They were five, wearing black capes and hoods; they just walked there quietly and placed themselves around the big megalith.
Things were becoming really odd. “I… don’t know. I think I took the wrong time to visit and I should get going.”
“Please, stay.” Her voice was still calm and gentle. “You can watch. It will help you see things more clearly.”
The five people took out from their capes five short swords, and stood there with vertical blades, in a defensive posture.
“What’s going on here, exactly?” Jean felt very uncomfortable. The sun had set and the night was turning dark. None of them had any light. The city of Dol was quiet and motionless, in the distance, beyond the fields. He was alone with apparently dangerous people and all he wanted now was to run away fast.
“Every new moon we have to perform the ritual of protection.”
“Protection from what?”
Vivienne didn’t answer. She walked toward the Menhir and stopped right in front of it.
Jean could barely see her dark hair waving in the night breeze. She started to speak in a language that wasn’t French; it sounded like some kind of chant. It seemed ancient, archaic.
The wind rose from the druids circle, making their cloaks flutter.
Jean looked around, thinking that a storm was coming, but outside the circle, everything looked calm and quiet. He, however, was feeling restless. It was weird but somehow familiar.
“They’re here,” someone whispered.
Jean looked around.
In the dark, there were shadows approaching. Men, perhaps. Four or five. They were crossing the fields, because there was no other way to reach the megalith. And they had weapons.
Suddenly, the druids broke the circle and moved to face them.
When the swords crossed, Jean thought it was the right time to leave. It looked like some medieval re-enactment, but deep down he knew that things had gotten a little too real.
In the background, Vivienne was still chanting.
He turned his back to run, but he found a big guy in front of him, and suddenly his face had a close encounter with a fist.
It was an explosion of black and white, stars, and painful needles, while he fell on his back, out of balance.
For a few moments, he didn’t know who he was where he was what he was doing.
A salty liquid dripped from his nose, slipping into his mouth.
Jean wiped it with his sleeve and again the pain exploded in his head. He tried to refocus. He turned back and saw a man struggling with one of the druids. Both of them had a short sword and they were exchanging quick blows. At that rate, someone would’ve been hurt a lot.
Jean tried to get back on his feet, staggered for a moment, but then regained his posture. He did not stay for long to think about it and jumped on the man, tackling him like a football player.
They rolled on the grass. Jean found himself on top of the stranger and returned him the favor with a jab right under his cheekbone. The guy twisted his head to spit blood.
Jean crossed his arms and pressed them on the man’s throat. “Would someone please tell me who these people are?” he asked to the druids.
“Fomorians,” replied a female voice with contempt.
But the druidess was already busy with a new fight and did not care about him anymore.
Jean kept pushing on the throat of the man, who was turning blue, and was actually surprised of how well he could see him now. He noticed the faint green light that was spreading from the Menhir, right where Vivienne was standing. He couldn’t believe his own eyes. Or eye, since his left one was closed by the pain and the incoming swelling.
Something reached him from his side. He didn’t see it. He just felt a sharp pressure on his chest and an inexplicable force that threw him away. He flew for about six feet before landing and rolling on the grass, ending up in a bush.
He sat up, numb, while he tried to figure out what had hit him and where it had come from.
On the path leading to the Menhir, someone else was approaching. The green light shone ghostly on his figure. The first thing Jean noticed was the black patch that covered the man’s left eye. Beside that, he didn’t look so special: short hair, of average build; maybe he was the same age as him. However, just looking at him made his blood boil. It was an inexplicable sensation. Jean felt his heart pounding in his ears, in sync with every step the stranger made toward him. His instinct told him to look around, searching for something with which defend himself.
The stranger put his hand under his jacket and pulled out something black that looked like a silenced gun.
Jean’s heartbeat increased, going out of sync. How the hell did he find himself in that situation?
The stranger pointed his gun, cocked the hammer. Behind them, the chanting of Vivienne continued.
Jean was paralyzed. Cold sweat was coating him like an icy sheet. But he realized that the gun was not pointed at him. He followed the trajectory with his eye and saw that the target was Vivienne.
It all happened within a few seconds, but it seemed to Jean that the time had dilated. His brain was traveling a thousand miles per hour, the adrenaline made him snap, almost like for an involuntary reflex, and he ran toward the man with the gun.
The shot exploded.
The stranger’s only eye rested upon him, and again something strong and invisible, like a whip made of air, hit him in the chest and pushed him away.
Jean found himself on the ground next to Vivienne. He turned to see if she had been hit. But nothing. She was still standing, her hair blowing in the wind.
He heard the muffled pop of a second shot. This time he saw it distinctly, hitting the back of the woman and exploding into a flash of light.
Then there was silence. The chant was over. The green light burst and spread for a few seconds, illuminating the night like the flash of a camera.
Jean had to shield his eyes.
“Too late,” said Vivienne. “The protection spell has been cast.”