Chapter 1: Where it Began...
At first, I did not understand what I was meant to do. I found myself wondering why I was alive. Why did I have to live after what happened? Before I met him... My life was simple. But he taught me how to feel. He opened my eyes to a world I did not want to see. Why did he have to do that? It would have been much simpler if I had never met him... Yet if I never met him... I would not have ever learned how life was truly meant to be lived.
14 years earlier...
Staking out the shop it was not long until the boy that had caught my attention weeks before during an errand was in my sight once again. A lycan boy, who always visited the same game shop with his friends, who were all lycans. They were part of his pack. The boy had silver hair, fair skin, and amber eyes shared by all lycans. Those amber eyes were one way to identify lycans if they were hiding their ears and tail with clothing. However, if they wore contacts to hide their colored eyes, it would be a bit more difficult. Although another characteristic was their temper and pride, which sold them out rather quickly if untrained. Their hair color reflected their coats while in wolf form. Though they preferred to refer it to a beast form instead. While in their humanoid form, they had canine ears instead of what that most normal humans had. Their clothes most of the time had a hole where their tail protrude out. Whenever it was not out in the open, they seemed uncomfortable. After all, their tail was long and fluffy too making it annoying to hide comfortably. Even so, part of me wanted to touch it every time I spotted one.
The first time I saw the lycan boy was a few weeks back while on an errand for the sisters. His radiant smile caught my attention as I found myself following him before I could even notice what I was doing. I wondered how he could smile like that even though the world we lived in was so cold. Thus, every time I could get away from the sisters or was doing an errand alone. I would hide trying to stay out of sight as I watched the wolves play in front of the store. Most of the time they would buy cards and try them out at the desks outside the store. If not, they would bring their devices to play there until the sun began to set. Other times they would come here to buy and head out towards the beach to play with balls or anything else that seemed fun to do. Sticking to the shadows I saw them laugh and smile. It made me want to do the same, even if I did not know how to. I envied their freedom to do whatever they wished. Their ability to smile and laugh without a care in the world. It had been so long since I had smiled and laughed like that.
The day started like any other day where I would look at them from afar. I was satisfied by this alone, but it changed when one of the wolf boys, a brown-haired one, grabbed the silver-haired boy by his arm and whispered something to the boy before going inside the shop. At first, it did not seem like it was anything significant, but a few moments later someone grabbed me by my shoulder startling me. Before I could turn to face them, they began to speak my heart dropped.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Someone began as my hands began to tremble in response. It was not the voice of an adult, but of a young boy. Turning to face him I could see it was the wolf boy I had been admiring from afar. He seemed alarmed to have found me peeking towards them. Part of me began to panic as I peered around only to see it was us two alone in the alley I had been hiding at. Noticing my resistance to say anything he continued,
“You have been watching us every day for the past three days. Who are you?” The boy questioned leaving me speechless. They had only noticed three days. If they knew the truth, I would be... My hands trembled as fear began to swell within me slowly gripping me in ways, I did not even know I could feel. If the sisters found out I was seen. Especially today when I was not supposed to be out, let alone be noticed by someone. I had to get away. He carefully watched me as my mind went blank.
“I am nobody!” I replied before bolting away with little success as caught up to me effortlessly. He grabbed onto my arm and pulled me towards him causing us both to tumble onto the ground. I did not even know what I was thinking as Lycans can run faster than most races only matched slightly by vampires. Even though he was a kid, he had the strength to snap my arm in half, but the way he held onto it even as we tumbled was so gentle. The only force he uses was to pull me onto him as we fell onto some crates making sure I would injure myself as he did.
“Ouch.” He complained as blood flowed down his forehead from a gash the crates caused. Trying to get away from him I profusely apologized as he held me tightly preventing me from running away causing me to fall onto him once again. This was not good at all. At that moment I felt like a butterfly in a bug net, unable to get away from him. His grip was strong and relentless. He was not going to let go of his prey that much I knew.
“Fenris!” His brown-haired friend called from behind us startling me further as they caught up with us. Ignoring his friends, the boy called Fenris, grabbed onto my other arm preventing me from trying to escape further.
“I gotcha, you aren’t going anywhere.” Fenris smiled astonishing me. Even though he was injured, he could still smile like that. How was that even possible? Wasn’t he angry? Didn’t he want to hurt me? I could not understand the meaning behind his smile.
“Are you okay?” Another yellow-haired friend asked. Before I knew it, I had found myself surrounded by four wolf boys. How all had little intentions of letting me go free after what I had done.
“I am fine. It was my fault.” Fenris answered his friends without letting go of my arms. Another grey hair boy noticed a scent in the air before becoming slightly alarmed by it.
“It smells like magic. She is a mage?!?” The grey-haired boy announced causing the brown-haired boy to slap his face.
“No dumb-ass she is human. Mages are elves.” The boy pointed out for the same friend to gasp again.
“A witch?!?! Was she trying to curse us?!? Should we take her to Cerberus?” The same friend escalated leaving me terrified upon hearing that name. The difference between mages and witches/warlocks was where we got magical power from. While mages got their magic from the elements of nature, witches got it from sacrificial magic otherwise known as blood magic. It was worse than dark magic, one of the magical elements already frowned upon. Blood magic was dangerous and unpredictable. It was made worse by witches that were responsible for plagues and chaos in most instances in history, even as far as the world ending in one case. During all those times the Cerberus was an organization was the ones who stood up against them and stopped their plans before they became irreversible. It is an organization of peacekeepers made up of many different races but led mainly by the Lycans. They called themselves the protectors of the gate to the netherworld, which is why they picked the name Cerberus. The three-headed dog that made their emblem and the gatekeeper of the doorway. It is also said that there is where the power of the witches came from.
“Shut up. If it was a curse, she was trying to cast she clearly failed. No spell takes 3 days to cast. Plus, she looks younger than us. Doubt she can even cast yet.” Fenris snapped at the boy who quickly stopped in his tracks as I trembled at the spot where I sat. Were they going to report me to the authorities? If they took me to the authorities... The sisters... In this society witches were the lowest of the food chain. Looked down upon and suppressed, while Lycans were on the top, protectors of all races. Lycans were resistant to most magical spells, making them the apex of all the races. Their only rivals in power were vampires, but they had a weakness in the sun. They would not burn while out in the sun, but their power would drain drastically. Most vampires would be seen with umbrellas while out in the sun, while most avoided it. Before I could think of a way out of this, Fenris asked once again.
“Why were you watching us?” The question left me shaken as I desperately looked for a way out only to find none. Grabbing onto the hand that held me captive my head slanted towards the floor. This was the moment I should have done everything to get away from him, to make sure I never knew him. Everything would have been much simpler if I had done that but I instead feeling lonely and desiring more than what I had whispered,
“It...” I stopped myself before I finished feeling the pressure from all the eyes that were set on me. At this moment it was just the wolf boys, as the alley, we had run into seemed to lack the pedestrians that were in the main street. Even so, it was too much for me to handle. Releasing a sigh Fenris grabbed onto my cheek and gently made my glance meet with his.
“It?” He gently asked as I grabbed hold of his hand pulling it away from my face before finishing my sentence.
“It looked like fun,” I whispered feeling hollow inside, knowing that it was something I could never have. I do not know if it was my expression or my voice that triggered a change. His eyes narrowed before he stood up and grabbed onto my hand pulling me up onto my feet.
“What are you doing?” The yellow-haired boy questioned Fenris’s intentions as he pulled me along.
“She will join us for today,” Fenris answered before heading back to the store pulling me along. Before this moment, the weeks I had spent watching him and his friends it felt like we were worlds apart. The street seemed like a bridge I could never cross, but that did not stop him from pulling me into the sunlight and onto the street. Our worlds could not be stopped from colliding with each other anymore. This was the point where everything should have ended, they should have sent me to Cerberus as the grey-haired boy had suggested instead of sitting me next to him and begging to introduce everyone. The brown-haired boy was named Liam, the yellow-haired one was Owen and the grey-haired one was named Ezra.
Upon everyone giving their name, they glanced at me as they expected me to say mine, but I choked up instead of letting it flow. It is not like I wanted to be put into the spot. Why couldn’t they just have let me go? Noticing my hesitation, he placed his hand on my head petting gently it before laying his cards down on the table. Surprising me yet again. Wasn’t he going to press on?
“You don’t know how to play right?” Fenris asked as I shook my head as to say no in reply. This could not be true... There had to be an ulterior motive. He could not be this naïve and nice. One thing the sisters had beaten into me was to never trust the wolves, or anything other than the coven.
“Ezra sit down let’s show her how it’s done or as you scared that a girl joins us?” Fenris provoked Ezra who seemed to be already on edge by my sudden appearance. At least he was taught how dangerous witches could be, but then again so were the other boys. He was prejudice towards me.
“No-o!” Ezra stumbled as Liam sat beside Fenris and Ezra sat on the opposing side with Owen. Fenris asked Liam to shuffle his deck as he held onto my hand making sure I would not bolt at any moment. Not that it was any use. He would just catch me again. Was he testing me or being kind to me? I could not tell, but his grip on my hand was so gentle that its coursed warmth through my body. It was the first time anyone other than my mother touched me this way. Gentle and caring, but why?
Only letting go to play his cards, every turn he would explain what he was doing and what was the purpose of the game. In this case, the winning condition was for every monster card beaten, one could draw a prize card. There were six prize cards and if one could beat six monster cards and gather all the prize cards then the player would win the game. Every move he would explain so I would understand what was going on. The gentleness swayed me in ways I thought it was impossible. Back then I was only ten years old, I had little concept of what love was, other for what I felt for my mother, but in my belly, with every moment I spent with him, I could feel what we’re tingling sensations begin to rise. Even when I stared at him from afar, I could feel the weird sensation. I could not explain it, nor did I want to.
Once the match was done, Ezra was victorious only because Fenris had been explaining to me the whole time what was happening instead of focusing on winning, but that didn’t deter Ezra from rubbing it into Fenris who just shrugged it off. Liam and Owen went next while Fenris, Ezra, and I watched. With each match that ended, I learned more and more about the concept that was the card game. Watching them curse under their breath when one outplayed the other caused me to giggle slightly which caused everyone to stop and glance towards me stopping me right in my tracks. To me, it was enough being able to watch them play, but then, Fenris grabbed Liam’s deck and handed it to me.
“Play one with me.” Fenris challenged me putting me in the spotlight. Was it because I giggled?
“No... I...” I stumbled as Fenris sighed before standing up and taking the chair in front of me.
“Please?” He added leaving me flustered giving me a pleading look. Almost as if a puppy were staring straight into my soul. It should have been illegal. Glancing towards Liam who smiled and nodded in return encouraging me to use his cards.
“Shuffle them,” Liam said as I clumsily did so, trying my best not to scatter them into the ground as my hands trembled. Was it the nerves or fear? I could not tell them apart anymore, but I also felt something else. Excitement? I had been watching these boys play for the past weeks without their knowledge. I never thought I would be able to play with them, let alone be in their presence. It was a bit too much for me to handle.
“Just take your time reading what each card does, if you don’t know you can ask Liam. I am sure he will help you out.” Fenris pointed out before the match began. My heart began to race as I tried my hardest to not make a mistake. After watching them for hours playing, I somehow got a grasp on how the game was played, but obviously lacked the experience of doing it strategically. Whenever I looked up from my cards all I could see was his gaze on me. Never once did he look at his cards as he played, instead he analyzed me at me. Winning the card game was never the point of this, it was how he was trying to coax me out of my shell. It all lead to him letting me win my first match, even though most people would be happy about winning as Ezra was making fun of Fenris for being beaten by a girl, all it left me was bitter. Why did he let me win? Why was he being so kind to a stranger? Was he testing me? Why didn’t he just let me run away? Questions bombarded me as I glanced away from him.
“Why did you let me win?” I whispered annoyed by his kindness.
“I didn’t let you; you won’t fair and square,” Fenris answered an obvious lie. I had been watching him for weeks now. His friends rarely ever won against him. I, with barely any experience, could not beat him surely.
“Lier, I seen you play, being beaten by someone like me. Isn’t possible for you.” I stated firmly annoyed he would let me win. I did not need his kindness. Even if it was fun.
“Are you angry?” Fenris asked as I just kept looking away. The other boys remained silent as Fenris stood up and sat next to me.
“Good. All I had seen you be today is shy and hesitant. It seems you can get out if you want to. Well annoyed enough at least.” Fenris chuckled triggering me to glance at him flustered by his intentions. His smile was even more radiant up close. It almost melted away my anger. Oh, how I wished I could smile like him. Without a worry in the world. Stopping myself from reach towards his face I turned away from him as he challenged me to another round, this time though if he won. I would have to tell him my name. And if I won, I could ask him to do anything I wanted. Hesitantly I agreed still a bit annoyed at him cheating me out of a good game even if it was my first one ever. This game was a complete 360 as he took me down without any mercy, he had something to win for after all. I did not even know what hit me before it was over. The other boys seemed to laugh as Fenris reach his hand towards me, before asking for my name. Unable to run away from the fact of being beaten in a fair fight, I hesitantly gave in.
“Lilith.” I hesitated to say as Fenris smiled radiantly upon hearing my name.
“Well Lilith is a pretty name; why you didn’t want to say it in the first place? Anyway, it’s nice to meet you.” His words left me wide open as I expected a different turn upon hearing my name. It was almost as if they did not know who I was named after. Maybe I could be normal with them for a while. It almost felt like my cheeks were about to fall off as I smiled in return for the first time in a while. Hesitantly I reached for his open invitation before simpering happily. Maybe this could be the escape that I wished for.
“Thank you.” I simpered leaving Fenris and the other boys silent as they became flustered for an unknown reason. Fenris in response was to challenge Liam who stuttered to say yes before continuing matches. Spending the whole day with them made me feel liberated from what awaited me back home when I came back to the coven. Luckily, they were out until later at night so I did not have to worry about when they would be home. When the sun began to set everyone began to pack their decks as Liam came towards me and handed me a bag.
“This is for you,” Liam said as I grabbed the bag. Confused I grabbed onto it, tilting my head. That is when Fenris said they had bought me a deck for when I joined them next time.
“I can come again?” I asked confused by their intentions when they all said yes, including a remark by Ezra that it was fun to be with me, for a baby witch. The other boys stared at him like he had said something wrong, but that was the second-best compliment I had ever had. First Fenris called my name pretty. Now I was good even though I was a witch. That is when I first laughed since we met, again they found themselves flustered by my expression. Clearing his throat Fenris spoke once again.
“Should we walk you home?” Fenris offered, snapping me back to reality. Fear began to swell within me as I took a few steps away from them. We were in two different worlds, if the sisters ever saw them it would not end well.
“No, I am fine. Thank you for today.” I continued with my gratitude.
“Ah, okay. So, see you tomorrow?” Fenris asked leaving me scrambling for an answer. These opportunities came and went, but I never knew when exactly I could get away.
“I don’t...” I whispered unable to finish not knowing what to say.
“I hope you can.” Fenris seemed to read my mind and with a smile, they all bid farewell and I bolted back home before the sisters could notice I was gone. Our coven was located outside of the town, hidden by a magical barrier in the forest. It was not unknown Cerberus as they routinely checked what we were up to, but what happened within its walls most of it was hostile towards every other race, even if they were at their best behavior during the day. Luckily that day I was able to make it home before grandmother found out I was not in my room. She had been busy dealing with a ritual that they were getting ready to cast. It had been years in the making, and they were so close to doing it finally.
Once in my room, I covered the hole I had made on the wooden wall with paintings I had done. None ever cleaned my room, so the hole would never be found unless I left it uncovered when the sisters came to visit. Luckily, they only came in the morning and at night if I were back by then, everything would be fine. Releasing a sigh of relief, I sat on my bed before pouring the bag onto the bed. It was a bunch of boosters and a deck along with somewhere to store them. The feeling boys left within me radiated once again as I did not even know what I felt. With a smile planted on my face, I opened the box and read the instructions that came with it. I spent hours reading it only stopping when I needed to hide the items from witches who were bringing me food for the night. It was a simple piece of bread, but for some reason, it tasted amazing that night. All I could think was about Fenris and his friends while thinking of ways that I could try to beat him at the game.
When the next morning after reading yet another grimoire I waited for them to bid farewell, before sneaking out once again. I could not stop myself from not going. I wanted to meet them and try my strategies. I wanted to have fun and laugh with them. After I reached the same alley though, fear began to swell as negative thoughts began to try to consume me, but much to my surprise Fenris came to meet me once he noticed me grabbing me by my hand and pulling me along once again into the sunlight. A week went by like this, sneaking out and being with them. I slowly began to smile more as the more custom I began to feel with them. Ezra slowly began to open I as well went from being a simple witch to being something else. It probably was my biggest accomplishment I had received by then, other than finally winning my first match again Owen.
Slowly and steadily I began to open, talk more, laugh more. They brought color into my cold grey covered world. They were nothing like the sister said they were. At least these four were different. Even though Ezra started cold, he now looked at me like Fenris, Liam and Owen did. It was the calm before the storm though. Little did I know that I would erase those smiles from their faces with one simple act. It was not long until the coven noticed something was going on with me. One week and a half after officially meeting the boys. I failed to recite a spell, word for word. It was a stupid mistake, I should have studied more, but all I wanted to do is try different strategies with different cards to see what I could do to beat Fenris, who seemed unbeatable when serious. I could finally see why Ezra made fun of Fenris whenever he could because those moments were rare.
When I failed an exam, I pleaded with the examiner to not tell my grandmother fearing her response, but all I got was a slap on the face before she was notified either way. That day it would have been impossible to see the boys who waited for me to come, to laugh with them. Grandmother dragged me into a stone room in the basement of our wooden home and stripped me naked before she lashed my back with a whip over and over until it was left raw. This was not the first time I had experienced this. It was not even a second time; I had lost count of how many times she had done this to me, but I did remember when it all started. When mother died two years ago. It filled my grandmothers’ heart with pure hate as I became the outlet for her rage. It had been a while since I had received this treatment, but I knew it would only get worse if I let out a scream or showed any emotions. My mind wandered to two years ago, when my life changed, with the raid.
Before my mother died, I lived a completely different life. It was not full of colors, but she was my light. She had always treated me lovingly. The opposite of how I had been treated for the past two years. She was somewhat out of her mind though. Father had left us when I was born not wanting the stigma of being with a witch and her child anymore. From what grandmother told me, he never wanted me born, neither did she. My mother was the only one who wanted me, even though she did not take the abandonment well. It caused her to lose her mind slowly, which strained my grandmother’s relationship with me as she was her light. She never cared for me much other than being a reminder of the reason why her daughter was lost her mind. Then when the Cerberus raided one day with false information about a spell being cast with intent to harm the town, my mother lost it and attacked them. It ended in her death along with a few members of Cerberus and other sisters who came to her defense.
At that moment, the covens’ and my grandmothers’ heart was left with pure hatred towards Cerberus and those who oppressed us. She tried her hardest to make me hate the world, but all it did was make me hate living, until I... Holding in the pain I endured everything she did to me. After she finished lashing me, she drenched me with alcohol leaving the stinging behind as I was dragged into my cursed room once again and left on the cold floor naked. For now, they did not suspect me having sneaked out. The thought I was being lazy and was not reading as much as I should but learning 50 complex spells a day was something difficult especially when I had to know each of them by heart. Most witches would just write them in their grimoire, but for me they wanted me to know them from the top of my head. She held me at an unsustainable standard. Usually, after the whipping, after I was alone, I would cry my heart out, but I could not this time. No tears ran down my cheeks. All I wanted was to go to them, but it would be impossible. My body could not take it anymore, let alone move. Before I lost consciousness the only thing that was in my mind was Fenris and his radiant smile.