Black Hands

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
To start at the beginning would be hard, because there are so many places where this story began. I could start at the formation of Raynor, when my great-great grandmother led the union of the five kingdoms. Or when the first children started going missing fifty years ago. But for me, my beginning was the day I ran away from home to see the world. It was only meant to be one day, full of fun and adventure. I had no idea that it would be the start of a story that would be remembered for centuries to come.
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This is something I wrote a year ago for my creative writing class. It's a prologue of sorts for a much larger story that I'm writing. Need less to say, there is a lot of room for improvement but all feedback is appreciated. Enjoy!

Submitted: August 04, 2016

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Submitted: August 04, 2016

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With the fires illuminating the city, Enya almost forgets just how late in the night it really is. She shouldn’t be here. She should be at home, where her parents are. Where it’s safe. Instead she’s lost wandering in a burning city while demons swarm and murder and destroy. She hides behind buildings, frozen in horror as she watches the dark figures tear down everyone and everything in their path. Bodies fall to the streets, blood streaming from their corpses, and all she can do is watch her people die. All she can do is stare as black hands rip into the chest of a wailing woman and tear out her heart.

As the monsters clear away, Enya breaks into a run towards the nearest guard station. She can see the tower stretching high into the air, a beacon of safety and hope. Surely, if anyone can protect her, it would be her father’s men. But she’s not even taken five steps before black hands wrap around her middle, lifting her into the air. She screams as her body is turned and slammed against a wall, a single hand holding her up by the collar of her dress. Suddenly she is face to face with a demon.

Enya had never seen an Alborn before tonight, but she’d heard enough stories to recognize one when she saw it. In size and shape, perhaps they might have been ordinary people. Even their faces were the same. But the dark swirling tattoos decorating their skin from head to toe, while beautiful, were a symbol of their evil souls. This one looked like a woman, small and thin with delicate features and flowing yellow hair. But black swirls up her cheeks and around her eyes, and a cruel smirk twists her features.

“Well, aren’t you an adorable one,” she coos, her voice sickly sweet. “I could just eat you up.”

Enya squirms, trying to break free of her grasp. Her short legs dangle helplessly as she hands at least a foot from the ground. She grips the Alborn’s hand tightly, trying to work her fingers off of her dress.

“Let me go,” she pleads, her voice pathetic and small. She sounds so much like a child and she hates it almost as much as the creature holding her captive.

“How old are you?” the Alborn asks, cocking her head to the side. Enya doesn’t answer, her teeth glued together by fear. “Five? Six?” Still silence. The creature smiles wider and Enya shudders in fear.

“Bella!” a voice shouts from nearby. The Alborn directs her attention to one of her fellow demons, a man, who is running towards them. “Move out!” The Alborn turns back to Enya and smiles again.

“Sleep tight.” She’s jerked forward violently before being shoved back. There’s an explosion of pain as her head collides with the wall and then there’s darkness.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

It’s been weeks since Enya has seen the sun. The cave they keep her in is dark, damp, and cold. There’s a makeshift door at the mouth, blocking her from what appears to be a dimly lit hall, but she’s never had the opportunity to try and get a better look. Once, every few hours, the door might open as an Alborn presents her with a tray of cold food, but Enya never tries to escape. She never moves. She just sits, huddled against the furthest wall, and cries.

She knows better than to touch the food. They only want to fatten her up before eating her. She’s heard the stories. Alborns capturing human children, taking them away to the Black Hills where they cook them up and eat them. She’s going to die, but if they won’t eat her while she’s such a tiny and skinny thing then she’ll take every extra second of life that she can.

She only eats when the hunger clawing at her stomach is so painful that she knows she’d rather die than continue on like this. All they feed her is some sort of rodent, burnt and tasting strongly of charcoal.

Enya wonders after a while if their goal is to make her suffer in fear and misery before they eat her. Maybe they think scared little girl tastes better or something. Or maybe they want to wait until she no longer cares enough to fight. If that’s the case, they don’t have to worry. It was pathetic, perhaps. But it was clear that she had no hope of survival at this point, so it didn’t matter if she tried to get away or not.

Finally, the day seems to come, and four Alborns all appear at once. They open the door and approach her with confidence, by now well aware of her conditioned helplessness. She doesn’t speak as they grab her, leading her down a maze of hallways, lit only by the occasional torch. After what feels like years of walking, they enter a large circular room. In the middle is a large stone basin, painted with ornate red and black designs.

Beside it stands an Alborn, another woman, with short dark hai. Her skin is painted with so much black that, along with her dark clothing, there is hardly any bare skin left to be seen. Her sharp brown eyes watch her as Enya is guided towards the center of the room, and Enya wonders if she’ll be the one to kill her. Perhaps they’ll slit her throat and drain her blood into the basin, the way the cook would slaughter their chickens every week.

Ice cold fear strikes through her as Enya is suddenly faced with the very real knowledge that she is about to die.

The Alborns stop her just in front of the basin, which Enya can see is filled nearly to the brim with a dark black liquid. Looking into it was like looking into a starless sky. An endless void of nothingness.

“What is your name, child?” the Alborn before her asks as the rest of them leave the room. Enya doesn’t answer, gaze still fixed on the basin. She wonders what the liquid is. An oil, perhaps, although she’d never seen an oil that made her stomach twist so tightly with fear.

“What is your name?” the Alborn asks again. Enya finally looks up to meet her gaze but says nothing. “How old are you?”

Enya maintains her silence and the woman frowns, black lips twisting unhappily.

“Very well. Our Lord Luterra does not need your name to know your soul.” She reaches out a hand, stained palm facing upward. “Give me your hand, child.”

Enya hesitates, unsure. The woman did not seem murderous, and for some reason that felt even worse. What was she going to do to her? When Enya does not move the woman sighs, reaching forward to grab Enya’s arm. There was no tenderness to be found in her grip as she quides Enya’s hand over the bowl. Her fist locks around Enya’s hand so that her fingers were straight and pointing downward, towards the black liquid.

Realizing what she was going to do, Enya squirms, trying to break free. The Alborn scowls, tightening her grip, and with unceremonious force, she dips Enya’s fingers into the basin. The moment that the black liquid meets her skin, the sensation of fire crawls up her arm and burrows itself into her skin.

Enya screams, thrashing wildly as the fire burns through her flesh, engulfing her entire being. But there are no flames to be seen.

Startled, the Alborn releases Enya and stumbles back. Enya’s hand falls deeper into pool of liquid flames until it reach her elbow. The pain intensifies and Enya scrambled backwards, sobbing. Her entire arm is stained black and dripping.

“No, no, no,” she moans, trying to wipe the liquid away with her clean hand. All this serves to do, however, is transfer the liquid all across her skin. Tears pour from her eyes as Enya wipes feverishly at both arms now, staining them black.

The Alborn surges forward, grabbing both of Enya’s arms by wrist with one hand, the other gripping her face.

“How old are you?” she demands, her voice shrill with anger. “What is your age, child?”

Gasping and sobbing, Enya manages to choke out an answer.

“I’m ten!” she cries. “I’m ten! Please, just get it off! It’s burning me! It hurts!”

The Alborn lets out a noise of disgust and throws Enya towards the basin. Enya catches herself on it, but then its tilting and it spills, splashing across her mouth. She fell to the floor, screaming, wiping at is at it drips down her chin and neck.

“Get it off! Get it off!”

The Alborn watches with a scowl as another enters, summoned by the screams.

"This one is useless to me," the Alborn woman tells him. "She is too old. Get rid of her. Feed her to the rats."

The man nods obediently, grabbing Enya by the arms even as she continues to thrash and scream.

The invisible flames continue to seep feel into her core, searing her very soul. So lost in her pain, Enya never feels the blow to the head that sends her world dark.

 

~~~~~~

 

When she awakes, she is floating, and for a moment Enya is certain that she has died. Except that her her head throbs and her hands tingle and she is almost certain that her father told her that she would be among the stars in death, not floating below them.

She blinks a few times and tries to move. Like falling out of a daydream, all of her senses return to her.

She's laying on something hard and wet, like mud, and there is the sound of running water nearby.

Enya sits up, her world spinning for a moment as she tries to take in her surroundings.

She's by a river, she sees, and resting just at the edge of a forest. The Atta-Lin woods, she realizes. They border the Black Hills, where the Alborns are known to live. The river, however, she can't recall the name of. Her geography tutor was a boring man who loved to ramble, so she had never listened well.

She's alive, which she's grateful for. But she's also incredibly far from home, and the thought terrifies her.

Is my father worried?’ she wonders. ‘Is he looking for her right now?’ But then Enya remembers the battle, the burning city, and wonders if her father is even alive. ‘And what about my mother?’ Surely the king and queen of Raynor would be well protected in their castle.

"I have to get home," Enya tells herself, her voice raspy from screaming.

Climbing to her feet, Enya raises her hands to dust off her pants. The sight of black catches her off guard, however, as she freezes.

Her hands are still stained black. Even her nails and te hair on her arms have been dyed the frighteningly dark hue.

Shaking, Enya stumbles to the river and plunges her hands in the freezing water. She scrubs and scrubs, but the stains never lift.

New tears prick at her eyes and for the first time in weeks Enya catches a glimpse of her reflection.

Her black hair is filthy and matted with dirt and blood, her eyes red from lack of sleep. But worst of all is her mouth and neck, which has been painted black. A solid black hand print, her own she realizes, covers her mouth.

She is a horrifying sight.

Scrambling to her feet, Enya wraps her arms around herself and does the only thing she can think to do: she follows the river. And prays that it will bring her home.

 


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