The night was chillier than Hedia ever remembered as she opened the door a crack, then pried it a fraction larger and stepped out. Her heart was beating so fast that she felt faint; she had never been so scared in her life. She forced herself to take several deep breaths.
“Mayor! It’s not safe out here! Get back in!” One of the guards yelled at her. She shook her head, taking a moment to find her voice. “..No.. no. There must be things lying around our town that we can use. I’m going to find them all.” She clenched her fist in determination.
A scream pierced the air, followed by several others, coming from different directions. More terrifying was the barks and roars of the unnameable monsters. It was hard to know what was going on. All the lights in the town had been extinguished, and the dark clouds that stained the sky blocked off most of the light from the wane moon.
From the direction of the library, there were panicked shouts about a giant spider, which then turned into cheers. The guards in front of Hedia looked at each other in confusion. Hedia raised her voice, addressing them. “Maintain your spots! Do not let the monsters through!” Most of the townspeople, and a large number of the children were inside. They could not allow an opening for the monsters to slip in. Hearing their mayor’s rally, the guards tightened their stances and solidified the grip on their weapons. Hedia wasn’t a warrior. She was in her forties, a woman who should only be in her office, signing papers, but in this moment, she was as strong as any commander.
She moved forward, inching slowly towards the guard station, hyper-aware of every sound she could hear, and every outline she could see. Lightning flashed in that moment, briefly illuminating the horrific scene in front of the library - a monster had ripped its claws into one of the guards so viciously that his dismembered torso flew through the air. Hedia didn’t hear herself scream.
The look in his eyes - the eyes I have gazed into for a hundred times, a thousand times. Why have I never noticed how beautiful it is, and how full of love it is? I am selfish; he is the mayor, the pillar of Knoles, and yet I hated him for neglecting us. I am blind, blind - so veiled by resentment. Only when one is at the brink of losing something that one realizes how precious that thing is.
Go, go, he screams at me, but I don’t hear it. I want to look into those green eyes longer, for the last time. He will not return. There may not even be a body to collect. He is using all of his Gift to build an earthen wall, but he cannot hold the wolves off for long.
Keegan is clinging onto me. He is wailing, he is scared, he is only a child. He didn’t know what he was getting into when he ran off alone into the woods. I hold him tightly. It is not his fault.
He turns back to me again. I can’t tell if those are tears running down his face.
Raging howls. A flash of lightning. The terrifying light illuminates the massive alpha wolf jumping over the earthen wall.
I run, half-pulling, half-carrying Keegan after me.
I can’t tell if those are tears running down my face, or blood.
Hedia forced herself to turn away from the library’s scene. She had to trust the guards - they had their duty to do and she had hers. She badly wanted to run home and hold Keegan in her arms, but now was not the time. She was the mayor of Knoles, and each person in the town was as important to her as her own son.
”Hedia! Mayor! The town is overrun! What should I do? ”
“Sigrid! I thought you would be by Louise’s side!” The two were inseparable, and Hedia was surprised to see the goblin alone. “I found something in the town hall that could be useful! And the library - the library needs help. Please be careful, Sigrid..” Hedia held Sigrid’s hand briefly, then stepped towards the guard station.