Maybe at some other time, Cynder would have been frightened, but there was no fear at all. She stepped forward without really even thinking about it. The figure, this strange tall white-skinned creature, ran his talon-like hand over her head, pushing her hood away, gently. The long black nails scratching softly and playfully through her amber-colored hair. It got her to smile. She could feel it; there was no malice in his touch. He wanted her to trust him.
“Good,” he cooed. His inhuman voice of hisses and clicks as comforting as his touch. He brought her in closer. There were times when the words faded into that sound, and he would make an amused sound before resuming in simple words. “Easy. Good, good. Easy.”
“Wha…who are you?” She finally asked.
He started making a series of hisses and clicks. Once more, he made an amused sound. She could sense he knew of an obvious language barrier. Words didn’t always exist, so there were the simple terms and sensations she was getting. Slowly, he stooped lower and pointed upward to the rooftops.
“There,” he said. “Up.”
She followed his clawed finger to one particular rooftop. Once, during the day, she remembered seeing it; a rooftop garden. It was a simple thing, which made her smile. A bit of hope in such a hopeless world. She could sense his gaze was focused on a silhouetted figure standing silent and still amongst the covered plants. He then pulled her attention back.
“Me,” he said, placing a hand on his chest. “Am Scarecrow.”
“Cynder,” she said, and he nodded with the expression that looked like a smile.
“That your boyfriend, chica?”
They both turned to see the leering shaved-head man with lime green eyes. Two other men stood on either side of him. Cynder felt herself growing cold. Scarecrow’s black tongue flicked out in an almost annoyed fashion. Slowly, he stood up, placing his arm in front of her.
“Behind me,” he ordered. “Now!’
He took a single step forward. Upon doing so, Cynder began to get a scope of just how tall he was, towering over the men who were all easily over six feet tall. He was more muscular. What seemed out of place was how he was shirtless on such a cold night, but that was a triviality; she noticed how his legs bent backward, like the hind limbs of a dog or a cat. She noticed how his mane followed the full length of his spine, ending at his waist, but how it trailed behind like a sort of tail.
“Cynder mine,” Scarecrow said coldly, his tongue testing the air again. If his appearance, his strange voice, rattled the men, they weren’t letting on.
“We just wanted to talk to her,” said the shaved-head man as he pulled a whip from his belt.
He cracked it once, as a posturing gesture, then snapped it at the tall creature in front of him. Scarecrow caught the weapon with impossible speed. Even faster than that, he was on top of the shaved-head man. His talon hands moving in a frenzy around his quarry. From the clawed fingertips, something white and stringy emerged.
In seconds, a cocooned bundle fell to the ground. The other two men were already running, but Scarecrow was so much faster. Cynder wanted to scream in horror as she saw him cocoon another of the men. The last, he grabbed, slamming savagely against the pavements, blood and screams of surprised pain flying wild everywhere, before dragging him back whimpering.
“Cynder want?” Scarecrow inquired as he held the sniveling mass in front of her.
She wanted to vomit. She feared she was going to wet herself. Scarecrow regarded her for a moment and then shrugged.
“Just fed,” he said, webs beginning to ensnare the last man. “Not hungry.”
“I’m sorry… I’m sorry,” the man was sobbing as the strands wrapped around him. “Please…”
“Stop!” Cynder screamed. Scarecrow’s head snapped up, a snarl on his face. “Please?”
“Why?” He asked simply.
Her head was suddenly filled with images of what the men intended to do to her. Her body felt the sensations. The urge to vomit returned. She looked into his cold blue eyes and felt tears welling up in her own.
“No mercy,” Scarecrow said. “Hunted, hunter.” Then, clearer, his voice resounded in her head;…It is the way…
Now, she really wanted the seeds. She could all put taste them. Sensing this, Scarecrow’s eyes narrowed.
“No more! Bad!” He snapped. It was then she realized what he was saying in her mind earlier.
“Okay,” she said after swallowing hard.
He turned away to gather the cocoons. Cynder shut her eyes, trying not to imagine what would ultimately happen to the men trapped inside each one. There was a sudden wave of comfort when she felt nails scratching into her scalp. His touch was so soothing. It was safest she’d ever felt.
“Must go,” he whispered. She opened her eyes to see the three cocoons slung over his shoulder. “Hungry. Feed.”
“Will I see you again?” She asked, her voice was small. He cupped her cheek, and the expression, which looked like a smile appeared again.
“Soon,” he replied gently. “Promise.”
And he was gone. Disappearing into the dark and cold of the night with the same unimaginable swiftness she’d witnessed when he was dispatching the three men. In that moment, she felt herself feeling lonely, but, this time, it was different; this was an aching loneliness, as though a piece of her had disappeared into the shadows. As if sensing this, Scarecrow’s voice touched her mind;
…Do not worry, Cynder…I will find you…