Chasing Shadows – Making Amends (22)

Welcome to installment #22 of the Chasing Shadows – Making Amends series. For more information or to read the previous scene, head to this page.

Chapter 10

Scene 3

Kecil wanted to meet Mujur’s eyes with pride, but she couldn’t. His gaze trailing over the blemish on her neck did not go unnoticed, no doubt dampening his arousal. What more did she expect? She was the runt… the least valuable in her clan. Unworthy of nothing more than Gemuk’s abuse.

She padded after Mujur, knowing it was best to stamp out any lingering desires. She could offer him nothing… not even the ability to heal when he protected her.

Without going into heat, she had no hope of even attracting him… keeping him by her side through the pasangan bond. Not that she needed a mate. Her lack of ability to bear offspring meant she required no protector. She turned her attention to what was truly important—finding her mother’s killer and ending his life.

First, she had to contend with Mujur’s objectives. He had made it clear. Nothing would interfere with his mission to destroy the penanggalan. The only logical choice was to dedicate herself to facilitating his goal. Stepping in line with him, she matched his pace, several steps to his one.

Mujur glanced her way and gave her hand a light squeeze.

True, he might not find her sexually appealing, but it was nice to have a semblance of friendship for the first time in her life. This was the way clan was meant to be… the way life was before her mother’s death, before Gemuk had completely taken over the village.

“Why were they after you?” she asked.

Mujur slowed, and his brow furrowed. Then as if she’d said nothing, he resumed his quick pace.

“Why did they chase you?” When he didn’t answer, she gave his hand a tug. “They were chasing you—Gemuk and Kusut.”

Mujur’s shoulders tightened ever so slightly. “You know who they are?”

“They’re from my clan.”

He was quiet for so long, Kecil was sure he wouldn’t answer, but then he said, “They think I took something from them.”

“Did you?”

Mujur stopped and gave a cryptic stare. “If I could return what they lost, I would.”

“I don’t understand.”

To think Mujur might have taken something from Gemuk or Kusut to warrant a chase seemed inconceivable. Anything worth keeping needed to be eaten before spoilage.

Kecil had heard stories about humans who hoarded anything they set their eyes upon… even land. It made little sense. How did one claim earth when creatures burrowed beneath, crawled upon the surface as they wished?

Silence between Kecil and Mujur grew until at last he said, “I’ve told you what I will. I cannot make amends with them.”

He squeezed his eyes shut and pressed his knuckles into his forehead. A low pain-filled groan sounded deep in his throat. When he dropped his arms and looked at her again, his eyes were haunted. “I’ll give you the choice right here, right now. You can return to your people, and I won’t pursue. I only want you safe. You still have time to catch them.”

Kecil’s heart stuttered at the offer. Even if Mujur released her, she wouldn’t return to Gemuk and face retaliation. “I don’t want to go back.”

“Are you sure?”

She thought of her father, of the years he’d wasted on her. “There is nothing for me there.”

A look of pity fell over Mujur’s face.

Her fingers twitched to cover her birthmark as the layers of insecurities she’d tried all her life to hide peeled away like plantain skin. She stood before Mujur, exposed.

“You don’t have to go,” he said in a soft voice. “For as long as you will allow, I will protect you.”

Kecil’s throat closed in on itself until she was sure she’d suffocate. Mujur shined with compassion, had treated her with care, while her every encounter with Gemuk was harsh.

Her heart ached with each beat as pieces flaked away and crumbled to Mujur’s feet. Please don’t lie to me. Don’t hurt me. With all her spirit, she wanted to believe Mujur, wanted to believe in his goodness, believe Gemuk’s pursuit was unjustified.

Kecil took a deep breath to ease the pressure constricting her throat. “I’ll stay with you.”

Mujur’s shoulders relaxed, and he extended a hand to Kecil. When she took it, the corners of his lips lifted slightly—the first real smile, so different from the earlier ones full of cynicism. It made him… beautiful, embraced her in warmth and took away her fears.

“We need to keep moving,” he said.

“Okay.” Her voice was not her own… soft, wispy, like a butterfly on the wind.

Kecil walked side by side with Mujur and let herself be filled with the sense of belonging. Every step she took became lighter until her spirit soared amongst the birds in the trees.

Chasing Shadows – Making Amends (21)

Welcome to installment #21 of the Chasing Shadows – Making Amends series. For more information or to read the previous scene, head to this page.

Chapter 10

Scene 2

Adrenaline racing through Mujur’s blood kept him on high alert even after the danger passed. He worried about the pressure he put on Kecil’s tiny frame, but it couldn’t be helped. To move too soon would attract his hunters.

As time stretched without signs of the males returning, Mujur’s senses realigned. No longer in tune to the crunch of leaves underfoot, his attention turned to the soft body beneath his, the scent of Kecil’s hair, her shallow breathing. The olive skin of her neck teased him with its closeness.

He stifled a desire-filled groan, but could do nothing about his lengthening shaft. Only the thin loin cloth provided a barrier between him and Kecil’s feminine flesh.

She squirmed, doing nothing to take his mind off things he wanted to do to her.

He’d promised her protection, but he wanted to have her, slide into her wetness and experience the sensation of each slow thrust. He couldn’t seem to align his body with his mind which knew danger could return at any moment.

“Mujur.” His name came as a soft whisper on Kecil’s lips. A flush traveled from her hair line, flooded the nape of her neck, and continued down her back.

He eased off her, but not before he grazed his tongue against her shoulder, taking in the slight saltiness of her skin and a uniqueness which was hers alone.

Kecil rolled to her side, and the pulse in her neck fluttered, tempting him to kiss it. She swallowed. “I think…” her tongue moistened her lips.”I think they’re gone.“

Mujur opened his senses and tested the environment. Immediately, the tug which constantly pulled him toward the penanggalan strengthened.

He rose, leaving the distraction named Kecil where she lay. Kill the cat. Destroy the penanggalan.  Escort Kecil south. Those were his missions.

Kecil lowered her gaze, and her hand trailed along the birthmark on her neck. Even in her demureness she attracted him. If only he were free to sample her. If only they had met at another time in life. If his hunt for the penanggalan was over and Kecil was safely in Nenek’s or Berani’s village. But that wasn’t the case.

He held out a hand. “We move.”

Her eyes jerked to his before she gave a stiff nod. Kecil placed her hand in his, allowing him to pull her to her feet.

Chasing Shadows – Making Amends (20)

Welcome to installment #20 of the Chasing Shadows – Making Amends series. For more information or to read the previous scene, head to this page.

Chapter 10

Scene 1

Kecil woke to quick and heavy footsteps pounding her way. Her keen hearing identified more than one set. She debated running, but didn’t want to give away her location by snapping twigs in her haste. Instead, she ducked low, using a massive tree root for cover.

Bristle fur brushed against her arm, and she flinched, ready to run but paused at the soft squeak.

Teman. With the unknown approaching, she needed her friend safe. She pulled his head close and patted the tree trunk. “Hide.”

The binturong brushed his face against hers then plodded to the tree. His claws scratched the surface of the bark as he scaled at a leisured pace. Hurry, Teman.

A flash of skin darted between the greenery, and Kecil pressed herself as flat as possible to the ground, not daring to look. If she could see them, they could see her.

Closer. Closer. They headed straight for her. She froze. Held her breath. If she could have stop her pounding heart, she’d have done so. Great Spirit. Let them pass me by.

One bounded over the tree root and landed beside her in a skidding roll. She rose to run, but a hand grabbed her by the waist and forced her down. She took a breath to scream, and a palm clamped over her mouth. A masculine body drenched with sweat covered hers, pinning her to the ground. She kicked her feet, brutalizing her toes, but smothered as she was, her struggles had little effect.

Her captor leaned close to her ear. “Sh, sh, sh. Say nothing.”

Mujur? She quieted, and he relaxed his hold but didn’t release her.

It didn’t take long for those chasing to catch up. Heavy panting filled the air as the running slowed to a walk.

Amazing that Mujur, as winded as he surely was, managed to keep his breathing silent. Even now, his heart ricocheted against her back like the beating wings of a hummingbird.

“He’s got to be here.” A voice she recognized—Kusut.

“Find him!” Gemuk.

One set of feet took off, but the heavy breathing of Gemuk remained.

Kecil squeezed her eyes tight to keep from fleeing. If she even glimpsed an opportunity to escape, she knew she wouldn’t be able to stop herself from running.

The breathing slowed, but nothing indicated Gemuk had left. No doubt he was doing what she was doing… what any wehr-tiger would do… listening.

She couldn’t stop trembling. Surely he’d hear the vibrations against the leaves. He’d find her. He’d return her offense in kind and slash her face. Then he’d kill her.

Footsteps retreated and faded in the distance. Kecil didn’t move, too afraid Gemuk would come back.

What seemed like hours passed. Eventually nature returned to normal. Birds sang; animals called… and Mujur grew hard against her leg.

Chasing Shadows – Making Amends (19)

Welcome to installment #19 of the Chasing Shadows – Making Amends series. For more information or to read the previous scene, head to this page.

Wow! It’s been almost a year since I’ve done a Chasing Shadows post. I’m looking at my novel and see I have a few more scenes I can share. Then I’ll have to concentrating on finishing a chapter to bridge a gap in my story line. Honestly, I have so much going on right now, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to work on it. For now… let’s see what’s happening next in Chasing Shadows.

Chapter 9

Scene 1

Mujur knew it was a dream, but that didn’t stop him from playing out the fragmented scenes over and over. The human, a jinjang, took command, ordering his demons about the cavern.

Comely women draped in sheer cloth flitted about in a whirlwind of colors, their dresses flowing around them in a graceful dance. Their beauty did not deceive Mujur. Beneath their wrappings, death dwelt. As they passed, they reeked of vinegar which did little to mask the decay permeating from their skin.

Penanggalan. The mere presence of the demons left a foul taste in Mujur’s mouth. Unnatural creatures who traded their souls for beauty, immortality, and power. Forever hungry to fill the void left by the exchange, the penanggalan sucked the life force out of their victims. Each night, they detached from their bodies. Heads with entrails dripping poison, they traveled in search of prey—Mujur’s people—and had a particular taste for women and children.

“The long thin one,” the necromancer said.

A jenglot sidled up to the human, clutching a razor sharp dagger the length of a forearm.

The demon master stared down at the bulbous-headed jenglot, his lips curling in disdain. The creature’s multi-jointed fingers, which resembled spider legs and extended past the handle in an awkward hold, trembled. Without making physical contact with the pale grey creature, the jinjang plucked the knife out of its hand and turned to Mujur.

The fuzziness of the dream obscured the features of the human, but a strong since of familiarity plagued Mujur, and he struggled to bring a clear memory to the surface.

The necromancer sliced the knife down Mujur’s chest. The cut was shallow but burned with the intensity of a thousand jelly fish stings. Mujur pulled against the cords strapping him down until the muscles in his chest felt like they’d burst from bulging.

The jinjang captured the trail of blood in a vial and set it on the stone table. “We’ll save that for later.”

The long spindly hands of a jenglot eagerly closed around the glass and lifted it to his lips.

“No.” The harsh voice of the demon master made the jenglot flinch and nearly drop its prize. “Drink it, and your blood will be next to spill.”

The jenglot went into a series of chirrups unrecognizable to Mujur. The squeaky sounds ended in a sharp screech which jolted Mujur out of his fitful rest. The long screech came again, and he bolted upright.

The cat.

Kecil curled on her side, filling the space Mujur had vacated. It didn’t matter. He wouldn’t be able to rest with the cat whining in the background. Nor did he want to sleep with the jinjang lurking in his dreams. What he did want was a cat snack.

Mujur wiped the flecks of betel paste from his shoulder and rolled off the bed of leaves. He’d worry about replacing the poultice later. For now he had a more pressing engagement.

The binturong lifted his whiskered head before settling back on Kecil’s calf. Knowing Teman watched over the wehr-tigress put Mujur’s mind at ease. The binturong provided little protection but no doubt would wake the female at the first sign of trouble.

Taking on his tiger form, Mujur padded away. The cat continued to call like a queen in heat, making the tracking easy. He came upon the pest atop a fallen log. It released a shriek, licked a paw then swiped its nose.

Mujur took a few steps closer, and the cat paused and locked eyes with him. A purr vibrated the air as it took to grooming again.

It wants to be eaten. Mujur crept closer.

Hackles raised, the cat stretched and gave a shrill wail which traveled down the length of Mujur’s spine. The snarl which pulled Mujur’s lips back couldn’t be helped as he approached within pouncing distance.

“Do you see that?” The voice snapped Mujur out of the hunt. Well off in the distance a flaxen haired man pointed in his direction.

The flat-headed cat gave one last screech before bounding away. As much as Mujur wanted to give chase, not knowing who the strangers were gave him pause.

“Is that him?” A second voice joined the first.

Mujur instantly recognized that one. A voice he would never forget.

Cane him.

His chest burned with the memory. Frozen in time, it took him awhile to realize it wasn’t the caning but his attempt to rip the rash from his shoulder earlier which caused his discomfort. Meanwhile, the two edged closer.

“Don’t let him get away!”

Mujur took off. He couldn’t go through another beating. Death was preferable. He sprinted until his cat form was beyond fatigued then shifted, forcing his lungs to supply oxygen to his exhausted muscles. His heart hammered against his ribcage, and his legs cramped from the exertion, but he continued. He ran with a singular purpose—to outdistance the demons from his past.