Thousands of sounds assaulted Kylarra Knox’s senses. Breathing from something nearby. Her own heart boom . . . boom . . . boom. . . .
Blood rushed through her veins like water through pipes.
She attempted to adjust her body. Her bare flesh scraped across the damp ground. A shiver wracked her body. They must’ve washed her down while she was out. Kylarra groaned unintentionally when she moved. She tried not to make a sound, scared of her own noises in the silence, but worse . . . she was still stubborn enough to refuse to give anyone the satisfaction.
A scent beyond normal drifted into her nose, assaulting her and violating her. Cologne. One she recognized. Strong notes of sage and cedar gave it a seductive depth that tugged in the deepest and most disgusting parts of her soul.
Instantly her nerves hitched. Her heart skipped a beat. Fighting the weariness, Kylarra tried to pry an eyelid open. She made it a quarter inch before the lid drifted closed. Words were whispered in her ears, but she was barely aware of the reality of them. Not a man’s voice, nothing she recognized.
A woman whispered to her. But though she felt as if it were whispered words in her ears, Kylarra felt it coming from inside. Remember. You need to. She felt lost. Lost as though she were in a dream world.
Kylarra attempted to move her lips. Nothing came but an exhalation.
She was fairly certain she was dreaming, because nobody ever talked to her in this darkness. Her flesh twitched and she jumped, anticipating another shock. Memories of that happening when she least expected it. But again, nothing.
Reality slowly slipped away. . . .
Once more she demanded her eyelid to open. This time she tried both. Kylarra was half-aware she’d slipped back into sleep, or what counted as sleep, but she was unable to stop it. Against all odds, her eyelids managed half an inch that round before closing and slipping back into the fog.
Only this time the haze began to move. Swirling up and around, in and out.
The mist cleared.
Then came the screaming.
In her mind’s eye came a woman who could’ve been her twin. Same freckled tops of cheeks, but far more vibrant and orange tinged hair. Like a ripe mango. She was running, looking back toward Kylarra.
Screaming in a terror Kylarra understood, “I’ll never! Not in a million and a half lifetimes. He’s my father!”
Her eyes were wide, her skin pale from fear. Sweat dribbled down her face. Her dress clinging with but a bit of fabric plastered to her frame from sweat. Not just sweat. Blood. There were scratches along her face, blood dribbled down her legs. The scrap of fabric that was once a dress was in shreds as though something with claws tore at her flesh.
She was far ahead of Kylarra and blurring faster. A vast strip of land stretched in front of the woman and all around. Every time her foot hit the ground, dust pillowed up around her feet, denting the earth. The land was flat but like a dessert. Dry, hard and sandy. Her feet were bloody, cut up from the ground, from the blood dribbling down her legs. Then it hit Kylarra why she was so disheveled.
Either someone tried to rape her, or someone had. And by appearances, it wasn’t kind and it wasn’t human. Her legs and arms were clawed to pieces. How she was standing, Ky didn’t know; let alone running.
The woman in front of her.
Vampire. That word whispered into Kylarra’s mind without much thought.
Kylarra moved closer, though whoever pursued the woman was still far behind. A dark cloud in the distance, increasing in size. Running at top speed, attempting to stop her, attempting to grab her and bring her back. Desperation came from behind the woman.
The woman’s green eyes were bright with life and with the animal. An animal slowly coming forth to gain the speed she desperately needed. And when she shifted into the wolf, effortlessly, losing no time, Kylarra’s breath caught. The woman moved faster than Kylarra had ever ran in wolf form. She didn’t even know it was possible to move so fast while the wolf. Her speed was that of a vampire, but she was in wolf form.
The pure white, luminescent wolf which glowed as though a light shone from within, though there was none, she looked . . . exactly like me.
Her heart skipped a beat. She was the most beautiful thing on earth. Ky thought back to a woman in a red dress on a dark street striding her way. Like her. Flames of power walking.
Never before had Kylarra seen a Lycaen who didn’t in close proximity match their wolf. Black hair, black wolf. Red hair, red wolf. White hair, white-grey-ish wolf. Kylarra never matched her wolf. She was redhead, but her wolf looked like this woman’s, which alone was unique.
Even as the years went on, she realized Verrick no longer matched his wolf, either. There were tips of golden brown and silver now in his hair. But then . . . she wouldn’t go there.
Because of her vantage point at having moved closer, Kylarra saw what was coming, what was ahead of her.
“No!” she tried to scream, tried to warn her, but the scream didn’t come. She tried to raise a hand to stop her, but couldn’t. Kylarra felt she should turn around. See who pursued the woman, but time had begun to slow. Things were moving slower and slower. The scene ahead of her still played out with lightning speed.
The woman went for the cliff. Kylarra stood along the edge of it. There was nothing but darkness deep, deep, down below. The wind gusted the hair back from her face. She shivered. Something about the darkness down there chilled her being. As if once entered, one never came back from it.
“The pits of hell,” a feminine voice with a deep tone whispered beside her.
In the distance behind the woman the scene continued on. A shadowy form pursued the wolf heading for the cliff. Kylarra didn’t understand why the pursuer was shadowed, they should’ve been seen. The woman appeared only a few feet from where Kylarra stood.
“It is the name we used for this cliff. Not even a magical being can survive the fall unless they can fly,” she whispered again. “Once inside that darkness, the soul is torn from the encasing, and one never returns in this lifetime should they fall.”
Kylarra leaned over and a strong grip held onto her wrist, securing her position. “Why?” she asked. When she quit leaning over the cliff, the woman let her go. Even in this dream world it posed a problem? That made her step back from the cliff. This is a dream isn’t it?
The woman still wore the same tattered outfit, and bore deep wounds along her arms and face as well. It tore Kylarra in half. How dare whoever. “I will not bear a child for a monster.”
“Why am I seeing this? Is this real?”
The woman gently tilted her head in sadness. “It is,” her strong yet gentle tone said. “You . . . are remembering a past you did not live.”
Kylarra shook her head. “Remembering? I don’t know anything about this.”
The woman stretched an arm out. She indicated the shadow following the woman, gaining on her, but not much. Then her arm moved forward to her own wolf closing in on where they stood, and the ledge. “But they do.”
Kylarra huffed. “What does that have to do with me?”
The woman gave her a gentle smile. “It has everything child. That shadow is the brother who too seeks a child.”
Kylarra winced. A brother forcing himself upon his sister? Who’d do something like that? By how ancient their clothes appeared, she imagined it wasn’t abnormal for that time period. “That’s disgusting. And cruel.”
The woman tipped her head. “My very words,” she tugged at her tattered cloth adorning her naked flesh, “which earned me these wounds from my father.”
“Did he . . . did—” She couldn’t bring herself to say it.
Instead of answering her, the woman watched the wolf closing in. As if it answered everything as to why they’d force her to bear children, she explained, “I am the only one who can bear children of the sort they crave. The only female now who can at all.”
“The only female now,” Kylarra latched onto. “There was another?”
“Gilly,” the woman said, her eyes watering, filling with blood instead of human tears. “She went mad, forced to bed our father. He tried later on. She broke, took her life. Then . . . then they came for me, realizing she birthed strong children, but none who could Awaken.”
The woman’s face took on a darkness which made Kylarra’s blood run cold. “I refused,” she growled, her eyes developing black slits. “I will never bear a child for Lucifer.”
Kylarra flinched. “Lucifer? You mean like . . . Lucifer?” That’s her father she’s referring to?
The woman stepped forward, but Kylarra went to step back. The gentle look in her eye stayed Kylarra’s feet. The woman slid her hand around Kylarra’s cheek. “My beautiful child. Do you know who you are? Who you come from? It is not because you’re Awakening that you remember everything.” The wolf leapt into the vast abyss behind the woman between the two cliffs then dropped like lead weight. “It is because of who you are and who you came from.”
“I’m not a vampire,” Kylarra whispered, confused and out of sorts. Not understanding why she was seeing this. What the hell was going on?
The woman’s voice faded into the nothingness with which the wolf disappeared. “Remember this moment child. He will try to get you to forget everything, but remember because then you’ll know who they really are when you need to most. Remember . . . when you do not, but are faced with life or death. . . .”
A moment later the shadow leapt from the cliff as well, diving into the darkness after the wolf. A massive flutter of wings and black enveloped the gloom as millions of bats broke free of the shadow to attempt to stop the wolf’s fall, attempt to save it from death.
In the whisper of wings, one single name screamed through gut-wrenched lips, filled with pain, horror, and a fury of which made Kylarra scream out of the dream and into reality.
“Kyyyyylllllaaaaarra!” The name echoed off the walls, around her soul, tearing Kylarra from the horror show and into a reality of darkness.
Her heart pounding in her chest, Kylarra gasped in air. Was that a dream? It felt so . . . real. She couldn’t see her hands, but her wrist. It felt sore from a very real and powerful grip having secured her from falling. That freaking looked like she’d been in a time when humans first walked the earth. She hadn’t seen or felt anything normal. It was beyond ancient. Struggling to remember beneath her vibrating pulse, Kylarra pulled through all she’d seen, but then . . . she drifted back into the darkness, once more forgetting all she’d experienced, her energy sapping everything.
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War of the Lycaen is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, stories, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2020 Kim Iverson
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