Maeve knew she was in trouble as soon as she heard the mob headed her way. Fortunately for her, when she fled, she was 'rescued' by one of the beasts from the labyrinth for the entertainment of the demons.
If she could survive the demon orgy she might live to see another day.
Maeve was so focused on her thoughts that it took her several moments to even register the noise that ‘didn’t belong’ that she’d been hearing for some moments. In fact, it wasn’t until it grew louder and her brain assimilated that that meant closer that she finally stopped wrestling with the weeds in her garden and straightened, listening intently.
It was voices—angry voices.
They weren’t close enough—yet—for her to understand what they were saying, but she didn’t need to.
As soon as it finally settled firmly in her mind that she was listening to a mob from the village, she whirled in the opposite direction, hiked the long skirts of her dress high enough her legs wouldn’t tangle in the fabric and trip her, and took off.
Thankfully, her little cottage was huddled next to the forest on every side save the one that faced the narrow cart track that connected the closest village to the next one. And even that one was not completely cleared, the trees and brush a cloak of sorts to hide her cottage from any that weren’t familiar enough with the area to know there was a cottage there.
And she was close enough to the thick woods on every other side to have some hope that she wouldn’t be seen by the first to arrive even though her survival instincts, and her distraction, had betrayed her—might end up costing her her life.
She ran until she developed a stitch in her side and then gripped it to counter the pain and ran more. By the time she was forced to stop and catch her breath, the sounds of death behind her had dimmed.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t decide if it meant she had put a good deal of distance between herself and them or if they had only grown quiet because they were searching for her.
She decided, though, that the quiet that had descended was more danger and instead of running when she’d caught her breath, she began to move more furtively—still at her best, safest speed, but far more carefully.
She stopped again when she had reached the stream that meandered through the wood and past her cottage, not because the stream formed a barrier she could not cross, but because she heard an ominous sound behind her.
She caught her first whiff of smoke even as she turned.
Her cottage was on fire.
Too stunned for many moments to fully grasp that it was her cottage, she merely stared at the growing blossom of yellow and orange and red through the veil of smoke that rushed away from the flames. In the next moment, though, she realized it could be nothing else. She’d already taken a couple of swift steps in that direction before it dawned on her that the bastards from the village would have stopped to watch their handiwork destroy hers.
She clamped a hand to her mouth, fighting the urge to rush back to try to put the fire out, to try to rescue any of her possessions she could. Finally, resolutely, she crossed the stream and moved further away in case the burning cottage set the woods on fire and she had to run from that.
When she had moved far enough the smoke had thinned, she began to search for shelter of some kind.
Because she had none, now, and it had been late in the day when she had heard the villagers.
She should have known they would come after her, she thought, feeling a surge of anger for the first time.
They had taken to blaming every ill that befell them as directly the result of something she had done.
She knew that.
The last time she had headed into the village for supplies she had ended up leaving without them because of the looks she’d gotten and the mutterings she’d heard.
There was a sickness in the village.
She’d come to gloat over her handiwork.
It must have gotten worse, she realized, to have roused them enough to come after her. In a general way, they avoided her as much as possible. They were fearful enough of her to trade with her when she went to the village because they thought if they did not that she would curse them.
And clearly convinced, now, that they must rid themselves of her, permanently, in order to have the prosperity that had eluded them.
It could not possibly be their own fault, she thought angrily.
Published: October 2021
Word Count: 15,097
Genre: Dark [historical] Fantasy
Rating: Erotic; BDSM (Bondage/mastery) Not for the faint hearted
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
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