Excerpt Rated PG
Stone of Cruento by Charlene Leatherman
Coming to Cerridwen Press May 1
The wolf snuffed the air again as he ran. The smell of the Anterians was getting strong. Daniel detected a whiff of Claren’s scent as well. Leaping toward the scent Daniel increased his speed.
The tickle began in his tail. Skitters like fleas on a dog made Daniel flick it anxiously. The tickle grew and traveled along his spine.
Daniel growled low in his throat as he narrowed his focus away from the itching and on Claren. The growl changed from a reminder to himself into a warning as he felt eyes on him. His fur bristled as the strangers neared. Two wolf-like creatures, furred and four-legged, with tusks and six eyes on each animal sidled up to Daniel. One on each side they yipped in exuberant joy as they ran. They welcomed the newcomer to their territory with no malice.
Daniel pushed his speed. He didn’t need the two animals slowing him down.
Irritating flutters like thousands of spiders walking on naked skin began creeping all over Daniel. He whined at the torture. The two wolf-creatures stayed neck and neck with him. They answered his whine with yips of their own. Snapping at the creatures, Daniel drove them off.
Daniel slowed and stopped. Like a flea bitten dog, he began to chew at his skin. Pulling his snout away from his back, the wolf howled in agony. Shifting from wolf to human, Daniel scratched. He felt like he had poison ivy, everywhere. He wanted to rip off his skin. Clenching his hands into fists Daniel beat them on the ground trying to keep from tearing holes in his skin.
I can stop the misery. Panniyah’s voice spoke in his head.
Are you causing this? Daniel demanded.
No. It seems you have something inside you. A parasite perhaps?
Changes. Dammit! More damn changes. Daniel scratched his arms and legs. Rivulets of blood trickled down the scrapes his nails had made.
I can reach into your mind and stop the misery you feel. We are already connected. It would be simple to help you. I care for you Daniel. I hate to see you suffer this way. Panniyah said. The tender emotion of her thoughts filled Daniel.
Daniel shook his head. You don’t care if I live or die. All you want is Claren.
Nonsense. Wasn’t it you who I created first?
And Geoffrey you killed first.
Panniyah sniffed disdainfully. He actually expected me to obey him! Of course I killed him. He had delusions of grandeur. You on the other hand know where you fit in the hierarchy. Please, let me help you stop that awful misery you suffer. I don’t know what is causing it but I can stop it.
Daniel squeezed his hands tightly shut, digging his nails into his palms.
All right. Anything is better than this itching. Make it stop!
Immediately Daniel felt a calm in his mind, then a calming of his body. Daniel watched as the lesions on his arms and legs healed and disappeared.
Did you do that? Daniel asked.
No. You seem to have developed some interesting side effects to Cruento. You are searching for Claren, Panniyah stated. Would you like help in finding her, or are you still stuck in your male ego pride?
Your help comes with a very high price.
What harm can I do? Panniyah asked. I am on Earth. I can only speak to you and help your mind do what you want it to. I cannot harm Claren.
Daniel pondered Panniyah’s offer. The scent of Claren weakened with every breath he took. It could be days before he found her. She and Belgretor did not have that much time if Anterians and Crudak had anything to do with it.
All right, I’ll accept your help.