One cold September night…
“Hunters!” Someone screamed out from the edge of the dense, green forest.
The girl’s body lurched out of her bed as she awoke to the bone-chilling scream. Rushing out of her room, she searched for her family.
“Mom!” The dark-haired girl screamed in fright, jumping into her mother’s arms. They’ve always provided her safety. A quiet sob came from her mother’s mouth as she held her daughter against her body.
The mother, Meera, was terrified, but she had to stay strong for her children. She knew this day would come one day, but she hadn’t expected it to happen so soon. The hunters weren’t supposed to make an attack for another month.
The girl glanced out of her living room window, only to see members from her pack running everywhere. They were terrified and hysterical, making sure their loved ones were safe. The chaos consuming them would be their downfall.
Noticing her daughter’s trembling body, the worried mother pulled away from her child, crouching down so her face was level with her. “We have to go, Mina.” Tucking a strand of her daughter’s dark hair behind her ear, she spoke: “I need you to go find Aeryn and have him pack you some clothes.” Meera’s big brown eyes were brimming with tears. The bags under her eyes made her look like she hadn’t slept in weeks.
She needed to go look for her husband.
The girl nodded, making her appear naive and innocent. Mina scurried to her older brother’s room. She barged into his room to find her brother holding two bags. He snapped his brown eyes to the door, looking rigid and alert.
Once he realized it was only his younger sister, he sighed in relief before continuing to pack for the two of them. “Hey Mina.” The young boy tried to smile to hide the fear he was feeling.
Aeryn was three years older, making him fifteen. He knew he had to stay strong for his sister. He loved her more than anything in the world, even if she had a tendency to annoy him most of the time.
The brown haired boy walked over to his almost-identical sister. He held out the overstuffed purple backpack “Here, put your bag on.” The shivering girl slipped it on.
As they approached the door, a large figure cut in front of them. “Aeryn,” A deep, yet kind, voice spoke. They meet their father, Doric, in the hallway, with their mother standing behind.
Aeryn stared up at his strong, tall father, whom he looked up to as a hero. He wanted to follow his father’s footsteps and become a great Beta like him one day. “I need you to take your sister towards the North path. All the women and children are heading that way. Hunters are coming from the East. I need to stay back, son.” He knelt down in front of his two children who inherited all his genetics.
Aramina immediately hurled herself into her father’s arms. She understoof that it was his responsibility to protect the pack. To fight next to the Alpha.
The large, burly man wrapped his arms around his two children. He kissed each of their foreheads, tickling them with his scruffy beard.
The loyal Beta dreaded the thought of never seeing his children and wife ever again.
Doric was aware that hunters have been attacking packs in the east. They’ve never been this far South before. Their pack had been caught off guard, and not prepared for a battle.
The worn out man didn’t know how many hunters were on their way. That game them a disadvantage with what they were up against.
They didn’t want to take the chance and risk the lives of their pack. To take precautions, the Alpha was sending their members up North to safety. Where an Alpha ally would await their remaining pack members.
“Be careful,” Their father murmured, gently touching the boy’s unkempt brown hair. “Take care of your sister, Aeryn.” Doric leaned back to stare at his son, whose hazel eyes were brimming with tears.
The proud father smiled, knowing that his heir was trying to stay brave. “I love you, khindra.” He reminded his children, “I’ll meet up with you after I take care of this problem.” And with that they watched their father walk out the front door into the smoky night.
Aeryn wrapped his arm around his shaking sister, trying his best to comfort her, “Don’t cry, Mina.” The girl was sobbing hysterically, and he knew how terrified she felt, for he too felt that way. No longer being able to hold in his tears, he allowed them to slide down his face. Aeryn knew there wasn’t much he could do to make Aramina, or even himself, feel better at the moment.
War surrounded them.
Their distraught mother guided them into the living room, where a pregnant woman with red hair stood waiting. “You must go with Lily now.” Meera knelt down in front of them, face glistening with tears. “I love you,” She looked between the two of them. “Be safe, my khindra, and stay brave.” They were both pulled into a tight hug by their mother.
Meera also had to stay behind to nurse the wounded.
Aeryn put on his backpack, grabbing Aramina’s hand as a lifeline. They both ran outside, trying to find the other women and children.
As soon as they walked out the door, their fear deepened. They saw smoke coming from the dense forest, which was casting an eerie orange glow in the distance.
There were loud screams, and cries coming from all directions. Some of the pack’s fighters were dragging broken and bloodied bodies back to the nursing area. The sight caused Aeryn’s stomach to churn with unease. He shielded his younger sister’s eyes by pulling her into his chest.
Aeryn’s eyes looked away from the gruesome scene. Aramina clung to her older brother out of horror. Doing her best to ignore the spine-crawling sounds coming from all around her.
“We have to go now!” Another woman shouted from across the path. “They’re coming in fast.” The pack member informed them.
Lily glanced down at the two children with her glossed blue eyes. Grabbing their hands before taking them towards the hidden North path. “It’s going to be okay.”
Though her voice wavered as she spoke the words.
Focusing on escaping, the three of them followed the scattered bodies moving through the shrubbery. They had reached the edge of the forest when a loud heart-wrenching scream echo across the valley.
It immediately caught Aeryn’s attention. He didn’t have to look to know who it was. Turning around on instinct, his eyes frantically searched the village below.
Within the chaos, Aeryn spotted his mother near the farthest edge of the village, where hunters were now arriving. Aramina and Aeryn froze in unison when their eyes landed on their father.
Understanding what happened, Aramina sobbed as she stared at their father’s lifeless body. Their mother was laying on top of his chest, clinging on to him for her dear life.
Aeryn unleashed all his tears, drenching his flushed cheeks.
“I’m sorry, we have to go.” Lily did her best to hide her sobs. She grabbed Aramina’s hand again, who was refusing to go. Aramina turned to stare at the woman who had tears of her own. The woman’s mouth was moving, but she couldn’t hear anything. She was in a state of shock, overwhelmed by grief and terror.
Aramina turned back to look at her mother as a hunter came up behind her and pressed a gun on her back, where her heart was.
“Mom!” Aeryn’s horrible scream echoed across the valley with a ring. Their mother turned to look at her two children. Her expression flooded with emotions beyond explanation. She didn’t want her khindra to see her demise. Losing her mate would kill her, not the hunter.
I love you, she mouthed her final words before the hunter took her life. Aeryn let go of Aramina’s hand, running back towards their dead parents. Even if they were gone, Aeryn was at the age where he could help his pack. He couldn’t run away.
“No, Aeryn!” Lily screamed after him, but it was too late. Aeryn had slipped past her grip. Turning back to Aramina, she held her hand with a forceful grip, “We have to go.”
Lily refused to lose another child. They could grieve once they were safe.
Aramina snapped back into reality, trying to fight off Lily to go find her older brother. The only family she had left.
Aramina was petrified that the hunters were going to kill Aeryn, too. Aramina screamed and screamed while looking back at her brother for the last time. Her vision blurred with tears as the last thing she saw was her brother being hauled away by two foul hunters.