“No”, my brain didn’t want to accept what my eyes were seeing. Screams of terror surrounded me as panicked people started rushing to the safety of the garden that surrounded the beautiful pack house. The fire was spreading but I was rooted to the spot, my legs refused to move. This could not be happening on my first visit to my mate’s house. I knew what was going to happen next.
“She did it”.
“This was bound to happen with her around”.
“What were you expecting when you let this vile creature in your home?”
“Kill the witch, burn her with the house”.
And they didn’t know the half of it yet. I wasn’t just a witch – a creature they despised. I was the boogeyman of their nightmares. I was a hybrid; part witch and part wolf like them. Only my mate knew what I was and only we knew that the prince of the wolves was mated to a dirty hybrid.
It was indeed magic – the fire. I could smell it. I could feel the venomous intent behind it. And I wasn’t the cause. But who would trust me?
It was the survival instinct drilled deep inside me by my paranoid mother that was now urging me to flee the fire and seek refuge in the safety of the woods beyond. But I couldn’t leave all the people behind – they were my mate’s people. I was trying to hold back the fire and failing miserably when I heard a small whimper come from my right. My breath caught when I saw a little wolf pup on the burning staircase with eyes wild with fear and fire almost upon her. I ran towards her; ignoring the heat singing my skin and burning my eyes. Scooping her up in my arms I wrapped the skirt of my floor length dress around her and ran towards the door. I almost made it to the doorway when my luck ran out. With a crack loud enough to deafen my sensitive wolf ears; a wooden beam fell and I had just enough time to crouch over the little pup in my arms to save her. Darkness took me under.
When I came to, it took me an embarrassingly long time to fight off the disorientation and the fog on my brain. If I was in a fight and took this long to focus; I’d be dead ten times over by now. I slowly turned my aching head and took in my surroundings. I was lying on my side on a cot. There was a small table near my cot with a glass of water and a bowl covered with a plate. This was as far as the normality of my situation went. I was in a dark cell with iron bars on three sides and concrete wall on the last. I had a sinking feeling that if the wall was to be broken, I’d find iron bars in the structure too. An iron cage – a witch’s worst nightmare as iron leeched a witch of all her powers. Being a hybrid meant that I had a witch’s weakness to iron as well as a wolf’s to the silver. There was a scent lingering around me that was familiar yet I couldn’t put my finger on it. It belonged to someone I knew.
I was wrapped in bandages under the soft cotton gown I was now wearing. My back was itchy as hell and my head felt like someone had taken a sledgehammer to it. I remembered the burning wooden beam falling on top of me, so apparently I had survived the fire. Someone had saved me from a burning death only to lock me up in a cage. My witchy self was obviously lying dormant but my wolf was feeling claustrophobic. A wild animal locked in a cage? Yeah, it doesn’t feel good at all. My fears were coming true; I was being considered the culprit behind the fire. But where was Zavian? Did he fail to make people believe my innocence? And then a bone chilling thought occurred. I wanted to erase it from my mind but like a cockroach it was persistent. Did he make it out alive from the fire?
A door opened a little farther away and a stream of light shone upon the rows of iron bars of cells on both sides of the long dungeon. The door closed and footsteps came in my direction. I was still lying on my side because my back was still raw. My hybrid healing is faster than a wolf’s but the burns from the magical fire were taking longer to heal.
“So, you’re awake”, a gruff voice asked. Zane. I felt relief surge in my blood at my friend’s voice.
“Oh thank God Zane it’s you. What’s happening? Where’s Zavian? Did you guys manage to convince the council that I didn’t do it?” a thought occurred, “Oh how is the pup that was with me? Is she okay?”
“The pup was saved. There’s medicine for you, you should take it. It will help your healing. Trust me you’ll need it for when they come to question you”.
There was something in his voice that sounded like hurt and anger and betrayal. I sat up straight, cursing when my back felt like it was ripped open again. “Zane? You don’t think I did it, do you? You are my friend Zane, you know me. You know I would never do such a thing to hurt so many people… your people”. I tried to make him believe.
“I thought I knew you too Myra. But you were the only witch in presence. You had our blind trust. You had Zavian’s trust. Tell me, was it worth it? Was it worth our friendship? Zavian, me, Roland – we all considered you one of us and look what you did”. His eyes were hurting me… full of hurt and rage. A tear slid down my face and others followed. If my own friends didn’t believe me then who will? “Please tell me where can we find Zavian? If you have ever felt even a little something for any of us then please, I beg you let him come to no harm”. The words out of his mouth were like cold iron in my heart. And I was being accused for that.
“Zane listen to me please” he punched the wall on the opposite side of the room, “Zane” I yelled, “If he is missing then he is in trouble. And if you think I had to do anything with it then you’ll be sorely disappointed when you find out the truth but tell me this – will he be alive by then?” I was choking on the words but I had to make him believe me. “I’m telling you for the last time that I didn’t do it. I could smell the magic behind the fire and I could feel its intent to destroy but I wasn’t the one who cast that spell. Zavian is in danger Zane, please understand”. He didn’t say anything but the tension in his shoulders lessened a bit. I pressed my advantage. “Look, please just bring me some supplies so that I can locate him. You can’t ask anyone else for help. We don’t know who’s behind the attack. I’m your only shot at finding him in time”.
“How can I trust you?” his eyes held doubt but they weren’t hard like before.
“You know you can trust me Zane. But can I trust you? Can I trust you with a secret that will end in my death if you don’t keep it to yourself?”
“If it has to do with my prince then yes, you can trust me”.
I had to do this for Zavian and if I died as a result at least I’ll die with the surety that he was alright… that I had done everything in my power to ensure his safety.
I got up slowly from my cot and limped to the bars. I was desperate but I wasn’t stupid enough to voice my secret loudly in a stronghold full of wolves. “I’m not just a witch. I’m a hybrid – a wolf hybrid”. His breath hitched, “And he is my mate” I dropped the bomb and retreated a step to see his expression. Shock, denial, uncertainty and disbelief warred on his face. He was silent for a long time while I was doing everything in my power to keep my heart inside my chest.
“I don’t want to believe you but I have seen him looking at you. I have seen his eyes when you enter a room – they light up like a Christmas tree. I just thought he’d fallen in love with you but…” he shook his head and ran his hands down his face.
“So you see I couldn’t have done this. I love him. I’d die before letting any harm come to him” and maybe there was something in my trembling voice that made him surrender and he looked at me and nodded. “I promise you that your secret is safe with me but I can’t make anyone else believe you, they are hurt and angry and they have someone they can put the blame on. The queen died in the fire Myra, with five others and a child. Many were injured”. He hung his head and my eyes closed tight. My heart was breaking for Zavian.
“Does he know about his mother?” I asked softly.
“No, he wasn’t there when we discovered about her. We need to find him Myra”.
“Yes we do and we will. Can you please arrange some supplies and get me out of here for a while? I just need to do a locator spell to find him”.
He stood there for a moment, thinking and then nodded, “Tell me what you need”.
“Bring me an article of his clothing, a candle, a knife and a stone”. I told him hurriedly.
“Wait for me. I’ll handle it” with that he was gone.
“I will draw every last drop of your blood Prince. Every last stitch of power in your body” the witch licked her lips as if the idea of my blood was salivating. I was foolish to have gone after her alone but I didn’t have time to alert the others. I was hoping they would follow my scent here. And that they’d hurry before this crazy bitch got what she wanted.
“My blood won’t do you any good. When a wolf dies, his power goes out. It doesn’t linger in his blood. If only you were a vampire”. I was stalling and hoping she wouldn’t catch on.
She cackled maniacally, “Oh young prince you do amuse me. It’s a pity I’m going to kill you. Silly boy, I don’t need to be a vampire to take your power from your blood. I’m a witch. I have my ways”.
“You want to become a hybrid. They are said to be powerful” I guessed.
“Don’t be ridiculous prince they are just a story used to frighten children. There are no more hybrids. Besides, I don’t need to become one. Just wait and see what I have in store for you”.
Only if she knew it wasn’t a myth. Myra could take her down in a minute.
I was shackled to a wall in enough silver chains to enslave an army of wolves. So the bitch wasn’t that stupid. My arms and legs were stretched open to within an inch of their life and chained in thick manacles a foot above the ground and I was stripped naked probably to let the blood flow freely. Below me were 4 buckets to collect my blood; one under each appendage.
The witch came back with a wicked looking knife made of silver and smiled up at me. She combed her fingers through my hair and pushed them back from my forehead then trailed her hand down my face, neck and down my chest. I recoiled in disgust and she let out another cackle. “Oh now now don’t be shy prince. You seem in a hurry to die. I shall oblige your wish then”. With a sinister grin on her face she knelt down in front of me and made her first slash on my left calf.
Zane had somehow convinced Roland of my innocence before I even had a chance of including him in my secret. And now we were on our way to free Zavian. Sneaking me out of the dungeon wasn’t as hard for two of the Alpha’s generals as I was expecting. They needed me if they wanted their prince found alive. As soon as we hit the woods, we let our wolves take charge. I was running with the pack other than Zavian for the first time in my life. Just outside the pack territory; in the no man’s land was a derelict warehouse that was the witch’s hide out where she was keeping Zavian.
I told the wolves to wait for my call. Their protests died when I reasoned that the witch could probably sniff them out but I could mask my presence for as long as I needed. Plus I needed them to be the watch out in case she had some help around the perimeter. They shifted to their wolf forms to circle around and check for any threats and I went in search of my prey.
The smell of his blood hit me hard as soon as I descended the staircase to basement and if I wasn’t masking myself; probably the whole town could’ve heard my thundering heart. She was going to die a hard, painful death. In my eagerness to reach Zavian I didn’t see the trap until I was too late. As soon as I crossed the salt line, four manlikens (clay made bodies that mete out the maker’s command) jumped me. I could smell my mate’s blood used in making these vile creatures and I lost my temper on them. As they were immune to magic; I had to fight them classic style and as a result I was bloody and bruised by the end of the fight. In my hurry to reach Zavian I had forgotten to take my healing potion as well.
I put my ear to the only closed door in the basement but there was no sound inside. He was alive, this much I knew but in what condition I’d find him… I didn’t allow myself to finish the thought and eased open the door. There was no one inside other than the witch and my mate. My heart stopped at the sight of him; strung on a wall like a macabre wall hanging. Blood dripped from countless slashes all across his body. The witch didn’t notice my presence and made another slash along his torso. Even in his almost dead state Zavian bared his teeth at her and hissed. I ran towards her with my blade raised and smashed right into an invisible barrier protecting her inside a protective shield. She turned around and laughed; sounding and looking deranged, “What did you think little witch that you could fight me?”
I dropped my shield, “If you are so mighty, come and fight me. Or can you just brag while hiding behind your shields?” I mocked, knowing all the bullies were same. They didn’t like such challenges to their ego. As soon as her shield dropped her attack hit me in the chest and threw me at the door behind my back. My breath left me for a moment but I was running on adrenaline and I countered before even regaining my footing.
Two wolves entered like tornadoes, growling and snarling and went straight for their friend. I was trying my best to deflect the curses she was throwing at me all the while flinging my own at her and keeping an eye on my mate. He was turning paler and the wolves couldn’t help him out of the silver. As soon as one of my curses hit her I aimed at the shackles and started breaking them one at a time; exposing myself to attack. The wolves helped him down while I took a curse at my back. It burned through my already ravaged skin and I let out a roar of anger and pain. Letting my wolf back me up, I prepared my attack before she could summon another curse and let loose. It took her in the chest, her eyes widened, and blood trickled out from her mouth as her heart exploded in her chest. I fell.
When I regained consciousness, I found myself in the woods outside the warehouse lying side by side with Zavian. His cuts were closed but he was still unconscious. Zane and Roland were standing watch over us and they turned around when I called. “We need to burn her body and the blood”, I told them, “please help me up” they did.
I went back inside with Zane while Roland stayed behind with Zavian. Holding my hands out I summoned all my will power to cast one last spell. It took all my energy to light the buckets of blood and the witch’s body on fire. When I was certain that nothing was left of her, Zane picked me up and rushed outside. Zavian was awake. I jumped from Zane’s arms and ran to him, throwing my arms around him I kissed him with all the fear, anger, adrenaline, hurt and love for him. I kissed him with all I had. And then together we watched the building burn.