CHAPTER 4- CAPTIVE
The wood cracked against the fire where Ofelia, the house elder, kept the coals burning. It was almost the end of winter but the cold was still close by. She sat on her living room in her night gown tucked within a thick fur robe that kept her warm against the cold of midnight. Small gusts of wind from the door put her hanging mobiles of animal bones in motion.
They crackled against each other as Torryn Burnwood paced back and forth in front of her.
Torryn rubbed his fingers on his temples as he paused, “I know my heart does not belong to her. But I can’t stop thinking about her. Did the visions do this?”
“Imprint.” her voice was rough and low.
“The visions imprinted me to her.” He spoke with a hint of annoyance in his tone.
“No, sire.” The woman yawned before she continued, “You imprinted on her.”
“I’ve never met her before!” his voice shook the small cottage.
“You do not need to know someone to imprint on them. It just happens.” She chuckled at his frustration, “Imprints are rare, sire. The complexity of it all cannot be explained until we let time takes its course.”
Torryn surrendered rubbing the inner corners of his eyes. He pulled against the hair on the back of his head as he released sighs of frustration. He shook his head and slowly walked back to the half-awake elder.
His chest ached in guilt. He has bedded several women, women nothing like the red headed first born of Wolfram house, Sophia, whom he trained and fought beside with. She was his friend and lover. She knew every scar on his body. And deep down his heart he ached to cause her pain for he knew he had nothing left for her.
“What does that make Sophia?”
“She becomes no one.” The old woman faced him blankly, “The next time you see her she’ll be just like everyone else.”
He was certain it was impossible. His mind now trailed back to the pale girl he left sleeping on his bed. It had been three days since the union and he could not keep his hands off her. He scowled at his lack of control, how his walls would come apart when it comes to her. He was better than this. No woman could make him feel this way. It was a weakness he wanted gone.
“What proof does anyone have that she’s the one I have imprinted on? I could be making this up, old woman.”
“We don’t need proof,” her voice now raised, “The world does not need proof. The imprint shall instill a change in both of you this world can see. That is all.”
“What change?!” he was furious as he snapped a bone from one of the mobiles and threw it against the pit.
“For one, walking to my cottage at the middle of the night is the first time in five years you have sought my aid, grandson.”
His hands fell to his sides as he took hold of his anger before her. Embarrassed, he untangled what remained of the hanging pigeon bone. He has finally surrendered. Both hazel eyes met and for a brief moment Torryn found comfort in them.
“And the girl?”
“The girl is called Luna from this day forth,” She stood up slowly pacing back to her chambers, “for you have imprinted on her. You shall serve her, care for her, protect her and you are bound to her.”
“And who in the world made up that rule?”
The old woman’s eyes peeled wide open as bags of loose flesh dangled down her eyes. She was tired and so was he. She walked towards him, raised a finger and placed a firm tap on Torryn’s chest where his heart would be.
The walls were crying.
Leaning against the stone bricks of Grimlake house, a six year old Snow rested her ear against the cold rough surface. The walls of the stone house would echo every sound its corners encapsulated. She often heard the waves of Caelum lake splashing against the pillars of the dungeon flights of stairs below her.
But now, she could only hear a soft whimpering from the hard rocks. She put her book aside and settled her small feet into her shoes as she followed where the cries were strongest. Her shoes clacked against the stone floor. She could remember how her stepmother handed her the pair. They were growing too small for her sisters. It pleased her that her new mother cared for her so.
Exiting the hallways of the gallery where she usually hid, she treaded to the kitchen where giggles of her sisters admixed with the cries of one of the handmaids.
“Do it, Clara, try setting her lashes on fire.”
“Just her lashes,” this was followed with more chuckles as Snow pushed the creaking door to were her sisters were.
One look at Snow and the girl’s smiles were replaced with thin grim expressions. At least, they stopped whatever they were doing, Snow thought. It gave her enough time to comprehend what was happening. Her sisters were forming a circle around the handmaid whose both palms lay flat on the floor just as where her knees are. She rested and was heaving for air when Snow arrived.
Her sisters’ abilities were of most interest to her and by such she would show her six older sisters admiration. She looked up to them.
Clara the eldest raised an eyebrow towards her, “We were just playing. Now, trail off.”
Snow’s feet took a swift step back at her sister’s command, “Can I play along?”
The least she hoped for was a nod, just one nod affirming that they were willing to put up with her just for a few minutes.
“You don’t have abilities, silly.” Celeste answered.
Now the woman was weeping, her hands against her chest pounding to the pain. This was Celeste’s ability, to inflict sadness. Snow felt a stirring in her belly. Words were on the brim of her lips and it took her every courage she possessed to ask her older sister.
“Isn’t it a waste, big sister?” The handmaid’s agony haulted as she caught up to her breathing. Celeste wide eyed now walked towards her. Her sister four years older than her towered her great height against her minute frame. Snow lifted her chin to meet her eyes.
“What did you say?”
“A waste, big sister.” Snow felt a lump on her throat a she gulped. “When we use ... our abilities... to make other people cry?”
Snow’s voice became brittle in the end just enough so she could ask the question. She was hopeful. She only wanted to understand why, why did the sisters she looked up to enjoyed inflicting such pain. It was cruel but why did they love doing it?
Her young mind was confused unable to turn away from her older sister’s stare. The silence scared her so she started to mumble another question.
But before Snow could speak, she felt a sudden blow on her right jaw. She burst in tears as her small lips parted in bouts of high-pitched screams. Her body instinctively crawled to the ground, her palms slowly trying to touch the crimson skin on her cheek.
“You called me big sister,” Celeste gazed down on her with an expression so frozen it sent Snow chills. Her sisters now giggled and exchanges looks.
“Sisters have the same mother,” Margaux in her bubbly high-pitched voice spoke, “You don’t have a mother.”
Laughter now filled the boulder studded walls. Before Celeste could finish, she raised another hand and smacked Snow on the same spot. The six-year-old girl buried her head to the ground as drops of blood trailed from her swollen lip.
“Now watch, little ... sister... as we burn Miss Yvette’s lashes.”
Before Celeste could walk back to the housemaid, Snow’s green eyes burned beneath her tears. Then, she let the warmth in her chest take over. She knew she could not hold it in any longer. She grabbed her sister’s calf before Celeste could take another step and a surge of warmth swooped from Snow’s fingertips where she touched her.
It sent Celeste unconscious on the floor. Just as her sisters gathered to Celeste’s aid. Her step mother ran to the crowd of alarmed girls and sought to her daughter. She handed the girl to her sisters as she walked towards Snow. In a swift motion, the woman’s sharp nails then dug into Snow’s small arms and dragged her to the cellar where the stairs led to the dungeon.
The steps were slippery as one of Snow’s shoes slid from her feet. The shoe now disappeared into the darkness. There it reeked of lake moss and carcasses of fish caught against the spears lining the outside walls. Snow’s head was throbbing. With one swift flick of her step mother’s arm, her small body was thrown to one of the cells.
“Mother, please,” her voice trembling in the cold and fear.
“I am not your mother.” Her shoulders trembled against the sound of her stepmother’s voice.
With the door now slammed against her, there was only darkness. Her throat burned as her screams pierced the cold air. The thunder willingly muffled them as her pleas held her prisoner.
And, the walls kept crying.
He shifted to wolf form as he exchanged goodbyes with his grandmother. She was the only living reminder of her mother and he was even incapable of comprehending what he wished for him to do. For all he wanted was the favor from his father. The favor he fought for all his life. Now with him dead. What was he to do with his life?
He passed the woods, knowing where each branch hang and each trunk stood. The fog did not bother him. The talons on his mouth met mists of vapor as the cold started to settle. He didn’t mind. These woods were no strange terrain.
The moon was in full splendor as he ran back the journey home.
His little bird was waiting for him. His chest warmed as his heart pounded faster and harder as he closed the distance between them. He could not even stand to be far from her.
He has become weak. Now under the spell of a girl he barely knew.
Torryn reached the wall separating the woods and his home. He jumped over the barrier as he felt a sudden nudge on his chest. It felt like a surge of fear. He was not accustomed such feeling. Even in the battle field he braved each step without a flinch.
“Mother, please!” a voice from a little girl suddenly alarmed his senses.
His paws scrambled to the damp grass. He shifted back to man form just as he found the door behind the back garden where it led to his chambers. With his trousers barely up his legs, he ran leaving his shirt where it hang.
The screams sent his feet running firmly pounding on the marble floor. He reached his chambers to a whimpering girl. Her voluminous hair tangled on a beneath the covers. His instinct made him pull the thick blanket to see what danger there lay with her.
There he saw her chest rise and fall as her ribs pressed against the walls of her chest. His eyes calmed to see her only crying in her sleep. He rushed beside her and took her pale hands firmly mounted on the sheets.
Now he could hear her.
“Mother, please.” Her voice was soft and brittle. He pulled her in his arms where both of their hearts found rest in each other.
What was he doing? This isn’t like him. He burried his head on the dark curls beside her ear. His nose inhaled her scent and let his heart drown in warmth. She smelled of home.
“Shhh, little bird, I’m here.” His own words surprised him, “I’m here. You’re okay.”
He planted a soft kiss on her shoulder where he marked her. Her hands dug on his back as more tears sent the girl trembling.
“You’re safe, little bird. I’m here.”
For the first time, he came back to his chambers, in the middle of the night, not wanting more from her than to hold her and make her feel safe.
Then, Torryn knew what change his grandmother meant.