xv. Race For The River Payne

III

May Your Dogs

Always Roam

xv. Race For The River Payne

While Olin made his way toward the den of the Silverskin, back at the Alterman house, Eva had recovered and arisen. With Aly at her heels—the two of them tracked Olin down toward the River Payne.

They came upon Seven’s skeleton by the side of the road—and Eva dropped to her knees, suddenly awash in despair, for his heart seemed to have finally stopped.

But Aly was not convinced, for she knew very well that he was half-vampire—and that his great regenerative powers were ever very easily underestimated.

Just then, all at once, they both perked up to see his heart beat singly. They waited on edge for it to happen again—and after a full minute it did. So Aly sprung into action, transformating into her lizard skin, her reptilian other half.

Her muscles bulged—as she spread her arms—and arched her back—shrieking up at the full moon. With hands upraised—she upheld the sky—before finally hulking over, covered in scales. Her slit yellow eyes coolly set upon Eva—who backed away out of terror at the sight of her. Aly had turned into a wild serpent.

She then approached Seven’s bones and bent down low, scooping them up in her sinewy arms. She turned to the path that led to the Payne—and started off.

Come, Eva …” she beckoned back over her shoulder. “We will give him to the river―and if it only takes him farther away from us, then may it also take him farther away from the Silverskin. May he be so revived or rest in peace tonight.”

So Eva followed—disconnected yet well beyond disbelief—in the realm of a waking sleep—but one that seemed so very real. It was ghastly play on wheels.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the woods, Olin was finding out every time he was about to approach Faye’s silver light, She would then dart off further into the Forest.

He found himself now tracking along a precipice, that gave way onto Elder’s Valley—and the path he was on grew narrower, until his pace was slowed to a plodding, rocky-footed passage. Her light grew smaller and smaller until She disappeared—and he found himself in near total darkness, except for the stars above—with the full moon half-hidden behind the highest peaks of Miramar to the North.

Now he stopped, gazing over the edge down to where jagged rocks lined all along the inner edge of a brook far below.

He felt dizzy as he gazed into the peaceful dark abyss—when Her voice came to him again, in its silken song:

Pitch yourself to your grave, Olin, if you trust Me, if you love Me … If you care for Me anywhere in your heart, Olin … You know I am the One for you … Jump now.’

No,” Olin said, rubbing his eyes, shaking his head, slowly backing away.

He was breaking his trance, shrinking back from the ledge—having been led so far from home now, that his survival instincts were finally triggered.

OLIN! Listen to Me … Listen …

My Love … I need you to trust Me when I ask you to jump for Me—and if you do not do this for Me, I cannot go on with this charade … This shade of romance …’

No!” Olin objected, pulling himself back further from the edge—casting his eyes toward the woods behind him―not down and out toward the water below.

But then, Her silver sphere reappeared in the valley, casting up a great blue shine across the high banks in a brilliant blue glow—as the brook bubbled and turned into mellifluous molten silver.

Then a shimmering silver mist rolled in off the water, gradually filling up the lowland in a supernatural fog. The fog rose up to the precipice where Olin stood.

It caught his eye as it rolled over the lip—and he could not help but cast his gaze into the haze―drawn into the glow of his One true love—his only oldest crush.

Then the undulating bosom of Her silver mist finally enveloped his heart—and again She played Her tricks with his mind:

Olin … Now you can plainly see, with your own two eyes, that I will be here to catch you when you fall—as ever I was—and ever I will be. If you but trust Me and take that first plunge—that first act of faith … I but await you at the bottom …’

Olin shook his head again—but did not vocalize his dissent this time―nor did he look away, so transfixed by Her light.

I have been hurt before, Olin …

I have had my spirit broken by the rejection of your brother … He never understood what he had in Me … He never loved Me the way that you have loved …

I took you for granted—and Seven took Me for granted, Olin … He hurt Me—and he left Me unable to jump in with anyone else ever again so very easily…

I need you to do this for Me, Olin, please … Just this once, this one act of commitment to Me, to show me your truest feelings. Show Me you love Me.’

Again Olin’s eyes glazed over—and he took a step closer to the ledge—longing for Her. The mist flowed over the top of the cliff, pooling around this ankles, rising up his legs, as he struggled on the edge.

(Author’s Note: If you are enjoying The Silverskin, you can buy the full 400 page Revised & Expanded 10th Anniversary edition paperback here. Forever Yours In French’s Forest, Rian Torr)

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