On the morn she first woke up to blood on her sheets, he called all his daughters into the kitchen, gave Wide-awake a crust of bread and a nugget of cheese, and told her to kiss her sisters farewell. He marched her up the hill to the big house without even allowing her leave to wash her face, and he strode up the big stone stairs and knocked on the big oak door of the big house like a man who has captured a thief.

The big door opened upon a big man in a big coat with a big nose and a big forehead. He looked down his big nose at them both and, after a few words from Wide-awake's father, he went back inside, leaving the big door ajar just a crack, like he had lost interest in closing it halfway through.

Wide-awake's father tapped his foot, but didn't look down at her, either for reassurance or to check that she was still there. She thought that maybe they should leave.

Moments later, the big door swung open again as the big man returned with a few small coins. He handed the pale clatter of metal to Wide-awake's father, who took them and, for the first time in over fifteen years, smiled. He turned and walked away, without even saying farewell to Wide-awake, who was wondering with a catch in her throat what had just befallen her.

The big man in the big coat watched Wide-awake's father as he made his way down the hill. Then he looked down his big nose again at Wide-awake.

'Come inside, prithee, child. And let us see what thou canst do.'

Still unsure of what was happening, Wide-awake stepped past the big door and into the gloom of the lobby. It was a dank, subterranean place, and she feared how long it might be before she once again walked in the outside world of light and air.

As the big man in the big coat turned to shut the big door on all the free world, he caught one last glimpse of the child's father. We can see him, too, just rounding the bend, about to disappear behind the corner of that building with the pale green thatch, newly cut. He is on his way to the tavern, where he will spend the brideprice of his daughter, having successfully married her to mop and pail and scullery brush, on enough tankards of indifferent ale to render him satisfyingly unconscious.

If you wish to wave him farewell, you should do so now, for we shall not hear of him again in this tale.


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