Hunted- (tentative title) chapter 1


            Life holds so few moments which have the potential to completely alter the course of your life.  I can look back and tell you the exact instant that changed everything.  That one moment in time lead to the events that had the power to bring everything that I had built my life upon crumbling to dust at my feet.  My beliefs had been crushed, my loyalties questioned, and I had to face the idea that everything in my life had been based upon lies.  I dedicated my life to what I thought was good.  I dedicated my life to hunting down the monsters within our world.  To my grim horror I had to realize that, in fact, I was the monster.  Everything changed the moment that I looked into the eyes of the woman who opened mine.

Chapter 1- 
        The house looked so still and quiet.  It was a beautifully serene little cottage, nestled in the woods and surrounded by an exquisite garden.  It looked so peaceful, as though it belonged in a story book.  I knew better than to judge something by its outward appearance.  I knew that it wasn’t until you got to see what was inside and see what horrors the beautiful shell held that you could truly judge what you were faced with.  I was certain this perfect little cottage held some of the worst horrors of our world.

There was a time once in our world that the horrors that I devoted my life to hunting down did exist only in story books.  Our kingdom was a beautiful place, prosperous and peaceful.  Until almost 30 years ago, just before I was born, the king discovered that there were magic users hiding in plain sight all over his kingdom.  More and more people began to emerge with horrific super natural abilities.  Their magical powers proved to be more and more dangerous to the rest of the public.  The acts of violence began to escalate and the punishments for magic use escalated as well.  My own mother was taken from me by their violence before I even could remember.  Our king was a good man who realized that the only way to keep his people safe was to rid his kingdom of all of magic and all of those who practiced it. 

            My dark hair dripped with sweat as I sat facing the seemingly peaceful cottage in front of us.  It had taken weeks of investigations by my guards to track the group of magics to this place. 

“Jackson?  Are you sure we have the right place?  I mean, could this place really be where….”  Darius trailed off, not wanting to finish.       

            “Yes, this is definitely the place.” I replied.  “People in the village say that there have been all kinds of strange things happening in this part of the woods for weeks now.  They don’t know the family that lives here, but I’m certain they must be magic.” 

            Darius turned back to the cottage, the look of doubt replaced with a look of furious intensity.  He crouched beside me in the trees, the bushes blocking us from view of anyone looking out from the cottage.  Queen Izabella, Darius’s mother, had begged him never to accompany me on these raids.  She thought it bad enough having to deal with the idea of me going out to fight; she couldn’t handle the thought of her only son and only heir to the kingdom in danger as well.  She begged me not to let him come.  But there was no stopping Darius when he had his mind made up.  I had no desire to try to stop him either.  I would not want to have been denied my opportunity to fight.

            “If you’re so sure, why don’t we get in there?  What are we waiting for?” He asked me.

            “We have to wait for the signal.  Bowen is on the far side of the cottage and he will let us know when it’s time.  We have to be sure firstly that there is someone inside to arrest.  Or this whole thing will be a waste.  But we also have to make sure that we’re in position so that no one has the chance of getting away.”  I said.

            No sooner had I got the words out than I heard a bird call from the far side of the clearing.  It was the signal I had been waiting for.  I stood, sword grasped firmly in my hands, and Darius did the same at my side.  He may have been the prince, but out here, I was in the lead.  I was commanding the raid of this place, and I wanted everything to go perfectly.  Tritus was counting on me to get this done.  My father had finally shown the confidence to give me the chance at having command and there was no way I was going to bring home disappointment.  I stopped to catch my breath, trying not to be overcome with the frenzy of both obsession and excitement, thinking of what I was about to face.  With a quick call back to Bowen I raced out from my tree shelter, Darius following close by my side and I could see men filing in from every direction, surrounding the house entirely.  I arrived first, and barged in through the door. 

            I entered the cottage, my sword raised and ready to strike.  At the first noise of my arrival, the occupants of the small kitchen began to scatter. Every which way, chairs were pushed over and people were flying out of every possible exit.  On small girl actually started running straight for a solid wall in her haste. To my horror, she went right through the brick and stone as though it were made of air.  An older woman in the center of the room locked eyes with me for one brief moment before she reached out for the man sitting closest to her and in a bright flash of light, both had vanished.  I lunged for the girl closest to me, grabbing her from behind in an attempt to restrain her.  I held the girl as tight to my body as I could, pinning her arms to her body.  She kicked and fought, but she was so small a woman, she really had no hope.  Suddenly a shocking jolt ran through my entire body and I crumpled to the floor, releasing the girl.  I felt as though I had been hit by lightning.  She used magic on me.  It infuriated me, and that rage for her gave me the strength I needed to get up from the floor and lunge for the girl yet again before she had time to get out the door, this time holding a dagger to her throat. 

            “I wouldn’t suggest trying that on me again.  With a blade this close to your throat, you’d hate for me to get a little shaky.”  I warned. 

            I looked over the table to see Darius successfully having restrained a tall, thin, wild looking man.  He looked across the table at the girl, specifically at the dagger at her throat, in horror.  He shot a look of pure venom at me, but sat down in the chair in front of him, in a gesture of defeat and surrender.  I realized that this one blade held them both in check.

            “My men outside will have your friends rounded up and brought back in.  If you do not fight us, we will not hurt you.  We were informed of illegal magic activity in this house, and are here for arrests only.  Cooperate, answer our questions, and we will not hurt you.  Fight us, use any more magic, and we will not hesitate to kill you.”  I was trying to be diplomatic to a group of magics, a group of killers.  Who was I kidding?

            “What does it matter if you don’t kill us now?  You will bring us to your king and he will have us killed later.  I would prefer to go down in a fight.”  Despite the man’s claim, he did not make a move from his chair, his wild eyes still filled with terror, still looking at the blade I held at the girl’s throat. 

I glanced around at the room that surrounded me.  It may have looked calm and unthreatening from the outside, but from in the heart of the cottage, I saw danger in every direction that I looked.  There was a massive black cauldron, set atop a flame of a deep purple.  A magical fire, no doubt.  Along the wall of the kitchen there was an assortment of vials with horrible looking contents. A moment later the other men came back in to the house, dragging along four more people. 

            “How did things go out there?” I inquired.

            “We got these four, sir.  Two others got away.  A little girl ran right through our blockade of men like a ghost.  The other transformed into a bird as soon as she got outside and flew away.  I’m sorry, we tried to stop them both.”  Bowen said.

            “Two others vanished into thin air as soon as I entered.   6 caught, 4 escaped.  Not bad.  Not quite the success I had hoped to bring back to Tritus, but not bad. “I said.  I secretly still cringed at the idea of bringing any tinge of bad news back to my father.  He had placed his confidence in me to get this done right.  I did not like letting him down.

            “We had to gag the old woman.  She seems to have some power of persuasion.  Freddy actually turned to fight us instead of her after she suggested it. “ Bowen said.  It was only then that I noticed one of my best guards also being slightly restrained by another of the guards, but looking slightly dazed.  It must have been wearing off.  I winced at the thought of what this woman could do, of what she could make others do, against their own will.  She could make me fight against my cause if she had the chance, make me fight for the magics instead of against them, if she wished.  Even this frail looking grey haired woman was a danger.  They were all dangerous. 

            I turned to the group of four being held by my guards, my dagger still at the girl’s throat.  “Like I told your friends already, cooperate and we will not hurt you.  We are here to make arrests and bring you to the king.  He will ultimately decide your fate.  If you give us information that is helpful; names of others, locations they’re hiding or anything that helps us with our hunt, you might be spared.”  I couldn’t make a definite promise that they would live.  The king rarely allowed anyone to be left alive.  They were all too dangerous, posed too much of a threat to the rest of the public.  He at least granted the mercy of a quick, painless, and private execution to those who were helpful.  He recognized the magic hunts as a necessary evil, but he was not without mercy.  “Even a hint of magic, however, and we will not hesitate to kill you and your friends.  I would rather avoid any bloodshed today.”  I said sincerely.

            “Yeah right” said one of the girls.   She was on her knees in front of me.  She was very tall, with hair black as a moonless night.  She might have been beautiful, but her eyes were so fierce and full of hate.  She glared up at me, with a look of pure evil.  “You would love to kill us, you relish the idea.  We have every right to do what we can to fight back.”

            I grimaced away from the look of death that she had locked on me.  “You have no right to use your abilities against the innocent people around you.  And that is only reason we come after you.  But believe me when I say that I take no joy from the idea of taking a life,” I hesitated and added scornfully “even yours.”

            “You hunt us because you fear us.  And you enjoy it.”  Her glare still pierced right through me.

            “I hunt you because you are dangerous.   I do what I must to protect those who need protecting.”  I gritted my teeth.  Was she deliberately trying to anger me?

            I saw it flash in her eyes only an instant before it happened.  It was only a small spark of magic in those cold, glaring eyes but I knew what she was about to do.  I saw that flash and reacted on impulse.  I threw the girl I held in my own restraining arms aside and leaped towards the girl with the penetrating glare.  All in the same instant her hands flew out in front of her, flames erupting from them.  They were bright purple and deadly, scorching the room and the people in it.   Before the fire even had time to spread, I vaulted myself across the table, through the flames and I was on top of the girl who had created them. As quick as they had appeared they were gone again.  The knife that I had held to the small girl’s throat now lay deep in the fire maker’s abdomen and she lay limp and lifeless in my arms.

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Novel / Novella
writing staceymarche
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" What do you do when you have spent your entire life hunting down monsters, only to discover that the real monster is you?" Jackson dedicated his life to protecting the innocent from the evils that exist in his world. Magic existed all around him and he knew that everyone with abilities used them for evil and it was his job to eradict that evil to protect the people that he loved. Until the day he fell in love with a woman named Triana. One look into her enchanting eyes and he was forced to finally take a closer look at his life and everything he had been lead to believe.
A Word from the Writer
This is a VERY preliminary rough draft. I would love any feedback on what you think of the story, my writing style, or any pointers you can give to improve my story. I hope you enjoy!