I cannot begin to understand the situations that brought me to this point. I cannot begin to understand the change that came about in who I am. I was a quiet girl from the quiet village of Ioka. I had a great life, in a small farm house with three brothers, two sisters, and a loving mom and dad. I worked hard for my supper, as we all did, and I enjoyed every minute of freedom I had outside of work. I played. I danced. I laughed.
Laughter. I don’t remember the last time I heard it. Not from my own mouth, anyway. I hear constant laughing in my head – that of the evil sorcerers. Perhaps he is what caused me to finally snap. Perhaps he had driven me insane.
But if I’m honest with myself, I don’t think I’ve gone insane just yet. I must look insane to Jesper right now. I feel okay – a little tired, perhaps, and out of breath. But I feel alive. Or, at least, I did – up until I saw the horrified look on his face when I turned around. I didn’t want to look around me, I didn’t want to look away from him – it had been so long since I had seen him. Yet, I knew what he saw. The carnage surrounding me was a direct result of my graphic behavior. Using a collection of weapons I had built including a few daggers, a small sword, and several small, sharp objects I had strategically placed in my tight braid, I had single handedly slaughtered seven men in front of me. At least, I was pretty sure they were all men. The other races were a little harder to take down – still possible, of course, but harder. And those seven seemed almost eager to give me their lives, to bathe me in their blood. I didn’t have to look down on myself to know that sweat was not the only thing dripping from my body.
I wanted to step closer to him – to embrace him and kiss him and tell him how much I missed him. But the fear in his eyes held me back. To him, I was no longer the innocent little farm girl he met such a long time ago. I was a feral animal.
He was right, too. I was an animal. I wanted to scream that it wasn’t my fault, but it was. I was the one who chose to leave Ioka. I was the one who chose to leave Ever as she went to the safe side of the river and stay with Jesper. I was the one who came face to face with the enemy and could not kill him. I was the one who got myself kidnapped by my own kind.
And now I’m the one killing my own kind.
Did I lose all sense of my morals? Had I no more empathy to give? Was I as bad as the sorcerer? I had convinced myself that in this world it is kill or be killed. But I wondered just how much of myself I had killed in my determination to survive. Would Jesper let me back in the group? Or would he shun me, now that my killer instinct had unleashed itself?
Maybe he shouldn’t let me back in. I could snap in the middle of the night and kill the entire group. And then where would we be? There would be no more rebellion to rise against the sorcerer. I couldn’t let that happen. I wouldn’t let it. I turned from Jesper and ran in the opposite direction. I ran so fast, jumping over the stray logs and bushes, that it felt like I was flying through the air. But it didn’t matter. His elven legs were faster.
“Tekla!” I heard him call from behind me.
I didn’t stop. I knew that I could not outrun him, but perhaps I could trick him – lead him through twists and turns in the forest till he lost track of me – and lost track of himself entirely.
“Tekla!” he called from closer now.
I put my head down and charged ahead in a full sprint. I had to keep distance between us. No matter what, I had to –
“Oof!” I huffed as the air escaped me and my body hit the ground. He was on top of me. I struggled to twist and turn and escape. All that he would allow me to do was turn over and face him. I glared, unsure why I was suddenly so angry. Perhaps only because he caught me.
“Where’s Merenda?” he asked.
For a minute, I was taken aback. Then a pang of sorrow ran through me. Then the anger was back. He only cared about Merenda. He hadn’t wanted to see me, hadn’t cared that I was one of the kidnapped parties finally returned – after saving herself, no less. No, he was only concerned for Merenda. Was she prettier than me? Smarter? Stronger? Why couldn’t he have been satisfied just to see me?
Suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to drag my sharp nails through his perfectly sculpted elven features.