Fictober, Prompt 31 – “Take me with you.”
Original fiction, dark fantasy.
Night had fallen, though the last lingering echoes of sunset still lightened the western horizon, a break in the trees showing thin clouds streaked bloody red along their undersides. The road led that way, shadowed by mostly bare branches. Wind whispered through the boughs, rustling the remaining leaves as October came to a quiet close.
There was a figure on the road ahead.
I hesitated, unsure both of my own decision and of what he might say, but in the end it didn’t matter.
I hurried forward, and gradually allowed my steps to become more audible on the packed earth of the road. Startling him would not make him more likely to agree.
“Wait,” I called, when I was close enough, keeping my voice low but not trying to make it sound human, as I had before. There was nothing to hide any more. “Wait, please!”
He paused at this, as he had not paused at my footsteps. I wondered if his hand was on his dagger under his cloak. I would not fault him if it was.
He turned only slightly, just enough to look at me over his shoulder, whatever he could see in the deepening dark.
We stared silently at each other for a long moment, my words suddenly sticking in my throat. This was the- the most astoundingly forward thing I had ever done, which seemed strange, given what I was, but was nevertheless true.
“Well?” he asked, patience running out, his tone wary but not angry.
My courage (a strange thing to suddenly need) rose slightly. The past weeks had been a mess, but he had not left until it was settled, and if he was not truly angry now…
“Please,” I said, finding my voice, “take me with you.”
He jerked in startlement, eyes going wide. “What?”
“Please,” I repeated, finding that all my former arrogance had flowed away, sometime in the preceding days. I hadn’t realized it then, but could tell the difference now. “Please, take me with you.”
As he continued to gape at me speechlessly, I realized that I could not have astonished him more if I had tried. He had expected any request other than this one. I felt myself curl in a little, suddenly sure this had been a mistake. If it was so unexpected—
Just as I was about to step back, he turned fully, the astonishment on his face shifting into something else, something lighter, something like
“You—” he hesitated himself, just briefly, then continued, “You would want that?”
I nodded, not daring to move otherwise.
“But isn’t this your- your territory, or something? Don’t you have to be here?”
“It is,” I confirmed, “or it was. We— It is better, usually, to be settled somewhere, to have an anchor, but…”
But this was no longer a place I wished to be settled, I did not say. He seemed to understand anyway.
“But it is not a necessity, and sometimes it is good not to be so tethered to a place,” I continued, voice low again. “Sometimes our anchor can be— Can be a person, if they so agree.”
Confusion and the last of his hesitation fell away from his face, leaving him open and smiling as he had been for most of his time here.
“I didn’t think you would want to leave,” he confessed, and then nodded firmly. “Yes. If you’re wanting to come, then please, come with me.”
Relief, another sensation I had learned only recently, flooded me.
“I will,” I told him, and reached out.
He reached back, linking his hand with me, and then we continued west along the road together. The night deepened around us, no more lingering light of sunset. The hymns of the October wind took on a darker, eerier tone, and the forest on either side was neither empty nor silent.
But together, we would fear no road, and no future.
Happy Halloween! The “hymns of the October wind” line is lovingly borrowed from the song All Hallows by Aviators, which is a great Halloween song.
That’s it for Fictober for this year, and many thanks to @fictober-event for running it!