September Fiction: Grove of Graves

The Patreon-only fiction for September has been posted! This month’s fiction is part of a longer piece (which will appear over the coming months) and is titled “Grove of Graves”. Yes, I know it’s a very happy title… what can I say? The story is set in Airtha-Eyrassa, the world of The Ruon Chronicles.

Here’s an excerpt:

She barely remembered the night the Nithin was supposed to take her. Her mother had given her some foul tasting concoction that dulled her senses before she was placed between the other children around her age. They spent the night outside on the village green. Around midnight the two Nithin came. Dressed in midnight blue hiding cloaks and their faces whitened with ash to make the black tattoos they wore stand out more. Nea could only remember her mother’s words vaguely through the dulling of her senses.

“Do not look at them. Never at them. Look away or past them. Never make eye contact. If you do, they will take you away.”

She did as she was told, gazing off into the distance before moving her gaze in the direction of her house. She swore she could see her mother’s shadow at the window.

“Look, the Nithin has come!”

Nea, started at the voice and for a moment thought it had been her own. But it was another child who had spoken and now pointed directly at the two approaching Nithin. The women started circling the group of children.

“There’s nothing there,” Nea said. “You should not lie.” Nea looked to her own home again, but the child kept repeating and pointing at the two Nithin.

“Don’t you see them?” he kept asking. None of the children dared to look in the direction the boy was pointing. They all knew what it meant if you saw the Nithin on this night.

“You are just excited,” Nea said. “There is no one there. You must be seeing shadows.” Nea tried to get sense into him, but it did not work. Just as she was about to press his pointing hand down, the boy gasped and clutched at his neck where a speck of blood now appeared. He fell backward, his head hitting the ground sharply, but he made no sound. Nea stared at the dead boy, willing herself to look at his dead eyes instead of looking back at the Nithin who had killed him for being able to see them. It was all the proof they needed to know he had Ruon blood.

The other children screamed and ran for their houses. Nea stood as well, backing away before stumbling to her house. But, unlike the other children, she did not have to beat upon the door before being let in. The shadow at the window had been her mother and now she gathered her child in her arms and slammed the door against the night and the Nithin.

Outside the dead boy’s mother started wailing at the death of her son. Nea watched in horror as the Nithin threw another hiding cloak over the boy and carried him off. To his mother his body would simply have disappeared.

“This is just a dream,” Nea’s mother said. But Nea knew it was a lie.

“Where are they taking him? Are we not going to bury him tomorrow?”

“He will not get a grave in the family grove,” her mother said softly. “Those with Ruon blood never do. The Nithin -”

“But I could see them. Does that mean I am Ruon?”

“If you were Ruon, you would be dead right now.” She started at the sharp voice of her father.  

“You will never utter those words again, do you hear me?” he scolded. “You have survived tonight,” he said then, his voice soft once more. “That means that you cannot be one of the Ruon. You are safe.”

Only then did she see that he had been crying.

If you’d like to support me on Patreon and read the rest of this and other Patreon-only fiction and posts, you can head over to my Patreon page. Feel free to also read some of the other fiction on my blog – enjoy!

Ps. The very talented Ntatho Morakabi is also on Patreon.

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.


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