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Fantasy Fiction Drama

He supposed he would always be cast in this light. A villainous figure upsetting the naïve tranquility of the small towns and cities he would be sent to. Oh, how he envied the unenlightened. The folk who had seen but not understood the consequences of humans playing gods and of divine agency disrupting these affairs.  Sure, there were always traces of witchcraft woven into stories the villagers would whisper at the inns. Tales of wonder-working and the occult only spoken about amongst the locals when the sun would sit high in the sky. But such is the way of simple folk. With no absolute, physical proof of certainty, they remain steadfast in their faith and ignore what, in all its brutal honesty, is staring them straight in the face.

Her name is Cassandra, the one I’ve been sent to collect. I pursue her carefully and with a precise intention. I call upon my senses to determine her strength, her will, her force. I notice how she interacts with the villagers. Watch how her beautiful face carefully emotes the exact measure of practiced concern. How her willowy shape imitates their movements and reflects them back. How infuriatingly clever she is. I hear her listen to them. Sharing their stories of discontent, like she’s an anchor for their ships about to crash upon the rocks, their distress imminent. I can feel her manipulating their impassioned burning into something else. Something darker. I close my eyes and smell her sigh, like a gentle stem of lavender giving off the barest hint of calming scent.  She is cunning in her craft. I do not need to imagine her lovely face sharing a smile for her patron, placing a soothing hand upon their shoulder. It looks like kindness. Feels like it and tastes like it. But I see her truly. I see her shadow sister always behind her with hell in her eyes and a leer on her lips. 

Today, there is a small gathering of folk at the marketplace. I calmly make my way through the tents full of the village’s wares, careful not to appear too anything. I hear a young woman lamenting to Cassandra. Practically in tears recalling the events of the night before. “I buried the sand dollar in the field in front of his house, just like you recommended, and sprinkled the powder you gave me under my pillow. I don’t know what I did wrong!” Cassandra softly held the girl while she wept. Any observer would be touched by such a compassionate moment. Her face creased with concern, she wiped the girl’s tears and gently urged her to complete her telling of the night’s events, like she did not already know. Did not already relish another relationship turned sour.  Did not dance with delight in the moonlight over a dispute that ended in fisticuffs between the young girl’s father and her hopeful lover. Cassandra’s shadow sister, her constant hovering companion, was becoming more visible, more tangible, more dangerous, straddling the line between our world and theirs, her face split ear to ear with the most dreadful grin, made all the more terrible for Cassandra’s false niceties, flawlessly playing her part while acting as the eager conduit.

I skirted around the pair of women and began to look through the tent’s meager offerings. Nothing too ostensibly occult. Some herbs with listed medicinal properties, a few innocuous trinkets, some artfully painted stones shaped into frogs with comically bulging eyeballs, some tasteful hand-sewn blankets, neatly trimmed candles inset into what I imagined was a clever nightlight, and some handsomely elegant copper pots. While my hands were occupied with examining the intentionally ineffective charms, my mind was busy breaking down the vibrations around me.  Peeling apart the indiscernible layers of this realm.  I could hear the woman sniffling and Cassandra offering to make her something more potent, if, of course, the price was right. I could hear the sizzle of meat on a spit a few tents over and the grunts of men hauling items off their carts. A few more focused breaths and I could smell the shit of the horses, the stink of man an overpowering, acrid aroma. I could taste the paprika-spiced nuts permeating the marketplace. Could feel the stale, stagnant air all around me. Could begin to sense the long-buried bones beneath the earth and detect traces of spirits left behind to rot with their withering corporeal husks. And then, as I knew I would, I began to hear it. A congregation of whispers. A nonsensical gibberish. A low, unintelligible voice straining to be heard through the vail. 

Ahh, there you are. 

Can you see me as I see you? I cast myself into both realms. Both here and there, summoned and summoning. 

As it so often does, my otherworldly link between both sides has caused a stir amongst the throng. The sun has been cast behind the clouds and what was a windless day has become a series of gusts around me and my cloak alone. A swirling vortex commands the attention of everyone. Of her. Of both of them. 

“Cassandra,” my voice booms on both sides. “You have betrayed the sanctity of your calling. You have invoked a force that has been banished from this realm and you do so willingly. Deceitfully. Surrender your shadow self or you, too, shall be banished.”

I take a forceful breath. I knew what I looked like, knew how this would appear to them. Cassandra, predictably, took the path of innocence. Looked for all her part a confused, young woman. The townsfolk, though shaken, gathered around her. Began forming a circle around their disarming, beloved neighbor. A particularly brave adolescent brandished an iron pitchfork at me with what intention, I do not know. 

“Cassandra,” I repeated. “This farce has gone on long enough. Come with me and we can sever this evil from you. No one need be harmed.”

I saw Cassandra’s eye narrow then pull her face back into its frightened façade. I watched as her shadow sister, her twisted dual entity, stared straight at me, and smiled.

And so mote it be. Even with my specially honed practice of magical skills and abilities, I knew this one would be unpleasant. And I also knew I’d be cast so quickly from this little city afterwards. Banished forever without preamble. Without them knowing I had just exercised a literal demon right out from under them. Would they ever contribute my appearance to their town being set back into neutral? Would they know it was Cassandra’s very presence that exacerbated all their day to day problems? Of course not. For she was a lovely, kindly natured woman who only sought to help them with their struggles of infertility and of the alarming number of discordances within families. And who was I? A lone stranger. A figure clad in black with a face not fit for anything but scowling. 

I will always be the villain of their story, even though they have no idea that I am, and always will be, their inescapable hero.  

March 12, 2021 16:32

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23 comments

Lemon Lime
04:07 Apr 07, 2021

very nice balance of good vs evil

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Kelly Dennison
14:47 Apr 07, 2021

Thanks!! :)

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Cathryn V
21:21 Mar 25, 2021

Hi Kelly, What a deliciously twisted story. What really got me was the 'both sides' concept. Wonderful. A few passages in particular that stood out to me: Cassandra’s shadow sister, her constant hovering companion, was becoming more visible, more tangible, more dangerous, straddling the line between our world and theirs, her face split ear to ear with the most dreadful grin, made all the more terrible for Cassandra’s false niceties, flawlessly playing her part while acting as the eager conduit. And this: Could begin to sense the long-b...

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Kelly Dennison
21:30 Mar 25, 2021

Thank you so much! I really appreciate that... I really dig the inverse perception of the "good versus evil" in this one. :) :)

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15:40 Mar 25, 2021

I really enjoyed this story, keep writing.

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Kelly Dennison
16:27 Mar 25, 2021

Thanks so much! :) :)

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Daniel R. Hayes
17:26 Mar 22, 2021

Hi Kelly, this was an amazing story. You did an excellent job writing it. I was hooked from beginning to end :)

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Kelly Dennison
18:29 Mar 22, 2021

Thanks so much, Daniel!! :)

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Daniel R. Hayes
18:34 Mar 22, 2021

You're welcome :) Can't wait to read more from you.

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R. B. Leyland
00:05 Mar 22, 2021

The descriptions here are flawless. Love the idea of two worlds and the hero being a hunter of sorts too. Really well done! "A low, unintelligible voice straining to be heard through the vail." Is vail what you call the 'other side' in the story? Or is it a mistype of veil?

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Kelly Dennison
14:52 Mar 22, 2021

Thank you! And it's for sure a mistype :O I'll correct...appreciate the heads up!! :)

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R. B. Leyland
15:01 Mar 22, 2021

Didn't like to mention just in case ha! No problem. It's a great story!

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23:49 Apr 27, 2021

Great job! Another fantastic story from a phenomenal author. As Cathryn said, the part about the bones was definitely a great line.

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Kelly Dennison
23:56 Apr 27, 2021

Omg....high praise!!!! Thank you SO much!!! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it 😭♥️

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Ryan Lm Colli
16:48 Apr 08, 2021

Nice!! Pls follow me and like><)

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Cathryn V
21:29 Mar 25, 2021

Kelly, what a deliciously twisted story you have here. I especially like the concept of 'both sides'. And there are several passages in particular that got me: Cassandra’s shadow sister, her constant hovering companion, was becoming more visible, more tangible, more dangerous, straddling the line between our world and theirs, her face split ear to ear with the most dreadful grin, made all the more terrible for Cassandra’s false niceties, flawlessly playing her part while acting as the eager conduit. And this: Could feel the stale, stagna...

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23:48 Mar 24, 2021

How did I not write critique on this before? I love villains right now. I don’t know if you have any sort of villain complex parts of you, but as someone with... way too many (terrifying) instances of it, I like how you didn’t really charicaturize this tone. You kept it realistic, yet dramatic. Thank you :)

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Kelly Dennison
23:56 Mar 24, 2021

You know? I don’t know where he came from?! Haha Thank you! I appreciate the feedback :) :)

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Gerald Daniels
20:54 Mar 23, 2021

Oh blimey, you said a rude word beginning with 's'. Being a garden designer, that's how I break up the regularity within a herbaceous border, not that your story suffered from regularity, it was great. Well done.🙏

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Zahra Daya
00:29 Mar 21, 2021

Wow, Kelly. This story kept me hooked right from the start with the amazing descriptions and vivid imagery. I really loved this whole world you pulled me into, and the journey you took me on. I'd love to see more stories like this one. Very well done! Also, I'd love it if you could check out my recent story and leave feedback :) - Z

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