The Beasts Substitute Bride
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EXCERPT "The choosing is not malicious or personal. To the family that gets chosen, you have a week to prepare your daughter. Say your last goodbyes and when the men come to take her, do not struggle with them. Simply hand her over to the guards" The hall was tense as everyone waited for his final decision. And he just remained silent. At one point I wanted to scream at him. "Hinsley." He called their name and hesitated. He had a solemn look on his face and I was convinced that family had been chosen. I visibly relaxed and waited for him to complete it. "You may take your seat" my head jerked up. His eyes were on the Hinsley girl. Was he? Was he telling her to take her seat? I looked at him and his eyes caught mine. "Dolivo. Your family has been chosen" For over a hundred years, the human town has provided the next mate for the reigning beasts and this year, a bride is required. Paisley and Nevaeh are from the family mandated to provide the next bride for the reigning beast. Nevaeh has been selected as the eldest daughter while Paisley is engaged to a man she loves. What happens when Nevaeh runs away the night before her collection and Paisley is asked to go in place of her sister to be the bride of the beast.
A shrill scream filled the silent night. It was nothing to Waylen at this point. The forest was filled with thousands of screams almost every second. At every minute, there was a fallen hero. The grasses were wet and not from the rains. The blood of the fallen coated every inch of the ground.
Waylen jumped over a body as he ran. He had no care for his life again. The singular thought in his head was to get to his wife. He left her behind when he heard the enemy was in the village, he dropped all and went for his wife. She was his world and he could not continue living if something happened to her.
The village looked even worse than the forest. Bodies were scattered everywhere. The houses were burning and the little children who had been spared were crying. He should stop and console them. Get them to safety. Assure them that everything was going to be alright but he just couldn't.
He saw his home come into sight and he pushed himself further. He ignored the burn in his ribs as he stopped at the front door. The doors were open but no sound came from within.
"Salma... my love where are you" there was no response from her. At this point, he wished he was one of the beasts. Her scent would have led him to her but unfortunately, he was human and he had to keep searching until he was able to find her.
His bedroom was the first place he checked. It was empty. He ran down the corridor and checked his children's room. They were all empty.
Where could she be? He was panicking at this point. Praying silently that the beasts didn't take her.
He heard a soft cry and followed it. The sight he met in the kitchen will forever haunt him. His wife lay lifeless, a giant hole in her stomach. Their four-year-old daughter sitting and staring in the distance. The word mama fell continuously from her lips.
"Salma" his voice broke. He fell to his knees taking her bloody hands in his. He was too late. His wife was gone. The tears fell freely from his eyes. He was supposed to protect her and take care of her.
Their little girl was unmoving. Her head kept replaying the images of her mother's death. She was hidden behind the cupboard and could do nothing but stare as her mother was murdered.
It was only after the men were gone that she crawled out of her hiding place and sat beside her mother.
After sitting beside her corpse for a long hour, he grabbed his daughter and kept her locked in a room. He went for his sword immediately after. The beasts will feel his wrath. He stormed out of the house. Tearing through any beast on his part. He had a single goal. Kill Gael. The leader of the beasts.
He came upon their dwelling and stopped at the sight he met. The proud warrior beast held his dead mate in his arms. His cries were loud, heart-wracking sobs that shook his mighty frame. Something moved in Waylen's heart, his sword dropping from his hands making a loud clatter on the ground. Gael's eyes raised at the sound and met his.
The beast only stared at him. He had no desire to fight anymore.
"We've been so foolish," he said with a humorless chuckle.
"We've killed for nothing. Look at us now"
Waylen said nothing and just looked at the man. A few beasts came into the area. They paid no attention to Waylen. Either they didn't see him or their entire focus was on their leader who held his dead mate.
"I won't fight anymore. It's either we end this war today or you kill me now"
"I don't want to fight anymore," Waylen said and the beasts shifted their attention to him.
He had lost the most important person in his life because of the war. A lot of his people were gone too. The war won't bring about any change. Just stagnation and more deaths. It was time to put an end to it.
With that, Waylen turned his back on the beasts and walked away from their land.
The survivors in the village looked to him for direction.
"The war has come to an end. Let us bury our own and rebuild our village" the announcement was met with a lot of cheers.
And so the rebuilding began. The dead were buried and slowly, the villagers began to move on.
In the fourth month after the end of the war, Gael visited the small village. The humans watched him in surprise as he walked through the village and to their leader's house.
Waylen was even more surprised to see the man in his office. He reached for his small knife under the table but Gael stopped him.
"There is no need for that. I come in peace" he lifted his hands in surrender and Waylen relaxed.
"Why are you here?"
"I want us to draw up a treaty. Since our war has ended and we silently agreed to live in peace, I think it's only right that we have a treaty that protects our people"
Waylen nodded in agreement. "My people will no longer hurt your people and your people will not hurt mine"
"Papa?" A small voice called from the doorway interrupting Gael. He turned to look at the small girl with wide blue eyes. The little girl's eyes traveled from her father to the strange man.
"Lucretia. I told you to stay in your room" her father scolded lightly.
"I had a bad dream," she said in a small voice.
"Go back to your room" he snapped at the little girl. She turned away but not before Gael saw the tears in her eyes.
The treaty was finalized and Gael returned to his land.
For six generations, the treaty remained in place. The two species lived together in harmony until the reigning human leader, Carwyn murdered the mate of the reigning beast.
The beast went on a rampage, killing everyone and everything in his path.
Tue treaty was destroyed and the beasts began to terrorize the humans. The humans now lived in fear of the beasts.
Pushed by his advisors, Carwyn tries to make amends. In a letter addressed to the beasts, he stated that;
'The human village will provide a female for the reigning beast'
The beasts accept their offer.
And so it began. The choosing of females. A family will be selected to provide for the female and when the girl comes of age, she would be sent to the Beasts as a mate.
The villagers were against this development but nothing could change it. The girls who refused to go were dragged forcefully by the human guards to the borders where the beasts would pick them up.
The girls taken were never seen again and the rumors started. It was whispered that the beasts killed the girls and disposed of the bodies.
Each family dreaded the choice. For they were scared to lose their daughters and even more scared of the consequences that would follow if they failed to provide a mate for the beast.
I removed my shoes at the entrance and rushed into the house.
"Mama...Papa" I called but there was no response. The house was unusually silent and I wondered where my family could be. With a full house, it was rare to find the house empty or silent.
I moved further into the house and realized the lights were off. My heart thumped in my chest. I easily got frightened and I was starting to feel some type of way.
My hands trailed against the wall as I tried to find the light switch. My fingers found it but there was another finger there already.
"Ahhhh" I screamed and jerked back. At the same time, the lights come on.
"Happy birthday Paisley" shouts erupted from all corners of the room. I looked around and saw the whole family I had been searching for. They were holding a cake and flowers and sweets.
"You frightened me" I scowled at them. The waves of laughter couldn't be stopped now. Everyone was laughing
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