Shifters’ Fae Captive by Lacey Carter Andersen
I’ve never wantedto kill anyone more than I want to kill my kidnappers. My fists have continued to beat on the back of the shadow beast that carries me for most of the night, but he seems as untroubled by my assault as I would be by the soft touch of sheets against my legs. I don’t know if the creature can even feel, or if he’s not reacting because he’s a huge being of nothing but muscles, but it makes the desperation inside of me grow.
“Asshole!” I shout, but my voice is ragged from all my screaming already.
The woods around us are a blur. I spot the other shadow beasts occasionally when the light from the moon illuminates them for the briefest of moments, and I see the shapes of trees, but that’s it. It’s as if I stepped out of a world of fire, and screaming, and battle into a different kind of nightmare.
All I know for sure is that I’m being taken further and further from the Royal Fae Academy. From my friends. From the only place my family will know to look for me.
And I’m scared.
In my twenty-three years, I’ve never experienced anything like this. Secrets I knew my fair share of. Shame… I knew that emotion even better. But true fear? Fear for my life? That emotion is still new to me. Something that creeps past all the happy emotions light fae are supposed to surround themselves with. And I know how it all started.
With my mate.
A man who was murdered.
I thump the back of the shadow beast once more, harder, and I shout, but the sound is cut off by a sob I didn’t even know was building. My life before Rayne was boring. I was an average-looking light fae, born to an average family, and sent to the Royal Fae Academy like all light royal fae. I never felt special. I never felt excited about, well, almost anything.
Meeting Rayne and finding my mate was like suddenly seeing colors for the first time. He brought so much joy, and love, and mystery into my life. Soon, we were creeping together beneath the tunnels of the school, searching for the answers to secrets that only Rayne really understood.
But now I knew what he had been doing. He had been trying to save his sister and all the other dark fae. He was too good for this world.
He never lived to see what followed all his efforts, but I was proud to be part of the battle to help save the dark fae. I was even prouder that I stood against the shadow beasts and rescued my mate’s sister.
But now? Now I no longer feel like a brave warrior. I feel like a prisoner to beings that are terrifying and dangerous. As much as I try not to think about what they want with me, the question keeps popping back into my head.
Why did the shadow beasts take me?
Another sob escapes my lips, and the shadow beast that carries me slows for the briefest moment.
He makes a sound. It’s almost as if he’s speaking to the other shadow beasts, but I don’t understand his words if he is. I think I heard him speak English during the battle, but it could’ve just been my mind playing tricks on me because he doesn’t seem to understand me now or have the ability to communicate with me.
I don’t even know for sure if these creatures are intelligent enough to communicate with each other in any language. Are they more man or beast? I think about them wearing those collars during the battle. It was clear they were prisoners then, but now what are they?
And when we get to wherever they’re taking me, will they hurt me?
“Just release me,” I say, loud enough that my words feel too loud in the dark night.
But the beast that carries me doesn’t respond or react. He just keeps running.
Time continues to fly by, but I’m not sure how many hours have passed until we come out into a clearing and I see that the moon hanging low in the sky. It seems these creatures have been running most of the night. The beasts seem to speed up, and I glance around and realize just how fast we’re going. Faster than any fae could move. If we’d been traveling this fast all night, I have a feeling we’re already days away from the academy.
My stomach sinks.
“Just release me! Put me down!” I beg again, my voice cracking.
None of them slow. They just keep going. More time passes, and then we suddenly stop.
The shadow beast that carries me lets me drop gently to the ground. But for some reason, my legs don’t seem to want to hold me, and I collapse onto the ground before him. My gaze moves from the hulking beast above me, his dark hair concealing most of his face, and then to the area around us. This area could be any other place in the woods, except I see a ring of stones and the evidence of wood having been burned in the center of the stones, and a river.
Why have they brought me here? What is this place?
There’s another noise from one of the shadow beasts. A string of sounds, like a low husky song, or a language unlike any I’ve heard before. The shadow beast emerges from the darkness beneath the trees and comes closer to me. This one, I think, has blond hair. But it’s long like the man who carried me, tangled, and filthy.
They’re all filthy. But if they were prisoners to our enemies, then that would explain it. Unless of course, they were just always this gross.
The third shadow beast is suddenly at my other side, and I shriek, cowering back. Part of me recalls the bad-ass bitch I’d been just a short time ago and wants to slap me for shrieking. But when he kneels down and peers at me from beneath the strands of his dark hair, all the fight goes out of me, and I actually feel my body go cold and numb. These things could tear me in half. I’m sure of it.
I also still have no clue what they want from me, and I have a feeling staying quiet and not moving might be my best bet. Yeah, it feels a little like playing dead, but I just sit still, staring into his oddly pale blue eyes until he stands again, and begins to speak in that odd language again while moving his hands. His hand gestures are oddly similar to sign language. I’d learned some of it in high school and almost feel like I pick out a couple of words.
They’re definitely communicating. I guess they are more man than beast.But I’m still not sure if I’m correctly interpreting any of the words, or if I’m just trying to apply meaning to the gestures.
As their discussion grows heated, I eye the trees behind me. Maybe, if I’m fast enough, I can make a break for it when they get distracted. Play dead. Then run for it.
It’s the best plan I can come up with at the moment. So, I hold my breath and wait.
The trio moves a little away from me and toward a big thicket of tangled vines and shrubs that cover, what appears to be, the side of a small hill or mountain. Licking my lips, I shift my legs around, trying to get the blood pumping through them, then tense and slowly move to my feet.
When none of them look back at me, I feel a surge of relief and turn around.
Only to come face to face with a nightmare.
The creature behind me is five or six times the size of the shadow beasts. It’s all darkness, like the deep shadows beneath a tree. And it’s built like a wall. Huge arms, huge shoulders, but a short frame. Small tusks curl over its upper lips, and silver eyes fix on me as if I’m the root of all its problems.
I take a slow step back, my heart racing, and it opens its mouth in what seems to be a threat, but could be a smile. Either way, I know I’m in trouble. Taking another step back, my legs suddenly crumble from under me, and I reach my fingers back until they connect with a branch. I draw the branch in front of me, clenching it like a bat, and decide if I’m going to go down, I’ll go down swinging.
A soft growl escapes its lips.
And then, the shadow beasts are on it. A scream tears from my lips as they knock it to the ground. The world is filled with growls from the men and screams of pain from the thing, and then it grows silent.
I don’t release my branch as the shadow beasts climb off of the thing. They’re covered in blood. Their nails are long, and their expressions enraged. The thing that had terrified me so terribly a moment is sliced to pieces, and its head is tilted at an angle no head should be able to tilt.
They shuffle around it, but I can’t quite figure out what they’re doing, when suddenly the thing is on fire. A gasp slips from my lips, and I scoot back a little further, holding the branch more tightly. The fire releases a horrible scent like rotting flesh, and then the body collapses into ash.
If that’s what the shadow beasts can do to that huge creature, I was wrong to be scared of the hulking creature. I should’ve been running like hell from the shadow beasts the second they were distracted.
But as they close in on me, I know it’s already too late.