Chapter 3: The Storm

Disclaimer:

If the previous child abuse was a bit too much to handle, take care while diving into this chapter. All I can say, it gets better from here for our little one.

Before I realized what had happened, grandmother had come into the room followed by two sisters. The only thing that broke me away from my painting was her bitter words aimed at me.

“Oh child, just what are you doing?” Grandmother asked, breaking my concentration from my painting.

A shiver went down my spine. It was late, they never came this late. Fear swelled within me as one sister stepped forward towards me with chains in her hands. We solely made our coven of women, hence why we called each other sister. It surprised me why they were here. I had failed no test; in fact, I had been passing with full points since my last whipping. I struggled to hide my bracelet under my pajamas. The sister grabbed my hands and bound them into place with the cuffs connected to the chains. Luckily, the sister did not take notice of the bracelet that slid into the cuff, hiding it from sight. Confused, I looked for guidance on why I was about to be punished.

“Do you think we did not know what you were doing, child? Do not be foolish. We let you out, but it is time for you to lose all hope once again. The ritual we have been preparing for is coming to pass in a day from now.” Grandmother informed, leaving only dread within me.

 I tried to control my feelings, not wanting the bracelet to alarm Fenris of my peril. Grandmother’s words resonated within me. In a day, it would be Fenris’s birthday too. Just what were they planning? It would not take long for me to find out, as my grandmother intended to tell me either way. She desired to break me.

“Why so quiet, child? Don’t you want to know what we are up to?” Grandmother scoffed, walking past me.

For a moment, she stared at the painting I had been working on before grabbing it in her hands.

“I…” I tried to speak but could not.

My voice trembled too much to answer her. In response to my demeanor, she tore the painting from the canvas in front of my eyes and threw it in the trash next to us. I could not cry. If I did then…

“You have been mingling with the enemy. With Amir’s cursed child, no less. Did you know he is said to bring prosperity and peace to the Lycans? What a disgrace.” She began belittling me.

I tried to show little emotion. If I reflected on anything, it would infuriate her further. I knew better, but I did not know how much I could hold in. Until she pushed me off the cliff. How much could I truly endure when it was Fenris’s name in her mouth? No, I had to endure it. Though…

If Fenris was Amir’s child, then I had signed his death sentence.

“I did not know,” I defended myself, trying to not show anything to let her use against me.

It was the first time I had something to lose. I did not want to lose Fenris at all costs. My answer, though, enraged her. She grabbed my hair and slammed me against the wall.

“Do not play dumb child. I taught you better than this. Silver hair is a trait only found in Amir’s line of wolves. I also taught you to not get friendly with them. Don’t you understand they took your mother! My love!” She screamed, letting go of my hair and fixing her dress once again.

 I cowered, not wanting to get hit. In one last-ditch effort to reach her cold, dead heart, I tried to call out to her.

“I did not know, grandmother please,” I begged her to drop it.

I did not want Fenris’s name in her mouth. Upon hearing what I called her, she punched me in the face, breaking my lip upon contact as I fell onto the floor. All I could taste was blood in my mouth as she sneered at me.

“Do not f****** call me that. You cursed, child. It was you who took my daughter from me too!” She raged, leaving me, trying to compose myself.

“Yes… Stella.” I struggled to say, blood dripping onto the wooden floor from my mouth.

It hurt.

“It does not matter anymore. Now it is my turn to take everything from you. You will give your life to open the gate for us!” Stella announced, shocking me to my core.

If that was her intention, then she was crazier than my mother ever was. Only one witch in history had ever tried and failed to succeed to open the gates to the nether realm. Her name was Lilith, a witch full of scorn and hatred. They had forced me to read and memorize her history. It always made me wonder why my mother named me after her.

She had once said it was because she loved the name. Even though it was tarnished by a wicked witch, mother said I could bring glory to the name. A redemption? I knew the concept of that well enough at this point. All I wanted was to protect my light. My precious light that no one would ever snuff out.

If the gate, also known as the netherworld, was successfully opened, witches would have the upper hand, or at least they thought they would. They believed that was where the witches’ source of power was located. It was thought we would get overwhelming power if it opened. The other infamous witch my mother named me after, Lilith, failed before. Thanks to her attempt, though, the Cerberus order formed.

Their primary goal was to stop the wicked, who seemed to want to destroy the world with brief hesitation. I wanted nothing to do with that, even if I hated this world. Even if I did not want to live in it, I did not think everyone else should not either. I did not want my light to suffer. All I wanted was for him to have a happy life, even if I was not in it. Even if I could just watch him from afar, that would be more than enough. That would be my only wish.

“It will be fun to watch you be the cause that ends that cursed Lycan, child. What is his name? Ah yes, Fenris.” The moment his name left Stella’s lips, I for the first time lost it.

“You can’t do that. No! Do not touch him!” I screamed from the floor while glaring at her, only for her to kick me in my stomach, knocking the air out of me.

“Oh, child, I will not be the one touching him. He will die because of you. He and many more will find their end soon. Most likely there will be a clean start to the world. After all, this world is not worth living if she is not in it. When it resets, we witchcraft users will be at the top for once too.” Stella informed.

I tried desperately to get air into my lungs, but it was no good. My tiny body could not handle the brutal beating that came after she finished enlightening me. I did not know when I lost consciousness, but the next morning, I woke up in the manor’s basement naked on the floor. It was a struggle to move. It hurt to live.

For a moment, I tried to remember what had happened the previous day, only for fear to set in. I tried to get the bracelet out of the cuff with little success. It was stuck under. I could not see if it was glowing or normal. I prayed it had not alerted Fenris to what was happening here.

‘Please do not come!’ I repeated in my mind.

The only thing that stopped my train of thought was when I heard the door open. One sister had come in with a cold bucket of water before dumping it on me. Resisting the urge to scream, I tried to cope with what was happening to me instead of crying out for help. By digging into my hands with my nails. What was a bit of more pain compared to what I was feeling already?

Shivers ran down my back thanks to the cold water. I laid in it as she threw a rotten piece of bread at me before closing the door, leaving me in the darkness once again. The basement had no windows, just a small candle that barely illuminated the room. It was clear enough to see that the bread had maggots coming out of it, though. Ignoring it, I struggled to move away from the wet floor, desperately trying to get any warmth.

Did it even matter? Why did I want to survive? When those thoughts left my head, I quickly remembered what would happen if I got into more danger.

‘It cannot glow. Do not glow. Please, god, keep Fenris away from here!’

I pleaded to the dead gods once again, hoping one would hear me. Any of them would do.

‘Please.’

My consciousness drifted as I dreamed of happier times. Hours passed by. Whenever I woke up from this state, I wondered if a day passed? Two? Was the ritual going to happen? Had Fenris come here?

‘No… Please no…’

No one had come into the room since they threw the bread at me. I had lost consciousness more than once, each time because of exhaustion. Thirst and hunger did not bother me anymore after hours of feeling them.

Why was this happening? Why was I even born? I did not ask for this life. I wanted to die.

‘Please let me die…’

My eyes closed for what was the longest time. Before I knew it, the door slammed open once again, this time Stella walked in. She appeared angrier than usual. She grabbed a steel knife before pushing me to the ground. I had little energy or will to fight her.

“Do you have any idea who just came to our door?!? Hours before our ritual?!?!” she screamed, slicing my bare chest with her knife.

I tried so hard to hold in the screams, but after the second slice, I could not keep them in anymore. Did not have the will to suppress them anymore. After a third slice, she grabbed the bucket that was used to throw cold water at me and started a fire in it.

“Do you even know? It was f****** Amir and his f****** eldest son with a battalion. He said his youngest son thinks his friend is in danger. Can you believe that? How the f*** would he know that? Huh, cursed child? Do you have any idea how close we came to being found out?!?” she snarled at me, heating the knife on the fire.

“I… do… not…” I struggled to say in between breaths, trying to lie for Fenris.

The moment she took the heated knife from the fire. She sliced my body over and over, deforming every part she touched with her blade. The stench of burning flesh filled the air. I did not even know if I was awake for all of it, but somehow, I remembered what she said in the end.

“You should be thankful to one sister. She came up with a spell that transformed one of our other girls into you, appearance-wise. It was a spell that Lycan eyes could not detect. They bought it because there was no evidence to say otherwise. Seems Amir cannot care enough for his child’s witch friend.” Stella began, enjoying herself.

“Oh, how I wish Amir would have brought that cursed moon child along. I would have loved to see his face when he saw that fake. Would he have fallen for it, or would he have seen through the illusion? I wonder. Either way, soon it will be all over. I will come back to get you in a few hours for the ritual.” She ranted for a bit, feeling better after torturing me before leaving to prepare for their precious ritual.

The only thoughts that remained in my mind were thankful ones to the gods that heard my pleas. For not allowing Fenris to come here. He could never come here. After those thoughts, I lost consciousness once again, only to be woken up by someone picking up my beaten body. Before throwing me into cold water once again.

The jolt of the freezing liquid snapped me awake. It turned red from the blood from my wounds that had already dried. Struggling to grab onto the sides of the tub the sister had thrown me in, I saw what my grandmother had done to me. She had completely carved into my upper body. Everywhere she touched would never be the same after what she had done.

Everything would leave permanent scars. Somehow, she had enough pity to leave my areolas and nipples intact, but the surrounding tissue was not as lucky. Part of my arms and legs were deformed too, lightly compared to how the center of my body was.

Every slice Stella made was with enough depth to leave a scar, but not to lead to death. She had to keep me alive until the ritual. If I was to be the sacrifice, she wanted me to be. My face seemed to be free of injuries aside from the beating I took the prior night. The sister that threw me into the tube drained it before dosing me with soap and more water.

They were preparing my body for their spell. Well, purifying it. In most cases, rituals had to be done free of impurities. Anything could throw the spell out of balance, creating catastrophic results.

‘Ah… How I desired I would stop breathing… Why can’t the pain stop?’

After draining the tub once again, the sister grabbed onto my hair and cut it until it was short. It barely covered my scalp. Even Fenris had it longer than I did when she finished. My brown hair fell into the tub below. It resulted in another splash of cold water to remove the hair that was on my body. At this point, I did not care what happened to me. Even though I was delirious, I tried to keep my attention straight. I had only one chance to stop this ritual, to halt them from hurting my light.

I had to use everything they taught me to cast my first counterspell against theirs. It was a long shot, and I was just a child. Compared to the adults who had cast spells before while I had never done so, my chances of doing anything fruitful were slim. But spells are feeble and easily manipulated. That much I learned from all their lectures. The reason human sacrificial spells were so hard to accomplish. Was because the state of mind of the sacrifice could throw the spell off balance.

History stated the wicked Lilith failed because her state of mind was not the correct one to open the gate. Instead, her spell only opened a fraction of it. That alone almost destroyed the world. Opening it fully would annihilate everyone in the world. I did not pretend to know how the witches planned to survive that. Lilith was the first victim of the nether realm, but in all honesty, they were not thinking it through fully.

Stella just wanted the world that took her daughter to burn. All witches in this coven had the same or similar resentments towards every other race. Most had stories of being oppressed and brutalized by the other races. I understood their resentment, but not everyone deserved to die like that. They were not born that way. Fenris and his friends showed me that there was good in them.

The last time the gate opened was when Cerberus’s order formed. They united all other races to stop Lilith’s maddening spell. What was used to stop it? It was a secret that only the order knew of. Things were different this time, though. Last time what they had in their favor was that Lilith had done the spell away from a city. This gave them time to respond to the minor breach between our worlds, but this coven was different. We were right on the town’s border, Silverant, the capital where all races could congregate peacefully.

Made by the Silver Fang clan for that purpose, even if racism still was present. They were trying to be better. I could not let them take away the world they were trying to create. For Fenris to survive, I had to keep up with these witches. I had to stay awake and use the knowledge they had beaten into me against them.

A feeble wish, as my grimoire had not even awakened yet, but I had to do something. Anything. Somehow, I had to be brave for Fenris and his existence. Deny them the chance to destroy this town and everyone in it as it would be ground zero. Their greatest downfall would come when they underestimated me.

At this point, I should have given in to the coven’s wishes. Maybe the results would have been different. Maybe the spell would have worked as intended, instead of the monstrosity that it ended up being. Once the sister was done purifying my body, she dressed me in a white dress that quickly was stained with the blood from my wounds. She forced me to walk along the way to the ritual room.

The sisters, including the children, held candles in their hands. They were all aligned in a straight line leading to the room, where fates would collide. Somehow, just by pure will, my legs did not fail me on the way to the room. By the time we entered my limbs trembled mostly in fear than fatigue. I was wide awake for the first time since they beat me senselessly. Inside the dreadful room, Stella was preparing the salt circle as they led me inside. The spells were all in Latin, and words were all written on the sides of the circle. Some within it too.

Impia, succurrat hostium depopulentur nostris nos detinent. Hanc nobiles sanguinem victimae aperire januam regni corpus in lumine; Nos suppressors nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie justitiam. ‘Unholy realm come to our aid and lay waste to our enemies, who suppress us. We offer this noble and pureblood sacrifice, open the gate to your realm and bathe us in your light! Free us from our suppressors and grant us justice.’ Was basically what it translated to.

They had written the incantation with red painting or blood. I could not tell the difference between them. Throwing me towards the middle of the circle, Stella grabbed a piece of a broomstick before splitting it in half.

“Do you know what time it is, child?” Stella asked knowing full well I did not know the answer.

In response, I stayed silent, trying to get every bit of information that I could to destroy their plan. A feeble idea.

“It is about to be midnight. Do you know why that is?” She continued with her query.

I remained silent, having no intention of making her satisfied anymore. It did not matter, though. I was about to be sacrificed.

“Good grief, child, I did not cut out your tongue. Maybe I should have.” She retorted, grabbing my chin, forcing me to stare at her.

Her expression was full of resent and hatred. One would think I would feel the same for her, but I did not loath her. I pitied her. She allowed hate to rule her life while I found peace in death. She forced me to grow up faster than I should have. Tried to force me to be full of hate like her, but I refused to do what she wanted.

She had controlled me all this time with fear of what she would do to me, but now. I dreaded something else. Something scarier than the pain she put me through. I had to make sure that the last moments of my life would be meaningful. I had to think. Think about how to outplay her in this game of chess.

“Stupid child, are you still hoping to be saved?” Stella questioned forcefully, letting go of my face.

She was wrong. I did not want to be saved. I did not want to live anymore. This life had no meaning, but if my death could be meaningful. If I could save Fenris with my death. Then everything would be worth it.

“I… do… not… care…” I struggled to say.

She smacked my face with the stick, sending me tumbling to the floor. Somehow, all my teeth were still intact, but the cut on my lip had reopened. Along with the lining inside of my mouth had lacerations, too. All I could taste was blood as it dripped onto the floor.

“Stupid child. You know, we were lucky this morning when Amir came to question us. It seemed he was in a hurry to leave that he got sloppy. Maybe his child’s birthday was all that mattered to him at that moment. More than the life of a young witch. Amir’s precious child, I wonder how he will react when we drop this bomb right at his child’s birthday party.” Stella gloated, enjoying the thought of Amir experiencing the same pain she had.

She wanted him to feel the pain of losing his precious child, just like she had. She blamed Cerberus for everything that had happened to her, too. Well, just as much as she blamed me for my mother’s mental state. If there was no Cerberus, the love, my mother’s life would not have left her because of the stigma. And if I had not been born, my mother might have been able to live without a reminder of my father.

The sorrow of losing a daughter had driven Stella insane. It was what she wanted to do to me as well. Somehow, I stayed sane through the abuse. Though the thought of Amir being with his son brought me comfort. He would not allow Fenris to leave to look for me, even though his bracelet must have been glowing madly by now. I was thankful for that. With so much attention on Fenris thanks to the birthday, he could not escape to find me. Especially while under Amir’s watchful eye.

Fenris was safer away from me. Though, deep down, I wanted him to find me. To look at me one last time and show me that beautiful smile that could outshine the sun. The moment that thought left my mind; my cuff shone brightly enough to snap me out of my train of thought. I desperately covered my hands with my thighs, forgetting that I was the only one who could see it glow.

All this time it had never done that to where I could see so brightly. Was it because I thought of Fenris? That I wanted to see him?

‘Oh god no. What had I done? Had it had alerted him? This morning… Had Fenris sent his father just because he worried over me? Instead of the bracelet warning him?’

 It was then I remembered that the previous day; I had promised him I would play with him again at the beach. He had assured for it to be a new game I had never done before. Was it volleyball? I could not remember the name anymore.

‘Oh god, please do not let Fenris see it.’

It was about to be midnight, so I prayed he would have been asleep while it shone.

‘Do not come here! Stay away. I do not want to see him!’

I lied.

‘Please! Stay away!’

I screamed in my head while my breathing became somewhat uneven.

“Is the delay for the spell ready?” Stella asked one sister in the room, snapping me out once again.

I had no time to worry about Fenris. Yet it was all that was filling my mind.

“Yes, mother. It is.” The sister answered.

I tried to follow along, steadying my nerves.

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“Good then. The spell will take eight hours to activate. The party should have started by then.” Stella commented.

I tried to figure out what they were going on about. A delayed spell was the one thing that stuck to me. Were they planning on escaping Silverant before they completed the ritual?

‘Cowards.’

Forcing myself to sit up, they continued to speak.

“Are we ready? Is it almost time for the last ingredient?” Stella asked another sister that had an hourglass in her hands.

“Yes, it is time mother.” The sister replied.

Stella smirked before approaching me once again with the same stick in her hand. Accompanied by another sister.

“Well, child, it is time for the last ingredient,” Stella announced, nodding to the other sister.

It signaled her to grab onto my cuffs and pull them over my head, pinning me down to the floor with my back on the ground. Was it to prevent me from squirming around? Stupid, I could not fight Stella either way. But little did I expect what she was about to do to me. I was just a child, and she was a wicked woman.

“The ritual demands the deflowerment of a pure innocent woman. Well, in this case, girl,” Stella declared, leaving me little time to analyze what she meant.

Before she used that stick to do what she said, she would. There were no men in this coven to do the deed, so she took it upon herself to brutalize me. She ravished me with the stick, leaving me less desirable for anyone who would ever look my way in the future. Not that she planned to let me live that long. By the time she finished, my body could barely comprehend what had happened to it. I did not even know what had happened to me.

The entire event could not register in my mind as at this point; I did not even know what sex was. Let alone what she had done to me. She had done this to break me but at ten years old. I did not know what she had taken from me. No… all I knew was that my back and abdomen hurt so much that tears slid down my cheeks once again.

I had not even realized I had been crying the whole time. It hurt to even breathe. It hurt so much that I just wanted everything to end there.

‘No more…’

Everything hurt so much that I could barely think anymore. My legs refused to listen to me even though I wanted to run, hide. My throat was raw from the screaming. My voice was hoarse. Laughing maniacally, Stella threw the stick she had used to brutalize me outside of the circle. Oh, how she enjoyed my pain, my distraught. I would immortalize her expression in my mind. She went to join the other sisters to begin the ritual.

My body trembled as I tried to sit upward. Even though it hurt so much that I wanted to croak right where I was, I could not let myself lose to her. Battered and bloodied. The moment I could sit, all I saw down there was blood as it pooled under my bum and legs.

I tried to get a hold of myself, but I could not concentrate as they cast the delayed spell, sealing me within the circle. Even though it would have not mattered to do so. I could barely move as it was. Sitting up was already too much for me too. Stella had brutalized my everything. I was foolish to think I could do anything to help Fenris, yet I refused to give up.

However, unlike my unyielding will, my body could not keep up. I lost consciousness not long after sitting up. By the time I regained it once again, my assailants vanished. The surrounding circle glowed light blue, allowing me to know that they had already cast the spell. What was remaining would be my death to finish the ritual. When I assessed myself, I noticed something alarming radiating from my body. My body was glowing lightly as blue markings appeared on my skin.

They would fade in and out. I had to figure out a way to change the spell before the time ended, but how long was I out for? Hours, minutes? It was long enough for them to had made their escape. Groggily, I peered around to see the sunlight beaming through a small window of the room that would be my tomb. If the sun was out, then it was around six in the morning at least or at the most seven, almost hitting eight. Meaning I only had one or two hours to figure out a way to sabotage the ritual. But I had less.

This ritual differed completely from the one Lilith did long ago. She had sacrificed herself, after losing her husband and child to infighting in between the races. She blamed the world, just like Stella did. Lilith allowed herself to be filled with hatred. If grandmother figured out what Lilith had done wrong, there was probably no way to stop it. I was only ten, bordering on eleven years old. Compared to the fifty years Stella had under her belt, I was nothing but a simple bug to be squashed.

Yet I could not let it end like this. It hurt to move, but I did anyway. I pushed forward through the pain until I hit the border of the circle. Testing it with my hand, I found it impossible to get through. It did not harm me though, so it was not an offensive barrier, but a defensive one, to keep me in. Sitting against it, I glanced around, noticing the blue light getting brighter and brighter with every second that passed.

I had only minutes to figure out what I wanted to do or could do. For a moment, the picture of a caged bird I had seen when I was with Fenris and his friends came into mind. We were waiting for another piece of ice cream. This time Fenris wanted to buy me a strawberry-flavored one.

Tears fell off my cheeks, as I did not know what to do. I felt like that caged bird. When my eyes met with the bird’s gaze, it seemed so pitiful and helpless, just like I was. I wanted to be free and see Fenris’s face once again. The bracelet under the cuff shone once again as I sobbed harder than ever before.

“No… Stop…” I cried, weakly trying to make the bracelet stop shining.

I did not want Fenris to know. I did not want him to see me like this. Caged, pitiful… Tears continued to roll down my eyes when an idea finally hit me. Would there be a way to cage the gate? A way to seal the gate within a vessel.

I had nothing to seal within range, though. Sealing spells were one of the simplest to cast. But at the same time one of the hardest for what I wanted to accomplish. It was a world I was trying to stop from coming through, not fire or flower. A simple orb would not work, either.

How did Cerberus close the gate before? That was a detail I did not know. Though, before I could think any further, the most excruciating pain coursed through my body. It felt like something was being carved into my soul. It wanted me to lose my consciousness again.

Something I could not allow to happen. I bit into my finger, wasting little time writing my very first spell. I had no grimoire, but I knew how to craft one from all the books they had forced me to read. After struggling to write it, I clasp my hands and recited it without letting the pain consume me.

“Inferis offero corpus tamquam vas. Ligabis ad me ipsum. COPH vocem meam audiunt et ego praecipio tibi vincula et ligabunt te in me.” I repeated multiple times in the hopes the gods were on my side.

‘Nether realm, I offer my body as a vessel. Bind yourself to me. I command you to hear my plea and bind yourself to me.’

 For just a moment, the circle changed colors from blue to red. I had no way of knowing if it was me or just what the sisters wanted, but for a moment my hopes went up. Before it sent me plunging into the air, into the middle of Silverant.

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Ah… Was this how they planned to kill me? A fall? Did my attempt to save Fenris fail? Did the gods not hear my plea? Was my offer not good enough?

‘Please let it be good enough… I do not want him to die.’

Little did I know that in my foolish effort to save them, I had doomed them to live in fear for the rest of their lives. Everyone would know this day as the moment the Moira coven brought Silverant to her knees.


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