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Excerpt of Depravity, Part 1 of the Beastly Tales
I wrapped my hands around the cold bars of the massive, black iron gate and glared after the smith’s sons, Tennen and Splane. The pair cast nervous glances back at me as they scurried away from the beast’s shadowy garden. They had locked me inside because of misdirected spite. It wasn’t my fault I’d seen what I had.
“This is what you get, Benella,” Tennen had said as he had pushed me into the beast’s lair.
Tennen thought his treatment just. However, the current situation was anything but just.
A strand of my dark hair, loosened from my braid by the encounter, fell across my cheek and partially obstructed my view of my retreating tormentors. I shook the hair away from my eyes and took stock of my situation.
Outside the gate, early morning mist floated around the trunks of the trees, and blue sky shimmered through the gently moving canopy. Inside the gate, neither the light mist nor blue sky penetrated the garden in which I stood. Cast in shadow and eerie silence, the beast’s domain welcomed nothing from beyond its walls.
Sides still heaving, I struggled to quiet my breathing. I needed to leave quickly. Tennen and Splane hadn’t departed quietly, and it wouldn’t be long before the creature came looking for me.
I studied the top of the gate. The iron should have been easy enough to scale, but vines climbed the rock walls and twined with the iron rods. I didn’t trust the vines. They tended to move on their own. I didn’t much trust the gate, either. It should have been closed and locked.
The birds outside the gate fell eerily silent, and my stomach gave a sickening twist as I realized I’d run out of time. I dropped my head and squeezed my eyes shut.
The beast had come.