The Redwoods: Blurb/Prologue
It'd been 3 moon cycles since I last saw anyone of my kind other than Halien. Lie and I spent most of the time moving from inn to inn, hiding her ears and eyes under a dusty brown patchwork cloak that frayed at the bottom where it brushed the ground. I wore a covering on the bottom half of my face, letting my bangs hide my forehead, hoping against hope that no one would be able to see through my thick black hair.
"Laliena, how much longer?" Lie's big golden eyes gazed up at me, her small dirty hand encapsulated in mine. My gaze softened and I opened my mouth the speak.
Swiftly, I drew a Deggar from my forearm, protectively shoving Lie under my cloak. Her small panther ears pressed into my leg, my free hand resting on her forehead. With the Deggar securely in my hand, I surveyed our surroundings. Dark figures seeped out of the trees, and suddenly, we were surrounded by them. The Humana.
One of the Humana steps forward. I brace the Deggar stiffly against my cheek, my arm up and ready to swing it at any who dares to come closer. I glare at the Humana, he raises his chin, his shoulders set hard and back into a confident stance. Our eyes never break contact.
"We saw that thing's ears. Lower your Shrinan so we can see your face." I grunted, pulling Halien closer, my eyes darting around to try and locate an escape. The man, who I presume to be their leader, waits patiently. "We won't hurt the-" His voice catches, his lip raising in the corner in disgust. "The kit. Not if you lower your face guard and let us see." My arm falters, my Deggar tilting out of position.
"Don't make me do something you'll regret." I threaten. "We don't want any trouble. I'm just trying keep her alive and happy." The leader-humana doesn't back down. His gaze hardens further, the contempt still shining in his eyes.
"You're out numbered. Lower the Deggar before someone gets hurt. We wouldn't want that little kit of yours loosing an ear. Now would we?" Halien clutches my pant leg, looking up at me.
"You won't let the bad man hurt us. Right, Lali?" I stroke her hair, keeping an eye on the Humana.
"Of course not, Lie." Some of the humans stir, one of the younger ones getting an uneasy look on his face.
"Come on, Xander, they're harmless. What is she, four? This isn't what I signed up for." The young one shook his head, his lips set in a hard line.
"This is exactly what you signed up for, Levi. That kit? It might be a harmless little thing right now, but in ten, fifteen years? It will be that." He points at me, I survey the crowd. Enough of them look hesitant that I decide to take a chance. I lower my Shrinan, putting my Deggar back on my arm.
"I'm Laliena Vientak, and this is Halien. We're refugees of the Kandien Slaughter. My parents and hers were killed, their houses burned to the ground, leaving us with nothing. I have never committed murder and I am the sole living guardian of Halien. Please. I don't know what has been done to you or who has done it, but we have nothing to do with it. We have no quarrels with your kind and only wish to pass." The boy, Levi, throws down his sword, grabbing two of the others.
"Come on, we're not going to be a part of this." The leader, Xander, whirls around, menacingly marching towards the boys.
"You will be a part of this. You have signed up and you are not to abandon your post. If you do your family will no longer be afforded the protections of this clan." Levi and the two boys stop, nervously exchanging looks. Finally, Levi makes a stand, defiance burning bright through his words.
"We don't care. We're not killing a little girl or her caretaker." The forest goes silent for a moment, the wind and falling leaves the only sounds. Then, Xander rages, lifting his sword. Levi screams, and I lift my hand, blocking the blow with a tree. I focus, my eyes flashing emerald green. The tree grows, wrapping around the sword and Xander's hand. He shouts, hitting the tree. Levi and the boys look at me in horror, shocked. One of the men previously standing next to Xander makes a break for it.
"I haven't harmed him, he should be able to get out within the day. Go home and prepare your families. He is sure to strike back." Levi nods solemnly, the look of fear still lingering in his eyes.
"Th-thank you." He says before turning and running off. The rest of the men linger. I raise my arm menacingly toward a group and they flee.