The Poison Garden

In the dead of night a girl flees all she's ever known, fearing for her life and seeking to save that of her brother.
Far into the forest, beyond yew trees grown on human flesh, she seeks the Serpent, a small community of individuals secretly thriving away from the pious eyes of the Garden.
If she's lucky, their interests might just align.

Follow Henbane, Bluebottle, Mistletoe and others as they seek to tear down their old lives in order to build them anew.

(Cover by WinterSoldier)

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25. Chapter 24 - Artemis

Open it.

Open it.

Open it.

Open it.

Open it.

Let it bleed.

 

“You had another chance.” I’m roused by the voice, but not enough to wake, “I told you it wouldn’t be so easy.”

A child, standing on the edge of my vision, standing in the deep dark blackness of sleep.

A dream splitting a nightmare.

A child in skins and furs. Their hair streams from their head in slick black droves, plastered against honey-coloured cheeks. They watch me with stern eyes the colour of swamp moss.

There’s something distracting about the way their nose crinkles.

They look like a rag walking.

They don’t walk. They don’t move at all. They just become closer.

“Death is an addiction,” A child’s hand, cold as ice, on my cheek, “And you are suffering from it.”

Yes. I try to think, but I am sluggish, you have told me this before.

Then I have seen them before.

Yes, I must have.

But I do not recognise them.

“One week.” They whisper, blinking as wet beads at the corner of their eyes.

They don’t need to explain. I know exactly what they mean.

I do not despair. Not yet.

Why tell me? You weren’t going to tell me.

“I am too endeared by you.” They smile ruefully, releasing my cheek. “You are trying so hard. Make sure it is not for naught.”

My head drops.

 

Thunk.

I wake as my head hits something hard, damp beneath my face.

For a moment, I am not in the present. I am far, far into the past where men in antlered helmets spin and cry around a stone circle, centred in a landscape of the sheerest white.

And then I am back. I am here.

I am here, and I wish I were not.

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