Chapter 2

It was just another day. We were all working at our family business. Phebe was working in the back of the bakery with mom, while Isaiah and dad were bringing in the wild flowers that mom needed for her next cake order. Phebe had gotten so well at baking bread that mom let her do cakes now. She had made a few, and messed up alot. She had only made one cake correct out of her 7 tries. I was at the register, greeting people who came in to buy stuff. Even though I could cook and make wine, I was the only one in my family that was great at math, reading, and writing. My dad was okay at it, but he said I was better at it than him. I was standing there listening to mom and Phebe talk to each other, joking around about the cake they were fixing to make when a man dressed in all black walked into the bakery. He was wearing a cloak, so I could not see his face very well. He gave me a bad vibe, but I greeted him all the same. 

“May I help you sir?” I asked with a kind and gentle tone. My mother told me that manners brought the bakery a lot of customers. She said always treat the customs like family, and they will come back for more. I tried to be as sweet as I could. 

“Are you Layla?” The man asked in a cold tone. The sound sent chills down my spine. It was like his soul was gone… Like he was dead inside.

“Yes sir I am. Have I helped you before?” I took a harder look at the man. I did not recognize him. The man looked up at me. His face was covered with a mask. His eyes were the color of coal.  It scared me, making me step back and fall. It was like he brought fear in his wake.

“Who are you?” I was yelling now, making my family run into the front. He was not a good guy. I had no clue why he was here, but I knew I needed to get away. I wanted to run, but could not move a muscle.  

“Layla are you okay?” My mom came running in first, my sister behind her. They had dow all over their hands, and powder on their clothes. 

“Layla! What’s going on?” My father came in with my brother. They could hear me from the road in between the field and the bakery. You could tell they ran. They were both out of breath. Dad was holding a knife in his hand which he used to cut the flowers. The man in black looked at my family for a split second… just one second… then it happened. He took out his hand, then something formed. It was a ball of fire, small but bright red and orange. My family didn’t even have time to react. The minute I looked from the man’s hand to my family… they were screaming in pain. Each one had flames dancing across their body’s. I screamed in anger. I didn’t know what to do. They were burning alive. Calling for my help. All I could do was yell and watch. My will to move could not pass my fear of the man in black. I was able to lift my hand in their direction, but nothing else would move. Tears fell from my eyes as I watched my family burn.

“Stop! You’re hurting them!!!” I was begging him for mercy. To let them go. To let them live. He did not care though. I began to cry harder. Why was this happening? My beloved sister and brother cling to mom as they burn. They didn’t know what to do. They burned slowly. As they screamed, they pleaded. 

“It hurts mom! Help us!” My father tried walking to the man. He wanted to make it stop. He wanted to save his family.  With each step he took, a piece of his body fell to the floor. It was like a water drop of dead skin. You could see bone in some spots. Right before he fell to the ground completely, he said to us all;

“I’m sorry I could not protect us…” Those were his last words. I screamed aloud. He was burning, and all he was worried about was his family. Mom, Phebe, and Isaiah were now one the ground too. 

 “MOM!!!! DAD!!!! PHEBE!!!! ISAIAH!!!!! Please God No!!!!”  The tears continued to fall from my face as the store began to burn too. I was sitting on my knees now, my hands stretched out to my family. I looked at the man in anger.

“HOW COULD YOU?!” In that instant my body changed. I felt power fill my body. It felt like all my fear vanished.  My horns grew out 6 inches, and I felt something start to come out my back. It was big, and heavy. A bright blue flame spread across my body. It was calming to me. It made me feel strong. I felt like nothing could hurt me. The man backed away.

“You are alive!” Why was he surprised? He had killed my family and he wasn’t even sure he had the right person? I looked back, and saw black feathers on my back. They had blue light to them. I had no clue what was going on. I looked over where my family once stood. All that was left was four piles of ash. I looked back at the man with an evil glare, and before I knew it, he was burning too. He was burning up in a blue flame, unlike the red flames that danced around me. Smoke began to fill the room, and I couldn’t see anymore. I was not sure what had happened to the man, but I knew I had to get out. It was getting hard to breathe.

I stood in front of the cottage as I watched everything burn. The bakery fire had caught the cottage on fire, and the cottage caught the field on fire. The fire seemed like it would never stop burning. Black smoke filled the sky as I fell to the ground. In one instance, I had lost everything. My wings had disappeared, and my horns had gone back to being one inch long. I wasn’t sure what happened. All I knew was my family was dead, and somehow it was my fault. The man made it very clear he was looking for me. I had no clue where to go, or what to do next. I laid there in the grass, watching everything burn as I cried myself to sleep.

When I awoke the next morning, I looked at the dirt and ash where the cottage once stood… smoke still coming from the small flames still burning. You could still see the frames of the buildings still standing. I pushed myself from the ground, and started to walk. I did not know where to go, or what to do, so I walked for as long as I could. It was hot, and all I had was the clothes on my back. The wings that appeared on my back had ripped my shirt, so I had to tie the remains of my shirt around my chest. My skirt was smudged from the smoke. I had sandals for shoes. They  were made out of straw. The dirt road I walked down was long. We lived far away from any towns. We had neighbors, but they too, were miles away. 

I walked for hours before reaching our neighbor who would give us the milk, cheese, and eggs we needed for our bakery. My mother was friends with him. She said he fancy her, and that was why she got so much free stuff. Dad didn’t mind if she flirted, because we wouldn't have been able to get the stuff we needed otherwise. We would go to his place sometimes to help gather ingredients, but we would take a carriage to get there. Walking was different. His farm was 15 miles away. By the time I reached his driveway, which had another 5 miles to reach his front door, I was tired, hungry, and thirsty. I had started walking when the sun rose, and it was already getting dark. As I reached his door, all my entergy was gone. I fell to the ground before even making it up the stairs. I collapsed from exhaustion.

When I opened my eyes, I was laying in bed. There was a cup of water sitting on the table beside the bed. I quickly grabbed it, and put it to my mouth. I drank it in seconds. It felt like I had not had anything to drink in days. THe water went down my throat, making all the dryness disappear. It wasn’t enough though.  I was still thirsty when the cup was empty. I looked around the room. It was small. It had a wooden bed with straw on top, a wooden table, and an oil soaked wick lamp. There was a window opening with air flowing through. I could feel the breeze from outside. It was warm, and smelled of grass. It reminded me of home…. The home that was gone. 

I walked out of the room into a sitting area. There was a beautiful white wooden table with white chairs. On top of the table was a metal pitcher with a little metal cup next to it. I ran to it, and poured me a glass of whatever was in it. It was a sweet lemonade. I drank 2 glasses before Mr. Limer came into the room. He took me by surprise, and I dropped the cup.

“So you’re awake Layla… How did you get here dear?” He bent down, and picked up the cup. He was sweating. I assumed he must have been working with the animals. He had chickens, cows, pigs, and horses. I wasn’t sure if I could tell him what happened. It would sound crazy. A man came into my mom’s bakery and burned everything and everyone… then he burned out of nowhere on top of that. Yeah right! I wouldn’t have even believed me. 

“My family…. The cottage… The bakery… The farm…” My eyes began to water again. I wasn’t ready to talk about it. To talk about it, that meant it really happened. 

“What about them dear?” He walked closer to me, his face worried. 

“They are all gone…” My face was in my hands now. My tears seeped through my fingers. How could this have happened? Why did this happen!? I felt guilty. All I could think about was how the man in black said ‘ You are alive.’ He was there for me. I did not know why, but he wanted me. Mr. Limer pulled me into his chest. He was old, and skinny, so it was like hugging bones. Even though it was not my mom or dad, his warmth still comforted me. I hugged him back, throwing my arms around his back. 

“They all burned alive! And I couldn’t save them!” I sobbed into his chest. I didn’t know what to do, or who to go to. He pulled me off his chest, and looked me up and down. 

“Let’s get you a change of clothes first and foremost.” He handed me a handkerchief. I wiped my eyes and stood there as he walked into another room. Was I supposed to follow him? I stood there for several seconds, trying to catch my breath. I was still crying despite my trying to stop. Mr. Limer came back with clothes in his hand. 

“My daughter passed away a long time ago…” He walked up to me, holding the dress up to my body.

“It might be a little big but it should work. Go into the room and change. He pointed to the room I had just come out of. 

“I didn’t know you had a daughter, sir.” I said in between sobbs. He just smiled at me. He was a kind older guy who lived alone. I didn’t know much about him.

“That was a long time ago… Now then, you change clothes, and I’ll get you something to eat. We can talk about what happened after.” I did as he said, and changed into a plain blue dress. He was right though, it was a little big in the stomach area.


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