Chapter 3: Blood Loss

The three of them rushed to the hub of the building where they were met by a large crowd surrounding the front entrance. Whispers echoed throughout the room, dripping with fear and confusion.

“What may I ask is causing such a commotion” Lady Reyna slipped out as she pushed her way through the crowd.

The sea of figures began to split as she snaked through to the front, Bella and Harley in tow. They were met by the same creature that kindly greeted Bella as she returned home.

“Lady Reyna, young huntress…” he spoke as his eyes narrowed at the sight of Bella.

“What’s happened Hergal? Harley rushed us up here so hastily” Reyna spoke.

Bella began to survey the area, sizing Hergal up in the process.

“This was left here, nailed to the door. We… we believe it belongs to one of your clan my empress.”

Bella quickly put her hand over her nose. Harley tongue unsecured from its home behind her teeth. There, nailed to the door in crimson and weathered wood was a hand. With fingers slim and silver strands sticking to blood soaked edge of the cut. Lady Reyna slowly stepped over to it. Her expression as cold and stiff as an unmoving glacier in the artic. She swiftly detached the severed hand from it prison.

“What does this mean mother” Bella inquired angrily.

The empress took a long, deep breath and began to chant something under her breath. The words were quick and precise.

“Your orders, my empress” Hergal spoke. The entire room awaiting the word from their leader.

Finally, her chants came to a close as she surveyed the room around her. She quickly turned to her daughter, whose face was so stern, so focused, ready.

“Summon The Order, an attack has been launched on our clan. We must prepare ourselves… For whatever this omen may be.”

Harley playfully nudged at Bella ribs. Her usual ditsy look has been masked by a fierce, excited look and Bella mirrored it just as well. But suddenly, someone quickly came crashing into through the door and into the crowd. Face covered by a river soaked cloak, crimson fluid covered the edge of her boots and damp cloak. The empress swiftly moved to the hooded girl, so quickly that you could barely see her body twitch. She flipped the hood from the girl’s face. She was broken. Her skin was pale, covered in the open scars and blood. A deep cut covered her left cheek and her silver hair was painted the color of wet mud mixed with blood. She could barely keep her eyes open as she clung to the air in room just to breathe.

“Ruby” Reyna gasped as she held the beaten girl in her arms.

Bella’s eyes grew twice their size. She remembered Ruby, but the memory that came attached to her was packaged with another one. Her sister. Ruby was her elder sisters’ wife. They were partners in everything they did, including hunts and missions for the clan. Where her sister went, Ruby was sure to follow. Bella was at her mother’s side in the blink of an eye, blinding speed must have run in the family.

“Ruby, ruby what happened” Bella gasped, her lungs struggling to keep up with her words. “Who did this to you”

“I- they…” the words just would not come to Ruby’s throat. She was shaking like a scared kitten.

“It’s okay darling, you’re safe now, just tell us what happened” Reyna spoke softly.

“The-they took her, oh god there were so-so many of them…”

Reyna slowly turned her gaze to Bella, her heart suddenly dropped in her stomach. The look on her daughter’s face was heart wrenching.

“Ruby, where is Iris” Bella fought the words there the tears welling up inside of her.

“So, many… So many, blood…” Ruby whispered as she burst into tears.

Reyna pulled Ruby into her chest, the sheer power in her cries of pain pierced through the chest of everyone in the room. Even Hergal seemed to be struck with pain. But Bella was worse. She dropped down to her knees, Harley quickly followed her.

“No she… Iris can’t be dead” she whispered. She kept repeating those words over and over. Her voice becoming louder each time until finally, it broke in half.

Tears flooded from her eyes, her body became numb to everything else. Not even the cage of Harley’s arms could cut through the pain she was feeling in her heart. The room remained quiet. All that could be heard were the cries of the of women and the soft touch of rain pouring down over the city. Weather fitting for a moment of this weight indeed.

©Jawan Herron

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