A Guardian Angel?
A Guardian Angel?
“How can you keep claiming that, that… thing is my child!” The harsh scream filled the small room. Hadriel Ashden was once again drunk. He glared down at his wife, who coward by the wall of their room, and pointed off towards the small closet where the spoken of child huddled in fear.
“She is! I swear!” Esmeralda inched her way closer to the door, where the little girl hid, to try and protect her daughter without opening herself to attack. “I promise you she is yours!” It was an old argument. One he always renewed with a few drinks in him.
Kicking out at his wife as she scooted, Hadriel stopped her from putting her body between him and the closet. With a snarl he tore open the door and grabbed at the distraught child who tried to hide herself further in a pile of clothes. Lifting the girl off her feet he flung the child hard towards the entrance of the room.
Landing hard on the wooden floor the girl just curled herself into a small ball and tried to keep her sobs from being too loud. She’d learnt early on that looking at her father when he was like this only made things worse. It was her eyes that always set him off.
“Look at it!” Hadriel was ranting to Esmerelda again. His pudgy face bright red in his anger and spittle flying as he yelled. “That thing isn’t human!” To prove his point, he grabbed the girl and jerked her head so that her face was towards Esmeralda.
Wide, fearful, red eyes looked at the terrified mother. Tears bubbling along the child’s taunt cheeks as she whimpered in pain.
Esmeralda knew that the girl didn’t look like either of them. The pale skin and blood colored eyes of their daughter was nothing like the sun-tanned flesh and hard earthen color they possessed. Nor were the child’s noticably pointed ears like their own. But the girl was theirs. There was no other way about it. Esmerelda had never been unfaithful. She’d never even dreamed of it.
“Please, don’t hurt her.” It was all she could muster, and Esmerelda felt pitiful for it.
She was just as trapped as the child and she wasn’t sure what she would do if Hadriel took it any further. Even as she begged for her daughter Esmerelda could see the hollow look in the youth’s eyes. It spoke of the faith the little girl no longer held for her mother and it made Esmeralda ache. The child knew no one would save her.
“I won’t keep this thing in my house any longer,” Fingers tightened around the child’s neck and the girl cried out in agony.
“No!” Esmeralda screamed as Hadriel turned and left the room with their daughter suspended from his grasp.
She tried to run after him, only to find the door slammed in her face. The lock on the outside clicking before she could pry it open. “NO!!!” She pounded on the wood until her hands began to bleed, screaming and sobbing for her baby to be brought back.
Hadriel didn’t care about the anguished screams of his wife as he left the house and headed for the barn. His focus was on the girl in his hands who cried and fought against him as small sparks of fire and electricity shot off her tiny frame. This only made him more determined to rid his house of the little demon.
He swung the door of the barn open and threw the girl into a rack of harnesses where she struggled to stand as he latched the door shut. With an ease born from slaughtering hogs Hadriel grabbed one of his long hammers and he struck out at the source of his anger.
The girl was off balance and she barely managed to roll away just as the maul came down. She hadn’t gotten far enough as it landed a harsh blow to her shoulder, snapping something with the force.
Seeing this Hadriel drew back for another go, this time determined to strike her head.
He never got the chance. Instead, he found himself on his back, with the hammer skidding across the barn’s dusty, straw strewn floor. Stunned he tried to get up only to find a large booted foot holding him down.
A face appeared above Hadriel, and it didn’t belong to his daughter.
It was a man that towered over him. A petrifying sight in the drunken man’s stupor. Black hair framed a pale, angular face, and eyes of a deeper red than the girl’s glared down at him.
For a moment the two men just stared at each other. Then the strange man smiled. It was a sharp, predatory sneer. One that made Hadriel almost lose control of his bowels.
“Who in the hell are you!” Coughing from the pressure of the man’s boot Hadriel tried to snarl but came up gasping instead.
The man didn’t answer. He just kept staring down at Hadriel as if he was looking at something rather grotesque.
The silence went on for a time. Both men just looking at each other. It was only broken by the soft sobs of the girl who had curled herself between some hay stacks for safety.
The red-eyed man looked away from Hadriel at the sound. His pale face twisting from morbid curiosity to outright rage at the sight of the child.
“So, it was you who called me?” He finally spoke. More to himself than anyone. “You’re hurt?” He asked the girl, his booted foot putting more pressure on the whimpering man beneath him.
The girl just skittered further into the hay, too afraid to respond to the stranger.
Her fear seemed to only make the red-eyed man angrier. He turned back to Hadriel. “That Kiten. Was it you that made her call me?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Pain and fear made Hadriel shake and gave his voice a begging edge. “She’s a demon! Birthed from my unfaithful bitch of a wife. If she called you it wasn’t because of me! Please just let me go!”
The man’s head tilted, it gave him the look of a curious, and blood-thirsty, puppy. “Not your fault?” He mocked. “That child is afraid. Now, that is usually what I go for in human young but I’m not fond of scaring Kitens. Now. Are you the one that hurt her?”
“Not enough!” Hadriel tried to reason. “She’s a monster. I was doing this world a favor. She isn’t holy. Magic and foul things happen when she’s around.”
The man’s fearsome expression split to reveal a very dangerous smile. “Do you not realize that the girl is but a babe? A young one who needs help, not abuse? Tell me, is that little Kiten what you think a demon is?”
Hadriel nodded, his hope showing through that maybe the stranger understood that the girl was unnatural.
“I don’t think you know what that word means.” The stranger bent down, his boot digging in deeper to Hadriel’s chest until something snapped inside. “You see. That little Kiten isn’t a demon. But I am.” and with that the man reached out and Hadriel found his face burning as an inferno ignited by his ear.
The fire spread fast and the man drew away. Leaving Hadriel to writhe in agony as the flames caught his clothes and scorched his skin.
The last thing the dying man saw, before the fire reached his eyes, was the stranger approaching his daughter and extending a hand to the child.
The girl scampered into the man’s arms and Hadriel could hear her crying. He saw her reach out, he saw her try to douse the flames that roared around him. But the red-eyed man stopped her, and held her tight against his chest. He heard the man whisper, “Let him burn.” to the frantic child before his screams drowned out all else.