New voices, new flash-length fantasy.
A Future Bright
By Linda M. Crate
It seemed hopeless. The beast was roaring and devouring men as if they were apples it were plucking off an apple tree.
Yet she had always been made of stronger ilk than most of the women of her time. She was no shrinking violet, she would rise to the occasion.
The autumn wind danced around her shoulders and blew thick strands of her hair into her eyes.
Lucille felt an unfavorable chill slipping over her shoulders and she turned to access the situation around her. She was fairly certain that someone was watching her, but whomever it was kept to the shadows as sinuously as if it were their lover.
Brushing that aside she tossed her thick mane of dark brown hair to the side, her grey-blue eyes taking in the situation. Four slayers laid slain already—and her partner was nowhere to be found.
She eyed the hydra with disdain, growling as another slayer went for yet another head. "Does it not have enough heads?" she shouted in disgust, grinding her heels into the dust. "Enough of that. Go for it's heart, you fool!"
Petula nodded approvingly. "Lucille is right," she hissed to the others. "Listen to her."
She watched the young girl as she tucked and rolled, putting herself closer to the heart of danger and yet close to the creature's heart. The counsel woman watched her prodigy as she took down the beast on her own, smirking as the blue black blood of the creature stained the girl's sword and the beast shrieked in agony before falling dead at her feet.
"Quite pathetic," Petula scoffed, glancing around. "That a fourteen year old girl can take down a beast easier than the lot of you," she retorted. She glanced at Lucille. "You show good potential, I think you can convince Evan that you should be a slayer yet," she winked. "You, there, take her sword and clean it."
"Why should I have to—?"
"Do as you're instructed and don't ask questions," Petula snarled, narrowing her eyes at the young man.
"It's okay, I can—."
"Don't be silly," Petula interrupted. "I know you're more than capable of cleaning your own sword. I don't want you to. We need to discuss your future with Evan."
"Yes," came a voice. "It seems that you show good potential indeed," Veronique remarked. It had been a long time since Lucille had seen the woman. Veronique had been the one that had saved her when she was a mere child from dangerous creatures that had slain the rest of her family. It was because of Veronique that she wanted to be a slayer. "Good technique, you have a good eye for that sort of thing."
"Thank you, Lady Veronique."
"Veronique to you, Lucille," the woman smiled.
It was the first time that Lucille had ever seen the woman smile. "Okay, Veronique," she remarked, inclining her head with a smile of her own. Her eyes slipped into the green they always did when she was happy.
"Evan will meet us at The Spotted Deer," Veronique went on. "He sent me after you."
"Was it your presence that I felt then?"
"Yes, and you felt my presence in the midst of all that chaos?"
Lucille nodded. "Yes, m'lady."
Veronique smiled. "Evan will be very pleased. You show much potential indeed. He has never been partial to lady slayers but he has made exceptions in the past for Petula and myself, I think you will find great favor in your chosen profession with him."
The girl smiled. For the first time in a long time she felt good. She had done something noteworthy and no one would ever take that from her. She would show those men that women were just as good slayers and hopefully champion for more women slayers in the future. Goodness only knew the world didn't have a shortage of monsters, though, Lucille was determined to make a mark in their numerous number.
"It is good to see you smile," Petula noted. "You are far too serious."
"I'm usually lost in my own little world," Lucille protested. "But I will pull myself from my ruminations tonight."
"Wise decision," Veronique nodded. "Your future is very bright, young Lucille."
- - -
Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. She currently resides in Meadville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. Recently her two chapbooks A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press - June 2013) and Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon - January 2014) were published. Her fantasy novel Amethyst Epiphany is forthcoming from Assent Publishing.
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