Chapter One - New Beginnings
How could this be happening? What have I done to deserve this? Am I really a monster, an abomination, a freak of nature that was never supposed to happen? Are they right about it all? These questions ran rampant in my mind, over and over, getting darker as the night carried on, as if my life weren't on the line, as if I wasn't about to be sentenced to death at first light. I looked away from the sight of my wrists shackled in spellbound chains and took notice of the small fridge-sized cell I was locked in.
For the first time since I was thrown inside the foreboding dark stoned cell, which was three nights ago, I noticed the markings on the walls. Scratched imbedded in the wall, symbols and script in languages I had never seen, with blood stains coloring the walls in patches. And if I closed my eyes I could almost hear their anguish; pleading, crying, praying; their acceptance of their fate. I could picture them as if they were with me now. But as I opened my eyes, the realization that I was in fact truly alone struck me at full force. I had no one, no one who believed me, pitied me, or even cared enough to help me; I had no one left.
I bowed my head in shame, finally accepting my fate. I hoped I could find solace in the half truths that I am what they have all judged me to be. The lines between what I knew and how they perceived me to be have always been blurred, left to live in the gray and devoted of any color or truth. If I accepted that I really am a monster, an abomination, maybe then they will find comfort when I die. The hatred and shame they carried because of me may be laid to rest with me. I might not be one of them anymore, but they have always been apart of me. That is all I know. And before dawn breaks it is all I would have ever known and nothing more.
The sudden noise outside my cell caught my attention. The guards that were stationed at each cell usually never said a word. I heard arguments running back and forth between the guards and someone I did not recognize. The mysterious woman never belonged to this pack, and she definitely wasn't a wolf or any hybrid involving a wolf. I could tell this from her scent and the guards' raised voices. Then it all went silent before my cell door was unlocked and pulled open.
I jumped to my feet, my shackles pulling at my wrists while I pressed my back against the wall. A mix of confusion, fear and dread washed over me as a shadowed figure appeared in the doorway. "Astra?" The figure spoke out as she walked into the cell. "How...How do you...Know me?" I asked as she continued slowly approaching me. "I am a friend. I am here to help. I can guide you out of here, out of those shackles." She said, hands raised as if to say that she was no threat to me. "Why help me?" I asked. She stepped into a shaft of light before answering, "You are meant for bigger things. You need to go now, they will be coming at any moment."
I recognized her but couldn't place exactly how I did. She seemed so familiar to me. I knew I could trust her, somehow I knew she would never hurt me. I nodded my head at her words, "How though? These grounds are crawling with people who want me dead. I can't exactly walk out the front door." I said. She walked up to me, placing her hands on the shackles that bound my wrists which burned just before falling to the ground. "You will not be walking out the front door tonight."
She walked up to the wall my back was pressed against moments before. She flicked her hands, palms up as she pushed them forcefully at the wall, which crumbled instantly as if it was never solid. "Now run, I can distract them and hide your scent. Find the meeting point of the twin mountains where hunters reside. You will be safe until the Frost comes." She said as she pushed me out of the cell. I took one last look at her familiar face before taking off into the dense forest that surrounded what was once my home. I ran with no clear direction, relying solely on my wolf. She seemed to know exactly where we needed to go and what the woman meant by twin mountains and hunters or frost coming. I let her have complete control as I shifted into my wolf form.
I wasn't sure how long I had been running for, all I knew was that every muscle in my body burned and my bones ached. I struggled to catch my breath as I pushed on. The sky was beginning to catch the first rays of light. I fell to the ground, shifting back into human form as I drew in raggered breaths that felt like ice in my lungs. Once my breathing evened out and my heart felt like it wasn't about to beat out of my rib cage, I stood up. My legs wobbled under me as I looked up. Twin mountains meeting... A perfect point sheltered in between the slope of two mountains not more than five meters ahead of me.
I ran as fast as I could while stumbling through the forest, straight into a perfectly circular clearing with a single cabin in the center. It looked old yet still stood sturdy and proud, as if time never had much affect on it. This must be where hunters reside although it seemed like no one had been here for at least two years. I cautiously approached the cabin, sniffing the air when I reached the porch steps. Confident that I was alone, I made my way up the steps and towards the door. I turned the handle, letting the door swing open before stepping inside, closing the door behind me.
I made my way through the cabin, familiarizing myself with all it held. It wasn't all that big, but it felt spacious with a bedroom and separate bathroom, a lounge that gave me a sense of comfort with a red-bricked fireplace and a fully kited kitchen. I searched the cupboards in the kitchen, thankful it still held some canned food that hadn't expired yet. I made my way back into the lounge. I threw some wood that sat in the corner into the fireplace, placing some tinder underneath it before striking a match and lighting the tinder on fire.
I crouched down in front of the fireplace and soaked up its glowing warmth for a few minutes before making my way to one of the three-seater sofas and sinking into it. The sofa sat a few paces away from the fireplace while the other sat to the side by a long window that framed the forest outside. I sighed, contant as a feeling of safety and comfort washed over me for the first time since I had been chained up in a cell.
I didn't know where I would go from here or what would happen next or if I would get caught and thrown back into that hell hole to rot. I didn't care. I closed my eyes and drifted off, tiredness finally sinking into every fiber of my being, pulling me down into a deep sleep, my problems fading away into the far corners of my mind.