DemonTaint (Sample Pages)

Lady Inata stumbled to her knees, stayed there breathing heavily, staring into the green shadows. Her lips felt chapped, her tongue dry with thirst.

The trees, the trees were huge and wild, hung with forest lace, the canopy so thick that she couldn't tell even what direction she faced, except that it was away.

Away from home, away from the things following her. What were they? Not human, she was certain, without the blue eyes of the blod or the skin colorations of the Clans. What else was there?

The heels of her hands were scraped raw, her dress torn loose from its waistband where she'd fallen. How many times? She took a moment to think of her father, her brothers. What would they think of her disappearance? Surely someone would come after her soon, take her home where her servants could tend her bruises and put her to bed to pretend it had all been a dream.


She tried to swallow, glanced back again, thought she saw eyes in the darkness. She stared, her own eyes dry and incurious. She didn't have enough strength to run again.

Instead she grasped the rough bark of a tree beside her hand and fought her way upright. Her feet burned, like the time she'd held her hands too close to a fire. The rough bark bit into her hands, reminding her of the times she'd fallen.

She faced into the trees on her feet, hoping she didn't look as frightened as she felt. Calm and defiant, but she didn't feel calm at all.

She wanted to run.

The eyes didn't move, didn't blink, and after a time she took a few tentative steps in that direction. Deeper in the shadows she looked up, studied the dark flowers seemingly growing directly from the trunk of a tree. Pale leaves cupped them, making the illusion of eyes staring down at her.

As she took another step those flowers turned, the eyes looked at her and the plant—flower—pulled its roots free of the tree and started down toward her.

She wanted to run from this thing almost more than she wanted to run from the creatures behind her.

Somehow she made her legs move, although they seemed to have the consistency of jelly. She stumbled back, one step and then another, watched the thing make its slow way down the tree. One leg gave out, and she sat down abruptly in the bushes.

The thin stems crackled under her weight. She felt something move under her and rolled, covering her head and waiting for the thing to attack.

A small creature jumped from the brush, away from her. She didn't recognize it in the pale shadows. It darted past the tree and the eye-flower pounced.

Lady Inata hunched, listening to the tiny thing scream, and shifted away again.

A moment later the screaming stopped and the flower climbed back up its tree again, the body of Lady Inata's savior being dragged in its wake.

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