Warrior of the Damned

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6

King Estes was the first to unseath his sword, trying to muster bravery into his men. He was also the first to die.

The pack leader jumped on him, chomping straight down on his head. Blood and brains gushing out either side of the leader's mouth. I watched, eyes wide in horror.

Suddenly my mother was in front of me, I saw her mouth moving. I couldn't focus. I couldn't hear her over the screams and cries for mercy--cut off instantaneously by snarls and snapping jaws causing gurgling throats filled with blood. Saliva and red stains splattering the walls.

I felt teeth on my hand. Startled, I looked down to see Marek, holding my hand in his mouth firmly, hinting that I needed to move my frozen body.

I glanced back one last time to see the commoners stampeding to the exit, trompling each other in their desperation to escape. Their plans thwarted when they opened the doors to meet a wall of still more grotesque creatures. The villagers were plowed down.

I had seen enough. My mother pushed me toward the only door free of beasts, Marek dragging me by the hand, his teeth still gripped tightly to my skin.

We ran down the halls, sliding around corners, out the back door, screams following, hot on our feet. I couldn't manage to get away from the repugnant sounds of slaughter. I ran faster attempting to lose the awful noise.

Marek led me to the field, grass crunching against our feet. It started to rain.

Great.

It was as if fate was against us.

We charged through the woods, branches scraping my face, tearing at my dress. I didnt dare slow down for the pain. I continued following Marek, sure he was running slower than he wanted to because of me. I had no idea where he was leading me but I trusted his judgement.

His paws dug into the sandy shore, braking, as we hit a roadblock. The river. I laughed disheartenedly to which he looked at me confused.

"This is where I first found you."

He snorted, not impressed by my attempt to lighten the situation. His head turning from side to side, sniffing the air.

Finally, the decision had been made. He jumped into the river. I followed, trying to swim against the current.

Unfortunately, it was too strong as the rain had quickly become torrential. I was swept down stream, losing sight of him.

Whirlpools pulling me under then pushing me upward. I gasped for air, taking in big gulps each time my head would break the surface. Rain was pelting my face.

"MAREK!" I screamed, trying hopelessly to keep the water from entering my mouth and invading my lungs. I'm going to die, I thought, bitterly.

No! You wont!

The voice from earlier filled my brain. In all the melee, I had forgotten that soothing sound.

The river was moving faster now and I was exhausted from attempting to fight her current. My muscles ached, my throat burned, my chest hurt from trying to breathe. Thinking of giving up, I heard the voice once more, Relax. Dont fight it. Let it carry you far away from here...

I did as it instructed. Black nothingness taking over my vision, I could hold onto consciousness no longer. The last thing I remember was that bright, full moon. That evil moon. It mocked me.

************

I awoke on the rocky shore to paws pouncing up and down, up and down on my chest. The rain had let up, only sprinkling now. Thunder boomed and lightning flashed through the sky, splintering out like fingers reaching for me.

I gagged and rolled over on my side, water purging itself from my lungs. I looked up into those familiar blue eyes. Marek. Before relief washed over me, his eyes widen.

Run! the voice instructed.

The gorey scene at the Castle replayed in my mind. I stumbled to my feet, forcing them to move.

We were now on the opposite side of the river that we had entered on. The Castle must have been a mile or more in the distance. The orange glow of fire affirmed my suspicions. The Castle was engulfed in flames. I slowed to a walk as tears began spilling over onto my cheeks, my heart breaking for my home. My people. My parents...

MOVE! It growled at me now.

A sickening howl perforated through the storm, somewhere in the distance. I propelled myself, urgently now, jumping over rocks, branches and briars, the light of the moon guiding us.

Marek ran beside me, slowing only briefly to check behind us, then running to catch back up with me. I didnt want to see what was back there. I saw enough to know that if I actually crossed a visual path with it, it would certainly mean death. The odds were not in our favor to escape a second time.

We ran hard and fast. Far away. We ran until the sun started to show itself over the horizon. The rain had stopped completely and the dark purple clouds were rolling out.

Marek lead me into a small crevasse in the mountain. It was big enough for the two of us, well hidden by under growth. We collapsed, feeling safety in the rising sun. I wasnt sure why daylight seemed to matter, but it did.

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