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The fog rolled over the mountains, the color of her eyes. Auburn leaves spiraling to the ground in a dance, the twin color of her hair. Aria was in the woods- a place she’d been forbidden to go into. Ever since the villagers went missing, people avoided the woods. And they should, in all honesty, as should Aria. But Aria loved the woods, the sweet smell of the ripe Earth, the musky swaying trees, the cool water, bitter sun pounding on the life hidden by the brush, and then, the sour air, the intermingled scents of the village, burning Aria’s nose.
And she loved it.
Aria seemed to be part of the forest herself, with a long willowy body, hair like the fluttering leaves, eyes of fog, smooth skin, soft like the hovering clouds above, but a sharp raven’s nose.
Aria was graceful, like the prancing gazelles, agile and quick like the rabbits, smart and clever like the snake.
Aria belonged here.
Hidden behind the trees, Stephen was watching Aria from behind the trees, confused about her love for the forest, she did nothing, smell the flowers, dance in the dying grass, lean on trees, sometimes climb them, or just lay, and bathe in the sunlight. Stephen didn’t understand Aria’s fascination, but he wouldn’t tell, for he loved her. Tall and thin, broad shouldered, Stephen was nothing like Aria, with easy to see raven’s hair, and indigo eyes, Stephen was more of a warrior than an archer, like Aria. He ran with no silence, as Aria did, he was loud, but lethal and quick. But if he tried, Stephen could be silent.
Stephen was going to go out, and talk to Aria, but he decided against it, stepping backwards, and Aria’s head snapped up.
And for a moment, Stephen thought he’d been caught.
She gasped, and he held his breath, not moving.
“Aw!” She cooed, picking up a beautiful pure white bunny, with red eyes, that stared at Stephen it’s nose and ears twitching, frightened.
Stephen breathed a sigh of relief, and he slinked back into the darkness.
Aria was running through the forest, pushing branches out of her way, right as she heard her mother’s anguished scream.
Aria broke through the forest, and immediately saw her brother, his body broken, face torn open, bleeding, not anymore though, laying at the tree line. Aria also saw a boy named Thomas, watching the crowd gather, his rugged face conflicted. Light mint green eyes, somber, looking guilty, his light hair swaying in the silent, mourning wind. Aria stared at Thomas, how he hung back, behind the forming crowd, as if…he…felt…responsible? Aria though, turned to her brother and suppressed a scream. His eyes were closed out of respect. His cherubic face, ruined. The color Aria loved so much, hidden behind bloody lids. He was laying, his limbs broken, his arm sticking out at a awkward angle, his legs twisted.
His shirt was ripped open, and 3 long swipes tore at the small child’s chest. The boy lay, head lolled to the side, mouth parted, blood staining his clothes and the corner of his lips. This was the first of any villagers to be seen after the wolf killed them. It was obvious, no animal, no human, would do this to a innocent child.
Aria fell to her knees, crying, holding her brother’s head in her lap, as the villagers watched helplessly.
“Jack!” She cried, as if calling his name would wake him from the eternal slumber. Stephen joined the growing crowd, and watched as Aria screamed, for her brother.
He felt the sadness overtake him, as he watched the young child’s dead body, and the sister who would not leave him.
The hunters had gone out after Jack was found. Even though Aria was glad the wolf was going to die, she was afraid, that another man might die. A fear that was intensified, because her father was going out also, to soothe his grieving heart. Even if it meant her brother’s soul could be redeemed, Aria wasn’t sure if she was willing to risk another life.
While the men went hunting, Stephen stayed with Aria.
Thomas had gone also, to kill the wolf, looking apprehensive as he stepped into the woods.
The childhood stories Stephen and Aria were told danced through both their minds as they sat in the courtyard, silently. Stephen, for leisure, Aria, for peace of mind.
Ones about werewolves. The werewolf, who could be Aria herself, and she wouldn’t even know. The werewolf could be anyone, and Aria, as much as she valued life, wanted the wolf gone. The stories were meant just to scare the children, not to be taken seriously, but ever since the villagers went missing, people believed the stories. If the werewolf, as a human, was ever in the forest, they changed. Otherwise, they were safe, unless it was a full moon. No matter whether or not the wolf was in the forest, they would change, right as the moon reached it’s highest point. The wolf doesn’t know anything about their human life, nor does the human know of the wolf life. A person with 2 lives that never intermingle. The wolf could kill their lover, and not feel a pang of guilt, for, although the wolf knew somewhere, they knew the person, they couldn’t connect the human thoughts to the wolf ones. And worse, if the wolf killed their lover, the wolves would never remember what they did as a wolf. The wolves looked as they did as a human, their fur the color of their hair while they are human, eyes the same. It’s said, in the last moment’s of a werewolves’ victims life, they know who the wolf is, by their eyes, the eyes that tell who the wolf is. A werewolf’s eyes are different, always a unique color, not that anyone has ever lived to pass that theory on. During a full moon- that one day a month, if a human was bitten, they too would become a wolf. Especially on that night, everyone in the village would stay awake, in fear the wolf would come for them. Wolves were gentle creatures, as far as Aria was concerned, as she grew up. This was before the wolf had started taking people. There were no fears about the wolf, because, as far as the villagers knew, there wasn’t one. They never hurt anyone. They were stealthy, lethal, fast killers, never did their prey suffer.
Aria was amazed by that. Aria turned to Stephen, memorizing his sharp features, bushy eyebrows above his dark eyes, long hair, covering his high cheekbones.
Aria tried to smother her tears. She was strong, she didn’t want to cry anymore.
She looked to the sky, her mood lifting.
She had never believed the stories as a child, but now, she did.
The werewolf was real. They lived among the villagers, as one of them.
And today, the wolf would die.
Thomas supposedly killed the wolf that day. He was a hero.
Thomas had always been quiet, reserved, ever since his father was killed in a raid a few years ago. Thomas watched Aria from a distance, and he saw Stephen, a old friend of Aria’s, doing the same. Jealousy surged through Thomas’ veins. Stephen didn’t notice Thomas watching, but Thomas was waiting, behind the big oak, as Aria slipped into the woods, not in fear, for she knew the wolf was dead.
Thomas knew the wolf wasn’t dead.
He killed a wolf, but not the werewolf. He didn’t know how he knew it, but his body told him, the woods were still not safe.
Aria disappeared in the brush, and Stephen followed her quickly, not even checking to see if anyone was watching. As soon as he went in, Stephen disappeared, just like Aria did. Thomas, feeling like something was wrong, followed the two.
The wind carried the scents, Aria’s and Stephen’s. Thomas prowled through the woods, oddly familiar with the place he’d rarely been in. Thomas stopped behind a tree, and watched Aria, smiling.
Aria was standing in a clearing, the sun pouring through the opening, where no trees blocked the meadow.
The sun heightened the natural, beautiful color of Aria’s hair, but it hid the other two, very well. It made her look like a angel, and Thomas and Stephen smiled.
Arial fell to the ground, giggling, listening to the forest, the snakes slithering and hissing, and birds soaring above. The river beside her, tumbling, making music that went will with the sound of the leaves rustling that made Stephen’s ears perk.
He leaned back on his legs, and sat, staring at Aria, watching her.
He didn’t know why he was following her, but he knew he was there to protect her.
Thomas wanted to go forward, talk to Aria, but he felt like she would be scared, and think he was the wolf, and attack him. He decided against it.
But Aria was smiling and giggling because she felt safe. The wolf was dead, as far as she was concerned. She closed her eyes, content.
Then, one of the boys glanced over, and they cried out quietly, turned and ran, not even warning Aria, for they were too frightened by the sight they saw.
Stalking forward, the other boy silently made his way over to Aria. He leaned his face down, staring into Aria’s closed eyes. Then Aria’s eyes opened, and she was screaming.
Aria’s eyes opened and she saw the black figure above her, and she screamed, and flew up, scrambling to get away, but she tripped, and she felt her arm get warm, as it bled, from a new wound, as her attacker lashed out.
Aria fell to the ground, the figure on top of her, pinning her down, and she screamed, praying that someone would hear her, she desperately shrieked, as she fought to get free from her attacker.
This isn’t real, she thought, trying to convince herself, that this wasn’t happening.
I’ll live, she promised herself, still fighting against the weight that held her down. Sharp nails scraped her arms, making her bleed, the blood sliding off her arms and onto the crumbling grass.
Suddenly, as if the attacker had a sense of guilt, it looked up, and Aria finally saw what was killing her.
The werewolf. A big bushy animal, with soft fur, larger then a well built man, but still small, much more lethal, easier to chase it’s prey.
It wasn’t dead. But she was frozen, despite the all consuming pain she was in, she couldn’t tear her gaze from those familiar eyes. Even though she knew that the wolf couldn’t connect his human thoughts and feelings to his current state, she pleaded, “Please.” The wolf’s head ducked down, the soft fur would’ve felt so nice against her hand, if Aria wasn’t dying, so she screamed, her last plea falling from her lips.
“Stephen! Please!” The wolf paused and raised it’s head, and his nails dug deeper into Aria’s chest and arms, as Stephen leaned down to Aria, and she almost breathed a sigh of relief.
But the spark she thought she saw, the realization, the Stephen she thought she had found inside of the wolf, was not there. The wolf breathed, and Aria shuddered, hoping she would live.
The wolf’s dark head, covered in Stephen’s hair, the same color, with his eyes, ducked down, face in Aria’s neck, and she let out her last scream, as the wolf, her best friend, her lover, stole her last breath.