Eyes bore into her, faces slowly contorting to disgust, fear, and shock. She could feel the tension stick to her skin, weighing her down and filling up her lungs so she couldn’t breathe. Gaius stood prominently in the center, the anger on his face unnatural and menacing. In clenched hands was his great-sword, pointed at the ready. Pointed directly at her.
Raven stumbled backwards as sweat rolled down her skin. She shook as she opened her mouth, but her throat constricted before she could even speak. There was no need to speak. She knew what was happening. It was the same scenario that repeated in her mind for days on end, whenever there was a slow day at the shop. Whenever she spent too long thinking. Whenever she looked at the other people in Sharance, imagining just what they would think if they knew what she really was.
Hands trembled as she lifted them up in a pathetic attempt to defend herself.
She recoiled as her fingers entered the fringes of her sight. They were drenched entirely with blood; rolling down her arms and soaking into her skin. A small strand of periwinkle hair intertwined in the blood, the ends twitching in an attempt escape the fluids.
She stumbled back, head spinning at what she had done. Her heels caught against something and sent her falling backwards. She landed straight onto her side, but didn’t dare to move at the sight of the mound her legs now draped over.
Dead eyes stared at her, hair barely concealing the pain branded into the features of the body’s face. Multiple puncture wounds decorated her torso. Talon wounds, the same Raven saw on monsters that she had to fight on occasion outside of town. Raven could barely keep the bile down when she looked into Sofia’s eyes. She had killed Sofia.
Hands darted towards her face, only to feel the remnants of feathers still embedded into her skin. She tore her hand away, flinching when a large red feather was plucked from her face to sit in the palm of her hand.
A shadow overcame her, familiar boots positioned at the other side of Sofia’s corpse. Raven looked up, eyes wide when she saw Micah giving her that same look, the look that screamed fear and hatred. It fit to look at a creature like her in that way. She was always a monster, and she was idiotic to have believed otherwise.
Raven didn’t move as Micah lifted his blade. She only stared at him, accepting the truth as the edge came down like a guillotine.
His face screamed normalcy, a bright smile that always accompanied him wherever he went. Raven stood still for a moment, still feeling the feathers digging into her face and the blood that stuck to her hands. She could still see the townspeople staring at her for who she was, and it had taken all of Gaius’ prodding to even get her working that day. She swallowed, trying to shove the nightmare down. Not a nightmare. A warning.
“Hmph…” Raven barely let out the sound, still trying to keep herself together. It was the only thing she could do. She had to keep people away. It was the only solution.
Micah was taken aback, though his smile only faltered for a fraction of a second, “I…was wondering. Would you like to come with me to – ”
“Huh?” Micah looked surprised. Raven tried not to let her fears get the better of her, but in her mind this was the best solution. If she went with Micah on another exploration of an area, then there was a chance she would let go. A chance that she couldn’t afford to take for the safety of the entire village.
“I’m busy,” Raven offered when Micah remained silent for too long. She could see him look at her with those eyes, the perceptive eyes that Gaius also had. The ones that could see underneath the surface with a cloudy perception. Micah opened his mouth, taking in a deep breath before looking at her with genuine concern.
Her mouth opened to spew another response, but the words balled up in her throat. She stared at the blond, forcing a few stutters out of her throat before shutting her mouth. His face remained unchanged, expecting the very truth that she didn’t want to reveal. He didn’t need to know. He had no business asking about her problems. If he knew what she was, he would hate her.
She didn’t want him to hate her. Anything but that.
Raven turned, swallowing before walking to the stairs.
“Raven…?” Micah called after her, but she didn’t hear footsteps follow as she ascended. She walked to her room and locked the door behind her.
For ten minutes she stood with her back to the door as she steadied her breath. Micah never followed. She should have been feeling grateful that he had finally learned to stay away. One part of her felt as if a hole had opened up inside of her. She forced the feelings away. Micah was right to just let it go. She couldn’t let anyone know what she was. Least of all the one person who kept smiling at her despite her guarded nature. The only person other than Gaius who would do such a thing.
She could never let him know.
She was just a monster.