Name: Katherine Toran (@bookgirl_kt)
Title: The Witch and the Demon
Fleeing a witch hunt, Aspie Ebba surrenders her heart to a dying demon, becoming embroiled in a deathmatch to stop a demonic invasion. Whacking him with a severed head accidentally starts an equally violent courtship.
First 500 words:
Ebba ran into the moonless night. Her soaked dress clung to her skin, wind and water competing to freeze her into a corpse. Tree roots clawed at her feet and fatigue crept up from her shaking limbs to numb her brain. If she fell, she likely wouldn’t get up again. Keep moving. Get as far away from the witchfinder as possible—may he be reincarnated as a diarrheic drunk’s chamber pot.
In the darkness, directions blurred. She focused on climbing up the mountain, away from her village. Faster, faster, faster. Her lungs took on the weight of iron.
Her knee finally gave out—right when another root caught her ill-fitting clog. Her ankle bent sideways with a crack. She hit the dirt.
Waves of agony crashed over her. Mustn’t stop moving. Despite her straining muscles, her body refused to rise. She wanted to scream or cry. Instead, Ebba took a deep breath. To focus her mind, she pinched her face, right on top of the scabs from the witchfinder’s pins. The itching behind her eyes from too long without sleep, the burning of her throat, and the blistering sores on her hand—she pushed it all away. First, get up.
Her right hand oozed pus from the burns on her palm, so she used her left one to pull herself into a sitting position. The merest touch to her swollen joint was torture. Through the pain, the rational part of her noted this felt worse than a sprain.
Her breath came faster as panic clawed at her self-control. No, no, this couldn’t happen now. If she’d broken her ankle, she wouldn’t be able to run, and then…then…
It occurred to Ebba that she had no idea what to do next. She’d never had a plan past getting out of her cell.
The silence of the forest unnerved her. At the very least, there should have been insects chirping. But this was a magic-cursed place. She’d fled here because no god-fearing villager would venture into the forest. Ever since the wolves had first descended, only those too poor to leave remained in the region. Ebba shivered. She told herself most wolves avoided humans, and the red-eyed wolves really only came once every few years.
Alone in the darkness, with wolves theoretically a hand span away, this argument became less convincing. She didn’t want to die the same way her mother had. Perhaps she could still turn back.
Ebba glanced over her shoulder, uncertain which direction “back” would be. A great wall, ten times her height, blocked out any trace of light from her village. Only holes worn by trees, weather, and thieves had allowed her to slip through. Once, the wall’s upkeep had been part of every villager’s religious duty to the Supreme God Anabiel. But it had been a thousand years since the last demonic invasion.