"Timber?" a familiar voice called, much closer than before. I knew the voice, but I couldn't bring myself to move. I was still so scared that those people were playing tricks on me. A soft whine escaped me, bouncing off the stone walls until I heard a gasp from the ground below the entrance to my hiding spot. "Timber! It's me, Harding! Your cousin!" I whimpered, shrinking back further even as I wanted to go to him. He and Lief had been close and both had protected me many times from bullies at school. I heard the sound of scraping shoes on rock as he scaled the cliff face to reach the tiny hole I had found to hide in.
"Oh thank the Goddess!" Harding said as his head popped up to block the sunlight at the mouth of the tiny animal den. "Dad! I found him!" he yelled, turning his head back to the forest. "Come on, Timber. You're safe now. The bad people are all gone now. It's just me and Uncle Carson." I whimpered again, but moved slowly to inch worm my way out of the narrow cave. It had barely been big enough for me crawl into to begin with, widening enough at the back for me to turn around and see out.
Harding helped me down the sixteen foot drop to the river bank, his expression mixed between relief and anguish. I knew what it meant. It meant my family was gone. His hands moved quickly over my face and shoulders as he mumbled words too low for me to make out. Finally, he sighed and hugged me tightly.
"I'm so relieved that you're alright, Timber," he said softly and I flinched as I heard footsteps coming up behind me. "It's alright. It's just my dad." I nodded and let my uncle take me from Harding. He quickly swept me up off my feet and I wrapped my arms around his neck.
"Come on, Harding," Uncle Carson said, tightening his hold around me. "Let's get out of here. I don't want to have to play with the Hunters should they come back looking for Timber." I closed my eyes as I felt him start walking, feeling the exhaustion of a night of terror closing in on me. I let it, knowing that neither my uncle or my cousin would let anything happen to me now and welcomed the darkness that it brought with it.
I was jolted awake with a scream of absolute horror some time later, the image of red lightning slamming into my parents' chests burned into my mind. I drew my knees up, crying into them. I'd seen my parents murdered and I didn't doubt my brother had suffered the same fate when he sacrificed himself so I could run. I flinched as the door opened and my uncle's heavy footfalls moved over the hardwood floor.
"Bad dream, Timber?" Uncle Carson asked and I nodded, not raising my face from my knees. I felt his hand brushing back my long hair as he sighed. "Do you know what happened to your mom and dad and Lief?" he asked and again I nodded before shaking my head. I knew, but I didn't. I didn't understand what had happened to my parents and I didn't know what happened to my brother after I left. "Can you tell me what happened last night?"
"People... broke... in..." I said slowly, my voice growing softer with each word until not a sound came out. I picked my head up, rubbing my throat a bit, finding it to be more sore than it should be. After clearing my throat I tried again to tell him what happened, but I could do little more than croak.
"Relax," he said, patting my knee. "Come with me." I nodded and got up to follow him from the room and into the living area. Harding was in there, looking through a rather large book. It struck me as odd since he'd never seemed to be much of a studious person. "Harding, get the rabbit ears." I looked up at my uncle oddly as my cousin immediately got up to do as he was asked. "There's something about our family we haven't told you yet, Timber. You would have learned soon, but we kept pushing it back because of threats to our family's safety."
"Dad's trying to say that we're not normal, Timber," Harding said as he came back and set an odd looking pair of literal rabbit ears on my head. "Our grandparents weren't normal either. Granddad was a werewolf and Gran was a mage. The results of the two of them having kids? My dad and your mom were half breeds. They were werewolf kin, which meant they could produce full blooded werewolf children and heightened senses, heightened natural healing. But neither could shift into a wolf." I shook my head. Everything he was saying was straight out of the movies and totally unbelievable.
"Harding, slow down," Uncle Carson said as he adjusted the antennae on top of the television. "Look, Timber, I know this is all going to be really hard to understand and comprehend right now, but we need you to listen with an open mind. It'll help everything make sense. In our world there are five races of humanoids. You have your average human, which up until now, we let you believe everyone was. But there are four other races with special abilities that humans just do not have. There are vampires, which just like legend need blood to survive. However, they have no problems with sunlight, are not undead, and give birth to children the same as everyone else. They do however live for thousands of years, even if their aging doesn't actually slow down until puberty.
"There are also lycanthropes," he continued, sitting down on the coffee table in front of me. "These are the shape shifters. They come in a variety of species; bears, lions, tigers, panthers, and, of course, wolves. All of them have heightened senses of sight, smell and hearing and as per legend, advanced natural healing, especially under a full moon. They can shift into their animal counterparts at will, and half human, half beast monsters when enraged. They really are a nice race, but tend to avoid cities as much as possible. They're much more in tune with nature than anyone else."
"And we have their blood running in our veins," Harding chimed in. Again I shook my head, having a hard time believing any of this. "It's true, Timber. Remember when those guys pushed you off the monkey bars when you were ten? And you broke your arm?" I nodded. It was not one of my more pleasant memories. "The doctor said it'd take eight weeks for it to heal, right? But to the doc's surprise you had the cast off in three? It's because of our lycan blood." Uncle Carson sighed again as I whimpered. I didn't like all of this. Not at all.
"Calm down, Timber," my uncle said softly, reaching out to rub my arm soothingly. "The third of the supernatural races are the mages. Just as you are thinking, they use magick, cast spells. Their abilities aren't limited by anything other than their own imaginations and the strength of the magick in their veins. It is your inherit ability, the strongest of your bloodlines. We know this because everything we've told you was just your imagination over the years was real. You made things float, brought rain, made flowers grow, and made lost objects appear.
"But the last race is why last night happened," he said, his voice growing more somber. "The hunters are a mix between human and mage. Humans are unable to use magickal items and hunters are unable to create magick out of thin air like a mage. They can however infuse items with power. But at some point, they stopped making useful magickal tools and started making destructive weapons. These weapons they turns against the other three supernatural races and war began. A war humans know nothing about."
"Hunters have been targeting our family for awhile," Harding said. "We think they are who killed your parents last night." I turned my eyes back to my uncle, raising a curious hand to the rabbit ears still sitting on my head.
"Ah, those are going to help us find out what you saw, Timber," Uncle Carson said, turning to flip the television on to a static channel. "Now, I want you to relax, close your eyes, and just let the memory flow. It sounds strange, I know, but trust your uncle, okay?" I nodded a bit, still confused, but trusting my remaining family. I breathed out a slow breath, reluctantly letting the memory swim back into my conscious thoughts.
iI heard the shouting that came from downstairs, the same shouting that had roused me from my sleep. I walked down the hallway from my room to the stairs, peering over the banister. At the bottom of the stairs were men wearing dark suits and sunglasses, even though it was sometime just after midnight. In their hands, they held something odd that I couldn't quite place.
They raised their arms, pointing those things at my parents. I screamed as my parents screamed when something red shot forth like lightning from the cane-like sticks those men carried. I quickly covered my mouth, but I was too late, I had been noticed already and one of those sticks was raised in my direction. I was jerked to the side as the bolt of red lightning struck the wall behind me. I looked up as my older brother, Lief, dragged me down the hall to his room, shoving me inside before leaning heavily against the door.
"Run, Timber. Out the window, to the woods. Don't stop, don't look back," he said, tears slipping down his face. I wanted to protest, I wanted to scream at him that I wouldn't leave him behind. But I had no chance as the door burst open behind him, sending him flying across the room. A gnarled looking black cane was raised in my direction again as I stood frozen in my fright. The red lightning struck the wall to my right and I was astounded to see the mouth of a large wolf biting down on the arm of the guy.
It wasn't until the wolf looked at me with my brother's eyes that I finally understood where it had come from. With one last look back at the white haired wolf who was fighting to give me time to escape, I jumped from the window, gripping the tree branch that we had often used to sneak out at night. As fast and agile as any feline, I was out of the tree and in an all out sprint across the yard towards the woods. I knew of many places back here to hide as I had tried them all to hide from Peter when we were younger. Now I usually used them to get away from the real world.
For once I was actually glad my mother always made me braid my long white blonde hair every night before going to bed. I could just imagine it tangling and pulling in the tree branches that were tearing at my arms and face. My chest was beginning to ache and I could barely pull in any breath as my legs began to slow from exhaustion. I guessed I was at my sprinting limit. I looked around quickly to get an idea of where I was at, knowing these woods like I knew every inch of the face of the boy I'd had a crush on.
I turned towards one of the more difficult to find hidey holes I had and quickly climbed the sheered off face of a large hill. I slipped quickly into the cave that had only ever been big enough of me to military crawl into. At the very back was enough space for me to turn around so I could stare out of the cave mouth. I knew I was far enough back so that I wouldn't be spotted by anyone who didn't come up here to look, but I also couldn't tell if anyone was down below if they weren't talking.
And that was where I spent the rest of the night, trembling in fear of being found and killed. I could remember the sun coming up and lighting up the mouth of the hole and then the sounds of my name echoing through the woods./I Tears were streaming down my face by the time I reached the end of my memory of the horrific night and I felt Uncle Carson wrap his arms around me tightly.
"Everything will be alright, Timber," he said, rubbing my back soothingly and I felt the rabbit ears removed from my head. "You'll stay here with Harding and I and we'll help everything make sense. Everything will be fine." I wasn't sure if he was saying it for my benefit or for his, but either way, I clung to him as I sobbed.