“Ow,” Clara fondles her back where the woman had poked the dagger to force her to walk faster. “Stop poking me.”
“Shut up and stay quiet,” Alira hisses and jabs her again in the same place, making the human jump and move a little forward pronto. “I need to concentrate on the whispers. I need to know where to go in this jungle.”
“Look,” Clara sees that the Jungle was way too dark for them to be walking through and too muddy. She even remembered Kito’s words replay on her mind about the dangerous things lurking in it that she didn’t want to face. “I don’t know what that poor girl did to you but just because you’re upset doesn’t mean you can go around stabbing people. That woman had friends. Family.”
“Lucky her,” she spat back. “I know her- well, I knew her. I had to live with her for a while,” a growl shook Clara’s spine, she didn’t know females can growl just as sinister as the males. “I did not want to stab anyone but she got in the way. She caught me talking to her, the same way you just had to come when I was done. I was told that she was in the way, asking us too many questions. She needed to be taken care of so she wouldn’t tell any of the mindless chiefs what I’m going to do. Foolish you got in the way too. Now that I think of it this may the reward she spoke to me about. ”
“Reward? What reward?”
“Shhh!” She snarls and shoves her forward so hard she staggers. “Don’t talk loud. Only whispers. Always whispers.”
This bitch was insane.
Clara didn’t want to make her mood worse and have her use that dagger on her. Kane came to her mind... And Kito. Why him?
“I hate you humans,” Alira was speaking mostly to herself now. Clara wasn’t going to answer her anymore anyway, ambling deeper into the jungle with only the light of the moon to show the way which was dim itself. The ground was muddy and the slippers she wears were surprisingly much better walking over the mud than sinking into it like her Nike shoes did.
“That one human comes along and Kai has a sick interest over her. By the Gods, that pathetic Mia, she can pretend to be all cute and stupid and she still ends with a happy ending. After this, I want to find her. I will show Kai that his love for her is just a trick by Ser’avi, another unnatural force. And they think I am bad? At least I do not force others to be with each other. When I get her out of the way he will see. Just like Kito will see. They will all open their eyes to the real deceitful Goddess that they treasure so much. Bonding is a forced, disgusting thing.”
She didn’t understand what this woman was talking about, but she did understand that she was planning on killing Mia.
“Putting this dagger in Dia felt so good though,” her voice was always whispering and never a tone higher. “I imagined Mia when I did it. Even their names were familiar. Did you know that? Dia and Mia. Oh, how could a Xutashi even want to put any of his male parts near a human, little alone inside one? It is not right. It’s two different species. They are not meant to be one.”
She couldn’t see the unnatural black tint in her now darker green eyes. “Or even have a filthy cub with one. It’s not right. It is not what this world should be. I need to get rid of the cubs. The half breed ones. They are what is wrong with the world. Human’s are tainting our next generation with their weaknesses, just like that obnoxious half breed. I will not let that happen. I kind of liked how I controlled this world before, so untamed. A perfect, real kingdom.”
“Uhh...” She was wondering if she should even speak but it just came out before she could snatch them back. “I’m sorry for interrupting you... But, how are you going to kill Mia and then the babies? Not only is that wrong but there are so many other people watching them- is your plan even thought through? Did this all just come at the spur of the-”
Her hair was snatched and held to the scalp and she was thrown onto her knees. It hurt much worse than she expected with the bone against thin skin made contact. Gasps and soft yelps left Clara in pain, she reaches in her hair to try to pry Alira’s strong metal grip on each strand yanking her tender scalp. Her deeper growls were terrifying, like hearing an actual wild animal that she had been poked with a stick in a cage way too many times. “Dannica said she will protect me. They cannot touch me. She chose me to get rid of Ser’avi’s pathetic humans. Dia was practice.”
Clara couldn’t understand anything she was saying. Whoever this woman was, she was -is- absolutely insane. Even more so when she feels the dagger press against her throat and her warm blood turned to ice. She quivers and felt tears ready to leave her. Fear left her in waves and she could even feel herself trembling.
“P-Please,” she was afraid to swallow with the dagger pressed against her throat. “I-I h-haven’t done anything to you. I don’t even know you.”
“You were asleep when we met,” She was purposely scaring her and greedily taking in the scent of her fear. She liked it much more than Dannica said she would. “I took off your human clothes and put my tunic on you because he wanted me to.”
Another snarl, “When I couldn’t have Kai I wanted Kito, why should I listen to something that isn’t real? I wanted him because there was no way I could go near his brother because of Mia,” she said her name like a swear. “Kito was not interesting in any other and was unmated. He was the only option I had to get what I wanted. I almost had him,” the dagger presses tighter. “Then you and that human boy had to come and ruin everything. You’re going to take everything I wanted. ”
It was like she was going to snap and finish her off then and there and be done with it. She wasn’t done regardless, loosening the pressure before her skin broke. “You humans are taking everything away from me and others.”
“If you want him go right ahead,” she wonders if it was the knife that was pressed against her throat before that left a sour taste in her mouth at the words along with the shortness of breath afterward. Like her body resented the idea. “But I highly doubt that he likes psychos who kill his friends.”
“Who are you to start running your mouth at me when I have the upper hand?” Alira retorts. “I am the one with the dagger, you stupid girl.”
She jerks her onto her feet by her hair and pushed her once again forward to get her walking again. “Go. We’re almost there.”
She didn’t know where they were going but she knew that this woman would use that bloody dagger on her. It was not something she was looking forward to, but she just remains silent while Alira continues to whisper nonsense to herself as if another was with them. But she felt that they were alone.
And Alira’s words... Clara couldn’t understand it. Sometimes she spoke in a different language, she didn’t complete a sentence without one word on whatever guttural language that came out of her throat in throaty growls. Dark, but meaning something.
The electricity of warmth rolled down her spine that brought security instead of fear. She didn’t know if it was just her body trying to adjust to the cold or something else. Her body never felt sparks adjusting to the cold like that before.
“Stop. We’re here.”
Clara thought that their destination would be more interesting. Maybe a waterfall or something. Yet they stood at the edge of a large opening that was covered in mud and large fallen leaves that were larger than her. Maybe the leaves from the trees above or oddly shaped banana leaves. Everything about this world was always an altered version of hers.
A world she might die in.
“What?” Alira surveys her surrounding frantically. “It was supposed to be here! She said it was here! Beginning of the shake, the source, the entrance! But I see nothing!” She grabbed Clara’s hair forcefully which was retaliated by her much desperate struggles than before. This time she had a hard time putting her onto her knees so she could finally finish her, a problem solved with a kick behind them.
Just before she could focus her dagger on her with just an easy swipe a throaty rumble manifests behind them and snagged each of their attention. The rumble was the beginning of a snarl as the gaze of four eyes landed on Kito. Half in fury, and the other half in utter relief.
Clara was so relieved to see him that tears pooled in her eyes, “Kito!”
She tried to run for him but was yanked back and was met with a dagger pressed under her jawline. Alira’s taller body worked in her favor as she held the shorter human effortlessly, her dark green eyes met bright blue ones.
“I should have known, how forgetful of me,” Kito catches a glimpse of the strange darkness in her eyes. It wasn’t the normal brightness that they had once before. She talks near Clara’s ear, “Do you find it strange how he found you so easily, Clara? Do you want me to tell you a little secret before I cut your pretty little throat?”
“Alira, enough,” Kito boldly paces forward with his hands bare of any weapons. “Enough. Let her go. There is no need for you to take another life.”
“Do you think her life is more important than Dia’s?” She seethes. “I know you think so, although I don’t. If I were you I would tell her why before my dagger slips. It sometimes has a mind of its own.”
Never in his life or in any scenario that Kito had felt as much fear as he did at that moment. Seeing Clara held with a dagger against her jugular impressively, with one big enough action that could ruin him. How did Alira know where to hold that dagger?
His ears went downward and his eyes were pleading. He was angry but he was scared more. He didn’t want this taken from him now. Not her. It is shown on his face and in the bright dark blue pools of his feline eyes. Clara eyes him as his head lower in a vulnerable position, “please don’t do this to me, Alira. Don’t do this.”
“Why?” She acts ignorant. “Why shouldn’t I, Kito? I know you can be more convincing than that. You and your convincing tongue.”
Clara felt her heart falter when she saw the begging look on his face, the first time he saw him fully unguarded and fully emotional. It was something she had seen on Xain not too long ago herself and questioned. But Kito didn’t show anger.
Everything he had worked on before was going to be ruined. His plan to bring her into this slowly will have to fail. He didn’t want her hurt. Or dead. “Clara. Please forgive me. I wanted you to have choices-”
“Not fast enough,” She displays her fangs. “Tell her, Kito. If you don’t I will kill her before she ever knows.”
“J-Just say it,” the hold on her hair kept her from moving her head away from the sharpened blade. “Kito, it’s alright. Just tell me.”
He made a saddened noise, “but you will fear me.”
“It honestly can’t be worse than thi- ah!” she let out a painful yelp when Alira impatiently used the tip of the dagger to cut a small cut under her jaw. A small cut that drew blood to show the seriousness of the situation. “You’re starting... To piss me off.”
“No!” He steps forward two more steps before she hissed, a warning he listened to immediately. “No! Fine, I will tell her, but you will give her to me once I do.”
“Hmmm....” She thought about it for a moment. “Fine. I can always come back another time, I have things I need to get started with. Now tell her before I get bored with this.”
He still didn’t trust her, he felt the deception, but he had no other choice. He stares at Clara with his sadness once more, trying to get his heart ready for the rejection it will face later. “Clara, look at me.”
She turns her eyes from the stars on him and seeing his eyes made her heartbeat stop shortly.
“You’re...” He took in a couple more deep breaths before he found it in himself to admit it. He only wished it was different circumstances. “You’re my mate, Clara.”
“So stupid,” she mocks. “Of course you only been here for a day,” she chuckles. “A day? So much has happened for you two, hmm?”
“W-what is this crazy bitch going on about?” Clara asks Kito but the one who answered was Alira. “Look at him, human. Can you not see the way he is begging for me to let you go? The way his eyes look and his ears? He would do anything right now if I asked him to all because I have your life in my hands. Ser’avi is such a soft pathetic Goddess. Back then they were once glorious killers. Do you think you were brought into this world because of a silly Celebration? No. The other women try to sweeten the truth to convince you that it is all normal. That it is nothing, to just accept it, to open yourself up... Literally. I will tell you everything in every truthful dark detail.”
She looks at Kito as she speaks near her ear once more, whispering so soft he almost didn’t catch her words. “You were brought here by a Goddess to meet him. To feel a ‘connection’. There is a low number of females in the village and the only thing the worthless Goddess could think of was to bring humans to be paired with them. To bear cubs with them. It’s all they think about, Clara. That is why he is so nice to you. It’s a trick to keep his kind thriving. Not to mention that after so much contact with him you will go into heat. Do you know what that is?” Clara blushed in embarrassment. “Humans go into heat here for them. It’s disgusting. It’s the Goddess fooling all of them to roll over and breed.”
“Don’t listen to her,” he shouts to distract Clara from her words. “It’s not like that at all! It means so, so much more than I can even explain to you right now.”
Clara already had tears running down her face as her mind swirled with things she was not sure to believe in. She was weeping. A sound that tore into him deeply. “Let her go, Alira. I told you. You told her. We’re done here.”
“No,” she smiles. “We’re not.”
She was stepping back from him when he walked forward, walking further into the circle. When he strides over it he knew something was wrong with the ground and looked down. With his eyes, he could see a small hole where a thin layer of just years of the built-up stick, dry mud, and leaves barely held their weight. It was hallow.
“Alira, stop!” He stretches his hand out again in a motion to grab her but their distance made it useless. “Please, the ground is hallow. We will all fall and die, you too as well. Give her to me.”
“Really?” The news excites her rather than terrify her. “So it is here.”
Alira’s eyes came to be blank as she stared at him like he was glass. A foggy look that wasn’t her own. Listening.
She forcefully threw Clara on the ground hard enough that it gave away, and half of her body fell through the torn hole and her legs dangling in the darkness. She was holding on to the false ground with her fingers embedded into to keep her from sliding any further in. “Kito!”
He dives forward and on the ground and hooked his arm around her to keep her from sliding more with the other firmly on the hallowed edge. She clutches onto him to tightly keep from falling into the pitch-black void below her. Especially when she felt something around her ankle preventing her from being pulled up.
He tries to hoist her up but something had a hold of her, “something has my ankle!”
Alira smirks, using the strength of her legs to jump high. A jump that his kind can do well, and used her weight to break the barrier so everyone starts plunging into the chasm below.