THE FLAME IN THE MIST
Between the firs, through a curtain of rain, a shadow moved. And another, darting into view, then disappearing. Fear shot into Jemma's veins and she took off again, stumbling over the uneven ground yet managing, somehow, not to fall. Her clothes were heavy, soaked through. And still thunder roared, and lightning speared down. In its brief flashes, she could see more shadows gathering. They looked like pale Mordsprites, small, bedraggled, skeletal. She lengthened her stride, but the ground was slick and she slipped, slamming facedown in black mud. Hauling herself to her feet yet again, she came face to face with one of the shadows.
It was not a Mordsprite at all, but the gray silhouette of a child, a sunken-cheeked, hollow-eyed boy of no more than five, his ragged arms reaching out to her through the Mist.
Jemma stood petrified, her heart pounding as he swayed closer, oblivious to the chaos raining down around him. Others closed in behind him, a straggling band of waifs, all moving in the same direction.
Jemma turned. A cloaked rider was emerging through the Mist and galloping full tilt into the square, straight toward them. Digby grabbed her, hauled her through the gateway and pushed her into a watery ditch, throwing himself and the saddlebags beside her. Her hood fell back, and she stayed still, praying that the rapidly approaching rider wouldn't glance to the side and see the girl with purple rain streaming down her face, and two golden rats on her shoulders. . . .
The hooves galloped closer, and closer, then passed by, and faded. Jemma looked up and saw Mephisto speeding away into the night, the black cloak of his master streaming behind like the tail of a dark comet.
© Kit Grindstaff