A v a r i c e | E l e v e n
E l e v e n
❝Quick, be sound;
the witch is found.❞
ALL AROUND ME PEOPLE GASPED FROM Marquise Trill’s outrageous attempt at saving this horrific beast. I, however, still needed time to fully comprehend what had just occurred before my very eyes.
The sweet and perfect Marquise Trill, the one who baked goods for little kids and always made me feel welcomed into her home. Marquise Trill, who might be the only woman my mother is truly jealous of. Marquise Trill, Lydia’s mother...just saved her daughter’s murderer.
Not only did she save the beast, but she risked her life for the thing.
I now understood what Edward had meant, what everyone had meant, when they said she had lost her mind.
An uproar occurred, everyone was angry at Marquise Trill of course. The lycanthrope we had captured had chose this time to lash out, and because everyone was still slightly stunned, he managed to escape his binding and flee into the woods. Luckily, no one was injured.
Marquise Trill fell to the ground. “A witch!” someone wailed. “She’s a witch!” Everyone began chanting it until castle guards came up from behind her and dragged her along. We made a pathway for them through the crowd. Marquise Trill was crying, her hair all over the place and her eyes wild. She looked at me, as if she was in pain.
“Cerise,” her voice was hoarse. “Please, let me explain.”
I didn’t say anything back to her, just watched her be dragged away. I wasn’t sure exactly what they were going to do to her, but it couldn’t be anything good. She was accused of witchcraft, after all. No one survived that, not even someone of high status.
I watched her being dragged away until she walked passed Edward and her husband. She desperately tried getting away then, and yelled at Marquis Trill to do something to get her free. He stared at her blankly, and Edward turned around and walked away.
I did the same thing.
What had happened to her?
I walked far away from the crowd until I was alone, by myself. And then I cried.
I couldn’t imagine the pain Lydia’s mother was in. They were so close to each other. In fact, Lydia probably shared more about her life with her mother than with me. I wasn’t nearly as close to my family. So Lydia’s mother must be in extraordinary, unbearable pain.
I just didn’t understand why she would protect the creatures that had taken her daughter away from her. I couldn’t comprehend. There was no reason. Marquise Trill had lost her mind. She had to have, otherwise none of what just happened would’ve happened.
I stood up and stumbled a bit before regaining my balance and walking on. I wasn’t sure when, but Marquise Trill was going to burn at the stake for this. I didn’t want her to. I wanted to help her, to comfort and console her. I wanted to understand her. But I couldn’t. I didn’t think anyone could, really.
The crowd dispersed now that there wasn’t anything to look at. I found myself retracing my footsteps from Lydia’s death day until I had reached the spot where her body once lied. It was on top of a hill, and a wooden cross lied there in memory of her.
I sat down next to it and stared out at my town.
My own feelings were mixed. I was sad. I was confused. I was angry. I was clueless. I was aloof.
But as I sat there, my feelings slowly formed into one unmistakable emotion: anger. Still, anger seemed like too kind of a word. I was enraged. My entire demeanor shifted. All I could think about were those stupid lycanthropes and Lydia’s lifeless body.
Kill them. Kill everyone.
A voice told me. I wanted to fulfill the request. I stood up, not even thinking about it. My feet moved of their own accord. I felt powerful, invincible, impotent. Nothing would stand in my way. I stomped to town. I wasn’t certain why, but I knew I needed to do something. I was itching to wrap my hands around someone’s throat. It didn’t matter to me who it was.
It was unlucky for Cain to be near.
I didn’t think, I did.
“Cerise!” he called. I looked over at him, but I wasn’t really looking at him. He was hazy; just a shadow of a person. I knew who he was, but I only focused on the bad things I knew about him. “Cerise?” he questioned, stalked toward me.
Kill him. Kill him. Kill him.
My jaw tightened, my fists clenched, and I was running towards him.
I deflected my thoughts, rejected the need to kill. I stopped myself midway to him, clenched and unclenched my fists and then quickly turned around. I walked away from him, power-walked and hoped to God that he wouldn’t follow me.
He, of course, did.
I calmed myself down. What was that, just now? That... power surge. I had never felt like that. I of course had felt angry before, but nothing quite like that. I wanted to kill something. I wanted to kill Cain, and for no real reason.
I took a few deep breaths and let myself relax a bit. That had to be the dark side, what Mother and Lilith had spoken of. I shuddered from the thought of it. I had felt so in control, so right. It was disturbing how good it felt.
I couldn’t tell Lilith about this. She would think I was on the dark side, and then she wouldn’t tell me about the lycanthropes.
I would keep this to myself.
“Cerise!” Cain had finally caught up to me. “What was that, just now?”
“What do you mean?” I lied fluently, and looked up at him innocently. I even went ahead and batted my eyelashes, something Lydia used to do to me all the time in order to get her way.
Cain looked confused. “Just then, you were running at me and you had this...wild look in your eyes-”
“No I didn’t.” I told him. Cain stared at me, and I stared right back confidently. “No. I. Didn’t.” I said with conviction. Cain blinked slowly at me, frowned, and then nodded.
“Right. No you didn’t. I must...I must be confusing you for someone else.” He said. I nodded, and we kept walking together. I felt bad, honestly. I was new to this compulsion thing, and I remembered what Lilith said about keeping it on the down-low, but Cain was the last person I wanted to become suspicious about my behavior.
Cain shook his head. “Sorry,” he apologized for nothing. “I just wanted to say that if you’re ready to talk, we can talk now. After that whole fiasco, I think you’d ’ought to know a little bit more about the beasts.”
I nodded. “Alright. Where should we go to talk?”
“My cabin.” Cain replied, and began to lead me to what I had presumed was the cabin I had gone to in order to talk to Ian. It wasn’t this cabin, however. In fact, Cain’s cabin was so well-hidden behind trees and pines and bushes that I passed by it every time I walked to Lilith’s. My stomach dropped at the thought that he might’ve seen me, but I shook my head. He would’ve said something if he had, wouldn’t he?
The inside was just as how I expected it to be: not clean, not messy. Somewhere in between. His home was furnished with guns and weapons and rustic-looking tables and chairs. It didn’t smell pleasant, either. My home smelled like cinnamon, whereas his smelt like smoke. And from what I could see, nothing was burning.
I kept to myself mostly while I was there. Cain had me sit down in one of the chairs, and then sat across from me. “I would offer you tea,” he told me. “But, I unfortunately haven’t got any.”
I waved him off. “It’s fine.”
He got right down to business after that. “Tell me everything you know about the lycanthropes.” He ordered calmly, but curiously.
I told him everything I had discovered so far, which didn’t seem like much when spoken aloud. He nodded, though and made a few “hmm” noises every now and then, which encouraged me to keep telling him more and more. “You don’t know anything,” Cain concluded. I frowned, opened my mouth to disagree, but he cut me off. “Don’t. I’ll tell you what I know now.”
I nodded and leaned back into my chair.
“As Ian told you, lycanthropes are supernatural or paranormal beings. But there’s more to them than just that. From what I’ve learned throughout the years, lycanthropes aren’t just born. They don’t just appear out of nowhere. They’re made.” Cain explained to me. He was lent forward, his arms resting on his knees and his eyebrows furrowed.
I frowned. “‘Made’?” I repeated. “How is that possible? Who ‘made’ them?”
Cain shrugged and leaned back. “It’s hard to tell, really. I have no clue what other supernatural beings are out there, but I have noticed that wherever lycanthropes are, witches are around too.”
“Witches?” I said slowly, thoughtfully. “So you think witches created them? For why? How do you know?”
Cain laughed, but it wasn’t out of humor. It was dry and sarcastic. “You ask a lot of questions, don’t you?” He ran a hand down his face with sigh. “I’m near certain of it. I can’t be sure why they create them. For spite? Protection?” Cain shrugged. “A few years ago I ran into the same situation your kingdom is in. The only way to kill the lycanthropes is to kill their leader; the witch.”
My stomach dropped. “They can’t be killed? Not even if you cut their head off?”
Cain shook his head.
I blinked. “But just earlier, you were going to cut off that lycanthrope’s head. You were going to kill it.”
Cain gave me a meaningful look that had just a touch of smugness behind it. “We did that because 1) we need the townspeople on our side. And 2) it brought out the witch, didn’t it?”
“Marquise Trill?” I questioned, and shook my head. “No. She’s not the witch.”
Cain guffawed and leaned back in his chair, throwing his hands up. “You saw how she reacted; of course she is.”
I was still in denial. “But...but I know her. I grew up with her. Sure, she’s a little lost in the head right now, but I don’t think she’s a killer. Especially not of her own daughter.”
Cain actually had a pitying look now and tilted his head to the side while gazing at me with his deep blue eyes. “So maybe she was a good witch, and now she’s bad. It happens. Why else would she protect the beast that killed her child? A lot of people, even before today, have been saying she’s been acting...weird. Witchy. Mumbling things to herself and spouting strange accusations. And, whenever dark magic occurs somewhere, especially this type of dark magic, it kills everything around it. Besides the creator, of course. Marquise Trill probably did this in the woods, but the death follows wherever she goes. All the plants in the pub are dead, as well as the plants in her home and backyard.” Cain shook his head. “She’s the witch.”
I had to admit, all of the information fit. I had learned about the dark and light side; maybe she’d fallen to the dark. Maybe she created the beasts and sent them on a rampage, destroying the town. But why? She no reason to do that.
Of course, Cain had said she might create the beasts for protection, but protection against what exactly?
I still had questions, but the pieces fit together. She had to be the witch.
“You have to exclude the daughterly feelings you have towards her, and see her from someone else’s point of view.” Cain told me. I did just that, and he was right. From anyone else’s perspective, it was obvious that she was the one behind it all.
I sighed. “I believe you,” I nodded. “I just...I don’t know. I just wonder why she would do it, ya know? Why would she kill people? Why would she kill Lydia?”
Cain bit the inside of his cheek in thought. “I don’t know, Cerise. She must’ve gotten angry about something. Maybe she killed Lydia in order to deter people from believing it was her.” Cain shrugged. “There’s no way to know.”
I bit my lip. “What else, then? What else do you know about them?”
“They don’t spare anyone, so don’t ever think you’re special. If you see a lycanthrope, get the hell away from it.” He said this like he thought I thought I was special, which I took offense to.
He raised an eyebrow. “That’s not what I saw a week ago when you just stood there in front of the thing.”
I rolled my eyes and crossed my legs with a huff. “I didn’t stand there because I thought I was special; I stood there because I was immobile. I was in shock.”
“Uh-huh,” Cain didn’t believe me. I didn’t care if he didn’t believe me, because it was the truth.
“Why not just tell me this before?” I asked.
“You wouldn’t have believed me that the Trill woman was a witch. You needed proof. I figured you’d be fine after seeing what you saw.” He answered swiftly. It was true, of course. I was still kind of doubtful, but I wouldn’t tell him that.
“Well, thank you.” I nodded.
“Telling me,” I elaborated. “There’s just one more thing I’m kind of lost on.” Cain nodded for me to go on. “You said the witches ‘create’ the lycanthropes, right? What are they made out of, then? To me, they look an awfully lot like wolves and bears.”
Cain’s expression blanched and his eyes darkened. He looked away from me.