Merlin’s Children (excerpt)

Merlin’s Children by RP Rawnsley

Chapter 1 Tess

England: Whitby, North Yorkshire.

Seven days change me forever. I, Tess Bowden, risk everything I know, everything I am, everything I hope to be for a scarred young warrior from another world. It’s the week I discover my powers. The week I nearly die. The week I learn to kill.

Weird thing is, I’m a violence-hating science-nerd. And a big-time Marvel fan.

So… What the Hulk?

It begins.

Monday morning, mid-October. Blustery, cold and wet. I’m late for school, munching cold toast on the go, tired and cranky from staying up too late studying for my mock exams. Grey hoodie pulled up, I hustle through the winding streets of Whitby old town. Higgledy-piggledy shops and houses, hidden courtyards, and dark ginnels running down to the shore.

I leg it past the steep, stone curve of the 199 Steps—stairway to windswept cliffs and brooding abbey ruins. Seagulls cry and wheel overhead, scavenging for scraps. I scarf down the last of my toast before they dive-bomb me, and scoot round the corner onto Church Street, books clutched to my chest.

Something scuttles across the narrow street smack under my feet. Blood-red eyes gleam. Bony fingers tweak my ankle.

Demon.

I stumble and my books spill over the wet cobbles. Muttering under my breath, I bend down and pick them up, hair swinging in front of my face. My glasses slide down my nose. I push them back, arms full of damp books, thoughts full of curses.

The demon cackles from a shop doorway.

I hate demons. And I’m plagued with the rare–and annoying–ability to see them.

Lucky me.

I glance across and catch a spite-filled gaze. The demon stretches rubbery lips into a ha-ha-gotcha sneer. It peers left and right, palms held out like a shopkeeper showing off his wares. The little soul-sucker is standing next to a newsagent’s billboard with the latest headlines.

WHITBY GAZETTE

HOMELESS MAN MURDER HORROR

Gruesome.

But, that’s not all.

Dozens of demons line the street. Insubstantial shadows, grey or oily-black, with eyes that glow like red-hot coals, or gaping voids where eyes should be. Fat demons, thin demons, rat-size, dog-size, ape-size demons. Demons with jagged teeth or slitted snouts, with tusks and horns and whip-like tails. They lurk in doorways, lean out of alleys, perch in rows on rooftops as if waiting for a parade to pass.

Prickles run over my scalp and down my spine.

One or two demons are an everyday sight for me. Sometimes I’ll see a small group. They hang around in shadowy corners, looking for a host. But this many…

I take a deep breath and plunge past them. Experience has taught me the best way to deal with Hellspawn is to ignore them. Everyone else does. Normal people hurry by, heads down against the mizzling rain. They have no idea.

Lucky them.

END EXCERPT

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