Are people born as monsters, or do they have to actually become one? It's a question commonly asked, but never truly answered. If everyone thought you were a monster, then would you eventually believe it yourself?
When someone says to love yourself, it's not an easy thing to do. No matter how desperately you struggle, no matter how amazing you are, it's really all just a matter of self esteem. If others hate you and you let it get to your head, then there's really no getting it out.
Cerys was born with a similar problem. Some called it an epidemic with no cure, others called it a curse that needed to be purged. Everyone called it Devil Touch, for it was just like a blessing from the devil, but devils can't give blessings, devils give curses.
Of course, there wasn't just Devil Touch. Those that had been Touched by God had God Touch. It was similar in every way to Devil Touch except that it had been given by God making it a blessing. Angel Touch came next in the line of holiness, a blessing just like God Touch but far less brilliant. Demon Touch, well, they didn't quite know where that fell in the scheme of things. It was loads better than Devil Touch, but it was still an agent of Hell. In the end it was just deemed as Touch.
And because Cerys had the misfortune of being Touched by the Devil, she was labeled a monster from birth. Whether she really was a monster or not, would never be seen, for people refused to even look at her. She might taint their Touches with her "vile" ways if they did. No one wanted that.
Of course, they weren't making random judgments based off silly little rituals that were questionable at best, no, they had physical evidence of the monstrosity she was. Her mismatched eyes, her silent heart, her glossy black hair, it was hard not to notice how different she was. Even Cerys knew from the very start that she was different, she just didn't quite know why.
There was never anything she'd done to make everyone despise her, nothing that she could remember anyways. Her parents had always been sticklers for manners, if ever she was out of line she was chastised. Just the lecture they had given her when she hadn't said "please" gave her goosebumps.
When Cerys reached the tender age of ten, she came to a sudden realization: if no one cared for her, then why should she care for them? It wasn't her job to play the heroine of the town, especially not since she was seen as the villain. A villain trying to play a hero? That was laughable, but if she just went with the flow, then they might not hate her as much, right?
Soon after she took to the streets, stealing food from local vendors and taking the toys of neighborhood children. She laughed at the misfortune of others and danced on the graves of loved ones. The townspeople hated her, and for once, Cerys felt she finally had a place in this world of prejudice and hypocrisy.
However, it wasn't long before fate reared its ugly head. The day of her thirteenth birthday, everything changed.
After a long afternoon nap in the hills just beyond the village's bounds, Cerys decided it was time to return home. Despite her now rough personality, she took care not to tax her parents too much. They were honest and hardworking, and she knew they cared about her. She didn't want to repay them with even more chaos. For them she was willing to go above an beyond, no matter what the consequences.
Upon reaching her little stone house on top of its little lonesome hill, she noticed something strange. Smoke floated from the chimney, and laundry hung from the line, but neither of her parents were present despite the day having been so nice. Panic starting to set it, Cerys ran into the house, looking around frantically.
She couldn't find them, but she did manage to find something. Almost completely out of sight, a little golden prayer bead glinted from the evening sun. What's this? Cerys wondered. Neither of her parents were religious, so what on Orbis was a prayer bead doing there? The realization hit her all too late.
Slowly, she turned her head to meet the eyes of a shadowy figure. Golden eyes, just like the bead.
"You're-" She was out before she hit the floor.
When Cerys came to she couldn't focus on anything but the strange tingling in her hands. It felt as if acid coursed through her veins, but at the same time she was numb. Reluctantly, she turned her head to see a black, thorn-like object sticking out of the palm of her hand. Her expression remained detached, what was that doing there? She didn't remembered putting it there.
It took her a few minutes to realize what was happening, and when she did, panic flooded her mind. The Burning. They were going to burn her alive, she'd finally crossed the line. She would never see the light of day again, or feel the rush of adrenaline while running from angry street vendors. It was truly over.
"Cerys! Are you okay?" The cry burst through Cerys's thoughts. Are you okay?! What kind of question was that? She had giant nails embedded in both of her hands and someone had the audacity to ask if she was okay. Yes, she was fine, just peachy! Nailing her hands to giant wooden stakes was just what she wanted since she was little.
"Just what makes you think I-" She stopped mid-sentence as her eyes laid upon the owner of the voice. The woman was small, delicate and pale. Blood blossomed from her small calloused hands, creating little red flowers as it fell to the earth below. "Mom" Her lips formed the words, but something had rendered her unable to speak.
"I'm so sorry honey. I'm so so-" The words caught in her mother's throat as tears slid down her porcelain cheeks.
What was she doing here? Why was she nailed to a stake? She hadn't done anything wrong.
Yes. Yes she had. She had done everything. She had brought Cerys into this world.
Cerys's eyes widened. If her mother was there then so was her father.
"Dad! Where's Dad?" At this, her mother's eyes clouded over, a sad smile crossed her face. "No." That couldn't be right. He'd been alive just a while ago, but the waves of heat on her back said otherwise. She hadn't noticed them before, but now that she was paying attention she noticed it all too much.
They could kill her, torture her all they wanted, but killing her father and her mother right along with her, they didn't deserve this. They deserved a long life of properity. They deserved happiness. They deserved peace, but not this kind of peace.
"Enough talk monster, light her up."
Below her, a man with golden eyes stood upon a makeshift pedestal. He was short and wiry, but that didn't matter. He had done this to her. To them.
"It was you! You're the one that knocked me out!" Her outburst seemed to catch him by surprise, but he quickly regained his stature. A slow smirk spread across his mousy face.
"And I regret every moment, having to make physical contact with vermin like you makes my skin crawl."
What had she been thinking? Was she really going to be defeated by this little man? No, she was going to get free. Somehow. She was going to kill him. Somehow. She was going to save her mother. Somehow. She was going to bring her father back. Somehow.
A shrill scream shattered her thoughts, ringing in her ears like a thousand silver bells. Flames licked her mother's feet, slowly creeping up the wooden stake, blackening the wood. The smell of charred meat filled the air as her mother's skin began to burn. Blistering, bursting, shriveling, burning. Fire snaked up her body, painfully slow. Each inch gained was a nail in Cerys's heart. This was not happening.
Despair filled her heart, cloaked her body, blackened her mind. What could she do. Her mother was in pain and there was nothing she could do. She was helpless, utterly helpless. If only this hadn't happened, if only that man hadn't happened, if only that man hadn't existed. She could change that.
Now, rage wracked her body, sending shivers throughout. With a jerk, she ripped her hands free of the bloodied nails before falling to the ground. Black blood dripped from the wide puncture in her hands, evaporating into steam when it hit the ground with a hiss.
Before her sat the gold eyed man, he looked smaller up close. She might not have been able to move her hands, but she didn't need them to take down this pathetic excuse of a man. His smirk had faded, replaced by a look of pure terror. Spittle trickled from his mouth, his hands shook despite holding no burden, tears leaked from his wide, golden, eyes.
"I guess I am a monster after all."