This is no fairytale"
As the Blood Moon rises, I"ve been chosen.
Chosen to serve, to obey"to die"for no one survives their time with the Wolves.
As I am dressed in the ceremonial Red Hood, all I can think of is escape.
But there is no escape.
The lives of my village depend on my submission to the accursed Wolves.
There are five of them.
Five men cursed to live as Wolves.
Cursed for generations, forced to protect my village from the dark forces.
But they demand a heavy price for their protection. Me.
Five against one"against me alone.
My only hope for survival is to tame the wolves"but submission is not in my nature.
Warning: In our Fairytales, there is danger in the shadows, the beasts bite and no Heroine is truly safe.Books by Author:Zoe Blake Books
The blood moon was rising.
All throughout my village, there was a charge to the air, a morbid anticipation.
The change was small at first, almost inconsequential, then it slowly morphed into a creeping, insidious blackness. Neighbor stopped talking to neighbor. Mothers hugged their children tighter as they cast suspicious glances about them. A ripple of unease flowed through the village.
After the first eclipse, there were anxious whispers. Ancient prophesies uttered in hushed guarded tones.
The second eclipse brought worried looks and talk of preparations to be made.
With the third eclipse, all doubt was removed. It was time.
The blood moon was rising.
The moment the moon was cast in a crimson glow on the night of the fourth eclipse, the village would have their chosen one. Their sacrifice"for the wolves must be appeased.
From the time I was a little girl, I"d been told the story of the wolves. How they were to be both feared and revered.
Generations ago, our village was attacked by a dark force. An army so evil that, to this very day, no one dared utter their name. The dark force was the nightmare which tortured sleep. The foreboding chill down your spine. A shadow swallowing the light. Knowing that no weapon forged on earth could defeat them, the elders of the village made the terrible decision to fight darkness with darkness. Reaching back to the wisdom of the ancients, to a time before religion or society"to a time when man was more beast than sentient being"the elders drew upon primeval magic.
Five men were chosen.
They thought they were chosen to fight.
They thought the elders were only blessing them before battle.
They thought wrong.
I"d always been taught the elders did what was best for the village as a whole; still, I couldn"t help but feel sympathy for the men. Did they know what was happening to them as the elders circled them chanting in a strange language" Did it cause them pain when they transitioned from man to beast" Did some spark of their souls remain, or was it extinguished" Devoured by the dark beast which took over their bodies.
The five men were turned into wolves. Enchanted animals. Ferocious beasts capable of fighting off the dark force.
Darkness fighting darkness.
The beasts prevailed but paid a horrible price. The enchantment was truly a curse. Trapping the men in the bodies of the beasts. Forever damning them.
They were cursed.
Cursed to protect the village they now reviled.
Cursed to live as immortal beasts in the forest which loomed near our village.
Now, hundreds of years later, they still drove back the dark force, keeping my village safe. But they demanded a price"a sacrifice.
When the moon is eclipsed four times in two seasons, there is said to be blood on the moon. It happened once a century. On that night, the wolves entered the clearing, a forbidden, desolate stretch of land between the village and the forest which separates us from both the dark force and the vengeful wrath of the beasts we"d created.
As the blood moon rises, the wolves entered the clearing to claim their sacrifice.
Whomever the village chose, was never seen or heard from again.
"Red! Red! Where are you""
Closing my eyes, I hunched my shoulders forward as I nestled further into the soft pile of leaves. I was hiding from"well"everyone. Hoping the wide, gnarled trunk of the tree I was leaning against would shelter me, I held my breath.
"There you are! Your grandmother has been looking for you. Honestly, Red, you act like you don"t know The Selection is about to happen."
Groaning, I lay my forehead against the cool pages of the book I was reading. My name was Raina but from the time I was a babe, everyone had called me Red. As a bright scarlet lock slipped from my loose bun and tumbled onto the page, I was reminded why. Out of a cloistered village of several hundred, I was the only one with red hair. So everyone called me Red"everyone except for my grandmother.
Hildegarde Reithaube had raised me from the moment I was born"and hated me long before I took my first breath.
As an elder of the village, my grandmother had special plans for my mother, plans that did not include her falling in love with a lowly blacksmith"s son. My mother died giving birth to me. In her rage, my grandmother had my father put to death. His punishment was swift and merciless. Mine was equally merciless but painfully slow. My grandmother never missed an opportunity to remind me that my own life had cost the life of my mother. That I was a useless, unwanted burden. As a child, my only notion of love and protection was what I read in books"fairytales. There, tucked between worn pages, was the love and feeling of belonging I craved.
Nessa grabbed the book from my hand. "Come on, Red. You know what she is like when you make her wait."