Welcome back to another Wylder Tales #teasertuesday! I’ve been slowly going back and revising Craving Beauty this past year. Just for fun, I decided to share the first few updated chapters with you. My ultimate goal is to recover the whole series and one day share the lovely upgraded versions with you all. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy today’s dose of magic, monsters and more.
Want to read these in order? BEGIN HERE.
Wylder Tales Rewrites
“Come,” the nameless voice whispered in her dreams.
Vynasha shivered as invisible hands pushed aside her furs and traced over her skin.
“Come to me,” the voice rumbled with distant thunder.
Cold, sickly terror woke her, followed by a desperate urge that demanded she leave the broken pieces of her mother behind.
“Yes…come now,” the voice sang with the wind, carrying snow and the heavy scent of ash through the edge of the forest.
“Run!” the voice urged with something close to fear beneath the deep tones.
Vynasha ignored the sting in her toes as she worked blood through her limbs and ran as quickly as she could through the gathering snow.
She tripped over roots as she broke through the treeline. The sky ahead glowed with unnatural light. Black clouds covered the stars.
“Faster!” the voice hissed.
Vynasha scrambled up the rise blocking her view of the house. Ashes stung as they alighted on her skin. Smoke greeted her long before the sight of roaring flames consumed her vision.
She couldn’t breathe.
The flames licked hungrily over the outer frame of the two-storied cottage, but the roof was obscured by the thick black smoke she’d caught traces of in the sky.
A voice screamed through the flames.
“Oh, God,” Vynasha gasped and coughed as she ran to the porch and froze once more. She turned to the clumps of snow and, grabbing fistfuls drenched herself in the drifts, and prayed it would be enough. “Please,” she whispered as she stepped onto the porch and opened the front door.
Patches of the floor were yet clear, yet the fire must have begun here.
“Asha!” a small voice cried somewhere above the creak and roar of hungry flame.
“Hurry! Upstairs,” the strange voice growled as snow swirled through the open door behind her.
Vynasha ignored the wood peeling back in thick molten globs overhead as she ran up the stairs and ducked below smoke through the hall to the attic room. Fresh ashes showered over her wet skin as she kicked open the door and flinched at the sudden surge of more flames.
Vynasha covered her face and ran into the room. “Wyll!”
It was dark in the attic, thick with black smoke. A whimper just ahead, beneath a fallen beam.
Vynasha crawled over and sobbed as she found Tamrya and Wyll trapped beneath.
A blackened hand clasped her wrist, and Tamrya’s bold blue eyes silently pled with her.
Vynasha nodded quickly and scrambled around to find Wyll clutching his mother’s neck, sobbing with desperate breaths.
“Wyll, please.” Vynasha coughed as she pulled her nephew from his mother. The stink of burning flesh overwhelmed her senses as she stumbled over the beam, and back through the attic door.
“Mama!” Wyll screamed.
Vynasha flinched as more hot flames dripped from the walls in hideous curls. “Hold onto me, Wyll!”
The stairs crumbled moments after they reached the landing. Vynasha screamed as a fire singed at her arms. She bowed her head over Wyll’s and followed the promise of snow just as the roof collapsed and the walls caved in.
“A little farther,” the voice in the wind crooned.
Vynasha collapsed in a heap, Wyll in her lap the instant they reached the untouched barn.
God, please keep the ashes from touching the barn, she silently prayed as leaned against the barn wall, her nephew cradled in her arms.
She still couldn’t breathe. The fire lingered in her chest, and each breath was a new agony.
“Oh, God, Ceddrych,” she whispered. “What can we do now?”
Her voice did not sound like hers. She doubted if she would ever feel like the girl who ran away to the woods again. Not as she held her nephew’s burned face against her bloody palm. Vynasha forced her attention from the house to Wyll.
He looked dully past her with glazed blue eyes, Tamyra’s eyes.
“Wyll?” Her voice was hoarse and the howling winds beyond the barn nearly overwhelmed the sound. “Wyll, please don’t leave me. Don’t leave me here alone.”
She bit her cracked lip smoothed brittle curls from his blistered forehead. Wyll didn’t flinch. Fighting a sob, she leaned closer, pleading, “Please, Wyll…I’m so afraid.”
Yet her nephew did not blink, or turn to her and smile with his mother’s sweet grin. The coal black of his eyes consumed the blue, and Vynasha froze as a rattling breath escaped his small parted lips.
A broken moan escaped her as she shook him. “Wyll! God, please open your eyes, please!” “Please don’t leave me alone,” she begged.
Vynasha burrowed her face against his neck, buried her hot tears in his tattered nightshirt. Wyll wouldn’t open his eyes, no matter how loudly she called. He would never smile at her again. That was when she knew he was gone and she was truly alone.
Vynasha rocked with him beneath the barn overhang, within the snowdrifts and whispered against his skin. She whispered words her mother had whispered to her deep in the night, in that strange musical tongue Vynasha had half-forgotten.
She remembered it now as the darkness stirred beneath her skin.
“We must be careful, my starling,” Mother had made her promise. “Be oh, so careful. To give life, we must always sacrifice.”
Vynasha’s tears dried as she continued to whisper the words she spoke to Wynyth’s roses, as the fire died and only smoke remained. As the torches of the villagers steadily approached the long road to what remained.
“Vynasha,” the voice crooned to her in the wind, a song of sorrow and mourning.
The little body in her arms did not grow cold as it should have.
It shuddered against her in spasms.
Vynasha squeezed her eyes tightly shut as the little hands clenched her arms in a tight grasp.
Wyll sucked in a hoarse gasp as he breathed new life.
The little boy whimpered and then spoke as though back from a long sleep, “Asha?”
Vynasha pulled back with a sob as she found Wyll’s blue eyes open and taking in the world around them with wonder. The melted half of his face was not fully healed. The burns were bad, but would not claim his life. This much she knew.
The same way Vynasha knew how to keep roses blooming in the dead of winter.
The way her mother, Wynyth, had taught her long ago.
She wept now for her mother, and for Tamyra and Ceddrych. Yes, she even wept for Old Ced and her sisters. She wept for herself and clung to the only family she had left, and wondered how she would find the strength to carry on.
“Come to me soon,” the voice called again, but it was little more than a distant rasp.
Vynasha held her nephew closer and ignored the call.
to be continued…
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