Saturday, 19 March 2011

Markings

My markings tell them to stay away.

I wandered through the market in my hood, but they still kept away. I pointed at the sack of ginger, flicking three fingers up. The small spice merchant sniffed and threw me a bag before shooing me away.

Frestia was like most other cities in the region, which was unfortunate for me. I sank onto a white bench in the academy gardens. The orchids were blooming this time of year and insects flitted through the petals.

A boy and his sister ran by laughing but stopped in their tracks when they saw me. The boy approached and asked what I was. "I'm a tree dweller." I hated the slur but I knew it was the only thing he would understand.

"My father says you hurt people," he looked expectantly.

"We hurt those who need to be hurt. Just like your King."

His sister urged him to stop tarrying and he left me and the bench alone. The sun was setting. It was time for the rite.

The guardsmen didn't pay attention to me as I left the gates. They knew me. I crossed the dirt path and walked across the soft dewy grass until I came to the field. There I waited.

One by one they came. Small bumps at first, but soon they crawled out from their holes and across the ground. Their beady eyes glinted in the moonlight and I could hear their soft breath. I slid my knife from its scabbard. Must keep low. I darted towards the closest Wulven and sank my blade between its shoulder blades. After a brief cry it went limp. I dragged it out of the way and laid it on its back. I prayed loudly as I slit its belly.

The patrons stared at me coldly. I slipped across the room and padded up the stairs to my room.

The morning brought marching. Regimented steps on cobblestone, they came by and left in moments. I heard muffled voices from the next room talking about raiders from the Bracken Hills.

I was sat observing the orchids when they returned, bloody and sweating. The captain rode on horseback grasping something in his gloved hand. Then I saw it clearly. They all did; the women, the children. They saw it and they cheered and whooped and whistled.

It was the severed head of a man.