The iron claw in the velvet glove

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Part two The unseen danger.

Meanwhile, back in Japan, Arata’s love awakes to blue sky and the sun shining down. This makes her go for a walk across the open fields picking flowers as she goes. Then she hears her name being called, “Hanako. Hanako.”

The voice seems to be coming from the forest. A place she dared not enter; for it is a dark uninviting place and the trees seem to creak and moan even when there is no breeze blowing through them.

   “Hanako... Come to me my love.”

   “Arata, is that you?”

   “Yes. Come to me. Come. Come.”

The young lady stares into the gloom and asks, “Where are you? I do not see you.”

   “Follow my voice, my love. Come to me.”

Hanako takes a deep breath before setting foot on to the dead foliage which litters the floor like a thick blanket and she asks again, “Arata, where are you?”

   “Here. Here my love. See me now?”

The young woman is overjoyed to see the man she loves, her fear is soon replaced with delight as she is so pleased to have him home. Then she wonders, why the forest? Why did he not just come home?

This makes her stop just a few steps from him and she goes on to ask him her questions.

   “This way no one would see you kissing me. I want you my darling. Come, give me a kiss.”

Hanako does as he asks.

   “My love,” he whispers in her ear. “What if I told you I could make you rich beyond your wildest dreams. Would you like that?”

   “You know I am not bothered about that, my love. For I am happy with whatever you bring home.”

   “I’ll buy you the most expensive Kimonos. I want to give you whatever your hearts desires.”

The young lady places a hand to her lover’s chest and replies, “All I want is you. I don’t need anything else. What’s going on? You know this.”

   “All I am asking, is there something you want. The finest clothing, hairpins, makeup? Tell me what you truly desire.”

Hanako looks at him all confused and asks, “Why are you asking me this? All I ever want is you.”

Arata gives her a hug and replies, “All I ever want is you too. I just want to give you more than just, my love.”

   “You know your love is all I need. As long as we are together, we will be happy.”

   “That is true. However, your beauty will begin to fade, like a dying flower. You do not want to become old and frail. I am capable of making you the same as the gods; you will never age.”

The young lady’s eyes sparkle with wonder and she asks, “How is this possible?”

   “Just give me your love, and you will never age.”

   “Yes. Yes. I give you all my love. Let’s spend eternity together,” replies Hanako all excited.

Then Arata gives her a sinister grin and says, “Your soul is now mine.”

The moment the young lady sees horns growing out of her lover’s forehead she tries to leave. Only to find tree roots have wrapped themselves around her feet and the more she struggles the tighter they become.

Hanako watches in horror as Arata turns into some kind of hideous, deformed creature. It grabs hold of her by the shoulders with its long bony fingers and the sharp claws start to dig through her clothes into her flesh.

   “NO! NO! RELEASE ME!” she cries at the top of her voice.

The creature pulls her close and hisses, “You’re mine.”

When the young lady sees the skull with sharp teeth coming towards her, she squeals until the creature has taken her final breath. Then it releases her lifeless body and starts to transform into her.

The noises of bones cracking and crunching is enough to make, if anyone heard it, their skin crawl and shiver.

Once the creature has successfully turned into the young lady, it puts on her clothes and heads to the village where it carries on the charade.


The following day the nasty weather has finally broken, the sea is nice and calm, so Hisashi gives his men the order to head home. When they pull into the harbour, they see a strange ship is in the dock and the moment their lord sees it he says, “Fedor. Fedor is here.”

   “Who is he?” Arata asks, looking at him with curiosity.

   “My husband’s brother. However, he is the same as me a Soul Drinker. He was adopted by Alric’s mother Titan.”

   “I see. So what does he look like?”

   “You’ll see.”

They make their way down the gangplank and before they reach the bottom they hear a deep man’s voice call, “Hisashi, my dear friend.”

   “Fedor,” he laughs, running over to give him a hug. “So good to see you my dear old friend.”

The Commander watches the tall, slender Westerner point a hand at his leader and says in a firm voice, “I don’t know. You have got your men all worried, not telling them why you made a trip alone to China. And only allowing this young man to accompany you. Out with it. Say over dinner?”

Hisashi nods and replies, “I would like that, old friend. And I promise you I will tell you everything.”

   “I hope I’m included,” comes a slightly muffled man’s voice.

Fedor steps to one side to reveal a man who is dressed in a fine Kimono wearing a white mask.


#98 in Fantasy
#26 in Dark fantasy
#47 in Short stories

Story about: romance, supernatural, fantay

Edited: 28.07.2019

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