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Within A Woven Pouch
With the darkness came a stranger. He did not come bringing gifts, as was custom, but with tales of a great death, a death of fear, and mystery, and hate.
However, he was welcome, for he was one of honor. The village took him to a dwelling where he would be protected and served, with food, drink, and women. It was the way of the land, and the women went joyfully; a child born of such a union would bring great luck to her family. It was a privilege to be tied to one of honor in such a way. So it came that the village elder escorted a woman into the lodging of the honored man.
Her name was Anika. She had been born nineteen season’s ago, and soon she would age again. Her hair was long, and braided, as was the norm in the village, but she did not fit in with the others. She had come to be as a result of a union between her mother and a travelling man of honor. Anika did not have the dark skin and brown eyes of her people. Her eyes gleamed a jewel toned green, her skin shown like ivory.
Anika was deeply honored to be considered for such a rare occasion. She smiled at the man as the elder left, and began to unbraid her dark hair.
“Come, Beauty,” the man said. Anika smiled, her hair now floating near her waist. She took the mans offered hand and sat low on a rug near by the fire.
“How is it that you come to be among us,” she inquired “We are far from your people’s usual path of travel.” She leaned into him. He smiled, pondered for a moment, and began his tale, sinking deeper in to the warm rug.
“I am a traveler,” he said, “a bringer of news. The news I bring to this village is not something to celebrate, however. I come with tales of the spreading of a disastrous race, one of anger, hate, and death.” Anika leaned closer, resting her heads on his shoulder. He continued.
“Far to eth east and north, across the great mountains, live a race of people with skin as pale as yours, beauty. They are a new people, from the other side of the far waters. They come in giant crafts or wood, larger than anything many of us have seen. These… ships, as they are called, can sustain the winds and waves of the far waters, and so these people come. With them, they brought new goods, new disease, and strange sticks that shoot fire and death.
“Are these the death bringers you speak of?” she asked, awed and frightened, but the man merely shook his head. Her eyes widened in terror. What could be worse than sticks that shot death? Noting the fear in her eyes, the man stroked her cheek.
“With them, they also brought a people of great peril. These people are mysterious and keep to themselves, seldom seen by others, unless they wish it so. These strangers have dark eyes and never eat, even when invited to the Feasts of Awakening. They make many friends, surrounding themselves with people of importance, earning respect and protection. Some travel their whole lives. Others live in seclusion.” The man stood up, leaving her by the fire. He walked over to his satchel and from it removed a woven bag of dull colors. “These people are not like us,” he said. He opened his pouch and shook the contents in to his palm.
Anika outstretched her hand, suspiciously, yet curious. The man put the objects in her hand. There were two types of objects, some white, and others a deep color, difficult to see in the dim firelight. She stared at them for several moments, attempting to register what they were, but was not able to do so. She picked one up one of the dark objects, felt the thickness and texture. The dark object was a fingernail, but it was wrong, too thick, and a deep red color, the edges torn and jagged. As soon as Anika registered what the object was, she immediately dropped all of the pieces to the ground in horror. The man smiled in amusement and picked the objects up from the ground, replacing them in the woven pouch. He caressed her hair, attempting to comfort her.
“This world is becoming more and more a mystery to us. Every time another group of the pale ones land on this soil, they bring more of these creatures. The creatures bring destruction.
Anika leaned into his hand, seeking warmth and comfort. She tried desperately to forget the horrible red objects, but her mind wouldn’t let them go; nor would it let her stop wondering what the white objects were. She frowned.
“Do not look so disheartened, Beauty,” the man of honor said, taking her in to his arms and speaking close to her ear, his breath warming her neck and calming her nerves. “There is nothing to fear, Beauty. None will harm you while I am here.” He kissed her lips, trading breath. She let out a deep sigh, settling deeper into his arms, more eager than before. “I am here,” he assured, and his mouth wandered from her lips to her jaw, down to her neck. Anika pulled back to look at him, smiling. He grinned at her.
Anika froze at the sight of his grin. Bit by bit her limbs froze and trapped her into submission. She didn’t even gasp as his teeth pierced her jugular. He held her close, his throat convulsing. He drained her beauty from the inside out.
Minutes later, when he lay her motionless body down inside the fire, a single white tooth fell from his lips. He picked it up from the rug, slid it in the woven pouch, and disappeared into the shadows, not looking back at the flames as they consumed innocence.