Wind howled through the night as the cries of the cicada rose to her ears. Up, up she looked to the night sky, her own eye sparkling back at them. Breath filled her lungs and a smile of malevolent intent stretched her features, contorting them into a sinister topography. A terrible night this was indeed, for the moon was new and the forest below thick with leaves of the summer season. A terrible night this would be for all who travel; her unassuming prey.
Swift and swooping, she flew high into the sky, no more visible than the wind that carried her to her prey. Lovely sounds drifted up to her; the snap of fallen branches, the soft murmuring of living things, and the enticing sound of the heartbeat of those fearful fools. The night was her’s and she wouldn’t share it with such fragile and foolish ones in a million years. No, this night would be her’s and they would know it in their final moments as their screams joined the wind.
And their screams did indeed fly high up from the forest, escaping from the agony that made them and into the oblivion that they would share. The earth squelched in satisfaction as the crimson liquid fed the ground and all that grew in it. Many a scavenger would feast on what was left and their remains would fade away as quickly as she did. She had done well to teach those flighty fools a lesson that they won’t forget. Then again, they wouldn’t live to learn from it now would they?
Once more the air carried her to her home with a meal in her belly and claws. There in the great and vast caves were many of her children waiting to be feed by their mother. Their mother feed them well, taught them well and protected them with the fervor of any mother. She was their mama, their mistress, their greatest and only joy to know in this world that was so wrought full of fools. Soon they too would hunt like their mother and the elder sons and daughters she had mothered before them. The world would fear them and know them as monsters, as they should be known. The mother would lead them through the lands to destroy the fools and raze all in fire. Mother would be the undoing of the world of fools. Mother would make a world where her children could hunt forever and ever. Mother would destroy the rodents and insects that crawled throughout her garden. Mother would feed them, mother would guide them, and mother would love them. Mother will be there always. Always.
Light fell through the trees touching the moist ground that squished like a sponge under one’s feet. It was quite a nice and warm morning, typical of a mid-summer day. What wasn’t typical were the two traveling under the woods protection.
“C’mon, just tell me where you got it.” A whine much like a little pup came from the boy’s mouth. He jumped and bounced around the path, never following it directly.
A giggle both sinister and soft replied. “I’ll show you later if, and only if, you’re good today.” Her steps fell in time with a rhythm in her head, never once step from the path.
The boy imitated a bird in pitch as he meandered on. “You’re no fun anymore! We used play all the time and now we have to deal with these softies.” His head snapped up to the sound of a songbird tweeting sweetly. With inhuman agility and strength, the bird was snatched up in his clawed hands, the branch not having even shaking from the sudden movement. His eyes sparkled with hunger as he gaped at the snack.
“Aviram!” His head once more snapped back to the ground below where she stood with an annoyed look. “Didn’t you say that you were full earlier?”
Aviram wiped the drool from his mouth but held onto the bird, now dead from shear fright. “If you would just sha-” A hollow thwack silenced his whine fest. The red fruit now completely ruined lay in rotten shambles on the ground.
She walked over with a greatly angered look in her eyes. “Drop the bird. We haven’t the time for this foolishness.” Aviram snorted and threw the dead bird so hard it was no longer recognizable as a bird. He hopped down to the ground with a grumbling sound coming deep from his throat. The sister knelt down and picked up what was salvageable of the fruit and resumed eating. “Enough of this pouting, you need to appear somewhat dignified at least.” She once more followed the dirt path to her destination. “We shan’t be any less than royalty to these fools.”
The grumbles faded from Aviram’s throat as he once more meandered behind his sister. The destination they were walking to was the village called Haven. Haven was to these two what a kingdom is to the royalty. They helped protect the village from any and all dangers that came close in exchange for the villagers to turn a blind eye and be silent to the real rulers of the realm. They were Aviram, a most gluttonous and deceitful boy, and Cerdwin, a woman who was as vile as they came. Of course, no one said these words in their presence. Anyone who meets them would feel their monstrosity even though they appeared largely human. It was the same instinct that told one when they were being watched or when danger was close. It was built into all living things to revile them both for as long as they drew breath.
In the village was a small gathering of various goods that cost a small fortune to acquire. Within the pile were many silks of as many colors that could be afforded, blades and weapons not so sharp, along with a great abundance of rare herbs of all sorts. People milled about it but none touched it. It wasn’t theirs and anyone who touched it would lose that half. Maybe both halves for good measure.
Those waiting talked and muttered in voices of ill-intent. “Maybe if we…” or “Just a little…” were often the prelude to their murderous machinations but all were inadequate, even if they had the courage to go through with it. These thoughts intensified as the two in question approached. Cerdwin spread her arms wide in greeting as if to hold the immense praise and adoration she deserved in her arms like a child. “Good morning, our dear and loyal subjects!”
Aviram hid behind his sister in her shadow where he knew the ground well. No one looked at him when he was there. His sister soaked the sunlight so much better than he. It hurt him sometimes, especially when it was ‘hot’ outside. The humans always ran away from the rain and the sun didn’t hurt then. He liked those days the most because he could stay with Cerdwin back home. Cerdwin didn’t like the rain either, like the humans. But Cerdwin was better than the humans. Female humans could only birth in nine month intervals while Cerdwin could birth daily. Humans valued companionship and love above all else and she had plenty of that. Cerdwin was better than human female by a mile!
Aviram was snapped out of his reverie at his sister’s touch. “Aviram could you please run off elsewhere darling? This matter is for adults.” He snarled at that word. She never let him stay when ‘adult’ matters came up. He hated adults for that. Their petty problems took his sister from him for moments and he remembered every moment of every day. A single second without her was agony but he obeyed. Off he went to find a snack.
“He is so airy sometimes.” She said dotingly. The smile disappeared as she turned back to her subjects. “So what is this about a new family?” The crowd shifted as it thought how to word it right. “Well, you see-” “It’s quite complicated-” “The aunt or some other died and-” “Left them some land here-” “And they say they’ll stay here-” “I-in-indefinitely.” Cerdwin took a deep breath and the crowd swayed back in anticipation. When blood remained in their bodies, they the tension fell. “I shall greet these fools myself. None shall speak of me or my brother lest I give them permission, understood.” Nods. “Good. Now get this all on carts and send it up.” She grabbed a swatch of deep red silk and unrolled it. Once unrolled she wrapped it around her like a shawl, appearing much richer than before.
Cerdwin felt a feeling pass through her as she found the house. It was a feeling she got many times before but this time stronger. A grin stretched across her face. Apparently they had brought a suitable mate with them. Already they had curried a great deal of her favor. She would remember this when they asked something of her. Cerdwin knocked on the door with soft hand, thinking of who it could be that was exuding that exquisite scent. The door opened and her heart skipped in excitement.
“Hello? Can I help you?” The man had a softness to his features which was good. He hadn’t aged too much and was still naïve enough to be hers. Good. Being on the tail-end of puberty also helped as it meant he still lacked proper self-control, also good. He was a working man if those hands were any indication and was somewhat well off if his cloths were any indicator. Perfect. He do very well.
Cerdwin flashed a dainty smile of one who had a young heart. “My name is Amelia and I just wanted to say hello. It’s not often we get people who come by. I-I mean ones who stay. Well most do stay but not long.” She slapped her head in embarrassment for extra effect. “Sorry, sorry, I just don’t get to talk to people a lot with my family and all.” Men, mortal men especially, were suckers for women who couldn’t keep a straight conversation for some reason. It was as demeaning as it was effective.
He laughed at her and she felt the urge to rip his tongue out for it. “No need to apologize. I don’t talk with others often either. You mentioned your family being secretive. Are they like nobles or something?” She smirked inwardly and giggled outwardly. Men loved the forbidden fruit the most. “Something like that.”