Most people are afraid of the darkness and what lurks just behind it. I know enough now to be afraid of the light, and what can come from it. This is my story, told from heaven, or hell if you choose to believe that is where I now lie. Either way, this story will take you back…
I was only an adolescent pup when my real story began. It happened on a cold, crisp winter day in a forest deep within human territory. Fresh snow had fallen the last night, so my paws crunched in the frozen over layer of the snow. I wandered for quite a while until the white trees seemed to close me in. I circled nervously, suddenly aware of the scents of other hellhounds marking their territory.
Crunches came from behind me. I spun around, but nothing was there. I slowly turned back around. Standing in front of me was a hellhound twice my size. He was all black, with startling orange eyes that screamed death. I leaped back, but another came from behind me. A whole pack of them circled around me.
The black one was the first to break away. He lunged in quickly at me, knocking me off my feet, and then backed away from the circle. A female hellhound picked me up by my scruff and before I could even struggle she threw me against a tree. The impact shattered my ribs, and I collapsed in a heap. She came towards me again. I whimpered, but she continued closing in on me.
Her claws retracted like a cats. She smiled in her hound-like way as her claws tore into my flank. I would surely die if she continued like this. But the black hellhound came to my rescue, pushing her away from me. He morphed back into his human form in front of me, and so did she. I gazed at them and tried to listen as they spoke.
“Let her live, Sam. She didn’t know what she was doing. And I have a good feeling about this one,” the man ordered.
“But Ian! She’s an outsider, a trespasser! She deserves to die!” the woman protested.
“I said let her live! Now come on, we’re going to help heal her.”
They walked back over to where I lay on the ground. As the man picked me up, I noticed the outline of my body in the snow. It had been completely filled in with my blood, so that it looked as if someone had dyed some water red and poured it into the indent. With that thought, I fainted.
When I awoke, I was lying on a table, enjoying the feeling of coolness on my back when everything else felt like it was aflame. The pain seemed to concentrate on my wolf forehead, and I screamed out in pain, hoping the hellhounds would change their mind and come put me out of my misery. The male sauntered into the room and pressed something to my muzzle. I inhaled the scent of lilacs, and suddenly everything was clearer. I regained some of my composure and morphed into my human form, knowing that only time could heal my true form.
I sighed. It felt better to be in my human form for once, but the pain in my forehead had moved now all along my arms and down my back. I gasped as the heat grew, like a burst of a firecracker on my body, then faded out. I let out the breath I hadn’t realized I was holding once the pain subsided completely and got up from the table. “Bathroom?” I asked as he stared at me in disbelief. He pointed down the hall and I followed his gaze until I found it. I mumbled my thanks and left him, his jaw hanging wide open.
Once I was safely locked inside the bathroom I began to peer into the mirror. Down my arms, tattoos flowered in intricate symbols. I peeled off my shirt, curious to see if it was just coincidence or something more. In the center of my back was a pentacle, swirling and spiraling until it reached the chains that spurted out from it. The chains that had been invisible on my arms until now, wrapped themselves around my shoulders and down my arms. I gasped as they tightened, as if they were really there. They snaked their way down my stomach and then returned to the pentacle, invisible yet again.
I let out a heavy breath and pulled my shirt back on. The intricate symbols were still on my arms, and the unnatural heat they gave off was oddly comforting to me. They seemed to say that even if the devil would always rule me, there was someone else up there who had taken an interest in me. But I kept that to myself as I walked back out of the bathroom and into the living room. It was now filled with hellhounds in their human forms, but I could tell by their twitchiness that the hound wanted to overtake them all.
Even in my human form I was younger than most in the room. I was about twelve at the time, in the midst of at least thirty year olds. They stared at me, and I backed up, uncomfortable with all of their eyes on me. The female, who I assumed was Sam, caught my arm and dug her nails into me before throwing me back to where they could all examine me. I stood awkwardly in the center of the pack until they seemed to be satisfied examining me. My hound inside me growled at them all, hoping only to escape. I pushed it back down inside of me and smiled slightly.
“What is your name child?” the alpha asked me gently. I knew he was the alpha instantly, for he carried himself with dignity and strength that the others didn’t seem to posses.
“Victoria. Don’t ask for a last name, I’ve never had parents,” I answered, regaining some of my confidence and strength.
“Victoria child, what were you doing in our territory? Don’t tell me you didn’t know you were in our territory either, I know you did. So were you trying to get yourself killed?”
“I was just wandering. I was looking for shelter from the storm, and I wandered into your woods. I didn’t mean to, honest! Just let me go and I won’t bother you anymore, I swear!” I pleaded with them, hoping they wouldn’t send me back down to where I truly belonged. The alpha pulled me close to him and I struggled slightly before realizing it was meant to be comforting. I relaxed into him, grateful for the gesture of safety.
“Victoria would you like to be a part of this pack?” he questioned quietly. Sam and the other hounds around him exploded in outrage and disbelief. He silenced them with a sharp look and turned back to me, waiting for my answer.
“Su-Sure,” I replied, stumbling over my answer. I had encountered lots of hellhound packs in my travels, but none had ever asked me to be a part of their pack. It was unheard of for an alpha to invite someone into his pack. Especially one as young as me. I was of no use to the pack, and yet they had taken me in, however unwillingly.
Ian smiled at me genuinely. “I apologize Victoria, but I must go take care of some pack business. I will leave you in the capable hands of Sam for now, and when I get back I’ll give you a tour.” He left the room along with two of the burly men who seemed to be the muscle of the pack.
Once Sam was positive that Ian was gone from the house, she crossed the room in a huff. She grabbed my arm and yanked, dislocating my shoulder. I cried out in pain, gasping as she turned my arm, studying my strange new markings. My hellhound form snarled inside of me, annoyed at being man-handled. But I kept it inside of my throat and smacked her hand away from my arm.
“You little b****! I’ll teach your place, even if Ian won’t!” she screamed. She slapped me, digging her nails into my skin as she did. But I refused to give her the satisfaction of seeing my pain again, so I swallowed my scream and smiled up at her. She beat her fists into my stomach, but I still did nothing but grunt slightly with each hit. Finally, she turned on her heel abruptly and stormed out of the room.
I collapsed on the floor, coughing and dry heaving. I whimpered and popped my shoulder back into place. The recliner in the corner of the room beckoned me, and I was too weak to resist the call. Sinking down into its fluffy leather, I sighed and shifted my weight as best as I could to avoid further injury to my shoulder.
“I just don’t understand how they can be so ignorant. There is so much work to be done…” Ian’s voice floated to me from the hallway. I stood awkwardly, groaning inwardly at the pain it caused me, as he and the two men strode into the room. “Victoria, how was your time with Sam? I hope she treated you well. And now that I’m free, how about that tour?”
“Um, sure. I’m not doing anything,” I laughed nervously. Ian took my hand in his and led me around the house, stopping only to show me my room. It wasn’t a big enough house for everyone to have their own rooms, but luckily I only had to share with one other person, Amanda. Sam explained to me that she was older by about twenty years, so he hoped she would become more of a mother to me than a mandatory roommate. I smiled and thanked him for all of his kindness as he took me around the outside of the house.
The forest that surrounded the house seemed to go on for forever. It awoke the hound in me who longed to run freely, dodging around the trees and preying on the helpless woodland creatures. The change began to envelop me, and I fought hard to push it back down.
“Victoria, you can do it. Fight it, if you don’t you definitely won’t survive the change. Just focus, breathe, and calm down. It’ll be ok,” Ian shook me gently, and finally my hound surrendered and I was able to calm myself down. He guided me back into the house and I shuddered. Suddenly the walls around me began to spin. I blinked, but the stars that danced across my vision didn’t leave. I collapsed into Ian’s arms and he carried me into my new room, placing me gently onto my bed. My world lost all color, and an almost familiar darkness surrounded me. I gratefully allowed it to.