literature

Not the Purest of Heart or Soul – Excerpt

This is an excerpt from one of my latest creative writing projects. Please enjoy and, if you have any comments or questions, leave a comment below! I’m happy to receive your feedback. Enjoy! 

“Only the purest of heart and soul can approach a unicorn.”  That’s what my uncle always said.  He never mentioned magical deer, though.  So, I found myself in a bit of a pickle.  There I was, minding my own business-

Okay.  Let me start over.  I wasn’t minding my own business.  I was stealing.  I needed the money, okay?  No, I don’t have a sob story.  I’m not doing this to save my uncle or something noble like that.  I just need to sell these jewels for some gold that I can use to keep a roof over my head.  

Anyway, the magical deer was massive.  It was probably actually the same size as a healthy non-magical stag, but I grew up on the streets in the capital.  I had never seen a deer up close before, give me a break!  Its hide was black as night and the horns gleamed like starlight.  I had never seen anything so beautiful before in my life.  Its black fur seemed to shimmer in the sunlight that filtered through the trees.  It was staring right at me, but it made no move to run or charge or anything.  It just stood there.  Watching.  Waiting.  

Spellbound, I almost didn’t hear the shouting from behind me.  The town guards were searching in the woods now.  They would find me no doubt before dawn.  I had to go and I had to go now.  I ran and the deer ran with me, keeping a safe distance away.  It was disconcerting, to say the least.  

We ran.  We ran and ran.  Until I tumbled over the top of a hill I was climbing and rolled down, down, down to the bottom of the hill.  I felt my head crack on a log but thanked my lucky stars that I hadn’t bashed my skull in on a rock.  I must have blacked out because when I opened my eyes, someone was staring down at me.  

She didn’t look like a town guard hunting me down for stealing.  No, she looked like she lived in the forest.  She wasn’t approaching me, but she was watching.  Was she afraid of me?  Most of me was flattered; I am a scary lady and a thief.  But the other part of me felt bad.  I meant her no harm.  

I started to push myself up, but a wave of dizziness washed over me and a collapsed back against the pine-needle covered, cold earth.  I moaned and tried to sit up again, but ice cold hands pressed against my chest and the majestic black stag was standing over us both.  

“You shouldn’t be here.”  The girl whispered.  

“When you’re runnin’ from somebody, sometimes you have you trespass to survive,”  I mumbled.  

“No, I’m serious.  You shouldn’t be here.  Vanisa can’t hide you for much longer.  You’ll catch his eye.  You have to leave.  Now.”  

“I appreciate the concern, sugar, but I’ve been trying to get up and I think I twisted my ankle or something when I fell.”  

“Vanisa, can you fix it?”  The girl looked up with hope at the stag.  It said nothing and I don’t know why I expected it to say anything at all.  “Are you sure?”  Why was this girl having a one-sided conversation with a glowing black deer with icicle horns?  

“Just- give me a hand and I’ll be up and on my way.”  I declared, but the girl shook her head.  

“Vanisa says he can hide you a little while longer.  But we need to find a way to support your ankle so you can get out of here.”  

“Lady, that deer ain’t said anything.”  

“Vanisa only speaks to those he wishes and he has never spoken to a human before.  When you have proven yourself worthy, he will speak to you.  If you prove yourself worthy… Thief.”  

“Is that judgment I hear?”  I retort.  “Well, excuse me for wanting to have a roof over my head, Princess.”  

The girl frowned at me and looked away.  I think I made her angry.  Too bad, she insulted me, first!  Life is tough, kid.  Learn to deal with it.  I did.  But I didn’t say any of that out loud.  It just seemed kind of cruel.  

“Vanisa, I cannot.”  The girl hissed at the stag.  

I rolled my eyes.  Maybe I should mention this kid to the authorities when they catch me.  She needs to be in the sanitarium before she hurts herself.  

“They will find me.  My uncle needs me to go back for him when we can fight back.  I can’t risk our kingdom for a petty thief!”  

“Wait, what?  Look.  Kid, what’s your name?  I’m sorry I fed your delusions.  Just.  Can you help me make a splint?  We’ll get out of here together.  I know a town nearby-”  

“You will take me nowhere.”  The glare she gave me was utterly terrifying.  No one that young should ever be able to make that kind of face.  I never even made that kind of face as a child and I was a little terror.  “Vanisa, I don’t know what your game is, but we’re not playing it.  This is serious and what good is a petty thief going to do me against an army?”  

“Whoah, whoah, an army?  What?”  I had to admit it: I was getting pretty freaked out by then.  “Alright, uh.  I’m just gonna use some of this rope in my haversack and uh.”  I reached for the closest sticks that would be the right size to use, but all of these sticks were too large or too small.  

The stag nudged a pair of appropriately sized sticks into my reach so I grabbed them.  Hastily, I tied the rope snugly around my leg to hold the sticks in place so I could put pressure on it and get out of here before this lady decided to murder me.  

“I’m just trying to get these jewels to my village so I can sell them and pay my rent for the month.  That’s all I want.  Listen, kid, my uncle isn’t young anymore.  He needs the roof over his head, too.”  

Okay, so that last part was kind of a lie.  My uncle was still living on his own in that little apartment above his shop.  He’d be furious if he knew I was stealing and lying.  Too bad I didn’t meet your expectations, Uncle, but it’s not like I could change anything at that point.  I’d already made my bed and I was prepared to lay in it.  Preferably with a nice quilt from Nell and a fire roaring from the fireplace.  Ah, it sounded so sweet and perfect.  It was all I wanted!  

“Hush!”  The girl hissed at me, slapping a cold, clammy hand across my mouth.  

I didn’t mean to do it.  She shouldn’t have grabbed me like that.  She should never have gotten this close and why were her hands so gross? They were clammy and cold, like the hands of a dead person and there was something slimy about them that wasn’t sweat. I know what sweaty hands feel like and that wasn’t what sweaty hands felt like! My fingers wrapped around a small branch and swung it at her head.  She dropped to the ground without a sound.  The stag reared back and snorted, making all sorts of angry sounds at me.  I didn’t care.  I had to get out of here before this lunatic killed me.  

But just as I started to run, I stopped.  My gaze drifted to the brooch the girl was wearing.  For some random forest-dwelling orphan, she had a very valuable looking jewel.  Something told me to take it.  I don’t know if it was greed or some divine power pointing at me and telling me what to do or some sort of wicked spite planted deep within my chest when I did it.  I grabbed it and then I limped away as quickly as I could, snagging a conveniently appropriately sized stick to use as a walking stick.  Maybe someone up there had a soft spot for a sinner like me after all.  

The stag didn’t follow me.  The girl didn’t make any sound.  I felt very much like I may have made a mistake, but I kept going.  I wasn’t going back.  This brooch would pay my rent for a year!  I could eat two whole meals a day and three if I was especially thrifty.   

In fact, I was so jubilant that when I was tackled and pinned to the ground that I didn’t even hear them coming.

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