THEY CALLED HER EVIL

But that wasn't her name. In all honesty, the little girl didn't know what her actual name was, but "Evil" certainly wasn't it. The little girl didn't know how she knew, but she did. Often amidst the airy summer nights, beneath the blanket of weeping willows that towered above from cage in which she slept, the girl would peek through the canopy to catch a glimpse of the countless stars that lingered in the midnight skies. 

Those two soft, ebony eyes would pan across the shroud of night until they landed on the brightest star where she would then silently wish that one day she would have a name. 

She knew how silly a notion it was to think a star was something that capable of granting her wish (and not to mention the preposterously impossible notion that her faint voice could carry into the heavens), but the idea that one day she would have a name and perhaps a place she belonged was something she had grown to love very much.

She was too young and too sheltered to know that the feeling was hope. 

But don't be mistaken! Baelzerog took wonderful care of the little girl. Under his protection, the little girl had all a girl like her could need. Her water bowl was filled most of the time. She was allowed to sleep with the cloak removed from her cage at night (a feat that took months of pleading to accomplish). Finally, on the rare occasion, Baelzerog would give the little girl her very own piece of bread so she wouldn't have to eat the scraps of what he and the others in the camp had left over.

Yes, the little girl knew she was fortunate to have all that she had. She would be lying, however, if she didn't admit that every so often that feeling of wanting more would creep into the little mind of hers and make her wonder what other wonders lied beyond the edge of the swamp she was strictly forbidden to venture beyond.

She daren't ask Baelzerog because for one, well, she wasn't allowed to ask questions, but secondly, the one time she did ask a question about what laid beyond the swamp, it made Baelzerog quite upset.

"Dream not about the life beyond the one you live now, evil."

Baelzerog snorted through his tusks while delivering that grim response.

"You are born evil. You are nothing more than evil. Evil is all you will ever be."

For some reason, though she little girl didn't fully understand the meaning of the word, it was certainly a word she had grown to detest

"The harvest is nearly complete. Once we have taken all that we need, you will have fulfilled your primary and only purpose for existing in this world. You will bring to Remeria the only thing you are capable of."

"And what is that?" The little girl knew she was risking being in deeper trouble for asking another question, but the answer was something worth the risk. Baelzerog grunted before facing the little girl to reveal his mangled, troll-like face. He kneeled to her level and wiped a lock of black hair from her face before revealing the first smile she had ever witnessed.

"Death."

The answer was not something the little girl did not expect. Not only was it unexpected, it left a troubled feeling in the pit of her stomach that didn't pair well with the hunger she'd been suppressing all day. Before the little girl could give a second thought, Baelzerog reached over to her ankle shackle and tightened it under the little girl yelped. Satisfied, Baelzerog stood and made for the exit from her cage.

"Please, Baelzerog. Could you please not leave my shackle so tight? It really hurts."

The girl struggled to loosen them as the bruise around her ankle already began to form. Baelzerog turned back at the open door.

"Let that be a reminder the next time you'd like to start asking questions."

The little girl began to whimper as Baelzerog slammed the door shut, leaving the little girl alone in the darkness of her chambers, accompanied only by the echoes of her crying voice...

Copyright Travis Bryant © 2019