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Blood for Blood

Part 1 of a part 3 series

By Hyde Wunderli Published 7 months ago Updated 7 months ago 19 min read
2

Blood for Blood: Part 1

“O potens, da vire tuas. Da mihi virtutem tuam. Exue timorem meum. Da mihi voluntatem tuendi et honorandi testamenti,” I said, with less enthusiasm than a sleeping goat.

Mother left me alone to keep a small fire burning in the rise of winter. I was tasked with practicing the initiation chant against my will. She thought practicing amongst falling snow and howling wolves would help give it the realistic effect that it needed.

“Enough, Sage.” She said, She was losing her patience with me. “Luck be it, your father doesn’t tend to your disciplining. He’s busy taking care of the community during these trying times,” She said, just before walking into the mouth of the mountain's shadow.

The fire’s light cast shadows of the trees upon the snow and made them sway like joined cloaks in a ritualistic circle. The moon was out but it was hiding. It’s a third quarter moon by now. The full harvest moon was approaching. Only a couple days before my ceremony.

“I best be hearing you when I come back.” Her voice called out. “When I’m done with the healing ceremony I won’t have the energy for your defiance.”

“Oh powerful one, give me your strength. Give me your courage. Strip away my fear. Give me the will to protect and honor the coven.” I recited the spirit conjuring spell until I no longer heard mothers soft footsteps crushing crystalized snow.

‘Protect the coven,’ I thought.

They were heavy words. Saying them out loud didn’t lighten the load either.

“What troubles does a boy as pretty as you, got?”

I almost fell back into the fire jumping to my feet. “Don’t do that Cass,” I said.

“Oh, nothin’ scares the newest member into the family council.”

“Not funny,” I said, sitting back down.

“Which part? The bit about you being fearless? Or being an official member of the coven? I still love you even though you’ll jump out of your shoes to the sound of a bullfrog.” She said,

It was nice to feel her hands cup around mine. Even though they were freezing. She looked concerned. It was a face I’d seen before since our big secret started getting more and more out of hand. I didn’t like it so I came up with something quick to say. “Forgot your gloves did you? It’s winter, you know that right?”

“I lent them to Mel. She lost hers,” She said. She made sure to grip my hands tighter so I could really feel how cold they were.

“Last time we were together you talked about how much you hated your sister. Now you’re lending your gloves. Can I even trust your liking for me?” I said.

“Even with all your baggage.” She replied.

“That’s just because we haven’t been caught yet.” My stupidity quickly killed the mood.

She made herself look more enchanting with the way she gently bowed her head. The part down the middle of her scalp split her hair like a fault line. Flakes of snow fell into her brown hair and decorated it like glitter. She had pale skin that had casted shadows of the trees all over her body. The black shapes embraced her like torn fabric stitched together into a blanket. The fire warmed her foreign body, as if she was one of us. Though she braved her stupid impulse to see me, she was safe. And the warmth of the fire assured her of that.

“Forget I said that,” I said.

“I have to forget a lot of things you say,” She replied.

“I’m sure you didn’t actually forget them,” I said.

“How else am I supposed to hold things over your head?” She tried to laugh but her smile faded quickly.

Sounds of the fires' need for attention filled the space of our silence. Cass huddled closer to the fire while I grabbed more wood and tossed it into the pile. The fresh wood cracked and popped as the power of the flame consumed it.

“It’s not the best time to be here,” I said.

“I’m your best kept secret. Is anytime a good time?” She said,

“We caught a group of Beastia Witches trying to lure away our pigs. It escalated into a fight. The healing ceremony is going on as we speak and Mother will be back soon.”

“Truth is, I needed to see you.” She said,

“Cass,What is it?”

She was reluctant to answer. A sudden pop of the fire startled her awake from her daze. Even with the shadows that bordered the flame, her green eyes still sparkled like dragon scales in a cave.

“I don’t even know how to ask. Or what to do.” She was near crying now.

Howls of the wolf pack in the distance no longer sounded so distant. I saw their harsh eyes in the shadows of the trees. They gnarled, exposing blood stained jaws with teeth as sharp as the winter cold. They crushed branches beneath their paws as they closed in around us. I tried to not let my attention on them falter, but still cared for what Cass had to say. She’d risked a lot coming to see me.

I urged her to tell me what trouble she was in, but she too noticed the eyes that growled. “Sage, what’s happening?” She asked.

“Don’t worry they won’t come too close to the fire. That element is on our side.” I replied.

Still, something didn’t seem right. They shouldn’t be here. “You should get out of here Cass,” I said.

“I won’t,” she replied.

Behind the pack there was a different shade of eyes. There was blue, yellow, and green. But the eyes that stood further away were as Orange and red as the fire before us. Their reflection even flickered identical to the flame.

The wolves marched forward, displaying their large teeth in a tactic of intimidation.

“Get back.” I said.

My voice was hiding behind the nervous lump in my throat. I watched Cass tremble behind a tree. I cleared my throat, stood up tall and gave it another attempt, “GET BACK!”

The dead pine in front of me let loose its arms. They came crashing down from high above and crushed two wolves below. The branches were far too large in stature for the wolves to withstand their weight.

I was taken back, but tried to act as if it were supposed to happen. I took a step forward and called to the demon eyed creature. “Who are you?”

The shadowed figure stood idly with no response. His eyes burned brighter and more menacing. The wolves barked. The fur on their backs stood up. I could almost see myself in the reflection of their hungry eyes.

“Cass you need to get out of here now.”

When I turned my head around I saw her pinned against a tree. A wolf as tall as my dread stood over her huddled body. It was the look on her face that made the world freeze around me. I crunched the snow beneath me with a heavy step towards her rescue. I heard the sound of the hard snow against my boot as if it was next to my ear. I could see the drool from the wolves' canines drawing a line to the ground. The wild hairs under his jaw wafting in the wind. I could smell the wild musk coming from the wolf. The smell of long journey’s in harsh weather. Sharp paws with dried blood. A visible breath, with the stench of yesterday's dinner.

The prehistoric jaws caught hold of her upper arm. The wolf sprayed spit and blood through the air as his head ripped away flesh with aggressive jolting. I was at a full stride but it felt like running in place. Every detail was so vivid in my head, serving no purpose but to taunt my failure to reach her in time.

What’s worse, was her calling my name through the agony, “Sage, help Sage, where are you.” Her shock numbed the pain for a time but I imagined it was coming. That’s if I could get to her before the wolf tore her into lifeless pieces on the now, crimson snow.

Four more wolves stalked behind me, waiting for their time to strike. They watched me run towards the danger, probably figuring their chance was near. I didn’t know what I was going to do once I got to Cass, but I didn’t care. I had to do something.

By the time I reached her she had stopped struggling. I was ready to take on the beast, but it retreated to the ground with a sudden fainting as if struck ill. When his snout hit the ground he still had flesh dangling from his jaw. He hardened quickly and started decaying into the ground like seasons passed in a time lapse right before my eyes.

Two of the wolves behind me got entangled in roots that burst from the ground. The rest of the pack retreated up the dark hill deep into the mountains from where they came. I turned to glance at what was left of the enemy, but the mysterious glowing eyes were gone.

“Sage, what’s happened here?” Mother said. Her voice was stern. Her motherly instinct was most likely in a panic but she hid it with the force of an avalanche.

Father was also beside her. “What is a human girl doing here?” He said, concerned, and angry. His hands were still up. He gazed at the perimeter with caution.

“Mother please. You have to save her.” I said.

Father didn’t like that I ignored him. “What trouble have you gotten into, boy?”

“They just showed up. I thought that we’d be safe by the fire. But it went out. Something dark took over them. And there was someone else. Something else,” I said.

“I think he’s right sir, these wolves have been possessed,” A witch said.

She pulled out a knife and stabbed into the wolves side and kept it twisting back and forth until the life inside of it left its body.

“What of the girl?” Father said, in a grumbling voice that scared the stars.

“You aren’t listening. Something isn’t right? Mother please can you do something?” I pleaded.

Her eyes looked down at Cass’s body lying helpless on the floor. Her arm was hanging by a thread. Blood marked the snow below her in a crimson puddle.

“We need to get her inside,” Mom said. Her voice was firm.

“I need to know what you’ve been up to!” Dad shouted. “What is it you’ve done?”

“Now is not the time Tellius!” Mother said. “I think you know exactly what’s happening here.”

The wolf at our feet was decaying quickly. Its thick coat of fur shed into the snow almost entirely, leaving nothing but pink and gray meat underneath. Flesh peeled away from the ribcage exposting bones and failed organs.

Mom draped her cloak over Cass’s body. She ran her fingers along the wound in her shoulder and arm.

“Can you do something?” I said.

“I think so but we need to hurry,” Mom said. “We need her alive.”

Father looked at her with a puzzled look. “The wolves are Baelwyn’s doing. But what does the girl have to do with it?”

“Not here. It’s still not safe,” She said

“That would take an immense amount of power to possess that many wolves,” Someone said.

“Human blood,” Another said.

“Not just human blood. A human gave up his blood willingly,” Mother replied.

“That kind of power, they ca-”

The witch was cut off. “Get her down to the ceremony room. It’s going to take more healers,” Mother said.

It took only one warlock to carry Cass’s small frame down the hill to the ceremony hall. Many gasped in surprise. Others scoffed in disgust, even after seeing her torn and bloody body.

“I know what you are seeing may trouble you. For some, it may even appall you,” Mother said. The crowd continued chatting but faded out to Mother's strong presence.

The table’s unstable legs rocked to her weight climbing to the top of it. She took a good stance to balance herself and continued on, “There’s much to be weary about. But I have reason to believe this girl has answers we may want to hear.”

Even I was taken aback by this. What would Cass have to do with our war against the Beastia Coven?

“Healers come forth. Helping this poor child could mean winning or losing this fight,” She said

The commotion was building outside. The word of a human in the town had already gotten out. In a world where people stick to old-fashioned values, and condemn technologies, they love to hold onto gossip.

The ceremony was complete. Cass was breathing steadily but was left to rest. A fire was started in the room where she lay. The shadow flames climbed the walls around her as if to disapprove of her stay here. Once of warmth and hospitality where I felt bonded to her, now the fire condemned her as the outcast that she is.

She turned in her sleep and I thought for a moment she was going to wake. A feeling in my stomach was both excited and anxious. What’s the first thing to say to the most hated person in the town, when they first wake up from being attacked by possessed wolves?

Mother’s familiar grip held my shoulder. “There’s lots to discuss before she wakes up. You’re a part of this now, no matter how much you don’t want to be.”

I let her words sink in before answering. I thought about what I’d say, thought about what we were now up against, and how I can tie into all of it. “I want to be. For her,” I said.

The small window in the room was having a hard time concealing all the noise outside. Mother noticed my nervous look and brought me in for a hug. I usually felt at ease with her comforting touch, but this time it was much more difficult. The voices were too much to block out. The threats, the nervous uncertainty hidden by rage and pointing fingers. It was all stabbing my gut and making my ears bleed.

“Come, let's go to your Father, She said.

When I pulled away from her with a protesting look she gripped me tighter so I couldn’t get away. I rather face the shouts outside the wall than face my Father.

“I’ll be there with you,” Mother said.

Father was speaking to the council. Five women, and three men had their eyes locked on me like they were ready to pounce. A tape of silence covered their rambling mouths to keep their secret meeting from falling into the wrong hands.

“He’s not yet on the council,” Father said, after slamming his hand on his desk. What I really heard was he didn’t wish to ever see or speak to me again.

“He will be in two days. And he deserves to hear what we are up against.”

“He’s coming for you.” Father looked right at me. “Are you ready to right your wrong? Do you think you’re ready for that?” The intensity in his face was so intense his eyes almost burst from their sockets. The knuckles pressing hard into the desk were soon to bleed.

“He’ll be ready,” Mother said. She was calm. Someone had to be.

“Why me?” I said. The room was much warmer once I stepped further into it. I could feel the body heat taunting me. The many eyes judging me.

“Baelwyn seeks more power, as you already know. He’s also not against using human sacrifice to do so.” Father stood up straight from his hunching posture over the desk. His gloved hands grasped the collar of his shirt. “You’re the son of the Coven’s leader. A hybrid boy born of two coven bloodlines. If he’s going to have what he wants, he must get rid of everything that can stop him.” He walked around his desk to stare straight into my eyes with nothing in the way. “But you’re busy running around with a human girl, instead of focusing on your family. How could you put the entire coven at risk like that?”

“Tellius, It’s time he knows the whole story,” Mother said.

Father gave a protesting look but then knew he’d lose this battle. “Baelwyn was like a brother to me. Saved me from a human raid when I was young. His hatred for humans grew stronger with our age. But with our coven being so outnumbered, it was always frowned upon to even discuss such ideas as to rise up against them. We were forced higher into the mountains where they’d never find us.”

Someone interrupted, “Sorry sir, I know this is important but what are we going to do to protect the coven? We don’t have a lot of time.”

“If he’s as powerful as you think the boy doesn’t stand a chance,” Another said.

“He does, with her.” Mother interjected.

“The girl is part of the problem.” Someone else shouted.

“Baelwyn needs her dead. Both her and my son.” Mother looked at me. Her eyes were like seeing me for the first time.

Father looked as if he was about to hit me. He decided against it, walked back around the desk to his chair, and sat down. His elbows rested on the desk and he waved to my mother to continue.

“During the ceremony, I felt the source of our willing human.”

“You mean she’s the human who gave up her blood? Why are we saving her? We should be letting her die!”

The others shouted, and heads nodded in agreement to the hag's outburst. Father raised his hand to calm them. I felt my fingertips going numb. The blood circulating in my chest was slowing. The torch on the wall was dimming and then brightening in a repeating sequence. The sounds of the voices faded out into a hollow unified chant. “Curse you, condemn you, you are no longer one of us.”

“Not hers but a relative. Someone of the same blood.” Mother’s words brought me back from the nightmare I was falling into. “I have my suspicions but we must talk to the girl when she wakes.”

After the brief meeting, the council gathered the rising riot outside and calmed them down. While that discussion was happening Cass was coming out of a long daze in which she probably was reliving the horror she just endured, in her sleep.

She sat up from her bed as pale as her bed sheets. They were soaked in sweat. All the fluid she had left in her body had flushed from her face. Her big beautiful eyes reduced to darkened chickpeas sinking in quicksand.

“I thought for sure I’d lost my arm,” She said.

“You about did,” Mother said.

Cass wanted to hide behind the bed sheets. Maybe try and dig a hole underneath the bed and stay there forever.

“Cass, they know everything now. I told them about us,” I said.

Cass sunk deeper into her bed. “Not everything.”

“That’s what I’ve come to talk about actually. We’re gonna need your blood,” Mom said Frankly.

“Mom no,” I interrupted.

“Why didn’t you take any when you brought me in? I’m sure there was plenty of it?” Cass said.

“You need to be willing. And verbally give us consent.”

“Mom, no!” I shouted again.

“There are risks to this ritual. The human doesn’t always make it out alive. It’s usually to serve a Witch or Warlock in some way. And since your father has already accepted his blood to be tainted by another coven, the spirits may reject your offering.”

“What? What are you talking about Mom?” I said

“That’s what I came to tell you.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“He knew about us. Found me sneaking out of the house to see you I guess. Turns out someone else was spying on us.” Cass sounded both annoyed and stupid. “How could I be so reckless?” She continued. “I thought he was just making empty threats. I didn’t think he’d want to actually do anything. Not too long ago I saw him speaking with someone I didn’t recognize. Dad didn’t look happy. The rage in his face scared me so I didn’t bring up the conversation he had.”

“His blood, along with his rage allowed for a powerful spell. He was tricked into thinking you’d be safe,” Mom said.

Cass scratched her fingers against the bedpost. Her eyes kept falling onto mine while trying to engage in the conversation with my mother. The sun was rising now. Some of the light was blocked by the thick layer of ice formed on the window’s glass, but most made it through. The gloomy ray’s sucked the color from the objects in the room, rather than ignited them.

Mother went and sat at the edge of the bed. She placed her hand on Cass’s fiddling fingers. “We can stop him. It’ll mean safety for you, for your Father, and for my son.” She said

“She can’t!” I interrupted. “This is our fight. I won’t bring her into this.”

Cass was silent. By my mother’s side, I never realized the similarities the two shared. Same brown hair complexion. The same set of cheekbones fell away from the eyes like being pushed away by gravity's resilience. And the same lanky fingers that looked like fresh chalk. That, I only noticed when their fingers interlocked into a tangled web of understanding.

When My mother sat up straight, Cass sat up straight. When My mom moved the hair from her face, Cass found a reason to play with her hair. This nonverbal communication resonating with each other was a good sign. I’d feared this day for so long and I never thought I’d be so grateful for the way it happened. Somehow the great conflict had brought us together. It was like our hidden secret was bubbling up inside ready to burst like a volcano. I’d never tell Cass the relief I felt by the circumstances at hand, given that she almost lost her life for our childish love. But I refused to let her be a part of the reckless redemption.

“Is there a way to kill him without her blood? I won’t lose her again. I’ll do whatever it takes.” I said

“It’s our best chance at stopping him,” Mother responded.

“It’s not happening,” I said.

“I’ll do it,” Cass interrupted.

Mother didn’t say anything. She tapped Cass’s hand and gazed into her eyes. I studied her face before opening my mouth. My brain was screaming at me. I strained myself trying to reason with my emotions.

“Cass, you don’t have to. It’s too risky,” I said.

“It’s my mess now too,” She argued.

Blood ceremonies are rare in my coven. They typically mean conjuring something evil or desiring something that insinuates greed or obsessive power. There is, however, a necessary evil that requires rebalancing life from darkness. Blood against blood.

"Sanguis pro sanguine, ordinem instaura, sanguis pro sanguine, universum integrum fac, sanguis pro sanguine aequilibrium omnibus rebus, sanguis pro sanguine."

The council hid their faces inside their hoods. This time they wore red; different from the more common green or white. Their heads remained down. Never pointing towards the sky. They spoke in deep echoing voices while preparing the fire. Before long it sounded as if the world around them joined them like a choir. The incantation bellowed in the wind. Knocked on the wood of the trees. And rumbled the ground. It was a ritual I didn’t recognize. The mannerisms, the voices, and the tasks were so different. As a child, I observed many of these rituals and ceremonies. And none like this. Most of what my coven focuses on is using nature to guide and build us and for healing.

Cass was on the other side of me. I stared at her resting body until the rising fire blocked my view. Even then I kept my eyes to the black smoke and flame in hopes of seeing her. But the wall in front of us only grew larger.

The potion ingested slowly seeped through my veins and obscured my vision. The fire became multicolored. It flickered shapes of abstract glass into the free air. Glimpses of Cass broke through the shapes in the air, like shattered glass. She was hurt, she was suffering, she was being pulled away by a force that tortured her. The orange demon eyes were back. They called to Cass. They hissed me away and warned me not to come near.

So much smoke rose up from the pit that not only could I no longer see Cass’s body, but the whole world around me began to be consumed by the black smoke.

Unwanted visions were drawn among the smoke wall like hieroglyphics. They were being drawn by the eyes that hid behind a mask of darkness. He drew on the smoke, deranged memories of my past and future in multi-colored paint. Cass was slowly fading from my memories. It was haunting, and hard to bear. And yet it also felt like I was watching someone else's agony. A part of me felt relief that the life I watched in anguish wasn’t my own. And the other part of me wished it was if it meant saving Cass.

The smoke cleared away. It took with it, the color of the world. The only color left was Cassie’s body but it was slowly fading. She was lifeless on the ground in front of me. Blood striped her cheeks. Leaves filled her mouth. Her hands were wrapped with vines, tying down small toadstools in the palms of her hands.

‘You can make it Cass, I’m coming for you,’ I thought

The fiery eyes came lurking behind her in a dark cloak. Long gray fingers gripped her shoulder. A sinister smile beamed through the darkness of the hood.

“She’s mine,” The mouth said.

The jaws clamped together repeatedly in a chewing and gnawing motion. He wrapped his cloak around her as if to hide her from me.

The only sound I could hear was her faint heart drumming slowly, beating once like in a cave and then not beating again for what seemed like a full season. I almost reached for her. Then I remembered the flame in front of me. Just before leaping to the side, to run to her, the flame snatched around my wrist like a whip and pulled me into the pit down a fiery deep hole. As I fell, that stirring smile leaned over the pit. It laughed and bit at the air.

“She tastes delicious,” The smile said.

Smoke covered the opening hole like closing curtains. My eyes betrayed me. I still fell.

I heard a low voice call down to me from up high, “I’m coming for you next.” Then everything faded.

Fantasy
2

About the Creator

Hyde Wunderli

Enthusiast of dark romanticism or, gothic romance.

Inspired by the works of edger Allen Poe, Herman Melville, Charles Dickens, and Stephen King

Here for the dopamine, the passion, and the challenge to push my comfort zone.

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Comments (3)

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  • Test4 months ago

    Impressive work! Well written!

  • OOF7 months ago

    I love the dialogue and the pacing in this story! Can’t wait for part 2. That last line!

  • Part two and three will be released shortly. Thank you for reading :)

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