An alarm vibrated through the streets of the raging village; a shrill noise, setting fear in the hearts of those who were trying to escape.
Along every cobbled street, in every propped up wooden house and lowly, thatch-roofed hut, candles were flickering to life, metal was clanging on metal as villagers hurried for their weapons, and life was swarming into the darkness like locusts attacking a crop.
On this night anger filled the air, threats and yells flying. Noise was abundant, clinging to ears like tar to a hot pavement, burning.
And in amongst it all- crying. Dreadful, horrified crying; every villager understood the dire consequences of not retrieving the thief. But, though it worried them now, later they would cheer and call for it - for their inevitable and fearsome revenge.
Never before had there been such a vengeful village as this one, written officially into books as Chinako-Rubi, but known to the citizens by many names.
In the town and the forest surrounding it, everyone was hunting footsteps; in the darkness they could not see, and so hearing and sensing was vital and something that they had all been taught to make good use of.
“There!” A glorious cry rose from the crowd and a man hurried into a thick huddle of trees, following what he could only hear.
“Come back here!” He roared, “Give her back!”
“Papa!” A very young boy with pale blonde hair and deep grey eyes called from the edge of the forest.
The man turned to look in the direction of his son, smiling softly. His lips shaped words that tried to promise his return, but the arrow flew quicker, and the man had no sooner smiled than he was lying, cold crawling into his skin, on the carpet of rotting leaves, crimson dripping from the back of his neck where the arrow had struck.
“Did you kill him?” Came the sudden panicked whisper of a girl, not far from the dead father.
“I pray that I did not. But if I did, it is one less person to search for us, my girl. Now come, run.” A man replied, desperation creeping into his voice, speaking also in a hushed tone; he had heard of the villagers’ lust and hatred, but he had never expected the whole village to erupt into a bloodthirsty manhunt after his head.
“No! Return to me!” A woman wailed from the depths of the crowd, steadily heaving her way to the front past spitting torches and threatening blades of all kinds, “We need you here, my love!”
The woman was in her late 30’s and wore her greying blonde hair in thick, uneven plaits. She scoured the trees for her daughter, though her sight grew increasingly blinded by the tears welling up in her dark green eyes.
“I am sorry, Mama!” The girl cried, but the voice was quiet, and grew more distant with each word.
Finally, the footsteps disappeared.
The crowd stood in silence as an intense feeling rushed through each every one of them. The darkness swelled and torches that had been hissing and flickering moments before grew cold and quiet.
And then the swell erupted into raucous noise, like a cannons being fired on the dawn of a soldier’s death.
“Revenge, to you we call! Come to us!”
“CURSE HERINHART, AND ALL WHO FOLLOW SHALL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF HIS WRONGS!”
“We shall be avenged! We shall not be stolen from again!”
The village cried and raged as a single entity and it knew what it wanted - the need growing insatiable, gripping the hearts of each and every citizen and turning them dirty and corrupted.
The curse lit and lived again as the torches flickered to life once more, blazing brighter and larger than before.
Chinako-Rubi wanted blood, and the curse was it’s most loyal and determined servant.