A/N: Um, hey. I know, it's kind of been a while. Well, I won't keep you from the impending story. Enjoy, ladies and gentlemen: Dream Catcher

Text - Flashback

The sheer ferocity of the burning in her lungs nearly blinded her with every shaky, stumbling step she took on the beaten trail.

"Come on, now!" The shrill voice of her pursuer cried out. "We just want to talk to you!" She could say nothing in response, running as quickly as her legs would carry her, for her voice had been stolen from her in sheer fright. She abruptly ducked to her right, shooting off into another direction in hopes of confusing her chasers, even if only for a fraction of a second.

Anything would help at this point.

"Not fast enough!" The voice behind her barked all while laughing. She could barely hear his sardonic comments over the intensity of the blood pounding in her head, and her own labored breaths. The path was growing denser with every passing moment. Roots and stumps, and branches began thwarting her previously bare path.

Miana ignored the scratches and gashes that began to appear on her body. She hadn't the time for such things. Her skirt suddenly caught on a spindly branch. Unable to tug herself free in her haste, her pursuers laughed in victory. She viciously ripped the fabric from her frock, and ducked away; though her chasers were now far too close for comfort.

A village; there had to be some semblance of a village around here! One had to be near by! Where else would these ghouls come slithering out from?

Stupid, stupid, stupid! She berated herself as she sprinted as quickly as her burning, numbing legs could manage. Just had to venture off the highway! Of course! Look at where it has gotten you now! Stupid!

Her journey had started quite harmlessly, with little incident...

"Don't worry, mama; I'll be home shortly." Miana called as she slid out the front door.

"Be back before dark!" Her mother's voice rang after her.

"Yes, mama..." She said curtly, sauntering down the makeshift pathway—really it was just where the horses had trotted many a time, and thus packed down the grass. Singing softly to herself, Miana wandered beyond the stables, and towards the village.

The day was clear; not a cloud in sight; and the sun's heat beat against her skin with a definite intensity. The wind was scarce, only lightly fondling her white dress; and such occurrences were few and far between. As the village steadily neared, Miana abruptly turned right, and began her ascent along the highway. She wasn't to go into the village when without the company of her eldest brother: Daq. Her mother deemed it far too dangerous. No matter the time of day, Miana's mother was positively convinced that her daughter was going to be attacked by a man. And without proper protection from the man of the house, she was sure it would be all too much for her child to deal with.

"People are cruel, Miana." Her mother had been telling her since she was but a young child. "No good deed goes unpunished, and no random act of kindness is without motive..."

And so, she was not allowed in the village.

Not that she really minded all that much. The village was a madhouse. Far too busy, and loud for her simple tastes. The dresses in the windows made her look like a peasant, and made her feel small. The women on the streets look at her with distaste. The men looked at her with the fond interest of a buyer's eyes.

Even when with Daq she was not protected from those eyes. Or the bargains...How much a man would give in livestock to have her come to his farm for domestic work.

That's what they always promised Daq: "Domestic work only." But Daq had told her firmly that that was not their intentions for her, and that she needs to stay closer to him, and avoid eyes. She couldn't help but look at everyone. Every face was so new and unique; the women with their cosmetics, and the men with their eyeglasses, and cigars. Every store had something she wished to stop and stare at; never touch, but most definitely stare at.

But alas, the village was a place for those who could afford to purchase the dyed fabrics, and lace.

She could not.

Continuing down the highway—offering a smile and a wave to some passing horsemen—Miana absentmindedly kicked the pebbles in her way, and stirred the dust up with her bare feet. Ambling along for only goodness knew how many hours. The sun was slightly lower in the sky, but the earth around her was still plenty illuminated.

The farms she passed seemed to be endless. The moment she had wandered beyond the border of one of the farmers' territory, she was already in the next. There was not a square plot of land left without a proprietor.

Her farm was small—measly, really—in comparison. The piece of land she lived on was tucked away, up the hill, and close to the river. Her family didn't own much, but what they did: they took proper care of. They were not of the richest variety of land owners, quite the opposite actually, but they were plenty happy enough.

Papa had left them nothing but that farm. Mama had said that he had left her with nothing but dirt, worries, and endless mouths. Really, Miana only had three brothers, and no sisters to speak of, so she couldn't understand the 'endless mouths', comment. Perhaps they just seemed like a lot more to deal with to Mama than herself.

A small herd of bovine meandered along the patch of green in the ditch, lazily lifting their great heads to acknowledge her presence minimally before returning to their feast of grass and weeds, leaving nothing but trampled, pillaged earth in their wake.

Stopping for a moment, Miana looked on at a small pathway, cutting through the clearing and leading into a small forest. Smiling to herself, she wandered along the pathway, falling into the winding trees, and thick moss. The earthy scent that filled her nostrils invigorated her senses, causing her eyes to flutter shut in sheer delight.

Miana sighed as she felt the sun dip lower in the sky; her skin was growing a little more chilled than it had been before, the trees around her providing far more shade than necessary. She had yet to be cold; but she could sense that it was steadily approaching. With a sigh, she turned, about to make the journey home (maybe running, lest she be late for dinner and upset poor mama). Just as she turned she caught sight of two figures—two men to be more precise—not far behind her.

Watching as their faces twisted into bizarre, uncanny grins, Miana felt her knees involuntarily tremble, and her breath shudder.

"Hey, pretty lady." The smaller one on the left called. His skin was a strange shade of gray, and his ears were pointed sharply. His voice was high, and scratchy. "Where are you headed?"

Miana took a step backwards, just as they took a step forwards.

"Hey now, it's alright." The larger one on the right said sweetly. His voice was rich and deep, flowing off of his tongue like honey. His eyes were red, and his skin was blue. "No one wants to hurt you here..." He smiled; his sharp teeth making her body shudder again.

Carnivores; perfect...

"Get away." She attempted to snap evenly, making herself out to be a lot stronger than she was. It was a miserable failure as her voice cracked half way through. The two demons laughed.

"Now that was rude!" The small one gasped, feigning hurt. "Wasn't that rude?"

"Indeed it was, my friend. Shall we teach the little wench a lesson on manners?"

"I believe so..." The two broke into massive, hungry grins.

Miana didn't even think, her feet just suddenly jumped up and ran in the opposite direction of the two demons. The two laughed with a psychotic sense of mirth and she could hear them running after her.

She could already feel her lungs burning with the panic flowing rampantly through her veins. Oh, god, help me... She thought desperately.

"Gotcha!" The small one shrieked, grabbing viciously at her hair, barking out a laugh as she screamed as she was jerked violently backwards by her long, red locks. She was thrown brutally to the forest floor, mud smearing all over her right side.

A foot came down hard on her back, knocking the wind right out of her lungs. She was hyperventilating. These monsters were going to eat her alive, they were! They were going to pull her apart, piece by piece while she was still alive, laughing at her endless agony all the while. She just knew it.

She didn't want to die!

The two beasts leaned into her closely and started sniffing away at her. It reminded her—in the back of her mind—of the way the dogs would sniff the rancid meat mama would give them before tearing it apart, and fighting one another for it.

And then the pointed teeth were right over her face. Her eyes twisted shut, and Miana found that she still couldn't get any air into her lungs. She knew she was taking deep breaths, but she couldn't feel her lungs filling; as if there was a hole somewhere, where it was all escaping from.

Strange black and multicolored blotches appeared behind her eyelids. And suddenly everything faded away. The hold on her arms disappeared. The breath on her face vanished. The foot on her abdomen lifted. The forest floor disappeared only moments later. She was floating in an endless abyss of warmth. Something was very warm, and it was surrounding her completely.

And she was above the trees, relishing in the heat that cradled her so wholly. And so, this is how she experienced her alleged death. Oh, how her mama would mourn.

And in the haze of death, she fluttered her eyes open minimally. She could only make out the sky and a shadow over her. Strange. Maybe she was on her way to heaven? And her eyes fell closed again, and her head fell backwards, dangling off of something.

Miana felt herself surrounded once again by warmth, and as she tried to move her arms to curl herself more fully into the inviting heat, she found herself unable. She was confined by something, though she could not quite tell what.

After a moment of struggling futilely against her prison, Miana opened her eyes. It took a moment for her vision to return to her, but when it did, she felt even more compelled to free herself. Where was she?

She was in a strange round room, a fire crackling near her, emanating a warmth, and light, bathing the wooden hut in an orange glow. The floor seemed to be made of reeds, woven together, while the walls seemed to be made of thin, cylindrical columns of wood. The room was sparsely decorated, only the bare essentials placed around the room, apparently in an organized fashion. On the far end of the room, a curtain hung over what Miana assumed to be the exit.

Or entrance.

The curtain shifted as a large hand swept it aside. And a man entered. Miana felt her previous panic intensify dramatically.

"You're awake," The man said simply with a deep, timbering, and yet soft voice. He had a skinned rabbit in his hands, a bloody droplet of the small beast rolling down his muscular calf, though he took no notice. Miana shuddered, as she once again tried to free herself. "Lie still," The man commanded softly. As he stepped further into the light, Miana felt her body shudder.

The man was absolutely immense in size; incomparable to any man she had ever set eyes upon. His body was laden with strong, thick muscle that seemed to stretch his pale skin to the limit. His hair was a vibrant gold, standing in an impressively large Mohawk, drawing attention to his unusually blue eyes, which seemed to shine inhumanly in the firelight.

"Who are you?" She whimpered, unable to control the tone of her voice, and internally cursing herself.

"My name is Shikimiyanakatari Djza." He said in a tone that resembled boredom.

Miana sat agog. Never in her nineteen years of existence had she heard such an utterly impossibly long title; for anyone...

"What is your name?" He asked, wandering over to the opposite end of the hut and beginning to prepare the rabbit on a skewer.

"Miana Hun..." She whispered after a moment, her voice trembling still.

"And tell me, Miana Hun, what exactly were you doing wandering around in that forest alone?" He snorted, looking over his shoulder to glare at her with his sharp blue eyes. "A man from your village should have accompanied you."

"I do not live in a village, really." She said quietly.

"A male from your household then," He said tonelessly, turning back to his kill. Miana stayed silent. "If I hadn't just happened to have heard you scream, you would be dead by now for your insolent stupidity." He now turned to face her, still crouching on the ground with the skewered rabbit dribbling blood down his arms, clutched tightly in his hands. "You will make your mama cry." The great beast of a man snorted, scowling at her.

It was only then that she took an even closer inspection of his appearance. Her face felt hot when she noticed his apparel. The great man was dressed minutely in what looked like a skirt made of animal skin, obviously made to ensure his movements remained unrestricted. His massive upper-arms were each adorned with a band of deep brown leather, embroidered with an array of tiny, multicolored beads; his ankles had the same decoration. And to her fascination, his earlobes seemed to be stretched widely, with a thick animal horn punching through each. Though she knew she was gawking at the exotic man before her, she could do nothing to stop herself.

He moved towards the fire, placing the rabbit on a spit and falling back on his hindquarters, watching her from across the crackling flames. His eyes slipped away from hers and found interest in the sizzling, hissing meat before him. The two sat in silence for a long while, Miana still watching him discreetly from the corner of her eye. When he removed the blackened rabbit from the fire, Miana looked up at him again, as if waiting for something.

"Get up," He said curtly. "You will eat," Miana struggled to get free from her confines, but much like before, found herself unable. With a haughty snort the massive man—whose name she couldn't pronounce—walked over to her in a few short steps and gripped the blankets that surrounded her, easily tugging them away from her body. Noticing his ease, compared to her difficulty, Miana immediately felt embarrassed.

Attempting to regain her dignity, she sat up and stood quickly, feigning indifference. Unfortunately, the sudden movement sent her head spiraling out of control, and forced her to take a step backwards in an attempt to regain her balance. He grabbed her arm and stabilized her. "Slowly," He murmured with his deep, timbering voice.

"Thank you, Shi—Shiki—I'm sorry..."

"Shikimiyanakatari," He repeated for her. "If you find it too difficult, I will tolerate Shikimi."

"Thank you, Shikimi," She blushed, looking down at the woven floor. Only now, standing before him, did she really understand just how tall he was. Their height was hardly comparable. He was towering over her by at least a foot and a half. The demons in her area usually weren't anywhere near this large, but built more like human men.

Also, his stance was that of a man with an indeterminable pride. His back was straight and his chest was high in the air. Next to him, she felt small, frail, and awkward. Her arms instinctively wrapped around her abdomen.

"Are you sore?" He asked, looking down at her arms, clutching her midriff, apparently mistaking her discomfort for pain. As he reached down to tug her arms away, she flinched back, away from his massive hands.

"I need to get home," She whispered.

"You will eat." Shikimi said simply, turning back to the skewered rabbit over the fire.

"I'm not hungry," Miana insisted.

"You will eat," He said slowly, turning back around to give her a bone-chilling look. Miana trembled and nodded.

This massive demon, Shikimi, had apparently done away with those two demons that had so easily overpowered her. She was not stupid enough to test his patience—or strength. She was so lost in her own thoughts she couldn't stifle the jump when he nudged her side, and passed her a semi-blackened rabbit leg.

"Thank you," She muttered. He grunted, squatting across the fire from her. They sat in silence for a long while, Miana munching on the rabbit pieces he offered her. She didn't realize she was so hungry until she was eating. She noticed, while half-way through her fifth chunk that he hadn't touched a morsel for himself. "...You're not eating?" She asked, feeling embarrassed for having been so rude.

"This is for you." He said simply.

"I don't need the whole thing. Eat some..." She blushed. "It's good..." Her face got hotter. "...Thank you..." She knew she was babbling like an idiot, but she didn't seem to be able to stop herself.

"I caught it for you. Warriors do not eat with women." He snorted. Miana's face went even redder. She could feel it. And so she took to staring at her lap. "You will sleep here tonight." He said simply, prodding the fire, sending sparks cracking up into the air. The smoke, she noticed, escaped from a hole in the top of the roof.

"I must go home. My mama must be worried."

"It is dark, and you are weak. You will sleep here." Shikimi rebutted.

"But—" Miana began, but was promptly cut off.

"It is night, I am not taking you back, and if you go alone you will surely die. You will stay here, and you will sleep. If you have any complaints about this arrangement, I do not care. Your bedroll awaits you." He then got up and disappeared out of the entrance curtain.

Miana continued to sit, watching the fire. Outside of the hut, she heard the howls of wild beasts. And what sounded like a pack of wild jungle cats fighting. Her body quivered just as the fire exploded with another barrage of sparks.

And the howls of bloodlust rang on.

A/N: And there it is: the first chapter. Tell me what you think. This story will progress into the steamy, sexy romances I'm known for. Promise