TITLE: HELL HATH ITS VIRTUES
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Ebba’s soaked dress clung to her skin as she ran through the moonless night. The lake water left from her near-drowning had crystalized into icicles. If she fell, she might not get up again. Keep moving. Get far away from the witchfinder, may he be reincarnated as a drunkard’s chamber pot.
Heedless of direction, she climbed up the mountain, away from her village. A wolf’s cry pierced the air. Ebba froze.
The forest was dead silent again, eerily devoid of owls or bats. An ancient demonic invasion had left this place magic-cursed. Ebba shivered. Most wolves avoid humans. Except for the red-eyed ones living deeper in the forest. Anabiel help me.
She refused to be devoured like her mother. Perhaps she could sneak back to steal a knife and some food. She’d been too panicked in her flight, afraid the witchfinder might wake up…
First, he’d poked pins into the mottled red birthmark covering her left cheek. Giant hands had held her down, his nails filthy and his liver spots as big as spiders. His too-close breath had reeked of onions.
“Confess,” the witchfinder had ordered after every pin. Each time, she’d refused. They’d kill her once she confessed.
The second day had been the hot iron. This morning, the dunking. Through a blur of watery suffocation, her most distinct memory was, peculiarly, the smell of the sausages. Mad Gill had sold them to bystanders. Her pleas with her neighbors had been met with disdain or bloodthirsty fascination.
No, she wasn’t going back.