Door in the Wind
By Meyari McFarland
Mages of Tindiere Stories:
Blessings of Joy
the Ocean Away
Gifts of Peace
Lone Red Tree
From The Immortals
of the Artificer Mages
of the Dead
can find these and many other books at www.MDR_Publishing.com.
©2017 by Mary Raichle
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This story is dedicated to
my father for feeding my love of fantasy and great stories. So much
of this is directly related to the things he gave me to read all
those years ago.
Table of Contents
in the Wind
of the Dead
Door in the Wind
Wind whipped around them,
icy one second and then dry as a desert the next. Akuchi stood firm
against it. As firm as he could. Gust buffeted him, trying to shove
him away from the path that led to the Door in the Wind. The mossy
stones under his feet did not help. Blackened slime coated them where
sickly green moss did not. It made for most uncertain footing.
He wouldn't have expected a
Door like this in a forest. Well, a glade, actually. The grass
further away was perfectly healthy, green and bright and lovely. It
was only as one approached the Door in the Wind that the blight
became obvious. Akuchi traced the lines of the sickly green moss as
it slowly expanded outwards and frowned. Perhaps it wasn't as healthy
a glade as it seemed.
There were pockets of moss
all the way out to the birch and spruce that surrounded the glade.
Some of the birch had moss and slime creeping up their trunks. Those
trees had few leaves. They were dying, life sucked out of them by the
Door in the Wind.
Not that that seemed to
bother Xun Rosario, Slayer of Gods.
She stood, her scarf pulled
up to cover the pale gold of her mouth and chin. Above the scarf, her
skin was the color of coagulating blood, a reddish-brown that looked
distinctly like she'd been splashed with blood and allowed it to dry
on her. Which she had. Godly blood, thus the stains. Hair that had
once been black as night whipped in the wind like strands of fire
adhered to her head. That at least was a bright red instead of the
browner red of her skin.
"Not sure what I
expected," Xun called over the wail of the wind. She turned and
looked up at them, one eye brown, the other blood red. "Sure not
So tiny to have killed Dorji
Kita, just five feet tall, but truth be told no one else could have
done it. Just as none but the five of them could have come to seal
the Door in the Wind. Akuchi was just a warrior, nothing special, but
the others were all legends walking.
Keanu Marchetti, demi-god
who had charmed Dorji Kita into submission so that Xun could kill it,
stood by Akuchi. He smiled at the Door as if it was delightful.
Leaning against Keanu's shoulder, Prince Cyrille nodded, eyes calm,
distant, then loving as he flicked his gaze Akuchi's way. Warmth
flooded Akuchi's heart. Legacy of their bond, the bond that had
sparked a war and then ended it days later, the bond that had kept
them both alive while they languished in Dorji Kita's Temple of
"I can't see what's
keeping it open," Garnett Daugherty growled.
His temper was always as
foul as his looks, scowling, heavy dark brows shading his eyes so
that one could barely see their color a foot from his face. One hand
ran over his chest where he kept dozens of charms hidden until
"We could stab it?"
Akuchi suggested because that was always what he suggested, if only
because it made Prince Cyrille grin and Keanu laugh.
They did. And, as always,
Xun shook her head while Garnett glowered at him. She tugged down her
scarf and the contrast between her stained cheeks, eyes and forehead
with her unstained chin was twice as shocking. Droplets of godly
blood had crept down her cheeks, leaving trails like tears along the
corners of her mouth.
"Stabbing doesn't work
for everything," Xun said. She smiled at him, sudden and bright
and as wild as the wind shoving at them all, while pushing her hair
back out of her face. "Wish it did. Would make life a lot easier
Akuchi laughed softly. She
did have a way of drawing one in, always. Xun turned to Garnett who
sighed and made a face, hand roving over his chest only to drop to
his side once more. Then she turned to Keanu who clapped his hands,
sending sparkles of godly magic right back in his face as the wind
abruptly turned on him. Keanu spluttered and coughed, eyes going
apologetic even as he laughed at himself.
"I've read of Doors
like this," Prince Cyrille said. He left Keanu's side to tuck
himself under Akuchi's chin with a contented little hum that made
Keanu beam at them. "They're not as rare as one might think.
They only stay open when something gets stuck on one side or the
other. I'd venture a guess that someone went through and then didn't
return as they should have. The Door has stayed open waiting for the
grunted. "Well, that's something then. Not sure what pruning
shears will do for this but we'll give it our best try, I guess."
She turned back to the Door,
hands on her hips as she studied the Door. It was strangely
unimpressive, perhaps because looking straight at the thing was
nearly impossible. Akuchi could see hints of the opening of the Door,
approximately oval about two feet off the ground at the very center
of the Glade. But the wind was so strong that it stung tears into his
eyes when he tried to look for more than a couple of seconds.
"If someone went
through and didn't return," Akuchi said, slowly because he
wasn't sure if he had much to offer, "do we know if the person
came from our side and went there or their side and came here?"
All of them stared at him,
Xun with a raised eyebrow, Keanu with his mouth dropped open and
Garnett with an even darker than normal scowl. Prince Cyrille hummed
and hugged Akuchi, the warmth changing to the sensation of running
your fingers through a high-mountain brook as it babbled its way down
a steep hillside. Approval, delight, love. Akuchi smiled and kissed
Prince Cyrille's forehead. At least they now understood this private
language of theirs. Being trapped by Dorji Kita had been worthwhile
for that alone. And nothing else.
Xun said. She nodded once, decisively, and then marched back the way
they'd come. "Let's go see if we can find out."
Akuchi strolled behind Keanu
and Prince Cyrille, guarding their backs though there seemed little
reason to do so in a town as small as I'timad. Odd name for a town
but that was what the sign outside town had proclaimed it to be.
I'timad had two streets, set at a forty-five-degree angle to one
another. The 'main' street followed along the river. The other street
was one block long on their side of the river and two on the other.
Squat houses made of sturdy
mud brick sat well back from the street. Local building tradition
dictated huge roofs that overhung the mud brick houses by at least
six yards on each side. Most of the roofs brushed against their
neighboring eaves despite the houses being set so far apart. The open
spaces under the eaves were filled with supporting posts. All the
roofs, walls and posts were spotted with the unnatural moss.
Underneath the roofs, well
out of the sun, small children sitting listlessly with three
wandering too-thin dogs that whined and then yelped when the children
chased them away with weakly tossed rocks. The children were clearly
affected by the drain of the Door in the Wind. Their skin was too
sallow, yellow and sunken on their cheeks. What hair the little ones
had hung limp against their skulls. All of them, one or two under
each roof, looked too sick to run or play. No wonder they chased the
Still. A terrible thing to
do, attack dogs. Dogs were the companions of the Gods. To harm one
was to harm your home, family and the futures of your children.
Though looking around this
dingy little town, Akuchi suspected that they had already fallen so
low that there was no harm in breaking that tradition. Much like the
glade, there was a sense of illness to the town that made the skin
crawl on the back of Akuchi's neck.
Keanu murmured. He laughed, winked and then shrugged when Akuchi
stared at him. "No, but truly. The houses are so clever. Given
the amount of rain they have here it makes so much sense for them to
build so that they have covered spaces outside to work under. I quite
like the houses."
Akuchi sighed while Prince
Cyrille shook his head. Someday Keanu would find something that he
didn't like. That he didn't immediately approve of. He hoped that he
was not there for it because it might be the moment were Keanu's
power sparked into full godhood and Akuchi liked living in this body.
He'd rather not be melted in
Keanu's magical birthing fires.
"This place is as
messed up as that meadow," Xun observed. "Close to as bad
as the Valley of Thorns."
She had her scarf up over
her nose and mouth again but he could see her disapproval all the
same. Squared shoulders, fisted hands on her hips and that little
huff that billowed out her scarf were clearer than pursed lips ever
would be. When she looked towards the children, they turned away,
picking idly at their shapeless smocks that hid bellies like shrunken
from hunger and illness.