Here’s an excerpt from Of Rose and Cruelty:
A large shadow stirs behind me. The beast.
Shakily, I turn to face it. It remains in the shadows, and I cannot see its hideous face up close. It sniffs loudly, and steam exits its large nostrils.
“I… I am the gardener.” I thrust out the weeds I’m holding as proof.
Suddenly, it lurches forward, its face inches from mine. It’s studying me. I cannot tell what it thinks of me or my purpose, but slowly it slinks back to the shadows.
Try as I might, I must confess that encounter frightened and even shamed me. Focusing on my task at hand soothes me slightly, and I reach for the moss covering the castle wall.
A loud, horrific, animalistic roar bellows from behind me. Moisture covers my back and then my front as I turn around to see that the beast has not left. I use the weeds to wipe his saliva from my cheeks.
“I’m only trying to do my job,” I protest, forcing my words to contain fear and not anger.
It opens its mouth again, tusks glistening.
“Not the castle. Understood.”
The beast huffs and returns to the shadows once more.
It takes me a long time to settle after that encounter. If only I had my musket or my sword on me! But, alas, I had neither at the time.
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