Citrine’s Monsters: Chapter Three | They Might Be Dead

“Kill her!”

“Burn her!”

“Capture her!”

Hateful cries buzzed around my head like vultures over a kill. My lungs ached as I gasped for breath and my feet tore over the mixture of dark brown soil and yellow-green grass. A slope rose before me and my body slowed down. I jerked my head around to see how close the mob was.

“You are wicked!”

“You are evil!”

“You deserve death!”

The cries blasted into my ears as furious faces moved toward me, desperate to catch me since I’d eluded them back at the burning hut. A group of males and females ran towards me, shouting curses and waving torches. One lifted a hand, and something hurled toward me. It flew past me and landed with a thunk on the hill. A round gray rock, perhaps one of the rocks from my herb garden.

My lips trembled, and a surge of anger rocked my body forward. Balling my hands into fists I willed my legs to move faster, driving my heels into the ground as I fought my way uphill towards the forest.

“She’s one of them!”

“She should be condemned to die!”

Words drove me onwards as tears pricked my eyes, but I wasn’t worried about myself. My pets. They might be dead.

My thoughts turned to his dark chocolate eyes and the stubble of a beard on his youthful face. He’d held me with such care and love, but that was before he found out what I’d done. The riot was his fault. He’d stood before the villagers and profaned my name, my art, and my life. They believed him because he had a solid reputation and I knew my personality caused dissension especially among the females. They were jealous of my looks and abilities. I snapped my fingers, impatient with my thoughts. My pets. Where are they? I could handle losing my home, losing him, but not my pets, they were everything.

A stone slammed into my back and I bent over at the waist, grabbing my heaving sides. A sob caught in my sore throat. After inhaling smoke and fleeing across the countryside I desperately needed refreshment. Despite my predicament, I stumbled up the hill, sweat pouring down my back. I wiped at my face as I reached the top of the hill and the dark forest swayed before my vision.

Another stone flew past my face, but the shouts of the mob faded as I stared at the old wood. The villagers thought I was evil, but in truth, the old forest was what they should be afraid of. I’d never been more than a few feet in the forest, gathering firewood and the strange violet flowers that grew near the outskirts of the wood. Slender birch trees with white wood perched near the forest, a last warning for those who would venture in. Tangled vines heavy with age stretched across treetops, choking out the greenery with their deathly grip. A deep musky aura hung over the forest, and my keen senses detected the smell of vile creatures, death and destruction. There was nothing for it. I had to go in. I had outstayed my welcome in the village. I had to take a risk and escape before they caught and killed me.

Jerking back my head one last time I eyed the village in the distance with the smoking chimneys and children playing in the dirt without a care in the world. A heavy scent of herbs hung in the air from my burning garden with the vines, roses and great bushes of healing plants. They accused me of dealing with immortal powers. They would never understand. They would never forgive. My eyes fell to the villagers standing at the bottom of the hill, frightened of the forest, their superstitions allowing them to come no further. They jeered at me, raising their weapons in a threatening manner. I’d never seen faces full of such a deep loathing in my life. If only I had my pets. They would be sorry.

Tossing my vibrant hair over my shoulder I defiantly turned my back on them and ran into the woods. The jeering faces faded. I recalled the females, jealous of my prowess, although the males never complained about my presence. They were usually too busy ogling my large breasts, the curves of my wide hips and the way my shapely thighs moved when I walked. They were jealous of the one I’d chosen, the male with the dark chocolate eyes. Yet, what he told them turned them against me. I was admittedly flirtatious to a fault, because it allowed me to have my way with everyone in the village, but now the tables had turned, and it seemed my past rose before me and demanded punishments.

Branches slapped my rump, a punishment for the sins I’d committed to bring my pets to me, to heal others, and, above all, to study the ways of nature which brought power. They lashed out at me and with each branch I saw a villager’s angry face rise before me, fists ready to smash into me, hands outstretched to rip my clothes from my body and beat me into the ground.

The twigs caught in my long hair, pulling and twisting, holding me back for another whipping as I fought my way through the forest, following an invisible path into the depths of wickedness while my heart fluttered in my chest. My breath came in great grasping gulps, and a tree root purposefully stuck out in my path. Leaping I misplaced my landing and fell flat, hands out to stop my fall, my palms skidding through rock and mud as I collapsed. The root caught my foot and twisted it, and a sharp agony of pain ripped through my leg, like the fire that consumed my hut. My pets. I held out a hand, reaching into the unknown, begging for salvation for those innocent beasts. My eyes were dry, the tears would not come. I spit into the mud while I perched on all fours, turning my face to the tree. “A thousand curses on your roots,” I spat at it, my viciousness coming out in all forms.

The tree shuddered as if it had heard me, and my naked eyes saw it shiver and whimper, branches hanging out as it recognized who I was and begged for forgiveness. “That’s right,” I rebuked it. “I am a lover of nature, I am on your side.”

Scolding the tree gave me confidence, and I stood, shaking the dirt off my hands and brushing the dew off my bare legs. I wormed my way through the mud, wishing I were wearing shoes. If I could see myself in a looking glass, I would appear like a dirty, vagrant. My long light hair lay tangled to my waist, while my ample chest was on full display with the torn sleeve of my dress hanging down and the thin, dirty material scratched by burrs and tree limbs. Scratches covered my long legs and mud caked my feet. My lemon-yellow eyes narrowed in the darkness.

Citrine. That’s what they called me. My born name. My eyes were the same color as the jewel, an odd light color, giving me the appearance of a wild cat, and my ability to see in the dark was feared by some. I knew when twilight came my odd eyes glowed, giving me an outwardly appearance. I was no immortal, just a mortal, one of the people groups called Tiders. At least, that was what I knew of my heritage. My parents lived in hiding until the days of Eliesmore, the Great Conqueror who saved the South World from the rule of the immortals and their vicious armies of darkness. It was a tale of heroes, fantastic powers and weapons beyond belief. I paid no attention to the tale, for it did not concern my small life in the small village where they slandered my name and cast me out.

Not more than a quarter of an hour passed when I stumbled over a beaver. The beast leaped off my path, hurling curses as it dashed towards the nearest tree. “Watch where you are going. Mortal.”

“Watch where YOU are going,” I retorted back at it. My throat stabbed me and I added. “I am looking for water, in which direction lies the closest stream?”

The beaver wrinkled its nose at me, dark eyes blinking as if considering whether I was serious or joking.

“I don’t have all day,” I grumbled. “Please, speak up and let me continue.”

The beaver grunted and pointed an ambiguous finger further into the woods. “You shouldn’t go there, though. They eat mortals. You should only go there if you want to die.”

“Don’t be daft,” I mumbled. “They want to kill me out there they want to kill me in here, I’ll take my chances.”

Download the full version of Citrine’s Monster’s here. | Copyright 2018 Angela J. Ford

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