'Then the knife screamed...' Oleander awakes to the sense that something about him is missing. In a small house in a rundown part of the city he's greeted by a kind young girl in a wheel chair, who tells him that they were both saved and asks who he is. He doesn't remember, and he can't reply with his tongue missing. Confused and forced into silence, Oleander can't leave the house, but becomes determined to find out who he was, and find a way to talk again. Though strangers, the two females sharing his house, his saviour and the young girl, strive to help him achieve this. But his world is one of lies, and trust is hard to find... (My 'There Will Be Lies' competition entry.) Prequel to The Poison Garden. (An extra section at the end of this, 'Early access': 8c9db118-2a12-4085-935c-0f72e99e897c ) (All opinions expressed within the story are merely being used for fictional purposes and in no way express the opinions of the writer. I apologise for any offense that may be caused.)


10. Epilogue

Oleander was very conscious of being alive, even if his senses seemed dull.

The first thing he was aware of was a trickling sound, faint but constant. As he came back to himself more, the sound got louder, and with a twitch of his fingers, he felt cold, rough stone beneath his hand. The icy sensation spread through his body as his skin came to life and was aware of what it was settled against, but he had no strength to move.

After a few more moments of listening to the gentle noise - water, it had to be- his eyelids fluttered open, and he stared across at a dimly illuminated stream.

The water in it was clear, and the bed was filled with twinkling stones the colour of a cloudy night.

Slowly and carefully, Oleander tilted his head upwards so that he could follow the stream.

It tumbled over the edge of a small, oval-shaped entrance, about three times the width of Oleander, and barely half his height; a fully grown man of normal size might just have been able to fit through. Light shone through, but it was mostly shadowed by a large, jutting rock

Oleander knitted his eyebrows, trying to remember how he’d gotten here:

He’d been thrown below that giant rock by Darnel Loa... and then hit stone...

For a second, he allowed himself a small, bitter smirk.

I’m not dead, he thought, I was right.

His eyes began to close again, but he found he couldn’t fall asleep straight away, despite how exhausted he felt.

He wondered about Pennyroyal and whether she’d gotten away, or was dead. His muscles burned with longing. He wished he’d saved her.

He wondered about Poppy, and if she’d been affected. He wanted to find her and smack her for not seeing them for a month, not telling them how she was, or where she was, and not coming to rescue them.

He wondered about the cloaked girl who seemed old, and where she was now. He thought that she might have been bothered enough about being his ally that she could find him.

He wondered if Darnel Loa felt satisfied.

He wondered about Death in the forest.

Mostly, he thought about Hellebore Ranuncula.

Was she happy, now that her burden was gone?

The sun was setting outside, and with a long breath, Oleander drifted into a deep sleep with hatred and regret beating through his veins like blood.

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