The Ravening

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Salvation From a Crone

I knew of only one hope.

I scrambled clumsily back into my dress and balanced on sore, aching limbs as I slid back into my shoes and fled downstairs and across the tavern.

The barmaid paused to watch me.

I fled through the woods, wet hair whipping every time I looked over my shoulder. Searching for him. Though I couldn't see him, I was somehow certain he was never more than a hairsbreadth behind me. Waiting. One weak moment and I'd be his again.

I sobbed. Clutching my skirts and pushing my body to run faster. Wishing that somehow I could just outrun him.

I tripped and landed on my stomach. Pausing to drop my face to the leaves for only a moment of rest. That was all the time it took for him to find me. To enter me from behind and forcefully take me.

Once he'd finished with me I pushed myself up. Forcing myself awake. I stood on shaking legs and bolted in the direction of her hut.

I reached Hales' Hut and threw open the door. My breaths coming in heaving pants.

"Hales!" I called desperately.

"Why Zira, what is it?"

"I need help." I used the back of my wrist to toss away the tears. "I'm being hunted. Something awful has gotten ahold of me."

"Aw, now...It's not so bad, is it?" I could hear his voice in my ear. Like he circled me. Leaning in to breathe on my neck, face and ear.

A predatory wraith I can't see.

"What's she going to do to help you?"

"You look exhausted, Sweet." Hales said sadly. "Here." She lifted a potion bottle. "Take this immediately and find a bed."

"Why?" I hesitantly took the bottle.

"It'll put you right to sleep."

I reflexively hurled the bottle across the room.

I heard him clucking chidingly from somewhere behind me now.

"What a shame...You should've taken it. We could've had so much fun! Go." I felt a light shove at my back. "Lick it up. We can still enjoy its effects." He purred.

Not a chance. I was turning to try and see him. Frantically spinning.

"Zira..." Hales said worriedly. "What is it?"

"He's here." I searched every shadow looking for him.

"Do you know what he is?" Hales caught my arm and turned me.

"Don't tell her. Let us keep you and I, atween you and I." The meaningfulness of his words was not lost on me.

"Or should I say let's keep you and I, atween your thighs, Sweetheart." His chuckling laughter chilled me.

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