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Mistwalker

“Don’t you love it when you look at an image and see something that perhaps you shouldn’t? The wonderful Sadje from Lifeafter50forwoman.com gave us this image from Shahzin Shajid @ Unsplash for her What do you see prompt today. A couple walking in the misty woods right? Look again is he human? where’s his neck and isn’t his body out of proportion maybe? Are either of them human?

While you ponder that, let’s have a story, shall we?”

Mistwalker

Ellery shuddered, although not cold.  She hugged herself and hurried through the darkening forest.

She wasn’t afraid of the trees, birds and animals living there. The aroma of the woods, chatter of the birds, and the glimpse of a deer always relaxed her. Then he came.

Ellery became aware of the breath rasping in her lungs as she quickened her pace. The mists gathered; swirling through the boughs of oak, and birch. Each tree morphed into a menacing demon as foggy tendrils made the branches appear as withered arms reaching to snatch her.

The birds fell silent, vanishing into their nests. An earthy smell rose from the leaflitter. He was drawing near.

Ellery walked through the forest to work at the castle morning and evening. This was how he ensnared her.

There was no snap of branches, and footsteps never approached.

As Ellery tried to calm her frantic heart, she felt the breeze on her chestnut hair. Then he was there, his arm interlocked with hers. From a distance, they would appear as a couple out for a stroll.

She risked a glance at his face a foot higher than hers; even though she’d seen the hunchbacked figure several times now, his sallow, monstrous face always unnerved her. “I f-forbade you.”

“Forgive me, dear Ellery,” he replied his voice deep, almost earthy, “I always long to hold you, to bask in your flowery scent and joyous energy.”

“You’re sweet, Mistwalker. You know we cannot be together,” Ellery focused her eyes on the dark, foggy forest and kept walking.

“So, that’s what the humans call me,” the demon gave a rumbling sigh. “I’m still, Perrin if you wish.”

“I didn’t forget,” Ellery reached and patted his arm. The grey-green skin was as leather stretched over wire cables. “Do you stay in this form or can you become one with the mist?”

A cool breeze fluttered her hair and he was gone.

“Perrin?” Ellery glanced about seeing nothing but the rolling mist dancing about the trees and blackthorn bushes. The coolest touch kissed her neck. Ellery gasped, she felt the icy sensation brush her right shoulder. It descended her spine over the white bodice of her pinafore dress like an insect, stopping short of touching her red skirts.

Ellery glanced behind her, she was quite alone and yet he was still there. Her left hand tingled as if tickled by snowflakes.

She watched with growing tension as the mist teased, and curled about her fingers.

Then in his ogre form, he was holding her hand.

“Does that answer your question?”

“That — you are amazing —”

Perrin bowed, “Thank you, dear Ellery.”

“But a little terrifying. Please don’t creep about me all invisible-like, I don’t like it.”

“I promise this was only a demonstration. When you see my mist, I’m never creeping, just coming to be with you, and that’s the truth.”

“Ha! Like I can call something I can’t see a liar!” Ellery scoffed.

“Indeed, you can’t,” Perrin twisted his features into a lopsided grin. Holding a claw-like hand before her, he caused the mist to spiral above his palm.

Ellery gasped and covered her mouth with a shaking hand. She watched the mist take form, shapeshifting until it was a stunning grey-and-white rose.

“For you,” he said.

“Why, thank you, Perrin.” Ellery accepted the bloom and sniffed its petals. She’d expected it to smell of the mist, damp earth or even cigarettes by its grey colour. Instead, it had the scent of the freshest rose. “It’s beautiful.”

“While a monster I am, my heart is not black. You need never fear me.”

“I appreciate that, and yet I cannot be free?”

Perrin seemed to hunch deeper beside her. “You shall always be free, where I am not. Do you know why I chose you to hold my heart?”

Ellery shook her head, “Tell me.”

“I let you see me many times as you walked through this forest.”

“I remember,” Ellery shuddered, “Faces, shadows in the mist. Grey eyes blinking in the darkness at a height no animal or bird would be.”

“You saw me and even if frightened you never screamed or ran away. I …”

“You unnerved me every time. You still do.” Ellery gazed into his mysterious face, “And, yet I always sensed you were no threat even when I didn’t know what you were.”

“And now?”

“You’re a Mistwalker. Your kind make people vanish all the time. They … But I’m still here, aren’t I?”

Perrin chuckled, “Indeed, you are, dear lady. You see I chose you because you gave me a chance. I have met many ladies in the woods across the land. You were the first princess who didn’t just run away and … leave me alone.” His last words hung as heavy as the mist with melancholy.

Ellery felt his sadness and wiped her eyes, “I’m sorry. D-do you make people vanish and kill them, like the others?”

The demon gazed at the mists swirling about his large feet. He gave a little stamp setting the foggy tendrils turning beautiful spirals about the two of them. “This is why I am so alone.”

“I don’t understand. My kind consider humans as food,” Perrin looked disgusted, “Boy brain stew, man liver parfait, girl gut bonbons, lady leg lollipops — yuck!”

“Gross!” Ellery stuck her tongue out. “If you start licking my leg like a lollipop, I’ll slap you so hard your nose will get lost in the fog!”

Perrin guffawed with laughter, “Please do. Anyway, I prefer a menu of roots and shoots, berries, and fruits.”

“Huh, a vegetarian Mistwalker, hey?”

“Exactly – my people cast me out and threatened to defog me if I ever came back. I have been alone ever since.”

Ellery glanced ahead; she could see a glowing streetlight beyond the forest.  “Until you tried to give me your heart?”  

Perrin nodded.

“We’re at the end of the forest. I’m nearly home.”

“I know,” he raised her hand and kissed it causing her to shiver with the snowflake sensation. “So, can we never be?”

Ellery shook her head, “I think I must love a decent human man, should one exist.”

“I understand,” Perrin turned away and let her hand fall to her side. “I —”

“But we’re friends, aren’t we?”

He nodded and moved away from her.

“Good, will you keep me safe on my walks from now on?”

“Always.”

Ellery approached him, “Thank you, sweet Mistwalker.” She closed her eyes, reached on tiptoes and kissed his misshapen lips. The breath rushed from her lungs as her body bristled with energy. A wind blew all around her. She forced her eyes open in time to see Perrin vanish in a puff of grey fog. The misty tendrils gripping the trees unfurled and vaporised leaving the woods bathed in dappled moonlight.

Ellery turned a circle whilst catching her breath, “Perrin?”

“Thank you, dear lady.” His voice emanated from all around her.

“Shall I see you tomorrow?”

“You shall, although I could accept those kisses all night.”

Ellery blushed, “Goodnight, Mistwalker.” She turned and walked three steps before a handsome man with grey eyes and a matching suit blocked her path. “Perrin?”

He gave the deepest bow.

The End


Thanks for reading my friends.

There’s more in the Poetry CornerPoetry Nook, and the Short Story Collection

Have a great day!

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