I was left staring at the letter while my heart raced in my chest. The blood on the parchment was fresh. I wondered whose blood it was. Was it Pax’s? I felt agitated as I thought about it again and again.
Did he really kill my leopard? I wanted to see Pax in that instant but there was something about the letter that tugged at my curiosity. Maybe it was the curiosity to see what he had in store for me, or maybe it was just the mate bond doing its magic.
It had hardly been a day since we met and I was already feeling beaten down. I contemplated going to Arles and requesting him to talk to Ezekiel and return my leopard. As tempting as this idea seemed, I didn’t want to take the risk. What if he did something bad to Pax if I didn’t obey him?
My head hurt just to think about all of this. I was feeling so frustrated already. I wanted to walk up to him and ask him for my leopard… but again, I knew that he wouldn’t just hand me my leopard so easily. He seemed to like to play games and he was most probably playing one with me.
“Did you find Pax?” My mother asked me when I went for breakfast.
“No,” I groaned.
“That’s okay. Your father is sending out more wolves to look for him. It would be alright,” she tried to comfort me but I could hear the anxiousness in her voice as well.
I knew that she was scared and worried about this situation too because Pax had never disappeared like this before. He was very dear to us and we would be very much devastated if something happened to him.
“Er… mom,” I started while hesitantly shifting on my seat. This made her look at me. She was having breakfast with me but she seemed to be in a hurry for a meeting with some witches. I contemplated whether I should tell her about Ezekiel now.
“What is it, dear?” She asked me keenly, concern was decorating her face.
“I… I wanted to tell you something,” I started hesitantly while she watched me very pensively.
“Go on, I’m listening,” she told me, abandoning all the parchments she was looking at before turning to face me completely. As I parted my lips to speak, nothing came out of it. I don’t know why but there was this strange feeling keeping me from talking about it out loud. I was somehow at a loss of words whenever I wanted to talk about it.
“I… it was…” I started but still, nothing came out. I could feel the words trying to break free from my lips but again, there was this strange force stopping them from coming out of my lips. The concern on my mother’s face only deepened when she saw me struggle to speak.
I had never struggled to tell her anything. I shared everything with my mother but now, when I wanted to share the most important thing in my life, I couldn’t. It bewildered me.
“Yes, I’m listening, dear. Take your time. I’m here for you,” she urged, patting my shoulder in an encouraging way but still… nothing came out.
I sighed and gave up. “I think you’re getting late. We’ll talk about this in the evening when you’re back from work,” I told her grumpily before sipping from my tea. She didn’t say anything but watched with huge concern.
“Baby… you’re more important to me than work. I can tell something is bothering you. Just tell me what it is. Your father and I would do our best to help you… is it Pax you’re worried about? Your father is going to bring him to you, baby,” she tried her best to calm me down but it agitated me even more.
I felt like a dam holding the whole river inside me. I wanted to tell her everything but something wouldn’t just let me talk about it and it was making me feel worse and worse each moment.
“It’s alright, mom. We’ll talk in the evening again,” I told her. She gave me a very concerned look before kissing my forehead like I was still a toddler and leaving for work. I set out for work soon after but the bloody note from Ezekiel occupied my thoughts for most of the time.
I couldn’t help but think about it again and again and then think about Pax. I wondered where he was and in what condition he was.
“What happened to you?” Regulus asked me while we were training, “You seem lost today,” He told me before inquiring, “Is there any news on Pax?”
The despair hanging on my face answered his question. Everyone knew by now that Pax was missing.
“Don’t worry, Celeste,” Ares told me, “My father knows about it. He has sent out more wolves to look for Pax. He’d be found soon!” He tried to lighten my mood as well. I forced a smile and tried to get back at work. Even though everyone was searching for my leopard, I knew where it was.
It was with Ezelkile but again, there was this strange force that stopped me from speaking about it to anyone. Otherwise, I was sure that Pax would have been found by now. All I could do was anxiously wait for the evening to arrive. So I waited and as soon as the sun had started to disappear behind the horizon, I set out into the frozen woods again.
This reminded me more of my leopard. I never went to the woods without him. He always accompanied me like a shadow. Not having him by my side made me feel shadowless like those lifeless beings that lived in the underworld. I felt as lifeless as them without my Pax.
My heart was pounding in my chest as I ventured deeper into the woods. I was very alert all the time. The trees watched me silently as I walked past them and the chilly wind ruffled my hair as it blew past my shoulder. It whispered about the dangers that the woods had to offer in the dark as it wheezed past my ears, sending a shiver down my spine.
I took a turn and walked deeper into the woods, heading towards the forbidden woods. It was a place I’d have never gone to if I had a choice.
The place was called the forbidden woods for a reason. It used to be a small village way back in time when the curse of infertility hadn’t been cast on Zaeris. When the curse of infertility was cast on Zaeris by Ishtar, it was said that the whole village burned down with all the women trapped in the houses.
Their souls still remained cursed and they’re still said to linger in the forbidden woods. It was the darkest place in Zaeris. It was my first second time going there and I wasn’t really looking forward to seeing the place again. I had been there before with Ares, Augustus, and Regulus when we were younger.
We were very curious and went looking at it one night. It was the darkest night of our life and the four of us still got nightmares from it sometimes. Just thinking about it made my soul shiver. I didn’t want to go there at all but I was doing this for my Pax. I wanted him back at any cost, even if it meant going to the forbidden woods.
I took a sharp breath when I finally noticed the dead willow tree that stood tall among the other trees, brooding and marking the starting of the forbidden woods. Strange noises of creatures floated in the air and the woods here were much darker and denser. I couldn’t help but feel scared but I was doing this only for my snow leopard.
It was a price I was willing to pay only for my Pax. Thinking of having him back, I stepped past the dead willow tree and entered the forbidden woods. I jumped back with fear when the tree growled at me.
It was then I realized how my whole body was shaking with fear. After swallowing hard, I stepped deeper inside the forbidden woods. It was so dark here, even my werewolf sight couldn’t help me see properly.
“Pax?” I called out loud for my leopard when I got too scared by a strange sound. I reached under my cloak and wrapped my fingers around the handle of my sword. I got nothing in response and it made my heart drop even more.
“Pax!” I called out again. Although this time in response I felt something wrap around my leg and pull me into a dark hole. My scream was the only thing that escaped the darkness.
vote. comment. share. follow me