Chapter One

The woods had grown dark around him. The darkness blanketed his steps and surrounded him in its blanketed grasp. Something hooted, in panic he ran forward, and then he stopped. His breath came out in little puffs. Why did it have to be a cold night? He had prepared adequately with his red jacket. It wasn't winter, but these woods were not the garden variety. Another hoot followed, but he didn't run. Something had to be watching him, just waiting to snatch him up and nibble him down to bones. This time the wind didn't make him chill.

He shouldn't have gone into the woods; everyone knew that, so many tales had spread about it curse. Yet there wasn't an alternative, either this or stay at home. The boy much rather preferred his current option, at least at the time he did; now he wasn't so sure. However desperate times called for desperate measures. And the boy knew he lived in desperate times. The breeze blew again, more specifically over his head. But like the jacket he clothed his body in, his head was well protected. A lucky red cap, it was the one thing she hadn't taken from him.

Now the boy's life hadn't always been bad. In fact, long ago it was once very happy. His father was the wealthiest man in town. Despite that, he was a genuinely kind man, who gave to others. The boy's mother had died when he was but a babe. For ten years it had been just the two of them. But his father wanted a mother for his son. That's when he met her, the woman who would become the boy's stepmother. The boy didn't know what to make of his stepmother at first. His father had been smitten with her, and in time, they were soon wed. Slowly the boy warmed up to the idea, he had never had a mother before, or at least one he could remember. A new experience lay out before him. Then it all shattered when his father died. In a crescendo, life seemed to crash down. Any dreams of having a loving mother would not come to pas, for his stepmother held no shred of love. It quickly dawned upon him, she had married his father for his money, money that she quickly claimed. The boy was certain his step-mother had a hand in his father's death, yet there was no evidence, only peculation. Besides, who would listen to the ramblings of an emotionally distressed little boy? Seeing as he was too young, and no paperwork proclaiming his inheritance, the boy's stepmother quickly claimed everything in the house.

Everything had been stolen, right down to his name.

Yes, Boy had become his name. His real one, he still knew but found no purpose in calling himself that. That boy no longer existed; Boy had been forced to bear the life of a servant. He never griped for if he uttered a complaint, his stepmother would beat him mercilessly.

"You should consider yourself lucky I allow you to wear that filthy thing." She often said. She of course referred to his lucky red cap. Not that luck existed, especially at this point. Everyone had a breaking point, and today had been his. Despite the corruption that had occurred within his household, Boy's stepmother made certain her abode stood out amongst all the "other filthy hovels". Unfortunately those tasks fell upon Boy. During his gardening chores, he found a chance to escape. That way was through the woods. A way he had come to regret.

"Never step into the woods." That's what they all said. Tales accompanied the warning, tales of monsters and all manners of beasts, who love the taste of succulent human flesh. Parents used it a cautionary tale towards their children. In fact Boy's stepmother often threatened to thrown him into the woods if he didn't finish his appointed tasks by day's end. Those tales and warning were well founded, for anyone who stepped into the woods, never came out.

How far had he ventured? It had been afternoon when he fled, and now the moon held high in the sky. Surely he had gone deep. By now his step-mother was in an uproar, upset that her free labor wasn't present. Alternatively, she could have been glad that the one pest that could possibly ruin her new fortune was now out of the way. Better for both parties, yet there were downsides. Her magnolias remained unwatered, and he found himself lost. That had dawned on him the moment the sun disappeared.

"I'm lost." He whimpered again for the umpteenth time. So many twists and turns, he should have brought some breadcrumbs to mark his trail. Although at this point, he could have gone for some bread. He hadn't had time to eat, not that his step-mother permitted him any snacks. He received only the bare minimums, not enough to fully sate himself, but enough to get by. He wasn't terribly thin; he had to give her credit for not starving him. Better than have any suspicion arouse to his true conditions. That and the house stood remote enough. In his desperate mind, the woods appeared to be a sanctuary. No one would be foolish enough to step into the woods, no one else but him. In his defense, desperation drove him. Presently he cursed his desperation, along with his lack of forethought into the matter of food. His stomach gave out a loud grumble. So concentrated on his run, he didn't bother for food. He had seen a number of fruits back when he started. Sort of a lull into dangers way apparently, but he didn't bother. Also thirst burned at his throat. That wouldn't be a problem, as he quickly discovered. His ears picked up the sound of rushing water.

A stream!

Licking his lips, he pushed away his fear and crunched through the leaves and twigs in front of him. In the moonlight, he saw his reflection ahead in the flowing water. Indeed a stream lay present. Without so much as a thought, he dove in and gulped down the water. He took in a large amount of air as he pulled his head out. That felt good, so very good. Boy let it drip down his chin, not caring that some of it got under his jacket. The water was like a rippling mirror. The forest shone back up at him. It was almost perfect save for a blockage. An obstruction blocked a portion of the view, entrapped by some river rocks. In the dark, Boy could see a box, a black square box. For a moment, he stopped to gaze at it. Something inside, told him to reach out and grab it. A childish reach tugged at his mind. He didn't know why but he quickly pulled it away form the rocks, with some effort. He had to nudge it away from the rocks until it finally gave. Boy almost fell in, almost, or it could have been his imagination.

Actually the sole reason he opened the box sounded off within his stomach. Hope welled that this box held food. If mentioned again, he had forgotten food. Indeed food lay within, but none he had ever encountered.

"Fruit?" He asked to no one.

Fruit indeed, in the dark it's color, a bright pink could be seen. Pink appropriately, for the fruit looked like a heart. Not the shape associated with love, but a human heart. The shape astounded Boy, but he was too hungry to care. For a hesitant moment, he held it up and took a test bite. Immediately, the sweetest taste in the world danced amongst his tastebuds. He had been warned about eating strange things. A warning he had obeyed, but hunger overruled that, and he ate away leaving nothing left but a juice stain. Boy found his hunger scampering away leaving nothing, the same as his hand. Boy quickly noticed there wasn't a seed present. Odd as it looked like the kind of fruit that would have seeds. But he didn't think about it too long. He had solved his hunger and thirst problem, not his lost problem though. Before he could think about that, he lowered his hand in to wash himself with. He didn't want any stickiness on his skin.


The sound came and then it went. Boy turned around in fright, his eyes wide as he looked around. He saw nothing, but knew there something stalked him. What could it be? His mind didn't want the answer, all he wanted was to flee. His feet started to move, and his legs sprang upwards, and so did it, it being a large gray shape lunging from the bushes, and right in front of Boy's path.

Boy froze as he saw what manner of creature stood before him, a wolf, a large grey wolf with piercing golden eyes. The wolf observed the shivering boy as if looking him over. Maybe this was why nobody made it out of the woods, a wolf devoured them. Whatever the case, Boy knew he was doomed. The wolf opened its maw, revealing a row of sharp teeth. Boy trembled as he waited for the kill.

"My, my, what's a dear little boy doing out in the woods all alone?" A sultry female voice asked.

Boy gasped. The voice came from the mouth of the wolf, or rather she-wolf apparently.

The wolf formed a grin and turned her head to the side. Boy opened his mouth only managing an "I", before cutting off.

"What's wrong my dear little treat?" The she wolf asked again. "I won't bite." The wolf sat upon her haunches in a casual manner.

Boy didn't know what else to do but say. "You're a talking wolf."

The she wolf grinned again. "Why of course I am. What's so odd about that?"

Despite the oddness, Boy remembered his manners, particularly around a lady, human or not. "Wolves don't speak where I come from."

The she wolf gave out another giggle. "My must be a boring place." Her head positioned itself back in its proper place. "Do you have a name?" She asked, her eye giving off a mischievous glow in the moonlight. Boy could see his face reflected within the orbs, drawing him in.

"So what's a scrumptious little one doing in the woods at this hour?" The wolf asked with apparent concern. "It's late, you're mama and papa must be worried."

Boy stammered stepping backwards, but he stopped himself as he felt the waters edge.

"Now now, don't be shy, tell Kala what's the matter." The wolf soothed.

Sure enough a wolf spoke to him, an animal communicating with a human. Boy didn't know how else to respond but, "I'm lost Ms. Kala." He said with a hoarse whimper. He made certain to add the Ms to the end. He didn't know if this wolf had a mate or pups, so he didn't add an r between the M and s, for the sake of being specific.

Kala tsked, giving a sympathetic whine. "Oh poor polite pet. Well why don't you come home with me?" The wolf suggested. Upon the end of her sentence, her teeth flashed with a white glint.

That nearly made Boy fall, but he slowly moved to the side. "No thank you maam, I should be getting home." A lie if there ever was one.

Kala caught on to that. The she wolf mirrored Boy's steps. Boy could see that as well, and he hasted his pace. Once more Kala mirrored that and with a leap, she blocked him. "Why the rush? I just love little boys."

"Y-you do?" Boy asked.

Kala bore her fangs, "Oh yes, I just love taking them to me cave and treating them to a meal." A chuckle followed that, low but audible.

Boy gulped "Meal?"

Kala neared backing up the human boy. Her tongue ran across her chops hungrily. That hunger centered on Boy. A pure animalistic hunger that could only be sated by the thrill of the hunt, Boy wanted to run, but he felt his legs frozen in fear. Kala knew she had her prey cornered.

"Little boys happen to be my favorite meal guests." Kala spoke, "They taste so yummy when they are afraid." She dropped the friendly act and went in for the kill, verbally.

Boy couldn't thaw his legs, that and his feet rooted to the ground.

"Where are you going to go sweety?" Kala said mockingly. Nothing stood between her and the kill. With that, she pounced, leaping high into the air. Boy covered his face with his arms, ready to face the pain of torn flesh, it didn't come. Had he opened his eyes, he would see that Kala had descended the moment she leapt into the air, just as an axe came between her and Boy.

"Back off wolf! Or my axe blade will meet your neck!" A strong female voice lulled Boy's eyes open, and his arms away.

Standing defensively between him was a young woman. Her manner of outfit looked like a pair of green pants, held up by suspenders. The majority of her body was covered in a green cloak, the hood perfect for the night air. The woman removed her axe from the ground, and held it ready to strike if need be.

Kala snarled at the unwelcome guest. "Damn you huntress! This boy is my kill!" Kala smoothed herself over as her composure disrupted. "But perhaps I could add another side dish to the entre."

The huntswoman merely brandished her axe at the threat. Her green blue eyes glared right into the wolf's golden irises. Boy watched the staring contest go on for about a minute or so. He didn't have a watch so he couldn't accurately capture the time. In the end, Kala lost. With a defeated snort, she turned and departed into the woods. Apparently the wolf, crafty as she may have been, knew she was outclassed against steel. Boy breathed a breath of relief, he had been saved. Who would have thought just seconds ago, he could have been in a wolf's digestive tract.

"Little boy, what are you doing out here?" The huntswoman asked. Boy alerted to her words. The woman's voice spoke in a very parental, but commanding tone.

Boy found himself stammering again. "Now calm down." The huntswoman realized he was still shaken from his experience with the wolf. Better not be so upfront.

"Look why don't you come to my cabin? It's dangerous being out at this time of night." The huntswoman suggested.

All of this came at once, to much for his young mind. The events of the day, fleeing, getting lost, nearly being eaten, it had to give. Little streams of tears, pattered down. The moonlight gave off their presence. The huntswoman saw them.

"Hey calm down." She patted Boy upon the back as his sobs gushed forth.

The huntswoman let those sobs continue their current, until they shrank into droplets. Moving her hand from his back and onto his shoulder, the huntswoman brought Boy to his feet. "Come along, Kala is the most relentless wolf in these woods. She'll more than likely make a return once our guard is down."

Boy looked up into her eyes. The gravity of her words hit him. They had to move, anyplace other than here would be better. Managing a smile, Boy kept close to the huntswoman as she led the two of them out of the woods. As they left, Boy had forgotten about the box he had found that fruit in. It drifted into the river, only getting stuck between the rocks once more. Then, the current pushed it aside with its lighter weight, and it drifted further down and out of sight.


Kala poked her head out of the bushes. The two humans were slowly departing into the forest, towards the village. If that huntswoman hadn't gotten in her way, she would have eaten a fine meal of veal. She considered all younglings veal, her favorite kind of meat. So many children had entered into her fray, and so many had been eaten, their bones lined her cave. Little decoration of a successful hunt, it went on to the days of her father and grandfather, and so on. Children were easier kills anyway, not so much struggle or the strength for knives or axes. Meat always tasted better at that age. Adults were hard and stringy in her opinion. The thought of adults made her growl. So many failed hunts because of them, all forcing her to hunt rabbits or deer, or any other meat that didn't hold her preference. Still her father had taught her not to overhunt, particularly humans. Humans were a dangerous race, she had experienced many times in the past. In those times, she lost someone important to her. Her father was one. Blinking back a tear, she made a vow.

"I'll fill my belly yet!"

That little red cap wouldn't escape her. No one escaped Kala! Mistress of the woods! She would just have to plan her moves carefully. The scent still wafted upon her nose. This wolf still wasn't out. Just lie and wait, lie and wait. She could already taste that veal, and it tasted sweet.


In his dreams, he stirred. So many thoughts and images flashed in his head. They all came at a rapid haste. For several nights, these dreams plagued him endlessly. Those rebels were the cause, ever since they had stolen his precious inheritance, this cycle commenced. All the images stopped as he found the source of his nightly ponderings.

A black box floating in the river, empty and bare, his eyes snapped open, bloodshot veins staining his whites.

"It's gone." He whispered.

That would be a cause for alarm, but only slightly. He could still sense it out there, somewhere, resting within someone else. Closing his eyes, he searched again. Whoever it may be, they wouldn't get far. His rule would be absolute!

A/N Not much to say. This was something I did for Nanowrimo last year and finally have decided to upload it.