Jumping at Shadows (Vig)

Xanadu Weyr - Firelizard Threatre

Autumn has begun to creep in, replacing warmer summer nights with hints of cooler ones to come. He's made this trek many times, following familiar trails through the forests and back towards the Weyr proper.

This evening, it feels different.

As the sun sets and the skies darken, Keruthien's thoughts are distracted as he begins to cross the threshold of a narrow path skirting the edges of the firelizard theatre. Shadows play here, absent of anything more. Leaves crunch beneath his footsteps, the night air disturbed by the low, broken humming of his own voice, barely audible.

The winds rise, sending leaves and branches to rustling and stirring. A lone swing moves by subtle inches. Nothing unusual here, except…

… something makes him pause. One step, the other faltering as he stops and listens. Drawn back from his inner thoughts, he's only aware of the nagging sense of alarm but cannot pinpoint it.

"Hello?" Keruthien calls out, crooked smile in place and readied to greet whoever was there.

Only there is no answer and no one to see; just empty spaces, dead leaves and the sad, lonely structures of the children's play structure in the distance. Brows furrow for a moment, as he makes one last scan of his surroundings and shrugging his shoulders. Must've been his imagination?

He's moved on only but a few steps when he abruptly stops again. The hairs on the nape of his neck rise and that unsettled feeling returns with a vengeance. Turning, he'll look about him nervously, boots scraping across the rough ground in the process.

"Hello?" he calls out again, this time with a shaky laugh. "If this is some kind of prank, then well done! You got me." Lapsing silent, he waits and strains to see in the building darkness and lengthening shadows.


No sounds, but the wind and the rustle of trees.

Keruthien's expression falls to an uneasy grimace and with a shake of his head, pushes onward. The rising anxiety and insistence of alarm and danger do not abate, however and he tamps down on the prey instinct to RUN. He's not a child, to be spooked by unseen boogeymen! It doesn't stop him from relying on old tricks, however, to try and dispel his fear.

"One, two, three, four…"
Spoken in a hoarse, tight whisper, in time with each of his footsteps. It gives him something to focus on, to briefly silence the voice in his head insisting that someone, or something, is trailing behind him.

"… five, six, seven."


Keruthien stops, staring straight ahead but waiting all the same. Ignoring the invisible hackles raised on the back of his neck, the crawl of his skin. There's something there, he knows it but knows better; it's irrational, impossible. Isn't it?

"Seriously! Is it you, Ezzie?" he addresses the dark again, not looking back but forwards, mind scrambling for a rational solution and immediately latching to old memories. They'd do this as kids, spooking each other on nights like these. "… K'vir? Is this revenge for the creepy stuffy I found?"


Only the heavy weight of silence and that building urge to panic and give in to the voices insisting that he leave immediately. He ignores them, gathers himself and pushes on.

One. Two. Three…

He keeps counting, determined and focused on the path ahead. Not that much further and then he'll be in the safety of the Weyr. Yet he cannot shake the feeling of being followed, of something ghosting behind him and far worse than his own shadow. Cold sweat breaks out on his skin and despite himself, he shivers.

Four. Five. Six.


He stops again, holding his breath, not calling out this time. The winds rise again and he swears, WILL swear, that he feels movement behind him. Another disturbance, a different displacement of air of something rapidly closing the distance to loom behind him.

Despite every fibre of his body and mind screaming not to, Keruthien forces himself to turn around, his gaze already peering back over his shoulder.


Nothing is there.
Just the wind, the whisper of leaves, the shadows and empty bones of a children's play structure.

"Screw this." Keruthien's voice is small, strained. Terrified. His resolve snaps in the next second and there are no games now. Turning forwards, he hurries himself on out of the forests, at a pace that is not quite a jog or full tilt run.

He doesn't stop until he reaches the inner sanctity of the Weyr's inner caverns. Not even as he steps inside of the barracks, brushing off any inquiry to his flustered state with his usual sass and humor. There, he will immerse himself in whatever conversations are ongoing, before retiring to his cot.

Here, he feels safe. Soon enough, the adrenaline will ebb and he will relax. He will privately laugh off the whole experience, chiding himself for being spooked like a child and jumping at shadows. It will fade and he will forget about it.

Until next time.

OOC: So I shamelessly took the counting to seven reference from a scene I loved in The Haunting of Hill House series — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2M3eLWwy2Y (first minute and some change, SPOILERS for the last half, so stop around 1:20 unless you want a big thing ruined).

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