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16+ Language Violence

The Forsaken Race - The Hidden Truth: Chapter 9

by RavenAkuma


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and violence.

Chapter 9 - One More Maggot

     

     

"We're almost there!"

Kita flinched. After spending a few hours in silence, practically in a trance, it startled her to hear the driver call out.

As she sat up in her seat, she saw the rolling hills just outside the window. The sky was already dim, so much that not even the hue of a sunset could be seen. This made sense to her; the trip from Lion's Bridge to the Royal City was long.

When Kita left, she made sure to change into her more versatile gray dress, with a black belt, collared blue undershirt, and darker blue leggings. She only packed a few small things; along with some of Corelia's books, she threw in an old dagger, a box of matches, a jar of water, and a pocket watch. The black bag was small, so she couldn't fit much else, but she didn't want to lug around a huge pack anyway.

She looked outside. They were on the road leading to the Royal City. Only, the carriage was coming to a jerky stop, far from the city’s entrance. Kita was thankful for that; there were always guards on top of the drawbridge, and she didn't want them to see her.

Stud yipped, bouncing onto her seat.

Kita flinched. "Wait, Stud? Why are you here? You were supposed to stay behind!"

Stud just stared blankly at her.

Kita sighed, "This is a horrible time for you to follow me. As if the trip isn't going to be challenging enough, your tiny legs can barely keep up with me."

Still feeling annoyed, Kita checked the silver pocket watch, which dangled just outside the bag. It showed that the time was about eight-thirty. Accounting for the stops they had made on the way, the time seemed appropriate. Nevertheless, she had to fight the urge to seek out an inn and wait until morning.

"I guess I have no money anyway," Kita muttered.

She grabbed the bag and let herself out. On the side of the road, she was immediately greeted by a sharp gale. The air was slightly humid, filled with the scent of rich earth and fading wildflowers. Only the faintest streak of light remained in the western sky, fading fast. She could barely see Stud spring out of the cart.

The driver came around to meet her. "Well, I did what you asked. I don't know what you're looking to find out here, though. It looks suspicious."

"It's complicated," Kita responded. "Thank you for the ride."

The driver shrugged his shoulders. "Whatever. Bye, now."

While he headed off, Kita took a deep breath to steady herself. She asked herself, in her head, if she was actually going to do this. When considering her options, the choice was clear.

Facing south, away from the city, she ran out into the rolling hills.

After a while, when she was somewhat concealed in a shallow valley, she stopped to look around. By getting past the tallest hill, she could see the target clearly, even when it was almost impossible from the road.

It looked like she was between the two worlds. On one side, there was the faint silhouette of the Aubade Palace and Royal City, with its warm lights and secure walls. However, on the other side of her, she could only see a dark and mysterious forest. Even now, she had no strong desire to explore it. Something about it felt dangerous, like it was infected or haunted.

As Kita took one more glance toward the palace, the image of her worried queen popped into her mind. Kita clenched her fists and repressed it.

"Sorry, your majesty," Kita murmured. "Yuna and Mao, I'm also sorry for lying to you. I'm doing this my way."

She pressed on, and when she finally reached the edge of the forest, she stopped and looked around.

She could barely see through the trees, but it looked like normal woodland. The trees grew densely, the meadowgrass faded to underbrush a short way in, and the fresh scent of damp wood hung in the air. The only strange thing was that there were no creatures in sight, not even the nocturnal bats or rodents.

Kita pulled out the map, which was still hidden in her boot. "This has to be it. The Blood Forest is directly south of the palace. The actual border starts somewhere inside, but I can't tell how far away it'll be. I hope there'll be something to mark where it starts."

As she kept looking into the dark woods, she started to feel uneasy. The ominous silhouettes and eerie chirps were making her skin crawl. Even without her damaged mind distorting the scene, she knew there was something off about this area. Even Stud was brushing up against her leg, trying to stick close.

"Her majesty was wrong," Kita murmured. "I know the basics of getting by, in the wilderness, and it's especially easy for me. It's the same reason I hate seeing things like this."

She couldn't help remembering something from long ago. Another memory she wished she didn't have.

           

              

It was late at night, when she was about twelve years old. She had been forced to stay in a forest in the far north of Sybilius, since her father was on a hunting trip. It was quite common for him to camp out so he could get his hands on nocturnal prey.

The setup was the same as always; one fire pit and one tent in a small clearing. Young Kita could still hear her father snoring like a pig from the tent. She didn't get to share it; her father would anchor her to a tree outside, using a thick rope that clung tight to her wrist, the other end too high off the ground for her to reach.

She hated the cold air, the rough ground, and the frightening noises of the woods. She hated the constant feeling that a predator might come to eat her. Most of all, though, she hated the incredible loneliness.

That night, however, she noticed something that filled her with a mixture of fear and hope.

The fire pit still had some tiny flames inside. It would take just one big puff to extinguish them for good, but usually, the fire would've died by now. Furthermore, it would be just out of range from her, but now it was just close enough for her to reach.

“No,” Kita whispered to herself. “I can’t…”

As another sharp gale hit her, the young girl slowly started to change her mind.

She thought to herself, I hate this idea so much, but I can’t take it another night! I have to try! I’ll go to Yuna and Mao, and they’ll help me.

Young Kita reluctantly grabbed some dry twigs and branches. As she crept over to the fire, her thoughts were as panicked as they were desperate. She wondered if someone would see and tell on her. She wondered if a beast would catch up to her. She wondered if she would get lost and be stuck in the forest forever.

Despite all the awful possibilities, she was already throwing the wood pieces in. While the fire was slowly building back up, she winced with every flicker and spit. She kept trying to reassure herself that it couldn't have been loud enough to breach the tent, much less be heard over the grotesque snoring.

Once the flames were big enough, Kita pulled the rope into the fire.

'crack! crack!'

The fire spit even more, and the rope smoked more than the wood. However, as she prodded the blackening rope with a stick, the threads began to snap, until they were all severed.

Kita jumped up, brushing out her dirty gray dress. She tore one piece off, wrapped it around a stick, and made a small torch out of it.

She hesitated; of course she had escaped before, using the opportunities to go into town and visit her friends, but she had never done anything this drastic.

Despite her fears, Kita took a deep breath of fresh night air, then started running. She was desperate to find Mao and figure out what to do from here. Inside, it did make her happy to see the camp getting further away. Her senses even came back to her; she recognized the landmarks needed to navigate, and she knew this type of terrain was unlikely to have predators.

She thought, The things I thought only Father knew, I know them too!

As she ran with her moment of boldness, however, she didn't account for one thing. The snoring had already stopped.

She spotted something amid the light of her torch; she stopped and aimed the flame out.

She was horrified to see her furious father.

"What did I tell you about running?"

            

                 

Kita gasped, ducking to protect herself.

However, when she looked back up, nothing was different. She was still looking at the dark woods, the entrance of the notorious Blood Forest, with only her little dog as company.

Kita gulped nervously. "It's nothing like that. Honestly, a band of bloodthirsty demons is better than him anyway. I'll just keep that in mind."

Kita held her breath as she stepped into the woods.

She could hear the faint pitter-patter of Stud's paws behind her. Even though there was no one around, she moved slowly. Not only could she barely see, but the more she walked, the more she felt a familiar pulse in the back of her mind. The same dark cloud that clung to her, taunting her with the visions and strange feelings, was returning. This time, though, it brought deep curiosity and the urge to move forward.

It was a good five or ten minutes before she finally heard something, and it was as menacing as it was promising. The familiar sound of rushing water. It was faint, hardly audible at this distance, but unmistakable.

"A stream," Kita murmured. "Good, I have a landmark."

Kita took a moment to do a more thorough scan. There was no visible clearing, but she wanted to stop and rest anyway. This would be a dangerous and terrifying mission on a normal basis, much less in pitch darkness.

"I'll find out tomorrow," Kita murmured. "Alright, Stud. We'll stay here for the night, then investigate in the morning..." She gulped nervously. "And gods know what will be waiting for us."

Walking a bit further up the stream, she discovered a cluster of plants around a large, discreetly-indented boulder. It felt like a secure area, as it wasn't easy to see into. The darkness of the night would also help. Even when she started a very small fire, in an almost professional pit, the smoke trail was hardly noticeable. Although she hated the idea of becoming too confident, she felt proud to see how well this was going.

Watching the warm, comforting, familiar glow of the flames made her immediately relaxed. By the time she was pulling a small log closer, to rest her head on, she felt her eyes become heavy.

Of course, she was a fool for thinking she would fall asleep, and was soon stuck in an awkward midway state. Her body was numb and limp, but her mind remained active for practically no reason. The flames just made her feel better about it.

Kita sighed heavily, closing her eyes to at least try and doze off faster. She felt the air grow colder, and from one peek, she could tell that the forest was now very dark. The faintest bit of silver light, like tiny specks through the branches above, allowed her to know that the moon was slowly moving closer to its peak.

Unfortunately, in her state of half-rest, she encountered another familiar symptom. One that was becoming more annoying than concerning.

She could hear words being spoken to her. Whether due to her current state of being or failure to listen, the voice felt faint, yet very close. This time, though, something was a bit different. It was stronger, with a masculine tone and an unusual sense of bitterness.

"You've chosen an odd place to camp."

Internally groaning, Kita spoke quietly, "You were the one encouraging me to ditch my friends and come out here."

"And who do you think I am, to do that?"

"The hell if I know," Kita muttered. "At best, my subconscious. More likely, the voice in my head that developed from my own craziness, which I really shouldn't be listening to. Either way, I don't care..." She curled up tighter. "I just want to sleep."

"And you couldn't do that in a bed?"

"Don't be sarcastic, you know it's not any better," Kita argued. "If this is to prove a point, or test me somehow, I don't get it. I'm still going, tomorrow. It feels like the only way. No one is going to know more about this than the demons themselves, I've established that, and there's no point in interrogating more dumb, useless sylphs. Now please, leave me alone, so I can at least try to get some sleep. Even one hour would be enough."

Unfortunately, Kita felt more tension, like a cloud of dark aura filled the air. She dared not look up, knowing the sight that would await her. 

"Demons do not deal with mortals. They find your kind to be disgusting, and they harbor very little patience. It's intriguing that you evidently share that opinion to some extent, but don't forget that you're still one of them. You still have a weak heart that beats no differently from anyone else in Sybilius. A heart that a demon would have no problem tearing from your chest, with its own claws. That goes doubly for the Zyreans. Your queen is cautious, if not downright paranoid, because she has Sybilius to lose. The Zyreans have no army, no kingdom, and no future. In other words, they have very little to lose, and -as you can imagine- those are the most dangerous type of people."

Kita felt chills creeping through her spine and limbs. Instead of being limp and numb, overtaken by her urge to rest, her body was now stiff and tense. Like she was paralyzed.

"For every problem that brought you here, there are at least ten more factors stacked against you. I don't know if you're brave or stupid, likely both, but if you cross that stream, ask yourself first. Even if it is the most efficient solution, is this worth it?"

Kita felt her teeth gritting, but she didn't have the will to respond anymore. She still didn't know if it made things worse, but it certainly didn't help. Unfortunately, she felt the voice closer and more pronounced. Calm but venomous, laced with pure contempt.

"Think at least three times before every step you make here, and do not expect anything to be handed to you. You may think you're significant, but as I said, all they see is another maggot, and there's a thousand more where you came from. Out here, no one cares, period."

"Thanks," Kita muttered.

"And by the way, I've been behind you the whole time."

Before Kita could even react to that, something landed on her, and she jerked up while barely restraining a scream. In her lap, Stud was shivering with fear, but barking madly into the dark woods behind her.

She felt pulses of pure cold, beyond the point of freezing, coming from behind her. Like two rays, burning into her skin.

Now having to restrain tears, Kita slowly turned her head.

However, there was nothing behind her.


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Mon Feb 26, 2024 3:52 pm
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keeperofgaming wrote a review...



Making my own template now
First Impressions:
Wow... That was spooky. The revelation that Kita's hallucinations were not hallucinations at all is eerie. That means that there is another beast that seems kinda tsudereish. I get the feeling that it wants to somewhat protect Kita, but it hurts her by being near.

Characters:
The Driver- I like how he seems to understand that Kita is doing something different. He also understands that he should tell someone, but to let Kita do what she will shows that he does somewhat understand that she needs to do it. His motive is unknown, but he seems quite kind.

Kita- I like how she quickly realized that her "subconsious" was real, alive, and talking. It shows her intelligence and allows her to realize the danger of setting out on her own. This also shows her individuality as she sets out despite the danger.

Stud- He a good boy.

The Conscience- As I said, he seems interesting, going on my theory, perhaps he is Kita's demon side, or just a demon interested in keeping her alive. His contemptable distaste for the sylph is quite obvious, and his behavior seems more playful than threatening. But, he is aware of the danger and makes sure Kita is aware of it.

Overall:
Good job.




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Wed Jan 17, 2024 10:25 pm
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dragonight9 wrote a review...



Hi Raven! I'm excited to see what this chapter has in store, so let's right into the review!

As I'm reading through:

Right away I wanted to comment on the line, "The sky was already dun,"
I had to look up what dun meant. This may make your writing sound more sophisticated but for many readers dun is such an uncommon word that they will miss it's meaning. The word does fit the sentence though, so totally up to you if you want to use it.

I like how you described Kita's change of clothes and what she brought with her. The cold breeze also matched the dark weather described earlier.

For the line, "By getting past the tallest hill, she could see the target clearly, when it was almost impossible from the road."
I think the grammar could be improved. Perhaps like this: "By getting past the tallest hill she could see the target clearly, even when it was almost impossible from the road." Still up to you though.

I really like how you mention Kita's mind was clear when describing the forest's disturbing nature. Otherwise the reader might have believed that was the cause of her unease.

In this line, " It was rare when she thought for herself, of course, so she was frightened."
It seems like you are making the fact she never thought for herself seem obvious. Did you intend for her fear to be the obvious part? If that is the case move the 'so' before the 'of course'. If not then your intention got across correctly.

I like how you used the memory of Kita's father to build the tension. Cool idea.

Ooooh the voice in her head is back. It seems to be getting its own personality more and more. At first I thought it was a demon speaking to her, but it referred to demons as though it knew them but was separate from them. Very interesting.

Of course that last scare of 'I'm right behind you' is always chilling. It was a great climax to all the tension you built up throughout this chapter.

Overall thoughts:

To me this chapter was all about atmosphere, and you nailed it!

The introduction to the sky and scenery set the stage nicely and you built on the unease from there. A great start to Kita's journey. The loneliness and uncertainty are palpable.

Last thoughts:

I only now realise how important the little breaks from the darkness are. If you had gone strait from the memory of Kita's father to her torment by the voice, it would have made me overwhelmed by the tension. Yet you gave your reader a small break as Kita lit the fire. Then built it up again.

Not sure if this was intentional but it was really well done.

Have a great day/night!




RavenAkuma says...


Welcome back, glad you enjoyed! Thanks for pointing out those sentences, and of course, thanks for taking the time to read/review! :)



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Thu Jan 11, 2024 9:39 am
Liminality wrote a review...



Hi Raven! It’s Lim again with a review!

General Impressions

This chapter had some tense moments and some intriguing moments. I’m left feeling excited that the “dark cloud” in Kita’s mind seems to have taken a shape – will that help her find out more about it? Is there a specific person in the real world responsible for this? So many questions!

I liked seeing Kita use her survival skills. Even though in this case it comes from a bad childhood, I always root for protagonists more when I see them use their unique skills to overcome problems on their own. I think I enjoyed seeing Kita investigate the symbol in the previous chapters too for that reason. It feels like those kinds of scenes show the ‘essence’ of a character for me!

Plot

Something I liked was that the beginning of the chapter skips right to her arrival at the Blood Forest. I feel like that helped keep the pace of the story going.
Something I think could be improved is the placement of ‘past events’, like Kita’s flashback and also her reference to Queen Corelia, Mao and Yuna. I kind of felt like they happened abruptly here. Thematically, they make sense (the flashback is about Kita’s childhood experience in the woods and she’s now entering woodlands + it makes sense for her to think about misleading her friends) but they felt like they could have been framed better. I felt like the flashback in particular interrupted the scene where Kita finally enters this new and interesting location, so as a reader, I admit I felt a bit impatient to see what the Blood Forest looked like.

Characters and Dialogue

Something I liked about Kita’s conversation with “the voice” here is this part:

Now please, leave me alone, so I can at least try to get some sleep. Even one hour would be enough."

I thought it was believable for Kita to make this request of the presence that is stopping her from sleeping. I like the tone she uses as well – it’s firm but also feels like she acknowledges the ‘voice’ won’t exactly just do as she says.

It's intriguing that you evidently share that opinion, to some extent, but don't forget that you're still one of them.

This was an interesting tidbit. I guess one could interpret some of Kita’s thoughts and behaviour like that, but also she could be interpreted as just being an introvert. She doesn’t exactly ‘look down’ on her friends for instance, and she definitely respects Corelia.

Something I noticed about ‘the voice’ is that I can’t quite give them a specific name and face. Granted, they are disembodied at least up until the end of this chapter, where Kita notes they have a masculine tone and they also ‘appear’ as a presence behind her in the physical world.

Some of their lines make them seem older or at least very formal:
It's intriguing that you evidently share that opinion

Others make them seem younger or more casual, as they use turns of phrase that I at least associate with more casual talk between (younger) peers:
Out here, no one cares, period."

"And by the way, I've been behind you the whole time."


It also feels like what they’re saying here is a reversal. In earlier chapters they accused Kita of not wanting to do anything to ‘fix’ her misery. To contrast, here they criticise Kita’s solution to her problem. I wonder if it is truly the same voice talking to her, or if whoever behind ‘the voice’ has reasons for changing their tune once Kita starts investigating the symbol. Not really a criticism, but it is something that stood out with regards to the conversation they have, so I thought I’d explain my thoughts about it in more detail here.

Setting

Something I really like about your writing is how you put these little details into the descriptions, such as in:
The faintest bit of silver light, like tiny specks through the branches above, allowed her to know that the moon was slowly moving closer to its peak.

The specificity in how she sees the light helps set the scene and also makes the story a more unique experience.
It didn't take long for her to find a nearby cluster of plants, with a large, discreetly-indented boulder for extra cover.

The detail about the boulder being “discreetly-indented” is also well-chosen to portray Kita’s experience in surviving in the wild.

Overall

The momentum of the story felt like it was building more in this chapter. There is more information about Kita’s situation with the ‘voice’ talking to her. On top of that, there is a sense of danger with Kita having to face a situation that reminds her of something traumatic and also what the ‘voice’ said about demons and mortals. My main suggestions for revision would be to consider ways to structure the flashbacks and also whether the portrayal of the ‘voice’ is working the way you’d like for the story :D

(As for the flashback, one idea that popped into my head that comes from some more modern, thriller-type pieces would be to weave the events in the flashback in with descriptions of Kita entering the forest, kind of following her stream-of-consciousness. For example:
[Kita enters the Blood Forest and notices how dark it is.]
<When her father used to drag her on hunting trips, the forests would be this dark.>
[Kita begins building her camp.]
<Kita remembered what her father used to say/ do – insert descriptions contrasting her current camp-building with past camp-building>
Not sure if that makes sense, but that’s just an idea!)

Hope this helps!
-Lim




RavenAkuma says...


Okay, I see what you're saying about the flashbacks, and I like that idea of sort of trying them into the descriptions. Likewise, there is a better explanation for this specific session with the "voice" in the next chapter that I hope would make the tone switch a little bit clearer -if not, you can of course let me know when you get there (no rush lol). Anyway, thanks for reading and reviewing! :)



Liminality says...


Ah, I see - looking forward to sitting down and reading the next chapter :D




This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.
— T.S. Eliot