My name is Kaera Calyphian and I'm on the run. It's been like that for a long time, but today I'm actually running for real. My hair was plastered to my neck, but it still whipped my face as I ran across the uneven cobblestone streets in the Land Of Commoners. I might've stopped to dry my hair along the way to my destination, but it was only going to become slicker the further I ran. For, it was raining and if I stopped running for any reason...they would catch up to me. They were chasing me; that was precisely the reason I was running.
Even though my tired legs would most likely give out on me within the next mile or so, I didn't have any other choice but to run. I had become really good at running in the last year or so. So good, that it was really all I knew how to do anymore. It was dreadful. I knew it was...but it was my life.
It hadn't always been like this, but I didn't like to think of the "before times". It made me sad. Depressed, you might even say. Thoughts began to cloud in my head as I continued to sprint through the stone streets, creating a fog of memories and emotions that wiped the rest of the thoughts out of my mind. Shops and homes guarded me on either side of the street and the hard stone that coated the ground sent ripples of pain through my feet and to my ankles. Luckily, ordinary citizens were going out of their way to make a path for me. I knew it wasn't because they pitied me and wanted me to get away from them. It was most likely because they thought I was a thief...or maybe one of those assassins who chose random people to murder for their sick passions. I guess I scared them. Who would have ever guessed?
But, nevertheless...I didn't mind. I didn't mind one bit. In fact, I loved it. It helped me move easier and faster. Hopefully, it kept them well a way's behind me.
Well, that was...until an incident occurred. It had started out like this: an old woman had slowly walked into the core of the street and being how old she was...didn't bother to move for me. I guess she hadn't gotten the memo. But the point is, I didn't stop fast enough and I tripped over her, the old woman collapsing under me, a carton full of ripe, shiny apples that glistened like blood in the sun flinging out of her hands with the fall. The carton skidded to a halt a few feet away from her but the apples continued to roll, bumping into people's heels and bouncing off, hitting other things in their path.
The amount of chaos that had been caused by this confounded me, but the expressions that rose across people's faces because of it confused me to a further extent. Perhaps they were scared. I mean, they had a right to be. With the foul excuse of an empire they lived in, they definitely did. At least, I thought so.
Though, in all the chaos that had been caused by that old woman, I had forgotten what I needed to do. I stood up, shaking off remnants of dirt and dust from the apples before continuing my sprint away from them. In case you were wondering, them is the Inquisition. The Inquisition is a group of tough, incredibly skilled soldiers who will stop at nothing to serve their king. A king who didn't care about the welfare of the people in his empire. All he cared about was conquering the whole continent...much like how all I cared about was running. Run. Run. Run. That was my life. And, if I didn't escape the Inquisition...I wouldn't have one.
But, before I could even take a step, the old woman who had fallen over grabbed my wrist, her wrinkly skin biting into mine. Her grip hardened and I desperately tried to yank my arm away from her, but it was no use. The old woman persisted on, bracing herself on the ground with her other hand. I could now clearly see the likes of her as I focused on trying to free my arm from her grasp. Her hair was white as bone, rays of sunshine reflecting off of it. That's where the beauty ended, though. Her face was about as wrinkled as her arms were, her eyebrows scruffy and thick, her cheeks saggy and sunken, her eyes inset and blue as the water that filled the oceans surrounding the continent. Her lips were dry, chap, and a dull pink in color as if all the lust had been drained out of them. And, her nose...oh gods. Her nose was pointy and crooked. It seemed to hang half out of her face, half in, as if it had been placed on her face the wrong way. A mole sat on the end of it and a single white hair grew from it. The black voluminous robes she wore only added to the horridness of her appearance.
"Let go," I managed to say at last. Bile rose in my throat as the old woman opened her mouth to utter words, hot and revolting breath escaping her throat.
"Foolish girl. Didn't your mother ever teach you any manners?" the old woman asked me, her tone full of vehemence. The next words that came out of her dry mouth were that of a different language, one that I did not understand. All I could tell was that they were not kind words, for they were spoken with hatred.
Finally, I ripped my hand free from her grip. I didn't look behind me as I proceeded forward in my sprint to see if the Inquisition was getting closer. I just ran like hell, not caring if I ran into someone. I just did it, so fast that I wasn't even sure if I was going in the right direction anymore. I took as many turns as I could because I knew that would be the best way for them to lose track of me.
One thing was certain to me through all of this, though: my life would only get harder. I didn't know it at the moment...but some very bad things were about to happen.
* * *
Even though my running patterns seemed random as if I didn't have a specific destination I had been working up to, I actually had a place in mind throughout all of it. The forest...that's where I was headed to. Not just any forest, though. One full of wild, untamed creatures that could kill humans on command. Legend had it they were raised by foul humans...ones that were made outcasts, I guess. These "foul humans" trained them to be fast and cunning killers, much like the warriors that made up the Inquisition of the empire I now despised.
The empire I was currently hiding from...which I did from within, of course.
This forest wasn't just inhabited by creatures and their controllers. No, I wouldn't be headed there if that were the case. There was something hidden among the confinements of this forest – an object so powerful it was worth risking my life in order to seize it.
But, who knew...maybe it really was a legend. Maybe I didn't have anything to worry about at all. Maybe.
As my feet were about to give up on me, I caught sight of a wooden sign imbedded into a metal pole on the right side of the street. The pole was crooked and didn't stand up straight, though, probably due to the rain that had passed through today, causing the ground to be mushy. In fact, it looked like the puddles that bobbed and swayed against the edge of the street might rip it out entirely and drag it down the street. But, at the moment, I could read what it said: FOREST OF HEARTS ½ A MILE.
As much as my feet were aching, I had to keep up my speed. I couldn't see the Inquisition running after me, but I knew they could see me...if that made even the slightest bit of sense. But, a half a mile was still a lot, especially since my feet were killing me. Waves of pain kept shooting up into my ankles and the balls of my feet whenever my feet hit the ground and I was pretty sure that my right ankle was sprained. Nevertheless, I still ran through the pain.
That's how driven I was. I mean, even though I may or not find what I was looking for in the Forest Of Hearts – by the way, I have no idea where that name came from, but maybe once I was there, I would discover why – it would still provide me refuge against the Inquisition and it would be nearly impossible for them to find me once I was there. That's precisely how dense the forest was: trees tall and thick enough they provided cover and grass tall enough that also kept my whereabouts hidden and unknown.
As soon I had a quarter of a mile left to go, the shops and small, dainty homes quickly turned into run-down villas that were currently abandoned. That would also be a good hiding spot if I didn't find what I was looking for in the forest, I thought. Soon, the cobblestone streets also disappeared...and with it went any sign of civilization. Rather, my eyes found plush grass on all sides, the ground now uneven and despite the cushiness it provided for my feet, I was unable to run as quickly as I was before. Plus, now there no people to hide among. I paused in my sprint, desperately trying to come up with a plan.
My heart began to hammer in my chest, bursts of anxiety rushing to my head, my thoughts. That's how overwhelming all of this was.
But, I knew I had to keep running. No matter what happened, I had to keep running. It wasn't like I had forgotten I was close to the forest, though. No, sometimes I just had these panic attacks for no reason. I began to move my legs again, picking up speed and speed and speed. Hopefully, I was still within safe distance of the Inquisition.
Within a short few seconds, the outline of the forest appeared on the horizon. I cleared my mind of all thoughts, aiming for the darkness that was the Forest Of Hearts.
I could do this, I told myself. I could do this.ns 188.8.131.52da2