Dead Roses and Crossbows : Chapter 1

Wordcount: 949
Summary: In which Rose is kidnapped and lobbed over a wall. For reasons.

NOTE: This is the first draft of a story, so it will most likely contain plot holes, retcons, and other inconsistencies. I’ll come back and fix things once the story (or arc) is complete!

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Bruised Beginnings

Rose’s day had actually been going quite well before the angry mob of peasants lobbed her over the crumbling stone wall.

She still wasn’t sure what she’d done to set them off. Small villages were rather notorious for being wary out outsiders, but being trussed up like a pig and badly blindfolded five minutes after she arrived seemed an overreaction. 

Thankfully her traveling leathers were meant to protect her from abrasions, but the idiots were lucky she hadn’t broken anything. Or hit her head harder. Or had a heart attack from the sheer insanity of it all.

As it was, she had plenty of bruises and a bit of a headache. 

But she couldn’t change the past, as her cousin always said, so enough moping. Time to get free, get her horse back… and possibly burn something down in petty revenge. There had to be an old henhouse no one was using.

She could see blurry glimpses of the world through the ratty burlap, but the ropes they’d apparently had more practice with. No amount of twisting seemed to loosen them, which meant she needed something abrasive and a bit of time.

Rose found a suitable rock and was making decent progress when something large and not at all subtle started moving towards her. 

Dog, it was just a really big dog, right? They didn’t have wolves here, so maybe a black bear, but she didn’t want it to be a bear, so it was definitely a dog.

“Hey, who’s a good doggie? Who’s the best doggie that is not going to eat me even though I’m pretty sure this place is abandoned and you’re probably hungry and not scared of people. You know what? I’ve changed my mind, you’re a bear and I just have to be loud enough and you’ll go away, so, err- YAR!”

She attempted to thrash intimidatingly, which in abrupt hindsight just made her look like a fish.

But the whatever-it-was had stopped a good cart-length away, so it was working.

“GO AWAY! RAR! I’m too scary to eat, see? SHOO!”  

It wasn’t growling, or whatever bears did, but the blob of brown was definitely too big to be a dog. She had a bad feeling it was too big to be a bear either.

If–when she got out of this, she was burning down the whole town. Twice.

There was a long pause as she considered her options.

“If I try and untie you, are you going to start screaming again?” the apparently-not-a-bear finally asked. It spoke slowly, with a sort of raspy lisp, but definitely sounded annoyed.

Yelling. I was yelling, not screaming, and not if you warn me. Which you just did. So no.” She was only rambling a little bit, which was pretty impressive considering something was talking to her that was definitely not human. Or a bear. “You could have warned me earlier.”

“I didn’t see the blindfold, I thought you could see me.” It had started moving forwards again, this time making more deliberate noises.

She wanted to point out that if she’d been able to see it there would have been more screaming, not less, but that seemed unwise. Rose couldn’t get away and she couldn’t scare it off, so she gathered what little courage remained and focused on planning her revenge.

She wasn’t quite sure what she’d been expecting, but for some reason chewing through the ropes was not on the list, so she did give a slightly undignified yip.

It sighed but didn’t stop chewing. 

At last, the ropes fell away and she rubbed some circulation back before reluctantly removing the blindfold. 

The creature had retreated quite a ways, which did nothing to diminish just how big it was. Easily on par with the larger draft horses, the carnivore was a confusing mishmash of creatures.

Her guess of a bear turned out to be closer to the mark than expected, as it appeared to be based on a grizzly, with massive curled ram horns, a bushy fox tail, and hints of wolf and bobcat about the face and legs.

It was definitely a cursed monster, but not a particularly talkative one.

Help never came without a price and the villagers had thrown her over the wall for a reason (assumably), so time to find out what sort of new mess she was in.

“Thanks for the hand, err, tooth with the ropes.” She got to her feet and did a passible bow since she lacked the skirts for a curtsey. “My name’s Rose, and you are?”

And with that, the creature’s mood went from warily annoyed to angry. “You know who I am.”

“No, I don’t.”

Everyone knows who I am.”

“I didn’t grow up here,” she snapped back, because no one called her a liar, not even giant monsters. “I was just passing through–“

“Then, by all means, keep passing.” The monster got to its feet and turned to leave.

“I was trying to before your insane followers kidnapped me, stole my horse, and threw me OVER. A. WALL.” She had no idea why she was arguing, the thing was letting her go, which was what she wanted, right? 

But this couldn’t have been the first time someone had been tossed over the wall, not from the way it reacted, and that was all kinds of inappropriate. 

“Not my followers, not my problem.” It broke into an ambling run back towards what she just realized was the ruins of a castle, quickly outpacing any hope she had of catching up.

“Oh no, I am so your problem,” Rose muttered to herself and she started the long walk up the hill after it.

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Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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