Just a taste of my newest project. Enjoy.
© 2009 Suzanne Lazear
She looked left, then right, panting for air as she tried to decide which way would lead her quickest to a body of water. Right now the only sound was that of her labored breath and the hum of night in the wildwood. But it was only a matter of time before she heard the horns and hoof beats of pursuit. Whatever happened, she must not allow them to catch her and she must not allow a single drop of her blood to spill upon the ground.
Closing her eyes, she listened for the sound of water. Her lungs screamed at her, as did her body. No longer was she used to a rough life. She had grown soft in the court, enjoying the attention, affection, and lavish lifestyle, only realizing too late what she had unwittingly accepted. They had taken advantage of her, betraying her innocence, her trust. That would be why her mama always told her to never trust a fairy. But then she had not known what they were until it was too late.
A horn in the distance startled her from her reverie and once again she began to run. Right. If she remembered correctly the stream was right. But was it deep enough?
She had no choice.
In the dark chill of the night she continued to run with all her might, her wispy gown catching on the brush and branches that reached out of the shadows like ghostly limbs trying to capture her as well.
A root caught her foot and sent her sprawling though the forest growth. For a moment she just lay there on the ground as pain shot up her limb.
Her eyes widened as the ominous tattoo of hoof beats filled the air. This made her heart race as she stumbled to get off the ground. Panic filled her. She could not get caught.
Ignoring the pain in her ankle she continued running, not bothering to stop when she lost a slipper. Not that they were good for running anyway. Without pausing, she kicked off the other impractical shoe.
If she stopped, they’d kill her.
Not tonight. No, they’d continue to charm and cosset her as they’d been doing since the night Kevin had rescued her from her life of despair.
But eventually, the time of the sacrifice would come, where the blood of an innocent human girl would nourish the land, feeding the very magic that was the lifeblood of the Otherworld and those who dwelled within.
Then, she would be ritually slaughtered so the magic could continue for seven more years. Then it would be another girl’s turn.
Her ears caught the sound of water and she ran for it, ignoring sights and sounds that would normally make her jump, focusing solely on her goal.
Finally the stream came into view and elation filled her. Her lungs burned and cried, but she continued.
But as she approached the stream, tears ran down her face. It was not nearly deep enough. Summoning the last of her strength, she started running down the bank of the stream, following it, praying with all her might that it deepened—or even better became some kind of pool or lake. She knew there was one someplace in the wildwood, but did not know where.
The hoof beats grew louder by the second and the fear of being caught was near paralyzing.
She was willing to die this night. But she would not let them get her blood.
The glimmer of a larger body of water sparkled between the ghostly branches of skeletal trees. Ah, she was nearly there. She could see the glen now.
Dust picked up as well.
They were nearly here.
“Annabelle, Annabelle where are you?” The voice reverberated through the dark and foggy glen, sending a flock of something into the air. Kevin. Now she knew why they called him Kevin Silver-Tongue. It was not for his kisses. It was for his lies.
She entered the glen. Her leg cramped up and she fell again. No. This could not be happening.
Her arms collapsed as the pushed herself up. She managed to get onto her knees, but could not stand up. Her lungs, her limbs had enough. So, she began to crawl towards her goal. It no longer mattered that her knees grew raw and bloody, that her fine gown was torn and dirty. Freedom—and revenge were in her grasp.
They had lied to her, so she would deny them what they wanted. Her blood would do them no good if she were dead.
The hoof beats were even louder and she could hear the shouts of the men, the whinny of the horses. The dirt beneath her grew muddy as she inched towards her goal, praying she would outwit them.
“There she is!”
They were in the glen too.
But she was there now as her hands entered the water. The water was warm and blissful and welcomed her like arms. She allowed it to surround her as she waded deeper and deeper. When her legs gave out, she allowed them.
“Annabelle, no! What are you doing? Come back, let me explain.” There was a pounding of footsteps.
But it was too late.
The water covered her face. Her lungs burned as she sank into the depths of the very pool Kevin had professed his love for her at.
How ironic that it should be the place of her death.
The darkness took her as water filled her lungs.
At the moment her heart stopped, the magic that marked her as the sacrifice broke. Those on the shore of the pool screamed as they heard it. The land rebelled, crying for the loss of its gift. Then the land began to shake.