The lady in the white dress turned to look at me, a smug look on her face as she dangled the bright green apple by its stem. I watched in dismay as she brought the fruit up to her ruby lips, smiled, and bit off a small part. She bit delicately and deliberately with her perfect white teeth. The apple made a small, crisp sound that would have been almost unnoticeable had the alleyway not been nearly silent. There was a rough stone wall separating the alley from the rest of the city, and the lady was standing with her back to it-- cornered, but not frightened.
She lifted her thin eyebrows in teasing amusement as I stopped in my tracks, my hand-- which had been reaching for the apple-- slowly dropping down to hang limp at my side. There must have been something in my expression that befuddled her, for the amusement faded from her face, and her eyebrows drew together, like careful hands praying. I took a small step back from her, and her expression edged on horror. I suppose she was mirroring my face because horror was slowly dawning in my mind as well.
The apple she had eaten was no ordinary apple, of course. No ordinary apple could be that green, smell that fresh, feel that smooth, or taste as good as I assumed it did.
The apple was bait. A mark. It was practically a ticking time bomb. Anyone who ate of the apple would stick out like a flare to the guardian of its tree-- a dragon by the name of Arihed. Arihed would hunt any tasters of the fruit down until he killed them or they died from sheer exhaustion. I knew the woman would have no peaceful days left to live.
I continued my slow retreat from her, shaking my head as I did so. I had come to the market place in the first place to destroy the apple, but it had caught the ladytheif's eye, and she stole it right out of my hand, quick as a wink. I gave chase, but sadly, it was too late.
"Why do you look so suddenly sad?" the woman asked.
"You are a dead woman," I replied.
"How do you mean?" She cocked her head, causing her hair to fall across her shoulder in like a red waterfall.
"You have tasted of the fruit of Arihed the Dragon's tree. He will hunt you till the day you die." The words felt cold in my mouth.
The woman threw her head back and gave a tinkling laugh soured with something bitter. "I've been running from death for a long time. I think I can run a little longer."
"If you want to die, that's up to you, but I can't have you endangering other people. Finish the apple," I commanded.
The lady pouted, but, sniffing the apple again, her eyes grew full of a lusty hunger. She quickly devoured the apple, leaving the core. She tossed the apple delicately over a high stone wall. "Done," she said, her bright red lips forming a small smile.
I felt an anger brew inside of me-- double malt. "You know that is going to hurt someone," I seethed through my teeth.
The woman shrugged, a graceful motion like a cat slinking into sunshine. "If they're desperate enough to eat that apple core, their lives aren't worth enough to save it."
"All lives are worth saving," I declared. "It of the Greater Good to save every life possible."
Quick as lightning, the woman was at my throat, a dull knife glinting just barely out of my sight. "Then save your own, and let me go, boy."
I'd love to say that I stood up to her, refusing to let her go until she paid for her crime. I'd like to say that I at least made her pay me back for the apple. I'd rather say that I had no need to detain her, considering that she had just received a death-sentence anyway. But in all actuality, I was afraid of her and of her knife: I slunk away from the alley like a wet cat, letting her breeze away from me, her red head held high and unafraid as she disappeared into the market place.