"You look exhausted, Skylar." Esmeralda's worried voice carried from where she stood on my porch. I made a noise with my mouth, hand lifting to push down the hood of my cloak as I slowly walked up the porch stairs, gaze flickering to the small white bowl in her hand and then to Esmeralda's face.
She too looked tired. Her gray hair was not as kept as usual, and I could see pale bags under her eyes. Ever since the murdering of lycans that occurred outside of her store, she had became increasingly distraught. Her husband had only recently begun to spend more time with her in the store since that day, something that rarely happened throughout the many years she'd worked there.
I had known Esmeralda since I was a child, and had been introduced to her by my late mother. Athena and herself would often visit me after my mother passed away, but they understood that I liked my space whilst I was home, so as I became older and eventually became an adult, those visits lessened. Esmeralda still insisted on bringing me meals however, and I was never one to turn away her food.
"I will be fine." My voice was soft, hoarse. I took the bowl from Esmeralda which she offered and the heat from the soup floated into my face. My smile was quick. "Thank you."
"I worry about you, Skylar." Esmeralda said quietly, watching as I used one hand to unlock the front door of my home. I paused to glance at her, frowning deeply as she spoke further,
"You shouldn't be traveling alone, especially with all of this chaos that has been happening. Have you heard about the battle that took place in Wildeland recently?"
I nodded. I had passed by that pack merely an hour ago, where I'd caught sight of Athena and she had caught sight of me. I had no intentions of stopping and talking to her however, so I'd carried on walking through the woods.
My mind and body felt drained from today's events, yet my stomach twisted with hunger as each strong breeze sent the scent of soup towards my nostrils.
"I will be fine." I repeated again to Esmeralda, attempting a smile that felt false on my lips. My eyes went behind her, to her husband who stood nearby, a limp cigarette hanging between his lips. The mixture of smoke with the smell of soup made me swallow thickly and I faced Esmeralda once more, nodding. "Good day."
Esmeralda returned my nod, almost hesitantly. "I will be seeing you tomorrow. I'm closing the store early today."
"Travel home safely."
I watched as her husband and herself ambled away before I entered my home. I was met with darkness immediately, and my fingers drifted across walls as I walked until I found windows.
Pushing aside thick heavy curtains allowed light to flood in and brighten the rooms significantly, and I was able to carefully place the steaming bowl of chicken soup on my small dining table.
After draping my black cloak over one of the chairs and washing my hands thoroughly before grabbing a spoon, I settled into a chair and began eating. I could feel the knots in my stomach slowly begin to ease with each swallow of food that was taken, but my eyes were heavy as the need for sleep remained.
Most of my day had been spent healing several humans who had been forced to leave their homes because of lycans, and they were taking shelter in an abandoned village. The walk there had been longer than I had expected, but I understood the desperation that the humans felt and that knowledge did enough to keep me going. I had travelled with one of them to the village, and the man had told me briefly before I left my home that he'd been referred to visit me by another human, one who I'd healed in the past.
Many had doubts about my powers, but many were also desperate for help, and often would travel far to seek for me after hearing of my gifts from others. The influx of those who visited had increased throughout the recent days, and using my powers and magic to heal many people could leave me mentally and physically tired.
Thoughts of sleeping in my warm bed came to mind soon after I'd consumed the delicious soup, and after cleaning up the bowl, I trudged to my bedroom which was located in the back of my small home. By the bottom of my bed were small piles of hand-sized books, all written by my mother, and most of which I'd often fall asleep reading.
However, I had no intentions of looking into them for the day, and after changing clothes, I slipped under the sheets, releasing a sigh of relief when my head touched my soft pillow.
I only felt like I had slept for fifteen minutes before a loud knock came from my door. I straightened slowly, blinking several times in confusion before reluctantly leaving the room. My right eye twitched as I grew mildly irritated at having my sleep disrupted, and I paused to stand on my toes and look through the peep-hole that was on my door.
My eyes narrowed immediately as I recognized the person standing behind the door.
It was the male lycan, the one with blond hair and green eyes that had been fighting one of the lycans outside of Esmeralda's store. I had seen him previously with Athena at times when she travelled to the store as well, but I had never spoke to him. Polite nods had been exchanged instead.
In his hand was my necklace, one which the lycan had popped from my neck. It was gifted to me by my mother, and I had been searching for it everysince the damn lycan had ripped it off of me.
I opened the door only slightly, and the male seemed taken aback when he saw some of my face. He eventually held up the necklace, and I could see dimples forming on his cheeks as he smiled and spoke, "I believe this is yours."
My hand reached out from the space that I allowed the door to show. "Thank you." I told him. I was genuinely thankful, and I believe he saw this to be true. He dropped it into my palm and tilted his head, eyes roaming my face. He was a cute male, but I wasn't interested in him. However, with the way he watched me, eyes shining with blatant intrigueness, I knew that he was attracted to me.
The male, who introduced himself to be Frederick, told me, "Athena has asked if you would like to join her for dinner tomorrow evening."
My fingers curled around the necklace as I contemplated. "If nothing comes up, I will make a phone call and tell her I will be coming."
The male nodded, smiling another wide smile before retreating, walking towards a parked car. I closed and locked the door, lifting the necklace to hold again my chest as I hurriedly returned to my bedroom. I fell asleep with it pressed to my heart.
A week later...
"This way." The young girl tugged almost painfully at one of my folded arms, and I folded in my lips, resisting the growing urge to ask her to remove her hand from me. I could sense her panic and distress as we walked hastily, saw the way she shivered from the cold and flinched at each sound that was made in the woods we walked through.
The young girl had came to my house and like many before her who had visited, asked for my help. Two persons in her family were apparently gravely injured after being attacked by lycans, and she had followed through with a suggestion that had been made by another to come to my home.
I had left my house promptly after the young girl's arrival and explanation.
With a low sigh, and after watching the girl tremble once more, I shook her hand off of me and tugged off the coat I wore, instructing her quietly to put it on. Her hand found mine again after she did as told and I hissed through teeth when she pulled at me harshly once more.
"Stop." My voice was a whisper, but she heard and released her grip. I was silent as she began saying out loud the directions to the shed which her family and herself were temporarily staying in.
I almost immediately knew where she was referring to, but didn't bother to disrupt. I saw her hand drift over my black drawstring pouch at one point as she babbled, and after the stern look I sent her way, she dropped her hand but continued talking, rambling on almost in a nervous way.
The walk to the abandoned shed took half of an hour, and the girl abruptly darted forward when we reached it, pushing open the door and waving a hand, urging me inside. I did so cautiously, noticing that several candles were lit and rested on the ground.
I immediately smelled blood as I walked further into the fairly large shed, and the murmurs of voices floated in the air, but ceased when I assumed they saw me approaching.
"You're the witch?" A woman asked, straightening from where she'd been kneeling over a bleeding man, who was laying on the floor and unmoving. I studied the woman's face for a while, noting the concern and wariness captured in her expression as she watched me kneel as well.
My nod was barely noticeable as I tipped my head up to examine the face of the man on the floor. Sweat dotted his forehead and his eyes were wet and bright with the sheen of tears.
"May I?" I asked, fingers hovering over his shirt, where I could see the majority of the blood seeping through. He grunted, head lowering in allowance, and I swung my pouch into my view and took out the pocket knife I kept in it.
With quick, fluid movements I ripped the shirt down the middle with the blade. Breaths caught behind me as they saw what appeared to be many deep wounds he had gotten; more than likely they were a result of claws being embedded repeatedly into his chest.
I placed the pocket knife aside and reached into my pouch once more, withdrawing a small vial containing blue liquid; a potion that I'd created and one of the many that I had back at my home. I quickly explained to the man what it was, ignoring the eyes darting between myself and the vial. With the man's permission, and with my assurance that it would help ease the pain he felt significantly, he consumed it.
A low moan from behind me made me pause as I placed the now empty vial back in my bag. When I looked over my shoulder, I saw a woman on the ground as well, face twisted in pain and lips moving soundlessly.
I withdrew another vial containing the same potion I'd allowed the man to drink and instructed one of the girl's family members to give it to her until I was able to work on her body.
Narrowing my eyes in concentration, I crawled closer to the man before me, already seeing from his face that the pain had begun to lessen. His eyes remained bright with his tears however, and they followed the movement of my outstretched fingers as they hovered over his wounds.
The sounds and noises around me became something of the distance as I focused on harnessing my power and magic, fingers seeming to vibrate and tremble as I imagined the man's wounds healing and thought of his flesh and skin knitting back together.
With each exhale and deep inhale I took, my body shuddered as I felt my power surging through my body, the invisible flow of magic being released and pouring from my fingertips, which continued to hover over the man's chest.
The magic began to gently heal his wounds, doing as I'd instructed in my mind that it do. My fingers continued to thrum relentlessly as magic drifted from them, and I clenched my jaw, never taking my eyes off of the chest until I was satisfied.
I closed my eyes and softly released a breath after I saw that the wounds were healed completely and that his skin was smooth and unblemished. I only had time to take a few deep breaths, settling my mind and thoughts away from the man now that he was healed before turning my attention to the injured woman.
Sweat had begun to trickle down my back and I pushed past the gaping individuals to go to the woman resting on the floor.
One of her pale hands rested against her moving chest, and her eyes were closed. I removed her hand from her chest, and worked my pocket knife down the lower half of her shirt. Many lacerations across her stomach could be seen, and it took me nearly twenty minutes to heal her flesh and skin, which was longer than the ten minutes I had spent with the man.
When I was finished, I retrieved my black pouch and slipped the empty vial back inside, eyes darting around those in the room as I did so. Bodies were stock-still as they watched my movements and when my gaze settled on an elderly man, I immediately recognized him to be one who I'd helped in the past. He must have been the one to tell the girl to find me.
I took back my long woolen coat from said girl and pulled it on, beginning to walk to the door since no one had spoken. I was no longer needed.
"Thank you." The man who I'd healed in the past called out to me. His eyes spoke of fear as he regarded me, and I resisted frowning. I smiled a tight smile, taking one last glance across the shed before leaving, my boots squeaking against the slightly damp and cold floor, and candles flickering as I walked past them.
I could feel the people's eyes on me until I left the shed, and my fingers absent-mindedly curled around my necklace as I hastily walked in the direction which would lead to my house, looking forward to returning to it and eating breakfast.
I knew I was being followed after ten minutes had passed. The hairs on the back of my neck raised as I slowed to a stop, and when I turned, I recognized the male before me to be an Alberrechian. My nostrils flared when what appeared to be a small needle was shot into my arm, and I clenched my teeth at the pain that arose in that area.
Before I could even attempt to defend myself, I was jerked backwards when a rope momentarily came into my line of sight before being wrapped swiftly around my neck.
The person behind my back began to strangle me and heat shot through my face as I struggled, grunts slipping past my lips as my fingers clawed at the thick rope painfully pushing into my skin. My vision blurred as breathing became increasingly difficult.
My feet kicked at snow and dirt as I attempted to wrestle with the one who was beginning to strangle me. Cold breath hit the back of my neck and I felt another prick as something sunk into my leg. My body became limp as seconds passed by, and I was pulled under into darkness when the rope was once again tightened harshly around my neck.
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter! Please like and comment! 💕
Oh yeah, Skylar is half-witch, half-human.