“You useless little bitch. You had one job, one job. If your father was here he’d fucking kill you.”
Leontine overheard this disgusting tirade from upstairs as she was forced to roast what was left of their beloved family pet, or rather her little sister, Lehia’s pet Donkey Serania over a spit.
It was a hard enough situation she and her sister were in anyway, but their mother Cyreian had pushed them both to almost breaking point.
Cyreian had never been a good mother to her girls. They had always been much closer to their father, but in the last three years as the village of Hesora had become cut off from the city, and food supplies had become scarce (thanks to Demons coming to occupy the wastelands in between the city and the outer villages.) Cyreian began to snap under the pressure. When her husband was killed by a Demon raid on the village however, just 2 years ago, her relationship with her children completely broke down.
Of the two of them she seemed to value Leontine more because she was stronger and could look after herself, but still largely held both girls in contempt.
Lehia came running into the living room, sobbing. She hadn’t wanted see her beloved pet in this state, but now she didn’t care.
Leontine hugged Lehia who was covered in cuts and bruises, promising her little sister that things would be different soon even if she knew they weren’t. She’d always defended Lehia when they were very young children. Both girls were still only teenagers, with Lehia being 17 years old and Leontine being 19. Now however, every day Leontine was letting her sister be bullied by their mother, other than the odd weak sign of protest.
Leontine had faced down many bullies in her time on the rough streets of Hesora. Even before the Demons the village wasn’t exactly a peaceful, serene place. With her mother however it was different. Leontine had always been scared of her, even though it was ridiculous as her mother was small and frail, whilst Leontine stood over 6 foot tall and through the labour she’d been forced to take up after fathers death, incredibly strong. Leontine found she still couldn’t stand up to her mother however, as much as she wanted to.
Cyreian soon came storming into the room after Lehia sporting a black eye.
“You were supposed to help me.” Cyreian said carrying a large stick.
“You should have never taken her there in the first place.” Leontine replied, somewhat sheepishly.
“Well I could hardly leave her here to protect our supplies, could I?”
Cyreian and Lehia had attempted to steal from Kenisal’s farm, which normally supplied food to the entire village. Now however thanks to the Demons it was forced to ration it’s supplies until a new shipment came in from the city every month.
Lehia had lost her nerve during the theft and she had inadvertantly spooked several of the animals, which had alerted the owner of the farm. Cyreian tried to take the food by force, but it didn’t end well for her as her black eye attested.
Worse than that however as they had tried to steal rations, then the three women would be blacklisted for the next 3 months.
As it was they weren’t getting that many food rations anyway. They were deemed low skilled workers by Kenisal, not important enough for the wellbeing of the village.
Even though almost all of their supplies were gone, Lehia still didn’t want to sacrficie Serania, but Cyreian had beaten her bloody after the botched robbery into submission.
Cyreian however was more just taking out her frustration out on her daughter for the foiled robbery. By this stage Lehia was so intimidated by her mother that she could got her to go along with what she wanted, with just a threatening look.
Tonight would be even worse for Leontine and Lehia than normal however as they would be forced to remain indoors at all times as tonight was when the Liroca Demon prowled the streets.
The Liroca was a particular type of Demon known as a Vandal. Hideous, clawed, soul devouring monsters. There were hundreds of different breeds of Vandals, all with their own powers, but they all fed on souls.
The Liroca could not enter a house uninvited and therefore at night the people of the village would make sure they remained indoors. The Demon however would still snack on several of the homeless and the guards who did their best to try and protect the village.
The beast arrived in the village every night of the first week of a new month. Its hunting habits were so rigid, yet in all this time no one had been able to lay a trap for the beast. Its biggest strength was the fact that it could phase through solid objects and avoid any attempt to stab its heart with a silver sharp (its only weakness alongside sunlight.) The enchantments that had been supplied to the city had been able to hold out most of the other Demons that prowled the wasteland, but the Vandal’s teleporting powers were evidently able to overcome any type of magic.
“I hope you didn’t lose the silver knife.” Cyreian said to Leontine.
“It’s in my room. We won’t need it. The Vandal will have plenty of homeless to feast on. As bad as things are for us we can always be thankful we have a roof over our heads.” Leontine said.
“Not when you share it with a worthless idiot like this.” Cyreian spat at Lehia. “Is dying slowly from hunger because of this idiot worse than a quick stab in the stomach by some clawed Demon? Mind you either way I’ll be free of her.”
Ignoring her mothers cruel taunts, Leontine started to cut large chunks off of Serania’s body.
Lehia couldn’t take it anymore. For a moment she almost considered running out into the streets and letting the Vandal eat her, but then she thought about how she couldn’t leave Leontine with their mother and so she simply ran upstairs again.
“She’s not getting off that easy. I’m going to make sure she eats some of that stupid animal she loved so much. For her sake as much you understand. She needs to keep her strength up.”
Leontine slammed down two large chunks of burnt meat on the table.
It wasn’t the most appetizing looking meal. The primitive equipment Leontine had and her lack of cooking skills in general had burnt it to the point where it looked more like charcol.
“Useless fucking animal. Could never carry anything, was babied by that moron up there, ate too much, and now even in death it makes for a disgusting meal.” Cyreian said as she spat out bits of the foul “meal” in front of her.
“To think what we could have been eating tonight instead.”
“What do you think happened? Your sister. She messed up again like she always does, and as per usual I paid the price for it.” Cyreian said as she gently felt her black eye.
“She spends far too much time up there, time she could be working. Is it any wonder she’s so useless.”
“Can you blame her for wanting to be up there away from you?” Leontine said, still somewhat meekly.
“What was that?
“You heard me?” Leontine said whilst not even looking up at her sorry excuse for a mother.
“I know she doesn’t always pull her weight, but she’s just a child.”
“There’s no such thing in this world as just a child anymore.” Cyreian said firmly. “Look at it out there. Everybody too scared to leave their houses because of one Demon. One. Beyond our village meanwhile there are hundreds of thousands of Demons worse than that creature we’ll all be hoping settles for some bloody tramp tonight All over the world there are more and more of those monsters every year. Either crawling out of the hell they came from, or turning other people into monsters like them. How can you possibly expect someone like Lehian to cope if she’s not going to toughen up a little.”
“You’re not doing it to make her cope. You’re doing it because you can’t cope” Florence said, for once with a bit more confidence.
“What do you mean?”
“You can’t cope. You’ve failed your daughters and you know it.”
Before Leontine could even finish, her mother struck her across the face. It barely hurt Leontine, but she had to control her anger all the same.
Cyreian, foolishly thinking her girl was afraid of her, picked up her stick and slammed it down on the table.
“Another fucking word and I’ll throw you out there to be eaten by that Vandal. Understand.”
Leontine didn’t say anything but she stood up, towering over and glaring at her mother which unnerved Cyreian for a few minutes before Leontine went up to her room. Cyreian then threw the burnt meat her daughter had made out of the window.
“Useless pet for a useless girl” she said before stomping off to bed.
Neither Cyreian or Leontine would get to sleep however. It was always difficult whenever the Vandal stalked the village. Leontine would always looked out the window of her room, clutching the silver knife in case the monster got anywhere near.
There was no sign of the Demon in her neighbourhood. In fact she had only seen it come by this area once. She’ll never forget the sight of the monster murdering an old homeless man. The Vandals fed using their claws. They’d stab their clawed hands into their victims chests or stomachs and absorb their souls into their bodies, destroying them in the process. The Vandal didn’t just kill their victims, they destroyed everything about them, making them among the most feared Demons.
After a few hours Leontine started to drift off, but she was soon roused by the sound of screaming across the hall.
“I knew it. I knew it, you lying, cheating little bitch!” Cyreian screamed before storming out of the room holding a small rabbit. Cyreian spotted Leontine peering out of the door and shouted at her.
“Can you believe this, we’re starving and she is keeping this rodent from us?”
“Please, please it’s the only friend I have.” Lehia sobbed on her knees.
Leontine tried to calm Lehia down, but her little sister couldn’t take it anymore and ran down the stairs after her mother.
In the living room, Cyreian was already wielding a cleaver, preparing to part the animals head from its shoulders. This time Lehia tackled Cyreian, but Cyreian not only pushed her to the ground but actually held her meat cleaver up.
For once however, Lehia stood up to her mother and tackled her mother to the ground. She then opened the door to the house and put her rabbit outside. The Vandal wouldn’t hurt the rabbit. It was only interested in people, but there is no way that Cyreian would risk going outside to get the rabbit back.
“You nasty, spiteful little bitch. You’d let your mother and your sister starve to save that dumb animal.”
Cyreian threw her cleaver at Lehia which narrowly missed her and smashed the window behind. She then picked up her stick and started to batter Lehia viciously.
“I’m fed up with you. ” Cyreian said as she dragged her daughter to the fire place.
“No please, please, Leontine, help me, help” Lehia shouted.
Leontine couldn’t take it anymore. Her mothers pitiful attempts to bully her earlier had alerted Leontine to just how pathetic and frail her mother was. She rushed down the stairs and stopped her mother from sticking Lehia’s face in the fire.
Cyreian then tried to strike Leontine, but she easily pulled the stick from her crazed mother. Overcome with rage Leontine hit her mother over the head with her own stick.
Cyreian was instantly knocked to the floor, weak and bloodied.
For the first time Leontine saw her mother as the weak, cowardly, feeble woman she was. No longer did she seem like the powerful figure who could throw her out onto the streets, take away her food supplies for several days, or lock her in her room.
All of the repressed anger and hatred she had for mother came flooding out and she repeatedly hit Cyreian whilst she was on the floor with her own stick until it broke. She then started to punch her face with all her strength for several minutes until ironically Lehia had to intervene.
“Stop it, stop it. Please, please.”
Leontine pulled back, but it was too late. Her mother was dead.
“What did you, what did you do.” Lehia said.
“I, I don’t know I just. I couldn’t stop.” Leontine said whilst shaking, her fist dripping with her own mothers blood.
“What are we going to do? They’ll kill you.”
“And then what’ll happen to you? There’s no way you can do my job, you’ll lose the house and then sooner or later, be meat for that monster out there.”
A few minutes passed during which Lehia did nothing but sob.
“We have to get out of here now.”
“What the house?? We can’t the Vandal’s outside.”
“I’m not just talking about the house. This entire village. We need to get out now.”
“The only thing out there is a desert filled with Demons.”
“There are other villages we can get too in the desert. Villages that have done better during the crisis, that aren’t dependent on those idiots in the city.”
“We can’t those monsters they’ll kill us.”
“If we stay here, we’re both as good as dead. Isn’t it better to try and make it across those badlands, than just sit back and wait for them to break my legs and throw me out with the Demons, or throw you out onto the streets where if the Vandal dosen’t get you, hunger will?”
To Be Continued