It was a nightmare.
How we ended up in this situation was beyond me, beyond every prevision, beyond every suspicion. They had us and now, we would lose it all.
The pack was besieged and all around, we were trying to fight for whatever was left for us to defend. The borders had already fallen into their grip and soon, the entire territory would follow.
I was sleeping in my room when it happened, the deafening roar of the alpha pierced the air before hell broke loose. I didn’t have the time to gather anything, to change or to even think about it, I just ran out of my chamber, praying for it to not be too late.
I ran to the second one, next to mine, only to find my little brother and sister gathered in there, joined by Hilda, their nanny. I saw the fright in her stance as the door opened in a fracas but when she saw me, she breathed again.
“ Alba, I was going to look for you. Thank god you’re fine.” I heard her say with despair transpiring from her voice.
“ Alba.” Liv and Naris both yelled in recognition, Liv’s eyes filled with tears.
She wanted to make a step front towards me, but I stopped her with a hand extending itself, making her halt as her little frame stood in surprise.
Guilt rushed inside of me but I didn’t cower, or maybe I did as I avoided her tears rolling down her cheeks. I looked back at Hilda solely.
“ Bring them in the basement under the house and don’t move from there before dad or Alarik come for them.”
She nodded and took back Liv’s hand in hers.
“ You shouldn’t go.” Hilda said, trying to make me change my mind, her voice caught in a quiver.
I looked at her, in acknowledgment and she knew there was no holding back. Bringing myself to give a brief glance at Liv and Naris, I found them both looking at me with fearful eyes.
“ Don’t worry, I will come back for you.” I stated with confidence on the outside and a pool of doubts in the inside.
They both nodded, Liv later than Naris and I smiled at them for what I wished will not be the last time as I ran away, taking the stairs.
I was still in my night gown and as I opened the door, closing it loudly behind me, the coldness of the night engulfed my clothing, making my whole body shiver in uneasiness.
Despite it, I ran, heading towards the only place I craved to be while wishing it wasn’t too late.
I ran swiftly in between trees, trying desperately to connect with my father but nothing was working. None of him or his second were responding and panic stroke me inside, sending rushes of adrenaline in my system.
I swayed in my path, heading for the town’s center. I already knew that hell must have broke loose there too. It was less than three minutes later when I started hearing the screams and smelling the distinctive odor of fire and ashes.
My heart suddenly thumbed loudly in my rib cage out of fear and apprehension but I didn’t stop until I was obliged to. It was then my eyes horrendously met with a scenario I never thought I would come to see one day.
The entire town was burning, with people running, mostly the human part of our pack trying to escape the enemy’s troops. They were being dragged out of their homes by them, brought harshly in case of resistance and mostly manhandled.
Our people were desperately fighting. The werewolves one battling in whatever form they decided to arbor as claws extracted from the tip of their fingers. They were all doing it for the sake of the survey, just so our pack wouldn’t fall into their hands tonight.
There was blood, everywhere. It was sported on the ground, on weapons, on claws and body parts, dangling and spreading as if water was pouring from a waterfall.
I was forced to stop my suffocating inspection, because even if I was absolutely horrified by the spectacle before my eyes, I knew I had to get out of the daze. I desperately knew that I needed to find them and that I didn’t have the luxury to get lost in the chaos.
Despite seeing the horrible view, I moved my eyes from it and I, somehow, abandoned my people to their fate as I sprinted again in the woods, deeper this time.
The only chance for me to get there in time was to run. My lungs were burning from the quick intake and rushes of cold air going in and out of them. It was harshly rubbing against the walls of the vital organ and creating a fire inside of me.
I desperately needed to gain the front rows. I needed to get to them, to fight with my people, against those monsters.
I followed the path my instinct dictated me to take, for long minutes as I sprinted towards a place I didn’t know what to expect finding in. It had been all silence and desperation until it wasn’t. Only half way there, I heard the call loud and clear. I heard what made me stop dead on my tracks, immobile.
“ The Alpha has fallen.”
The sentence, yelled in my mind, just as it had been yelled in the mind of every other inhuman member of the pack resonated false, uncalled for. Unbelievable.
My feet menaced to give in as the words didn’t seem to make sense in my mind.
The voice, it had been the beta’s one, Alarik’s. A voice that I recognized instantly. One who had been plagued with shame by its tone.
“What happened to you dad ?” I couldn’t help but ask myself, anxiety building inside.
My feet, despite wanting to give in continued to run, hitting the cutting ground with a new found strength. I could feel my bare feet being scratched by glass, stones and the harshness of the soil. Just as my body had been susceptible to the trees’ branches and trenchant leafs. But I didn’t stop. I continued, enduring it, enduring all the pain and the suffering while only wishing for it to not be too late.
My body and my feet were hurting me, but I wouldn’t have stopped for anything in the world. My gown was filthy, the pearly white becoming a black and muddy mess by the end and my lungs aching for steady breaths.
But I still ran.
Ran with the hope that it wasn’t too late.
Soon in my submerged state of hunt for them, I started to hear voices, voices in the large ported by the wind and the silence of the night.
I stopped to a halt right after, hiding between the trees when I was in front of a clearing where dozens of men I knew weren’t ours were encircling some others that I recognized, while some were simply laying on the ground, already dead.
I tried to move my head, to see more of it, to understand the meaning and as my hand left the solid and harsh wood of the tree to able my body to bend further ahead, I saw the kneeling figures of my father and Alarik. That simple image had made my eyes widen in fear.
They were outnumbered, circled by men and females, with no way to escape.
Even worse was the words that came next, echoing to my far away ears, moving my body with a powerful jolt of panic.
“ Nigel Almaran, your sentence will be death tonight.”
No, no, no, no.
My mind screamed those words and as I saw a sword aiming for him, my body just couldn’t refrain whatever unthought action I had prepared to doom us all even more.
I left the trees, only to start running towards the crow of amassed bodies. The soldiers blocking the view felt my presence and as they tried to move and look back to take a glimpse at me and catch me, I debated, sending blows and removing my caught limbs tiresomely, with screams and cries of protest leaving my mouth.
“ No, dad !”
I was beyond afraid and it gave me the strength of a thousand men as I continued moving front, uncaring for the fatality that would be plaguing us all. When my body passed them successfully, I doubted it, but continued anyway way.
I ran to my father, with no regards to anybody and when he saw me, I could fully recall and see the sorrow and the reprehensions he was having for me as I approached him.
I ignored it all, simply because I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The time seemed to stop or only slow, with figures trying to catch me again, almost in slow motion as adrenaline was pumping harder in my system, making every feeling and sensation tenfold in both my body and mind.
Fortunately, I dodged them, arriving finally in the middle of that sordid assembly. My body jumped towards my father’s and I encircled him like never before, with the strength I rarely used. I kept his bloodied and beyond hurt body against my trembling one. My hands went feverishly around the back of his neck while my cheek collided horribly with his bloody and open one.
I tightened my hold even more as if I could, keeping him next to me, never wanting to leave him whatever it would cost me.
At that moment, I was ready to protect him with my life.
“ Please, don’t kill him.”I heard my voice scream in the clearing, ravaged by the cracking sound linked to tears I never knew about before that moment. “ Leave him alone.” I added even more desperately.
My dad didn’t move, even if I felt him stiffen next to me. Despite it, despite the shame and the tears, I willed to stay right there anyway.
“ Move away.” I heard a manly voice speak behind me, a voice that made my back straighten and my fear hit new tops. “ Or you will die with him.”
My eyes widened in a second at the statement and the coldness and inhumanity of it, before they closed forcefully again.
All I did, despite the fear, was cling to my father even more, tears running and spilling loudly from my eyes and face to his shirt and back as I cradled him stronger and fearful against me.
“ Alba.” my father called, making my sobs calm for a split second.
I waited for his sentence, but all that came was his hand moving and trying to irremediably push me away.
I didn’t budge.
“ No.” My shattering voice screamed at him in the silent void of the clearing.
It felt as if it was only me, my dad, and this death sentence awaiting for us added to the numerous evil eyes sported on our bodies.
“Child” he called again, still trying to push me away, his voice more tender this time.
I knew that he was about to say something else, but before it could have escaped his lips, I felt a hand hunch me back by my left forearm. Soon, I was still on the ground, kneeling, but facing me wasn’t my dad anymore as my wide and fearful eyes went up and collided with hazel ones.
The man in front of me looked at me with hate, hate that I tried to mimic to the fullest extent.
I must have succeeded in some way, because the hate started slowly to vanish and all that was left was his stoic face studying mine.
Pride is nothing facing death, the voice resonated in my head.
“ Please, don’t kill him, please ” I begged, on knees.
How humiliating it must have been.
He didn’t flinch, look up, down or at any other thing then my eyes and somewhere in this stare, I thought I had maybe succeeded in convincing him otherwise as his shoulders seemed to shrink down.
How was I wrong.
In an instant and swift movement, that my eyes saw but couldn’t stop, the sword in his hand moved front and all I heard was the struggle.
The gargling of a mouth full of liquid, bubbles forming, full of air before popping.
Somewhere in between his action and its consequence, I ended up drenched in a hot liquid, the side of my face fully blown by it.
My bewildered eyes meet with one of my hands that touched my cheek only to be faced by liquid red.
The same that ended up somehow in my mouth.
The same red that was sprawled everywhere.
The red of death.
Still looking in his eyes, my stunned and unbelieving look was swimming in his antipathetic one that didn’t tell anything of what he must have done.
His darkened eyes were containing no remorse nor regrets.
My own reached my right side tentatively, miserably, trying to see whatever happened, to understand why my father stopped breathing behind me.
But I knew too much, too well, too soon as my eyes collided with the empaled sword starting from the creek of his neck and ending in the inside of his abdomen.
And just for the figures, just for the fun, for the love of it, for the thrill, his body decided right there to fall loudly to the ground, lifeless.
He was dead, so dead and all I saw was red.
The red of blood, the red of danger, the red of madness.
And next time my eyes meet with those murderous ones, I lost control as I launched.
My body leaved it’s kneeling position but he didn’t move, he just stayed there, ready for collision as my claws ripped his flesh, deeply, making that constant red a sight of relief for the first time of my life when it flew between us.
He never tried to budge, didn’t debate.
Swallowed by the hate, I was ready to draw more, ready to kill for the first time, but my head thumbed at my side, loudly, painfully, and my body joined the ground limply.
I felt paralyzed, by both the pain and my inside suffering.
At that moment, all I saw was red again, as it blurred my vision, enabling me to see fully.
My ears couldn’t pick up on anything, anymore, but I still heard the faint deathly whisper of Alarik as death kissed his body too and made him follow the path of my father.
I was next and my vision blurred even more, my teeth clenching painfully when rapidly a hot liquid touched my back and started quickly to stain my once pearly gown.
All I saw had been red, until I couldn’t see anymore and just at that instant, my body shot up, struggling for air.
My eyes searched for the arounds, searching for an enemy, a threat but all it saw was a bedroom dimly lightened by the moon’s presence.
My hands went in my somehow damp hair due to the perspiration and my heart, with each second that passed, started to calm down.
I stood up from the bed when I knew I had regained composure, walking towards the adjacent bathroom. I switched the lights and as my body stood facing the immaculate glass in front of me, all I saw was me.
Me, the same one of minutes before, the same me that was running in the woods, searching for its father, assisting its death.
But it had been long since I knew that that me wasn’t the same anymore.
I looked at my black hair, wet from the struggle, my green eyes dull by the vision and my wan and pale face that never really got better.
I wasn’t her.
I wasn’t the me of five years ago and I will never be again.
I wasn’t the Alba of years before.
And I will show them all.
It was a nightmare animated by my vow, a constant reminiscing.
I will see red again.
Except for the fact that today, it won’t be mine’s