Escaping Fate Chapter 1

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*** Because Escaping Fate is currently enrolled in Kindle Select, I can only post a few chapters. If you would like to read the rest of the book, I am willing to gift Kindle copies to those who are willing to review on Amazon and Goodreads. Please message me if you are interested :)

Escapinf Fate will also be FREE on Kindle 2/26 - 2/28

Chapter One

Voices whisper, chasing away sleep. Pounding and screaming pull her fully to consciousness. She sits up trying to shake away the dream. Her father rushes over to her, forcing her to admit this is no nightmare.

Konētl, child, don’t move. Don’t make a sound." He rushes over to the window and peeks through the slats of wood covering the window above his bed. She sees his body stiffen at what he sees and fear paralyzes the young girl’s body. All her life she has been haunted by the fear that this would one day come. She knows, but she asks her father anyway.

Tahtll, Father, what is happening?” she asks.

Shuffling away from the window, her father moves to the door and presses his aging back against it. They both know that the men outside mean them harm. Holding a finger up to his lips he signals for his daughter to stay quiet. Huddling in her thin blankets, she tries to keep herself from crying. Silent tears slip down her cheeks as the chaos continues.

The crashing and pounding grows louder every second, and the young girl cries out to her father. “Why are they doing this? Why won’t they leave us alone, Tahtll?”

The angry mob’s thunderous hits knock the old man away from the door for a brief second before he can force himself back against it. He continues to strain against the door as he calls out to his daughter. “Go, hide, konētl. Do not let them find you or they will take you. Hide!”

Needing no further motivation, the terrified girl runs from her pallet bed just as the splintering of wood announces the intruders’ arrival. She lunges for the only real piece of furniture in the room, a large wooden cupboard that stands just high enough off the ground to let the girl slip under it. Curling up on the floor, she tucks in every part of her body and tries unsuccessfully to shut out the sounds around her.

“Give her to us, now!” somebody shouts.

“Get out of my house! You have no right to be here. Leave my daughter alone,” the girl’s father pleads. He tries to block them from entering any further, but the crowd of angry men pushes him aside. The mob’s feet trample through the tiny hut, knocking over chairs and tossing the two beds in search of the child. Burying her silent sobs in her hands, she prays to the gods that they will not find her. Her father has kept her alive so far. He has to be able to do it again.

The young girl can hear her father’s voice as the men search, begging them to leave, and even resorting to threatening them with harm. Her father is an old man, though. He has little strength left to try and defend the last of his family.

“Please leave us alone,” he sobs. “Please do not take her away from me. She is all that I have left.”

“Shut up, old man,” someone bellows. “She belongs to the gods now.”

“No!” her father screams. She sees his gnarled feet scramble across the floor as he tries to overcome one of the men. The crack of his bones resounds in the little hut. The girl cries out when his face falls into the dust just inches away from her own. Dark blood drips down his unmoving face.

Covering her mouth right as she realizes she screamed aloud, she prays that no one heard her cry. The gods are not listening to her pleas tonight. They want her for their own. Hands plunge in at the girl and grab at her from every angle. Screams burst out of her as she tries to wriggle out of their grasp. They fight over her, yanking her back and forth, before they finally pull the screaming girl out from under the cupboard.

“Let go of me,” she begs. “Let go! Get your hands off me!”

Nobody listens to her pleading. They simply drag the girl upright and start yanking a dusty, roughly woven bag over her head. She tries to scream again for help, surely someone in the village will help her, but the dust fills her lungs and sends her into a coughing fit. Tight cords wrap around her hands and feet as they all laugh about their conquest. Helpless, she can do nothing as they carry her away to meet the gods.

But the meeting cannot happen until she is purified.

Sitting in a room far away from her home, days later, the girl’s raven hair is brushed until it shines. Each stroke with the fine bone comb tilts her head, rippling the black cascade of her hair. Her almond-stained skin, shining with fragrant oils, glitters in the flickering candle light. The scents from the citrus and vanilla oils are so strong it is intoxicating. Her expressionless face is dusted with heavy white powder, covering her tear streaked cheeks and red eyes.

Delicate magnolia flowers are carefully woven into her silky black hair, by fingers aged and skilled. A harsh black paint accentuates the lids of her strange, silvery eyes. Yellow falls down her cheeks like rain. Each color they apply has a meaning and purpose specific to the ritual. She knows the ritual well, even though her father tried to protect her from it all her life.

A simple, roughly woven white dress is tied around her thin body. Heavy earrings hang down to her shoulders. Turquoise armbands pinch her arms, hinting at the pain awaiting her. Knotting the red sash tightly around her waist, a thick woven blanket is drawn back from the doorway, allowing the malicious sun to display her to the waiting, bloodthirsty crowd beyond.

The noon hour warmth cannot pierce her angry heart when she beholds the great stone temple that will be her final destination. Memories of facing the priests the day before make her anger surge. They are responsible for this. They put her here. A sharp word from one of her caretakers finally forces her to step out of the hut and into the sunlight. She blinks at the sun’s glaring glory and hates it with all her soul. She had loved its beauty as a child, but now she fears it.

The bright sun gives away her secret fear, stinging her eyes and releasing her tears. Her painted face gives no glimmer of emotion. Only her shining silver-green eyes hint at the terror she feels beneath the façade.

The women who prepared her for this hour guide her toward the temple. The crowds part before them, cheering for their sacrifice. But the beautiful young woman hears nothing and sees only a haze of movement. Her feet can no longer move as they should. Each one of her steps is halting and fearful.

Her tremendous fear makes her legs quiver, and she almost collapses when her bare soles touch the first step of the temple. The soft touch of her feet on the stone seems to echo with deathlike finality. Now she can never turn back.

Hope abandons her as she halts on the first step. She is joined by two towering figures, the guards who will never allow escape. They do not touch her for fear that they will die with her. To keep her secured, one stands in front and one follows behind. The solemn procession begins the slow climb up the temple steps. The tear streaked ceremonial makeup cannot hide the growing horror that gathers in the girl’s heart as the stone path takes her to her end.

As her tears fall, a grey mist gathers around the scene. The raven haired girl is slowly consumed by it, hiding her from view.

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