Thunder roared in the sky above, and a cold raindrop fell onto Sabina's cheek, making her jump a little.
She wiped it away, and pulled her cloak tighter around her body, before draping her hood over head.
"Scared of a little thunder?" asked a boy, who she knew as Felix; he threw a smirk her way as they, plus three other boys (who were all four years older then Sabina) walked down dirt, forest path.
"No, not scared...just startled." Sabina exclaimed defiantly, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
"Yeah right." Felix scoffed, before pushing the 13 year old forward, and causing her to slip and fall into the muddy dirt.
Sabina gave out an inaudible growl as she heard Felix and two others laugh, and when she got back to her feet, and brushed herself up, she raised a fist, ready to fight.
"Sabina," the calm, but stern voice of her older brother reached her ears, and she turned towards the front, where he had stopped walking, and was now staring at her, his jade green eyes narrowed, telling her not to throw the first punch.
Sabina's expression softened, and she looked down at her feet in shame. "Sorry Conner."
Conner's attention turned to the three boys, who all stood frozen in their tracks at their leader's piercing gaze.
"And you three, stop picking on her. She's smaller and younger than us, but still part of this group. I expect you to treat her as such." he demanded.
All three boys nodded their heads in frantic understanding. Conner's built appearance, and low, stern voice, was enough to make a soldier of a king's royal army shake in their boots, despite only being 17 years old.
After a small wave of silence, Conner peered at the sky, and sighed, "We need to find someplace to set up camp," before turning, and walking down the path again.
The others followed with no hesitation.
"Hey guys, look." the boy, named Andrew, called out, pointing over a ledge, after minutes of searching.
The rest of the group raced to his side, and looked out; there were pine trees spreading for miles, but there was also a clearing with a stone structure that seemed to be glowing with torches down in the woods too.
Conner raised his eyebrow curiously, and said, "Let's hurry down there. The scent of a storm is in the air, and I don't want any of us getting sick."
The campfire crackled mixed with the sound of pouring rain, and booming thunder.
The boy, named Garret, tended to the fire, while Andrew cleaned the weapons they had brought along, and Felix was preparing food.
Conner stood at the entryway of the stone structure; it was big enough to house a dozen, maybe more, people, and looked like it was built to be a temple of some kind, but eventually fell into ruin.
The sound of mumbling caught his ear, and he looked to his left, and found Sabina sitting on a boulder, mumbling to herself, and jotting down something in the notebook she always carried with her.
Conner walked over, and sat down next to his little sister, before asking, "What are you writing?"
He noticed that she was scribbling unfamiliar symbols onto the blank page, and his curiosity was once again sparked.
"The walls of this place have, what I assume are runes, carved into them. I'm writing them down so I can study them if I have time at our next destination." Sabina answered, only glancing up for a second, before looking back down at the page.
Conner turned his gaze to the wall, and his eyes went wide, when he saw that his sister was right; symbols he didn't recognize were scattered throughout the ruins' walls, and even on the ceiling.
His eyes landed on one particular symbol that caused him to have a bad feeling about the place they took refuge in; it was in the shape of a spider, and an enormous one at that.
Conner and Sabina turned around just in time to see Garret get dragged into darkness, while desperately clawing at the ground.
"Garret!" the rest of the group exclaimed, running towards him, but it was too late. By the time they reached where he was, Garret had seemingly disappeared into thin air.
"Felix, Andrew grab your weapons, and form up. Sabina, stay close to me!" Conner ordered, unsheathing his Sword.
No one hesitated to follow the orders they were given, and in almost an instant, the group of now four was in a circle, each taking a different direction.
An eerie silence hovered over them, which was followed by a spitting sound, and the room plunging into darkness.
Sabina tensed, as her eyes darted through the darkness, trying to catch a glimpse of an outline, or anything. She jumped a little when her hand was grabbed, but relaxed when she recognized her brother’s touch.
“Don’t let go of me, Sabina.” Conner muttered.
Sabina’s stomach did a somersault when she heard his tone of voice; it was still stern sounding, but there was something laced into it, something she hasn’t heard since her parents died: Fear.
After a few moments without hearing anything, except the thudding of their hearts, Conner whispered, “Sabina, there should be some extra wood, and some rocks near the fire pit. I want you to make a torch.”
Sabina hesitated, not wanting to let go of her hand, but she eventually knelt down, and felt around for the torch supplies. Her hands landed on what she was looking for, and she started scraping the rocks together.
Sabina could feel sweat trickling down her face, and heard her heart pounding within her chest. The first couple attempts only resulted in a flicker of light before it died out, and plunged the room back into darkness.
However, after a tense minute, fire finally rose from the torch, and Sabina picked it up as the flame got bigger, and held it above her head, so it could light up the rest of the area.
Conner looked around, and his eyes went wide. “Where’s Andrew?”
Felix and Sabina looked to where Andrew was standing, only there was no Andrew. Everyone in the room tensed up, but kept looking.
“We should go.” Felix suggested.
“No, we need to find Andrew and Garret.” Conner argued, giving his friend a repulsed look.
“They’re most likely dead!” Felix exclaimed, and Sabina and Conner looked at each other, knowing he was probably right, but not wanting to believe it.
A wall of silence passed, as the echo of Felix’s shout died down, until a hissing above the trio, made their blood run cold.
Sabina was the first to look up, and she did so just in time to see Garret’s corpse fall in front of her.
There was a sound of bone and skin hitting concrete, followed by the 13 year-olds' petrified scream.
As she screamed, Sabina dropped the torch, and backed away. Conner embraced his younger sister, and turned her head towards his body to shield her eyes, as he took in the horrific sight.
Garret’s entire body seemed to be completely drained from blood, and life; his eyes were lifeless, and his mouth dangled open, like he was screaming when he left the world.
Conner could barely look at his friend’s corpse, and knew that Andrew probably suffered a safe fate.
“That’s it,” Conner turned to look at Felix, while still keeping his arms firmly wrapped around a shaking Sabina.
Felix’s eyes were locked onto Garret’s corpse, and he was backing away toward the exit, while shaking his head, “I’m leaving, stay in here and die if you want, but I’m going before….AHH!”
Felix dropped his sword, and fell on his stomach, and just like Garret and Andrew, was dragged into the shadows screaming and clawing at the cobblestone floor.
Conner didn’t have time to yell out his friend’s name, as he was suddenly yanked away from Sabina, and as his younger sister drifted farther away, he could see that her eyes were unfocused, dazing into a void of nothingness.
“No, not again.” he thought to himself, as he thought about the day his parents died, and the promise he made to always protect Sabina.
Filled with sudden zeal, Conner swung his sword, and cut the Arachnid’s string of web on his back. He caught himself before falling completely on the floor, before breaking into a sprint to get back to Sabina.
A piercing pain shot through him, and fell to the ground with a spider sitting on top of him. The fangs of the spiders managed to hit him, and get one his eyes.
“AHH!” Conner shouted in pain, pounding the ground with his fist. He swung his sword, and could feel the spider fly off of him as it let out high-pitched hiss.
He got back to his feet, and continued running, one of his hands placed over his hurt eye.
Conner reached Sabina, who was still staring in shock, sheathed his bloodied sword, and picked her up, carrying the girl into the pouring rain.
Thunder roared above, but Sabina didn’t flinch this time, which broke Conner’s heart; she was so lost that even thunder couldn't bring her back.
“You’re going to be okay, Sabina, I promise.” he reassured, as he carried her back into the woods, and away from the temple that dragged his friends away.
1 year later….
Conner’s footsteps echoed through the forest’s atmosphere, but they stopped when he was only yards away from the temple.
He lifted his hand up to where his right eye should be, but was now covered by an eyepatch. He then proceeded to unsheathe his sword.
A hissing sounded as Conner walked closer, and a clutter of spiders swarmed the exterior of the structure, ready to feast.
Conner grinned. “You’re all gonna die.”
He broke into a sprint, and swung his sword at the spiders that had taken his friends, and broke his sister.