I grasped the shaft of an arrow, tearing it from my arm. I had never been in pain before. Cuts and bruises had been the extent of my experience until the clergy’s torture. But even that was nothing compared to this.
Fire was thrashing through my body. My skull was vibrating with the voices. Blood was trickling down my gown.
“Kill him!” roared the beast.
I was very tempted. If I was going to kill someone, why not a man who was trying to kill me? I had to. I was desperate to.
But. I . Couldn’t.
I gritted my teeth, tears of frustration spilling from my eyes. “No.”
But I knew the beast could hear my exhaustion. He sensed how close I was to breaking down.
Another arrow whistled past.
“Can’t people leave me alone?!" I screamed, whirling around. it was some greedy hunter, eager to take down the mighty beast of the forest.
“He’s nine meters away bow drawn three escapes four birds root in your path arrow loosed arrow fl- dodge right.”
I moved to the right, shoulder slamming into a tree trunk as I fought back my fury. Or was it the beast’s? All the voices were a jumble. I couldn’t make any of it out.
“Go away,” I said softly, closing my eyes. “Please go away.”
“Come with me,” growled the huntsman from his brush.
“I’ll kill you,” I said. The beast’s voice fit mine perfectly. And it scared me. “I will kill you if you try anything, if I want to or not.” He’ll make me.
“I wont’ be if people will just. Leave me. Alone.” My knees gave way and I fell to all fours. Everything was numb and fiery.
What are you doing to me?! I demanded of the bloody voice. Are you taking over? Is it just in my head?
“But I need you to be dangerous,” the voice whispered. It was close. Too close. He was standing over me.
“How- I know... I should know everything...” I said, voice cracking. But I couldn’t know everything. The voices were too loud, too many, too hazy.
The huntsman’s gloved hand pressed against the crown of my head, the other grasping my chin. He rolled back my head until we were looking into each other’s eyes.
“Sorry, princess,” said the huntsman. “But we need the beast.”