Weekend Wind Down – Encounter in a Graveyard

It had got dark and by the time Brandon pulled the car up at the side of the road he had chosen to park up a short walk from his intended destination and in the residential road, his smart car would draw little attention. Moving quickly he followed the road round to where the entrance of the overgrown path waited, univiting. He carried no light and once away from the road it was hard to see. A slight breeze brought a drizzle of rain and beneath his feet the path was muddy. But Brandon was no longer focused on the physical. He was shifting his energy carefully, drawing the shadows around him, aware that the atmosphere of this place had altered since he had last been here.
Tasting the energies, Brandon paused and for a moment the memory of the thing he had seen on the beach brought a chill that owed nothing to the weather. The sensation was stronger the further he went along the path and as he passed the fallen tree the first image he had of the ruined church tower was of an ethereal glow playing around it like green flame. The scent redolent of the same energy he had fought on the beach was almost physical to his nostrils and he was unable to suppress a shudder of revulsion. Proceeding with extreme caution, Brandon realised that the source was not sentient, but the whole area seemed imbued with the eldritch power. Like a pollutant contaminating the very ground and stones.
Something moved in the graveyard.
Brandon simply stopped moving, allowing his form and force to blend with what was there. On a physical level he would have seemed less than a shadow amongst shadows, astrally his energies faded like a camouflaged moth on its branch. Stillness his shield.
It took a few moments before he was certain that the figure moving was indeed physical. There were other eyes watching, but none of a kind to trouble Brandon even in his less than powerful state – vermin drawn to the thrum of energy like the thirsty to a fountain or jackals to a corpse. They would not move to interfere in a wizard’s affairs.
The being was human and psychic and in extreme emotional distress. Brandon watched with fascination at the churning of the energy around it – reminding him of oil and water being stirred in together. He wondered how long before one of the vultures decided this human was weak enough to latch onto and made its move.
He watched as the figure grew more desperate – searching for something and not finding it. A feral shadow pounced from the night and bit deep on the unsuspecting human who seemed too distracted even to notice as it latched onto his energy. Another followed and a stirring around the area told Brandon that the rest would follow in a moment.
He stepped forward and sent a shiver of his energy against the natural shields of the human, satisfied to see the parasites lift and scatter and the human freeze and then look round sharply. Another pace and Brandon consciously released the shadows allowing his outline to be visible to the other.
“Who’s there?”
The voice was male and uncertain. Brandon saw the slight shimmer of dull metal as the man pulled something out of his pocket. He quickly positioned his energy for points of control and was puzzled to find the shielding. It would be a fight to break in this one’s psyche and with a gun involved that would not be an option Brandon wanted to try. There were times the simple human methods were better. He stepped forward to take advantage of a thin sliver of moonlight so the man could see him more clearly and feel less vulnerable.
“A friend.”
There was no reply for a long moment and Brandon felt the brush of a questing probe and deflected it gently.
“A friend?” There was a disbelieving snort and the gun moved to glint in the moonlight. “If you want to kill me you’ll have to get your hands dirty wizard. Not like you lot did with my sister. She couldn’t fight you but I can.” He moved the gun slightly. “This says you are dead here no matter what may happen to you off this planet.”
Brandon stood very still and allowed the new information to settle. The headline from the local paper was stuck in his mind: Girl Victim of Ritual Killing.
“I’m guessing Olivia Brown was your sister?”
That made him draw a sharp breath.
“So you don’t deny it?”
“I have done nothing. I just read the news.”
For a moment the man seemed to falter, uncertain. Brandon took a slow step forward into the hesitation, and then another, closing the distance between them, enough to make a difference.
“Keep away!”
Brandon stopped dead and allowed the narrow moon to show his empty hands.
“You are the one holding the gun here.” He pointed out. “I don’t want you to feel you need to use it, I just want to talk.”
“Yes, I’m the one calling the shots – makes a change doesn’t it? How does that make you feel wizard? After all, I am a mere human.”
“Some of my best friends are humans,” Brandon responded mildly, “and I can’t think of many who are wizard race.”
“Who the hell are you? I never met a yank wizard.”
“It happens in the best families, even the best American families. My name is Brandon, what’s yours?”
“Like you don’t know!”
“Matter of fact I don’t. You seem to think I know what you are about but truth is I just walked in on this and have no idea.”
This was met by forced derisive laughter.
“Ha ha ha! That would be funny if it were true.”
Brandon said nothing and let the initiative fall open.

E.M. Swift-Hook

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