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I whirled around, terrified. It was indeed who I thought it was. That was not a good thing, no, it was the opposite of a good thing. I wanted to run, hide somewhere safe again. But seeing Adelle unconscious on the floor made me regret ever thinking in such a way.

“I do not wish to see you, Rynic,” I said, cold as the winds outside, “you will know me no longer.”

His eyes were thunderous swirls of anguish. All I wanted was his leave, and my spite may make him unwelcome. He took my purity, and my pride. It was well deserved.

I felt his anger boiling over. I would not give him the time of day, nor my full gaze.

“You will die here, and so will our child. I cannot let that happen.” Orynicus plucked me right where I stood, I squirmed and thrashed. “I know you do not think well of me. I did not think you would go this far.”

I felt moisture welling up in my eyes. Orynicus took me out into the rain, and my tears were washed away, like whispers into a scream. “I will never forgive you if you take me back there,” to my second hell, “I will hate you to eternity’s end.”

“Then so be it.” I felt his true, monstrous form ripping at his skin, as he said those words, I became ill. The sight was as deplorable, grotesque, evil as the first time I saw it.

The waking image of Adelle was that of my first reaction. She was frozen in fear as she awoke. It was the face of death. One she would not soon forget. I prayed for her, and myself. When I felt the whirling winds upon my face, I knew we were in the air. There was nothing like the feeling. My nausea worsened. I knew I was going to be ill, and I was going to be ill right above the village square. I had to close my eyes as I hacked up bile and empty meals. There was no color at first, for I had not eaten a crumb since a week before. Then there was blood. So much blood. I was afraid the demon inside me would eat me from the inside to the out. My hope told me it would not happen soon. Maybe I was mistaken. I used all my energy in that moment to pray to the Heavens. I hoped they understood my mistake, that I was bewitched, tricked. If it were enough, I would kiss the Heavenly floors when I arrived.

Ticklish flutters of my eyelashes upon my cheeks. I stirred in my rest. It was warm. The sound of silence wrapped around me like a blanket. Peaceful, it was. The state of half-waking kept me aware, yet stagnant. I began to feel the touch of silk covers underneath a soft comforter. A buttery aroma filled the air. I rolled over where I slept. The jolting bump of feeling another body shook me awake.

I shot up and looked to the side. There he was, sitting quietly, nonchalantly reading a book of Children’s stories. It was as if I never left. But I had, and I would never forget what happened. No false normalcy would convince me.

A lurching feeling in my gut had me clutching my stomach. Ill. I was going to be ill. I hated the feeling. Helpless. That was what the creature inside made me. Being helpless was not my nature. It terrified me.

“Eat something,” Orynicus ordered, gesturing to the bedside table. Upon it was a pile of buttered biscuits. I turned away. He would not tell me what to do. Maybe I wanted to be ill today. If it would spite him I might do anything. For he lied to me.

I stood from the bed. “I do not accept food from monsters.”

His eyes were drilling a hole right through my pale back. If it pleased him, I would not eat another biscuit, no matter how good they smelled, how they filled the room with that scent. My ill gut was going to take out its purpose soon. There would be blood. I hated the sight of it, that it came from me. It was all so vulgar.

“Sooner or later, you will eat,” he retorted, moving on the bed as he did. I felt that he was right behind me. His hand traced the line of my collarbone. I shivered.

Orynicus brushed past, leaving the room to me. The space was large. It could house a small village. Surrounding the space were stained-glass lamps. Above the bed was a towering ceiling, with cabinets and bookshelves built into the walls. Each wall was decorated with a mural. There was not a staircase in sight. It was true for the entire building. When I was nimbler I simply scaled the walls down. So long as I carried extra weight, that would prove too difficult a task. I could not do such things without severely injuring myself.

I moved away from the bed, towards an area in the room with velvety chairs and sofas. There on the glass table before them was another tray of food. I scowled. They were trying to influence me, and it was working.

I lounged on one of the charcoal-colored sofas and stared longingly at the biscuits. In my heart I knew I was too lucky. There were many humans that were not given such luxury before they were killed. My mind couldn’t erase the image I saw in that dreaded place.

A woman was in a cage, her chest ripped open as she screamed in agony. Her child was in the hands of one of those dreadful beings. In the next picture it depicted the woman’s head being ripped off, and feasted on as the child was taken to a nursery. It was disgusting. And it was my fate. With the image burned into my skull, I was caught off guard. A slight noise in the darkened library told me I was not alone. So I hid, and I took the book with me as I fled the building.

Butter. The scent wasn’t so seductive, enticing after reminding myself. I couldn’t bask in the opulent offerings, the distractions. I had to escape. In my state, it would take no less than a miracle, and for that I was hoping, but hope would only take me so far. So far, it was not enough.

With heavy lids, I tried my hand at standing once again. The nausea was unbearable, but I could not let myself be ill.

I made my way to the windows, boarded up to keep me inside. I looked through the stripped wood, trying to get an idea of where I might find something of use. Without an able-body, I was at the full mercy of these creatures. I needed to be more cunning. I needed a proper plan.

Outside the window was an overlook of the Town Square. It was far, twisting hills of Rosemary and Sage littering the hills below. Only a small dirt path showed the way one might walk there on foot. It was overgrown, shaded. I had no trouble escaping in the dead of night last time, but now, Maligni Soldiers patrolled the area. I wasn’t aware Rynic had such influence, until he sent Soldiers after me, that is. He lived in a modest cottage atop a hill, away from his town. I assumed he was a hermit. I was no longer certain what he might be.

Clank. A glass of the sweet, addictive juice Rynic shared with me hit the dresser as if it were angry with the surface.

He faced me, pleading. “At least drink. You’re going to be ill.”

“I’m ill just seeing your face.”

I looked intently at the boards on the window, though I wasn’t particularly engaged anymore.

He laughed a breathy laugh. It was insincere. “Do not lie.”

My nostrils flared. His pompous attitude only made me angrier. “I should say the same to you.”

I heard him approaching, and I made every effort to evade him. His face showed it hurt him deeply.

“I have not lied to you,” he argued, getting increasingly more frustrated. His eyes were nearing the blackness of coal. Soon he would turn into the monster I knew he was. Orynicus heaved a sigh. “I only waited to tell you as you were ready.”

I backed further away from him, he followed in step.

“It is dishonesty, regardless,” my feet slowly ran out of space to walk away, "if you mean to kill me, please do it quickly,” I added, frantic.

I was not sure I might find a way out. I would surely die in this room. Hammering in my chest was my heart. He came closer, closer still.

“Do you really take me for a killer?”

All was quiet as the question hung in the air. “I do not take, I know,” I confirmed, “for it was written, I have seen it in the Library.”

The flash of confusion in his eyes was brief, but there. It was as if there were a loose end he had forgotten about. One I found. Confusion turned to reservation, and I settled on his eyes. They were studying me, looking for something.

“That is a Library filled with lore, no?” he asked, as if confirming suspicion. I nodded. He frowned for a moment. “Those works are fairy tales. Nothing but.”

I surveyed him quietly, searching for a tell that he was being dishonest. I saw nothing. Still, I did not believe a word.

“There is always some truth in fairy tales,” I contested, “and I am not partial to the fates I have seen.”

I tried to push the gruesome image from my head, but it was all too present, too powerful. It seemed as if the image itself had a dark energy about it. I knew that as soon as I opened the book.

A familiar feeling danced upon my skin. It was unforgettable. That vibration, that rush, it could only be described as magic. When I was with Orynicus the slight sensation would happen often. Emotion tended to be the culprit. Given the horrors I knew he was capable of, it was hard to imagine he felt any real emotion.

“What you have seen is no longer real, Cadia, they are not real” he said as if trying to convince himself, “and if you cannot believe me, that is fine. Just promise you will not run, that you will take care of yourself, and I will leave you be.”

I watched the man as he retreated, sinking into the bed. His defeated expression, his empty eyes, and yet, he was still beautiful. Oh God. What was I thinking? I was not thinking. That was it. I was deprived of food, sleep, and comfort for weeks. Of course I would be thinking out of turn.

“Cadia?” I was startled from my thoughts. Orynicus was looking intently at me, hope in his eyes. I realized I had not responded. He likely thought I considered letting him stay. I was not considering the notion. In fact, I would more likely escape without him breathing over my shoulder, but he knew that. It was a test of trust, and I did not trust him. He would soon not trust me.

I cleared my throat. “I think that would be wise.”

His once hopeful expression became downcast. “You must promise.”

“I… I promise,” I lied.

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