first draft of ch 1.
|In the wet, earthy mush were several tracks from the beast that led into the Dour Forest. Everyone in the town cheered as the injured animal raced off into the greenery. None that entered the forest ever came out again. Despite this, the baker's son stared at the bloodied footprints, preparing to follow it. Tears burned his eyes, but instead of letting them rise, he forced them to well in the back of his scrambled brain to drown his heart's sorrows.
Footsteps approached behind him, but he remained stooped with one knee in the broken dirt.
"What are you doing?"
He didn't speak; instead, he looked up to the very familiar voice. Fire from the torches glinted in his pupils, causing the dull emeralds to fade into a lustrous ember. All that kept him from weeping was the young girl that stood in front of him, barely even knee high. Her raven hair, like her brother's, was matted with sweat and blood. His father would have killed him if he knew what he'd allowed his sister to witness. Secretly, he prayed to his father's spirit to smite him where he stood, though nothing happened.
A while later, he replied softly, "Nothing, Lena. Listen to me. I love you, but I have to go to out of town for a little while. I need you to stay with Dephrelfor awhile, okay?"
"But what about Papa? "Lena's voice was sweet.
"Lena," said the boy, taking a deep breath, "Papa isn't home."
Thoughtfully, she asked, "Where'd he go?"
"He went," he said, painfully, "North where all of us go in time. Enough questions. Go to Dephrel. He will take care of you while I'm gone. I'll be back for you soon."
"Okay, Kian," said the girl in a heart wrenchingly cheery voice. She scampered away, leaving Kian once again alone.
Kian, being the baker's son, knew nothing of hunting, tracking, or the like. Going in the Dour was suicide even for those who had training; Kian knew he wouldn't be an exception, but he had to leave the village. He had to avenge his father's death. He decided that while he might die trying to kill the beast, he would die holding it's heart.
He stood then, and inhaled a deep breath, mentally preparing himself for what was to come. Once he stepped outside of the tree line, there would be no turning back. With a supply sack on his left shoulder, Kian stepped forward toward the thicket that outlined the Dour. Almost immediately after stepping past the line, total darkness leaked into view. Instinctively, Kian pulled out a fire starter from his kit and lit it. The small torch didn't light up much, but it kept him from tipping over deep-set roots.
In the darkness, he allowed his emotions to run rampant like the beast had done in the village. Tears again welled in his eyes, this time escaping and streamed down the valleys and mountains of his face. He refused to wipe at his wet face; he didn't want to wipe away the pain, he wanted to let it be free and turn into rage. It worked, the more he cried, the angrier he became.
After walking for miles, Kian finally nested down in the hollow of a large tree. Though exhausted, Kian found it hard to fall into Sleep's arms. Visions of the night haunted him, still. Blurred flashes of the event haunted him even after he fell into slumber. The loud roar of the beast, the thunder of the roof caving, his father's blood pooled on the floor.
Lightning cracked from the sky, lighting up the forest for a moment. In that brief time, Kian saw a face peering in at him. One scream later, he'd kicked the monster away and was out of the trunk and on his feet. Without a light, he had to run slower, but each time that lightning struck he was able to mentally map where the trees were. Still, he could hear the monster at his heels bellowing out cries of pain.
Good, he thought, it's injured. It won't be able to catch me.
But in that exact moment, the monster caught a hold of his arm, yanking him backward into the forest floor. He struggled with the creature, but his strength was nowhere near enough to fend it off. With one last attempt to stay alive, Kian grabbed a short stick and rammed it into the creature's neck. Lightning brightened up the sky, and Kian saw the creature's face. His father was lying on him, blood spurting from his wound. He went limp.