As occasionally happens when I introduce new characters, they take on a life of their own. If you read last week’s article about my upcoming Beauty and the Beast retelling, then you know I’ve finished part one of my new series. The story of the mountain man’s daughter snuck up on me out of nowhere, and today I’ve decided to share a piece of it with y’all. Let me know what you think, and then of course, stay tuned for future installments.
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There was a time when she did not hate her father. Before their village on the ridge of Mount Grimm was attacked by their clawed enemies, and when her father and grandfather taught her knives. She learned that even hunters could have claws, only theirs were longer and much sharper. A hunter must always be prepared to fight as well as flee.
“Stay close, Resha!” her father hissed.
“The beasts rely so heavily on their fangs and hooks, they forget we are smarter,” her grandfather had often said. He was hunting with her father when the enemy surrounded him, ripping his intestines out. She took the news bravely and cried in the shelter of fir trees later. Human-kinde never lived long this far in the mountains, so close to the mirror.
“Resha!” she heard him call back to her again, only now he had turned to glare at her and his rough hands tensed against the handle of his axe. “Get your head out of the fog, pup! Don’t forget we have a debt to repay. Sometimes I wonder if you are too soft to be a hunter. My children are hunters, not lambs! We are so close I can almost taste their blood!” She cringed against the force of his fury, even though she knew it wasn’t entirely because of her. But she felt the weight of his expectations and his berserker hatred for the ones they hunted.
He didn’t carry a torch like Mother. But his eyes reflected the fire when she crept forward to stand between them. His fierce gaze flickered quickly from Resha to her mother’s cloaked frame. Though she could not see her mother’s expression, she felt it must be equally fierce. For soon after, her father bowed his head and turned around to continue the hunt.
Afterward Mother turned and the torch revealed the deep circles under her round golden eyes, the strain she had endured since the last attack on the village. “Stay close to me, pup,” she whispered.
Resha nodded and moved out of the cold shadows, into the halo surrounding Mother. She tightened her grip on the leather wrapping the bone knife her grandfather had once used. They had been on the run ever since the attack, almost an entire moon since half the village was murdered and the other half disappeared. Her father, Wolfsbane, said they were hunting for signs of human and well as beast now. But Resha feared there would be no sign of her kind, only the stink of the monsters that took her brother and grandfather’s lives. She feared they were cursed, the last humans.