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The Demon at Shifting Sands: A Spooky Short Story, Halloween 2021

Oreesius’ hazel eyes scanned the horizon as the bright sunny glow in the air suddenly turned a dull, sickly green. All around him, the sand and dirt began to shift and groan. Breath catching in his throat, he scribbled a hasty note on a torn piece of parchment:

 

Prince Lt. O. Leete

 

Lost in Shifting Sands.

YARDAN awakes.

Death com

 

A heavy fog rolled from the ground at his feet, blocking out the sunlight. Trembling, Oreesius snatched the sawtooth dagger from his belt, letting the plea fall, unfinished, to the shifting sands. The messenger vole would find it, and the warning would be enough to alert his people. As long as it reached them in time…

Fingers formed in the thick darkness, some snatching up his pack and rifling through it, others reaching for him. Oreesius swung out at them. Unaffected by his blade, the fog plucked playfully at the lapels of his tattered uniform for an instant, then clutched at the material and yanked. Oreesius gritted his teeth, leaning back against the pull, resisting, but the fog only tightened its hold. His heart pounded in his ribs as tendrils snaked around his lean, war-battered body, and squeezed.

You are mine, Prince. The sword is mine.

Oreesius gasped. The voice was low and harsh, grating in his mind like stones over a washboard. More cloudy fingers formed, searching his pockets and clawing at his olive skin. He gritted his teeth and chopped at them with his blade. The action sent ripples through the fog but did little else to release its hold. With each racing heartbeat, the grayish-green mist squeezed harder and his vision grew more speckled. He dropped his dagger, tearing at the damp, airy tendrils around his neck, trying to breathe, as the fog began dragging him downward. Below, the ground opened into a gaping pit.

“I don’t—have it,” he rasped, dangling in the nothingness. “The fire-blade isn’t here.”

For a moment, the assault stopped. Then, with an angry vengeance, the fog slammed Oreesius against the wall of the pit. Where is the hilt?

With the question, it loosened its hold on the prince, allowing him enough breath to answer. Oreesius gulped down breath, the spots in his vision dissipating to reveal a wide, bat-eared face in the mist before him, its eyes glowing reddish orange.

He knew that face, remembered this figure—had heard stories of its terrible deeds. Without the flaming blade, it wrought fear and havoc. With it, it would bring horror and destruction.

Swallowing past the lump in his throat, the prince clenched his jaw and responded through his teeth. “I don’t know.”

There was a tense silence. The glowing eyes narrowed into slits, studying him, and several of its tendrils picked carefully at Oreesius’ clothes before the voice filled his mind again. You do… And you will tell me.

The prince tensed, grunting as the tendrils gradually hardened into points and jabbed at his flesh. An icy pain ripped through his heart and he fell, surrendering to oblivion. The ground closed after him, the fog following in his wake.

Demon partially colored
Variation on the demon.
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