Tags/Warnings: magic, shifters, dragons, wolves, human trafficking, violence,
blood, gore, dub con, LGBT characters/situations, nonbinary character romance, token resistance.
NOT FOR YOUNG/SENSITIVE AUDIENCES! PTSD, TRAUMA SURVIVORS, AND YOUTH: LEAVE NOW!
Welcome to the 3rd rewrite of Without Light! The newest version, the 5th rewrite, will be on sale on Amazon digital download etc, however I want to make it very clear that that version and this one are VERY different due to copyright restrictions. I wanted to provide a free version no matter what, but even posting for free still counts as publishing so it needed to be substantially different compared with the final copy.
Please note that even big events such as character deaths are NOT guaranteed to happen in both versions. For example, a character that dies here may not in the final version and vice versa, so please do not be alarmed if you read this full free version but then, upon purchasing the second book, find that a character you thought was dead is alive and well!
Anything can happen, and I hope you will find that as exciting as I did while writing! It's like getting 2 books for the price of one!
Lastly and most importantly, thank you so much to every single one of you thousands of supporters, commenters and likers from all 27 of the countries I've received hits from so far. I love every single one of you and I hope you know you made this possible.
To follow my work and find out what I'm up to, please check out my facebook: "FacebookDOTcom/CrystalynnAuthor"
With all that said, please enjoy: Without Light v3.
"I'm sorry, Hikaru. I love you. I truly do…"
Her father's trembling voice whispered to her, somehow, dancing on the night's winds. She didn't recall the words in the morning or even see the man who'd spoken them. In fact, Heather Hikaru Mayhue noticed only two things that night: the dark, empty halls of her suburban home, more lonesome than she'd ever known them, and mother's tears: that steady, unending flow of pure, refined misery. One clear drop fell for every crimson one he had shed: life drained away, along with her joy.
And Heather didn't understand it then, but there was something to be said of two lovers torn apart: souls that lost their mate. The barefoot eight-year-old could never hope to console her mother, nor grasp her father's reasons for leaving: destroying everything his family held dear, but she did realize just one thing.
I don't ever wanna fall in love. This childish wish lasted a decade: a stubborn refusal of all that was true and ordained, until the day fate decided it was time to wake up.
Cold water closed in all around her, until she could feel nothing but her breath stolen away and the pressure of darkness. Through her sight flitted slick black tentacles and glowing red eyes.
Murky green depths robbed all thought and all light.
Disgusting. On instinct Heather coughed up putrid lake water, nearly choking on the aftertaste alone. Her lungs seemed to scream for the dank air that filled them, relieved by precious oxygen even with the bitter aftertaste of seaweed and blood. Once she'd caught her breath, the dizzy teenager tried to get her bearings as well. She seemed to be laying face-down on what felt like a cold, hardwood floor. Something had been wound around both her wrists, keeping them tied behind her back, and she could see only blank darkness, owing to what felt like leather over her eyes. Just as she opened her mouth, attempting to cry out even despite the biting gag she could feel in her mouth, someone cut her off. "Well done my friend," a deep, man's voice rumbled, "that's two humans you've brought me in just one day! And they're young!"
"It was too easy," a separate voice crooned, "young indeed, but stupid as well…"
The first reassured with a laugh. "We'll just market them as 'virgin' and 'fresh!' They oughtta fetch a nice price!"
A price? Nothing these two said made any sense to poor Heather. She tried again to free herself, struggling valiantly, but whatever bound her remained solid. Whoever these men were, they were not novices at tying people up. If that wasn't bad enough, the two just kept up their conversation, ignoring her entirely. "How'd you manage to put it to sleep though, I wonder?"
"Simple," the second was saying, "I poisoned the water. The pure blood of Lunar Moths works wonders on humans you know..."
"So's anything else, but maybe it worked too good eh?" Now his voice picked up a cruel, teasing drone. "If'n this thing don't wake up, I might just haffta make us some nice human soup..."
What!? But I am awake! Heather tried to call out, only to find her words muffled. "Hey! I'm erake!" Her voice sounded muffled, but the two with her were very amused. The first of them chuckled, and she realized too late she'd done just what he'd wanted.
"Oh well looka here. Think it's alive?" Judging by the sound of his voice, she knew he was standing very close, perhaps bent down, looking right at her. Rough, unfamiliar hands met her face then and Heather flinched on instinct. "Oh, sit still you stupid ass thing!" A sudden, painful blow to her stomach had Heather immediately subdued and choking again, but she was too terrified to even shrink away. "That's better," her cruel captor growled and then, finally the world sprang back into merciful light. He'd removed a blindfold, so the dim lighting now joined the dank around them, and Heather immediately took stock of her surroundings. She lay on the hardwood floor of what looked to be a small cabin, lit with flickering torches and with no decorations. No electricity. Just how far was she from civilized society? "Whatchu lookin' at, stupid?" Heather felt herself being rolled onto her back by those same rough, powerful hands, and nearly yelped in response, either from her hands now being crushed beneath her own weight, or the shock of the man she could now see. He had short, rust-colored hair with what looked like horns jutting out of either side of his head, and oversized, inky black eyes. "You call me Master," was all he said to her, but then he tossed his head. "Come'n look!" He'd called behind himself, grinning as his cohort crawled over too, and it was only then that the nature of this situation fully dawned on Heather.
To these men she was nothing more than a raw slab of meat.
"Very niccccce," the shorter, snake-like male actually hissed, crawling on all fours to get a close look at the human he'd captured, and Heather caught site of this one as well. It was hardly a man, with sallow, pale skin, black claws and eyes the exact color of vomit. His long, leather-black tail trailed afterward as he completed a full circle: inspecting her from every angle. Heather recognized that tail as the one that had nearly drowned her. "Looksssss healthy, yes Master?"
"Very." 'Master' prodded Heather's thigh with one leather-gloved hand, and she suddenly wished to have her leg amputated, so complete was her disgust and shame from being touched by him. He however seemed pleased, readily admiring the shape of her hips. "This thing probably eats better than us, eh? Wheresabouts did you say it came from, eh Snake?"
"Lucky break then." He scoffed. "Fat little things, most of them 'mericans, but this female looks like its a good size, eh?"
"Yes, little goldilocks, aren't you?" The snake-man teased, leaning over with those reptile eyes narrowed. "Not too big, not too small, not too short, not too tall..." His clawed, sickly albino hands ghosted over her chest and Heather nearly shuddered, hating the way those thin lips slid back into a toothy, fanged grin.
"Not too flat either..."
"I like them eyes too," the other added, and Heather was shocked to see he was actually talking to her. "Where'd ya get 'em?" What? That question didn't make sense to Heather. She knew her eyes to be brown: plain compared with their freakish eyecolors. "Speak up!" the Master insisted, yanking the gag down just enough for Heather to speak. "Wheresabouts your eye colors come from?"
"Um... my mother?" To her painful shock, Master then stood and kicked her again. The force knocked the wind out of her, leaving a muddy brown bootprint, and then that tight, wet gag was shoved right back into her mouth.
"Think you're cute, dontcha!?" he spat, "Well ya ain't cute, you got that! You better learn some respect 'n answer like you got a brain in that little head, eh?"
"Okay!" That had come out muffled too, and he only yelled in response, "Okay, Master!"
She repeated obediently, eyes screwed shut with the pain, but inside Heather swore she would never stoop so low as to call anyone this ugly or this cruel her 'Master.' She wished she were anywhere but here, anyone but herself: a piece of meat that now belonged to these two greedy things.
"That's better," the Master had scoffed, "now sit still." To Heather's disgust, he then got to his knees and made to slide those gloved fingers right up under her shirt. Automatically she flinched, legs tied together or not, but he caught her and pinned her back down. "I said sit, didn't I, dummy? Stay still before ya piss me off again."
"He wants to see the bruisessss," the snake-like man added, and Heather wasn't sure what that meant, but she stayed still for a moment, and true to those words, Master did pull her shirt up, right to the base of her bra and furrowed those thick, ugly eyebrows. "Not too bad," was his assessment, "the pink ones'll heal quick."
"These'll be purple soon though," Snake pointed out, indicating her wrists and ankles as well, "if it keeps movin' around."
"Wild one," Master scoffed, " gotta get this one broken." Broken? WHAT? Heather struggled mightily, but Master had had enough at that point. He flipped her back over, hands in her hair, and this time a pounding headache sprang up with the darkness.