Caruna ran from the screams, the burning city lighting the night sky behind her. When they took down the outer wall she had ﬁrst tried to ﬂee to the higher levels of the city, but the soldiers refused to let them through the gates. She had been separated from her family amidst the ﬂaming buildings and smoking streets and resorted to escaping the city as a whole.
Her torn boots carried her away from the carnage and towards the forests past the northern farms. The ﬁelds around her were already demolished and the ﬁres quickly spread to the trees. Caruna left her home behind as she crashed through a stream and stumbled onto the opposite bank, exhausted.
She crawled forward and sank into the hollow of a tree trunk, curling up into a ball as tears stained her cheeks. The mud beneath her soaked into her blonde hair and ripped dress as the aching spread from her feet to her mind and the mucky smell of the forest wafted her nostrils, but did nothing to calm her. Her head pounded, the adrenaline still coursing through her system. The lightning ﬂashed and in the back of her shock ﬁlled mind she registered the rain pouring down as the thunder boomed. At least the rain will put out the ﬁres, Caruna thought, curling into a tighter ball.
Her mind was still too jarred for extensive thinking but she did notice when the rain stopped and the sun rose in the sky above her. She fought the urge to stand up and head back, knowing in the back of her mind that the city was destroyed. Based on the silence of the morning, the creatures of the forest had ﬂed from the onslaught as well. The demons from below never discriminated; everything in their path was destroyed.
Caruna's eyes widened and her body stiffened when a branch snapped nearby, giving away the presence of a stranger. Heavy footfalls sounded over the water, carrying strange snufﬂing and growling noises. Caruna squeezed her eyes shut, knowing that it was no human. The footsteps came closer and closer, the growling dying down only to be replaced by a series of soft clicks.
Wrenched out from her hiding spot, Caruna thrashed, dragging her nails down the arms of her captor desperately. All she succeeded in doing was receiving a good shake, which shocked her still. She slowly peeked from under her eyelids, body resuming its shaking when she came face to face with one of the black skinned demons who ravaged her home the night before.
He stared down at her, and she instantly wondered how, and why, she was still alive. She had seen his kind tear through the soldiers sent to ﬁght them like their armor was made of cow hide and not imperial forged steel, and she was far easier to kill than sword wielding men. She was only seventeen after all, hardly a challenge for the full grown devil holding her off the ground with ease.
Growling at her, the demon shifted her onto his back and stood there, waiting for her to do something. She stared, stuck between hyperventilation and curiosity, and struggled to stay on his back for fear of falling off. Even if she managed to make the ﬁve foot fall without hurting herself on the landing, she'd never get away with him so close. When she clung onto his neck, it seemed to be what he was waiting for, and he started to move.
She screamed and this made him stop, red eyes staring at her almost like he was wondering what was wrong with her. To him, she looked like a youngster of his kind, lost and alone, who had ventured too far from the group and needed protection. He did not see a human woman, he saw a demon child too frightened to follow its instincts and hold on for the ride back to the group and screaming in pain, not fear.
So with the patience of an experienced male, he forced her to hang on as he vaulted over fallen trees and swallowed the short distance on all fours. Caruna screamed again, to which he roared at her for silence. She cried louder, body shaking as she hung on in fear of falling off and snapping her neck on the rushing ground below.
Closing her eyes, Caruna chose to let go and ignore the world around her. The only time her concentration broke was when she was set on the ground, and for a moment she heard the eerie clicking of the demons around her, her fear rising even more.
Feeling herself being moved again, things quieted and grew exceedingly warm as the demon carrying her radiated heat. It was strangely comforting, and the idea that the effect was on purpose crossed Caruna's mind before she shoved it away, going numb again.
When she was placed amongst the other youngsters, the demon who had originally rescued her (now appointed her guardian until her parents were found within the troop) looked down at her, obviously displeased. He swung his head and clicked, falling onto four legs to hover over her body. Asking advice from the more experienced members of the troops had been humbling, but they had answered wisely. The yearling, with whatever deformities or strange lineage she may have, deserved the protection of the group and it was his job to provide for her.
He looked around her, making sure the other hatchlings weren't too close, before nudging her with his hand, clicking a question. He hoped she would respond, remember her upbringing and what not, but she just cried.
Had he been able to frown, he would have, but instead he bared his teeth at her anxiously, wanting to know what was wrong with her. His clicks asked her why she was so uncomfortable yet he received no answer. She could not understand him, nor was she really trying to. Eventually she would learn to interpret his noises, for now her fear overwhelmed any other function in her mind.
I figured I'd upload this here and see how it goes.