“Where’s Moth?” Axel hissed, looking Tian in the eyes. It didn’t take long for the man to read Tian’s expression, and his own face turned even more grim. “You shouldn’t be here. You should still be up in the mountains Tian!”
The redhead peeked around the corner of the house and cursed before grabbing Tian and dragging him around the corner. He pulled out a jar and forcibly smeared it along the boy’s neck. Tian stared at him, eyes numbly skimming over the tear stains on his dirty face. Axel’s eyes were bright red, still, as if he’d just got done wiping the tears from his cheeks. The other man paused as he stared at the wounds.
“You got hurt, your nails… What happened Tian?” Axel whispered in horror, fingers hovering above the wounds. He ripped out a rag and started scrubbing at the dried blood against the boy’s tanned skin. He pulled his own jacket from his shoulders and replaced Tian’s shredded one quickly. “You have to get out of here idiot! Run Tian, don’t look back and run.”
“OVER HERE GUYS!” Someone shouted and Axel cursed before jumping around the corner with both hands raised.
“You got me guys,” Axel growled. Tian watched as Axel was slammed into the dirt and pulled towards the center. He ducked as eyes settled on where he’d been.
The man shook his head before retreating as well. Tian’s eyes were wide and he could barely keep from wheezing. He crept along the backsides of the houses until he got a clear shot of what the situation was. There were 17 warriors, all with their own horses. Another Warrior sat atop a beautiful black stallion. He was bigger than the rest with ebony black hair tied back in a braid down his back. His eyes were fierce, but half of his face was covered in a black mask. Without saying anything, the man seemed to be controlling the others. They were gathering and sorting his people out and in the middle. He caught a glimpse of Axel and his redheaded family. He was missing his grandparents and two of the youngest kids. Tian felt sick to his stomach when he noticed the pile of bodies nearest to his own house. It seemed that there was an endless stream of bodies being thrown onto the top. He could see Maria’s mother lying haphazardly with dried blood smeared across her stomach. Lying near the top was Old Man Cam and the butcher, both with multiple gunshots to the stomach. The further he peered in, the worse it got. Kneeling away from the others with a gun to her head…was Maria.
“Is that all of them?”
“We killed the older ones and piled the bodies. We can leave any time man,” a man commented, kicking Maria down.
“What’s the numbers?”
“38 dead that were too old, sir, and 15 children that were too young to make the journey. Leaving a total of 39 alive to make the journey, sir.”
“Good, send Derek out to the rendezvous point, make sure the men know,” the man with the face mask stated. Tian swore he’d heard the man’s voice before. “Are there any others? Anyone else hidden here?”
“Not that we know, they seem pretty sure that everyone’s here or dead.”
“I’ll kill you!” Axel snapped and one of the Warrior’s used the butt of one of their long guns to smack him in the face. Axel crumpled with a howl of pain. His parents screamed and spat, trying to grab ahold of the boy and pull him close. His own younger siblings were sobbing and pleading for the redhead to stop fighting while his two eldest brothers sat on their knees quietly. Their arms were folded behind their backs.
“Shut up you little tramps before I cut all your tongues out!” One of the warriors screeched, slamming the butt of the rifle into Ariah, the third youngest child.
“Kill the leader,” the man on the horse commented and the safety was clicked off.
The gunshot echoed inside Tian’s head right as the bullet pierced Maria through, blood exploded everywhere, washing the warriors in a red bath before she fell. She twitched once before stilling.
Tian screamed blindly. “Maria!”
He charged out at the warriors. Guns trained on him and it was then he knew he was going to die alongside the woman who was his second mother.
“TIAN!” Axel screamed, surging up against the chains. His face was bruised and already swelling, but despite that he tried to break free. “RUN! Get out of here please!”
“WAIT STOP!” The man on the horse shouted, but his words were lost over the villagers wails of the boy’s name. He fought his way down from the horse and tried to reach the nearest men who were aimed and ready to shoot the boy. His massive hands knocked the guns from them and the men could only stare in shock. “DON’T KILL THAT BOY!”
Tian paused long enough for the warriors to get their hands on him, rough and demanding, as he was drug, kicking and screaming, to the group. Beneath his jacket, the black lines on his tanned skin started to pulse and glow. The blue in his eyes started to fade into a bright, angry gold.
“LEAVE HIM ALONE!” Axel screamed, ripping at his chains.
Howls erupted in the distance as wolves suddenly burst from the trees, leveling in on the men. Guns turned to the wolves as the wolves ripped into the warriors. Gunfire erupted, but there were too many wolves. As if Tian commanded them, they tore into the men until they dropped from their wounds. More wolves came surging from the trees, attacking the men nearest to Tian. He was broken free and drug away from the men by sharp animalistic teeth. They stood above Tian with vicious snarls, threatening anyone who dared to cross the line and grab the boy.
But armed, the warriors managed to down wolves faster than they could come. Tian’s eyes flared gold and the nearest wolf’s eyes flared gold before it turned around and raced for the trees. All the other wolves turned suit. Guns trained on his skull this time, but with only 10 men left, Tian’s death would not have gone in vain.
“Don’t! Bring him with us,” the man that had been on the horse pleaded.
“He must come with us alive.”
“Oh,” one of the men hissed as they kneeled by their own fallen warriors. “The captain finally wants a pretty concubine. It’s male, Captain, it’s got a dick.”
“Shut the fuck up,” the Captain snarled. “Clean this mess up.”
The remaining warriors glared at Tian as they set to work clearing up the bodies of their comrades.
The Captain flew past the chained village and grabbed Tian’s jaw, twisting it up. The man’s eyes were much deeper than any other person Tian had ever met, and amongst the sea of screaming and wailing of his people, Tian was transfixed and lost in his stormy grey eyes. Lost in the eyes of the man who ordered for Maria’s death. In that moment, as he stared up at the large man, he felt an immense hatred welling up in his chest. He bared his teeth at the man, curling his upper lip like the same wolves that had attacked the men. The man wasn’t small either. He towered over Tian with strong, proud shoulders. The Captain was horribly confident. He had large muscles that made Tian feel tiny and weak at his own size. If Tian was human, the Captain could crush his skull with ease. They stared at each other with intent, and the other man raised an eyebrow,
He could feel something slither down his spine and coil in the pit of his stomach.
“Intense,” the man mumbled so close that Tian could see every inch of the man’s skin. Flawless, like jade and inhuman. He fit his intimidating sie, but the rebellion in Tian refused to die. Even though Tian had to look up at the man, he filled his gaze with as much fire and anger he could muster.
“He brought wolves against us,” one of the other men complained, kneeling beside one of the fallen Warriors. “And he just killed my brother, sir. This is a bad idea, this one’s even more freakish than the rest of its people.”
“I’m sorry. But the prince commanded that we bring anything exotic to him, and this boy is special. Don’t act like we haven’t already lost men when we got here, that woman nearly took down four of our own single handedly before we subdued her.”
“It trained mountain wolves to attack sir!”
“Doesn’t matter, put him with the others.”
The man let go of Tian before another man grabbed the boy’s hands to tie and chain him down. “Whatever, add him to the line. But don’t think you got away with this you little bitch, you’ll pay for what you did today. How dare you kill one of ours when you can’t even clean yourself like a sophisticated piece of society. Fucking savages! I don’t care if you’re some fucking animal whisperer or were raised by a pack of fucking wolves, we’ll get you eventually.”
“I’ll be your worst nightmare,” Tian grinned.
They forced him to kneel beside Maria’s dead body, and it took everything in Tian’s willpower to not sob at the loss of his second mother. She lay crumpled on her side facing him and his throat felt thick. He wanted to reach out his hands and cradle her head. He wanted to wake her up, but he wasn’t stupid. She wasn’t asleep. Her eyes were wide open but her body was ice cold already. He wanted to hold her one last time, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t bring himself to touch her. It didn’t help that eyes were now trained on him no matter what he did. He looked up at the stoic man with the face mask, and Tian bared his teeth at him.
As they were drug to his feet, Tian whistled with a snicker. All the men around him froze up in fear, warry eyes trained on where the wolves had once burst from the treeline. The vengeful smile was a small portion of what those monsters owed for killing his mother. They yelled and kicked him down before tying him on the chain behind Axel. Axel managed to grab the front of Tian’s shirt and slam him into his back long enough to wipe the blood that was forming at his lips. Tian didn’t have time to react. The men shouted at them and they split immediately.
The dead mens’ horses were left behind amongst the carnage. Maybe for the ghosts to ride.