This is an unedited first draft and there may be typos or other errors in the text. The plot and characters of this story are fluid and thus subject to change as we go.
Her lips are soft, but my thoughts are far beyond the mud-packed earth of Ditchwater. Somewhere that I know only in the illuminated pages of old tombs and half-remembered dreams.
She pushes me up against the wooden side of the building as dusk settles over our tiny village.
And I let her.
What reason have I not to? All the boys have always wanted her. She’s filled out in all the right places. Soft, but not too delicate and weak for Dragokin. Antlers a good length for a girl. Mane a nice deep garnet. I know I should feel…something.
“Halden…hold me,” she murmurs against my skin.
But instead, my mind keeps straying to someone who isn’t her.
What exactly did Korik do this time to earn their ire? To get himself shoved up against that wall?
“Halden…” she says again, and I drape my arms around her.
You know, if his mane wasn’t so damned colorless I probably wouldn’t have noticed at all. But in the noon sunlight of autumn, it was blinding. Like staring at the very heart of a flame.
“Do you want…?”
Or the spark of metal striking molten metal on the blacksmith’s anvil.
“Hal?” she questions and I finally look at her.
Her hands are resting on the closers of my pants, and she’s looking at me expectantly.
“Oh. Uh. Sure,” I half-shrug and half-nod.
She smiles, and I tip my head back against the wood. And that’s when I see it—a dark figure sneaking into the Fledgling Hall through an upper window. Our window.
“Not again,” I growl under my breath.
I put my hand on her shoulder just as she’s got my pants and shorts undone. “Sorry, I…have to go.”
I maneuver out of the situation as quickly as possible.
“This was…” I can’t even find a word to finish the statement.
“Halden, where are you going?!” she demands as I rush toward the Fledgling Hall to investigate.
I arrive at the entrance to our bedroom to find it entirely unlit. And worst still, the thief is rummaging around our room as if they know the place. As if they’ve been here before.
Why are people always thieving his shit? What has Korik gotten himself into now?
I suck in a quiet breath, then dart swiftly into our bedroom as I let it out. Before they can react, I grab the thief by the back of their tunic and toss them up against the wall just as the moon breaks through the cover of clouds…
…and illuminates his mane which is nearly as pale.
“Kor?!” I just blink at him in utter confusion.
“Why are you—? Why did you—? The Hall has a front door you know,” I point out in exasperation.
My roommate offers absolutely no explanation as to why he was attempting to burgle his own possessions, so I search out my own. One of his violet eyes is blackened, his bottom lip is busted, and the neck of his tunic’s been ripped. And then there’s his knuckles, which are—
The moonlight reflects off the surface of something he’s got clutched tightly in his fist.
“You shouldn’t still have that. He told me he—“
I reach for Kor’s pendant and take his elbow straight to my middle before my fingers ever get close to touching it.
He slips from my grasp, slippery as a river fish as I recoil in pain. But Kor barely makes it a step before he trips himself right over my leg.
On reflex—or instinct—I snag him round the waist and now we’re both falling. I really didn’t think that one through.
Korik ends up on his back, the weight of my body pinning him to the floor as his pendant hits the wood and rolls just out of reach.
My heart is beating so fast—faster than it was down on the street with her—and I don’t like it at all. I don’t like how he makes me feel. Restless—like there’s some creature inside of me threshing about and clawing to get out. I wish it would just stop. I wish he would just—
I squeeze my eyes shut. “Why are you always getting in rows with them? Why can’t you just—?”
“Just what, Halden?” Kor asks dangerously.
And I take in a little too much breath as I open my eyes again.
In this near darkness, he looks like a sleek moonlit blade, deadly and beautiful.
“Just keep my mouth shut and let him take whatever he damn well pleases?” Kor hisses through gritted teeth as he shifts his intense gaze away from me.
“Tsk. Maybe I shouldn’t have come back. This fucking village probably would have been a whole hell of a lot happier if I’d just stayed out there and let them eat me.”
My breath catches and he flicks his gaze back to mine. His eyes are like two violet fires lighting up this dusk-filled bedroom.
“You certainly would have.”
It’s a rotten thing for him to say, but what I say next is unforgivable.
“At least he let you keep your clothes this time.”
“Moonlit” They Come at Night © 2022 by Kat Vancil