~~Ok just going to warn you... this story is very gory at the start... and it can be gory in other places as well. Like this is full on stuff, so those of you with weak stomachs might not want to read lol~~
Jane’s tiny form rested lifeless against his heaving chest. Her blood smeared his torso and drenched his shaking hands. His cheeks stung from the wounds she had scratched into his face. The deep rivulets oozed forth blood that dribbled onto his collarbone. His baby sisters lay dead, one in his trembling grasp, the other sprawled out hideously across his bed.
He opened his mouth to scream, but all that escaped was blood. So much blood. He began to weep. He had bitten into their flesh, and now tasted the truth of his sins.
Redness; pain; exhaustion.
Nothing made sense, and nothing would for Jacelyn Ash ever after.
Cold, hard fingers closed around the back of his neck. The force of the push sent him sprawling. He caught himself before his face hit the ground. Crimson imprints of his palms were smeared into the dirt.
“Please,” his voice trembled. “Don’t hurt me!” He could still taste the blood. So. Much. Blood.
The town guard curled his lip in a snarl. His fist swung for the youth’s face. Jacelyn jumped back out of reach. It took all of his failing strength not to collapse.
Their confrontation was drawing a crowd. The common people of Summerhill were unused to such violence. Women held their little children behind their skirts; men crossed their arms along their broad chests and wore grim faces. One young lass cried out in protest, another ran.
“Please,” Jac repeated, breath coming in ragged gasps. “I can’t control it…”
“Shut up!” the man shouted in reply, eyes wild with loathing.
The crowd whispered frantically amongst themselves. What had this well-known child of Summerhill done?
“If I’m hurt I…” Jac’s voice faltered. How would a simple man understand the curse that had only just shown its true colours?
It had not been so long ago, perhaps a few months, that he had nearly killed another boy. But that had been different. The townsfolk – his father even – had all played it down to a youth’s violence. But this was different. This was murder.
“Save your breath for screams!” The guard drew his blade.
Jacelyn backed away in dread. His ribcage felt as though it were about to burst open with panic.
He turned, impacting with a large, fleshy object. The smell of grog and sweat offended his nostrils. Strong hands closed around his arms, and he was held still. He kicked and screamed to get free from the large man’s grasp, but to no avail. He was not strong. He was only a boy.
“Do not be so quick to stain your soul with a murder, Alders, as necessary as it seems,” the man said to the guard, who had faltered upon noticing Jacelyn’s captor. “You are a man of Hydeth. It is your task to protect the innocent and the weak. He must be judged by Her.”
The crowd retorted frenetically amongst themselves.
Jac looked up into the big man’s eyes. They were darker than an ocean at midnight. They glared into him with unsuppressed hatred.
“Very well, Logan,” Alders replied, sheathing his blade after a long interval of hesitation. “But I shan’t take him.”
Logan gave a deep, slow incline of his head. Keeping his grip vice-like he dragged Jacelyn away through the throngs of scared people into the familiar streets of Summerhill.
Jacelyn attempted to be free once again, although did not have a clue what he would do upon escaping.
He had killed his little sisters.
No matter whether it had been his intention or no, perhaps he truly did deserve to die for his sins.
Summerhill did not have a jail. The Town Guard building had a holding cell. Jacelyn found himself being shoved forth into the cold, dark chamber to fall unceremoniously over filthy straw and a mucky dirt floor. The walls were smeared with what Jacelyn knew to be human excrement. He scrambled into a corner and buried his head in his hands, shaking with fear and trying his best not to retch from the hideous stench of faeces.
“I killed them,” he kept thinking; “I killed them I killed them I killed them.”
“The Hydethian will be here soon,” Logan mumbled, loathing obvious and thick.
The heavy iron-barred door slammed into its niche. Logan turned the key, glancing up one last time to look upon Jacelyn. His eyes showed no mercy. After a quick nod to the other guard, Logan walked from the building. Harold hung his head and chewed upon a strand of grass, ignoring Jacelyn completely.
Jac held his sides and wept. What had he done? Why had he lost control, and killed his younger kin? He remembered mending Lila’s doll, Missy, when she had pushed Jane into him. The little girl had driven the needle right through his hand when she had fallen on top of him. The pain had smashed up his arm and had filled his very core. He remembered screaming and pulling out the needle quickly… only to watch a flash of blood spurt across the floorboards… and then the Redness. The terrible, controlling, inescapable Redness…
Jacelyn had not believed the Hydethian would be so ugly. He had always fancied that those of Hydeth were lovely-looking people, as kind and caring as they were in nature. Yet this priest was unappealing to the eye. His thin, grey hair was brushed back from his big forehead in a greasy, slicked manner. His big grey brows hung over a pair of dark, blood-shot eyes. His nose was crooked and pug-like. His cheeks were spotted with pockmarks, and his chin was weak beneath an unkempt, pitiful excuse for facial hair.
“The captain of guard tells me you killed your little sisters, Jacelyn,” the Hydethian said upon spying the snivelling youth within the corner of the cell. “Is this true?”
“I didn’t mean to!” Jacelyn shrieked. “I… I lost control! I was… I was cut! This Redness… it filled my vision, and I remembered nothing! I woke… I woke up, and they were dead… Oh… Please… please don’t let them burn me! I… I didn’t do it! I would never hurt them! I swear it! I swear, I swear, I swear!”
Harold’s eyebrows rose in a questioning manner. “Calm, child.” The priest sat and smoothed down his golden robes with knobbly hands. “My name is Father Douglas. I am here to judge you fit to live. And I believe that this crime… is far too heinous for a child to commit. The guard told me that you ripped your sister’s innards from her belly with your bare hands.” Douglas paled and glanced away, evidently made ill at the thought of such a crime.
Jacelyn looked down upon his bloodstained hands. Before he knew it they were covered in warm, blood-speckled sick. His gut convulsed and he doubled over.
Father Douglas sighed heavily, shaking his head in pity. “Possession can give such strength to an individual, but… I do not believe that you were Possessed. Who would waste such power to kill your sisters? No one. I believe I understand the nature of your… curse, Jacelyn.”
“You do?” A shock ran through his aching, shivering body.
“Tell me… When you were ever angry, or hurt as a youth… Was your temper something vile?”
“Yes...” That boy. That boy he nearly killed. It has been pain that had woken the Redness then. But it had not made him kill. It must have been the blood. So. Much. Blood.
“But the Redness… it never came before now?”
“You... you know?”
The priest nodded slowly. His eyes did not waver from Jacelyn’s.
Eventually, Jac found his voice. “Yes. Once. But I didn’t kill him...”
Father Douglas lowered his eyes and clutched his chin in deep thought. After a long, excruciating silence he muttered; “I believe you should be judged by Hydeth Herself. I shall take you to Litherice.”
The City of the Gods.
“I’m… I’m not to burn?”
“I have been to the driest reaches of the sandy Scarred Lands, where men are more vicious than the Salukenites you are taught to fear in nursery rhymes. Yet even there… where people are rumoured to sacrifice little children to the darker Gods… burning a man to death is considered the most inhuman of punishments. Even if you were sentenced to death here in Summerhill, Jacelyn… you would not be burned.”
Jacelyn did not know what relieved him more: the fact that he would not die by fire, or the notion that there was something inside him that Father Douglas just might understand.