Olivia shuffled her way toward the front of the large cottage, trying to ignore the fact that everyone else was asleep. By the time she reached the kitchen, the humming of a woman filled the quiet room, getting Olivia’s attention.
“Someone’s up early.”
Olivia looked beside her to see Faye behind a wooden counter stirring around a pancake batch, by the smells of it. She had her emerald green eyes focused on Olivia as Olivia forced out a smile. Faye frowned before she quickly glanced down to pour in creamy white milk. She looked up again with a slightly cocked head.
“What’s wrong, Olive?” Faye used the nickname she gave Olivia when she was young because she hated olives and would not touch them.
Olivia turned away.
“Same nightmare?” Faye’s voice softened.
Olivia stayed quiet. Faye sighed.
“Yeah,” Olivia lied.
After the brutal death of Olivia’s parents, Faye was the closest thing she had to a mother. Olivia was a mess for the first few weeks after arriving at the orphanage, but Faye helped her get through the rough years.
Olivia had been at the orphanage for about eleven years. When she was nine, her parents were murdered, and her brother missing. She went on the run and for a whole year, she was living in the forest. She didn’t know how she survived so long. Olivia could only guess she stayed alive because she woke up to a pile of food next to her each morning. Olivia didn’t question where or whom it came from, her grumbling stomach would silence the alarm bells in her head and scoff down the food.
But Olivia was found by the Fantasy Hunters. When they first saw her, they thought Olivia was a vampire, considering there was red juice around her mouth from berries and her sickly pale skin due to the cold morning. After they pushed Olivia into the sunlight and realized that she wasn’t a vampire nor a supernatural, they gave her to Lady Ola. It had been eleven years, eleven long years since and Olivia still wondered who was giving her food every morning.
There were some nights where Olivia would have horrible nightmares about the death of her parents. Faye worried when Olivia would go sleepless some nights and get in extra trouble with Lady Ola.
“I have to go get Lady Ola a batch of berries,” Olivia muttered and picked up a basket by the door.
“Oh, okay,” Faye sounded uncertain but didn’t stop her. “But isn’t it —”
Olivia closed the door behind her before Faye could finish her sentence. Olivia sighed and shook her head. Maybe she should’ve let Faye finish. Olivia breathed heavily and decided to ask when she came back. Olivia just wanted to get the errand done and not waste too much time.
The sun was just rising but it felt oddly cold as Olivia ran through the village, keeping light on her feet as she forgot to put on shoes. But the shoes she was given were worn, old and had a foul odor. Most of the time Olivia didn’t wear shoes because it was more comfortable without them.
She noticed that hardly anyone was awake, still, she didn’t it let bother her as she was close to approaching the berry patches near the edges of Limrock in the woods. Just as she got to a walking pace, she had a strange feeling that she should’ve waited to hear what Faye had to say. She then brushed it off and walked through the woods, not paying much attention to the frosted trees. When she finally reached the berry patches at a good timing, there was nothing blooming on any of the berry plants. The bushes were bare and withered. A slight frown came upon Olivia. Looking around she then noticed the frosted trees and cold, iced ground. There was nothing alive, just icy and dark.
It suddenly dawned on her what Faye was trying to say.
“But isn’t it Winter?”
Olivia’s free hand balled into a fist and she gritted her teeth angrily. She turned and stormed her way back through the forest, muttering curse words under her breath. The cold chill touched her bare skin, giving her goosebumps but she could hardly feel it with the same thought running through her mind, how had she not noticed before? Sure, there wasn’t any snow and the sun was shining with a clear pale sky, but the coldness brushing through her unworthy dress should’ve been enough.
“That stupid brat!” Olivia yelled, frustration getting the best of her.
She furiously stomped her way back to the outskirts of the forest, feeling her hatred for her ex-friend grow. The village was poking through the trees in a matter of minutes before Olivia stepped on something sharp. A hiss of pain escaped her and she moved her stinging foot away, a fang was laying there. Curiosity made Olivia pick up the fang to examine it probably.
“Must’ve belonged to a wolf,” she muttered.
Without a second thought, Olivia stuffed the wolf fang into the pocket of her dress. Quickly, she ran back onto the path leading in and out of Limrock and dodged all the newly awaken Limrock folk. Olivia started to panic and pushed herself faster through the growing crowd before the orphanage came into view.
Olivia mentally growled herself for being stupid enough to fall for Quinstella’s trick, even worse, she was too caught up from what happened in the morning to notice. If only she’d open the door again and let Faye finish her sentence. Olivia was hoping that Lady Ola was still asleep. But she highly doubted it when Lady Ola was one of the first awake. Olivia’s stomach sank and she felt sick from what consequences were awaiting back at the orphanage.
The orphanage was close enough that Olivia could slow down to a fast walking pace. Her foot ached and throbbed and she knew there was going to be a prickle of blood when she got the time to clean it. She was walking briskly, dodging the crowd swiftly until someone stopped her.
A figure came running toward Olivia until she recognized it as Lythil. He came jogging toward her with his brown locks of hair bouncing. His grass green eyes held a mischievous glint in them as he slowed down in front of her.
Olivia cocked her brow at him as he had a goofy smile on his face. “Hey, Ollie.”
Lythil frowned. “How am I a stalker?”
Olivia humphed playfully. “You come to the orphanage every day asking where I am and we don’t even talk that much. Sound like a stalker to you?”
“I’m just checking up on you,” he defended.
“Why? It’s not like I’m going anywhere.”
Lythil frowned again and Olivia rolled her eyes playful. They landed on the orphanage and immediately they widened and Olivia remembered she was rushing. “I have to go, Lythil,” Olivia quickly said and began to run to the orphanage again. “I’m sorry!”
“But I —”
Olivia turned back and gave him an apologetic look. “We’ll catch up another time!”
Lythil gave her a strange look as he walked off with his hands in his pockets. It was the first time Lythil and Olivia had an actual talk longer than a few seconds. Olivia always felt horrible whenever Lythil would try to approach her; she always had to wave him off. It wasn’t her fault Lady Ola wouldn’t allow her to socialize. The guilt turned to dread as Olivia stopped at the front door to catch her breath. When she did, she reached out for the knob, hesitant. She was too scared to open it. It suddenly burst open. Faye was there and she looked panicked.
“Lady Ola’s furious with you, Olivia! Where have you been?”
“I told you before I left, I went to get Lady Ola berries,” I said, confused.
Faye shook her head. “Lady Ola never wanted berries, Olivia. She hates any sort of berries apart from cherries and they don’t grow in Limrock.”
Olivia’s eyes narrowed. “Then why did Quinstella make me —”
“Quinstella’s asleep, Olivia.”
“But she —”
“OLIVIA!” Lady Ola’s voice blared through the orphanage.
Olivia’s body went rigid as Faye pulled her inside. The door slammed behind them as Olivia dropped the basket where she first found it. The orphanage suddenly went eerily quiet. Olivia trembled. Faye put her hand on Olivia’s shoulder, but it didn’t help. Olivia looked up and saw Faye’s eyes wide in panic, making her heart drop.
Usually, whenever Lady Ola got angry with Olivia, Faye would be the one to calm her mother down and keep her daughter, Quinstella, quiet. She managed to minimize Olivia’s punishment to just a week without bathing. Most of the time, Faye saved Olivia from being whipped and humiliated in front of the village. Olivia felt sick knowing that Faye’s eyes told all; she couldn’t save Olivia from Lady Ola and her punishments.
“Ah, there you are, Olivia."
Olivia’s stomach churned, bile already rising in her throat and the girl struggled to swallow it down. Lady Ola came around the corner and her murderous green eyes burned into Olivia’s skull. Her heart hammered against her chest, short gulps of air while she tried to be as quiet as possible. She looked to Faye, her eyes begging for Faye to help her.
“You should’ve let me finish my sentence, Olivia,”
“But it was Quinstella!” Olivia shouted at both Faye and Lady Ola.
Lady Ola glared at Olivia. “How dare you blame my granddaughter for this!”
“It’s true!” Olivia protested. “She woke me up and told me you wanted me to get you berries!”
Olivia didn’t know what made her speak her mind, she had been whipped twice to know to keep her shut up and her thoughts voiceless. But she couldn’t let Quinstella get away from another looming punishment. It was unfair on her and downright hell.
“Don’t you dare try and blame Quinstella with your lies, runt. You, along with every other girl living here, should know I only like cherries!”
Olivia did know, but it slipped from her mind when she wanted to be done with the errand. How could she not realize how obvious it was that Quinstella was setting her up? All the signs were obvious, yet, she failed to see any of them until it was too late.
“Now then,” Lady Ola grabbed Olivia’s arm harshly. “You, young lady, need to be taught a lesson. Telling lies to squirm your way out of trouble will not be tolerated in Limrock, especially in my orphanage!”
Lady Ola yanked Olivia with her. Olivia didn’t fight back as her head hung low. Out of the corner of her eye, Olivia saw Quinstella hiding behind the corner, smirking and snickering under her breath. Olivia felt her blood boil and she glared into the green eyes of the brat. Quinstella smirked at her as Lady Ola yanked her along before pushing her into a room. Olivia stumbled back and tripped on her feet. She landed on the cold, hard floor as the door calmly closed.
Lady Ola walked around her as Olivia’s head lifted and she gulped. She was all too familiar with the room she was in as Lady Ola took her seat in front of her large, crowded desk. Lady Ola’s office was the worse room in the whole orphanage. It was where girls got sent to when they were bad and given a punishment.
“Olivia,” Lady Ola started.
Dread set in and Olivia’s heart jumped into her throat.
“You know the rules. I give you a roof over your head, food, water, bathing privileges. And you thank me by lying and trying to blame my granddaughter to get out of trouble.”
“But she was the one who woke me up! She said —”
“Enough!” hissed Lady Ola.
Olivia didn’t dare speak another word. It was obvious that Lady Ola didn’t believe her and trying to was only making things grimmer for herself. Why couldn’t she just leave the wretched place? She was twenty-one, far past the leaving age of eighteen. Was she so terrified of leaving and having nowhere to go that she willingly wanted to stay?
Lady Ola stood and walked around her desk, her nails scraping on the wood. Olivia would’ve noticed how oddly sharp they were if it weren’t for the fear spiking through her. Lady Ola walked toward Olivia and the girl scrambled to her feet, backing away to the wall. The little light in the room made it hard to see clearly but Olivia could see Lady Ola’s figure approaching. She squeezed the fang in her pocket from the outside — hoping to find reassurance — with a tremor in her bones that she couldn’t shake.
“I should just claim you for myself,” Lady Ola hissed, strangely sounding like a snake.
That was when Olivia noticed, Lady Ola’s green eyes were glowing.
“L-Lady Ola?” Olivia’s voice quivered.
She stood against the wall, petrified as Lady Ola closed in on her with slow steps. She grinned evilly, and Olivia saw her mouth glow with the same eerie green. As daylight soon crawled through the gap in the curtains, Olivia saw Lady Ola’s arm. Instead of freckled tan skin, her armed shined with slime. Flesh dripped to the floor, revealing purple scales underneath, the skin of a snake.
“I can smell your fear, little girl. I can hear your heart thumping in your chest as if it’ll burst at any moment.” darkly Lady Ola said.
Olivia’s breath hitched in her throat. What was she seeing? she couldn’t tear her eyes from the pair of glowing green eyes staring back at her. How was it possible? Lady Ola chuckled amusedly. Olivia knew she loved to watch her prey break underneath her. Olivia was giving her the satisfaction as she squeezed the fang tightly.
“You’re. . . You’re not human,” Olivia whispered.
Lady Ola grinned as something shot out from behind her. Olivia didn’t have time to react as something slimy curled around her neck and yanked her toward Lady Ola. Olivia gagged and gasped desperately at the tightening around her neck and Lady Ola smiled, revealing a pair of sharp fangs. Olivia’s eyes widened as she grabbed the slimy thing and clawed at it. Slime and skin gathered under her fingernails and Lady Ola laughed at her useless attempts.
“All you’re doing is speeding up the progress.” Lady Ola murmured with a sickening kind tone.
Olivia felt her airways closing as she frantically looked around. Her eyes were hazy from the lack of air but realized the slimy thing around her neck was Lady Ola’s tail. The fang in her dress hit her leg and quickly Olivia reached down for it. The smile made it harder to grab onto as it fiddled between her fingers.
Olivia made a desperate attempt to force her hand down for it, wheezing with a gaping mouth. The fang touched her palm and Olivia snatched it out of her dress. Lady Ola’s glowing eyes landed on the fang as Olivia plunged it deep into Lady Ola’s neck. Lady Ola screeched in pain, spun around and threw Olivia back into the desk. Olivia cried out as her back hit the edge of the wood, cracking against the force. Tears blurred the girl’s sight while her back throbbed achingly. She tried to stagger to her feet but her back wouldn’t so much as let her sit up.
“You little. . .” Lady Ola chocked out as dark purple blood dripped down her mouth.
She gritted her teeth as she clutched the fang lodged into her neck. Olivia’s eyes went wide and watched in horror as Lady Ola ripped out the fang. She gasped for air, sighing as purple blood oozed through the hole and ran down her shoulder. Olivia struggled to her feet. When she finally stood, Lady Ola stepped closer, holding the bloody fang in the air.
She had a crazy murderous look in her eye and she smiled horribly. ”Oliviiiaaaa,”