1. Forbidden forest
"Are you ready?”
An ominous whisper reached my ear, taunting me from somewhere close behind, my lips setting into a straight line as I quickly turned around, giving the culprit a narrowed look.
The petite brunette simply let out a small laugh, feeling a hand quickly grab mine as they dragged me off the porch and onto the cobblestone path, together giggling like little schoolgirls.
“Come on guys, I’m cold!” I whined, lightly trembling from time to time as the tiny pajama tank top and booty shorts weren’t exactly protecting my body from the chilly October air, mentally cursing Dee for dragging us all out of the cabin like this as I begrudgingly followed them with Maya tightly clutched against me. They simply ignored me and kept laughing among each other as they kept blabbering about the “great myth” and sexy wolf-men, the whole ordeal already giving me a massive headache -besides the multiple tequila shots and beer, of course- already regretting my decision of accepting to come here for the weekend, at Dee’s grandparents’ holiday cabin with them.
Why the hell couldn’t I just stay home?
I lightly pouted, already missing my comfy bed and fluffy blanket, imagining myself comfortably tucked in with a large bag of chips, watching my favorite tv shows.
“Can’t we just let this go and go-”
“No!” They all shouted back in unison, instantly shushing me up.
I let out an exasperated groan, feeling like banging my head against a tree as this weird fascination of them for this stupid “creepy story” was already starting to get on my nerves.
Wolf-men my ass...
“Oh come on!” I shouted out, snatching my hand away from Maya’s as I hurried my step, catching on with the two girls in front of us,
“Rhiannon! Rhiannon,” I lightly grabbed her arm, staring at her with pleading puppy eyes as I tried to at least convince her to go back with me, since I knew she was the “weakest” link anyway.
“Come on, I know you’re cold and sleepy too, let’s just go back inside...”
Yet to my surprise, she simply let out a small chuckle,
“Oh Claire, don’t be such a wuss, come on it’s gonna be fun!”
She then passed on to me the whiskey bottle they’ve been drinking from a while ago, raising a brow as she silently tried coaxing me to take a swig.
Switching my gaze between her hardly sober expression and the whiskey bottle for a few short moments, I then finally let out a defeated sigh, taking the bottle from her hand a taking a full swig as I knew any further attempt to talk them out of this would be utterly futile -since they were already way too drunk anyway- letting them drag me to wherever the hell they were heading to, silently hoping they would get bored of this non-sense soon enough and decide to head back to that so warm and cozy cabin I was already missing.
Tangling my arm with hers to feel just a little bit warmer I silently walked by her side, listening to their so excited rants about the so well-known myth and the wolf-men supposedly roaming this forest at night, snatching away lost virgin females and making them their brides under the full moon.
I, personally believed it was just a stupid story the locals invented ages ago just to lure dumb tourists, willing to spend their money on the so expensive inns and cabins built close by the forest.
I mean, why would someone deliberately choose to venture into a forest at night, waiting for some goddamn creature to snatch them away and take them to god-knows where, doing god-knows what to them?
Well apparently, when you’re a stupid college girl, drunk and horny enough anything is possible...
Lightly shaking my head with disapproval, my attention was suddenly averted the moment Dee ran a few steps ahead, jumping onto a fallen log as she quickly spun around to face us, raising the bottle I’ve passed back to her a while ago as she loudly shouted out,
“Behold, the forbidden forest! The land no virgin female has ever escaped alive!”
I lightly snorted while the girls let out small giggles, watching her as she then boomed out,
“Tonight, we offer ourselves for sacrifice!”
“Yeah right, speak for yourself, horny-pants. I’m not giving shit,” I jokingly muttered, earning small laughs from the girls, she, however choosing to ignore me as she took another swig, almost stumbling off the log as she then once again rose the bottle in the air, loudly shouting,
“Let the game begin!”
I dumbfoundedly watched Maya and Rhiannon quickly walk in front of her, taking turns as they took a few swigs from the bottle, right before they walked off into the darkened forest, each taking a different path.
“Wait, what are you guys doing?”
“The rules, remember?” She let out a small smile, my brows furrowing in utter confusion as I was failing to understand what the hell was she talking about.
“You didn’t pay attention, did you?”
“Huh?” I blinked a few times, staring at her like at a freaking nutcase, noticing how she let out a small sigh,
“We’re supposed to split up. We won’t be able to find our promised princes if we stick together,” My mouth hung open as I couldn’t believe what she just said, quickly noticing the girls had already disappeared in the darkened sea of thick trunks right as we spoke, the whole situation already resembling way too much to a fragment from a freaking horror story.
A horror story I really don’t want to be a part of.
“Whatever. Don’t count me in. I’m out,” I bluntly announced, quickly turning around as I had already decided to go back to the cabin and let them do whatever the hell they pleased.
If they were going to walk all by themselves through a freaking forest in the middle of the night, searching for god-knows what then it’s their choice. Not mine.
I will not lead myself to be mauled by a freaking wild animal or whatever lies out there.
No fucking way.
I didn’t even bother to give her a single glance as I had already started walking back, lightly shivering from time to time, mindlessly taking a glance at my pink fluffy UGG boots, only to notice they had already dirtied up with damp soil and putrid leaves.
I let out a small groan, mumbling a few curses under my breath, averting my gaze straight ahead as I then wondered exactly how far did we strain away from the cabin, surprised to notice that I couldn’t even see its lights anymore.
Great. Just great.
I kept on walking, crossing my arms over my chest to at least preserve some heat, however, carefully looking around for any familiar bush or tree, only to find none.
Oh, isn’t life just wonderful?
I let out another few curses under my breath, silently plotting to murder Dee when she got back from their crazy “adventure” as I was already starting to freeze, almost failing to hear the small ruffling sound in the background, seemingly coming from somewhere close by.
My breath faltered, momentarily stopping in my tracks as I quickly took a look around, failing to notice anything at all in the darkness surrounding me, a cold shiver running down my spine as I could already feel a little aprehensive.
I tried yet again, taking another look around, only to see nothing. Just the outline of the thick trunks -besides complete darkness- and maybe a few bushes.
Ugh, fuck this.
I angrily started walking again, completely ignoring every other tiny sound as I focused on my own breath, intent on just walking until I have found the cabin again -or maybe even the side of a road- instead of letting my own fear swallow my better judgement and make me do something stupid like aimlessly running.
However, I think it was better if I had ran.
Because what followed next made my blood freeze in utter fear.
Two large silhouettes suddenly appeared out of nowhere in my line of sight, quickly approaching from right ahead and before I could take my chance to scream -or even react for that matter- they had already reached and placed a cloth over my mouth, not even giving me a chance to fight before everything suddenly faded away.
The constant sensation of painfully poking against my stomach woke me up with a jolt, feeling dizziness suddenly hit me hard and fast, a loud rythmic boom echoing in my eardrums as I struggled to focus my vision, noticing the damp ground moving beneath me for a few short moments, right before it all abruptly stopped, my vision blurring for a few seconds before I felt my butt not-so-nicely landing on it.
I quickly blinked a few times, with one arm shielding my eyes from the burning warm light, finally noticing the campfire vigorously burning right in front of my eyes, surrounded by a mass of oddly-dressed people, all wearing all kinds of pelts and furrs, black ink covering certain bare areas of their skin, their general look so barbaric and rough.
I instantly cowered in fear as I noticed them all weirdly staring at me, one specifically standing out as a large wolf’s head adorned his own, the rest of the grey furr covering his bare broad shoulders, odd inked symbols covering the large expanse of his left pectoral. Cold dark eyes found my own as we held each other’s gaze for a few short moments, right before warm slender fingers wrapped around my wrist, forcefully hoisting me up to my feet.
My head quickly snapped to the side, noticing the visibly old female, stunned by her so fierce strength as I could feel myself almost dangling off the ground in her vice grip, her attention directed towards the crowd as she suddenly boomed out,
“Behold! A chosen was found! A future daughter of the moon!”
Loud gasps followed, including my own as I suddenly felt so exposed under their scrutinising stares, lightly struggling in her grip as I could already feel my hand start to hurt, only to suddenly hear her once again shout,
“A gift was bestowed upon our clan by the Sacred Moon!
Behold the sacred mark!” I instantly winced as I felt her painfully twist my hand, forcefully holding the outside of my wrist for them to see the small crescent moon inked on my skin, my fear only deepening as I couldn’t seem to comprehend what was happening and why when she once again shouted out,
“Let us honor our Holy Moon and feast because tonight, we celebrate our future king!”
An incredibly loud and cheerful roar followed, deep dread creeping up my veins as I then suddenly felt myself being roughly tossed to the heavily built male standing at my other side, right before I heard her firmly command,
“Take her to the tent.”
“No, stop! No!” I instantly started thrashing in his hurtful grip as he so effortlessly cradled me in his arms, completely ignoring me as he so calmly walked towards what appeared to be a large tent, built from thin and long logs of wood, also covered with skins and furr.
“Please! Stop!” I kept on begging, my pleas falling on deaf ears as he refused to even look at me, let alone respond, like a lifeless rag tossing me on the skin-covered ground as we reached the inside.
Shakily getting up to my feet I then turned around, only to notice he had actually vanished, one simple thought clinging to my mind as I didn’t even waste another moment to ponder about anything else.
Quickly moving straight towards the entrance I pushed the pelts away, only to be shoved back inside as a group of females suddenly rushed in, not even wasting a single second as they started their rough assault on me, forcefully pulling at the small amount of clothes on my body, kicking and screaming for them to let me go as they eventually stripped me bare, two of them holding me so tight as others two started scrubbing my skin raw, applying all kinds of scented liquids and ointments.
“Please, stop! Why are you doing this?” I breathlessly asked, my question once again falling on deaf ears as they also ignored me, continuing their odd assault on my body, tears already falling down my cheeks as I felt so powerless in their strong hold, still struggling to free myself when they suddenly stopped, carefully placing me on a warm and soft pile of furrs.
“Please...What do you want from me?” I looked up at them with teary eyes, none of them even bothering to give me one last glance as they all turned to leave, a single one momentarily turning to look at me, a sympathetic look almost reaching her features as she so quietly said,
“Don’t try to fight it. You will only make it worse.”