Story and Photos: At Home in Dark Places

Raneer Brin couldn't see spirits but he felt curious eyes watching him. Haunted places were his home. At least, they were in the past. This cemetery was supposed to be a haven--all tall grass, old trees and ancient graves.

Raneer watched his feet. Spirits attacked when you defiled their graves, even by accident. He had received a freezing jab to the back after he stepped on a hidden tombstone.

The trees were unforgiving. Roots tried to trip him. Branches came down to slap any body in range. His companion kept grumbling, reminding Raneer he wasn't alone. He wanted to tell her to be quiet but if he opened his mouth, he'd be cursing too.

"Can't you use your power to stop them?" Amyta Lili asked.

"If I did that, they spirits would throw us out."

She kept grumbling.

A sharp spark of pain ran up his arm. She didn' know. They didn't tell her. Ottor, a powerful organization, pulled Raneer from his parents and forced him to search for their savior. They never told him the female's name or her appearance. They chained him to ensure he did what they asked.

This ancient being was supposed to be hidden under the cemetery. The organization had been trying to find her for years. They knew she was here. They didn't know where. They were hoping Raneer could find her or lure her out of hiding.

He never understood the kind of energy that ran through places close to death. Raneer fed on that energy, he could make it bend to his will. He always felt at home at night in cemeteries and old houses.  Those places held secrets, but never from him.

This cemetery was different. It hid its treasures behind locks Raneer's power couldn't open.

"They never told me what school you came from. I'm surprised I never heard of you. People with your abilities are rare," Amyta said.

She was actually nice. It wasn't her fault he was here against his will. She didn't know her only purpose was to make sure he did his job.

"I didn't come from a school. My parents trained me."

Her eyes went wide. People with abilities weren't allowed to train on their own. Somehow, Ottor found them and forced them to attend their local academy. Raneer's parents kept him hidden as long as they could.

A string of curse had Raneer looking back. Amyta was on the ground with a tree root wrapped around her ankle.

She took several deep breaths and freed her leg.

"From what I've heard, this is the farthest anyone's gotten," she said, getting to her feet. "All were stopped at the entrance."

If they only needed someone with his power, why did they wait so long to find someone? Raneer asked her that.

"You really don't know anything, do you?" Amyta asked. "Your kind has a bad reputation and poor support from our leaders. Few make it to your age with their sanity."

He could see why if they were forced to wear a power restricting chain. The sharp pains going up his arm had Raneer wanting to cut off his own wrist to remove the bracelet.

They entered an area full of ancient crypts. A person with immense black wings sat in front of one. The female stared at something even Raneer couldn't see.

Excited whispers from still invisible apparitions surrounded them. The entire cemetery seemed to be celebrating her. Short, ancient grave markers formed a circle around the female. Glowing bodies rose from the tall gras. They all faced Raneer and  Amyta.

"I didn't think it would work," Amyta said.

From her awed expression, this was the deity he was supposed to find. This unwanted adventure would be over soon.

"You think you can put me chains, child?" the female said without looking at them.

Chains? Renner didn't bring anything to bind her. He had assumed she'd want to leave with them. How would they chain a deity?

Amyta frowned. "She'd not a god. She like you, just stronger."

"You can't read my thoughts, can you?" he asked Amyta.

"Just your face."

Dad always said he was easy to read.

The tall grass moved as though small animals ran through it. Ice cold fabric brushed his skin. Clothing didn't mean a thing to spirits. They didn't need to make the grass move. They were trying to scare them. Now he understood how humans felt. He didn't like it and what did that female mean about chains?

The winged-female cocked her head. "Come here, boy."

Raneer didn' feel danger from her, that didn't mean he'd get close. He stayed put.

"I can make you move," she said.

He folded his arms. "I can make you move."

The female was in front of him before Raneer saw her move. She smirked as she examined his face.

"I'll go to your home."

That wasn't the plan. She was supposed to go to the organization's home. He wasn't interested in more trouble. How did she plan on sneaking out of here?

A weight on his arm lifted. The bracelet dropped off. He could breathe again. The tingling pain in his arm disappeared. A metal sound drew his attention to Amtya. A matching bracelet dropped off her wrist.

"This is going better than I expected," Amyta said. "Do you have another way out?" She asked the female.

The winged-being pointed to a tomb sitting next to a tree with wide tentacles for roots. The tentacles moved, ready to grab anyone who got too close.

Reneer didn't want more trouble but he doubted he could avoid it. Ottor were already talking about their future plans for him. Maybe she could help him return to his normal, quiet life.