He had tied her down, in the hall of her own cottage, hanging to the wall. Her face was swollen to the extent where her eyes could not open and her arms and legs were numb. Neeyah was not even in the position of crying, she was exhausted beyond measure.
Her hopes of someone coming to her rescue would never come to reality, not because she knew no one ever visited and she had no relatives which would come as guests any time soon. That devil would not even allow her to die, no, he was one of those who would keep her alive just to torment her. And how she despised the way he touched her. She was too young to understand why his hands moved on her body the way they did, but that did not mean she didn't hate it.
He was not in the cottage right now, he was in the woods, maybe on his way to his own place. She was too young to hope for death but indeed she wished for her fate to be benevolent as such. The death of her parents meant that there was no one to look after her, she could go out to venture the settlements but she simply knew not the way. And now that this vile man had taken a hold of her, she was helpless. At his mercy. She hated it.
Women need to be strong. Girls need to be strong. There was no excuse strong enough to justify the acceptance of an imposed defeat. No, even death needs to come when they were content enough with life to bid a fair goodbye. In a man's world, girls are stronger by will, or so Neeyah's mom used to say. That men might reign but women ruled. Because no man was ever strong enough before the will and endurance of a woman. Those who gave up might as well deserve an unfair and tormented death. Neeyah would grow into a woman, she had said, that Neeyah would be strong. So how can Neeyah let her down now? How can she give up?
Neeyah never forgot, her memory as though stored everything on stone. Never to be washed away for fade. She was a child and children followed their elders, their parents. They were built the way their parents molded them. Neeyah's mom never accepted defeat, so had said to find a way to fight back, to never give up.
Neeyah couldn't let her mother down.
She was just about starting to look for options and possible escapes when the door flew open. She held her breath, fear taking over her new found bravery and will as she thought of who might have arrived. But when she forced her eyes open, she peered up at new faces, faces which weren't evil. Was there hope, as her father used to say? Her father was an Alpha, he had left his post and his pack, why? She never knew. But her father was a man of peace. There is always hope, you just need to see it. Fate and faith are intertwined, your faith leads your fate.
Was her father right. And why was she suddenly thinking of everything that her parents had taught her? Had her misery made her realize all their teachings? Because she had no other memory of anyone else from the small life she had led so far?
She couldn't ponder on it for much longer though. Soon her hands and feet were untied and she was taken in a very gentle embrace. One that reminded her of the mother she had buried, the mother she had found dead, alone and helpless.
Tears sprang to her eyes and even through her dry throat a desperate sob escaped and rattled Elle's heart as she continued to hold her. The child was in bad shape, her unusually silver-like grey hair matted with blood. Her eyes were swollen and her arms and legs had marks from where she was tied up.
Her blood boiled even as her heart cried for the child in her arms. She would find that monster. Soon enough, she would find him and kill him for the way he had treated her.
Lord Damien looked down at the child, at the cottage in the depths of the forest where it was practically unreachable unless someone knew the way. Elle was cradling the child to her chest, and though he was no saint and unreactive to such abuse, he had seen slavery, known the cruelty of the world for too long to be reactive. But seeing his Elle breaking apart like that broke him as well. She cared............just like her Amara used to.
Damien went inside the cottage and looked for the kitchen, searching for water which could be used. The cottage was in pristine shape, well kept and a little bigger compared to other peasant houses. And he could not miss the distinct wolf smell that was all over the place. This was a werewolf household.
He found a water container and filled a glass before heading out again. He was noticing everything about the place with keen eyes, looking for things that shouldn't be there and things which indicated harm. Maybe this was all a set up? But the child was indeed hurt.
Outside, he crouched before Elle and looked in her eyes. Her sadness was perhaps more an indication of her innocence than her kind heart. She had been through hell as a child, and yet she was still repulsed by all the evil after experiencing it for so long. She hadn't gotten used to it, and it was something to admire.
"Sit her upright"
Elle pulled the child up in her lap and Damien brought the glass to her mouth. She took tentative sips and half the water dripped out of her mouth. She was a beauty, he could tell that. Just like his Elle, this child was different, special. From her moon bright hair to her unusually pale skin and that sweet face profile.
She looked up at him and he snuck a quick breath at her grey eyes. She was beautiful.
A growl reverberated in the cottage and the kid startled at the sound. They all looked up to find a very enraged looking Orion. Orion was as well versed with misery as Damien himself was, so Lord Damien couldn't quite place his anger. His fangs were elongated and his eyes flashed crimson, those claws of his extended completely.
His gaze was locked on the child, a sneer on his face. Elle was quick to stand, putting the child behind her back with her dagger raised. She was as calculative as Damien himself was, her eyes raking his figure and stance. His gaze was locked on Neeyah, the poor child looked at him from around her, something similar to fear flashing in her eyes and yet she took a tentative step at him.
"Orion......." Lord Damien began, a warning buried in his chest.
"I know! I won't hurt her. It's him that I will rip apart." Orion closed his eyes for a moment and turned around trying to calm himself. His deep breaths echoed in the empty house. Damien knew his son well, Orion would never react so violently to anything that wasn't worth his attention, so why this reaction? Why this strangled rage which was struggling to be set free, to go on a killing spree for avenging a soul which was just like any other?
Orion looked at Elle, raising his hands in surrender and crouching down at when Neeyah was sitting, her eyes curious as she gazed at him.
Like a lightening through the dark night, his mind came up with a hunch which was way too bizarre for believing. The child was a werewolf, they had mates assigned to them since their birth. But they couldn't sense it till they were of age. Damien looked at Orion, she might be of a tender age, but Orion was centuries old. Maybe........maybe it was the bond?
No one could be sure, but interrupting Orion when he was enraged down to the bone was not a good option even for Damien. Orion was an enigma worth acknowledging. Worth being afraid of.
Damien moved to Elle's side and pulled her to him, putting a finger to his mouth for indicating the required silence.
Elle watched as the huge man that was Orion curved his shoulders and offered the small kid a hand.
Hope. Neeyah remembered. And faith. She had to try. Give her fathers words a chance to prove their veracity. She extended her arm and he clasped it, suddenly an all-consuming ease calmed her horrified nerves. She was taught to trust her instincts, and she felt no ill coming from him. His red eyes held her in a steady gaze as he crawled to her so as not to scare her away.
And then Orion took the child into his arms. Cradling her much like Elle had, with a gentleness that was foreign to the otherwise cruel man. Orion was indeed a fierce man. He didn't understand his wayward and protective emotions, but then again, he had also lost control of them since the moment his eyes had fallen on the child.
Only destiny would reveal what was to come and the meaning of the present. Nothing else could.
Hope was important.
We need to hope.
We must have faith.