Lila breathed heavily as she moved through the trees, her once silky pale hair matted with dirt and blood. A heavy downpour of rain began, and she was soaked down to the bone within seconds. The forest was dead silent, except for the heavy sound of rain pattering and an occasional scream and yell that would sound dimly through all the rain.
Her blood-stained clothes stuck to her skin, and her feet dragged behind her as she stumbled forward, one step at a time. The back of Lila’s hand came back crimson as she swiped her mouth, trying to make the sour, metallic taste go away. Clenched tightly in her hands was the handle of the battered whip, the limp tip sagging against the forest floor.
“Almost there,” Lila breathed into the rain. “Almost...” The rain slapped harshly against the wounds that afflicted Lil’s body, and with every step she took, she felt like she was being cut. Over and over and over, deeper and deeper. Gritting her teeth, Lila took one step. Then another. And her knees collapsed, bringing her whole body onto the forest floor. No, she thought as she weakly lay there shivering in the cold rain. I have to save them. She didn’t realize she had spoken out loud until a snide voice answered her.
“You poor thing, how are you suppose to rescue them when you can’t even rescue yourself?” Lifting her head, Lila saw the pitying face of a familiar brown-eyed man. He held an umbrella above them, and for the briefest moment, Lila thought she saw a hint of sadness in his eyes, but it disappeared just as fast as it came, replaced by a smirk.
“You,” Lila said, her voice filled with venom. “What have you done with them.”
“Oh, nothing yet.” He gave her an unhinged smile, causing shivers down her spine. Shaking in the effort, Lila pushed herself up, struggling to stand up. Watching her struggling movements, the man made no attempt to help her but continued talking.
“You could save them, you know?” He told her, shaking his head. “None of you have to suffer. All you have to do is drink this.” Pulling out a glass vial, he swayed it in front of her face, the amber-colored liquid inside sloshing around. Lila finally managed to get to her feet and held her head high, giving off an aura of confidence despite the state she was in.
“How do I know you will not harm them even after I drink this?”
“Do you have another choice? It’s either this or they die.” Lila was silent for a few moments before she snatched the vial from the man’s hand and stood to her fullest height and looked down on the man, even though he was taller than her by quite a bit.
“I trust that you fulfill your end of the deal,” Lila commanded, her grace and beauty seeping off of her, evident through all the dirt, blood, and pain. She seemed to radiate the energy of Empress. At that, she uncapped the tiny vial and gulped down all of the amber liquid, her face contorting in pain as the liquid burned a trail of fire down her throat. Lila held on with her last strength. Her head held high as she stood there, darkness crawling at the edges of her vision.
“You will never win,” Lila darkly stated before the darkness consumed her. The ground feels so...soft, and I’m so tired, Lila thought, straining to keep her eyes open. A sudden pain shot through her, and everything went black.
The man stood there silently as he stared down at the body of the woman, his face devoid of emotion. Rain pelted his umbrella even harder as if to blame all of this on him.
“Don’t worry, Lila,” The man spoke, weariness echoing in his voice. “They will be safe. As safe as they can be...from you."