Excerpt from Brimstone Huntress

Book Four of Royal House of Galadin

 

Yorkshire Moors, 1821


The cool, foggy, desolate evening silence was broken by the sound of shattering wood and glass.
Startled by the noise, Lenox stopped dead in his tracks and search the landscape around him with his
preternatural senses, in a effort to to determine where the sound was coming from.
Unfortunately for him, these ancient mystical lands were known to play tricks on a person,
especially during the evening hours. So after a few moments of hearing nothing more, Lenox continued
on his walk unfazed, as he thought in depth of all the things he had learned recently.
Suddenly he was startled again by a strange noise, that sounded like the heavy paws of a large beast
running full tilt somewhere very close by. Lenox stopped once more. This time, he closed his eyes and
cocked his head in order to listen more carefully to the environment surrounding him, in order to
determine the direction that the beast was heading. Regrettably, the answer soon became very clear,
when the beast slammed directly into him.
Feeling nothing but the wind rushing past his face, Lenox flew backwards several feet before
slamming hard into the ground and rolling ungainly down the rocky terrain. Once he stopped, Lenox
took in a shuttering breath and felt the pain of his injuries swamped him. Nearby, he heard a low
distinctly canine whine of suffering, that was soon followed by the scratching of animal claws against
stone, as if the poor beast were trying to unsuccessfully free itself from a rocky trap.
Lenox sat up and shook off the discomfort of his injuries, before he made his way towards the
sounds of the mysterious dog. About ten feet down in a rocky crevice to his left, Lenox spotted the
ghostly dark form of a hellhound, who appeared to be the being that hit him moments before.
Bizarrely, Lenox couldn’t help but be taken aback by this hound, though for the life of him he
couldn't understand why. So instead he took stock of the hellhound and he soon realized two things;
one, this hound was definitely female given her scent and look; and two, she was much different from
the rest of the hellhounds he had seen before, who had typically been large, dark, sinister-looking
shadowy creatures that radiated a soft black or sometimes dark bluish hellfire from their bodies.
Hellhounds were also known to have the ability to automatically strike fear into the hearts of
anyone; mortal or immortal alike. However, this hound seemed almost ethereal and gentle in
comparison, since she did give off any sense of menace to Lenox. She also had unusual dark fiery
golden fur and a very soft reddish hellfire glow.
The hound looked up at him with piercing golden aquamarine eyes that caused Lenox’s heart to
suddenly stutter in his chest.
“Hi there, I mean you no harm, I so swear it,” Lenox said very softly as he held out his hands to
show that he didn't have a weapon.
A moment of silence passed between them, before a gentle Northern English female voice mentally
whispered, I know. You’re a Vampyr right?
“Yes I am and my name’s Lenox Moregan.”
Another moment of silence passed between them before the woman asked, Why are you out here?
Vampyr or no, it’s real dangerous, you know.
Lenox shrugged not wanting to explain the real reason behind why he was out here in the middle of
the Yorkshire Moors, so he instead answered with, “I am in no real danger of this place.”
Not true, everyone is in danger here, even me. For the Moors know neither friend nor foe.
“That doesn't apply to me,” Lenox muttered which caused the hound to cock her head in curiosity
before her face belayed a grimace of pain.
Partly deciding to cut of any further lines of questioning and partly unable to stand to see the woman
in pain, Lenox made his way down the small crevice towards her. Then he gently freed her and carried
her down the rest of the uneven hillside, until he reached a flat boulder very near the bottom.
Once on a firm ground, the female hellhound tried to scramble up into a full standing position, only
to let out another soft whine of pain again.
“You can’t put any weight on your left rear leg, can you?” Lenox asked as he noticed the large gash
on it.
The hound was quiet again before she murmured, No.
“Do you have a human form?”
Yeah... came the soft reply.
Lenox said nothing as he waited for her to shift forms. Soon enough, the female hound shifted to her
human form. Lenox was dumbstruck by her beauty; She was tall yet willowy, with long fire-tinted
golden blonde hair that fell in soft waves down her back. She was also fairly pale, which was not
uncommon for hellhounds since they were predominately nocturnal. However far from appearing
ghostly, she still maintained the ethereal essence that he had noticed earlier.
Suddenly the baying howl of blood hounds and the shouts from men on horseback, swiftly reminded
Lenox of the danger the woman had been escaping from.
Saying nothing more, he scooped her up in his arms and used his own magic to mask their presence
from the pursuers. Then wasting no more time, Lenox bolted across the marshy bog land, towards the
small cottage he was staying in, that wasn't that far away.
Arriving a short time later, he used his magic again to further hide the cottage from anyone. Then he
placed the woman down on a small cot and lit a lamp on a desk nearby.
He turned to face her. “You don’t know me from Adam, however I give you my word of honour that
you will be safe here tonight.”
“I know, for I can see the goodness in your soul Lenox. I’m Penniah by the way. Penniah Hawksley
but everyone calls me Penny,” Penny said, offering him her hand with a small smile.
“Well met, Penny,” Lenox said as he took her hand and kissed the back softly.
Hearing one of the outriders' voices nearby, Lenox focused his magic on the Will o’ the Wisps
sprites who inhabited the Moors.
“Air sprites hear me,” Lenox called out in ancient Gaelic.
“We hear you and obey,” the wisps replied in unison.
“Let these men harm no more innocents. Find the source that has caused them to commit such evil
and end it,” Lenox intoned.
“Aye milord,” the wisps said once more.
“Uh…” Penny started to say, when she overheard what he had done.
Lenox turned to her, “I know it is much to ask of you, nonetheless, can you tell no one of that?”
Penny nodded, though she still had a curious look upon her face.
“Sometimes, it is best not to leave the essence of evil to fester,” Lenox muttered, hoping that would
be enough of an answer for her.
“So the sprites are going to kill them, then?” Penny asked.
Lenox shook his head.
Penny frowned, “I thought that's what you just ordered them to do.”
“No, I would never kill those whose will is not their own. Instead, I asked them to deal with the evil
force behind it all. Oh here, I’ll help you with that,” Lenox said, changing the topic while pointing to
the wound Penny that had suffered.
Penny nodded gratefully, and Lenox gathered healing herbs that cleansed the wound. Then he
carefully cleaned and bound it with a clean cloth as Penny stoically sat still, watching him work.
Giving her a small smile, Lenox said, “I’m sorry I can’t heal it instantly for you but it shouldn’t need
more than one full day of healing with the aid of these herbs.”
“Many thanks and I owe you my life,” Penny stated gravely.
“You owe me nothing,” Lenox instantly replied.
Penny shook her head, “That's not how things work for hellhounds. Everyone knows that.”
Lenox sighed and rubbed the back of his neck, “You truly owe me nothing Penny, though consider
my request of silence regarding the Wisps as payment for my aid.”
Penny frowned slightly before she sighed and nodded in agreement.
With that sorted, Lenox helped Penny draw up the blankets on the cot to keep herself warm before
he took up a spot at the window on the lookout for further danger.
Penny watched him for a time completely befuddled by his kind nature and serious expression.
Eventually she dozed off and awoke early the next morning to find him gone. Though in truth, Penny
could still feel his presence nearby and she knew that Lenox was still watching out for her.
“Who are you really Lenox?” Penny wondered out aloud in amazement, before shaking her head, “It
matters naught, for you will always have my protection from any evil villain that dares to try to harm
you, I so swear it.”
True to her word, from that day on, Penny constantly watched over the mysterious yet very kind and
wise Lenox Moregan. Her vow to fulfill a simple life debt evolved with each passing year as Penny fell
in love with him from afar.
Unfortunately for Penny, she knew that if she ever made her feelings known, then there would be far
reaching consequences for not only her but her family and her people. Consequences that could cost
them everything. However, love is never a simple thing, and Penny also knew that one day she would
have to make a choice to either follow her heart or forever live in the shadows.

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