Ready for part 6? It’s been a long time in coming! Here is a recap or you can go here for the rest of the story:
Eva feels trapped with her village. She’s been taught her entire life to be self sacrificing, to give everything so others can have more; her mother died on that principle, and it appears that Eva may as well. But she hates it, and doesn’t understand most of what she’s been dealt.
She and the villagers live behind a wall with a door that only opens to let the hunters come and go. Her answers are out there, but she can’t leave. When a mysterious creature offers Eva a book with answers to all her questions in exchange for entry into the village, Eva takes it. But the choice proves to be disastrous.
The creature is an evil imp who rips the villagers from their homes, taking them all captive. The book is delivered to Eva, but it’s not what she expected. There are no answers written inside. Instead, it’s a book flowing with magic, a book that Eva is soon bound to. Her life is linked to it, and it to her. She can’t be killed, nor can the book, but she will be destroyed slowly by the magic raging inside. She has been given a choice: fight the magic as long as she wants, eventually knowing it will consume her and death will lie in her wake, or kill the purest of souls, which would free her body from the book, allowing her life to end. Kill one or kill many.
Unwilling to hurt more people than necessary, she chooses to kill the one with the purest soul. The book warns her to start the journey now or face dire consequences, but she refuses to leave until she buries her father, a man who loved her and died at her hand when she lost control of the magic.
“I can’t leave him.”
Ignoring the book’s warning, I drop to my knees at my father’s side. Gently, my thumb brushes his eyes, closing them. His flesh is already turning cold. I’m not sure if that’s normal or if the magic changed him. I guess it doesn’t really matter.
According to the book, if I don’t leave now I’ll face grave danger. Glancing around, everything looks peaceful, but my flesh tingles; the book is right.
Hurry, the book warns.
“Shut up. I’m trying to think.”
I know I can find a shovel from the huts my people occupied, but that will take too long. I can’t stay and wait for that. There has to be another way.
The crawling of the magic on my hand begins to lessen; my body is acclimating.
Or so I think.
I realize the book is pulsing, humming, and I feel a new pressure on my hand. The magic is seeping out, toward the body. Slowly it slides thin tendrils beneath the still form; a moment later they push out the other side. Before long the entire ground beneath him is covered in faintly glowing magic.
Then, without warning, the body disappears.
A scream of shock escapes my lips unbidden. Somehow, somewhere, that magic stole my father’s body, vaporized it.
“I was going to bury him!” I cry, yanking up the book by its cover. If it were possible to hurt an inanimate magical object, I would have hurt the book.
I did, it answers calmly.
He lies beneath the dirt. His body is safe. Yours, however, is not.
“What do you mean?” I mutter.
Dropping the book to my side I do as bidden, and I discover what the book already knows. A small group of men, seven at most, are just slinking over the top of a hill less than a furlong away. Heavily armed, their bodies covered in some sort of armor, it’s clear they’re warriors. But not the kind of warriors I am used to seeing. My people are soft, our warriors fight battles of the heart and mind. Physical violence is a rarity. These men, their faces say it all. Leering grins, hardened features, scarred brows and cheekbones – they survive everything; they are conquerors and I am nothing.
Their eyes focus on me and the book I hold in my hand. Which I can’t get rid of.
You better do something.
“What am I supposed to do?” I hiss. “I can’t beat them!”
Then you better outrun them.
“You don’t have to tell me twice.” I bolt, hoping that my small frame will somehow move faster than these giants behind me. But the book warned me that if I stayed, I’d pay the consequences, and the book was right.
I hear them barreling down on me, their feet pounding on the hard dirt. They’re getting closer, overtaking me. Their breath is loud, drumming in my ear. Glancing back, they’re close enough that I see sweat dripping from their lips.
Clutching my hand in a tight ball, the magic begins to grow. My mind is finding different ways to defend myself. The heat rises in my hand, up my arm, burning, writhing; it doesn’t hurt. It feels good; excitement thrills through me. I can fight. Suddenly, I’m hungry to hurt them.
With no warning, I stop, whirling toward them, my hand blazing as magic writhes above it, ready to leap to my bidding.
For a moment, fear leaps into the eyes of the men chasing me. It’s enough; they hesitate, and the magic leaps from my hand, blasting into the frontman. Even I am shocked at the response. His body is gone, as if he was never there.
But the men behind him don’t stop. I’ve ignited a fire I can’t control. I hurl more attacks at them. Some hit, some miss. Men lose arms, fingers, legs, but they keep coming, driven by anger and a desperate need to win. They’re upon me, overtaking me, one man throw himself at me, slamming my body to the ground.
Panic clutches my stomach, wrenching it in every way possible. There’s nowhere to hide, running is failure, and magic isn’t enough. What will they do to me?
The book is ripped from my hands and the magic flares. But the man on top of me holds my wrist down; I can’t move, I can barely breathe. He whispers in my ear, “We can’t kill you. We know the book’s magic. But we can hurt you. As long as we want. So I suggest you come willingly. Otherwise, you’ll quickly learn which methods of torture we have spent decades studying.”
I’m torn with indecision. On the one hand, I have magic on my side. It’s erratic and crazy, but I can use it against these men. On the other hand, unable to kill me, their torment could stretch on for years.
What should I do?
Should Eva fight them?