While this Tuesday Teaser came a bit later in the day than I planned, I wanted to share some of the latest Scarred Beauty (Wylder Tales, Volume 2) with y’all. If you haven’t read Craving Beauty (Volume 1), you should skip this post due to spoilers. And you should read Craving Beauty of course! Enjoy & feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.
A girl’s shriek pierced the air, pulling Vynasha’s attention from the village. The sound lifted the hairs on the back of her neck and sent her running down the street and down a smaller path striking off to the left and toward a small copse of trees. Behind her, the twins nearly silent footfall loped after and they slowed as she hesitated on the edge of a clearing past the tall firs.
Three dark haired children wrapped in furs clustered together, their backs to Vynasha. The tallest of the three flung his fist at something in the snow. The creature in the snow whimpered this time. “You are a freak, just like your mother!” the tallest boy barked at the ground. “You think cause your father is pack master you can get away with it?”
The other two children laughed uneasily, exchanging nervous glances as the tall boy pulled back his fist again. One of the other two tugged on his furs and whispered, “Aelon, be quiet! The grown-ups will hear!”
Aelon shrugged the girl off and scoffed, “They’re all at the elder’s longhouse. Besides someone needs to teach her a lesson.”
Siam and Rian rushed to grab her shoulders, hissing, “Wait! Don’t interfere!” but Vynasha hardly noticed their touch as she snarled and broke through the trees and into the clearing. With feral instinct, she rushed around the other two children and snatched up Aelon. The boy yowled in fear and she detected the faint scent of his excrement as she tossed him through the air, then crouched over the small, blonde creature cowering in the snow. She looked up from the ground at the wide-eyed children backing slowly away from her. Aelon was frozen and covered in freshly disturbed snowdrift and the stench of his terror. He stuttered as he stumbled to his feet and tripped.
“J-just w-wait till I tell my mother!”
Siam and Rian ran into the clearing, identical expressions of dismay on their faces as they herded the children out of the clearing and back to the village, whispering over them in hushed tones. “Come along, lads, quietly now.”
Vynasha didn’t care about them, or what the cruel child would tell the others. She was too near the animal still and only assessed the threat, only cared to protect what was hers. As their shadows mingled with the dense fir trees, she felt her heartbeat slow and invisible hackles shudder before lying flat.
Odym’s words came back to her then, as clear as though he stood in the wolves den with her, “Remember you have the Source inside of you.”
Claws she did not remember digging in to the earth retracted slightly and she sat back, staring at her gruesome hands in wonder. Grendall’s amulet was burning hot against her chest and she thought it a blessing that the beast had come from her anger, rather than the majik hiding inside her.
“Stupid,” she muttered under her breath, hoping Ceddrych didn’t get into too much trouble now because she wasn’t in control of her monster. With another shudder, Vynasha sank onto the snow and jumped on sight of the forgotten creature staring up at her. The girl’s face was familiar, large sky blue eyes filled with wonder in a face framed by thick blonde locks. The hair Vynasha thought golden against torchlight before seemed far paler in the light of day, more ashen than honey. Yet it was indeed the child who looked on her with compassion in a bloodthirsty mob, the one Baalor led away from that morning’s confrontation.
Vynasha opened her mouth to speak, but then saw the bruise welling on the side of the girl’s face, a fresh addition to even older scars and knew this wasn’t the first time the girl had been abused.
Vynasha tampered the urge to assess her other potential injuries. It was the way she had been with little Wyll, who was out in this same forest somewhere with the humans Baalor hunted. Did that make her their enemy too?
The girl slowly pushed off the ground with a barely noticeable wince and spoke in a soft, small voice. “Aelon’s mother won’t forget what you did.”
Vynasha grimaced, but recalled the boy’s cruelty with the same ferocity that made her lose control moments before. “He should be punished for what he did to you.” And she couldn’t help but think of the village of Whistleande, of the many times she wished for the strength to stand up to their sneers and dimly disguised fear.
“I won’t forget what you did, either,” the girl said, bringing Vynasha’s eyes back to hers and the wide smile transforming her scarred little face into something beautiful.
Vynasha couldn’t help but smile back and feel it had been worth that moment of stupidity, no matter the consequences. “I’m the one who threatened your village this morning.”
The girl’s smile faded as she nodded solemnly. “I know. You are Wanderer’s sister. They say you’re a witch.”
She thought of Grendall’s amulet and the way her skin had glowed from within, of all the things she had done and seen in the castle and shrugged. “I guess I am.”
The girl nodded again, accepting her words without fear. “My mother was a witch, too. That is why they hate me so much. My name is Erythea.”
“Vynasha,” she replied with pursed her lips as she thought of Baalor’s hatred of majik, how Ceddrych dismissed it with disgust. “Is your home nearby?” Something itched at the back of her mind that she was forgetting, but she pushed aside her growing dread.
Erythea stood and reached to grab Vynasha’s clawed hand without a trace of fear. “Come and see.”