Every year, my friends and I look forward to attending and taking part in the celebration, but as our eighteenth birthdays approach, the party this year brings more worry than delight. We were all born within a few months of each other, but I had the misfortune of being the first to reach the age of eighteen. The second terrifying aspect of it this year is that my eighteenth birthday comes on the day of the celebration, and the beast leaders’ five-year raid is approaching. Thankfully, the celebration takes place during the day every five years, and the village is sealed down as soon as dusk falls. Not that it matters to me; if these beasts want into our homes, they will get in regardless.
The elders erected a safety bunker on the other side of the town with enough accommodation for the entire village after the leader of these beasts declared he would invade the village every five years. Some of the snobbish elders now had basements or underground rooms built inside their huts, giving themselves and their families a better chance of surviving the invasion. My grandmother’s mother was one of those slightly snobbish Elders, and she had a secret cellar constructed and erected beneath the family hut. I have never utilized it since I was too young and because I was always with my group of friends, so we went to their hideaways or the village bunker together.
In the nights preceding up to the celebration and my birthday, I've been having a reoccurring dream or nightmare. It always started with me sprinting into the woods, followed by someone or something. I could never outrun whoever or whatever was after me. Every night, I'd see a rough-looking figure approaching me, and he'd get closer and closer each night. He slams me up against the tree behind me when he finally reaches me. I can't seem to move or breathe; I'm not sure if I'm paralyzed by terror or if he's pinning me to the tree. "You're mine!" he'd growl as he bit down on my shoulder near my neck, jolting me up from my slumber.
After all the training I have been doing over the last couple of years, with the five-year beast raid due this year, as well as it being my 18th year, and now my dreams scaring the crap out of me, I was curious as to the real reason behind the raids and why we never fought to protect the village from them, so after our sessions today, I approach Elder Miles.
"Yes, Yasmine, what's on your mind?"
"I was wondering that with all the training we all do, why don't we stand up to the beasts when they come into the village? It is our village. Why don't we protect it from them?"
"Come sit, I am not meant to tell anyone that is not amongst the Elders, but your grandmother was and so was her mother your mother would have been too if she hadn't become one of the vanished... Now I was only young when the original agreement with the beasts was broken. From what I gather, the beasts and the Elders used to share the village and the beasts would come and go as they pleased, even teaching the men how to fight and protect themselves and their families until,"
"Miles? Miles? Where are you?"
I crawl out from under the piles of wood that we had been collecting ready for the winter. I run back to the house to find my mother standing on the porch with her hands on her hips.
"Miles, you are filthy, go and wash up. Dinner will be ready soon."
"No Buts just go..."
I sigh and then head over to the water trough. I know my mother will be annoyed, but instead of just washing my face and hands, I jump in, getting all of me wet. It is then that I see one of her boyfriend's Raphael, approaching the hut and know why she wanted me to wash before dinner tonight. He was one of the different ones that stay in the village, but I didn't mind him, as he was always good to me.
I climb out of the water trough, shake off the excess water, and make my way inside to have my mother yell at me again
"MILES I SAID HAVE A WASH NOT A BATH!!! Go and get dry and dressed, ready for dinner."
I laugh as I run past mother and into my room. I strip out of my wet clothes, dry myself, and then get dressed. I then come out of my room and join my mother and Raphael at the table. We are all laughing and joking around while eating until we hear a loud crash from outside.
We all quickly get to our feet and head outside to investigate what is going on. I go to run in front of Raphael, but he catches me and holds me back, keeping me by his side as we approach the cause of the commotion.
Raphael pushes his way to the front of the crowd and yells,
"WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?"
Everyone stops and turns towards him, including the 2 men fighting. One was a beast, the other just a villager. The beast steps forward and bows to Raphael, saying,
"He is trying to steal my mate..."
"No, she is mine. I asked her to marry me and she said yes..."
"She did not... You're just saying she did!!"
"Where is this female?"
Raphael keeps me held to his side as a shy young girl makes her way into the centre of the circle. She keeps her distance from both men as she says softly,
"I am Sir!"
"Is what he said true? Have you made your choice?"
"Sir! I... I... I only turned 18 today..."
"Did he ask you to marry him?"
She turns slightly and looks at the 2 men. She hesitates, Raphael growls low,
"Don't you dare lie to me!..."
"No, he hasn't..."
I jump as the villager yells "BITCH!!"
The villager then moves, attacking the young girl, grabbing her from behind. She lets out a loud scream, but he cut her scream short as he cuts her throat. The beast lets out a loud howl, the villager turns and then swipes the knife across his throat too, he however doesn't stop there as the beast falls to the ground he then moves around him to behind his back and then grabs his head and pulls, using his foot on his back to remove the beasts head from the rest of him.
Raphael turns me away from the scene of violence happening in front of us. I still hear the villager make a yell of victory, but that is cut off by all the growls coming from around us. I then feel like I am flying as I am lifted into the air and someone starts running. I look around as much as I can and see glimpses of fighting everywhere. I am then passed to someone else. Looking up, I see my mother, who then runs with me back to our hut, shutting the door once we are inside.
I huddle on the bed with my mother as the sound of fighting continues through the night and into the next day. By the next night, the village is full of screams. They broke our door down as the beasts enter our hut. One grabs me and pulls me away as another grabs my mother and forces us out of the hut. They throw me into the group with the other kids and they threw my mother into a group with the other women.
I get to my feet and have a look around and see that there are more groups around us. I also see many, many beasts standing around each group. Wanting my mother, I look around and once I spot her; I run. I don't get far before I am grabbed by one of the beast's leans forward and wraps his arm around my waist growling,
"Where do you think you are going, young one?"
"I want my mother, I want my mother..."
"Sorry kid, back you go!"
I struggle against him as I yell, "RAPHAEL!!"
"What's going on here?"
"Raphael, I want my mother!!"
I can't stop the tears and sobs. I continue to struggle against the beast's arm as I look at Raphael. He looks at the beast holding me and nods. Raphael then looks away from me as the beast forces me back to the group of young kids they threw me into. I sob more as I plea.
"Raphael? Raphael? Raphael?"
He doesn't answer but continues over to the group my mother was thrown into. He walks up to her, grabs her arm, and pulls her out of the group. I watch in horror as he gives her a kiss and then breaks her neck in front of everyone. I scream but am knocked to the ground as someone smacks my face, yelling at me to "SHUT UP!"
We stayed in these groups for hours until a very large beast enters the village. He growls low,
"Raphael, what happened here?"
Raphael seems to bow to this newcomer. "Alpha, one of ours, found his mate in a female within this village, but she was already seeing a young man. When challenged, they fought. When I asked what was going on, the villager said he had already claimed her. She denied this. He then went crazy, killing her and then her mate. Then the rest of the village attacked."
The newcomer then turns in a circle before saying in a calm, firm voice,
"We give you the freedom to live as you please. As your Elders agreed when I allowed them to move onto my land, we are always welcome and if one of us finds our mate among you, no one was to interfere. We shared our knowledge of fighting, farming, and everything else needed to live here, protected and safe. Your Elders know that the penalty of breaching that agreement is the removal of our protection and that anyone that turns 18 or is nearly 18 will then become ours."
I watch as one of the Elders then steps forward, standing tall, states,
"Well, maybe it is time to review and remove that agreement... Especially if our villagers can't even pick their own partners... We don't need your protection anymore, we can protect ourselves..."
The big beast turns, faces the Elder, and laughs. "Really?? Is that why everyone in this village is currently sitting on their knees in front of me?"
He then walks over to stand in front of him. I don't hear what he says as he then grabs his head and snaps his neck, throwing him to the ground. He then growls out,
"Is there anyone else here that thinks that this little village can look after itself? That you can protect yourselves without our help?"
No one says anything. He looks at Raphael and smiles before saying,
"Okay, we shall see how you all go without our help or protection, but know this: every year I will come, I will come and claim what is owed to me for the payment of the original agreement."
One of the other Elders then steps forward, she lowers her head as she speaks softly,
"What if we hold a celebration on this day and night every year, so you and your kind can come and mix with us, giving you a chance to find your mates if they are among us? Or we can make an offering to you, 2 of our villagers that have either just reached their 18th year or are close to it for you to take if that is what you desire?"
He seems to think this over for a moment before answering.
"Very well, this village is off-limits to everyone unless it is during the celebration every year on this day... But once every five years, I will still come and claim what is owed to me as payment of the original agreement. At that time, I will take every male and female that has just reached or is about to reach their 18th year. And if there is any interference whatsoever during that time, I will then take everyone I deem suitable for my purpose and destroy this village and any that are left in it!"
He then howls loud and long before saying, "Everyone return to the pack now!"
I watch as they all then walk calmly away from the groups following the big beast out of our village and into the surrounding woods.
The Elders then move around the groups, seeing to all the villagers that have been hurt, I crawl over to where my mother lay on the ground. I curl up next to her, hugging her tight and sobbing until I fall asleep.
"I woke up in one of the other Elders' huts and our lives have been like that since that day. The other Elders agreed to allow me to teach the basics of what I remember from their teaching back then, but because of the possibility of losing everyone, including the village, no one is allowed to use what I teach them on the night of the celebrations especially against them during the five-year raid. Now, Yasmine, only the Elders know this information and I am trusting you with not passing it onto your friends...""I would never betray the trust you put in me, Sir! You were the only one to believe in me and allow me the chance to prove myself, even though I am a girl.""And you have done that way too many times. Yasmine, you are way too good for this village. I am sure you are meant to do much more, but I am afraid that it is not here that you will do it. Just remember, no matter where you end up, be yourself, never allow anyone to make you less than what you
This hesitation cost me because someone then wrapped two significantly enormous arms around me from behind. Fortunately, I am on the smaller side, and as I demonstrated to Elder Miles, I could exploit this to wiggle out of practically every hold the guys tried to keep me in. So I wiggle and struggle in his arms, causing him to reposition them in an attempt to get a better grip on me, which is exactly what I wanted because it gave me a bit more movement.I toss my head back, hitting his nose, and then I throw my elbows back, hitting both sides of his ribs at the same moment, loosening his grip on me even more and allowing me to slip down and out of his arms. When I get to the ground, I crouch and then kick out my leg, rotating as I do so, sweeping his legs backward and causing him to fall hard to the ground.I smile and rise back to my feet, but it's not for long since I'm suddenly surrounded by three more beasts, the first of whom I manage to avoid. I know I've been lu
As he walks out of the town centre and back into the woods, I raise my head and gaze over to where my house is; the last time I see my grandmother, she is quietly sobbing in the shattered doorway of our hut, as the leader of the beasts carries me off into the woods and an uncertain future.I continue to fight despite the fact that it appears to be accomplishing nothing except exhausting me; I groan and, for the first time, attempt to communicate with the beast that is holding me captive.“Do you believe you could help me walk by putting me down?”“NO!”So, since that didn’t work, I’m going to try something new. “When you claimed I was yours, what did you mean?”“You're Mine!”“You already said that... Where are we going?”“Quiet!”“NO!”This appears to surprise him, as he stops for a second, leading me to believe that he
I return to the room and re-examine everything; the only door I haven’t tried must go to a corridor within the building; approaching the door, I lay my hand on the handle and attempt to open it. I repress a chuckle when I discover the door is locked, but I didn’t really expect it to be unlocked, so I groan in disgust and return to the balcony. I know I did a lot of fighting yesterday, and my muscles are quite sore as a result, but I’m not going to sit here and wait for Zachariah to determine what he’ll do to me.Shifting to the side where the railing meets the side of the house... or whatever place I’m in. I lean over the edge, look down, and shudder; I’ve never been a big fan of heights, but I’m not going to let it get the best of me and prevent me from getting away from here. There aren’t many places to hold, but that hasn’t stopped me before, and it won’t this time either. I take a big breath and climb over
I am still a little shocked at what’s going on, so I don’t realize what the one he pushed me into is doing until I feel something tighten around my wrists again. I then start to struggle, but the guy grabs my arms, pulls me into him, and whispers.“You would be better off keeping still my dear, you are already in enough trouble..”I freeze as he runs his nose up my neck; they seem to enjoy doing that a lot but it just creeps me out except for when Zachariah does it. I continue to struggle a little against the ties around my wrists and his hands touching my upper arms, but I have no choice but to watch as Zachariah moves and approaches the one that was holding me.He doesn’t say anything and I gasp in surprise as he punches him in the jaw sending him to the ground. He then moves up to him and pulls him back to his feet just to punch him in the abdomen, chest, and nose. I stop struggling and do what I do best. I study him as he moves.
He holds and pulls me tighter into him as he deepens the kiss; I tense and freeze as I feel the hardness of his excitement pressing more against me. Smiling against my lips before pulling back and looking me in the eye, moving his hand from my neck up into my hair. He then grips my hair and tugs lightly, making my head tilt back. He breaks the connection with my eyes as he leans forward just a little to run soft butterfly kisses down and back up my neck.I can’t stop the soft moan as I relax and pleasure spreads through me, Zachariah smiles against my skin as he pulled on my hair just a little more allowing him to move his kisses further down my neck and onto my chest, another soft moan escapes my lips as he trails his kisses over the tops of my breasts. He continues to smile as he kisses his way back up my neck to my lips, saying,“Such a fiery little thing, but so soft and responsive to my touch...”He then kisses me again.
Whoever it is, knocks again, but this time a soft girl’s voice comes through the door.“Hello? Um... I was wondering if you were hungry?”As if right on cue, my stomach growls loudly and I hear a giggle from the other side of the door. The girl then says,“If you step away from the door, I will bring in something for you to eat!”I haven’t eaten anything since the meal I had with Charles at the celebration, so probably against my better judgment, I move away from the door and go and sit on the bed. I don’t know how she knew I was no longer standing by the door, but I then hear the door unlock and open; I watch as a very tall, gorgeous girl walks in with a tray in her hands.I glance behind her and see a guy standing just outside once she is all the way in. He reaches in and then closes and locks the door behind her. I then return my attention back to the girl who is now standing in front of me, but with no
I don't realize how long I was sitting at the desk until I hear a commotion coming from outside. I look down and notice that the doodles I have been doing since I sat down were all of Zachariah, both his human and his beast. As I hear the commotion getting closer to the bedroom door, I quickly pick up the contracts that I had moved and place them back where they were, covering the paper with my doodles on them.I move closer to the door and hear someone is yelling. The door then unlocks and swings open and in walks Zachariah, half yelling, half growling."Stay out of it Jade...." I then hear Jade's softer voice come from behind him, "But Zach... She..." "NO!!! I SAID STAY OUT OF IT!!!"I hear a slight whimper as he then grabs the side of the door, slamming it behind him. There is a soft click telling me that it was relocked, but Zachariah just goes straight past me and into the bathroom, slamming that door behind him