Child of the Broken Ones - Chapter One
Child of the Broken Ones
By: A.E. Rhose
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Copyright © 2017 by A.E. Rhose in conjunction with Angelina Sisson
Dedicated to all my coworkers who read and encouraged me to keep going. You’re all amazing.
“How can you keep claiming that, that… thing is my child!” The harsh scream filled the small room as it had so many times before. 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. A well-rehearsed one. One Hadriel always renewed with a few drinks in him.
Seeing what Esmeralda was doing Hadriel kicked out at his wife as she scooted to stop 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.
He lifted the girl off her feet flung her hard towards the entrance of the room.
Landing 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 that if she looked at her father when he was like this it only made things worse. It was her eyes that always set him off.
“Look at it!” Hadriel ranted to Esmerelda again. His pudgy face bright red in his anger and spittle flew 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 bubbled 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 bluntly 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 as trapped as the child and she wasn’t sure what she would do if Hadriel took it any further.
The child didn’t move in her father’s grip. She’d found out early on that if she squirmed it made it worse. But the hollow look in her eyes spoke of the faith she no longer held for her mother and it made Esmeralda hurt. The girl knew no one would save her, and she hated herself for it. Why was her own safety first, why did she hesitate?
“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 clicked before she could have pried it open.
She pounded on the wood until her hands begun to bleed, she screamed and sobbed for her baby to be brought back.
Hadriel hadn’t cared about the anguished screams of his wife as he left the house and headed for the barn. All that mattered was that he was going to be rid of the creature once and for all.
The girl in his hands cried and fought against him as an array of sparks made of fire and electricity shot from her tiny frame and peppered Hadriel’s skin. Seeing it only made him more determined to rid his house of the little demon. He had to hurry too before…
As if the girl had called it Hadriel heard a loud raucous of hooves. That damned horse his wife had found and nursed back to health was tearing its way towards them. Once again trying its best to get at him. The thing was a monster of a horse too. Too big for Hadriel to deal with. It would be the next thing to go once the girl was taken care of.
He swung the door of the barn open and threw the child into a rack of harnesses, where she struggled to stand, as he latched the door shut. That would keep that horse out of his hair.
He grabbed one of his long hammers and stomped towards his target. Immediately he struck out at the girl. Best to be done with this.
She rolled away just as the maul came down. It landed a harsh blow to her shoulder, snapping something with the force. 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, it didn’t belong to his daughter. It was a young man, one that looked barely over his boyhood that towered over him.
Black hair framed a pale, angular face. Eyes of a deeper red than the girl’s glared down at him. It was a terrifying sight.
For a moment, the two men just stared at each other. Then the strange man smiled. It was a sharp, predatory twist of the lips. 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 stared down at Hadriel as if he was looking at something grotesque.
The silence went on for a time. Both men just watched the 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 twisted from morbid curiosity to outright rage at the sight of the child.
“So, it was you who called me?” He finally spoke in a voice that seemed to warp and echo. 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 only made 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 Kiten 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 an extremely 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 showed through that the stranger understood the girl was unnatural.
“I don’t think you know what a demon is.” The stranger bent down, his boot dug in deeper to Hadriel’s chest, the force made the bone splinter. “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 flames ignited by his ear.
The fire spread fast as the man drew away and Hadriel was left to writhe in agony as the fire caught his clothes and scorched his skin.
The last thing he saw before the fire reached his eyes was the stranger approaching his daughter and extending a hand to the child, who tried to avoid the man’s arms. He heard his daughter crying. Saw her try and reach out to douse the flames that roared around him.
But the red-eyed man stopped her. He scooped her up and held her tight against his chest and Hadriel heard him whisper, “Let him burn.” to the frantic child before his screams drowned out all else.
I sat up with a start, my hand still extended as I tried to chill the burning air of my dream. My dream, I sobbed, it was just a dream. A nightmare. Hadriel was gone. He was gone, and I was safe.
I threw off my blanket and rolled out of bed. My hands still shook as I absently grasped the smoky quartz necklace around my neck. It’d been twelve years since Wesley had saved me from that man and two since I’d had the dream, the memory. I’d nearly put it behind me.
I groaned and walked to the small table that held my water pitcher and mirror. The last time I’d had this dream my necklace had fallen off and the human family Wesley had brought me to had seen my true self. Something I did not want to happen again, not after how my own parents had reacted to it. It hadn’t slipped had it? Please let it not have slipped again.
I looked into the small ornately decorated glass, mostly to reassure myself, and found a young woman with dark hair and brown eyes looked back at me. Normal ears. Normal eyes. Normal hair. Nothing ethereal or odd. Wesley’s charm still held its magic. So why had I had that dream?
A knock on my door drew my attention away and I looked up to find my mother, the human woman who Wesley had easily convinced to adopt me, stood in the doorway. She smiled at me and held up an apron.
“Think you can give me a hand, dear?” She asked a bit tiredly. “We’re in for a big day. The front room is full and there are several more carriages on the roads.”
With the best smile I could muster I nodded and took the apron. This woman had taken me in when no other human would. Accepted me when others had only seen me as a monster. She’d been kind, knowing I wasn’t as human as she and she’d not treated me any different than her own young when it came to my upbringing. I owed this woman. I owed her everything.