Jade Elthering woke up alone and tortured. At the age of 6, she was at the mercy of a killer. Some how she escapes and manages resume a normal life for eleven years thanks to her loving foster family. But when her kidnapper returns for her, life gets turned upside down. Transported back to her previous life, Jade must resume her true identity if she is to save her friends and family. But will she have the courage to face down her stalker?


9. Jealous Creatures


‘Are you sure you want to go so soon? I mean there’s plenty of time and you only just got here…’ pleaded Rosita. ‘You could go next week or something.’

She’d been attempting all morning, trying to get us to stay. Blaze had been getting impatient with her. He wanted to have been gone 2 hours earlier. But the whole Renee thing had delayed us.

‘No Mother.’ he said in a firm voice. ‘We have to go now.’

Rosita opened her mouth to argue, but then shut it after a few seconds of deliberating with her thoughts. Blaze nodded his head, while Rosita shook hers in defeat. It looked so funny that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Renee glared in my direction, obviously annoyed that Rosita hadn’t got her way. The evil stare just made me laugh harder and soon everyone was joining in. The sun continued to climb in the sky and Blaze announced loudly ‘Come on guys! We have to leave now.’

We jumped on our horses and Rosita and Samlett helped Renee onto hers, and we rode off through the town towards the forests in the west. Blaze began singing cheerfully and Renee complained frequently. I kept my thoughts to myself and stayed quiet and chewed the inside of my cheek thoughtfully.

‘Ew, bugs!’ moaned Renee, ‘I’m being eaten alive here and it’s entirely your fault Jade.’

‘Sorry, but there’s nothing I can do about that right now is there?’ I retorted.

‘Um YEAH? There sooooo is. Like you could send me back through that Gap thing, and get me a decent meal for one!’

I sighed; Renee was becoming more impossible than ever.

‘Look Renee, I can’t send you back until we sort out what Greyan is doing. He probably already knows about our unexpected visit because of the unbalance it caused in the Gap and is most likely sorting out a plan to find us, snap our necks and eat us. Now if you value food more than your life, then go ahead. Get yourself killed, but you can’t blame this all on me.’ I said fiercely.

Blaze continued to sing his songs, louder now. Renee huffed and puffed, but had nothing more to say. She scowled in defeat, but kept silent for most of the rest of the journey and glared in my direction every few minutes. Blaze couldn’t refrain from laughing at her expression which only made her even sulkier. I bit my lip to stop myself from laughing too. Blaze stopped laughing suddenly and his face grew cautious, as if he could sense someone or something approaching. He signalled for us to stop our horses and get behind him. Renee groaned and Blaze hushed her quickly.

‘Show yourself! I’m warning you, we are armed!’ he called in a voice that wasn’t threatening but more a warning to not attack.

He drew his sword as the rustling noises darted around us in the bush. Renee whimpered as the noises got louder and more rushed and suddenly a large man wearing simple animal skin clothing and holding a spear appeared out of the shrubbery. At his flanks two females wearing also animal skin dresses glared toward us. Their distorted features, more animal than human, were twisted in fury. My eyes widened in shock as I noticed that their eyes were orange, the exact colour of a fiery sunset exploding on the horizon and setting the clouds on fire. Blaze did not seem alarmed at all as these strange half human creatures snarled at us angrily. The large one spoke.

 ‘What do you want here? What is your business? You are not welcome on our lands,’ he spat at us, in a rasping voice like sandpaper. ‘Leave now. Or we will make you leave.’ he hissed.

‘Peace Armas. We are only passing through. We don’t intend on stopping here. Except possibly to rest at night,’ Blaze reasoned calmly. I felt an odd surge of relief flood through me as Blaze addressed this strange creature by name. The man narrowed his eyes at us.

‘Very well. But if you linger here in my forest for more than 2 days, be warned, you will never leave. We will find you.’ The females were still glaring at us. The phrase ‘If looks could kill…’ ran through my mind and I shivered. And in the time it took for that one shiver the odd half humans were gone. Completely disappeared, just like Mr. Whitefairs vanishing acts. I shook my head wearily; all this weird magic type stuff was giving me a headache.

‘Jade, Renee are you girls okay?’ he asked carefully. Renee shook her head as I nodded.

‘What were those… things?’ I asked my voice kind of shaky. Our encounter with the bizarre people had shaken me slightly.

‘They’re Animen. Forest Dwellers. They consider the forest theirs, even though it is home to many strange creatures. The man is Armas, he is their leader. The females Asha and Amata are his mates, his kind always have two mates. Some superstition of Animen, it means more chance of bearing children. They’re perfectly harmless to humans. They have wicked tempers though. They can’t touch us physically themselves but they have a powerful influence on other creatures,’ explained Blaze. ‘So don’t underestimate them.’ he added when he saw the relief on my face.

‘Please, spare me the nature lecture. Can we go now? Ugh I hate wildlife. Ew.’ Renee complained.

‘Sure, let’s go.’ I continued on, lightly nudging my horse into action.

I caught Blazes eye, and he nodded. He followed and Renee trailed along behind. I speed up and was soon quite far ahead of Renee and Blaze. I heard the soft clip clop of hooves and in a flash Blaze was next to me.  

‘Are you okay?’ he asked.

‘Yeah I’m fine… I just wanted to know more about the Animen that’s all.’

‘Well what do you wanna know?’

‘What was Armas saying about us ‘never leaving’ and all that? And why on Earth were the females glaring at us like they hated us beyond human emotion? What’d we ever do to them?’ I asked curiously. I was bewildered by the antagonistic stare that the females had given us.

‘Armas is all talk; he couldn’t hurt us if he even wanted to. He seems to think that since the forest is supposedly his, nobody but himself and his people should occupy it. If we had lingered here he would have ordered some of the other monsters of the forest to attack us. The females were glaring at us because they’re jealous of us because we’re human. They’d do anything to become human.  Animen are torn between animals and humans. The animal side makes their emotions more sudden and over smaller things, but the human side makes their emotions more sharp and sensitive, but only for a second. The sensitivity is something that they crave. They think we don’t appreciate our human senses.’ said Blaze calmly. ‘They wouldn’t hurt us though. Mainly because they themselves cant, but also because they’re too lazy to set another beast onto us.’

‘Oh. Well I guess that sort of clears things up. I take it the Animen don’t get along with the humans because they can’t get over this jealousy?’

‘Sort of… But it’s mainly because they don’t want to get over this jealousy.’

‘Fair enough.’ I grinned. He smiled back and a look flashed through his eyes. Longing? Intensity? I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly it was. And his green stare was met by my own and suddenly I forgot where we were and what we were there for. I gazed at him for a few seconds longer and then I snapped out of it. Renee was probably watching us and wondering what was going on, and I wasn’t ready to tell her about mine and Blazes stable meeting. If she found out, the Animen’s jealousy would be nothing compared to hers.

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