There was a foul stench in the air; a gnarly smoldering odor abounded with the burning sizzle of torch fire and forest smog. It was a noxious mix of frigid glacial air and the gnarly unpleasant scents of spoiled earth and putrid night flames that polluted the misty air.
It was a night unwelcoming of the twinkle of stars or visitors. It was a night most cavernous and most shrouded in darkness. The black sky blanketed the landscape of tall spiked trees, patches of rustling bushes, and the creeping of lurking nocturnal creatures. Only a sliver of faded grey moonlight tried to brighten the somber black and blue lands. But it was not enough. The scrawny moonlight was nothing, and for her, it could never be enough. The night was long and endlessly smothering dark. Endlessly stretching. Endlessly growing. Claws out and mouth wide, the sprawling shadows of the night seemed to have an insatiable appetite, and the desperate woman running in the stomach of the night landscape sought for escape.
She was a sprinting, ghastly appearing and ghostly fearing specter of the night. She sporadically pounded her feet and thrashed her arms. With every crack and whip of her neck, she watched the moving shadows and growing trees. Her ashen and dirtied skin was the color of bloodless rust. Wild, mangled, frizzy mixed strands of grey and copper hair sprung into the speeding air. Darkness crawled along the bends and folds of her ripped satin blue sleeping gown, and the speed of her flailing limbs moved so fervently she appeared to float on the damp sodded soil. Trailing behind her was a tail of splattering leaves and splintered twigs. Dirt sludge rammed between her blistering feet, and thick fog air forced its way into her heaving lungs. Under her frantic stomps, the muddied earth and dirt sludge scattered, the pitter-patter of her heart hammering against her ribcage.
She was in flight, melding into the night, and she hoped with all of her might, that she might make it---make it before he could break it. She pressed onwards, aware of the crimson blood dyeing her garment and staining her skin. There was still blood on her hands, and indescribable pain ruminating throughout her shivering body, but she made no attempt to slow her speed. Rather, she ran deeper into the thick black forestry. It was imperative to her to make it. Or perhaps more than imperative. It seemed a matter of life and death that she outrun the distant encroachment behind her. In the sky, she could still vaguely see the trail of smoke cutting through the wind. And, blaring in her ears, she could still hear the carnal howl of search dogs, the thunder of galloping horses, the jingle and shrill of the metal of the saddles, and the cries. It was the cries that beckoned and demanded that the hairs on her neck stand upright, for they were calling her, and mandating her return. But she refused to stop. She knew she had to make it at all costs. Tomorrow was not guaranteed, but tonight she sought to make it count, no matter the consequences or the mortal threat. Thus, she toiled on to flee from the carnal howl of search dogs, the thunder of galloping horses, the jingle and shrill of the metal along with the saddles. But the cries? The blood-draining shrieks of a pounding voice following her.
It seemed no matter how far she ran, she still heard it and felt its constrictive hold. Voices were permeating inside of her. Even if she ran faster and further, the voices most distinguishably of them all---his voice refused to leave her.
She continued on, sprinting until the only thing left pursuing her was the haunting sounds of the night and specters of the past.
Her heart fluttered in anxious panic, and she shuddered at the gush of dead air. She wanted to make it, and she knew she had to make it. Before, she was afraid, and she thought it could never be possible. Before, she wouldn't have run. But tonight was different. Tonight she would accept the blood dripping down her leg, the burning hellfire in her chest, and the wrath of consequences that were inevitable. She knew she could not run without eventual capture. She knew she could not escape her own name, her own face, her own body, and her fate. It was all unavoidable, even as she scrambled away. She accepted that they were inescapable; she accepted her fate.
But no amount of fate would stop her tonight, so she ran and ran until what was forest became road and stone.
Tonight, everything ended.
And everything began.
Suddenly, she stopped running. Her heavy eyes landed on the towering height of the familiar metal gates illuminated by the torch fire before her. She stepped forwards, bloodied feet staining the stone walkway.
"Who's there?" A man brandishing a sword and a torch came out from the shadows. He stood on the other side of the large gate, looking around as the obscured figure of the bleeding women drew closer.
He brought the light of the torch closer, to reveal the distraught, frazzled appearance of the woman. In his widening eyes, he took sight of her; dark red blood seeped through the fabric of her ripped garments and gushed down her legs and arms. She was barefoot, with a deranged look boiling in her cloudy eyes. She strained for breath, and in her bloodied fist she held a single statin purple pouch.
"Let me in," she whispered, placing her shaking freehand on the gate.
"My highness," he replied, stepping back. "Why are you here?"
"Let me in." There was a crack in her voice.
Without another word, the man tugged open the gate as she rushed past, gone with the draft of air.
Again, she took to running until she reached a place that brought a fragile smile to her worn face. In front of her were two wide, pearl white, magnificent doors. She raised her bruised hands.
With every step she took, she was certain that her tomorrow slipped away and for a long time, that was her unchanged reality. But even if that was the case, tonight, she was going to make sure that everything ended and everything began.
A drizzle of blood fell from her arm and crashed to the ground as she raised her hand higher, and without hesitation, she knocked on the doors.
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