A Howl In The Night - Romance, thriller, paranormal

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Re: A Howl In The Night - One's Dream, Another's Nightmare

Unread post by Fuck_Me » 09 Jan 2016 16:27

One's Dream, Another's Nightmare

I have honestly tried to change myself.

It has been difficult, of course. I have been struggling to prevent myself from snapping at my teachers, but the way they chastise me about my lack of progress over the last few days has really gotten on my nerves.

It isn’t like I haven’t been in the garden for countless hours, forcing my restless mind to meditate just like the rude Spier master suggested. It isn’t like I haven’t been poring over the books on basic werewolf etiquette that Lady Miranda had commanded me to read. And most of all, it isn’t like I haven’t participated in the daily assignment of scouring the prophecy that I am supposed to be a crucial part of about a million times. I hate Analysis class the most.

That is the worst. I hate looking for things that just aren’t there.

I’m not really sure what Mr. Vigilance is hoping I will find. He has told me to do everything; from sweeping my thumb over every letter in the original text to sleeping with a copy of the prophecy beneath my head. Supposedly I have been, as the old baldy would say, “blessed with a superior insight that could lead to a greater understanding concerning the details of my mission if applied in the correct manner.” Or something like that. I stopped listening to him after the very first day. For that matter, I stopped listening to pretty much everybody.

So it probably is my fault that I haven’t learned anything of substance since I began these cursed tutoring sessions. I think my teachers aren’t used to a student that just can’t learn and progress, so that’s why they are going crazy. I am sure to them I seem like a normal kid, with nothing to set me apart from anyone else.

But honestly. I did try. I’m still trying.

It is just difficult when Mr. Vigilance is breathing over my neck, his angry face too close for comfort.

“Mona, do you even understand the point of this class? It is not all fun and games, you know.”

I sigh, fingering the rugged parchment upon which is written that awful paragraph that supposedly defines my life. “I never considered this class to be fun and games, Mr. Vigilance.” That much was true. Very true.

“Then have you not been studying the document? Tell me at least one thing that you learned since yesterday.”

He twists around to the front of the table where I sit, glaring at me like a ferocious animal. Admittedly, Mr. Vigilance is rather handsome. Everyone around here pretty much is. I have almost gotten sick of the attractive facial features, the long, glowing hair, and the perfect bodies that surround me daily. It is as if each of us looks like a china doll, living in our own little world that is ethereal to me even now. Mr. Vigilance is probably one of the least handsome werewolves I have seen, with a light gray buzz cut, sharp, pointed looks, and an athletic body. His muscles are nothing compared to some of the frightening Hulk look-a-likes prowling around the premises. I have seen a few that really put the green monster to shame.

It is strange how my perception has changed over these last few days. Comparing men’s muscles with such impartiality and indifference… I must be going crazy. This place is a madhouse.

Mr. Vigilance’s green eyes glow as he joins me in surveying the document, mistaking my boredom for intense concentration.

“What do you see, Chosen One?” He whispers, his voice tinged with barely contained excitement.

“I see paper.” I decide to humor him, holding my hand above the document. At the movement, he nearly jumps up and down, frenzy with anticipation and excitement. “I see…”

“What is it?!” He asks, his eyes nearly popping out of their sockets. I never imagined that a werewolf could manage to make an unattractive face, but he just proved me wrong.

“I see a ghost,” I hastily choke, scrambling for something enlightening to say. I said the same thing yesterday… and today he will probably not be satisfied. I can tell by the way his eyes slightly dim as he looks straight at me.

“Surely there’s more,” he says, grasping the edges of the table. His knuckles turn white, and cracks start to blossom within the furniture. I look up at him with a pointed glare, and he seems to realize what he is doing. He releases the hold on the table and starts fiddling with his sleeves.

“There is a wolf.” My eyes slip to a close, the exhaustion from the past few nights starting to get to me. For some reason, I have not gotten more than a few hours of frequently interrupted sleep since I decided to go through the stupid Sharuken ritual. Every time I try to rest, I am awakened by the same horrible nightmare. There is no escape. At least not for me.

Even now, the familiar vision is appearing before my eyes. Dark foliage and towering trees surround my form as I suddenly am transported to a deep forest, with no way back.

I look around, searching for someone. Anyone. However, the only things here to keep me company are the mosquitos, spiders, and other disgusting bugs. For a minute, I observe one of the gigantic arachnids as it weaves a spectacular web a few feet away from my face. Of course, that doesn’t last long.

The emotion of hopelessness constricts my heart, my breathing heavy and forced. I feel lost. Completely alone… and completely helpless.

How am I supposed to take care of myself in such a dark, scary place? I don’t even know if I can start a fire by myself, let alone gather food.

I sit by the trunk of a tree for a short while, exhausted for no reason at all. Against my will, my eyes start to slip to a close, and everything becomes hazy.

No. Not this time.

I snap to attention, fighting the overwhelming fatigue. Shakily standing up, I edge over to the small cluster of bushes in front of me. I don’t know how I knew. But as I plucked a small, purple berry from the bush, I just felt certain that this was exactly what I needed.

I plop one after the other into my mouth, savoring the sweetness for only seconds between bites. For some reason, I cannot stop eating them. My hands keep moving towards my face while filled with berries. They are strange, unfamiliar hands that are withered and worn.

The tiredness comes again, and this time it is impossible to overcome. Sleep caresses my body, weaving his hands across my arms and legs until I am filled with him. Drunken with sleep.

Get up. Keep fighting.

The protest is squelched by Sleep as he captures it between his fingertips, squeezing the words tightly until they cease to exist. Before long, he breathes lightly in my ear, his work completed. He has convinced my consciousness to take a stroll with him, leaving only my body behind.

Somehow this feels so wrong.

I float to my feet, staring at my forsaken body. After a few seconds of silence, I take a step closer to the body. An arm takes mine before I get any closer, and I drown in Sleep’s unwavering gaze. Swiveling me around on my heel, he whispers sweet nothings in my ear that makes me blush and giggle like a senseless preteen. Not even a hint of doubt remains in my mind. He smiles like an angel, sweeping me off into the night with a gracefulness that causes me to never look back.


Get up! You are about to miss your chance!

I groan, holding my belly subconsciously as my consciousness starts to return. From a love-filled night, my consciousness is giggling once more and waving at the elusive figure standing a few feet away. She watches him as he walks back into the darkness, obviously forlorn about her time with him being cut short. With a sigh, she comes back to me, releasing me from Sleep’s bindings. My eyes fly open, and a full wave of nausea hits me hard. I choke, the air leaving my lungs. The pain worsens in my stomach and I keel over. What is this madness? What is wrong with me?

The pain doesn’t stop, crippling me until I am only a heap upon the ground. My breathing is strained and heavy, and I am unable to think. I look at my feet, and then around me in a desperate search for water. There seems to be a pond about ten feet from me, but it seems like miles away in my terrible state. Something had to be causing this.

My frantic search for water continues, this state of delirium toying with me until I can hardly stand it. My eyes land upon a small berry which had somehow made its way over to my side. The hunger immediately roars to life, making my stomach ache even more. I moan in pain as my face grows white.

The berries.

Those awful berries.

I cannot stop myself from retching, and afterwards I stare at the purple junk, splattered across the wretched ground, that had come from my mouth. Carefully I edge away, slowly but surely, in my stunted position. With a fate like this, I might be better off quickly dying from some sort of injury or disease. Looks like I am going to be suffering for a very long time.

This is what happens when I trust my gut. Never… never again.

I feel myself about to throw up again, the nausea building within me. The agony is unrelenting.

Don’t give up. Almost here.

But I forget all that when I hear the footsteps.

My heart stops as not one, not two, but several footsteps troop through the forest. They seem to be coming at an alarmingly fast rate, too fast for me to even comprehend. The blood leaves my brain as before I know it, they are about to either pass me or run over me.

It is strange, but I seem to sense the quiet footsteps instead of hear them. The ground pounds with their arrival, the birds fly away in a hurry, and the other animals run and hide. They know it too. They know someone, or something, is coming.

I struggle to look up, looking like a chicken in the process. Scanning the area, I hope to catch a glimpse of the mysterious creatures. An image stirs in my mind, an image of these creatures. Somehow, the blurry thought cannot seem to focus. I have forgotten something.

A whoosh occurs to my left, and out of the corner of my eye I see five figures. I blink, and they are gone. Just like that. I still can feel them, their retreating footsteps as they continue on their journey. What a strange sight.

And then it is over.

The pain returns as quickly as it disappeared. I edge towards the tree in order to lean against it, but in my haste forgot about the muddy puddle that was to my right. I gasp as the cold wetness splashes against my arms, and seconds later I realize I am thoroughly soaked in brown water. A feeling of hopelessness enters me and I realize that I am completely helpless. Helpless and ready to die in order to escape the pain.

What are you saying?!

I shake myself mentally. I am not a coward, I think angrily to myself, I am better than this. My body starts to tremble as I place my hands on the ledge next to the puddle. Hopefully I can drag myself out of the shallow water.

The pain, however, is absolutely mind-boggling. Every movement I make amplifies the hurt, and I can’t help but let out a scream. My hands release the ledge and I fall further towards the center of the puddle. I start to cry, the salty tears slipping down my cheeks like a waterfall. It only seems to make the aching worse, but it’s the only thing I can do.

My blood turns cold as a hand appears in my view.

Anger overwhelms me as I survey it, observing the delicate hand with an interest that confuses me. It is only a normal hand, but somehow in my view it has morphed into the hand of an angel. A hand that means everything. I was not afraid of that hand, though maybe of the person… or thing possessing it. It was my deliverer, my savior.

I follow the line of the connecting arm with my eyes, noting the delicate wrist that followed, along with the lean, strong muscles. Definitely masculine.

A strange musk dances towards my nose, and sensuously plays with my senses before leaving me defenseless. A scent I know all too well… or do I? The memories are frayed at the edges, seemingly ruined beyond repair.

I wonder out of curiosity why I am not freaking out right now at the strange apparition of a hand just when I needed one most. Instantly I realize that it must be because my mind has not yet caught up to my overwhelmed senses, mostly because of the fogginess that has settled over my thoughts like a blanket. A little laugh escapes me, a strange, throaty laugh. It was not mine. Or was it…

My eyes reach the man’s body, and I can tell already that he is very attractive. His muscles are not gigantic, but I never desired anything like that in a man, anyway. I like the skinnier, well-balanced men. Of course… not that I care.

It takes me a while to remember his face, my eyes crawling over every part of him. It is like wine for the eyes, so intoxicating and beautiful. But eventually I cannot resist the lure of his smile, a smile I know he is wearing for some strange reason, and reluctantly lift my gaze.

His eyes are like emeralds, sparkling with amusement. His hair is like the ocean, blue as the sea. But I do not dwell on either of those features long.

That one smile instantly brings my mind up to speed.

Subconsciously at the sight of that smile I back away, further into the puddle. He looks so familiar, as if I have known him for a long while. Maybe even forever. I squirm with discomfiture as I notice the amusement that is prevalent at the corners of his too-wide smile. He is laughing at me. This much I can tell.

It seems strange, because as the chuckles are escaping his mouth, I do not hear the pearly sound. What a beautiful sound it must be, I muse, a beautiful laugh to match a beautiful man.

He says some words to me, words that flit by my head without a second glance. I frown and stiffen slightly at the way the reverberations seem to escape me, dancing out of my grasp with ease.

The familiar man stops laughing as he stares down at me, his hand still outstretched. It must be awkward for him to hold out his hand so long. I should probably take it and save him the trouble of keeping it in the air.

But instead, I stiffen even further, leaning into the puddle. He frowns and takes a step forward, his foot splashing into the water. My heart beats faster as he lifts his other foot and puts it down in the puddle so that they are both soaked.

I instinctively recoil as he crouches down by my side. Muttering something I can’t understand under his breath, he reaches with both arms towards me. A squeal escapes me. A squeal that I cannot hear.

A new wave of understanding washes over me. I am deaf. I must be.

This revelation shocks me. How can I just discover something like this? What has happened to my memories? Am I going crazy?

What is my name?

The question chills me to the bone. I realize… that I don’t know the answer.

The man seems to be forming a word on his lips, a word I cannot hear but can somehow see with the way he is exaggerating it. He seems to be saying the word “please”.

My lip juts out obstinately and I cross my arms against my chest in response. He looks at me and starts to laugh. I can imagine it, the beautiful sounds echoing in my heart. I wish I could experience it for myself.

He hesitantly brings his hands out again after a long, contented silence. With a guarded expression, I allow him to sweep his hands under me. Before I know it, he has pulled me into his arms, picking me up as he steps out of the puddle.

In his comforting embrace, I forget everything.

Except, of course, the pain, which comes like a thief in the night to steal away my happiness. Tears well up in the corner of my eye as it launches an assault against me again.

The man mumbles something that looks like “What’s wrong?”. Subconsciously I clutch at his arm until my aged knuckles turn stark white. He starts walking over to the pond as his eyes scour mine. I gesture to my stomach wildly, hoping he will get the message. Surprisingly, his nose wrinkles in response.

“Time… of the month?” I think he asks, over-exaggerating ever word so I can understand. Color rushes to my cheeks. I am as red as a tomato. Furiously I shake my head.

“S…sorry,” he says slowly, finally looking up. The pond is beautiful and glassy, beckoning to me with its icy fingers. As if he read my mind, he steps into the pond with me. The coldness embraces my skin as he practically dumps me in the water.

I cannot prevent a laugh as the water touches my skin, suddenly overjoyed for no reason at all. The pain retreats again, temporarily, as his smile makes everything just a little bit brighter.

“You… remind… me,” He struggles to say, “of... a… girl.”

A girl! Impatience clouds my mind. What kind of girl? A great friend? A lover?

I try to banish these rebellious things from my mind. These thoughts are only causing trouble for everyone.

He must see the question in my eyes, for he continues on slowly. “She… was… c-covered… in… mud… too.”

I have nothing to say. Nothing I wouldn’t want to say. Only meager feelings of jealousy are left in my heart. I want to say that I desire to keep my guardian angel all to myself. But I can’t.

For that is what he must be. My angel, sent down from Heaven to protect me.

The thought brings a small smile to my lips, which leads to a wider smile on the handsome man’s face. He reaches out, dips his hand in the water, and rubs against my cheek with one, rough thumb. And the strangest thing is, I really want him to do it again. For the moment to never end.

And he does, bringing his other thumb to my other cheek, rubbing his hands against my skin. It burns. It burns like nothing I have ever experienced before.

It takes me a second to realize that he is trying to wash the dirt and grime off of me. A carefully veiled excitement begins to occur in my mind. I want to see how far this goes. The real question is, how far is he willing to go?

Obviously not very far, because within moments his warm arms are around me again, and he is lifting me out of the water. His embrace is so warm, so comforting. I could stay like this forever.

But it doesn’t, and he lays me back beside the tall oak trees. I look at the ground, suddenly feeling embarrassed.

When I look back up, he is ready. “Do… you… believe… in… true… love?”

Interesting question.

I go with the safe answer. “Yes.” It feels weird to know the word passed my mouth even though I was unable to hear it.

“I… don’t.” He gritted his teeth, messing with the bottom of his shirt. His mouth may say one thing, but his eyes tell a different story. I find myself intrigued. Has someone already taught this man what true love is?

A shiver ripples through my body as a blast of cold air brushes against me. He notices instantly, and takes his shirt off. He has a tank top of some kind underneath, but I am still instantly affected. My breathing grows hitched, betraying my interest too the all-too-observant man.

“Take… this…use… it.” He says, and then goes to examine the berry bush. Plucking one berry from the bush, he shows it to me. “Did… you… eat…”

I nod hastily. As he does this, the pain returns once more. I feel myself slumping in agony.

Within a flash, he is by my side. “Just… be… careful… do… not…” He begins, then angrily mutters under his breath. I blink, and when my eyes flutter open, he is gone.

What the crap?

But within a second he is back, carrying a small knapsack. My heart practically sighs in relief at his reappearance, now that I know he hasn’t abandoned me.

He fiddles with the drawstrings, opening the bag and silently handing me a bottle of water. I take it eagerly and screw the cap open. He turns his attention away from my animalistic display, lifting a notepad out of the sack. A pen shortly follows.

I pause in my frenzied gulps as he begins to write. Watching him, I notice he has beautiful handwriting. Just like the rest of him. To be expected I guess. Surely a man like him cannot be this perfect. He must have some fault.

Ah, I remind myself carefully, but he is a guardian angel. He was sent for me.

You don’t really believe that, do you?

“Here.” He hands me the notepad, upon which is written the words “HOW TO TREAT YOUR ILLNESS”. Below it is instructions in taking some sort of pill. What is this nonsense?

He smiles at my confusion, and then opens the knapsack again. Carefully he draws out a bottle of pills. “It’s… for… the… berries.”

I frown and reach for the notepad. “How do you have something like this in your knapsack?” I write. He reads and answers my question before I finish my next sentence. “We... prepare… for… everything.” He grins at me and my heart does a funny leap. What is wrong with me?

“Ok,” I say awkwardly, still feeling strange about the sounds leaving my mouth. It seems like I remember a time when this strange lack of hearing was not an issue.

He starts to write in the notepad again. It doesn’t take him very long.

“I have to go. You will be in danger if I take you with me or stay with you any longer. The soldiers are after me. Please understand. I wish I could help more than I already have. Just please, pay attention to the instructions. I really hope I could have talked with you longer.” I read underneath his shoulder, the words upside down. He glances at me and shoves over the note, standing up in the process. The notepad falls from his grasp onto my lap.

He stops as if to pick it up, and then decides not to. He starts to turn away from me, and I strangely feel sad. “You… keep… it.” The man looks over his shoulder with that wonderful grin of his.

“Have… everything.” He throws the knapsack over his shoulder, and then disappears almost immediately. I can sense the footsteps once more.

Good bye.

An eerie calm settles over me. I feel perfectly at peace with the world, satisfied with all it has offered me. Heaven did send me my own guardian angel, after all.

I finger the notepad tentatively. What do I want to write? How will I like to fill these pages before the pain comes back?

Images flash in my head, images that are all blurry. No, that just will not do. I cannot make a picture out of blurry. It simply isn’t possible.

Leafing through the few sketches in the front of the pad for inspiration, I stop on the portrait of a young, pretty girl. For some reason it strikes me, seemingly familiar to my eyes.

Exactly like my guardian angel.

A name whips out of nowhere, stunning me almost like another round of pain. Tears start to fall as the realization hits me. Mona. Mona is my name.

And his? I ask myself.

My memory grows clearer as the moon begins to soar in the wide sky. Xavier. That’s it.

“Xavier,” I whisper softly, tasting the word on my tongue. I have to repeat it once more, treating it like a rare delicacy.

“Xavier… why?” I ask the sky, not caring if my ears don’t pick up the words. Maybe if I was louder, they would.

“Xavier, please don’t leave me!”

Two, strong hands grab my side as I start to shake, clutching the sides of my desk. The world around me blurs, and quickly morphs into a classroom filled with empty desks. I am back in my prison.

“Mona, please calm down,” Mr. Vigilance says softly, “it is fine now. You are back.”

Tears are running down my face in rivers. He is right. I am safe.

Yet I cannot stop the tears from flowing.

“What did you see?” he asks, and the chills start to race down my back. I really did see Xavier. He is alive, and running from me.

I wanted to ask him why. I wanted to beg him to stay. But I never had the chance. And now he is gone forever.

I have had this dream countless times, but never before has it gone so far. The last time it happened was yesterday in bed, and ended right after I went to sleep. It is as if I finally unlocked the true story, and it scares me immensely.

“I saw a massive Shifter attack,” I choke out a lie, “they stormed the cities, too many for us to count. They all came back and multiplied, revived by some strange force. We could not handle them. Every one of us died.” I try to speak evenly, but I end up squeaking out every other word. A half-lie, of course. I had a vision like that the other day.

Mr. Vigilance raises a slender, perfect eyebrow. “Is that everything? Do you feel like this is some sort of premonition? Does this apply to the prophecy in any way?”

Oh… right, right. I forgot. This is Analysis class.

“Uh, no sir.” I finger the edges of the paper. “What do you think?”

He puffs up like some big elephant. I have given him the chance to talk, and he knows it. “Well… maybe…” He edges over to the chalkboard as he thinks.

Great. What have I gotten into?


An hour later, I struggle out of that class, nearly exhausted. That man has the ability to suck the life out of me, leaving absolutely nothing left. He droned on for at least thirty minutes without stopping about the possible meanings of my dream. Well, this time I brought it upon myself. I should be ashamed.

Now to get out of my etiquette class.

I edge over to the room where Lady Miranda was tending to some papers cluttered across her desk. “Excuse me, Lady Miranda?” I ask, making my voice as sickly sweet as I possibly can. She seems to be nicer when I talk this way.

“Mona? Is that you?” She looks up, her features spell-binding. Her emerald eyes contrast with flawless ivory skin and dark red lips, along with a swan-like neck and a graceful body. To me, she is like an icy goddess.

“Yes, Lady Miranda.” I curtsy clumsily, and I think I see amusement tug at the corner of her closed mouth. “I am feeling rather unwell today, and would like to use the bathroom. May I?”

She stares at me evenly. I begin to feel squirm, traces of red reaching my cheeks.

“I suppose so.” She throws her hands up like it couldn’t be helped. That was one thing about Lady Miranda. She was a drama queen. “But only-“

“Thanks!” I say eagerly, and then zoom off without a second thought. I know I will be reprimanded later, but I don’t care at all. It is worth everything to be free, if only for a couple of moments.

I hope Lady Miranda doesn’t notice that I didn’t turn to the left in order to go to the bathroom.

I exit the premises, swinging a door open so that I am standing in the backyard. Searching my mind for the place I had seen before, I wrinkle my nose in order to catch a scent. Any scent.

There are so many out here: daffodils, lilacs, frogs, and other creatures. But I know what I am looking for. When the hint of the right aroma reaches me, I grab on to it and never let go.

“Chosen One?” A voice calls in the distance. I mutter angrily under my breath. Move, Mona, move!

I run to the edge of the tall walls and jump as high as I can. Using my hands, I grab onto a small ledge, which I used to propel myself over. I have practiced this many times since I found the strange irregularity days ago. It serves as my ticket out, if need be. Although of course, it wouldn’t really free me from the prison, but I can temporarily get away. As long as the guards don’t see me.

Starting to hear shouts from far away, I try not to focus on it too much. I must hold on to that faded scent. It carries me farther in the forest, deeper than I previously thought.

I hope I don’t get lost.

I finally reach the familiar clearing, where the pond is only a few feet away. My eyes scan over the muddy pond, the deathly berries, and finally, the figure bundled against the tree.

The woman’s face is worn and weary, with many wrinkles upon her face. I can tell she used to be very pretty. She has a heart-shaped face and a slightly pointy nose.

She is scrunched up in the fetal position, her face bent in pain. I see the knapsack off to the side, the discarded water bottle, and the full bottle of pills. Oh, I see. She hasn’t been following the instructions.

There is dried up blood around the area, almost as if she was coughing it up earlier. It doesn’t look like she has any outward injuries.

“Okay, lady, let’s get you out of here.” I hoist her up in my arms slowly, and she is surprisingly light. Her eyes flutter open, and in that time I see piercing blue eyes stare straight into my soul. I am struck by the hopelessness I see within them, and then the fierce determination.

With a ferocity that is hard for even me to detect, she wraps her arms around my neck and begins to squeeze. Surprisingly, it hurts really bad for a lady who has barely any strength left.

“Please,” I emphasize, choking under her hold, “release… me… here… to… help.”

She studies my lips, trying to read the words that fell off my tongue. Her eyes narrow in suspicion, but reason takes over and she loosens her grip slightly. I gasp for air.

Looking around her, she reaches for the notepad, which was lying on the ground. I bent down and picked it up, handing it to her with interest. She flips through the pages as I begin the walk back, as if searching for something.

I hear a murmur, almost like a strange warble, coming from the lady as she finds the picture she is looking for. “You,” she mouths silently, pointing to the portrait of me on the back of one page. My eyes crinkle with laughter.

“Me,” I nod, and then start to run as fast as I can with the bundle in my arms. I am surprised that she weighs so little to me, but maybe it is the result of that strength training I have been forced to participate in. I am always the weakest one there, but maybe even I have improved.

Her eyes widen as I go into full speed, and subconsciously she clutches at my shirt. I have to get back as quickly as I can before the guards race after me and catch a whiff of Xavier’s scent. I cannot let them get that far into the forest.

A strange thought occurs to me. I could have left the lady and raced in Xavier’s direction. I could have caught his scent. Maybe even catch up with him.

Why didn’t I?

Well, I suppose it’s worth it anyway, I think to myself. At least I get to save someone out of my stupidity. And really, that’s probably what I would have done anyway if I had thought of this plan earlier. My presence with Xavier would have endangered him more than if I leave him alone. Disheartening as it is, it is still cold, hard reality.

And there is also the fact that he was the one that ran from me in the first place.

A strange squeezing in my chest brings me back to the present. I had barely realized that we have reached the wall until now. Crap, I forgot.

How am I going to get over this wall now? It isn’t like I can throw her over.

“What is that in your arms, Mona? What have you been doing?” A figure comes from the side of the walls, probably where the gate is. I gasp, nearly dropping the woman. I didn’t expect anyone to be out here.

But of course, it is Lady Miranda who decides to follow me outside the gates. Her eyebrows are arched in the air and her tone is full of fury. “What happened to going to the bathroom?”

I am going to die.

Instead of responding to her, I gently try to place the woman’s feet on the ground. A guard comes around the other side in curiosity, and I quickly gesture for him to come over. He looks at me and the lady in confusion.

“Can you take care of this lady? She ate some poisonous berries… they were red, and small, and-“

“Metaberries?” he asks suddenly. He seems like he knows what he is talking about.

“Uh… yeah. Sure. Metaberries.”

“I will take care of her, Chosen One.” The guard reaches out an arm to hold the woman up. She doesn’t protest, allowing him to support her weight. It seems like she can walk, though awkwardly. At the moment she must not be in dire pain.

“Please see that she gets a job in Headquarters!” I call after him urgently. He lifts up one hand in parting, and then they disappear around the side of the walls. It is then that I notice that the notepad, once more, is on the ground. The pages are flipped to a picture I have never seen before. Tears well up as I see the fine lines, the bright eyes and smooth skin. Xavier. She had drawn Xavier.

“You have a lot of explaining to do,” Lady Miranda huffs, by my side in seconds. Using her arm, she firmly guides me over to the gateway. My few minutes of freedom are over.

All the while, I clutch the notepad close to my chest. Somehow I am unable to keep the tears from falling.

This is going to be a long week.


Days later, I am still just as dumb as I was the moment I started taking these awful classes. I think Lady Miranda has had me thrown out more than three times, and Mr. Vigilance has turned each class into a “brainstorming” period where he basically lectures the entire time over the possible meanings of my dream. Not the real dream, of course, so it wasn’t even slightly interesting.

The only times when I enjoy myself would have to be when Griffin is by my side. He visits me for lunch and always makes me laugh so that I choke on my bland PBJs. He is becoming my best friend, understanding and caring about me more than anyone else in this boring place. I am starting to think that having him as my only mate wouldn’t be quite as bad.

Walking towards the garden where I eat my lunch, I spot him leaning against the statue near the doors. He smiles when he turns to look at me, a smile so unguarded that it makes my heart flutter. He quickly strikes a pose, kneeling in front of the statue’s outstretched sword with a wounded expression.

I start to laugh, running over to him. “Watch out!” I yell, “You are going to get hurt!” I leap in the air and push him out of the way. We crash into the wall, his body shielding me from any damage. I look into his brown eyes with relief. He seems to be the most human-like person here, and I love that more than anything.

“Get… up,” Griffin groans, trying to push himself off the floor. He looks hurt, but the twinkle in his eyes betrays the truth.

“What were you thinking, getting in front of that soldier?!” I roll off of him, shaking him by the shoulders. “You could have died!”

“Would you miss me?” He winks, slowly standing up.

“Yes. I would miss you so much,” I say sarcastically, drawing out my syllables. Afterwards, I yawn, and his grin reappears.

“Are you bored with me already, Chosen One?” he teases, and I punch him in the arm. He knows I hate it when he calls me that.

Offering me his arm, he leads me out into the garden. The nervous butterflies return as we walk, upsetting my stomach.

“Are you ready?” He whispers in my ear, a low sound that makes me shiver. I know exactly what he is talking about.

“Ready as I will ever be, I guess.” I look towards the walls, away from him. Griffin frowns a little.

“I know this must be nerve-wracking. What are you worried about?” he asks, leading me to the benches underneath the tall willow tree. Flowers surround us as we sit down, and I open my lunch bag.

“I’m not sure. It is just this uneasy feeling I have. I don’t know if I am ready.” I grab my sandwich, staring at it silently. The delectable scent reaches my nose, and I nearly gag.

“I’m sure you are more ready than you think.”

“Or maybe you have more confidence in me than you should.”

A minute passes with no words. I quietly put my sandwich up and he starts to eat his own. It is a comfortable silence, a silence I can bear. With Griffin, I always feel at ease.

“If you want, Mona, we can do it now. Get it over with. I know that the Council has had it ready for ages,” Griffin comments nonchalantly over a mouthful of BLT. “They just wanted to wait until you decided to come. Of course, the deadline is tonight, but you could have-“

“Really?” I ask, a little more eager than I should be. I have been dreading this ritual for days, unable to keep the nervousness from swallowing up all of my thoughts. “Let’s do it, then.”

I marvel at how I spoke of this matter so calmly. The way I said it was about the equivalent of “let’s play ball!” or “let’s eat some cake!”. I guess it is just the overwhelming desire for everything to just be over. To forget… him, to move on with my life.

“Griffin, wait for me, will you?” I ask, standing up quickly, “I have to do something, and then we can go.” He nods, and takes another gigantic bite of his sandwich. Turning from him, I head over to the fountain around thirty feet away.

For a minute, I stare at the glassy water, my reflection wavy in the ripples across the surface. Hesitantly I put my hand in my pocket and pull out a tiny slip of paper. Unfolding it, I look at the striking portrait once again. My thumb smudged the edge of his face, and I quickly shift it away.

I returned the notepad to the old lady, whose name is Cassie, by secret. I snuck into her new room and left it on her bed. However, I could not part with this picture no matter how hard I tried. I eventually tore it out, stealing away the precious lady’s guardian angel.

But now, it is time.

My heart twists in pain violently as I raise my thumbs to the top of the picture and carefully bring them out in opposite directions. The tearing sound makes my eyes start to water, and before I know it, the deed is done. My heart is ripped in two pieces just as easily as the paper was.

Now the job gets much harder.

Let go.

I squeeze each piece of the paper tightly in my fists. It seems as if my body will not obey my mind’s commands.

Let go.

Finally one hand opens, and the paper flies until it lands on the blue water. It floats for a while, and then the water swallows it up until it is shriveled and the face is destroyed.

Only one piece left.

Although it may seem like a small matter, at this moment it seems like the world depends on this one action. My grip slowly loosens in the other hand, sweat appearing on my palm. I never imagined that this would become so hard.

Let go.

The paper flies in the same direction that the other did, and soon shrivels in the same manner. Strangely, it feels as if I have been temporarily released… almost energized at its completion. Not exactly what I expected.

With energy I didn’t know I possessed, I walk over to Griffin, who probably saw the entire incident. “Okay,” I say firmly, “I am ready.”

I finally let go.

We reach the entrance of a small room after a short while, having traveled slowly but surely. It seems to be in the heart of headquarters, several flights of stairs underground. It is kind of creepy, knowing that with every step I am taking I am getting closer to becoming a brand new person.

It is hard to imagine what I will be like when it is over. Will my personality change to what it was before I met… him? Will I keep everything but my memories?

Griffin keeps trying to explain the process of the ritual, but I get distracted by the curious designs that are dancing across the walls of this hallway. There are no other doors besides the one at the very end, which is rather strange. The door itself is huge, decorated with similar designs around the edges. The whole layout of Headquarters confuses me. It is rather like a castle upside down, with a single, plain floor above ground and many more beautiful floors below.

We enter through the door, and I am surprised by the simplicity of it all. There is nothing in it besides a few chairs, a desk and cabinets, and a small bed. It rather resembles a normal hospital room, and even that seems more homely than this one. It is very different from everything else I have seen on this floor.

An old, yet striking lady is murmuring to herself, seemingly stirring together a strange concoction in a large mixing bowl. She is dressed in all black and has beady eyes, with dark hair that stretches to her lower back. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that I have just seen a witch.

“Mona, meet our herbalist, Marsha.” Griffin smiles at her, and I extend my hand cautiously. She turns to look at me, stares at my hand for a minute, and then turns away.

My cheeks burn as I hastily drop my hand to my side. Griffin doesn’t seem to notice my embarrassment, acting as if she hadn’t just snubbed me in front of him. “She will be taking care of the ritual, Mona. You have nothing to worry about. She is the best of the best.”

He obviously expects me to be eased by this knowledge. Honestly, it upsets me even more. This lady looks like she could kill me. Not only kill me, but not care about it in the slightest.

“Leave.” A small croak comes from Marsha, and we both take a step back. “I must deal with her alone.”

Marsha. What a witchy name.

Griffin shakes his head. “I’m sorry Marsha, but the Council said-“

“I do not care what the Council said!” She shakes her head definitely, her voice cracking on every other word. “I am doing them a favor right now, and they know it.”

Griffin stares at me pleadingly. “Yeah, yeah, I get it,” I mutter underneath my breath, “go wait outside.” Smiling, he pats me on the head and walks out of the door.

“I’ll be right here! Call if you need me!” He throws over his shoulder, and then the door shuts with a frightening CLANG!!

Now I am alone with this scary witch-lady. I knew I never should have gone along with this.

She gestures to the bed, and I quickly scramble upon it. The energy I had before is completely gone. How did I lose my confidence so quickly?

“Mona, I am going to have to ask you to relax,” she says calmly over her shoulder, “I can feel your teeth chattering like footsteps on a rainy day.”

What? What did that analogy have to do with anything?

She finishes her mixture, and then takes a cup out of the cabinet and pours some of the concoction into it. “Parsley, Gingerberries, Red Snaps, Fargleweed, Cabbage, and Tawniberries. Pretty normal ingredients, except for the Gingerberries, until swirled together for thirty minutes, boiled for ten minutes, and then allowed to fester for three days. Now it serves as a concoction that is so potent you cannot drink but a sip before the agony overtakes you. It is the first step to ridding yourself of your mate.” After explaining, she takes a dropper and dips it in the cup. I am only thinking of one thing.



“Secondly,” she continues, “I have to take another thick mixture, using extremely rare ingredients, and spread it across the mating mark you wish to remove. I have been informed that this mark is near your neck.” Stepping over to me, she places the dropper on a small bedside table and went to get something else.

“Afterwards, I will use Fargleweed to soothe your evaporating mating mark and the pain in your chest. However, it may continue regardless for hours. Even if you are hurting after I am through with this step, I must give you the elixir or it will never be complete. This is the potion that messes with your mind, fiddling with your memories and truly making you forget him.”

“Let’s get on with it then,” I mutter, lying back against the single pillow. “Bring on the pain.”

She smiles, a wicked smile that chills me to the bone. “As you wish.”

A few minutes pass as she arranges things on the table. I spend time thinking about what I was going to lose. Throughout this process, will I lose myself? Why did I even agree to do this?

Oh yeah. The pain.

That is so funny to me, and I start to laugh. So in order to escape from the pain, I must drink something that gives me pain. What a messed up world.

Marsha arches an eyebrow, and I shrug. “I’m weird,” I offer as an explanation. I’m sure she thinks I’m crazy now.

I think she is ready, for she is picking up the dropper. “Open up, Mona.” Obediently I do as she asks, closing my eyes in the process. The word why keeps flitting through my thoughts.

Why, why, why, why, WHY?

A small droplet of liquid hits my tongue, and I begin to scream. It seems as if my body is on fire, lit into flames by that one single spark. She was right. The pain really does overtake you.

I can feel Marsha’s hands on me, forcibly holding me down. Strange bindings are suddenly around my feet and arms. Anger at her sears me like a red-hot iron. What the crap was I thinking when I agreed to do this?

Crashes r heard outside, along with shouting and other strange noises. I barely notice, mainly because I am busy writhing in pain.

“Not too much longer dearie,” Marsha cackles, her aged hands spreading a gooey paste around my neck. At about this time, an even larger crash occurs, and I can hear Griffin yelling, “Guards! GUARDS!”

I think Marsha has messed up for some reason, because now I can feel the paste on my shirt and jeans. Some of it gets on my belly and sides because my shirt had ridden up slightly. The burn intensifies when this happens, and I am unable to stop from screaming again.

“What are you doing to her?” A voice anxiously asks, a voice that is familiar to me. “What are you doing to Mona?!”

Marsha doesn’t say anything from the silence that follows, and then croaks in my ear. “Drink this.” A cup touches my lips and a sweet liquid slides into my mouth. Not much, though, but something knocks the cup from my lips.

“Stop!” Another voice yells, and fighting ensues. I finally decide to open my eyes, to figure out what is going on.

A face hovers above me, streaked with moisture. It takes a minute for my eyes to focus, but then I realize it is him. My body starts to shake and stars dance in my vision. “Mona, it’s me,” the familiar voice whispers, “Xavier. I came back.”

A strange exhilaration fills my body. He… he came back. For me. Somehow it is impossible to believe.

“I may not ever see you again,” he whispers, “because the guards are coming this way to kill us. But I had to see you just one more time. I love you. I can’t live without you.”

My heart nearly explodes.

Through all the burning pain, I focus on my one desire that rises above the others; the urge to escape… with Xavier, with Griffin, with everyone. Somehow, I needed to save them all. Even if I die in the process.

Places appear before me randomly. The werewolf mansion. My orphanage. My school. Strange valleys, and creeks, and towering mountains that I have never seen before.

Another vision settles before me, a vision of dark rivers and forests, vast oceans and dark grey skies. There.

I reach for it, grasping for the place that has haunted my dreams since the very first Shifter attack. The others cannot reach us there. We will be safe.

In my strange state of delirium, I run and catch it in my hands, and then stare at it, expecting something. Anything.

And then something happens.

The light from the place grows, consuming my hand, my arms, and my body. It sucks up everything, until nothing is left. Surely I have gone mad. What have I done?

My consciousness leaves me as I finally pass out, due to the agonizing pain.

What a nightmare.


A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

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Re: A Howl In The Night - To Rise Like A Phoenix

Unread post by Fuck_Me » 09 Jan 2016 16:28

To Rise Like A Phoenix
I feel nothing. I am nothing.

The voices build up inside of me until they are overwhelming, beating like the ceaseless echo of a drum. There is no worth to my soul. I should just die now and let God condemn me forevermore.

I can feel the heat rushing to my face as these words cross my mind, the redness swallowing my cheeks. There is no lucidity to these words, no reason whatsoever. I doubt that I could ever explain these logical fallacies.

All I know is that these thoughts cannot be true. There is nothing that words can do to bring me down. The wickedness must end now. No weaknesses will be accepted.

A sound erupts to my right, and a battle immediately begins.

My eyes flicker open, and the harsh sights berate me like the side of a sharp sword. Immediately I jump to my feet as focus returns, trying to survey my potential opponent. Surely it knows that it would not be able to catch me off guard. Though I suppose if it thought it could, this underestimation would serve as an advantage.

I look at the unfamiliar creature before me, a small girl who looks barely over the age of five. My eyes narrow at this strange development. What wily tricks enemies try to play… donning disguises that would make me hesitant to strike.

Quickly I reach to my belt, grasping for a sword or weapon of some kind. To my dismay, nothing is there besides air. Alarm only enters my mind for a second, and then I race towards a tall and intimidating tree to rip off a weighty branch. This will have to do.

The creature tries to say something, but I refuse to let any words slip out of its tiny mouth. I leap forward as it forms the words, covering her mouth with my hands. Terror dances across her eyes as she stills with my movement, seemingly stunned with shock.

What petty tricks. Does she really think that I will fall for a gimmick like that? Vulnerability is only a façade, manipulated by the strong and embraced by the weak.

With lightning-quick movements, I raise my tree branch slightly above her and hit the top of her head lightly. With a body like this, only a tap should be enough to knock the creature out until I decide what to do with it.

Of course I am right, as the eyes of the child slip to a close almost immediately. Only now do I allow myself a smile, pleased with the manner in which I handled this incident.

The smile vanishes as a larger man appears from the cluster of trees a few feet away. He looks at me, and then the girl, his startling green eyes widening in shock.

“Mona, what have you done?”

What in the name of…

“Who are you?” I put my hands in the air, trying to gain some time. Slowly I stand up, stepping over the little girl. “How do you know my name?” I try not to let fright and confusion dictate my thoughts. Survival comes first.

He steps into the sunlight with one graceful, sweeping movement. The first thing I notice is his sparkling blue hair, almost blinding me in the sunlight. Strange recollections start to hit me like a ton of bricks.

“Do you not recognize me?” He asks, and I can sense hurt in his voice. Strangely, I do, no matter how much that surprises me. Memory after memory resurfaces with a speed that unnerves me.

“Xavier.” The word leaves my mouth, leaving me surprised and confused. How did I know that? How did I know him?

The man tries to form his next words, and fails. After a few seconds, he tries again.

“Mona, why did you knock out Danae?”

I start backing away immediately. Now more memories are coming back, and I don’t like the things I remember. Danae. My only friend that is a woman, and she isn’t even human. What the crap have I become? Surely all of these bizarre memories are not real.

“Speak to me,” he says, his voice commanding and prompting an immediate response. I start to reply, then immediately stop myself. I do not need to answer to this man.

I abruptly turn on my heel and run as fast as I can. Trying to stay calm, I think over this matter as I bolt through trees and underbrush. What could Xavier possibly want with me? How can I escape this unfamiliar monster with a name that I somehow know?

Darting to the side as I feel footsteps behind me, I know immediately that running is pointless. He can track my scent like a hound dog and if he caught up to me this quickly; he must also be much faster.

“Mona!” He calls, to no response. He may kill me now, but he is not getting anything out of me. Within seconds he is right behind me, his breath brushing against the back of my neck.

I don’t acknowledge him even as he stops me, putting his arms around my torso with a speed and strength that surprises me. It is only when he picks me up that I begin to get extremely annoyed. “Put me down,” I say calmly, trying to mask my irritation. “You have no right to be treating me like this. Just leave me alone. You don’t know me.”

“I think I do, considering that you are my mate. I think I know almost all of you.” A handsome smile appears on his face as his sinewy arms tighten around me, keeping me in place. Humiliation finally breaks through my wall of steel, and I can feel my face turning cherry red. I know what he is talking about.

“Screw this. Screw you.” I mutter under my breath, trying to banish these terrible thoughts from my head. However, at his snarky words, I cannot forget the recollection of his lips as they had danced across my body.

So this was the man that had turned me into a weakling.

* * *

“She refuses to accept that I am her mate,” Xavier explains to another annoyingly handsome man with slanted eyes, “she is completely different than before.”

“Well, I mean, they did perform the Sharuken ritual on her,” his companion replies… Yi, I think his name is.

“The old hag never finished! I think.” He protests rather feebly.

“I honestly don’t understand why you had to tie her up. Surely she is not that dumb to think she can escape from us, weird amnesia problem or not.”

“You don’t understand, Yi. She is acting crazy.”

“I doubt it. More than likely, you are the one who is acting crazy.”

“Oh yeah? Well, you go talk to her then,” Xavier huffs with a note of frustration.

“I think I will.”

The willowy werewolf stands up and saunters over to me, smiling wildly. I feel the urge to punch him in the face, but I can’t do anything with these bonds that are so tight that they nearly cut my skin. “Hey, Mona. What’s up?”

“Nothing much, Yi. Just minding my own business.” I do not smile or frown. It is best not to let anything slip.

“So… uh…” He looks disconcerted by my response, a little confused. “You say you aren’t mates with Xavier?”

“Yes.” Honestly, that is the only thing I don’t really understand out of all of this. This mate business. I don’t understand this nonsense coming out of their mouth. Yes, I willingly allowed myself to be kissed by him and to let myself fall for his antics, but mates? I’m not even sure I know what that means. This Sharuken stuff is confusing me as well.

“I think I can prove that you are mates with him,” Yi smiles comfortingly. Not that I need to be comforted. I need a way out of this mess.


“Could you show us your neck?”

Now I know these perverts are insane.

“Good idea, Yi!” Xavier said loudly, “I didn’t think of that.”

“That’s because you are dumb, Xavier.” Yi replies, deadpan. He turns his attention back to me. “There should be a mating mark, there near your neck. Do you remember when you tried to kill yourself in the forest?”

“Yes. That was a moment of temporary weakness. Don’t expect anything shameful like that from me again.”

The two both look at me as if I have said something weird. “Uh, okay.” Yi speaks first, rather dubiously. “Well, Xavier saved you and mated with you that night.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about. He just saved me, and that was it.” I am surprised at the way I am able to stay so cool and collected, considering that these captors of mine are making such untrue accusations.

“Just show us your neck,” Yi demands exasperatingly. “Please.”

Annoyingly I tug down the neckline of my rugged t-shirt, showing a small expanse of white skin. I haven’t always had creamy and smooth skin, but no blemishes have been on this body of mine since I became a Spier. “See? You guys are insane.”

Yi turns away, looking at Xavier with a shrug. “I guess they really did pull it off.”

A dark shadow crosses Xavier's face. He looks away.

"Mind letting me out of these bonds anytime soon?" I ask them slowly, "I don't really deserve to be treated like a criminal." Of course, the two both ignore me.

Thanks a lot.

A small figure enters my vision, coming towards me from the edge of the clearing. "Mona, you gave me quite the shiner," she laughs. It is a beautiful laugh, full of femininity and self-assurance. Blue and black marks her forehead with an intensity that causes me to gasp.

"But I only tapped your forehead.. I don't understand how..."

"I think you underestimate your strength, Mona. It felt like a freight train was being dropped on my head. Lucky for you, you didn't get to see the bloody wounds before they healed a few hours ago. It was bad."

I suppose I didn't really spend much time examining the effects of my attack before Xavier distracted me.

"I apologize," I say awkwardly, looking off to the side and narrowing my eyes. For some reason, I feel strange and uncomfortable. I know these people, but they have become strangers.

And most of all, my past self has become a stranger to me. These memories simply don't make sense. How could I let myself become so vulnerable? How pitiful of a life have I been living up until this point?

Xavier stands up, glances at me solemnly, and walks away. I feel a shameful tug at my heart.

"I understand that you probably don't know how to react right now," Danae begins, "even though I don't understand the particulars of your internal struggle." I roll my eyes, though secretly interested. "My advice to you would be to always go with your heart. No matter what."

"Thanks," I smile sardonically, then laugh for the first time since I have become... different. "I will keep that in mind."

She turns without smiling, walking away back into the forest. I look around at the area, seeing the tall trees and dark gray skies. The smell of sulfur is barely prevalent, and the ground is covered in dark vines and dirt. It is if I am just now truly noticing my surroundings.

"Hey guys? Uh... where are we?"

"We were hoping you could answer that," Xavier says in response, and my blood runs cold.

Suddenly, the air chills my heart and the alien emotion of fear caresses my form, whispering into my ear. My body begins to shake uncontrollably.

And then everything went black.

I know this feeling. I know it more than anyone.

"Everyone! Out of the way!" I yell, then furiously bend my head to my bindings. There is no way I can get out of these bone breaking ropes without some sort of sharp object. And it is getting closer by the minute.

As the cold embraces me with an intensity that is overwhelming, I suddenly am drawn to thoughts of a lance, elegant and strong with a sharp, pointy end. Almost instantaneously, my muscles clench, and the bonds fall like water from my shivering skin.

And the beautiful lance is in my hand.

I lose myself in my instinct, my eyes grow hard and I take a step backwards. My senses seem to be heightened and my reasoning has evaporated. They are so close.

Ghoulish creatures appear from the trees into the clearing, slowly moving towards me. In a flash, Xavier runs in front of me, shielding me from them. "Mona, please let me handle this," he pleads, and his warm body in front of mine sends chills through mine. My breath becomes even shorter as I realize that I am affected by this strange act. This is impossible. I... can't accept this.

"Out of the way, Xavier," I impatiently push him, and he seems to be so stunned that he almost falls to the ground beside me. Trying not to waste time, I run towards the Shifters, one word echoing through my mind. One word that seems to drain me, but seems to be instinct in that it possesses me entirely.

I lift my lance and throw with precision. Almost instantaneously it pierces two of the Shifters, and a horrible cry consumes the air. I am almost frozen from the chills that sound sends through my body. It is the cry of pain, of heartache... of pure terror.

I must stay strong. I cannot let this affect me.

I throw the lance again and again, and the small group of Shifters decrease in number with each attempt. Each new cry seems to join the collective, increasing in intensity and power. However, I never stop, and a few seconds later the last Shifter is hit. They are gone now.

They can't hurt me.

I turn and look behind my shoulder, where Xavier is standing, staring at me like I was a stranger. Yi's expression is similar. Hastily my eyes snap away from them, away from the incredulity in their expression. I only did what was necessary. I only wanted for them to leave me alone.

I raise a hand to my face, and only then do I notice the flood of tears.

* * *

"So what's the plan?" I ask after a long stretch of silence. The fire crackles beside me, sparks flying in the air.

Empty gazes meet mine.

"I guess we should focus on trying to figure out where we are," Xavier finally replies, his voice low and gruff. "Maybe we should just travel until we see people who can tell us."

"This place seems rather rural, out in the middle of nowhere," I comment, "we could be days away from any sort of civilization."

"Wait a second," Yi says, and we look at him. "I think the far more pressing matter at this moment is what to do about you."

"What? Are you insane?" I narrow my eyes.

It is strange that they are looking at me like this. It is almost as if they are expecting me to explode at any minute, or vanish into thin air. I'm not a ghost!

"You just killed those Shifters, Mona. I don't know if you are yourself anymore. It seems like your entire personality has changed."

"Of course I am myself," I scoff. The fire warms my skin as I rock back and forth, hugging my knees. They don't seem to believe me.

"Where did you take us, Mona?" Xavier asks me gently, his hand moving to rest on mine. Strangely familiar warmth spreads throughout my body. It takes a minute for me to realize what he said.

"Take us? You mean I took you somewhere?" I snap my hand away, although a guilty, lingering blush remains. Danae makes eye contact with me and grins knowingly. I feel the sudden need to slap her.

"You must have. The last memory I had before all this was when we were in that strange chamber at headquarters. Do you remember that?"

These people are going crazy.

"That's not what happened. Griffin was taking me to a new part of the castle when you guys showed up and..." I put my head in my hands. "I don't know."

"You are missing some very important pieces of the puzzle, Mona," Xavier smiles, an action that brings red to my face. He thinks I am a fool. These people are making up events that never happened in order to embarrass and confuse me.

I glare at him, and his bright smile fades.

"Maybe it is not just us stranded in this place," Danae comments, "maybe some of the others are here too."

"You can't worry about the others unless you find them on the way," I reply almost forcefully, "as of now the focus should be on getting food for survival. All I have seen so far is strange, shriveled-up berries and miles of tall trees. Everything here seems dead."

"I disagree," Xavier narrows his eyes at me, "I feel like worrying about the others is absolutely essential."

"I'm not saying worrying about them is not important, but that survival is more important," I snap, standing up. The cool, harsh wind beats at my skin.

"Mona..." Xavier looks at me with a gaze that makes me want to punch him in the face. "Please be reasonable."

"Xavier, you can't search for anyone if you die of starvation. And as of now, you have no idea who you are looking for."

"Wait, what do you mean by you? Shouldn't you be saying we?"

"Oh, sorry. My bad." I try to act like it is no big deal, but now I can see that this is going to be difficult. If the careful substitution of you for we was recognized, they will definitely have an easier time keeping me here, just like a prisoner, even though I don't want to get involved in their drama. These people are maniacs and it would be suicide to keep up with guys if they are only interested in saving their friends instead of saving themselves.

Without another word, I stalk off, heading into the deep forest. I can still hear voices behind me, and when I cross a few trees I pause.

"She is almost exactly like she was before I saved her in the forest," Xavier's voice echoes, "even though she remembers most of the events that happened afterwards."

"I wouldn't lose hope with her just yet," Yi responds, then a heavy silence fills the air. I listen for another second, but nothing happens. I heard enough anyways, I guess.

Racing farther into the forest, I find a large tree not far from the clearing. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a small, dark shadow leaning against the tree.

A Shifter.

I try to figure out what the creature is doing and why it is here. The cold embraces me, and the dark feelings that usually come after such an encounter are very minimized. For some reason, I am not afraid.

I don't see the red eyes, so the Shifter must be resting in some way. It seems strange to me, that Shifters need to sleep like every other creature.

Without the red eyes, it looks almost peaceful.

I sit down where I am, peering at the monster. It is white, but you can easily see the ground through its body. Almost subconsciously a small dagger, seemingly made from the same material as the lance, appears in my hand. I stare at it for a minute, amazed at how easily I am able to conjure weapons when I was unable to before arriving in this strange new world.

I edge closer, careful to minimize any sounds. This is my chance. It can't get any easier than this.

However, I hesitate before striking the Shifter. Something about this is not right.

How come so many Shifters have appeared out in the open, without seeking to possess any inanimate objects? How come everything in this area is dead, dark and devoid of any type of civilization?

I gasp as the eyes of the Shifter suddenly appear in its body, my father flashing before my eyes. Except this time, these eyes are filled with a different sort of emotion, beyond anger, pain, and hopelessness.

Pure terror radiates from the creature beside me.

Startled by confusion, I launch forward with the dagger stretched outwards. Immediately my face hits the ground with a resounding thud. My consciousness seems to fade in and out as I try to get myself off the ground, my brain pushing for survival while my brain is begging for time to recover. I forcefully push myself up, and then to my feet after a few seconds of near-paralyzation. Immediately I search for a red glow, a red anything that would indicate whereabouts of the Shifter.

Shock crosses my mind as I see nothing besides the same bleak, dreary landscape.

The Shifter... ran away.

Truly frozen this time around, I fall against the tree. The dark stench of sulfur wafts towards my nose, suspending all thought and movement. This can't be happening. Shifters don't run away.

"Mona!" A voice calls out, and suddenly a body is by my side. "Did you see a Shifter? I smell one."

"Not now, Xavier," I say weakly, sliding to the rough, dirty ground. "You shouldn't even be talking to me."

I only turn to look at him after he stubbornly sits beside me. His green eyes stare into mine, and I shiver. I am a horrible human being.

"You can't possibly mean that," Xavier's face stretches into a slow smile, almost laughing at my words. "Mona, I know you have been through a lot, and I'm-"

"No, Xavier," I snap, then frustratedly put my head in my hands. The wind bites at our bodies. "You don't understand."

Tears start to well up in my eyes. Out of the corner of my eye, Xavier's hand reaches towards my shoulder.

"I sent us all to hell."

The hand stops, then retreats from my vision.

* * *

I made sure to sleep near the trees, as far away from the others as possible without being deemed suspicious. Xavier was the first to fall, then Danae's eyes quickly closed, then Yi started snoring like a freight train. Ah, how I love loud snoring.

I wait a few minutes, lying flat on my back and staring straight into the sky. Not a star is up there, only true black, the same black that covers this entire landscape. I have not seen true, natural light from the sky since we came here.

There is always a mist, a deep fog spreading across the sky and forest. It doesn't seem like this place ever receives rain or any sort of irregular weather. If it is the same place as my dream, it is always going to look like this. Which would be explainable, if this place is in fact the land of the dead.

I never imagined Hell to be quite like this. I have always thought of a world of fire and endless smoke and screams of terror, and this world seems anti-climatic in comparison. Instead of horror, there is only... nothing. Only the Shifters.

I still feel bad for bringing the others to this place. But something has to be done. I can't stay with a group bent upon certain death.

Slowing edging to my feet as Yi snores once more, I creep towards the cluster of trees by the clearing. If even a single branch snaps, it's over.

I take one step, and then another. My heart starts to constrict in a weird way as I start to vanish into the mass of the deep, dark forest. I try to quell my pounding heart, for it beats so loudly that it nearly makes the ground shake. I don't understand why I am so nervous.

I am only doing what is necessary to save myself. It is better when I am alone.

Trying to steer my thoughts away from the group I just left, I focus on the path ahead. Filled with sharp rocks and sticks, there is a huge chance of me falling, even though I haven't been very clumsy at all over the past day. Narrowly avoiding a tree branch as my speed increases, my legs start to pick up in speed. I must get further and further away, so far that they can't possibly catch up to me.

Ever since I have gotten here, nothing has felt right. It is like a single chord played wrong in a beautiful melody. Even as I run, it seems like instead of getting farther away from the terrible feelings, I am running straight towards them. Yet my legs continue to beat on the same path, as if nothing now can turn them away.

I probably wouldn't feel so nervous if my heart wasn't still beating loud enough to wake the dead.

My stomach growls and small beads of sweat appear on my forehead. I am growing more and more exhausted, my throat parched and my vision shaky. Who knows how long I have been running, how long I have even been here. In this place, time runs together, twisting and weaving, frolicking around its inhabitants.

This must be a dream. It has to be.

That is the reason why none of this makes sense. Why I keep having memories that I don't understand. Why everything is so out of the ordinary.

I'm having another dream of the dark world, but this time, I am the star. The only question is; how do I wake myself up?

The running never ends, but my consciousness starts to stumble a little bit. My eyelids slip down, then struggle to its former position. My stomach screams in agony, and only luck prevents its cries from echoing throughout the forest. I must find a way out of this dream before I die.

Only trees surround me, almost the exact same trees surrounding me when I left. Everything here looks the same, which makes me question whether I have been running in circles or not.

I can't be. I've been traveling in a straight line.

But this place continues to play with my brain, and out of the corner of my eye I spot a small irregularity, something that doesn't fit with everything I have seen so far. It is a well of some sort, old and misshapen, but to me the symbol of deliverance. Wells... hold water.

I instinctively change my direction for the first time, swerving to avoid tree after tree. I continue to get closer and closer, but it almost seems to be traveling farther and farther away. Maybe I am just getting fooled by this dream world. I blink my eyes in confusion.

When I look again, it is still there.

My pace slows, and for the first time the well looks like I am actually getting closer to it. Excited, I furiously zoom towards it, towards the hope of life-giving water.

Please, let there be water.

My eyes slip once more, then a heavy force pounds the breath out of me as I slam into it, obviously not looking where I am going. "Ugh!" I gasp for breath, my arms touching the object to try and keep myself steady. "I guess I really am exhausted for banging into a tree," I mutter, trying to concentrate on getting rid of the shaking that is reverberating around my body.

"Last time I checked, I wasn't a tree," a slightly familiar voice travels to my ear, and instantly I start to scream, kicking the talking tree and trying to pull my hands away. However, we seem to be locked in some sort of strange embrace, and both the tree and I lose our balance as we too bang into something hard, then topple almost in midair.

Wait. We are in midair.

My senses go out of control as the world constantly shifts in my eyes, a blur of insanity that I can't possibly understand. It lasts for a second or two, then I just tightly close my eyes and hope this will be over soon. I hope this madness will stop.

And then there is a thud, then the overwhelming, incredible pain begins. My arm hits the ground—I think—and I feel the bone crack. My legs already seem broken. I don't think I have ever taken such a tumble, especially by banging into a talking tree.

My eyes slide open, slowly and hesitantly, to survey my surroundings. The first thing I notice is the moisture surrounding my arms and legs. The second thing I notice is circular walls stretching upwards as far as the eye can see.

The third thing I notice is a red-haired being lying opposite me, his knee and neck bent at awkward angles. His eyes are closed, and he seems to be faintly breathing.

"Griffin?" The name easily floats from my lips, startling even me.

There is no response.

What... just happened?


A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

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