A wealthy royal family lives in seclusion from the impoverished world below their ornate palace. The prison is nothing but a barren fenced in field, with no shade or shelter from the elements, where wrongfully accused peasants slowly die. Beyond the barren field an untouched forest holds promises of freedom and a new life.
“Shut up,” I grumble under my breath at the two clumsy men trying to cut the magically electrified fence. “I don’t know how you managed to get back here without being noticed.”
“We’re not getting out of here,” another woman beside me said with her arms crossed and a bored look on her face.
A third man appeared. “You should be able to cut it now. Hurry up.”
They begin to cut the fence with large sheers, but don’t get very far before patrolling guards come around the corner and shout. The men run for their lives towards the forest. I run too, heading for the end of the prison. With the charge still disabled, I scramble over the fence, along with the other woman who had been beside me. Other prisoners, those with the strength to run, have also rushed the fence.
I catch up with the three men, and the five of us continue running for the forest. A steep hill blocks our path, but we are determined to escape and start to climb. Half way up, an alarm sounds from the prison. Screams come from the stragglers seconds later as a deadly spell, resembling a wall of water, crashes down on them. We don’t stop and climb the spruce covered hill high enough to avoid the first magical attack, but we know another will soon follow. We reach the top and quickly scramble down, sliding on dry needles that cover the ground and stumbling over dead branches.
I’m startled by a noise behind me like a horrendous wind blowing through the trees. I turn around to see what’s going to kill me. To my surprise, a native woman with long black hair dressed in deer skins stands in front of me. She glows with a white light that holds back another magical attack. She takes a few steps forward and stretches out her arms. That’s when I notice the limp body of a juvenile white wolf. I wonder if it is wounded or asleep.
The woman speaks in a soft, wise voice. She tells me to take the wolf and that it will protect me. I reach out to accept the wolf. The light around her grows brighter, more intense, and it envelops me as I shut my eyes. When the light suddenly disappears, I open my eyes again only too see the sky through the tree limbs. My friends call out to me from the bottom of the hill. Their voices bring me out of my stunned state, and I dash down after them.
We ran through the woods for a few minutes and broke through to the shore of a lake. A large tall ship constructed of a golden-colored wood and golden sails was anchored near the shore. No other people seemed to be around. The ship was unguarded. We went aboard to search for food and supplies. Two of the guys went below. The other, along with me and the other woman stayed on deck. (Sadly, I don’t remember any names from my dream.) The other woman suddenly began to yell from the helm. “It’s moving on its own! I can’t control it!”
The ship had detached itself from the moorings and moved out into deeper water. The other two men rushed back to deck. “I can’t control it!” the woman yelled again, unable to move the wheel. There was nothing we could do to stop the ship, and we were in for an even greater surprise. The golden ship lifted up from the water and took to the air. We were flying over the trees and hills. We didn’t know where the ship was taking us or why, but we had no choice.
My friends and I had imagined escaping to an endless wilderness, but we quickly realized how wrong we had been. After a few hours of flying, the forest turned into a barren dead landscape. Only patches of brambles and thorns grew, and those looked more brown than green.
The trees were either burned to black charcoal or cut so that only stumps remained. The water changed from clear blue to black, as if the rivers and lakes held tar and oil instead of water. The sky turned from blue to grey. The world was no longer one we were familiar with. We’d had no idea this existed, and we all wondered what had happened. What could have caused the destruction of so much land?
Our answer revealed itself sooner than we’d hoped. The ship rose over a hill and we were suddenly able to see the form of a massive black city that took up the entire side of a mountain. Below, thousands of people were gathered in front of what was noticeably a ruler of some kind. More noticeable were the number of guards and soldiers in armor and masks with blood red capes shifting in the chilly yet choking breezing.
Gasps and screams could be heard from the huge gathering as the ship passed over them. But the guards kept a strict order. To our dismay, the ship landed near this horrible place, and guards quickly approached us. There was no point in hiding, fighting, or running. We let ourselves be captured without a struggle. As we were pushed through the crowd, we got a glimpse of how ruthless and uncaring this place was.
A woman cried as guards separated her from her husband. She screamed. “Please don’t take him away! Don’t make him do those things.” The man did not fight back. He hung his head and faded into the crowd, being taken from his family for some unexplained reason to be a slave.
We were not chained or shackled, but blood red robes were placed on us. The hoods covered our faces. A wide path was open before the ruler. We were positioned in the middle in a V-shape with me strangely in the center, at the apex. The guards shoved us down, forcing us to kneel.
I was the closest to the throne. I lifted my head slightly to see past the dark hood which obscured my vision. What appeared to be a young woman in a light grey dress sat on a black throne. I had never seen her before, yet something inside me said I knew her. I felt immense anger and hatred, as if she had taken everything from me and had destroyed all I had loved. I felt as if I wanted revenge on this woman. I felt as if I wanted to kill her.
She spoke in a commanding tone. “One of you is hiding your true self. You can either reveal yourself or my servants will do so. They can sense the difference in consciousness.”
Other woman moved from beside the throne and approached us. I felt as if I should know what she was talking about. I sensed that my friends were confused and didn’t know what she meant. That left me.
Suddenly a servant was behind me. A hand grasped my shoulder. I was jolted as the woman’s mind entered mine with a shock of pain. And memories flooded me. I remembered. I knew my true self.
I stood up, unafraid. I lifted my head and boldly pushed back the hood, looking the witch in the eye. “I’m the wolf therian. I’m the one you want.”
The witch smiled a sinister smile. “You are the one I’ve been hunting.” She stood and took a couple steps towards me. I tensed. Adrenaline filled my veins, and I reacted on instinct. Without much thought, I charged at her, throwing off the robe as I ran. As I did, I partially transformed into a wolf. My hands became paws. My face elongated into a muzzle. My teeth grew longer and sharper. It felt as if I were stronger, and fur covered most of my body.
The witch screamed and lifted her hand to cast a spell. I dodged to the side, placed my feet firmly under me, regained my balance, and leaped. An invisible force slammed me to the ground, knocking the air from my lungs. I was disoriented. I felt a weight on my chest as the witch placed a foot on me and prepared to strike with a dagger.
I rolled, throwing her off balance and to the ground. I didn’t waste the opportunity and pinned her down. I snarled, showing my fangs. I wanted to sink them into her thin pale neck. Rage boiled inside of me. Every muscle was drawn tight.
“Kill me,” she hissed, staring at me with cold silver eyes.
But I hesitated. Would anything really change if I killed her now?
“You can’t kill me,” she laughed. “You’re too weak.”
A soldier stepped up beside us and a blow to the back of my head made me go limp. I wasn’t completely unconscious, but I was paralyzed. I saw my friends in the distance, huddled together in fear and surrounded by guards. I briefly wondered what would happen to them because I had failed. I wanted to tell them I was sorry for not being strong enough. My eyes slowly closed and everything went black as soldiers dragged me away.
A light breeze made ripples on the water of a lake. The reflection of a half moon shimmered. My friends and I were relaxing on a veranda. It was quiet and peaceful. But I began to feel as if things were out of place. How did I get here?
The moon in the sky shimmered too. A ring of colors appeared and swirled around it. I felt pulled in as if my insides were also being twisted.
“Are you okay?” the guy closest to me asked. “You look sick.”
I was sick. Lights flashed before my eyes like fireworks. Sparks bounced across the water of the lake. Finally, I could take the disorientation no longer. I went to the rail and threw up. Thick green liquid was ejected from inside me, and my head started to clear. The illusion before my eyes broke and faded away. Memories returned again, in such a rush that I gagged and threw up more of the green liquid.
With my head clear, and a spell broken, I began to tell my friends the truth. They soon felt sick and purged their bodies of the mind controlling substance. Once they were returning to themselves, old feelings rose to the surface within me. I had an unfinished task to complete. I felt the need for revenge.