February 23, 2019

An ancient Norian stone carving claims that a true-blooded hunter may never give in to fear, because fear is only the purpose of the prey. But in order to become the hunter of hunters, a jarl of jarls, a king to rule kings, a man himself must lure the hunter. He must himself become the prey.

The sky was black and the stars bright, and a little girl stumbled along a muddy path that slithered like serpents through the dark. Eluding a musty warmth, the forest wore autumn on its branches, and dewy cobwebs tangled themselves in the girl's bronze hair.

Her movements a blur of scraped limbs and scarred skin on the edge of frostbite, she kept running forward on the path while repeating frantically to herself: "Hide your fire or you’re dead." 

She had uttered those words so many times to herself that they felt like silence on her lips.  They were a slight comfort, yet they stung. At night, when she was all alone and couldn’t sleep, she heard whispering. She imagined that was how she’d first heard the words spoken.

"Hide your fire or you're dead."

The girl tripped and branches slapped at her face. A grunt.

She stood up, shakily, peering over her shoulder without a misty breath passing through her purple lips.

A heavy chill sat in the air. Mostly it was frost pinching her cheeks and penetrating her bones with bitter, cold exhaustion. But sometimes she felt a hand grab her shoulder. Yet whenever she turned to squint behind her with brown eyes gleaming from weary tears and salt prickling the dark skin underneath them, nobody was there. She was always alone.

She couldn't decide which was more terrifying: the untreatable loneliness, or the thought that she might be surrounded by ghosts.

But it didn't matter when an arrow struck her shoulder and she plummeted to the frosty forest floor, panting like an animal. Sometimes the flames burst from her palms when she was scared. Even when she was sleeping, she could feel the fire peeling the inside of her skin.

As she lied there, life escaping her lips with every passing breath, she still only feared her fire. If only she could die normal, without scorching her hands.

The girl pinched her eyes shut. A drop trickled down the side of her face. She had to stay hidden, she had to be alone. There was no place like her in Noriannd.

Heat glowed within her veins, a firelight forever kept concealed.

It was a death worse than arrows, or swords, or poison, or drowning, or being so hungry that one couldn’t open their eyes—all those things a heart could endure and still die with dignity.

Dying alone and forgotten was the worst kind of death. All that was left was a broken, bleeding, lonely heart. The gods would never speak her name.

But as a wolf wouldn’t allow itself to be outsmarted by the rabbit, neither could a hunter kill the hunter of all hunters. 

Emery screamed.

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  1. Now that I read it myself, I feel sad. I still got the chills but I am sad about the girl. But nice beginning. Gonna read the rest!

  2. That's a great first line! Love the symbolism of death = loneliness. Heartbreaking and intriguing.


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