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The Eternal Return

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Trailing circles around the well. Like the moon orbiting the Earth. Something so simple, that could last forever. If only Aelia could be like the moon, orbiting that well for eternity.

Adventure / Fantasy
Age Rating:

The Descent

White shiny plastic shoes. They held a shine unlike anything Aelia Melamu had ever seen before. She wore a long, white, cotton dress and black stockings that complemented the outfit perfectly. Further outlining the shininess of her shoes. Two years of age, wide-eyed and ever curious of the world around her, Aelia happily skipped around the old stone well. Running a small tree branch along its weathered walls, as she traced a circle around the well with her path. She was in an even better mood than usual today, since her mother let her wear her special, shiny, white shoes.

Aelia was much more conscious than most children her age, in many ways. For one in particular, she was well aware of what she liked and she what she did not. She liked watching her older sister practice archery. She liked helping her father tend to the vegetables in the garden, beside their small stone house. And she loved helping her mother prepare those same vegetables for a delicious meal. What Aelia did not like however, was getting her diaper changed, and that accounted for why at two years of age she was already potty trained. She did not like going to bed, and despite knowing that it had to happen every night. She fought it like her life depended on it, each time. And most of all, what Aelia did not like was the dark. Why the dark was the most terrifying thing Aelia could fathom.

You see Aelia lived in a small settlement hidden in the mountains, named Abnu village. Their population stood at around one-hundred and five people and was steadily growing over the years. It had been there for fifteen years and the people that lived there took great pride in their settlement. As they should have. It protected them from the outside dangers and atrocities of the world in which they lived. And they lived in a world with a great many dangers and atrocities. Aelia was currently the newest addition to this settlement, and running circles around the well, while trailing its walls with a branch, was enough to fill her little heart with joy.

On a nearby tree stump sat Deanna, Aelia’s older cousin. Deanna sat far enough away to make Aelia feel like she was playing alone. Yet was still close enough to intervene, should anything go wrong with her little cousin’s activity of skipping circles around their village well. Deanna watched her little cousin with a smile, as a feeling of warmth washed over her.

Deanna once had a sister who was younger than her by two years. Tragically she died of pneumonia a year before her people established Abnu village. Deanna was too young to fully remember those times. Her mother described them as “the dark ages”. A time when her people lived a nomadic lifestyle. Foraging and hunting as they moved about. Traveling from one climate to another in search of something that they lacked. Something intangible, and indescribable, yet so undeniably real.

A few brave men and women found that something when they ventured up a mountain in search of a steady water source and discovered the well hidden and fertile land within the confines of the mountain. There was actually an entire mountain range, making up the surrounding area of their home. The exact location that they chose was conveniently hidden by these intermingled mountains, had a stream that ran through the village, fertile ground that yielded steady vegetation, even a nearby hot spring.

While all of these incentives to plant their roots in this land were tempting. The true allure of this mountain was its ample supply of raw metals and stone. With overt limitations to transporting material. There was no easy way to bring these treasures down from the mountain. So they settled in the heart of it, forming Abnu village.

Deanna sat feeling the joy of watching Aelia. All of her innocence and purity, and best of all, absolute ignorance of the dark and violent world that existed outside of their village. Why in Ava’s case that reality was half a world away. Deanna smiled as she thought of the children she might have some day. And how bright their future would be.

Meanwhile Aelia’s father, Salvador Melamu, was working with the other men of the village on a blueprint for a new bathhouse. Salvador was the master builder of their settlement. An essential role in a world where resources were very limited. His appearance alone demanded respect and inspired both fear and admiration. Salvador stood six foot three and weighed two-hundred and fifty pounds. He wasted not a single pound, as there was no trace of fat on his body. Salvador was in fact, a man who essentially wasted nothing. He worked the garden and utilized every plant, herb, and vegetable that he grew. Anything that was not used, was to be placed into their composting bin to make fertilizer. Whenever a family member outgrew or no longer needed an article of clothing, it would be used as a cleaning rag, or passed on to another member of the settlement. Even furniture would eventually be repurposed when it outlived its usefulness.

Not only were tangible items never wasted, the man himself rarely spent his energy on frivelty. Salvador’s words were few and far between. Whenever he did speak, it was to convey meaning. Very rarely did Salvador ever use his words for the sake of making others feel comfortable, or to pass the time. For Salvador had no time to pass. And while every individual in their settlement had depended on Salvador for his prowess in architecture and masonry, that was the full extent of his advisory involvement in the settlement. Salvador despised dealing in politics and theoretical ideas on the governing of a people. While he did hold interest and a great respect for those with the aptitude to deal in matters that they couldn’t see. He opted to deal in things that he could work on with his own two hands. Things that yielded tangible results. He left the more incorporeal matters to his wife, Elya.

Salvador stood with Lincoln and Holmes, two of the builders that were helping to develop the layout and irrigation for the bathhouse.

“The problem is this bathhouse being at the top of the hill. It’s great for the water runoff, but we’re going to have a hard time getting water to run in!” Holmes exclaimed, gesturing with his sweaty palms.

“Build a pump! Come on even I know that Holmes. I thought you were the ‘irrigation expert’” Lincoln verbally jabbed at Holmes with a smile.

“Yes I am!” Holmes responded, matter-of-factly. “And if you knew anything about irrigation, you would know that building an uphill pump of this size is going to take a lot of resources that we don’t have at the moment.”

“What do you need?” asked Lincoln, genuinely interested this time.

“More metal than we can spare right now. And it has to be shaped and cut to certain lengths.”

“Is Davenport still bedridden or can he work again?”

“I don’t know if he’s still bedridden, but I bet he’s not working yet!”

The two men carried on with their speculation and accusations, as Salvador studied the blueprint plans with a furrowed brow. Visualizing the process in his mind. He was snapped out of his daze when he thought he heard a sound in the distance. A low pitched rumbling, almost like far away thunder.

Halfway across the settlement, on the outskirts just beyond the stone wall, stood Malina Melamu. Slender in frame, but also muscular for her age. Taller than all of the other girls and most of the boys. Smarter too. What Malina lacked in personality she more than made up for in physical ability. A fast runner, a skilled climber and a master marksman and archer. Malina practiced with a rifle because her father said that she had too. But she utilized her bow and arrow because it was an extension of herself. Her bow and arrow had saved her many a time while on hunting trips. If ever she was tracking prey and had the misfortune of running across a four legged predator, that had been tracking the same prey as her. Then she would depend on her bow and arrow to put down that predator swiftly. And unlike a loud handgun or rifle, her bow and arrow usually did not scare away the prey that she had just risked her life tracking.

Despite Malina’s superior physical ability, she was socially awkward, insecure when interacting with others, and desperately in need of her parents approval. Which she felt she never got enough of. However, while immersed in nature, and pulling back the string of her bow, nothing else existed. She drew the string of her bow far back, holding her breath as it reached its full distance, then released. Shooting an arrow at a forty-one degree angle into the air. The arrow soared, traveling almost five-hundred yards before plunging into the pile of brown leaves on the dirt. She giddily sprinted towards the arrow, checking how far it had went. About thirty yards further than her farthest shot, and still in a perfectly vertical line. She felt a feeling of pure joy and achievement, that was quickly replaced with dread and terror, as she looked out into the distance.

Elya Melamu laid back, staring at the pattern of stone masonry on the ceiling. Steam rose up from the hot water that filled the wooden tub she soaked in. It had been a long month. Sickness had spread throughout the settlement, with many of the old, young, and those with weaker constitutions falling ill. So far there had been no deaths, and only a handful of severe cases. However Elya worried for the upcoming winter. She ran the bar of soap along her silky, sun-kissed skin. Starting at her fingertips, then working her way up to her shoulders. She formed a rich lather before letting her arm collapse into the hot water, then repeated the process with her other arm. She worked a mixture of berries, oils and herbs into her almond colored hair and closed her eyes.






She went over the list in her mind as she ran her long fingers through her hair. She would need to work with Sebi on how many potions they would need, and what dietary changes would have to be made. She tried to clear her mind and rest for a moment. She very rarely had time to relax and enjoy the fruits of her and her husbands labor. Her niece Deanna had agreed to keep an eye on Aelia for a couple of hours. And despite knowing that Deanna was a very responsible and mature girl, she still felt uneasy. Breathe in deeply, exhale fully. Elya instructed herself. Clear your mind and simply exist. She reached over and grabbed a glass vile filled with eucalyptus oil and placed a drop in the bath water, right below her face. She inhaled deeply, allowing the scent to overwhelm her senses. Almost like hitting a reset button. She hummed herself a low hum, that sounded too low to have come from her voice and blinked a couple of times.

Resting in this state for a few minutes, Elya had finally began to feel a bit of tension in her shoulders loosen, when she heard a horrible crash. It sounded like thunder amplified a hundred times. She jumped out of the tub with God-like speed and grabbed her clothes. She dressed with haste, while simultaneously running down the stairs to the cellar. Hopping on one leg while pulling her jeans over the other leg, yet somehow still making it down the stairs almost gracefully. She ran to the back wall beneath the staircase and unlocked their weapon locker. She grabbed the Mossberg-500 shotgun that they kept for emergencies, slinging it over her shoulder with the cloth sling that was attached. Running up the stairs with incredible energy she darted for the front door and slung it open. She was greeted with a scene of terror. Thick black smoke had begun to spread across the settlement from multiple different directions. She needed to find Aelia. Fast!

Trailing circles around the well. Like the moon orbiting the Earth. Something so simple, that could last forever. Aelia would look back on this moment and wish that she could be like the moon. Orbiting that well for eternity. Holding on to the very last moment of her life, before the descent into what it would become. No one knew how long that well had been there. The settlers found it after they began to build the village. Years later, upon reflecting on past memories, Aelia would wonder if that well was still there.

She heard an awful sounding crash, erupting from the walls that she was forbidden to go near. So loud and horrible it caused her to cringe and fold low to the ground, instinctively covering her head. She looked up to see a an entire chunk of the stone wall was now missing. Men dressed in fur animal hides, with necklaces and piercings made of bones, began to slowly cross through the wall into the now open settlement. They walked in one step at a time, eyes darting this way and that. Looking from side to side with smiles on their faces. Almost moving in slow motion. Then, in an instant, they began to howl with inhuman tonality and run out in every direction. Spreading like a pack of wolves on a feeding frenzy.

Aelia felt arms grab her and cried out for a second, then recognized who it was. Deanna had grabbed her and was running towards Aelia’s house. Smoke was starting to spread from multiple explosions and Aelia could see that the bone-clad men were now pouring in from numerous openings in the outer walls.

They were setting fire to crops and throwing torches through the windows of stone houses. As Deanna ran Aelia looked back over her shoulder and saw Raquelle Routhier, a woman who sometimes watched her, being dragged by two men, who each had a hold of one of her legs. She clawed the ground, screaming and crying, and the men laughed as they dragged her body across the coarse dirt, heading towards a nearby house. They dragged her by her legs up the sharp, chiseled, stone stairway that led to the front door. Raquelle grabbed onto the stairs and pulled as hard as she could, which only made the men laugh harder. They gave her one strong yank, breaking her grip free and snapping her chin into one of the stairs, knocking her unconscious. They pulled her the rest of the way up the stairs and disappeared into the house.

She looked to her right and saw a man tussling with one of the pillagers. They were entangled in a power struggle! Clenching each other’s hands and fighting for control. The man overpowered the pillager, forcing him down to his knees, then striking him in the face! Suddenly a second pillager ran up, kicking the man in his kneecap. There was a gut wrenching SNAP! and the man screamed out in pain, as his left knee collapsed to the right. Bones tearing through his skin! As the man screamed in bloody agony, the first pillager jabbed a sharpened bone into the man’s larynx. The bone-knife went all the way through, coming out of the back of his neck. Turning the man’s scream into a muffled gurgle.

Aelia peeked to her left and saw an even more horrible scene. Two pillagers were attacking her dad! Her dad wrapped two hands around one’s neck and began to choke him, then the other stabbed her dad in the side with a bone-knife. She saw her dad’s knee buckle, then saw no more, as Deanna ducked below a wooden hut that was hollow beneath. Aelia began to scream and cry,

“My dad! Deanna my dad! No, No, No!”

“Sshh.” whispered Deanna, putting her finger to her lips, tears streaming down her face.

“It’s going to be ok Aelia.” she said.

Aelia knew that this was a lie, and Deanna knew it even more so. It seemed like an eternity waiting under that hut. Hearing the awful screams, feeling the heat from the fire all around, watching the commotion of people’s feet running this way and that. Seeing men, women and children being dragged by their legs, or arms, or their hair. Deanna held Aelia close and they squeezed each other, crying silent tears of hysteria and fear. As their sanctuary was defiled and torn apart.

Somehow this hut miraculously escaped all of that destruction. After what felt like eternity under that hut. Deanna peered out from underneath to plan their next move. Just as she did this she was snatched out, from under the hut, with violent force. Aelia watched in terror as she saw men start to come from out of the hut. Had they been in there the whole time?

“We heard you crying down there” Aelia heard one of the men say, with a chuckle.

She immediately felt the weight of guilt, as she realized that she was the one who the men heard crying.

“Pretty one isn’t she?” another voice spoke out with a timbre that made Aelia shudder.

“Yeah, we’ll take her back to camp and put her with the others.” answered another voice.

Just then Aelia saw Deanna’s feet kick out and there was a commotion. Followed by a scream coming from one of the men.

“That little bitch bit my finger off!” screamed the same man who had called her pretty. His voice still disturbing, but now in a much more threatening way. Just then the men’s laughter turned into roars and Aelia could hear the sound of blades being stabbed into Deanna’s body.

Aelia was way too close to the edge of the hut, and also way too terrified to move. She looked down at her shiny white shoes with tears streaming down her juvenile face. Her big cousins blood sprayed across her shoes in a bright red mist. Staining them with a hue that would never wash out. No matter how hard anyone may have tried to do so. Immediately after Aelia heard another horrible bang, one she had never heard in her life. Followed by a clicking sound, then another bang, then another. She shivered with fear, then saw shoes walk by that she recognized, her mother!

Malina’s eyes stretched with fear, as she saw men riding all black horses uphill to their settlement. There had to be at least one hundred of them, probably more. They were about five-hundred yards away, but Malina could hear them approaching. A low pitched rumbling sound, almost like thunder. The sound of four-hundred hooves trampling the ground. Bringing with them destruction and death. They were riding on the trail that her people used, to lead to the nearby hot spring. Malina stood in shock for a moment, then sprung into action.

She ran to her secret entrance into the settlement. A tree which she would climb, then leap over the wall. Landing in a pile of hay on Sebi’s farm. She darted towards her house when she was knocked over by an explosion. Malina shook her head, looking up from the ground, eyes blurry and mind foggy. She stood up and swayed, still disoriented from the blast. When her vision came to, she saw three men staring at her.

They had eyes like wolves in the night. Dressed in heavy looking animal pelts, leather undergarments, and thin metal chains dangling from their pants. They had bone piercings in their noses and mouths, bone necklaces around their necks, even rings made of bones. Tattoos covering all visible skin. With bones that had been sharpened into knives attached to their sides. Their bone-knives resting in holsters made from what appeared to be skin. Human skin. Malina stood there soaking in the visage of terror that stood right before her. The men stood there staring right back at her. Not making a sound, not making a move, only staring. With ungodly smiles. Malina attempted to dart to the left but the terror kept her frozen in place. She leaned to the right and the man on her right took half a step, then shook his finger in a “no” motion. She leaned back to the left and the man on her left side did the same, then laughed.

The man in the middle took a step forward, towards Malina. Holding his hand out with his finger curled in a “come hither” motion. Malina felt her heart leap into her throat. Then right before her eyes, an arrow lodged itself into the man’s sternum. A look of terror crept into the terrorist’s wolf-like eyes, then a second arrow made it’s mark on the man’s throat. This freed Malina of the terror-lock she was in and she darted to her right. Running away as fast as she could, she glanced backwards to see who her savior was.

It was Aljuna Merid, one of the boys her age, wielding a bow to her defense. She stopped in her tracks realizing that the two men were now heading for him instead of her. She drew her bow, knocked it, and released without second thought. Landing her arrow in the pillagers ear, then repeated taking out the third pillager. Aljuna looked at her with an expression that appeared to be a mixture of vast fear, and deep relief. He ran over to her side with impressive speed.

“What’s going on?” asked Aljuna, panting for air.

“I don’t know but there are more coming!” Malina replied. “Go warn your family, we have to do something!” She exclaimed, then ran off in the direction of her house.

As she began to run she realized a terrifying fact. The explosion that had knocked her down hadn’t been the only one. There were numerous breaks in their walls and the pillagers were now piling in by the dozens. She ran as fast as she could trying to avoid the chaos all around her. She had to make it back to her family! She hurdled the dead body of one of her own people, her heel landing in a pool of blood. She didn’t pause for a second, and kept moving with great speed. She bypassed the scene of three pillagers stomping who appeared to be Justin Black. She possibly could have helped him but her mother, father, and Aelia were all that mattered right now.

Upon getting closer to her home she finally found a family member. But the image she saw did not bring her any solace. Her father was choking one of the pillagers when a second assailant stabbed him in his side. Knocking him to the ground. She readied her bow swiftly, drew an arrow, and released. Her arrow narrowly missing the pillagers face. Both pillagers and her father all looked in her direction at once. Salvador used this distraction to his advantage and grabbed a knife from one of the pillagers, then plunged it deep into his chest. Malina snapped into action as well, sending another arrow flying at the remaining pillager, this one made impact directly into the pillagers left lung.

Salvador grabbed the wounded pillager by the throat slamming his back into the ground. Then turned around to rendezvous with his daughter. Malina sprinted to her father and embraced him upon impact.

“Dad there are so many of them! I was outside of the walls shooting and I saw them coming! Dad they almost got me! I think they killed Justin Black and, they might get Aljuna and-” Malina stopped speaking mid sentence, as she burst into tears.

Salvador squeezed his daughter close to him, ignoring the wound in his side. In part it was his tough spirit that allowed him to do this, but mostly it was just adrenaline.

“Don’t worry Malina, we’re going to make it through this.” he spoke in a calm, but firm voice. “We have to find your sister and mother.”

Malina looked up at her father, wiping her tears away.

“Ok.” she responded. Then they both took off running to the direction of their house.

They heard another loud blast, this one sounded distinctly different. The blast was followed by a click-click sound, then another blast, then another.

“Elya!” Salvador shouted running towards the sounds of the blasts. Malina high-tailed it behind her father as he sprinted forwards. They made a sharp turn around a corner to witness a horrific bloodbath. Elya was wielding the emergency Mossberg-500 and had laid waste to about five pillagers.

Six bodies were piled on the ground, a pool of blood painting all of their clothing, bone-jewelry, and skin in a red mist. Upon closer inspection Malina and Salvador recognized a face that they did not expect to see within the morbid pile of death. “Deanna!” cried out Malina, falling to her knees.

“Oh no.” Salvador spoke in a low, grave voice. He placed his hand on his head and balled a fist with his other hand. “I’ll kill them all!” he cried out. Tears forming in his eyes as well.

“Where’s Aelia?!” he shouted, looking over at Elya. Elya’s eyes were storm clouds, heavy with rain, that burst with rain the second she opened her mouth to speak.

“Deanna -- was watching her! I just needed an-, an hour or two to bathe, - and to - to relax for a moment. Oh my God Salvador, I’m so sorry!” Elya cried so hard she struggled to get the words out. Salvador’s rage was replaced with hurt and sorrow. He embraced his wife as they both sobbed. Malina was still on her knees, staring at Deanna’s body sprawled out on the ground. She shook uncontrollably as the reality of the situation set in.

Everyone’s attention shifted, as Aelia came crawling out from under the wooden hut they were standing beside. Like a man clawing his way out of the ground, from the grave. She had blood all over her white dress, black stockings, and shiny white shoes. Elya grabbed her daughter, picking her up and holding her close. Salvador and Malina hugged them both as the family felt the relief of being reunited. It is said that one does not know what they have, until they lose it. In that moment the Melamu family all truly realized how essential each member was, squeezing each other in a tight embrace.

Their reunion was interrupted when they noticed a figure approaching. He looked nothing like the rest of the pillagers. He was short, and very thin. So much so that he appeared to be sickly. He was old in age and leaned on a walking stick, as he slowly made his way to them. Upon his bald head, he wore a headdress which looked almost like a crown, made from bones and vines. Loose yellow robes with purple embroiderment covered his torso, but left his skinny arms exposed. His eyes looked empty, and dead. His pupils pale, as if he was blind. Yet they had a strange glow to them. One that was barely noticeable. He donned a long grey beard, that was done into a braid, with brown string tied around the end.

Walking behind him was a man who looked much like the rest of the pillagers, but was massive in size. Seven feet tall, at least three hundred pounds. Bones on strings dangling from his black, leather clothes. Upon his back was a massive, double-edged axe. Made from bone and iron. He wore a skull as a helmet over his giant head, making him all the more intimidating.

The two men stopped ten feet away from the Melamu family. Both of the old man’s hands resting on his walking stick, he looked over at his beefy associate, who began to belt out in a massive voice.

“One of you’s got some bloody footprints!” he began, “And lucky for us, you’re the one’s we’re looking for!”

“Why are you looking for my family?” Demanded Salvador. Authority belting through his voice.

“Woah-ho” laughed the giant pillager “You watch that tone with me boy!” he scowled at Salvador, hoping this would illicit some sign of being intimidated. Salvador showed none. “You really don’t know do you?” added the massive man, who let out a small chuckle. Salvador had a troubled look upon his face, as he placed himself in front of the rest of his family. Elya had already sat Aelia down behind them readying her shotgun. Malina hadn’t drawn an arrow yet, but she was ready to in an instant.

“I’m here for that little girl you’re all protecting. You hand her over, we’ll leave your little village in peace, and never return.” the man said this as if it was a generous offer. His hand stretched out as if he expected Salvador to run forth and shake it with joy.

“Hold it Anu!” Spoke out a voice from behind the pillager. The giant pillager froze as if he was stunned in fear. The old man simply smiled, a smug smirk spreading across his face.

“Edwin Davenport.” Said the old man, without turning around to see who was speaking. “Why I haven’t heard your voice in quite some time.” He added, his back still turned to Davenport.

“You’re not taking the girl!” said Davenport, drawing a sword from a sheath.

“Oh, and you’re going to stop me?” Asked Anu.

“Not me, us.” replied Davenport.

Just then Armand Routhier, Thomas Blackwell, Luna Morrison, and Sebi all appeared from behind houses. Each had their weapon drawn.

“Well if that’s how you want to play it.” Said Anu, seemingly not threatened at all.

He held his twisted, wooden, walking stick up into the sky. As the sunlight hit it, it straightened out right before their eyes. Stretching in length, the end somehow sharpening to a point. He stabbed the staff into the ground, causing it to take on an ethereal glow. Just then it start to rain and thunder, and the large pillager that was with him suddenly regained his confidence. Breaking free from the fear induced paralysis that he seemed to be under, just a few moments prior.

Before the Melamu family could even react, Lady Davenport, Edwin’s wife, appeared from behind them and grabbed Elya’s arm.

“We must go while we have time!” she exclaimed urgently.

Elya grabbed Aelia and followed, Malina and Salvador trailing closely behind. The earth continued to tremor and lightning struck repeatedly as the battle between Anu and the others ensued behind them.

“What is going on?” asked Salvador, looking fatigued and obviously in pain as the adrenaline began to wear off. He was clutching his side as he ran.

“Listen to me. There is a lot to explain and I won’t have time to explain all of it. But I will explain as much as I can.” Lady Davenport spoke clearly, but with urgency. She was leading them out of the settlement through one of the blast-holes that the pillagers had made. “That man back there was Anu. He’s a hunter, the most ancient of them all.”

“A hunter?” Asked Elya.

“Yes. He’s after Aelia.” responded Lady Davenport.

“But why? Why is he after my little girl?” Asked Elya.

“Anu is part of an ancient order that has existed for thousands of years, perhaps even longer.” Started Lady, “This order is tasked with keeping humanity from expanding too far. They failed in the past and humanity destroyed itself through over-expansion. They’ve returned since then and are more fervent than ever.”

“That still doesn’t explain what they want with our daughter.” Said Salvador, clearly confused and frustrated.

“Salvador, Aelia is no normal child. I’m sure you’ve noticed the abnormalities.” Said Lady Davenport, still speaking very clearly but with that same urgency.

“Abnormalities?” Asked Salvador. “I mean, she’s a little advanced for her age, but I wouldn’t consider than an abnormality.

“Salvador, she isn’t only advanced for her age. She is much greater in every way imaginable. Residing in your daughters body is an ancient spirit that has reincarnated over many generations. Residing inside your daughter is the key to the progression and preservation of humanity. And there are people out there who want to use her for ulterior motives. Gravely dangerous ulterior motives.” Lady Davenport spoke these words more slowly, seemingly understanding that it would take time to process the things she was saying.

“And how do you know all of this?” Malina chimed in, brimming with more questions than she had time to ask.

“Because I too am part of a secret order. As is my husband and the rest of my family. And the brave men and woman you saw fighting back there. Since the beginning of time we have been the protectors of what is good and clean. We seek out the light in the darkness, and bring it forth for all to see.” Lady Davenport spoke as if this reality was a source of pride, yet also a great burden to bear.

This all seemed too extreme to be true. Yet given the circumstances that they were in, they all believed Lady Davenport, and her crazy tale.

“We are almost there.” she said.

“Where are we going exactly?” asked Elya.

“I am taking you to a car. It is a relic of a vehicle, but it’s a safe form of transportation and will get you to where you need to go.” Lady Davenport was still speaking in her, somehow very urgent yet calm, tone.

“I’ve seen a car once or twice. Don’t know how to use one though.” Said Salvador.

“I will show you the basis of using the vehicle. Just remember we are very limited on time. The others are stalling Anu and his pet, but they can only do so for so long. And we can’t afford to lose anymore soldiers to their side.” Lady Davenport explained.

“Speaking of, what was going on back there? How was he able to make the ground shake, and the rain and lightning?” asked Elya. Just as she asked this she realized that it wasn’t even raining outside of that small area where Anu was standing.

“Anu is an ancient being. His soul does not reincarnate because it does not need to. His vessel lives on for as long as humanity exists. Or so they say. We’re trying to figure out a way to change that.” Explained Lady Davenport. “Ok, we’re here.”

They had arrived at a thick brush of foliage. Lady Davenport pulled out a machete and began chopping away at the vines, bushes, leaves and branches. A few feet into the foliage there was a black cloth. She pulled it down, revealing an old, rusty looking metal machine. It was pale blue in color in the places where the paint hadn’t rusted off. And white in other places. It had glass windows and cracked leather seats on the inside. On the exterior door there was an insignia that said, “Ford”.

“Ok, this is how the vehicle works. Elya you should drive to give Salvador time to heal. Make sure you keep that wound clean and wrapped. There are numerous supplies inside of the car.” Lady Davenport explained swiftly as she got into the driver’s seat of the car.

From there Lady Davenport explained the basics of operating a motor vehicle, including; what the gas and brake pedals were, how to change gears from park, to drive, or neutral, how to read the dashboard and to keep an eye on the gas tank, and how to use “windshield wipers”. She explained all of this very swiftly, but still with clarity, as she had somehow done for all of her explanation.

“Now, you must go. I cannot hear fighting anymore, which means Anu will find us very soon. Remember! Travel by night, hide the car under foliage during the day, and whatever you do DO NOT turn on the lights. Follow the road until it does not go anymore, there you will find your destination!” And just like that, she ran off without looking back. Heading back towards the settlement that they had once called home.

Elya had started the car and began to slowly travel down the road. It was a road she had never seen before, and she didn’t quite understand how it could have remained so well hidden. It was lightly littered with branches, shrubbery, and rocks. But for the most part, it was very clear. About 10 feet wide and without too many trees that hung low over the road. The fact that no one had ever found it absolutely baffled Elya. Especially considering that her people built their settlement on this land, and had explored this mounting, foot by foot.

Aelia sat in the front passenger seat, staring at nothing. Her young mind did not fully comprehend everything that had just happened completely. But she understood enough to recognize the gravity of the situation. She understood that her life had just changed, and not for the better. And she was able to recognize that her life could never go back to what it was. Still in that white dress, with the black stockings and shiny white shoes. She looked down and began to cry again, as she saw the blood splatter that had ruined her shoes, and her life. Deanna’s blood.

In the back of the car laid Salvador. Malina was tending his wounds. There had been a “first-aid kit” in the “glove compartment” of the car. Malina was taking time to disinfect her dad’s wound with peroxide and then bandaging it with a gauze. The cut wasn’t as deep as it initially had seemed to be, and she was sure her father would be ok, as long as they could stave off infection. The family sat there in their new car, traveling down the mysterious road. Not knowing where they were and not even knowing where they were going. But they knew they had each other. And now, that was all they needed.

There was a silence in the car for some time as they traveled. It seemed as if everyone needed a period of mourning before they could speak again. Or maybe they all just understood how futile words can be at expressing certain emotions. Especially in a situation as extreme as the one they were in. Aelia peered through the wide windshield at the sky above. It was a pink canvas with streaks of purple and orange, and a blue undertone. The sun was beginning to set.

Aelia felt a shudder run down her little spine, which gave her goosebumps throughout her body. Usually at night she was tucked away in her bed, with her big sister close by and her parents just a room over. They should all be safe inside of their little, stone home. Where nothing bad was allowed to enter and hurt them. Their special sanctuary of safety, that had been forsaken and replaced with this old, metal carriage.

Salvador was asleep in the back seat, laying with his head in his eldest daughter’s lap. Malina, sitting behind the driver’s seat, had a good view of Aelia. She could tell just by looking at her that she was afraid. She peered out of the window at the setting sun. It was a beautiful sight, on such an ugly day. Another 40 minutes or so and the sun would be completely set. The moon was already visible in the sky. Almost full but not quite there yet. About three days away at this point. Malina looked down upon her father’s face and smiled. It made her feel strong to be able to care for him. He was a very strong man who usually didn’t need much taking care of. He was also very gentle and loving in his own way. Always supporting and encouraging his daughters when they needed it. So it made her feel mature and responsible to care for him for once. She wondered what he might say to Aelia to make her feel a bit better.

“Don’t fear the dark Aelia. We’ll all face it together, so you don’t have to be afraid.” Malina said sounding confident.

Aelia looked back at her big sister and smiled. Then returned to her gazing into nothing. Malina then directed her attention toward her mother, who had been driving the whole time. She had not said a single word, or taken her eyes off of the road at any point during the drive. Malina wondered what her mother might be feeling. Mom had her times when she didn’t talk much, but she could speak quite eloquently when she had the feeling to. She had never experienced her being completely silent for this long though.

How long had it even been on this road? One hour? Two? More than that? It was difficult to tell. And they had no way of telling the time. The only indication that the time was even moving, and that they weren’t stuck in an infinite time lapse of despair, was the movement of the celestial bodies. Malina looked down into her lap and felt a tear drop. She had been wondering how everyone else was feeling so much, she hadn’t paused to think about how she felt.

Aljuna Merid.

His name rang out in her head, with her internal voice.

Did he survive the attack? His family?

She shuddered as the worst possible thoughts crossed her mind. And what about Mr and Mrs. Davenport? Armand Routhier? Luna Morrison? Thomas Blackwell? Sebi? Had any of their village-members died to protect them? Only to buy enough time for them to get away? She shuddered again at the thought and then remembered something vital. This was all about Aelia. That man that attacked. Anu. He was there for Aelia. His giant bodyguard had told them that they’d leave the village alone if they turned Aelia over. Had he been lying to get what he wanted, or was he serious? Either way the damage to their village had been done. The vast murders had already been committed. And no one was taking Aelia away from them. Family stuck together. No matter what.

Elya was snapped out of her daze by the sudden realization that it was completely dark outside. Aelia should have been asleep at least an hour ago, but she sat in the passenger seat, still blankly staring through the window into nothing. Elya had been so lost in her own thoughts that she hadn’t even noticed how uncomfortable and cramped her legs had become. She lifted them towards her and stretched them one at a time.

“Mommy, Daddy!” Aelia cried out suddenly. Salvador popped up like a Jack-in-the-box, obviously hurting his side while doing so.

“What is it, Aelia?” Asked Elya.

“I see eyes. In the trees through the bushes. Eyes shining in the darkness. They’ve been following us for a long time!” Aelia’s toddler voice held a shrill tone, which made it extremely high-pitched.

“Just close your eyes my love. It is past your bedtime anyway.” Said Elya, feeling like a normal mom for a millisecond.

Aelia obeyed, squeezing her eyes closed way too hard and even covering her ears with her hands. Salvador reached forward and ran his large fingers through her hair. This always relaxed her and helped her fall asleep. Aelia slowly removed her hands from her ears, and appeared to be at peace for a moment, as her father stroked her hair. Her eyes jerked back open as a strange sputter sound was emitted from the car. She heard and felt the hum and rumble of the engine slowing and eventually coming to a stop. When the sound and vibration of the engine stopped, the car stopped as well.

Elya pushed down on the gas pedal. Causing the car to make an awfully loud noise, that grew in sound as she pushed down further. She released her foot from the pedal with haste.

“What’s going on?” Asked Salvador.

“I don’t know yet.” replied Elya. “We just stopped.” She looked at the “dashboard” that Lady Davenport had directed her attention to during her instructions. She silently wished that Lady Davenport could have physically came with them as a guide. She tried to pay attention to the different nozzles and symbols, but didn’t know what any of it meant.

“Let me have a look.” Salvador said, leaning forward and extending himself to the front of the car. “Ah!” he cried out, clutching his side.

“Be careful Salvador!” exclaimed Elya in a voice like a mother scolding a child.

“Try turning the car off, then turning it back on.” Suggested Salvador, sounding very unsure of his own advice.

“I think the car’s already off.” Explained Elya.

She took his advice anyway, turning the key into the off position, then back on. As she turned the key into the on position she just received a stuttering sound. Almost like a fast paced shuffling.

“Aha!” she exclaimed as if she just had a eureka moment. “It’s the fuel! The car’s out of fuel!” she posed this theory with pride, as if she had just solved a profound mystery. “There’s more fuel in the trunk. I’ll just have to get out and grab it.” Elya spoke while undoing her seatbelt.

“Wait!” Salvador spoke, in a voice that was almost a yell. “Let me go out there. We don’t know what’s in the night and I don’t want you going out alone.”

Elya paused for a moment, then replied. “Yes and I don’t want YOU going out alone while you’re injured. Stay in here with the girls.”

Salvador huffed, then looked at his eldest daughter, “Malina, go outside with your mother.”

Malina nodded obediently. Her father may have been a hulk of a man. But Malina knew very well that her mother was usually the one in charge. She undid her belt and followed behind her mother. Opening the car door slowly, then exiting even more slowly.

In the wild, sounds traveled far and wide. The slightest bit of noise could trigger both nearby predator and prey to stir. And neither scenario would be good for them right now.

Humans were by far the loudest creatures in the forest, and they didn’t need to be followed by anything. Or anyone. Elya paced over to the trunk and attempted to open it, to no avail. Malina stood next to her mother. Eyes peeled into the darkness, and her bow pointed towards the ground. An arrow dangling in her fingertips.

“Wait here.” her mother said shortly, leaning into the front door of the car. “I don’t know how to open the trunk.” Elya said softly, trying not to make too much noise, but obviously feeling a great deal of pressure and urgency.

Salvador leaned forward quickly and ran his eyes over all of the buttons. There were so many that he didn’t even know where to begin. He began to press different buttons and observe the results. One of them caused the vents to start blowing hot air, which was actually pleasant. Another caused red lights to begin blinking in the back of the car. He carefully pressed the same button again, turning the lights off. Elya watched intently, with her heart racing. Having her back facing the pitch-black darkness of the wildness made her feel an immense amount of anxiety. Even with Malina keeping watch.

“Malina, you see anything?” She asked with a somewhat shaky voice.

“No, mom.” Malina replied shortly. Malina may have been terrified too. But the necessity of defending her family kept her mind focused. She had eyes as sharp as a hawks and reflexes as quick as a snake. As long as her mind stayed well tuned in on the task at hand, then her reaction was machine-like. Malina’s only struggle was always maintaining that same immovable force of mind when she needed to. But in this moment, she didn’t even have to think about it. It was just there. Her ear twitched as she heard something move in the distance. It could have been anything. A squirrel, a rabbit, a fox, a coyote. Her mind began to race with the many dangerous possibilities. But the adrenaline slowly siphoning into her blood, helped her to reestablish her focus.

Salvador continued observing the buttons on the dashboard and pressing them one at a time. Overcome with her fear, Elya impulsively reached out and pressed a knob. Upon pressing it, blaring static emanated from the car. Loud enough for the entire forest to hear. She panicked looking for the switch she had pressed. Terrified for the danger her haste may have caused them. Quickly Aelia stood up in the passenger seat and reached towards the dashboard. Switching a knob that caused the loud static to disappear just as quickly as it had manifested. She then hopped over into the driver’s seat and reached under the steering wheel. Pulling a lever that caused a click sound, and the back trunk popped open. Elya stared into her daughter’s eyes with a mixture of awe, admiration and fear.

What exactly was this little girl capable of? Did she really come from me? She asked herself for a moment, then swiftly but silently walked over to the trunk of the car. She grabbed what she assumed was the tank of gasoline out of the car, then realized another problem.

She had no idea how to refill this thing with gasoline. Just as she received this insight both her and Malina’s ears snapped to attention, as they heard familiar shuffling in the bushes around them. They pressed their backs to the car and peered around. Just then, they saw a set of eyes glowing in the dark. Then two sets. Then three. Four. Five. Six. They ran into the car slamming their doors.

“Wolves!” Spoke Elya, fear vibrating through her usually soultry voice.

“Did you refill the gasoline?” asked Salvador.

“No!” cried Elya, feeling her face flush with heat.

“What do we do?” asked Malina.

“We wait.” said Salvador. “There’s nothing else that we can do for right now.

The family peered out of their windows, frozen in fear. The six sets of eyes circled around them continuously. Not making a sound other than the ruffling of leaves beneath their feet. Aelia was beginning to get upset and whimper, when Salvador grabbed her from the front seat and pulled her to the back. Holding her close to his big, warm chest. She hugged her father closely and laid her head on his shoulder. Feeling as if in his arms was the only place in the world where she was safe.

“Do you think we could scare them off with the gun?” Elya asked looking over at Salvador.

“Possibly, but we might attract something worse with the noise. And I don’t think it’s wise to waste bullets for that gun. You know how limited they are.”

So, they did as Salvador had said, and waited. They waited for what seemed like hours, impatiently waiting for the time to pass by. Food must have been scarce, because these wolves were patiently waiting as well. At times sitting down or rolling over. Then getting back up and circling the car from a distance. Eyes lighting the dark, like little camera’s observing their every move.

Finally, Elya asked the question, “Salvador, where do you think the fuel tank even is? I mean. You’ve built structures and different machines, where would you put a fuel tank?”

Salvador paused for a moment. Stroking the hairs of his beard while he pondered the question. “Well, the most obvious place would be near the engine, which I’m assuming is in the front of the car.” He said, “I personally would have placed it in the back. But it sounds like the engine of this car was put into the front.” He added.

“So the fuel probably goes into the engine?” Asked Elya.

“No. I don’t think the fuel would go directly into the engine. I mean I really don’t even know what the fuel is made out of. But I would imagine it needs some refining process first. And there’s one more thing…” He trailed off into thought again.

“What is it?” Asked Malina, just as curious and eager as her mother was.

“The fuel being too close to the engine could potentially be dangerous. It could cause fires, explosions and what not. It may make more sense to have it in the middle, or the back.” Salvador began looking around the inside of the car as soon as he finished his sentence. “We’d probably need daylight to find the fuel tank anyway. We may have to just stay parked here for the night.” Salvador stated, still looking around the car for any clues.

“I’ll go out.” Malina said calmly.

“Absolutely not.” responded Elya.

“Mom, I’m the only one that can do it.” Malina exclaimed, her voice slightly cracking.

“You’re not going out there!” Said Salvador, in a voice that implied that the decision was final, and the conversation was closed.

“Oh and you think we have time to waste? With that weather controlling freak on our trail! How do we know he’s not watching us right now?” Malina’s words were sharp and biting. Salvador and Elya looked at each other. Both knowing that their daughter was right. But neither one wanting to admit it.

“Malina, it’s just too dangerous. You saw what happened to Deanna. That could happen to any of us. I was stabbed in an instant! We can’t risk losing you.” Salvador spoke in a softer tone this time. Trying to help his daughter understand his decision.

“Dad, mom, listen. I’m faster, smaller, I see better, than both of you. If we can try to determine where the fuel is, and I can get out there with the tank and refill the car with fuel. I can probably do so without disturbing the wolves too much. They might not even charge the car. And if they do, I’ll just jump back in through a window.” Malina explained her plan, as if it was a well detailed blueprint for success.

“So we have to keep all four windows open for your plan to work? And you think that’s safe?” questioned Elya, in the condescending tone she sometimes had.

“She’s right.” said Salvador plainly.

“Salvador N-” Salvador raised his hand up before Elya could finish her sentence.

Malina knew what this meant, they were going to go with her plan. Mother was usually the one who made the final decisions. But not always. Malina suddenly felt a pang of fear, as it dawned on her that they were going to go through with her plan. It was too late to succumb to fear now. She had to do it. The family spent the next few minutes planning out exactly how they were going to execute Malina’s plan. Aelia was still awake, although now instead of staring out into nothing, she was attentively focused on her family’s discussion.

After much deliberation the family developed the plan, going over it one more time for good measure.

“Elya and I will both sit in the back.” Salvador explained, eyes peering into his eldest daughters.

“We’ll each have one hand on the front window lever and one on the back. So we can roll them both up or down if we have to.” Elya added, also staring intently at her eldest daughter. “We’ll automatically begin to roll down the window that you’re closest to.”

“And roll up the one’s that you’re not.” Said Salvador, finishing his wife’s sentence.

“If you need to jump over the roof to buy time. Do so. We’ll adjust quickly.” Said Elya.

“And if you need to re-enter the car before completing the mission that’s ok.” said Salvador.

Aelia, who was still watching intently added a “Yeah!” in her small voice.

The first part of the plan was to locate the fuel tank. Which they decided to do before getting out of the car. Salvador rolled down the front left window and began to look towards the front of the car, for a place the fuel tank might be located. Elya and Malina kept an eye on the wolves while he did this. Watching their glowing eyes in the night. Some of the eyes seemed to perk with interest, as Salvador stuck his head and arms out of the window. Feeling around with his hands.

“I don’t see anything.” Said Salvador pulling himself back in. He then moved over to the passenger side and repeated the process. When this did not work, he shifted to the back, and.

“Ok!” he exclaimed. “I think found it, right here behind the passenger door!”

At this Elya, Salvador, Malina and Aelia all gulped and felt a feeling of fear. They all embraced hands and sat in a circle.

“Malina remember. Fear is neither friend nor foe, but an illusion the mind plays in the face of adversity. You can only vanquish fear with pure action and only through vanquishing fear can we be liberated. Only through pure action can you build an indomitable spirit, and only with an indomitable spirit can you overcome all obstacles.” Salvador spoke the creed of their settlement, his eyes shifting between his wife and children. Intensity and stoic stillness on his face.

“I’m ready.” were the only words Malina spoke.

She grabbed the gas tank, and slid feet first out of the rear, driver-side, window. She quickly felt her way to the gas tank and pulled it open. There was a twist knob inside that she undid and quickly put the spout into the tank. She heard a gulp-gulp-gulp sound and smiled as she knew that she had completed the first step. She kept her eyes focused on the gas tank, as she knew that her mother and father were her eyes now. Watching the wolves that encircled upon them like vultures to a carcass. But unlike a carcass they were very much alive, and planned to stay that way.

Just then a horrible howling began, and the wolves rushed! From all directions all six wolves exited the brush full speed, plunging themselves towards the car. Malina held on to the tank until the very last moment, ignoring her parents cries.

“Malina go! Go! Get out of there Malina! What are you doing?!? Move!”

Just in time Malina jumped over the rear of the car. Causing a wolf to smack into the side of the car where she had been standing. As she jumped over the trunk of the car, another wolf had jumped across the trunk in the opposite direction. It twisted sideways in the air snapping at her. Just barely missing her arm.

Malina landed on her feet, and instead of heading for the inside of the car, ran for the nearest tree. Her parents cursed furiously and Elya grabbed the shotgun and cocked it, extra loudly.

Malina climbed the tree with such speed you would think her hands we adhesive. The wolves circled the tree, scratching their way up, but not getting far.

“Start the car!” Malina exclaimed, still climbing up higher onto the tree.

Salvador leaped into the front seat with Aelia following right behind him, eyes peeled. He turned the keys in the ignition and the engine roared to life, causing the wolves to scatter like roaches exposed to light. Malina jumped out of the tree, rolling on the ground upon impact and jumped into the rear passenger window, which her mom had just rolled down. Malina then rolled down the rear window on the opposite side and leaned out of the window, grabbing the gas tank she had dropped.

As she sat back into her seat her mother slapped her in the face, then started crying. With her cheek burning red-hot, Malina felt tears forming behind her eyes. Then seeing her mom’s tears pour like a stream, she too began to cry.

“I’m sorry mom. I just had to do what we needed done to save us. Are you ok?” She asked, her shoulder touching her moms.

“Yes, yes I’m ok.” said her mom sniffling. “Don’t ever scare me like that again!” Elya exclaimed. “I’m so proud of you.” She added, obviously feeling conflicting emotions.

Salvador had already started the car and began to move, when a loud thud was heard on the hood of the car. They all looked up through the windshield to see a fearsome sight. It was an animal that appeared to be a wolf, but was almost the size of a bear! It’s weight dented the hood of the car with every step, as it climbed closer to the windshield.

The wolf’s nose came close to the glass of the windshield, then lifted towards the moon. Revealing a man’s face!

It was a huge man, wearing the pelt of a wolf. The wolf’s face was still attached, covering the back of man’s head. Giving him the appearance of a wolf when he was on all fours and had his head down. The man had high cheekbones, that looked sharp enough to cut stone. A strong chin and jawline with a large nose. The most pronounced feature of all was this man’s eyes.

They were black as the night, and held a deep purple glow. Almost like Anu’s eye-glow, but much more prominent. The wolf-man raised his head to the sky and began to howl. The howl was so loud it seemed to shake the family’s bones and caused all of them to cover their ears in pain. All except for Aelia. The man man's attention snapped onto Aelia, when he realized she was not covering her ears.. His eyes shining the deep purple color. Staring with such intensity that it seemed like time had ceased to move.

Aelia stood up in the passenger seat and got even closer to the windshield. Staring at the wolf-man straight in his eyes. The man stared right back at her, then in an instant, dropped his gaze downward. Causing the wolf face to show again. He then ran off into the woods. The other six wolves howling loudly as their leader ran off, then disappeared. Salvador looked at the dented hood, noticing that the man had left wolf-like paw prints, not handprints. He then looked over at Aelia, who was sitting with the back of her head facing him, peering out of the window into the woods where the wolf-man had disappeared.

Aelia turned her head 180 degrees and faced her dad, who gasped. Aelia’s eyes now held the same purple glow that the wolf-man’s eyes had. It quickly faded, and Salvador had to question if he had completely imagined it.

“Drive.” Said Aelia. Her small, child voice held an aura of authority and power.

Without a word, Salvador pushed down on the gas pedal. Driving down the unknown road, to their unknown destination.

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Teresa Knapp: Well done! Enjoyed this story very much.

blumindasol: Muy buena historia, me encanto, gracias.

Chata: L'histoire est plutôt sympa j'ai bien envie de continuer à lire le suspens qui ce tien très bonne histoire

Vanessa Sheppard: Loved the storytelling. The characters are good but should have been built on. There was room to know more. The ending seemed rushed. I wanted to know more and suddenly it was over.Nevertheless I enjoyed it and hope to read more from the author.

Kattaleena: This little gem caught me by surprise. I really enjoyed it. It had just the right amount of sass, sadness, sex and humor. Thanks for a fun read.

Iwona: Tolles Buch! Gefällt mir sehr gut!!

Diana: I just love the way you write

Tammy Bota: As usually Wolfy, Great read. I could use about 8 more chapters to help me pass this storm.

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Alexiane: Histoire magnifique ...

Kaari: I love the fact that these don't have to be long stories to really get involved with the story and the characters.

Relator10: It's a believable world with funny anecdotes about the characters. The format with one MC take the spotlight at a time works well. People who into werewolfs should give this a try.

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