9. Blood Moon

9. Blood Moon

A Chapter by Lynaelee

A cat screeching wakes me up with a start. I jump up and look around, but it is much darker in the cave now and I can't really make anything out. "Buck? I know you're protecting me, but I feel safer when you're close," I think.

"Stay put, kitten. I'm on my way. I feel better being closer to you too; you're reckless. Besides the hounds are out and it would be easier to make sure you didn't try to cause problems or try to help if I was there. I'll be close enough you can hear me purr. The last thing you need is a sanity break and my purring will give you some comfort. Unfortunately, you can't have any physical comfort since we're all needed out here. But I'm coming, kitten. You're safest where you are. So don't try to escape. Trust me. Please." I hear inside my head. I nod as a single tear slips out. The cat in the entryway lets out another snarl and I see a flash rip through the air. The cat hisses and then I hear nothing. Metal strikes upon metal and I jump with a yelp.

"Princess, did you miss me?" A voice taunts.

"Kern," I gasp.

"Let me in, princess," Kern demands.
"I think I'd rather stay here. You just killed a large cat. Didn't that satisfy your blood lust?"
"Not at all. Just stoked it more; I have more blood to spill tonight," he remarks.
"Mine," I whisper, feeling the need to throw up again.
"Yes. Starting with your blood. I told you, you are mine and not to run away again. I will make sure you feel every single slice of my blade, every burn, and every inch of the claws being drug over your body now. My pets will have the best night of their lives. It all starts with shredding you," he threatens.

"Buck, I'm scared and I might throw up. I don't want to be shredded by those beasts," I think as I tremble and cry.

"Don't try to open those gates, Clara. There is a protective spell on them. Chances are, you'll be thrown backwards and you will get hurt," Buck warns inside my head. "I'm on my way and I can hear everything that's being said. Those locks can only be opened by a shapeshifter. You're safe in the cage. The hellhounds don't have limbs long enough to reach center cage. Keep your hands inside the bars to eliminate their chances. Face the cave entrance. There should be a breeze, like a draft from a window, that will give you an idea of which way to face. Move towards the food which will be directly behind you. There's some leaves in there, remember? Chew on one."
"Mint?" I think after following directions.
"That's the one, kitten. Keep calm. Breathe and just chew on that leaf. Try to distract him from trying to break in; the protection blast will shoot both ways."
"I'll do my best. I didn't do my part very well. You're having to divide your attention," I think.
"It's fine, Clara. You're worth it. Hang in there, kitten," Buck's mind reaches out.
"Let me in, princess," Kern demands.
"I don't know where the door is," I verbalize.

"I will find it. Don't you worry about that. So tell me, princess. With your ankle, was the climb up the mountain treacherous?" Kern inquires sarcastically. 

"I didn't leave on my own accord," I counter, looking in the direction Kern's voice is coming from and trying to make my own voice strong. He doesn't need to know how I left and I know he doesn't truly care about my well being. I scoot back towards my approximation of center of the cage again, chewing on my mint leaf.

"I'm aware. The stench of cats is all over that tent. At first, I couldn't tell what it was. However, those two guarding you have just confirmed you were led out by a cat or two. Ooh! Did they drag you out? Now that would have been a sight to see. Obviously, you couldn't have made it by yourself; you're weak. However, you didn't cry out either, so were  you even awake when that happened? Probably not. I really don't care. You still will be mine. Cats that imprison humans; I might like them after all. Then again, I really liked killing those two. All that matters is you left, princess; I told you not to. You have a date with fate soon," he murmurs. He's walking around the cage, tapping and pulling random spots. "Well if you won't let me in, guess we'll have to take the whole thing. This time, my creatures won't catch you," he states as the ground trembles beneath me.

"Clara!" Buck yells inside my head as my cage plummets down. I scream and roll to my stomach as dirt crashes in around me. I can hear the hellhounds snarling around me. Their sharp claws create an eerie scratching noise against the metal. My cage hits the earth and I am flung to the side of the cage. I hold my hand to my head and try to sit up. "We're coming, Clara. The hellhounds came out on at least two fronts," Buck's voice seems muffled in my head.

"Ba," I whisper unable to say more. "Buck, I need you," I admit silently.

"I'm coming, Clara," he replies in my head. "Hang in there, kitten. No! The ground is whole. I'll find you." I nod and curl up in a ball as I hear more scratching and feel the ground shifting again.

"Yes. Bollocks. You are a true challenge. Guess it's good I'm up for the fight. This is quite the ride, princess," Kern remarks and I hear him sniff. "Ahh! You're bleeding, my dear. Let me in and I won't let you get hurt again until my ceremony needs to begin."  I shake my head and feel up and down my body. I can't tell where the blood is, or if I really am bleeding. "You gotta admit this is better than walking. Travelling through the mountain is such a great idea. What a clever girl you are, princess. I had my pets work on this all day. I haven't traveled by tunnels in a long time, but this is so worth it. Just a few touch ups are needed; I didn't know a whole cage was going to be coming too. Although, it ensures that you really can't escape. We're almost there," Kern remarks proudly as the scratching intensifies. A clank echoes and I'm falling again. When the movement stops with a loud thud, I try to move back to about the center of the cage. "Drag her out," Kern orders sternly. I blink slowly as the cage is shifted and rocked. I can feel we're moving and feel the cool night air around me, but all I see is darkness as I lay down completely on my stomach. My arm falls through the bars and I pant, too sore to move any more. I adjust my knees and feet to rest more squarely on the bars and just lay there as the mint falls from my mouth. There's a pounding in my head and my whole body aches. "Where are you, princess?" Kern asks as I hear metal against metal and the ground being scratched with something pointy. I say nothing; I have nothing to say. "I can't complete the ceremony without you," he snaps. 
"Buck, I'm sorry. I'm going to cause you to fail," I think weakly as I wipe a tear away then lean into my hand. 

"Don't give up yet. We can still win. I found you. Injuries?" A female voice replies in my head. "Clara, pull your hand back into the bars now," she orders. I obey and roll to my back, placing both hands on my chest and clasping them together I blink as I look up into the cool darkness. "Good girl. The hellhound almost scratched you. The storm is taking away their light too. Five miles east of the spot Laurence thought it would be."

"Can the task be completed without the blood moon visible?" I mumble out loud. Kern chuckles and Talon groans inside my head. "Sorry. New," I say to both of them. Mentally, I add, "thought they can't see anyways? Nevermind. Injuries. Well, everything hurts. The bars are not crash friendly. He said I was bleeding. I don't know where."

"The blood moon lasts for an hour. It starts at 2:24 in the morning. We got time, princess. The storm will blow away the clouds. It will be the longest, last hour of your life. You will feel some of it at least," Kern snarls.

"Clara, the bars are smoking," Talon mentally warns sharply.

"Clara said he can burn with just a touch of his hand," Buck's voice echoes in my head.
"Cooks meat. Burns skin. Heat stays until he's done with it. Whatever it is. His magical gift," I think wearily.

"You'll be okay, Clara. He's not touching you. He'll set his clothes on fire before he can get to you," Talon remarks.

"It's not just the lock that is protected. The bars are embedded with protective magic too. Although this was not why I had enchanted them," Laurence adds inside my head. "No matter how hot he makes them, they won't bend or become pliable."

"That doesn't mean it won't burn her," Buck snaps.

"Have her stay away from the edges. The more towards the middle of whatever side she's on will keep the heat away. Worst case, Laurence can turn the part she's on back to wood," a childish voice pipes in.
"That could cause the branches to snap, making her more vulnerable to his attacks. A little burn is better than that chance. Report," Laurence demands.

"She can't move, but she's away from the edges and out of reach of the limbs that keep trying to find her. I can't see all that's injured from here, but nothing looks broken. I do see the blood he told her about; she has a cut above her eye, but it doesn't appear to be bleeding too much at all. I hope she just got the wind knocked out of her," Talon remarks. "Can you talk, Clara?" I shake my head slowly. I don't want to form any words; I wouldn't know what to say.

"That's okay. We can see you, kitten. Apply some pressure to your head wound. Just like that. Yep. Good job, kitten. I'll help you later," Buck replies.
"No. Don't," a gruff voice adds in my head. "We have more important things to worry about."
"I didn't say I would help her right now, Laurence!" Buck snaps as Kern lets out a frustrated yell. The ground is still being scratched and metal is clanging upon metal.
"Watch yourself, Mr. Lion," Laurence grumbles. 

"I will. I wasn't challenging you. Clara, hold up one finger on the hand not attached to your head. Good job, kitten. Bounce it twice if you feel like you have to sleep right now," Buck orders. I don't feel like I have to sleep; I'm just sore. So I don't move. "That's a relief. You can put that hand down. Keep pressure on your wound. We'll get you out of there somehow, but remember, you're safest inside that cage. Kern is desperately searching for you as you can tell. He also has two of his pets searching too. The four of you are surrounded by the remaining hellhounds then by the men from the camp. I think they are searching the woods unsuccessfully for us. We can see in the dark though, they can't. I think their boss is vulnerable now; those hounds are almost tied to him. If we can get to him, we could end this. However, fighting our way through the humans and hellhounds is not going to be easy," Buck explains. I roll to my side and look out, not that I can see anything though. "Clara, hold still! Head injuries should not be messed with. I would rather you just lay there, still and patient." I shake my head. "Clara, no! Hold still."

"Trust me for a change, Buck," I think. 
"Okay, but you let us know the minute you feel worse," he orders, but I can tell he's agitated. I nod. "Thanks, kitten."
"Something wrong, Kern? You've gotten quiet. I'm sure it just breaks your heart that I'm still breathing. It'll take more than a rattled cage to convince me to come out," I taunt. He cries out in anger and frustration. "Why is my death so important to you?"

"Because I want to live!" He snaps.

"So do I! If I die, who really gets to live on? Just you?"

"What are you doing, kitten?" Buck asks softly in my head.

"She's letting us know she's okay while getting the crowd riled up. Look," Talon's voice echoes in my head too.

"I mean because I doubt I have enough blood to go around. When people used to make sacrifices, I thought they were pretty much supposed to use one animal for every 1-5 people. You seem pretty selfish, Kern. I doubt you would share me or my blood with the men in your army," I remark as I pull myself up and look out.
"Clara!" Buck snaps.
"Lies!" Kern yells at the same time.
"Ooh? Did I find a sensitive area? That must mean I'm right and you have no intention of letting those men go. Are they even around? It sure is quiet; too quiet. I bet you are just looking forward to having more hellhounds under your complete control. My sacrifice is for your freedom, not theirs. Isn't it? I didn't mind my fate yesterday, but I decided today that I want to live more than I want to help you! My death will only grant you happiness and you don't deserve it any longer! You lived long enough. If you haven't found a way to be happy in what we mortals would consider to be four or five different lifetimes, then you will never find it. I'm not the answer and you have sacrificed enough men. I wouldn't be surprised if your pets are already tearing into their meals of the men in your camp. You're despicable and a horrible leader. You have done nothing but lie just to furthur your own agenda. I refuse to be the first of many killed tonight! You can't have my heart. I don't belong to you or your army. I'm definitely not your princess. You couldn't even treat me right. If I was a princess, I wouldn't have been thrown down a hole or had my clothes ripped apart. Fine work for a prisnor of war though! And you expected me to eat food with blood in it. Nobody should ever eat contaminated food, yet that's exactly what you made your followers eat. You're not worthy of being called a lord; you're just a scared little boy, trying to play king of the mountain. Your reign is over," I lash out. Buck and Talon chuckle in my head as a fire catches my eye and Kern turns and looks at it too.

"What are you doing?" He shouts as six men come closer, all lightning a torch to the man next to him. This continues until every man has one lit up too. My eyes fall on Miguel as he steps up; he lit the first one and I'm confused. Part of me thought he hated me with how he seemed to greatly detest being in my presence. Why was he starting a rebellion? The hellhounds yip and snarl, trying to crawl towards the fire. "STAY!" Kern barks. They freeze in their tracks and whimper, still trying to inch towards the flames.

"Is she right?" Miguel asks. "Are we part of the sacrifice? Will some of us become their meal and not remain human too?"

"I promised you life, freedom, and immortality after the blood moon," Kern snaps. "You've been my loyal servant for five years now, Miguel. You will be able to return to your wife and child. This blood that this girl will spill will be enough for everyone. EVERYONE! You just need to continue to serve me!"

"No, her blood won't. And no, I can't return to my family. I'll stand with the princess over the lord any day. At least she won't warp reality," Miguel speaks softly as he meets my eye. He stands up taller and loudly proclaims, "I have been here over 22 years. My wife Isidora Hatten was appoximately seven months pregnant when she became really sick. Before I found Lord Demin, we had decided on the names Clara or Bastian. Isidora honored me by not changing the names. What I didn't know is that Isidora was carrying two children and we would have one of each. That's my daughter. Her mother and twin brother died nine years ago. She confirmed this without knowing who I truly am by giving me all four names: three first names, one last. I can't let you kill her and I'm glad she's not willing to accept the doomed fate you put upon her. I know I'm a slave for eternity. And I know you're going to feed me to the hounds. Clara, I truly am sorry for abandoning our family years ago. I didn't want your mother to die then and I don't want you to die now. I'm sorry you lost her and have been alone for so long. Lord Demin is demaning your death, but I will try to prevent it." I gasp and another tear leaks out. Mama always said that my father was a brave man, but I never believed her. "You know this, men. Whatever he has promised was a LIE! Clara has revealed this plainly and deep down, you know her words carry a lot of truth. We sealed our fates the day we signed up for this army. At the time, I thought I was helping my family, but I was a coward and left them alone. I won't make that mistake twice. I have been given a second chance. I hope you men take that chance with me. Selfishly, we have been searching for her to win our freedom, but I know now that freedom will never be granted. So I choose her freedom. I will be the one that stands between you and her; you won't kill my daughter. Forgive me, Clara. I wasn't there for you growing up and I know this doesn't make up for it, but I'll give it my all before I let him kill you. I know you mother would be proud of the strong woman you have become. I know I am. Isidora did good. She raised a compassionate, strong, and kind person. I know you were her pride and joy." I bring my hands to my mouth and sob as he smiles weakly at me. "So I stand against you, my lord."
"I'll stand with you, Miguel," a voice pipes up down the line.
"Me too!"
"Count me in!"
"22 years! I've been here longer than you. I was told I would only serve a total of seven years. My farm is long gone. I'll protect her too."
"I'm done with his lies!" 
"It ends tonight, but not with her." One by one, all the men make a proclamation and crouch defensively. I can see that they are all scared, but for the time being the attention is not on me. I weep openly and bury my head in my knees.
"I didn't want this to happen!" I think.
"More protection and less we have to fight. Is it really that bad?" Laurence gruffly remarks in my head. I nod. I didn't want anyone to die for me; I knew I wasn't worth protecting. 
"Don't lie to yourself, kitten," Buck thinks softly, causing me to look up as Miguel steps closer again.
"You see, Lord Demin, we aren't as loyal as you think we are. You won't control us again. And since you only have the power to control one person -maybe two at the most- tonight, you won't win. And we won't let you control her: your ultimate goal. If you use your power on me, you can't get Clara's heart. Choices, choices, choices. Which death is more important to you? You can't kill me if you want to live. You were wrong. The only thing she has to fear is you. The cats that broke her out of camp didn't harm anyone. So if they are still looking for her, I would rather turn my back to them than you. All you do is lie, hurt, and misguide. I'll let the cats break through, but I'll see death claim you and your pets," he remarks as he unsheaths his sword. He holds his torch up in the air. "And we won't go down without a fight. Either way, we know that we'll die tonight, but we will go out on our own terms. Tonight, we have freedom from your crippling control. I, for one, am not going to become a mindless beast! Who's with me?" All the men raise their torches and let out their own battle cries.

"Kill them!" Kern demands and his pets eagerly run forward. Miguel uses his torch and the closest hellhound lights up like the kindling in my oven. Other men follow his lead, and the hellhounds chase those that are on fire. Snipping, snarling, and drawing dark, glowing blood on each other; the men are forgotten about. Miguel steps back and grins, as do several other men. "No! Not each other. Kill the men!" Kern lashes out.
"Good work, Clara. We have the men on our side now too," Buck praises mentally. I wipe my eyes and look at my feet.

"Definitely. The playing field evens out and we should be able to make it to you much easier now. About half of the hounds are already dead or dying. Not to mention, many men agreed with him when he said the cats can break through the line," I hear Talon chuckle inside my head. 
"Keep eye contact with him, kitten. It shows you aren't afraid of him," Buck orders at the same time. Even inside my head, his voice is full of authority and drowns out the other voices.
"But I am afraid," I think as I look up again. Kern has a stiff pose and is clenching his fists. He still has little control of his kindling dogs. Some men are writhing on the ground in agony, blood spouting from their gashes and starting to glow. "I didn't mean for this to happen. I can't stop crying and I can't show him I'm not afraid. I don't like this," I think as I wipe my tears again.
"I know, kitten. I know. However, you just told him off and said you wanted to live too. Don't feel bad for crying. Fear and bravery and go hand in hand. Back up your words with a fierce gaze. Perfect. The scowl is a nice touch," Buck replies mentally as Kern turns back around and looks over the cage in anger. 
"Clever. A double cage. That won't stop me from killing you, princess. Now I know exactly where you are. Those men were just going to be the first meal. You were right; your father was never going to see the light of day again. I do apologize that your reunion was brief. However, I will not be confined to the darkness again and his actions change nothing. Time is fleeing. I was able to come out once a month for the past two hundred and forty years, only during a full moon. I don't care about happiness; just living forever and holding all the power. I started recruiting an army seventy years ago. Numbers equal power. Hellhounds ensure control and people will serve me out of fear. The men in this army got a full 72 hours about every fourth or fifth month to come out and live it up; the rest of the time was nothing but night to them. I searched high and low for this specific sacrificial ground. It had to be precise. I didn't find this place until last year. I sent the men to the towns in droves in hopes of finding one stinking clue to you. Nothing was available. Then again, their focus may have been on the w****s and booze and not their freedom. This past month, I gave them a little more motivation. Those who looked for someone to shove their c**k into were killed. Those who wanted to live sought you out. Thankfully, we all have been able to stay out every day so we could find you. Anyone who disagreed or tried to get their own agenda taken care of were sentenced to the same fate as the men who failed their mission after finding you. I had to stay close to the hellhounds for personal reasons and could not hunt you down myself, but you still ended up in my possession as planned. Your blood will spill so I can stay. Yes. Just me. I will not go back to the darkness because of you. Your life is not more important than mine. Your blood must and will spill! I am better than you. I deserve to live longer; eternally so. Miguel was right; I can only control one person tonight. And it will be the person who will set me free. There is no escape, no freedom for you," he threatens as he pulls a knife out, reaches through the outer cage, and throws that knife with accuracy. I duck out of the way as it flies through the bars and nicks my shoulder and clashes to the ground. I cry out and move backwards to get away from him. I grab the bowl that held the water and lean against the flat side of the cage; it was the floor to the cage. I can use the bowl to deflect any more knives that are thrown at me and leaning against this part of the cage protects my back. Screams of the men getting ripped apart and dogs snarling, barking, and growling fill the night, leaving me afraid and my stomach constantly churning. Kern walks around, pushes the cage some, grabs his knife again, and grabs the bed which had gotten caught between the bars, tugging it to the bottom. "Gonna come out now, princess?" Kern spits. I shake my head.

"I can't. I don't have the key," I whisper. 
"Have it your way," Kern threatens. One of the burning hellhounds walks over and Kern kicks him. His limb goes inside the cage and sets the bed on fire. I cough as the smoke rises. 
"I can't," I repeat around a sob. The knife is thrown again, but this time it lodges in my shoulder. I scream as I become pinned against the metal behind me. Kern grins viciously and walks around the cage, avoiding the burning corpse of his pet.

"Go!" The childish voice commands and I hear the ground rumble above everything else. I cough again and lean forward in agony as my back starts getting really hot.

"Ahh! Ahh! Buck!" I scream as I grab the knife in my shoulder; it doesn't budge as I pull it. In a panic, I look out again. Through the smoke and tears, I see a herd of elk run through the field. They trample over the men and hellhounds with little effort. The pack of wolves pick off the stragglers, separating the humans and hellhounds. A giant cat leaps over the cage and snarls. The hawk flies above and dives randomly towards my left. Growling makes me turn my head over the opposite shoulder. A bear pulls the burning mattress and corpse away as I cough again. A beaver is on the other side. She shifts into her human form and opens and locks the cage behind her. Then she opens my cage and climbs in. I look in her dark chocolate eyes as she looks at me apologetically and grabs the knife in my shoulder, pulling it out again. "Thank you, Mabel," I whisper to the small child who can't be much more than eight years old. She nods and shifts back into beaver. "Can I hold you?" I beg. She climbs in my lap and I wrap both arms around her and weep. The cage is rocked and pushed over, so that it is once again upright. I curl up in a ball and close my eyes as I let out a small yelp.

"You think that'll stop me?!" Kern yells, causing me to open my eyes and look in his direction. I can hardly make him out through the smoke. My vision is clouding over and my head is getting heavier. However, I still strain to see what's going on. The hellhounds, those burning and those who were unscathed, gather around Kern. He points to the ground and makes them throw dirt on themselves - putting out their fires; they keep moving forward like they aren't hurt at all but I can hear their labored breathing and can tell their moments are numbered. I look around. Laurence, Talon, the elk, Alpha and his pack, and the remaining men get in a defensive position and creep towards Kern and his pets. Kern meets my eye and squeezes his hand into a fist before he smiles viciously at my defenders. I release Mabel and scream as it feels like my blood starts to boil. For a moment, I hear nothing and can feel everyone looking at me. "Told you, princess, your heart is mine and you'll be begging me to take it out. My power was connected to that blade. Your blood is mine to control," Kern insists; I barely hear him as I let out another scream. Suddenly he releases me and I open my eyes and look up as I pant heavily. The clouds are moving away and I can finally see the moon; a sliver of it is turning red. "Ah! It begins," Kern breathes. I'm running out of energy and strength to stay awake. I can feel my blood leave my body in a hurry though my shoulder wound, but I cannot look away as I watch the moon grow redder. Wearily, I bounce my fingers twice. "Mmm! So good," Kern states. What's good? My head flops to my side. Is that liquefied ribbon floating in the air my blood? The thought makes me even more nauseous, but I don't have the energy to throw up and decide that it's just my imagination instead. I know blood can't fly. I sigh and try to look up again. The beaver besides me starts chattering and applies pressure to my wound. I blink my eyes slowly.

"What. What did you say?" I whisper. The beaver looks at me, but I just hear her chattering. I don't hear any voices beside my own in my head, I note as I close my eyes.

"You'll be a good meal for one of my pets later. Get out of my way," Kern demands. I look wearily at him as he flicks his hand. Mabel flies towards the gate and crumples to the ground as the gate swings open. I meet the demon lord's eye. "My power has grown by just a taste of your blood, princess. Imagine how truly powerful I'll become with all of it. Your heart will make whole forever," he remarks as I too am thrown. I bounce off the doorway as I float through the gate. I crash against the outer cage and feel my head getting even heavier as well as my ankle throbbing more. I don't care any more. Darkness surrounds my vision and I can only see a little bit in front of me. Kern walks around and puts his hand on my chest. "It's gone!"

"Gone?" I slur as I finally close my eyes, too weak to hold them open any more.

"Where's your heart?" Kern demands. I don't know. I can't move. I can't think. All I do know is that I didn't touch it, that I needed it to live, and that I really didn't want to give it to him.

"I told you that I can't let you kill her," a voice says; I think it belongs to Miguel.

"Don't you ever die?!" Kern yells.

"I will once you are dead. I will not die knowing you took all of my family away from me," Miguel retorts. I hear the clash of metal on metal as they duel with swords. I can hear animals grunt as they fight too. Men cry out. I can hear the limbs being ripped off and the blood gushing. But there's one sound I don't hear: my friend, the massive lion.

"Told you, I would die tonight no matter what. You didn't have to die too, Buck," I think bitterly as darkness surrounds me.

© 2017 Lynaelee

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Added on August 6, 2017
Last Updated on November 22, 2017



Sometimes I feel like I need an outlet to express myself. I have never been good with verbal communication, but I have always found an out in writing. I hurt. I bleed. I make mistakes. I cry. Yes,.. more..

If only If only

A Book by Lynaelee

1. *Prologue* 1. *Prologue*

A Chapter by Lynaelee