Haven and Karen were the talk of the school on Monday. Everyone was gossiping about the threats on their family. Apparently their father had a hit on him and was in witness protection program when the assassins found him and are back trying to off him in some brutal way. The other rumors were hunting mishap, vengeful ex-girlfriend and serial killer. Eli relayed this all to them as they walked to school. Haven frowned at most of them, who came up with these stupid stories?
“Anyway, a few kids saw that shirtless guy drag us away the other day and people are saying we’re mixed up in some gangs or something.” Eli went on.
“That’s stupid.” Karen argued and Eli nodded sympathetically. “We aren’t drug dealers.”
“Actually, guns and weapons dealers are the popular gossip.” Eli injected with a hesitant smile.
“What the actual hell is wrong with people!?” Karen growled in annoyance.
“Karen language,” A close by teacher warned. Karen bowed her head in embarrassment.
“Are people going to avoid us now?” Haven asked then, he didn’t have very many friends to begin with but he didn’t want to be an outcast.
“Na I think you’re fine man.” Eli patted him on the back and smiled. Haven wasn’t stupid he was the hesitation in Eli’s smile. “You only have me what other friends’ do you need?” Eli smile was suddenly more genuine at the brutal truth of that statement.
“What about me? I’ve got a social life here I can’t be branded as a mobster.” She complained as she watched others give them odd looks. “Well great.” She sneered in utter annoyance.
“Relax Karen people are going to think the rumors are true.” Eli patted her shoulder.
“They already think they’re true!” Karen argued. “Do you know how annoying that is?”
“Na, being branded a perv because I know practically everyone’s names even before I meet them completely different.” Eli said begrudgingly. Karen gave him a sympathetic smile as they sat down at their usual table.
“I don’t like this. It’s stupid, the cops didn’t find anything and we aren’t arms dealers just because an arrow crashed through out kitchen window.” Haven ranted out with a huff.
“Yeah but everyone one likes gossip.” Eli pointed out. Haven frowned at that and responded with, “Everyone is stupid.”
“Everyone is listening.” Kara nudged her brother and plastered on a cheap smile. Haven didn’t bother he knew how judgmental kids at this school were. They’d already made up their minds up about them.
Haven was right, the entire school stirred clear of him and his sister. Besides the daring and curious, though Haven preferred to be ignored then bombarded with taunts and questions. Though Haven couldn’t say it he was surprised, everyone was already wary of him. After all he was the weirdo that got lost in the forest twice. When he was found the first time he kept going on about talking wolves and fairies. Haven told the cops all that happened and they wrote it off as childhood imagination that allowed him to cope with the stressful situation, though Haven remembered it all.
Haven’s mother told him to stay in the yard, though he was a rebellious child and Karen was taking up all of his parent’s time so of course he wasn’t going to listen. Karen had just joined their family and Haven already didn’t like the stuck up little girl. She was always crying and pouting. Haven was so annoyed with her.
The only reason he was outside was because Karen started crying over the PB and J’s Haven’s mother had made for lunch. Haven knew her parents had just died and he knew he’d be sad if his parents went away like that. Haven wanted to comfort her but he didn’t know how and being around her was just uncomfortable.
Haven stepped over the small fence separating the forest from the yard, glancing back at the house. He saw his mother holding Karen close as she cried her eyes out for the second time that day. Little Karen was small in Haven’s mother’s arms as she cried. Haven’s mother soothed down Karen’s hair and was tearing up herself. Haven watched them for a long time before he turned and headed off for an adventure.
The sun was at its high as Haven tramped through the forest, following any bug that caught his attention. He caught a butterfly that’s wings were a really deep pretty green and shimmered in the light. It was hard to catch and Haven had scratched up his knees a bit, but he wasn’t hurt there was no blood.
Haven found many interesting things he wanted to show his mom, like the pine cones that littered the ground and huge leaves the size of his head, then he remembered he wasn’t supposed to be there and dropped the various things he’d found and turned back in the direction he thought home was and started walking.
He stopped several times to crush mushroom rings, to inspect weird markings he found on the trees and jump in piles of leaves. He ran around huge trees and followed hidden paths, wiggling his way through bushes and climbing over falling trees. He stopped to stare up through the leaves; he loved the color of the autumn leaves.
At one point he met a fox and chased after it forgetting all about his trek home. Haven chased the sneaky little critter Haven ran to keep up with it, running faster than he ever thought he could. He was so free here and could do whatever he wanted. He loved it in the forest. The fox jumped through a hole two trees that were growing into each other made. Haven scrambled after him. Haven dropped to the ground on the other side looked up for the fox and froze.
The colors of the leaves were so amazing and brilliant. The leaves looked like they were dancing on the wind and if Haven listened really closely he could have sworn he herd flutes in the distance. Haven figured it was just the wind in the trees but he liked it, it was pretty and calming. Haven stood up and brushed off his red jacket that ended at his knees. It was a heavy coat and was really warm. If he bent his knees just right the bottom of the coat would touch the ground and he could shuffle around and pretend he was RTD2. Haven loved his red coat.
Haven was distracted with the pretty colors of the leaves and the lovely sound of the wind he lost track of the fox and then noticed he no longer knew where home was or in which direction. Haven spent a long time just wondering and calling out to his mom. At first it was hesitant and quiet, but after a few times each with its own pause to listen Haven was growing more and more frantic and scared.
“MOM!” Haven screamed and paused to listen for her voice to call back. When no one answered Haven began to cry. “I’m sorry, Mommy! Mommy please I’m sorry.”
Haven eventually quieted down and was sitting in the middle of a clearing close to the two trees. The sun was setting now and it was getting cold. Haven hunched over and pulled his coat closer to himself as he walked on. Haven soon couldn’t see very far in front of him and found a small burrow to hide in. It was a tight fit and he struggled to wiggle in but managed and soon fell asleep.
Haven woke up to the sound of something stomping heavily through the leaves and animal noises Haven didn’t recognize, but he did know that those sounds didn’t sound happy. Haven shifted around carefully and peeked outside.
He came face to face with a creature, or a man.
Haven didn’t know which.
These man creatures had a long angular faces and skin the color of a really ripe peach. They’re almond shaped eyes were completely black. Haven screamed as the one kneeling in front of his hide out grabbed his arm and hauled him out. Haven shouted and screamed he twisted and clawed at the man’s arm.
There were five of them all on pure white horses. The man holding Haven tugged off his jacket and pushed up his shirt. The cold air bit at Haven’s exposed skin. Haven yelped and began struggling again. The man ran his hand along Haven’s birth mark that was on his right side just under his rib cage. It was black and his mother always said it looked like a crescent moon and a sun situated between the points.
The man fixed Haven’s cloths tugging him around roughly as he shoved Haven back into his jacket and then stood up; Haven was pretty sure he’d never seen someone so tall. The man was unbelievably tall; He picked up Haven and forced him to mount the horse before climbing on behind him.
Haven stared around at the four all of them wore leather armor and were equipped with weapons. The man Haven was with made a clicking sound and jerked the reins the horse reared up neighing loudly before bolting. Haven was pushed back against the man’s chest.
Everything zipped by so fast everything turned into a blur. The wind whooshed by and the cold air stung Haven’s face. Haven whimpered and struggled with his hood. After a moment of fumbling the man grabbed Haven’s hood and yanked it over his head.
“Thank you.” Haven mumbled, vaguely remembering something about his mother telling him not to talk to strangers. The horse Haven was on took the lead while the other four took up rank behind with two on each side. Haven wasn’t sure how long they were riding but his butt was starting to hurt by the time a vicious snarl ripped through the air and something tackled one of the horses to Haven’s right.
The horse let out a startled cry as blood poured from its throat. The man jerked the reins and turned to let the man Haven was with pull an arrow from his quiver and aim at the huge wolf ripping at the fallen horse. Haven screamed as an arrow whistled through the air striking the wolf in the shoulder. It howled in pain and moved to lunge at the horse Haven was on but froze as he made eye contact with Haven.
Another twang of the bows string by Haven’s ear let loose another arrow. This one didn’t hit the wolf it was caught by another wolf seeming to have materialized out of nowhere. Haven then laid witness to a gruesome battle. Wolves flooded the area and soon all five of the men were dead.
The one Haven was withheld out the longest until a brown wolf decided to go for it and lunged at the horse taking its neck in his mouth and bit down. The horse reared up again before falling. Haven was thrown from the horse and another wolf grabbed the man by the arm and yanked him off. Haven hit the ground hard and the horse dropped down next to him pinning his leg under the dead and bleeding horse. He was breathing heavily and was pretty sure the wetness he felt on his face might either be blood or tears, maybe both.
Suddenly the area went quiet as the last of the men took the last of their ragged breaths. Haven looked up to see all three wolves staring at him. Haven froze and just stared back. The wolves were really big, almost as large as the horses, maybe smaller but Haven wasn’t sure. Haven started to breathe faster, taking in shorter and shorter breaths. His lungs started to hurt and he felt like he couldn’t breathe at all now. The smallest of the wolves and lightest stepped forward and before Haven’s eyes the wolf was gone, replaced by a woman.
“Hey there kiddo,” She said in a soft and soothing voice. “It’s okay now, we’ve got you.” Haven struggled to get out from under the horse. “I-I want to g-go home!” Haven cried. The woman moved quickly and pulled him from under the horse. Haven struggled in her grip, trying desperately to get free.
“Hey, hey, hey we’re not going to hurt you. We’re the good guys.” She offered up a smile and a hug. It took a few minutes for Haven’s breathing to calm down. The woman pulled away and gave another compassionate smile. “See all better.” She soothed down Haven’s hair and wiped away the blood and tears from his face.
“I’m Yuna and this is River and Jin, what’s your name?” She asked looking Haven over for wounds.
“J-Jace,” Haven sniffled. Yuna nodded and smiled at him again, “Are you hungry?” Haven looked up at her and nodded.