The sound of blood pumping through Arahlynns veins overwhelmed her. She stared at the pathway, like it was the beasts she had been taught to fear. She could not see the village any more, trees filled her vision. It was as if she had run miles into the woods.
Gripping her belongings, so that she would not drop them, she broke into a sprint. She headed the way in which she had entered the forest. She ran and jogged and sprinted herself into exhaustion, passing tree after tree, never getting any closer to the exit she wished to find. Every so often she would pass the squawking bird again, seemingly running around in circles. The forest had her in its grasp and she was trapped. She would never see her mother again, or redeem their family name.
Despair had her slumping to the ground, drawing her knees up to her chest. Her belongings slid from her shoulders to rest upon the damp, cold terrain. Arahlynn began to weep, sniffing occasionally as her tears clogged her throat. All she wanted was to find the flower and return to her people, yet, if she could not find her way out after five minutes, how would she after two days, a week, a month?
“Why are you crying child?” A slithery voice asked.
Arahlynn was startled by the sudden intrusion. Sweeping her head from side to side, she looked for the person who had interrupted her pitiful display.
“Up here child,” the voice spoke again from the tree above.
Tilting her head back, her gaze connected with that of a creature. It was not human, as far as she could tell. She did not know what it was. It had milky coloured eyes and wet pale green skin; dark, stringy, matted hair stuck to its face. It's teeth were blackened, and in some places missing.
Arahlynn shuffled back at the sight of the creatures grotesque smile. “Wh-Who are y-you?” She managed to ask.
The thing cackled a little to itself. “Well, I am Limos, of course.” It unwrapped its legs from the branch on which it was resting. “I am a goddess, but I have lost my handmaidens, and in turn, have succumbed to starvation.” Her bony feet landed quietly as she dropped from the tree, her creaky skeletal frame shook from the impact.
“I ha-have food. You can have so-ome if you like?” Arahlynn offered, crawling forward towards her discarded knapsack.
The goddess' sunken eyes seemed to brighten beneath the milky film that coated them. “Thank you child.” It grinned wide, drool dripping from it's gaping maw as it watched the young woman with anticipation. She had not eaten for nearly a millennia, this young woman was the key to her uprising.
Pulling a small cut-off of bread out of the bag, Arahlynn felt the wind shift. She leaned forward to give the food to the foul creature, extending her hand before her. She thought that it was quite sad that someone should be left to starve.
A breeze whipped around her, tussling her blonde braids and rippling her clothes. “Do not feed it.” It seemed to whisper.
Locking eyes with the goddess before her, she tried to determine if the creature was the one that spoke. All she saw was a grimy grin.
“Run away.” The soft whispering came again.
Arahlynn dropped the bread to the ground. She was positive that the wind had spoken those last words. It frightened her, but it was not nearly as horrifying as the demon that stood with a mouth contorted with rage.
“You must give it to me!” It screeched, eyes slowly turning a dark shade of coal.
“RUN!” The wind whisper-shouted in Arahlynn's ear.
Ignoring the discarded bread, she snatched up her belongings and jumped to her feet. Turning her back on the monster, she fled through the woods, letting the wind guide her. It murmured directions for her, taking her beyond the circle she had previously run.
The large oaks soon bled out and made way for beautiful birch trees. The air began to cool and bite at the exposed skin of Arahlynn's hands and face. She shivered upon seeing her breath plume in the air. The soft green grass began to crunch under foot, freezing in the colder temperatures, yet the whispering pushed her on. She tried concentrating on the frolicking hares to keep her mind from focusing on the cold. She even saw a white fox burrow into the ground to escape the weather, she wished she could do the same. Frost turned to ice, and ice turned to snow. The sky was a mixture of whites and greys, promising Arahlynn that snow would fall again soon.
The young woman felt as if she had walked for days. She had only been walking for half an hour, but, soon enough, she found herself standing beside a frozen lake. She shook her head. She did not want to cross as the wind asked her to. It was too dangerous. She had seen with her own eyes what happened when the ice gave way.
Her thoughts strayed to the day she had last spoken to her little brother. “Don not go near the pond,” she had warned him, “it is very dangerous. Now, run along and have some fun.” She tussled his hair and pulled him in for a crushing hug. She absent-mindedly went about her chores for the day, content with life, but the illusion was shattered by an ear-splitting scream of terror. Dropping the damp washing to the floor, she made haste towards the source. Children were jumping up and down, screaming, pointing towards the middle of glassy looking lake. Arahlynn could just make out a small blond head bobbing up and down and an arm in the air. She did not think, or care, as she ran at top speed across the ice. Skidding to her knees, she grabbed his hand. She had tried to save, she really had.
A tear trickled down her cheek and she brushed it away. She missed him terribly, but it would not help her to dwell on it.
“Trust us,” the wind whispered.
“Trust us,” another voice chimed.
More and more voices began to call the same two words, filling Arahlynn's head and causing it to ache. She pressed her palms flat over her ears, attempting to quiet the noise. She screwed her eyes shut and willed away the voices that tormented her. Her head began to pound and she wondered if her ears would begin to bleed soon. She fell to her knees and pushed her head into the snow, in an attempt to rid herself of the burning heat that was taking over.
She was on the verge of giving up. She would have either let herself die listening to voices, or die attempting to cross the lake, neither were an easy way to go. The voices were silenced by a loud roar. The pain in the young woman's head prevented her from looking up. Her breathing began to slow, it became laboured and shoddy.
“Lookie 'ere boys, looks like we got ourselves an easy meal,” a male voice called. She just barely heard footsteps move up beside her before succumbing to the torturous pain pounding at her skull.844Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡdYWD3QkapI