“Marie, It's time.” My adoptive mother, Marianne, calls from outside my dressing chamber. I hear the metal door leading to the arena slide against the concrete floor. The scarlet curtain which cover it sways, begging me to cross its threshold.
“I know…” I whisper under my breath. “And my name is Kiisha, not Marie.” I take one last look in the mirror. My burgundy hair is pulled back into a neat ponytail, only a few strands hang in my face. I am wearing a strapless black dress with a slit down the side, as is our family tradition.
“Kii-Kii, Kii-Kii” The crowd shouts in anticipation for the match ahead. At least they know what my name is… I take a few steps towards the curtain and grasp it, silk kissing my fingertips gently as I close my eyes. One breath, two breaths… You can do this. Three breaths, just kill it. Four breaths, remember to watch your back… Five… “GO!” I rip the curtain back and begin to run towards the center of the arena, arms up in the air victoriously. I look up, the night sky staring down at me with thousands of eyes, ready to judge my every move; I take note of the wall to my left piled with weapons. I look to the crowd, taking in each person’s face as they survey the scene below them. Finally, I peek at the leader of the Werewolf Hunting Organization; he doesn't look impressed to see me standing before him.
“Hello, and welcome, my fellow hunters!” A raspy voice comes over the loud speakers the crowd becoming silent instantly. “Since today is her sixteenth birthday, we will watch Marie take on a werewolf -- by herself.” the crowd breaks out in whispers and gasps, not one teenager before me has ever had the guts to take on one of the beasts by themselves. “This will be her initiation into our organization! Marie, you may now choose your weapon!”
I swallow hard. All these people are watching me, rooting for me to kill. Walking over to the wall I stare at each sword, knowing I don’t want to choose what everyone else does. Most times people go for the silver longsword with the gold grip, but not me; I want to make a show of this. I reach my hand out as though I am going for one of the two-foot silver swords. I see our leader nod in approval, so I instantly change course and grab an obsidian blade with an amethyst hilt. Once again there are whispers among the crowd. I smile and take a few practice swings before nodding towards the Keepers to release the beast from its cage.
Slowly they lift the lever and the silver door to the cage opens. A female werewolf tentatively steps through the doorway. Her black hair falling gracefully over her pale shoulders. “Please, don’t do this.” She begs, leaning against the wall for support. My stance shifts as I prepare to become the most remembered hunter in the WHO.
“Come out and fight!” I shout at her. “Stop wasting my time!” I consider making the first move, however that would be too telling as to what my fighting style is. She glances up at the night sky, the full moon glaring down on us angrily. “Fine, if that’s how you want it. Let’s get this over with.” I stare as she pushes off the door, standing at her full height of about five foot three. She smiles and shifts before charging at me like a wild animal. Oh, wait. She is one.
Smirking, I dash towards her, blade held tightly in my hands. “You are dead, you freak!” I thrust the sword towards her, seconds after she leaps off the ground, teeth bared and claws exposed. I slide to my right, barely dodging her attack. I take in a deep breath and swing downwards, cutting her left side open, the scent of copper filling my nose as she growls in pain. My focus falters, what if that was me...? I shake my head Don’t do that, it’s nothing but a beast that needs to be put down. Before I realize it, she is rushing at me her body slamming into my own, knocking the wind out of me and everything slows down. I watch as dust falls to the ground like snow, the crowd seems to disappear one by one. I hit the ground, my head bouncing off it like a rubber ball. She is on top of my before I can take a proper breath, snapping her maw in my face, the smell of rotting flesh coming with each huff. Without thinking twice, I turn the blade upwards into her gut, moving it towards her heart as quickly as I can. Her eyes go wide in fear; the crack of her ribs breaking echoes through the arena. Finally, she goes limp and I roll out from under her weight. The crowd is cheering, and my dress is covered in blood. I swing my arms upward, smiling like an idiot until I realize that not all the blood I am drenched in is hers. My chest and hip burn, crimson flows from each wound. A low growl escapes my throat and I cover my mouth. What was that?! What’s going on here?! I hear a bone snap, then another and another. “Marianne!” I cry out in pain, although I can tell it’s too late to do anything.
This is impossible! I’ve watched so many people be bitten and scratched and not even one of them had ever changed. So that must mean… NO! I can’t… My parents are hunters… You were adopted idiot! That means… My parents… Were… Werewolves… I hold back an avalanche of tears as every hunter in the organization stare at me, bloodlust in their eyes. This is what they must feel like… The beasts… I run in the direction of the exit as quickly as I can. I begin to move at an inhuman speed, dodging arrows and spears being thrown at me from every direction.
I make it out of the arena and scan for a place to hide in the nearby forest. Everything looks different, bigger, brighter. I spy a cave roughly a mile away and head for it, not looking back.
I startle awake, “What the fuck!” I shout as I slap a large, black and orange carrion beetle off my arm. I look at myself. My clothes are ripped and covered in blood. The ground around me is covered in dirt and the walls seem rough. That's when the memories of the night before flood into focus. I can’t believe that happened… What am I going to do...?
I shoot up and run out of the cave, my body protesting with every move I make. The oak trees around me all look the same, from the broad leaves to the moss growing on them. I remember Marianne teaching me when I was a child that if you are lost in the woods to tie something to the branches so you know which way you came from. So that is exactly what I do, I rip off the bottom portion of my dress and tie part of it to the nearest branch and begin walking in a random direction. As I walk over fallen limbs and try to avoid falling on my ass I look up. The sky seems to be too bright of blue in comparison to what I am used to seeing, and the birds are singing louder than what I am used to hearing as well. When I look back to what is in front of me I see another cave, but with a half-moon carved into the wall on the outside.
“That’s strange, I wonder if there is a reason behind that...” Curiously I meander up to the mouth of the cave. “Hello?!” After waiting a moment and not hearing anything I tip-toe inside, the smell of stew greeting my nose. As I go further into the cave the sound of people talking makes me freeze in my tracks.
“I think I saw a girl in the forest today” A female states from somewhere close by.
“A human female?” A male asks.
“No, I think she is one of us but I couldn’t get close enough to tell without frightening her, I was in my wolf form”
Nervously I continue walking turning through a few corridors before finding the couple I heard talking. “Uhm... Hello?”
They both shift stance and glare at me angrily. “Who are you?” The male growls. He is tall, maybe five foot ten. His black hair falls over his bright green eyes.
“M--My name is Kiisha, I think I’m lost.”
“What are you?” The young woman with him asks. Her demeanor seems different from his. She seems kinder although her red eyes make me take a second look.
“I thought I was human...”
“You thought WHAT?!” The male interrupts.
“Human, but I-- I think I’m a werewolf. Who are you guys?”
“I’m Tinder, and this is my mate Kahlil” she states, “I am sorry if we frightened you.”
I smile softly, “You’re fine, uhm... Where am I?”
“Forgive my mate” Kahlil shakes his head and gestures to the cave itself “This is the common area for the Lunar Cycle Pack” Just as he finishes speaking ten more people walk into the cave, all freezing in their tracks when they see me.
Author Notes: This is a WIP.