Fighting Back

Pelith, a lithe huntress, is facing the knowledge of the strong likelihood that her people might disown her for being falsely accused of a crime she had not committed. But then, her beloved horse, Culia, is eaten by a blood-thirsty dragon that has finally been set free from being held captive for four hundred and sixty-eight years by a spell that has recently been broken by the combining of two magic rocks. She then begins to slowly come upon the conclusion that someone has purposefully framed her. With the unlikely and unexpected help of Rasa, a poor, underfed farmer boy, she must make a dangerous journey in order to save her race from destruction and once again prove herself innocent and loyal to her people.

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8. 8

And that was when one of the villagers recognized her.

A man made a grab for her, but she easily twisted from his grip. Jumping back, she realized that all of the crowd had turned to her, some in horror, some in fury. They all believed her the culprit. There was no time for Pelith to object; the women hid their children behind them protectively, and the men immediately tried to capture her. Pelith knew she could fight off one or two, but as many as there was here, ready to attack her-perhaps twenty-would be impossible. She had one choice to escape this unjust punishment: run.

And so she did. She sprinted to the stables, dodging the hands that tried to hold her back in Culia’s stall, she jumped onto Culia’s back, startling the horse, and said just one word. “Run.” And Culia didn’t question her. She galloped out of her stall and to the stable’s door, where the fastest of the villagers had just arrived. In a moment of bravery, Culia jumped over them, narrowly missing a boy’s head-whose facial features strongly resembled that of the dead boy’s-with her hoof. And they were free.

Culia turned towards the apple trees. After ten minutes, they had made it to the other end of the orchard, as well as temporary safety. Culia came to an abrupt stop, jolting Pelith forward. Pelith dismounted and leaned against a small tree.

“Now. We have enough time. Just...start. Explain. Please,” Said Culia in a calm, yet tense voice.

“They...he-a child, a mere toddler-dead. A knife. In his heart. A knife. My knife! Someone...I don’t know. But they knew it was mine. My knife. My nife stole a child’s life. My knife! They think I killed him. Because it was my knife. Somehow…” She couldn’t say another word. A person was dead. That person was just a child. His blood was drawn by her knife. The knife that she had not touched the boy with.

Culia stared at her, shocked. “I….Oh. Pelith. You are not responsible. There is no proof that you did that. You cannot be held accountable. It’s allright. I’m….Oh, my. I’m sorry,” Culia approached her friend.

“It’s not alright, though! A child is dead, and the blood seems to be on my hands!” Pelith cried. Culia understood. Pelth was very fond of her weapons. Them and her were one, and her knife having been the tool used to murder a child made Pelith feel responsible.

“But your hands are clean., are they not? You are innocent of this crime. there has been a misunderstanding. You will not be found to be guilty. Your parents will see to that,” Culia said.

But it will seem as if they are abusing their newfound power in doing so. They would likely be removed from their superior position, because of me,” Pelith stated, quietly.

“Not because of you!” Culia denied. “No. Now you listen to me. The true murderer will be found. You will be brought before Moredian, innocent. There’s nothing to worry about. Come now, let us rest. It has been a tiring day for you. But, I promise you, everything will be all right.”

Pelith layed down next to Culia and curled up next to her for warmth. She wanted to believe Culia. But she just couldn’t. How could everything be alright when a child’s limp body lay in the streets, with Pelith’s knife driven into his heart? It couldn’t. And suddenly Pelith was terrified. Of whoever had killed the boy, of what lay waiting for her in Moredian, of her future and of life in general. and she fell asleep with these thoughts on her mind.

Some hours later, a shout roused Pelith from her sleep. Smoke. In her hazy state, Pelith managed to recognize the scent of smoke. Alarmed, her eyes flew open. Fire. It rimmed the edge of the orchard, flickering in the night. Culia was nowhere to be seen, though her voice was clearly audible.  “Pelith! Get up! Get out of here! Go! Run!” And then a neigh. Pelith jumped from the ground and looked around. It was difficult to breath with the thick smoke surrounding her, still she sprinted in the direction of Culia’s voice, dodging the scorching the flames that stood in her path.

“Culia! Where are you?” Pelith called to her friend. Something was wrong, terribly, horribly wrong. Had Culia told Pelith to run? She’d never do that. Not unless something had occurred that Culia thought Pelith could not handle. Things like this didn’t happen often. All Pelith could think was how wrong this all seemed. How she should be home, being scolded by her mother for something, and spending her time in Culia’s stall. But instead, Pelith was here, searching among the scorching flames for her closest friend.But it was also there that she heard it. It started with a low rumbling, like when you are hungry and your stomach growls. But suddenly, a high pitched scream broke out, and without warning, a ball of fire was spewn only two feet from where pelith had been standing. The wall of heat that rammed into Pelith when the ball of fire fell to the forest floor knocked her down. Opening her eyes, which she had squeezed closed when she had fallen, she saw a small, but growing, flickering flame on her shoulder as her dress sleeve caught fire. Gasping, she quickly patted it out, but not before it scorched her hair. She looked around, terrified.

“Culia-” Pelith’s breath caught in her throat when a large, dark figure loomed above her, it’s face illuminated by the smoke, though it’s eyes reflected the dancing flames surrounding it. The creature didn’t even flinch from the fire, it seemed accustomed and shielded from it’s potential of destruction. Pelith froze, unable to move from fear. The beast’s head disappeared, and a figure pounced from Peliths right, knocking her out of the way of another ball of fire, which hit whatever had Pelith to the ground.

Pelith leaned towards the burning, unmoving object, trying to figure out what it was. A horrid smell wafted from it, stinging her nose and reminding her of when her own hair burn only minutes ago. Was she on fire again? She patted her shoulder to confirm that the smell was not from her hair. And thats when her eyes caught sight of a streak of white. White fur, yellowing from the fire, ran along the black form that had saved Pelith. A horse. Her horse.

Culia.

Pelith gasped in disbelief. This wasn’t Culia. It was a horse that merely looked like Culia. it probably wasn’t even a talking horse. And that white strip of fur on its side...that was just ash, not Culia’s distinct mark that no other known horse had. Pelith began to approach the fallen horse, but the beast that had killed it emerged from the shadows. Pelith stood, not daring to move, waiting for the creature to turn it’s back so that she could run. It’s farsom yellow eyes fell upon Pelith, but only for a few seconds before it turned to the dead horse, plunging it’s razor sharp teeth into it’s side. That was her chance. Without a second thought, Pelith sprinted from the scene and hid behind a cluster of rocks, struggling to breath. And that was the moment that she knew. She knew that she could no longer stay in Moredian. She knew Culia had died only moments before. And she knew what had killed her beloved horse.

A dragon.

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