Sorry for the late post. We hope you enjoy this week’s story!
It had happened again. As Yvonne pushed through the small crowd of people, she spied the bloodied leg of a man. Moving further in, she could see the whole body ripped to shreds, its innards spilled out in a gory mess, the ribcage exposed and cracked in places. Her stomach churned as she took it all in, but the worst part was the expression on the man’s face. His skin was stark white with blue lips parted in a scream and eyes bulging from their sockets in fright.
“Why does this keep happening?” A woman asked, burying her head in her husband’s shoulder.
“Cedric was a good man,” mentioned someone in the crowd. Others nodded. “He didn’t deserve this.”
“What did this?” a voice cried over them and all sound seemed to evaporate as no one wished to answer the question. An eerie breeze blew through them that swept into their bones.
From behind them, the Patron of the village, an older gentleman with a short white beard, came towards the group, his cane clacking on the ground as he walked. He was dressed in a purple colored coat covering a frilly white shirt whose sleeves poked out beneath the edges of the coat sleeves. Brown pants and black boots adorned his legs, finishing off this statement of his status.
The crowd parted before him as he came to look at the dead man, “The village is cursed.” He finally said, “Pray to the gods, beg for forgiveness, mark your doors with protective seals, and above all, don’t leave your homes at night.” He looked at all the villagers in the circle, “Don’t be a hero.” His eyes rested on Yvonne. He held her gaze for a moment until at last he turned away and the crowd dispersed.
Heart pumping, she ran home to her small house on the edge of the village. A small barn, barely big enough to put a few horses in, stood across from it.
Without breaking stride, she ran towards the barn, slid open the door, and climbed up to the loft where there was a fighting dummy, standing in the middle of the hay. Past that, hanging on the wall, were two swords with thin steel blades. She walked up to these and grasped them in either hand, drawing them off their hooks.
She swung them around, feeling their weight and enjoying the familiarity of them in her hands.
They are tools, not toys, a voice echoed from her memory and she turned to the practice dummy, letting off a few attacks that nicked the wood. A flash of an old smile crossed her mind and she struck again, wanting to keep the memory alive for as long possible. Good strong strokes the voice said, and felt a ghostly hand touch her shoulder. Surprised, she quickly spun around only to find empty air. She was completely alone.
She turned back towards the dummy as the heavy slow swish of the barn door opening from below caught her attention.
“Yvonne?” called her mother.
She peeked over the edge. “I’m here.”
Her mother turned in her direction, “What are you doing up there?” She moved towards the ladder. “You’re not playing with your father’s swords, are you?”
“You don’t play with swords.” Yvonne called out.
“Yvonne, I don’t want you using them.”
“Why?!” she shouted down, “They were meant to be used.” She glanced down at the blades in her hands.
“They will get you killed.” Retorted her mother. “Don’t you remember what happened to your father?” Her voice cracked slightly, but not so much that Yvonne noticed.
“I won’t end up like that,” she promised.
Her mother frowned. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” She said, realizing her argument was getting nowhere, “The sun is setting. Come inside soon.” She turned and walked out of the barn, shutting the large door behind her.
Glancing outside, Yvonne saw the sun was indeed beginning to set. Red and gold littered the sky as she slid down the ladder, the two swords strapped to her back. She peeked out of the large door towards the house where the candles had become lit and looked for any sign of her mother. In a window, Yvonne caught sight of her shadow as she moved away from a window.
Quietly, she snuck out of the barn and started running down the road away from home and towards the crossroads. As she ran across town, the sun dipped below the horizon and night spread across the land. The temperature dropped and a slight breeze blew, causing her to shiver. Stepping towards the middle of the crossroads she took a seat, placing her swords in her lap as she waited for the monster to appear.
Hours passed and the moon slid across the sky until it was directly ahead. Then she heard a low growl echoing through the dim world. She opened her eyes and spied a pair of glowing eyes looking back through the darkness.
Quietly, she stood, drawing her swords as she realized the eyes were growing closer. She didn’t move, as the creature approached and stepped into the moonlight.
Her heart skipped a beat and her mouth went dry as a pointed face with black eyes and a mouth full of jagged teeth stepped out of the shadows. A rack of antlers rose out of its forehead, gleaming white in the moonlight. It let out a low growl as it sniffed at the air and took another step on legs that were not human, but were reversed like a horse’s.
She raised her blades in front of her, letting the moonlight gleam off their surfaces. The creature let out a hiss and stepped back, coiling to strike. She moved to the left, readying herself as it leapt out with a growl, reaching out with a human hand tipped with razor claws. They caught on Yvonne’s arm, tearing the flesh.
She let out a grunt of pain as she felt the blood from the cuts begin to swim down her arm. Quickly, she brought up a sword and slashed at the monster. It avoided her, the sword swinging past. Over balanced by the swing, Yvonne tumbled to the ground, catching herself on her hands, the sword hilts jamming into her palms. She hissed at the impact as the creature swiped a clawed a hand at her back.
Quickly, she rolled to the side, barely missing the claws as they ripped open the back of her shirt. She suddenly wished she had stayed home.
A loud roar escaped the monster as it lashed out again. She dodged the hit and quickly stood up, trying to get away.
Panic bubbled inside her, and she ran, glancing over her shoulder to see that the monster was following her. Suddenly, her foot caught on a rock and she fell. Spinning through the air, she landed on her back, knocking the breath out of her and the swords from her hands. Wickedly curved claws rose to fall on her, and she could smell the horrible breath of rotting decay from its jaws. She curled up trying to make herself smaller as a last attempt to save herself.
She waited for the sharp piercing of the claws against her flesh, for the feeling of her life draining away, but nothing happened. Yvonne opened her eyes to find her mother awash in moonlight, and speaking to the monster.
“You will not harm her.” Her mother said angrily her voice scolding. “She is not a person of interest.”
Yvonne stared as the monster looked scolded, its face looking hurt, but a low growl echoed from its throat anyway, thirsty for blood.
“Leave her be,” the woman cried, “or if that won’t stop you, take me instead.”
“Mom?” Yvonne said.
Her mother turned her head, a tear running down her cheek, “Thank goodness you’re alright.”
“What are you doing?” Yvonne asked, but then the creature’s hand latched around her mother, and like a horrible nightmare, snatched her away and carried her off to the woods.
In a daze, Yvonne rolled to her knees, at a loss for what had just happened. Everything suddenly didn’t seem real. She stared for a moment at the woods totally at a loss and then as a quick as a deer she sprinted back towards home.
To Be Continued…