Promptly Penned ~ February Monsters

It’s Valentine’s Day, not that I celebrate it. Well, maybe if I actually had a boyfriend, I would, but… That’s okay. Now, I don’t have to worry about there being chocolate in the house 🙂  Anyway, this month’s prompt is an interesting one…

Her/His life changed when she/he learned the monsters were protecting her.

So, without further ado, here’s the resulting story…

Lexi ran down the narrow alleyway, lungs burning, the muscles in her legs starting to cramp. Every step felt heavier. Slower. As if the air had somehow thickened around her, pushing back against her as fiercely as she tried to forge ahead. Pain radiated up her side, settling with unforgiving force in her chest. She wouldn’t last more than another few minutes—not with the wound still oozing blood—staining her skin and clothes a dark red. She chanced a glance behind her. Two of the castle’s guards followed her through the twisting cobblestone roads, slowly gaining ground. She focused in front of her, wondering where the third guard was, when she caught a flicker of movement off to her left.

She leaned back, threw her feet out in front of her, and slid along the slick stones as the other guard’s sword swiped through the air where she should have been, the blade’s tip scoring the stone wall. Sparks glinted in the darkness before falling to the ground like dying fireflies. Lexi scrambled back to her feet, chanting the only spell she had the strength left to cast. Footsteps pounded the road behind her followed by the whoosh of a sword cutting through the air. The hairs on her neck prickled, and she closed her eyes, anticipating the strike when everything paused. She swallowed, glancing at the silver metal blade poised beside her neck. One inch. But it was enough.

The pain in her side flared, tripping her to her knee before she managed to stagger away, the bonds of the spell already weakening. She kept moving, one shaky step after another, until she reached the edge of the cemetery. Towering monoliths stretched out before her, the stone markers scattered across the field. A smile twitched her lips, and she took several more steps across the boundary before finally stopping. Shouts rang out behind her, the men’s voices drowned out by the sudden cackling of crows as they took flight, blocking out the glow of the moon before disappearing into the forest behind her. The guards clattered to a halt, swords raised, their heavy pants echoing through the night.

“Enough!” One of the men walked to the edge of the grounds, glancing at the gathering of headstones. “There’s nowhere left for you to hide, mage. Cross over, and I promise your death will be swift.”

She smiled, bracing against one of the graves when her legs trembled. “If you want my head that badly, sir, come and get it.”

The man narrowed his eyes, glancing at the crude barrier of stone and earth before looking back at his comrades. The others shook their heads, taking a noticeable step back.

The man huffed, then spun. “Do you really think a bunch of stories spun to scare children will stop me? This land is nothing more than a tribute to the dead. There are no such thing as monsters.”

Lexi cocked her head to the side. “If that’s truly what you believe, then, why am I still breathing?”

He shifted his weight to his other foot, once again, staring at the edge of the road. “You’re a fool. If, through some dark sorcery, the monsters are real, then you’re dead either way.”

“Then, I suppose there’s no need for you to take that final strike. Leave now, and you might live to try, again, another day.”

“You’re bluffing.”

He sneered at her, placed one foot on the muddy ground, then froze. His eyes widened, the white quickly eclipsing the black as shadows rose from beneath the ground, slowly taking shape. Growls filled the air as claws scratched across the rough stone. The guard scrambled away, joining the other men several feet back.

Lexi pushed off the headstone, motioning to the creatures amassing around her. “It would seem you’re mistaken. The monsters are quite real.”

His mouth hinged open, quickly replaced by a smug grin. “Then, you’re the one who’s made the mistake. I’m just sorry I won’t get to be the one to see justice served.”

“Justice? What do you know about justice? You serve an evil king who’d rather watch his people starve than lower his taxes. You kill women and children over crusts of bread. I’m afraid it’s me who will see justice served this night.”

“You? You’re the only one still stuck on sacred land. The one about to be killed by the very legends you’d hoped would save you.”

“Am I?” She turned when a massive bear-like creature stopped beside her, smiling up at it before focusing back on the men. “You see, this isn’t the first time I’ve come here. Several years ago, a man very much like yourself chased me in here, then left me to die. I nearly made it to the edge of the forest before passing out. When I awoke, I was surrounded by the beasts you see before you. That’s when I discovered an unusual truth.” She took another step. “The monsters, as you call them, are here to protect me.” She gave them a wry smile. “I’d start running if I were you.”

And that’s it for me. Please visit the rest of the ladies and see what they came up with.

Bronwyn ~ Jessica ~ Gwendolyn ~ Siobhan

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