Chapter 1-In the Beginning
The numbing cold crept inside my jacket, and captured whatever warmth I had, snuffing it out. The wind whipped all around me, a force to be reckoned with. It tore at my clothes and hair with the ferocity of an angry beast blowing through the trees, bushes, and grass, looking eery and foreign. The darkness seemed to creep in from all sides through the tree branches and across the expanse of dirt around my feet. The look reminded me of a horror movie. My hair was getting in my face, but at this point I didn’t want to pull my hands out of my pockets to move it. Despite the inconvenience, I scanned the forest around me looking for any sign of another human, another form of life. Yards away from me stood a woman with striking similarities to myself.
She looked like she was in her early twenties, normal, someone I probably wouldn’t have noticed on the street. However, half of her face was burned, charred, and torn up while the other half was flawless, perfect, almost glowing. I saw a glint of emerald around her neck that sent chills down my spine. My brain flashed memories of a fire, and the woman’s face shot into my head. I knew her, yet it felt like looking through a stranger’s lens. She stared back at me with green eyes that were the same jolting hue as mine, as if I was looking in a mirror. For the longest time we just stared at each other and listened to the wind’s furious tirade. The cold was seeping through my shirt chilling me all the way to the bone. It was like shards of ice hitting my face.
Seconds passed before an unnatural heat engulfed us, bringing flames that quickly devoured the woman. Red and orange licked her clothes and skin, but when I looked closer, I saw that the fire wasn’t touching her, just circling around her. Her eyes darted everywhere until they landed on me again, and I saw the pleading look cross her face. She wanted me to do something to save her. I didn’t know what to do as she started to scream, flames wrapping around her slim figure, rapidly taking her away.
“Avanlea!!” she shrieked at the top of her lungs.
I tried to reach toward her to help, but the flames started to swallow me as easily as they had her. A bloodcurdling noise escaped my lips as the fire was burning through my jacket and shirt all the way to my skin. Searing pain was all I could feel when it reached my outer layer with blood pouring down my arms and onto the ground only to disappear in the flames. Everything was turning orange and shapes were becoming less and less discernible, while smoke started to fill my lungs and I started to blackout from lack of air.
More sounds permeated the air from my lips because the pain was so intense I couldn’t take it. I wanted it to end! At the sides of my vision I saw black shapes moving, but I couldn’t tell what they were until they were right in front of me. Ravens were swarming above me when the flames started to recede and my limbs gave out, shoving me to the ground. It got closer and closer until the cool grass was beneath me and the snow was falling on top of me. It cooled the burns all over my bare body, bringing relief to my senses.
The ravens started to dive toward the ground and at the last second turned into women that were clothed in what looked like silk dresses, flowing to the ground and drifting into smoke. Their black hair floated around them in the snow and wind while they looked at me with curious expressions. One stepped out of their circle formation and made her way toward me. She lifted me off the ground and helped me up, in long sweeping motions.
With a wave of her hands I was clothed in a long black dress, and the burns on my body healed, like they had never been there. My hair spilled down to my waist in loose curls. Become one of us, the unnatural figure whispered. We can save you. You could never die. You could never be hurt. You could have…undying beauty… Slowly, she turned me around and with an upward motion of her hand, a sheet of ice appeared that looked like a mirror. My face reflected out of it, but I hardly recognized it.
The features were sharper and jagged, accented by red lips and piercing eyes. The hair around me glistened with snow, like a crystal chandelier. It framed my slimmer and more balanced body. It was all so scary…but beautiful at the same time. An evil beauty that sent chills down my spine. The face staring back at me from the ice was seductive, cunning, beautiful, but… not mine.
For some reason I wanted that beauty, craved to be invincible, thirsted to be dangerous like them. They were closing in on me, waiting for me to make my choice. They pulled at my hair and straightened my dress, while whispering to me. Come, Avanlea. Be like us. Don’t you want to be beautiful. Come on. Follow us. You know you want to live forever. Come on.
They were getting inside my head, filling it with their horrible voices. Their claws drifted along my back like spiders crawling up and down the skin. In the reflective ice I could see them transforming, their teeth becoming more lethal and their hands turning dark. Shadows consumed their eyes, while their voices were transforming, a demonic tone filling the edges, but still enticing. Come now. Be with us. We will be your friends. You could be beautiful like us. Avanlea. AVANLEA! Voices swirled around in my head all at once, and my eyes were starting to become filled like theirs. Fear crept into my thoughts. My body was becoming cold again.
“ENOUGH!” I screamed.
I threw my hand at the ice in front of me, causing shards of it to fall to the forest floor that was being blanketed with snow. Blood streamed down my fingers. The women looked at me with disgust. One of them spoke, hurting my ears. YOU WILL BE LIKE US!!! Their eyes widened and they screeched.
They lunged at me, and I sprinted in the other direction. The trees almost parted for me, like they knew where I was going. It was almost like I was connected to them in a way. The women had turned back into ravens and were flying toward me with a cloud of smoke trailing them, but their thoughts were still creeping into my head. Who are you to run from us. We will catch you. You’re not fast enough. You know you want to be like us. Adrenaline coursed through my veins, which helped me be more determined to outrun them. To escape them. To keep myself from becoming… a horrible creature or a corpse.
The snow crunched underneath my bare feet, while the wind pulled the hair out of my face. The loose curls faded. The features softened. Everything changed back to how I was. All at once the flapping of wings stopped. The screeching stopped. The snow fell lightly. The wind ended. The smoke disappeared. Everything was quiet. The world around me was peaceful. Like the calm before a storm.
I fell to the ground out of exhaustion, and my bare skin welcomed the cold snow. My hands were numb and my face was freezing. Nothing moved. Nothing made a sound. Nothing but silence and darkness reached my senses. A scream penetrated the silence that sounded like someone in pain. I didn’t know if I should leave it be or follow it. Against my better judgement, I dragged myself off the ground and followed the sounds.
A presence caught my attention that was coming closer…and closer….and closer….I heard a terrible cry… the seven women attacked me with claws that drew my blood, making it run down the length of my curves. They got inside my head, and dragged their dreadful noise through my consciousness. They were changing me into what I didn’t want to be. I fought to get away. I fought to stay conscious. I fought to live…
I shot straight up. My clothes were drenched in a cold sweat. My breathing came in short rapid gasps. My heart was beating at a thousand miles per hour, threatening to burst through my chest. Hot tears started to well up in my eyes. Trying to fight them back, and the urge to puke, I threw my feet over the side of the bed…
The young woman jolted in the chair she sat. She threw herself backward, breathing heavily.
“She’s too strong,” her voice echoed across the empty room.
Her red locks were damp, dirty from not showering for a couple of days.
“There’s no way I can….”
“Don’t ever say there’s no way,” a suave voice lilted to her ears.
The comforting tone he adapted was calming to her.
“She should be easy, she doesn’t even know who she is yet,” the woman complained. “She’s not as vulnerable as we expected. You’ve underestimated her.”
“Yes, I suppose I did,” the smile on his lips was dark and sinister. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t have her. She will eventually follow me. Just give her time to… ruminate.”
He stepped toward the young woman and looked deeply into her pastel green eyes.
“It took you a long while to choose me,” he said stroking her hair.
She smiled and leaned her head into his hand.
“Yes, but I was easier to convince than her,” she replied with a content edge creeping into her words.
“You were always a bit… on the dark side though,” the words were a compliment to her ears.
“It was all you, my dear,” her smile reflected his.
She stood up and threw her arms around his neck.
“You have that effect on people,” her lips whispered in his ear.
“I suppose I do,” he whispered against her lips.
The embrace of their kiss was lustful and long. His was pleased with her and her special gifts. She unfurled her black wings, creating an abyss behind her. He pulled back and tucked hair behind her ear.
“We have on more dream to enter my dear, are you ready?”