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Written by Ashly Damon

Edited by Bradley Bell

The night was slick, dripping down onto the streets. Crows huddled together under lamplights and crowed as a richly dressed woman rushed down the streets, who did not care that the tips of her dress were being wet by the streets.

This woman was being hunted.

She cared not if she was noticed, if such a broken sprint would break the illusion of her nobility, as her very life depended on those quick steps. A man hunted her throughout the streets of Marionette, an executioner who fell behind her by one or two minutes’ walk.

The nameless woman turned corner upon corner, feeling a dagger just behind a hair’s breadth.

Faster and faster step upon step and corner upon corner, she rushed knowing very well that every sluggish movement could possibly mean death.

“Come out of your hiding place, little woman. You can’t run forever!” Her stalker called out, voice bouncing off the corners harshly. “You witches are meant to die!”

“I cannot even attend a glamorous high end party without him ruining it!”

She could feel his eyes bearing into her skull, heat emanating across the cobblestone streets through houses and walls. Her ears had become accustomed to certain sounds, the sound of his thick jolting steps and his thick dirty smell.

The witch concealed herself in an alley, sliding down to the end where a tramp slept. She rolled down beside him, covering herself in his petty blanket.

Heavy jolting footsteps ran past along with the sound of a large sword scraping against the ground.

She sighed in refreshing relief.

The witch cracked the neck of the tramp and traded clothes with him, leaving him looking ridiculous. Wiping her hands along the sides of the grimy alley the woman managed to tint her face so it was almost unrecognizable.

The nameless witch used the dagger she got from the tramp to cut off her hair, right to the base.

Poking her head out for a quick snooping glance, she determined it was safe to get out of the alley. She started back on the direction she came.

As she carelessly trotted up the stairs into the second storey of the building, she stepped over the unconscious party patrons and picked up a wine glass.

“Ah yes, if only my night hadn’t been ruined.” She spat out the wine, “There’s a red taint to this. Ugh. Oh well, time to loot.” She began scouring their bodies for expensive things. “Ooh, I’ll take that, and this, ooh, and that too.”

She nicked all of the coin and jewellery that they carried on their person onto her fingers and around her neck.

The room was very thick with their perfumes that she could hardly breathe; she stood out on the balcony. The air was sweet with the scent of survival; it was one that she rarely had the pleasure of enjoying.

She was almost smiling for a moment.

A scraping slowly edged into the back of her hearing, one that was so far out from the night birds and the couple making love across the way that she noticed it. His smell pierced the veil of the thick perfume.

As she released this her eyes sharpened. She leapt off the balcony and ran up the street.

“Nice try!” The cunning woman blew a raspberry at her stalker.
The executioner roared in anger as she disappeared up the street in a flash. The executioner made his way downstairs and continued stalking her.

It is said that if Marionette folk poke their heads out of their windows at a certain time of night, they might see this man still chasing his prey eager ever still. Though after the many long nights, the witch has gone mad and runs with the beasts.