The world that we live in, the one that we call home; it is a wretched and foul place to it's very core. Since I was a young girl with my hand clenched in my mother's tight grip, the people around me hated me and their eyes burned through me. No matter how much I tried to get used to them, it never got any better. Those were the days I would seek comfort from mother. But I also saw she received the same glares as well. She dealt with it. She did what was necessary to keep me safe.
To this day, their glares render weak in the knees. I have grown up enough to let it slide off my back and to fight through it; It never gets any easier though. The hatred they have for me is like a blazing fire. One that never extinguishes. One that burns me alive. I listen and hear their whispers when I walk by. I hear them condemn me as if I have committed thousands of atrocities. Every wrong doing my ancestors did, it is all my fault. People have been known to gossip, I don't even know if what they say is even true.
There were many times in my past that I ran away from home because I couldn't bear the thought of living this life anymore. But every single time, I always came back. Something strange and something powerful always drew me back. In those weak moments of mine, I came to realize how important mother was to me. I figured out how powerful a mother's love was in those moments. But even with that driving me to come home, I quickly began to fall in love with the solitude and the silence that getting away from the town gave me. For once, something made me feel alive.
Mother gave me the name, Kinthra. She told me that my name holds a great hidden power. A power over the weak. She told me to hold this power close to myself or others would seek to take it away from me. So I did.
I became no one. A nobody.
I lived in the same rotten house that I grew up in. Just on the edge of this town called Wayford. The outskirts was nothing like the city. Dirt and mud were more prominent on those that lived there, and family's were more broken than those in the center of the city. Wayford is a small city in a vast kingdom, although small in size, yes; the economy is strong as trade is the only thing that keeps this city alive. Other than my times in the markets, and my solitude trips through the local forest, I rarely go farther than home. A world lays beyond that I could never see. Oh how I wish I could see it.
For years and for generations, my family has been considered the Wayford outcasts. I remember when mother was still around and she took me away from my chores to go and watch the traders from foreign lands come and go dressed in their beautiful garbs with their luxurious gifts for the local lords and ladies. Mother treated it as if it were some grand event.
Mother was one of the only people who saw me for who I really was. She loved me as much as any mother could love her child. But now she is gone and I am left alone. She didn't die; at least in no way I could prove. But that is something I choose not to acknowledge. She disappeared into the night without as much of a trace that she existed. The only thing she left me was the memories I have of her, and this necklace that I wear. I don't understand much about this necklace. But it holds a piece of a raven colored crystal.
This crystal has always been mysterious and strange. At one moment, it can be as heavy as a boulder, than light as a feather another moment. I do not know why this happens. The only thing I do know is that it is something powerful. Something of ancient origin. I have conducted many tests to the crystal. I have tried to crack it, boil it, and burn it. Nothing has ever resulted in anything other than a injury of the same appearing on my body. When I tried to crack the crystal, a scar formed on my arm. Boiling and burning results in various burn scars on my back and neck.
What I do know though, is that this crystal has the knowledge of mother. I just know it. I don't know why, but I do. Tears swell as I remember that night when she disappeared. It was a rather strange occurrence for our family all together. We had visitors for the first time my entire childhood. They came in the middle of the night though. Men from the city came to our door with torches and knives in hand.
That night, mother had sent me to bed a whole hour earlier than before. She had probably believed I was asleep. But I wasn't asleep. That is the night I received this necklace. A night filled with nightmares and vile images in my head that kept me awake. Corpses hanging from a willow tree, the local river infested with drowned children, the city set ablaze as a demonic presence razed everything to the ground. As I laid in my bed, I heard the knock at the front door. I looked out the window of my room and saw only darkness. Soon my curiosity got the better of me and I walked myself over to my door where a crack in the wall let me oversee the front door. The house wasn't big. Just enough for mother and I to get by. A room for her, one for me, and then the area we cooked and played in. I couldn't make out the faces of the men that were there because they were hidden behind scary animal masks. A fox, boar, ox, and snake were some of these masks that I could make out, the others were shrouded in the thick darkness of the night. The moon was gone and even a torch couldn't light much.
They spoke very soft, if at all. They were there for some time until mother backed away from the door. She left the door open as she disappeared where I couldn't see. She gathered her things as the men watched from the doorway. Leering in and snooping every once and awhile when mother most likely wasn't attentive to them. She made her rounds through the house and then came to my door. I quickly and quietly made my way back to my bed. Mother always told me to never get out of bed at night, no matter what sounds I heard. I didn't want to be punished so I faked being asleep when she creaked open my door, letting only a small stream of candle light through.
I heard her footsteps stop by my bedside. I dared to not open my eyes at that time. I was so scared. So scared of her noticing I was awake. Of knowing that I saw the men at the door. I felt her lips kiss the side of my forehead. Her hushed words piercing me like an arrow. "I love you Kinthra". Her words choked with tears and regret. In hindsight, I should have said something. I should have done something. Anything to stop her; but she left the room not long after that. The last thing I heard was the door shutting as I fell asleep faster than any other night before.
I awoke in the same position as when mother was in my room the night before. Thinking over the weird exchange from mother, I hurried out of bed to ask her about it. Her room was empty and she wasn't in the house. All of her belongings were gone. Over the years since, I haven't been able to figure out what happened to her. I tell myself that she protected me from something, though I do not know what.
Something about the day of her disappearance has haunted me to this day. It was the same day that she gave me this pendant. Only hours before those men came was when she knelt down before me and told me about a story that I didn't understand at the time. This story was about this very pendant and how this piece of jewelry is an heirloom that has a deep history with our family. She told me about how this pendant was passed from generation to generation, and that it was now my time to have it.
As I clutch the pendant now, walking through the streets of Wayford, I find myself back to reality. "All that stuff is in the past, Kinthra. You need to stop thinking about that stuff." I thought to myself. I can't get it out of my mind, and no matter how much I try I can't lie to myself. Since mother's disappearance, it has been really rough. She disappeared when I was eight; and now that I am twenty, to this day I still struggle to survive. There were nights where I wished for father to come home. I never knew him, nor did I know where he went. I just didn't want to be alone any longer.
I didn't have the coin to buy much. Thankfully some vendor's pitied me and were willing to give me their rotten bread and spoiled milk. Those who paid any mind to what I was doing could tell by my stride and pace that I was in a hurry; and I was. I needed to make these trades and get back home quickly. I've made guesses about why they think that, probably something about me being a hermit or whatever. They would be partially right though. But the other bit was because I left my son alone and I knew it was almost time to feed him.
I left my nine month old son alone because no one knows he exists, and I understand the meaning of mother's protection. I named him Drocithir, and just like mother did for me, I would say the same. His name holds power. I left him sleeping inside a chest that I custom crafted with air holes that seem unsuspecting.
I have never married a man; nor have I laid with one. Being an outcast and a hermit, the people think that they can just take what they want from you, without repercussions. They think they own you, and have their way with you. It's always hard to think about, but during one of the Deep Darks, the nights when the moon was gone from the sky, I was suffering from my usual panic attacks. It was my moment of weakness. I was broken down. That was when this group of men broke into my home. They took me and they used me for their sick and twisted fantasies.
I have tried to come to terms with what had happened, though an evil act such as that has stained my view on this world. I remember their faces, their screams of laughter. I vividly remember the local saints son being apart of this group. Days after he joined the church with his father and was publicly told about how great he was and how faithful he was. But I knew the truth; I knew the demon that resided in him.
I got what I needed and finished my business at the market. I made my way back home thereafter. The light that seeped into my house grew dim when the door was shut and the curtains were drawn. I set my basket on the table and went straight for my room. Unlocking the decorative chest at the end of my bed, I opened the lid and saw Drocithir sleeping inside. I reached for him, picking him up and out of the chest. He awoke to my touch, I sat on my rickety bed with him in my arms, pulling my dress down a bit so I could feed him.
After just a few minutes he was done and I was able to hold him close for a bit longer than that. When I was ready, I laid him back into the chest so he can sleep some more. He definitely seemed less active today, but I guess that is good for me because I knew that I surely needed rest.
A loud crash and a bang came from the front door. I quickly shut the chest as quietly as I could and right as I was about to react, a blackened out linen was forcefully pulled over my head. A fear sunk into my gut, a feeling that I haven't felt in a very long while. Whoever was behind me wrapped their arms around my body to keep me from moving. I tried wiggling side to side and flailing my arms to hopefully break free from this person's hold; I struggled against what seemed like an immovable object. My sight was gone, but even with that I felt like I could see further than I ever could. I felt like I could see past the walls of my house and deep into the wilderness.
Someone behind me finally spoke; the words stung like poison. "Grab the bitch!". This voice sounded as if it came from an old gruff man. Someone who has seen countless battles, at least pretended to. "She is a witch and she must burn for her sins!" Another man continued. I recognized the voice of this one, it was the local priest himself.
I thrashed and tried my hardest to fight back, completely scared out of my own mind. They tried and struggled to hold me, a small five foot female and these men struggled against me. My mind shifted to Drocithir, that's when my fear turned to rage. Through their attempts to hold me in place, I felt the heat of a flame pressing against my face. Another came over and tried grabbing me, I clenched in a scream. I pushed harder than ever and bashed one of them up against a wall, I could hear the grunt and this person, coughing as my arm slammed against his chest.
I don't understand why they call me a witch. I have never done anything to anyone in my life. I have never done anything wrong. "Why does everyone pick on me!" I thought to myself. "I didn't do anything wrong! Why does everyone want to take everything from me!". My mother, my innocence, my son, my life.
I know what happens to those that are convicted of being witches. They are taken away and they never come back. My mind was racing with dark thoughts. Those things could happen to me, or even worse to Drocithir. I mustn't let them find him. I tried clenching my teeth. I couldn't let out cries or screams. No matter what, I couldn't wake Drocithir. Even though these men were trying to kill me, I felt where their hands went. I reluctantly shouted, my own fear getting the better of me.
My thrashing stopped. The world around felt as if it had stopped. It took but a moment. A single moment where my mind completely shut itself off from the world. I could feel my own heart beat. Every beat made my body twitch. Every beat tingled my numb body. Every beat resounded in my head like a lions roar. It was so loud I could believe my ears would burst. The pain these men put on me lifted and their grasp on me is gone. Not even a single floorboard creaked. I felt as if I was standing beside myself, but a great attraction pulled me back into my body. The pain, the tears, it all came rushing back. I ripped off the linen from my head and I looked around for those that attacked me. I was now by the front door, they dragged me out of my room. The floors, walls and ceiling were bathed in crimson. My clothes completely drenched. A thick liquid ran down my tattered dress. I was shocked at the scene, I could hear my own voice whimper under my breath. Never in my life have I seen such a vile sight like this before. I wanted to scream, but I bite my lip until I drew blood.
I bent over and hurled most of anything that was in my stomach. "What happened" I thought. I couldn't be what they called me. I'm not a witch. The thoughts swirled in my head, I could feel the room started to spin. I had to grab the table near me to prevent myself from collapsing. My body grew weak and I couldn't help but drop to my knees. Blood soaking through my dress and onto my skin. I wept in that spot for a long time; I wept because I knew my life was over. No one would believe me. That's when I remembered that this is the vile world we live in.
From what I could see through my tears, my body moved on it's own. I started caressing the crimson dyed lumps of flesh and the meat that laid on the floor. Those lumps was all that was left of those who tried to hurt me. The skin and bones, muscles and organs, all were mashed or ground to dust. Barely anything was left.
I was there on my knees, crying in the blood. It felt like hours. The blood that laid on the floor remained and I stared at my vague reflection. Barely anything was distinguishable in the thickness of the blood. I could see my face, this damned face of mine that all those in this damned town hates so much. This damned town has cursed my family and has killed my mother. I felt infuriated, I didn't know how to handle this pain. I looked around frantically, looking for answers. Then, outside my door stood another man under a tree. He watched me intensely with a spear at his side and a dagger wrapped around his leg. A surge of adrenaline came over me, I got to my feet and bolted right out of the door. I was scared and angry. My eyes were red with emotions that I haven't felt in a long time.
"Why me!? Why!?!" I shouted at myself, half expecting an answer.
As I ran through the doorway my dress got caught and snagged on something which ripped it right up to my thighs. I never touched the door, but a force of some kind slammed the door shut so hard behind me that it echoed against the surrounding forest. The windows all around the house blew out and shattered, blowing shards of glass across the road and into our makeshift chicken pen.
I was nearly out of sight of my house before I noticed it. There were town guards that scattered the area and were watching me. A few of them sprinted after me with their chainmail armor clattering against their bodies. I became so focused on the guards that I never noticed an archer behind me, take aim. The arrow grazed my neck and planted itself right into the dirt in front of me. The cut stung fiercely, but I knew I had to press on. If I stopped they would kill me. "Why me!" I muttered under my breath. This was all so sudden. "Why now!"
Without thinking, I ran into Wayford. I don't know why I would do that, especially covered in blood, especially since everyone there wants me dead. Running down the main road followed by the guards, I ducked into various alleys until I sprinted into the local church. The guards chased me inside without hesitation of any interference with anyone else's prayer. I desperately looked around, I was now surrounded by guards. Some of these men even looked like mercenaries, and definitely not local.
The pain in my neck began to grow. The cut on my neck was more open than I realized when I put my hand over it. My breath became erratic and the crystal around my neck became heavier. It felt as if it had weighed like a mountain. The band broke and it slipped off my neck and clanged to the floor. My legs weak, dropped me to the floor.
I could see that the beautiful design of the crystal was untouched and completely undamaged from the fall. I felt a pressure on every bone in my body, the crystal glowed and hummed with power. It vibrated against the floor. I reached for it and as my hand drew closer I could feel the world around me slowing down. Everything felt as if it was frozen in place. The crystal rolled towards me and the band reached to my slow approach and magically attached itself to my arm, attracted to my grasp. I gripped the crystal tightly as the surrounding guards attacked from all around me. Some of their spears broke and shattered to splinters as I screamed with malice. This scream echoed in my own head, an explosion of black smoke caused the support of half the church to fold under the weight of the building. The entire front side of the church collapsed in on itself.
The explosion knocked me back and everyone around me off their feet. I quickly got up afterwards, somehow not dazed and searched for an exit. My arm felt free, I looked over and the necklace was gone. "Fuck!" I whispered to myself as the smoke filled my lungs and I continued to cough uncontrollably. I felt as if I couldn't breath. I scrambled through the smoke and against the rubble and debris to find the crystal.
My mother gave me that necklace and I don't want a single soul having it except me. It's the only thing that I have left of her. I pried both heavy and light pieces of debris aside without thinking. The power that I once felt from it was now gone. I stopped and froze as pain crept over my leg. I stumbled forward and felt a liquid trickle down across my foot. I looked and saw one of the guards piercing his spear through my leg. He twisted it and I cried out.
There was a large piece of a pillar behind me that i tried crawling up against. This guard pushed his spear through my leg until the blade hits the ground. I whimpered and cried. I was just a girl who minded her own business. I never asked for this. A few other guards ran up behind the one attacking me and they pulled me away from the debris. With their arms lifting me up, they dragged my legs against the rubble, gagged my mouth, and covered my head with another blacked out linen.
My knees and feet were dragged across stone, my hands and feet bound. Hard stones or vegetables were thrown at me and knocked against my head. I could hear the angry shouting from a nearby crowded road. They were shouting at me. They called me any name they could think of. They called me a monster.
I was dragged for what felt like an eternity. I felt the pain in my legs being dragged across broken glass. We moved indoors as I felt my legs drag across soaked wood. They stood me up against a pillar, I knew they brought me home, but why. They rebound my arms and legs around the pillar very tightly. Whenever I would move, it felt like my limbs would pop or become dislocated. They pulled the linen off my head; I was right, I was dragged back home. I looked around and saw through the broken windows that there was a crowd amassing more and more people. The people were throwing things at my house. Straw, rotten food, rocks, dirt. Anything they could to shame me.
The guards finished tying me up, they ignored my pleas for mercy. Another man of seemingly high standing stepped into my house with a lit torch. He looked disgusted at the floor and watched his step as to try to avoid stepping on any of the lumps of meat. This man dropped the torch at my feet, even though the floor was soaked with blood it caught surprisingly fast. He took a quick step towards me, jamming his thumbs deep into my eye sockets. The pain was immense, my sight darkened to black. I could feel the blood running down my face from my eye sockets.
The sickness I felt in that moment overwhelmed me and caused my to throw up anything that was left in my stomach right onto my chest and feet. I panicked, screaming and sobbing, begging for my life. I could feel the fire catching and the heat burning my legs. I tried everything to put the flames out, but in my situation, everything I did was useless. The fire was quick to spread, engulfing me entirely. The sensation I felt was excruciating; my insides boiling and skin melting.
In the end, I never did find that necklace after I lost it in the rubble. I never got to pass it on. Through the wicked flames, I thought I could hear Drocithir crying in the chest. They never found him, but now he was going to die with me. I let the pain take me, we will leave this world together.
I sensed something strange. A cold draft from the cosmos. It was a heavy presence, a familiar yet foreign one. Even in my blindness, I could see a handsome young man. He wore a white tunic that was ripped open and his chest bare, strands of fabric hanging from the affected area. I found myself lost with words about this man, but his hair was long. There was also something strange about him, an aura that calmed my nerves.
A warm voice called out to me, "Kinthra". His voice echoed all around me, as if the whole universe was talking to me. My senses heightened and I felt everything in the vicinity. My home was completely engulfed in flames, the crowd cheering for my death. Every living being around me gave off a 'light', there was more than I realized.
The man that stood before me began to fade as he held out his hand, and in his grasp was my lost necklace. I tried reaching out for him, trying to take back what was mine. The man faded away into darkness before I could have it. The darkness took me.
I felt disassociated with life. It felt like my body floated endlessly through the cosmos. My mind hyperactive with all these questions that I don't have an answer for. But at the same time, I felt content without knowing. Is this what it means to die; this is the question I most curiously asked myself. This day, my whole life passed by so fast.
A powerful force pulled my soul forward. In my contentment, I tried to fight against it, but a light blinded me and I lost my will to struggle and I was pulled back into my painful existence.
I shot up quickly, having been laying on my back on hard stone. My sight was still gone. Although I could still see the vibrations of sound and the aura of life around me. This all felt, surreal. I attempted to feel around where I was. The cool air hit my face and it would feel amazing, even though I could feel bandages covering my skin. As I felt around, my hand splashed in tiny puddles of water that lay still in the stone around me. The echoes of drops hitting the stone or other puddles resounded in my head. Behind these echoes was a soft and muffled cry of an infant.
"I see that you are finally awake". An old and calming voice from a man came from beside me. I never saw his light, it was soft and barely visible. This old man came over to me and put his hand on my shoulder, I winced as I readied for the pain but none came. Only when he released my shoulder did it come.
"Who are you?" I asked. "What happened?"
"A lot of questions from one so hurt." The old man said. The babies cry grew louder.
"Is that my boy?" I asked.
"Yes-yes." He shifted. "To answer your questions; I'm nobody. Just an old hermit whose days are numbered." He said.
"And what happened! I was burning!" I pleaded for answers.
"You were consumed by fire, yes. But so were those that sought your death." He said.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"You destroyed everything." He replied. "I watched as you rampaged through Wayford. That's why I took your son before they brought you back to your house."
I could feel a burning in my stomach, an anger boiling inside me. But relief quickly subdued that anger. If it wasn't for this man, Drocithir would have burned and I cannot bear that thought. I remember hearing Drocithir's cries within the chest, but was that my imagination?
"Wh.. what do you mean I destroyed everything?" I asked through my distress.
The cries from Drocithir started to quiet down to a low whimper. "You were in the blaze, for no longer than ten minutes before a magical and powerful force erupted. This force blasted a section of Wayford apart, leaving a scar upon the land and burning a section of the city. A crater also now rests where your house used to be." he said. I felt a weakness swell within me. I felt like I lost the strength inside me to move. I killed all those people.
He continued, "Many others survived, but those that were at your burning were scorched alive. When the area was clear, that's when I retrieved you, and brought you here to my home".
It took me a minute or two to process all this. But then my brain acted automatically. "Why?" I asked.
I could sense his energy shift again, "Why what?" He asked me, the confusion in his voice was apparent.
"Why did you save us? You knew what we were, or what they chose to call us. Yet you still saved us." I said.
"Because, this black magic that they spend their lives fearing and hiding from is neither evil nor good." He said. He hesitated, but continued when he probably recognized my confusion. "There is a power; an aura within us all. To some, it manifests more strongly while others cannot control it at all".
I didn't understand this. I questioned him about it, and only riddles did I receive. He continues, "We lost touch with this power in ages past. The kings of old have outlawed this power and those laws have since been forgotten to time".
"Then how do you know?" I asked.
"I am from that time, you are but an infant to me. I learned how to harness the truth of this power within us and I stave off death." He said.
I collected my thoughts for a moment, "How can you prove that this power exists." I questioned.
"Even without your eyes, you can still see me, can you not?" He asked.
I tried feeling around my eyes, but only felt cloth. Where my eyes used to be I could feel my fingers going into my head before the cloth stopped my finger from going any further. "How did you know?" I asked hesitantly.
"Because Kinthra; I blinded myself long ago when I too saw the darkness of this world. A world so ugly I couldn't bear it." He said.
When he said my name, I froze. "I never told you my name before old man".
"Your aura can speak many things. If you can understand this power, you can see without eyes, listen without ears, taste or speak without a mouth. You can be one with nature and the universe." He said.
He came near me, I could feel the heat of his body. He gave me Drocithir, "He deserves to be with his mother". His whimpers now became completely silent. His calm breathing was a wonderful thing to feel. I tried caressing his face but a layer of cloth separates me from him. I could hear the old man grunt as he sat himself down. I looked to him, "This power; can I learn to control it?".
"In due time..."
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