I have never felt so close and yet so far away from anything before. I could hear people yelling, they noticed I was gone. I have been locked up for so long I forgot what the forest felt like. Full of life and green. By the time someone notices they are heading the wrong way, it will be too late. My plan was to escape, run south for a bit, then circle back to my prison. As soon as they followed the scent south, I would run north. I could hear a river north, so I would run to the river then wade up stream so the scent would be lost. Find somewhere safe to cross, then take off, continuing north. My heart is pounding so hard I am afraid my captures could hear it and ruin the whole plan.
I heard him yell, the one who took me, Arken. One i was the first he took. He never gave us names, only numbers. I remember before I was taken, but I can’t remember my name. Sad, right? They started off on the fake trail that I left them and I bolted the opposite way. All I can think is now or never. The further I run, the louder the river gets, I get to where I can see it and leap in. running up stream as fast as i can. I don’t stop until I can no longer fight the water, then I wade across and then keep running. I ran from sunrise till just about dark. As the sun was setting, I stopped just to catch my breath.
As I looked around, I was at the bottom of a large cliff. I started walking along the base to find a cave or a rock hanging just enough out of the wall to give shelter. I don’t know how long I walked but I finally found a cave. Smooth rock all along the bottom, I walked in and tried to find another nook to take as a bed. A short walk in, I found a ledge about shoulder length above the ground. I pulled myself up and took a deep breath as I laid down. This was my great escape. The best part is, all the skills it took to escape were taught by Arken. He wanted us to be the best trained beasts we could be. Sunday we would run from sun up till sun down. Monday we would work out all day. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday survival tactics. Friday we will run again. Then Saturday was a break but we could not eat.
As the sun came up it showed through the entrance of the cave. This woke me up. I had not intended to fall asleep. I quickly sat up and looked around. I didn’t hear or see anyone. I took a deep breath and jumped off the ledge. Looking to the back of the cave, I could see daylight also. This was not a cave but a tunnel. I decided to look at the other side of the tunnel and started walking. Once reaching the other side, I could see a valley surrounded by mountains. I started into the forest in front of me.
Now that I was free, I had no clue what to do. I didn’t plan that far ahead. For right now though, I was hungry and needed to find food. I found a long stick and a coarse rock to sharpen the end. Sharpening it took a while but I finally got a point. I walked around until I heard a jostling coming from a bush. I picked up a stone from the ground, threw it in the bush and out shot a bunny. I was ready with my spear and launched it into the bunny's side and killed it. I walked over and picked it up. I went back to the tunnel and placed it on my ledge. Then I headed back into the valley to find some dry sticks and rocks to build a pit to start a fire.
I had everything set up and started to pull the skin off of the bunny. I tossed the fur and skin into the fire and stabbed a long skinny stick into the bunny and set it on the fire. When it was finished, I pulled the meat apart and started to eat. Once I had finished the bunny, I decided to go and explore more of the valley. I was going to walk the wall looking for a better place to hide. The tunnel was not going to work. After a while, I heard a low growl but I stayed calm and looked for what made the sound. My hand slowly reached for the spear I had made.
“I would not grab that.” A voice from the other direction.
I looked in that direction and out stepped a man. He was tall, blonde and well built. But I could take him. Then from all around came 1 other man and 2 wolves. This was pack territory.
“Put the spear down and we can talk.” the same man said.
Like hell I was going to put it down. I grabbed it and pointed it at him. I kept silent. He stepped toward me and I swung at his head. One important detail I forgot to mention is I had to wear gloves because of what I could do, the main reason Arken took me. So when one of the wolves knocked the spear out of my hand, I rolled out of the way and took off one of my gloves. The second time the wolf launched at me, I let him pin me to the ground and put my hand on him. I forced him to go back into his human state and go unconscious. I then took the other glove off and dropped it to the ground.
The second wolf backed up a bit and stupidly tried to lunge at me too. I moved out of the way and touched his side as he flew by. He also landed on the ground and was knocked unconscious. The first man looked at the second and the second took off into the trees. The first man then locked on to me. I do admit this was fun and all, but this was way two easy. He then came at me and did everything in his power not to go near my hands. Although he could fight and well, he took the wrong step and his balance was thrown, and with one easy sweep I took out his legs and ran to the tunnel.
I could hear more people coming after me and I just ran. But one of the new sets of men came out and caught me off guard and body slammed me to the ground. I got up and he was shocked and then I got hit in the back of the head and then black.
Waking up, I had a major headache. I was in a room with no windows, but similar to my old room. Three of the walls were made of jagged rocks, the fourth was cell bars stretching across. I walked around my new room and looked for any weaknesses. I was interrupted by sounds of footsteps. I went to the far side of the room and sat down. Two men came into view.
“You’re awake ,wonderful.” the older of the two said.
“Who are you?” the younger one said.
I just sat in silence. I knew better than to say anything. The older one looked like he was trying to gauge what he thought of me.
“Who are you?” the younger one said again.
I still sat in silence. This time I looked directly at the young one. This seemed to make him mad. I thought it was hilarious.
“I brought your gloves back.” the older man said.
All my attention went to him. He placed them through the bars on the ground. I watched him very carefully. He then stood back up and edged the young man to leave with him. As soon as they left, I grabbed the gloves and put them on. After what seemed like hours, only the older man came back.
“Looked like you needed some food,” he said as he placed down the plate.
He sat down at the other side of the bars.
“The thing I am most curious about is those scars on your back,” he pointed at me. "there are all different ages based on the scarring.”
Those scars. Every time I was insubordinate, I was given lashes. I get them monthly and sometimes weekly. Because I was the only one who remembered life before being taken. So I was a lot more stubborn than the others.
“Life must have sucked before you came here” he said, dragging me out of thought.
I looked up at him. Slowly, I got up and grabbed the plate. I took it up to my nose to smell it. There was no poison. I looked back at the older man and tried some of the fruit off it. It was amazing. My face must have slipped and showed some emotion.
“We grow them. They are my favorite.”
I placed the plate back down on the ground. I will finish later.
“You must be tired, I will leave you alone.” he said as he got up to go.
I waited till his steps were gone and finished the plate. I sat for a while and slowly began to become tired.
As I slept I dreamed of the day I decided to run away. One day I woke up and today was different. We were taken to a room with chairs and we all sat down. There were 22 of us. We hadn't seen anyone new in a while, so the youngest, 22, was about 5. We all sat in the room silent and waited for what to do next. Arken came into the room. I watched him carefully. He stood in front of the room.
“I have made a decision. I only want those of you that are purebred. I need the most powerful of you, the others are a disgrace.” Arken finished.
A group of men came into the room and each one stood behind one of us. The exceptions were myself, 5, 9, 14, 17, 18, 22. All at once, the men drew knives and slit the throats of all those Arken deemed unworthy.
“You may have the day of training off. We need to clean up this mess,” Arken said with a smile.
I shot awake and sat up. I rubbed my eyes and took a deep breath. Trying to calm myself down. I closed my eyes trying to get their faces out of my head.
“That looked intense. Must have been a really bad dream.” The young man was back.
I looked away, I wanted him to leave. About a second later, the older man came down and looked at the younger one.
“I told you not to come down here.” the older one spoke
“But” the younger one tried to say.
“Go,” the old man said.
He looked irritated and left. I smiled a little.
“I am sorry for my son, he never listens when I speak. Much like his mother.” the old man sat down. “I brought some food for you.”
He sat the plate down on the ground and I grabbed it, sitting closer to the cell bars. I put the plate to the side of me and looked at the old man.
“I am Armin. My son's name is Flint.” Armin said. “Flint is a headstrong young boy. He is just worried about you. You know considering what happened when you touched his friends. I have to admit when they first told me what you did I couldn't believe what they said.”
I looked down at the ground. I looked back at him, letting him continue.
“If you're not going to tell me about you, I will tell you about me. Let’s even the playing field shall we let’s see. I was born 37 years ago, my favorite color is blue. I’m absolutely horrible at any card game, and have the worst poker face. I have 2 children. You met Flint and I have a daughter named Arrah. She is probably about your age.” He smiled. “They are both truly a handful, let me tell you. Arrah is about twice as stubborn as her brother and looks just like her mother.”
It sounded like he was really happy with his kids even when they misbehaved with him. He seemed like a gentle man.
“I keep a very busy life working, but I try to make time to have fun and relax. My family is extremely important to me. My best friend since I was five died unexpectedly about a year ago. And since then, I have watched over his pack and his son. I am not saying it is your fault what you can do, but it did harm those pack members. I told him I would protect. I know you did what you did to defend yourself. Wherever you came from, it’s clear to see that it was horrible. I need you to know that we will not hurt you while you are here, but we do not know you and I have to protect this pack.” He looked at me and got off the floor. “I will leave you to your thoughts.”
“One.” I said.
“What?” Armin stopped in his tracks, turned and looked at me.
“My name is One,” I said.
Merci pour la lecture!
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