If not for the clank of chains and the unnatural way that the chains dragged in the sand, Feira could have enjoyed the morning on the beach. She tugged on them hopelessly for the hundredth time. This wasn’t what she had planned for herself and she definitely wasn’t here by choice.
Why was it her fault that there was a horrible sea horse creature haunting the town? The townspeople were losing their young women monthly and her family hadn’t suffered one loss. It didn’t matter that they were new to town and had no idea what an each-uisge even was, though now she knew that it was a shapeshifting water horse of the seas. Because her mother had given birth to three healthy girls between two sons, they decided that she could give up one of them.
Moving the shackles that kept her chained to the cliffs up her arm, she tried rubbing some of the soreness out of her wrists. How long had she been sitting there? They had dragged her from her home and down to the beach sometime past midnight.
Her father had passed away before they moved to the town and so there wasn’t that male figure to keep it from happening. Her mother did not have any pull with the decision because she was a woman, the same with her two elder sisters. It was her older brother who had stepped up to the plate, fighting as best he could to keep them from taking her. But even he couldn’t fight off the men who ended up holding him down while her sisters shielded their youngest brother from the violence.
“I’ll fix this Fei, I promise!” It was the last thing that her brother had said to her but where was he? The sky had been light for a while now and yet there had been no sounds other than her chains against rock and sand and the waves rolling in. He said he’d fix it but there wasn’t much time left. The townsfolk had come to understand the patterns of this creature enough to know that he’d be paying their village a visit today.
Maybe her family had decided that they’d go along with this murder just for the sake of the lives that they had begun to build. In a way, she could see how their life could be easier without her. It was one less mouth to feed, one less girl to provide a dowry for, and they wouldn’t have to uproot their lives and leave because they did not follow the rules in the town. Her older sisters were prettier and better at the womanly aspects of life. She was always the one who played with their younger brother instead of going to her lessons.
Her eyes began to fill with tears again as she thought over how easy it would be for her family without her. They all loved each other but it didn’t mean that it wouldn’t be easier for them. In these times, it was about making ends meet more than it was following dreams and whims.
Curling up into a ball, she pressed her eyes into her knees and let out her tears. She had thought that all of her tears had been cried out earlier. As wrong as she was, she was still clinging to hope that someone would save her from this. She didn’t want to die, didn’t want to be a sacrifice to a monster. Who knew what this creature, this each uisge, was going to do to her.
“I wanna go home,” she whimpered, not that there was anyone to listen to her. She was alone, on a beach, waiting for her death. That was the only way that she was going to be freed from these chains, her brother had yet to come and there was no one else who cared enough to do so.
“Then why don’t you?”
A scream jumped into her throat and she scrambled away from the source of that voice. The chains kept her from moving more than about a foot and her wrists jerked harshly before she could remember. Wiping her eyes, she looked up at the source of the voice that had scared her so badly.
The first thing that she noticed was how he was only half dressed and dripping wet, as if he had been taking a swim before happening upon her. He wasn’t from the village; she would have noticed someone this handsome. Her sisters would have practically thrown themselves into his path in hopes he’d take a fancy to one of them, not that it mattered that they both had suitors.
While she studied him, she realized that his eyes were filled with confusion and concern and he was waving a hand in front of her face. Blinking, she sniffled and wiped away the tear tracks on her cheeks. “Yes?”
“I was asking if you were okay,” His voice was enough to make her want to trust him but considering her current predicament, she was about ready to trust anyone who would help her. Maybe this man would see the injustice in this and help to free her. He looked strong enough to help.
Holding out her shackled wrists, she quietly told him exactly why she wasn’t okay. The hope in her chest blossomed as she watched his expression darken as she went on. He didn’t speak, but he did reach out to tug gently on the chain.
“How do they know that this will work?” He finally muttered as he tested the chains again. She wasn’t sure what he was looking for but if it led to her freedom, she didn’t care.
“They don’t, they’re just hoping that it will make the each uisge leave the town alone.” It was meant to be an appeasement by making the choice easy. Why would he go for the women back in town when there was a closer and far easier woman to go for?
A frown settled over his lips and she shrunk away from him. It made his face darken in a way that she didn’t feel comfortable with. His eyes sparked with an unknown emotion and it sent shivers down her spine.
There was still the question as to where he came from. The closest town was miles away and he was still dripping wet. Had he swam from there? But why would he do that when it was easier to go by the road?
His hands came up to rest on either side of her head and she opened her mouth to ask what he was planning and if he was going to help free her. Just as the words began to pass her lips, there was a blinding pain and her vision began to quickly go dark.
The last thing she heard was a snort that was extremely horse like and words that chilled her blood even as she died.
“It takes all the fun out of the hunt if they provide me women. I’ll just have to kill you and take another to teach them their lesson.”
One more down, 12 more until I’m officially caught up.
Next Creature: Ceffyl Dwr