The Beginning

Midnight; the perfect time to make my escape. I've always found the night to be peaceful in a way, despite the constant sound of heavy footsteps that were constantly made by the guards going up and down the hallway that was right outside my door. However, there were plenty of other noises to block out this minor annoyance; the chirping of a nightingale that sometimes perched on my windowsill , the wind blowing so fervently through the trees, making the leaves rustle and fall to the ground, the list goes on and on. But, on this night, everything was silent, as if the whole world already knew of my plan. Tonight, I was going to run away from my home, my father, King Rollin, and my destiny.

It all started a few weeks ago when my father sent a guard to me that said I was supposed to join him on the castle grounds at once. I was slightly irritated that the man didn't have the decency to tell me himself, but I didn't complain. I may be a prince but that doesn't mean I'm an arrogant brat. From when I'd been taught, a prince is supposed to be kind, courteous and humble. Apparently some princes were taught differently.

As soon as I stepped out of the castle, I took in a large breath, taking in all the fresh air I could get. I was almost never allowed to go outside, for some unknown reason, so this must truly be a special occasion. After enjoying my brief moment of peace, I went looking for my father, and found him by the castle's gates a few moments later. It wasn't that difficult to spot him. The summer sun was reflecting off of the many rings that covered his fingers and the crown he wore to show his nobility, making it seem like he was glowing. "You wanted to see me, Father?" I said as I approached the shining figure. My father smiled as I made my way towards him and replied "Yes, Prince Zevulun. There is much we need to discuss. Come and walk with me on this lovely summer day." With that, we both started to take a stroll around our home, enjoying the cloudless sky and calming breeze.

Ever since I could remember countless people have told me that I was the spitting image of my father, even when I was only a small child. We both had the same jet black hair, slightly pointed nose, tall, well-built figure, and intimidating yellow eyes, which were the eyes of royalty. My family has had these same eyes ever since they took over the country of Wolcott, but that's another story. For now, let's just focus on this one.

My father and I walked around for what seemed like hours until he finally spoke in his deep, baritone voice. "I have good news for you, my son. Your eighteenth birthday is drawing nearer each day and so is your coronation," he told me with immense pride clear in his eyes. I was completely astonished. If it wasn't for my overwhelming curiosity I probably wouldn't have said anything for hours. "But don't I have to get married before I become king?" I asked, my voice soft and hardly audible. The king responded with a booming laugh that made numerous birds flee from their roosts. "That's what I'm getting to," he chuckled. "In just a few weeks time you are going to be married to Princess Desdemona of Mallory."

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. Princess Desdemona was known far and wide for her vanity and haughtiness. Yet, she was the most beautiful girl in this world and the next. Still, I would never take her to be my bride, even if I was being forced to, which happened to be the case. Gathering all of my courage, I told King Rollin "I'm not going to marry her, Father. Not even for all the treasures in the world." I thought my father would understand why I would never want to be with that wretched cretin, but, unfortunately, I was mistaken.

My father started to stare at me with those piercing eyes of his that suddenly had a chilling glint to them. "I'm afraid you don't have a choice, Prince Zevulun. This girl is the only princess I could find that meets our standards," he said, his tone starting to become a bit agitated. My common sense was telling me not to argue with him when he was like this, but I didn't care. I would rather have my father's wrath upon me instead of marrying that harlot. "You mean your standards. I want nothing to do with this girl, no matter what she is. If I am to marry, then let it be to whom I decide," I rebelled, hoping that he would finally understand. He didn't.

"Are you questioning my authority? Because you know what would happen if you are doing so," my father growled, his teeth already starting to become sharper and his eyes were beginning to look more primitive and predatory. Of course I knew what would happen if I went against my father's wishes; we would have to fight. I loved my father and didn't want any harm to come to him; even though he could probably injure me while I could only give him a mere scratch. In defeat, I lowered my head, looking away from his challenging gaze.

"That's what I thought. Now, you are going to marry Princess Desdemona on your eighteenth birthday whether you like it or not. Is that clear?" the king asked in a forceful tone. I wanted so much just to shake my head, but I thought against it. Having my father yell at me twice in one day would get us nowhere. "Yes, Father," I grumbled, looking at the grassy ground I was treading on. In a way, we were similar. I too knew what it felt like to have someone step all over you. "Good boy. The princess will be arriving next week so you two will have time to get acquainted. I expect you to give her the same courtesy and kindness you would give to any maiden," he added and I only nodded in response. Those were the last words he spoke on the subject. The rest of the time we walked in silence until he dismissed me and I quickly returned to my chambers. At that moment I was already planning my escape.

Now, whoever is reading this is most likely wondering how and why my father's features began to change. There is a rational and simple answer to these questions; magic. Yes, this answer is probably not possible to some, but believe me when I tell you that magic exists. My family and I are living, breathing proof of that. However, we didn't acquire this kind of sorcery on our own. We obtained this ability as a gift long ago, before my ancestors were considered royalty. So, without further ado, I will take you back many centuries ago, when my forefathers were nothing but animals.

Long ago, there lived a sorceress named Orenda. She had tremendous power that was both feared and respected. Everyone was astounded at the miracles she performed and the disasters she prevented. It was even said that she could stop a wildfire with just a wave of her hand. But, the ones that truly admired her the most were the animals of the forest, especially the wolves. They treated her like she was a god in human form that was meant to protect them from harm and solve any disputes that they might have. Orenda always thanked the wolves for their praise and made sure they always had enough food and were kept warm in the winter. For many years everything was going perfectly until one day, tragedy struck.

Orenda was dying. Even though she had magic on her side, she knew that she never wanted to become immortal and didn't really want to try. She went to the forest to die, naturally, and the wolves were beside her in an instant. They could smell the sickness on her and howled in misery for their savior. Remembering the compassion and faith the animals had shown her over the years, she decided to give them the most precious gift of all; humanity.

So, with her last bit of magic, she transformed her friends into humans, all of them having yellow eyes, and died before any of them could speak their first words. Seeing that the sorceress was dead, the now just-turned humans wept real tears which landed on the soil where Orenda laid. Suddenly, her body decayed at a rapid pace and a young tree soon grew where she once laid. Orenda was now a part of the forest that she'd loved so much. The humans stared at the tree continuously before they realized what had happened. After saying their parting words, they left the woods in search of new lives and experiences. They weren't going to waste the great gift they had been given.

Many months later the 'humans' became royalty because of the unknown and mysterious tasks they performed and lived very prosperous lives. However, once they realized they were able to change back into their wolf selves at will, some left since they missed living a simple life in the forest. The remaining wolf-people stayed to rule the country and passed the gift and power onto their children, which was passed onto their children and so on and so forth.

It is said that Orenda's tree, as it came to be called, still lives on today and that any wolf in the world could find it, even if they were senseless. One day, I planned on going to find that tree and ask Orenda's spirit what my true destiny was. But first I had to escape from my living hell, and that day was drawing closer and closer.

Tonight was the night I would leave everything behind; my life, the girl I was betrothed to, and even my humanity if it came down to it. Perhaps I would walk in my ancestor's footsteps and live out the rest of my days as a wolf. I imagined that it would be a simple life. I would only have to worry about food, shelter, and warmth, how difficult could that be? Of course I didn't know the first thing about hunting or whatever it is that a wolf does, but I figured I would learn in time. Instincts should take over sooner or later.

Also, if I was lucky enough, I might be able to find Orenda's tree. Then I would finally discover if I was worthy to be king or not. My whole plan unfolded before my eyes as I started to grab everything in my room that I required for my journey. I didn't know how long I would be traveling, so I took whatever I could that wouldn't weigh me down.

First, I grabbed a large hooded cloak and put it on hastily, knowing that I only had six hours of darkness left and needed to be as far away from the castle as possible before daybreak. I walked over to the full-length mirror that stood near my wardrobe to see how it looked. It covered my body perfectly, but my face was still slightly visible when I put the hood up. Someone was bound to recognize me eventually if I walked around wearing just this. Looking around for something to add to my attire, I found nothing but a dagger lying by itself on my dresser. I'd started to learn how to fight with daggers years ago and now I usually practiced in my room. Luckily it had enough space for me to work with my weapon so that nothing would be destroyed if I got too carried away. It was also quiet and private there, so it seemed like the perfect place for a man to hone his skills.

I quickly took the dagger and tore off a piece of cloth at the bottom of my cloak and wrapped it around the lower half of my face. When I looked in the mirror once again, I thought I looked like a thief or leper, but that didn't matter. At least I didn't look like myself. The only thing that people might recognize were my eyes, but there was nothing I could do about it. Hopefully no one would even care to look at a man in an overly large cloak with a piece of cloth around his mouth. Why would that attract attention? "I'd be lucky if I get past the gates without someone stopping me," I mumbled to myself as I put my dagger in its' small scabbard that was on my belt.

But I couldn't think pessimistically just yet. A whole world beyond those four walls was waiting for me. After taking in a deep breath to calm myself, I searched my room for other things I needed for my journey. Soon my pockets were full of small treasures that I could trade for some food or a night's stay at an inn. I ran over my list of assets and found that I had everything I needed. Finally it was time for me to leave.

I looked around my sanctuary again, trying to make myself remember every square inch of it. The bright coloring of the paint on the walls, my large bed that could probably fit up to five people and the wooden furniture that seemed practically ancient were now forever engraved in my mind. Without any sign of hesitation I made my way towards the window and carefully tried to lift it up without making any noise.

The nightingale that usually perched by my window chirped in an irritated manner before flying off as I opened the window, but I hardly noticed it. My focus was now on the tree that was only a few feet away from me to my right. My goal was to jump from my window to any branch on the tree. I know what you may be thinking. Impossible, correct? Well, they said that the existence of wolf-men and magic was impossible as well.

Looking down, I realized how far I must have been from the ground. I started to think that perhaps I wouldn't make the jump and every bone in my body would shatter. "Well, it's now or never," I told myself softly as I looked back at the tree. With that thought in my mind, I jumped from my windowsill, hoping that my excellent agility would aid me.

(So, here is the first chapter of my first story. Exciting, right? I would like to thank Erika, Dannielle and Jade for all their help and support and that they're the greatest! Now I know everyone will have their own opinion on this so I expect at least some people to write some reviews. -Not really. I'm just saying that because I really need a self-esteem boost.- I hope whoever read this enjoyed it and the next chapter should be up whenever I get around to it. Peace.)