Chapter 1 : This Is Who We Are
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banner by Everafter at TDA :)
I have this eerie feeling that someone is watching me. I look around me at the dense green forest. It is silent; so silent I can hear my heartbeat. Thump, thump. Thump, thump. I feel a horrible feeling wash over me, the kind you get when something bad is going to happen. I turn around in circles, my dark brown hair falling into my face. I push it back with my hand and look around again. The only thing I see is the red sunlight, dropping through the trees.
Something isn’t right. Sunlight isn’t red. It doesn’t drip, either. I watch in horror as the blood trickles off the leaves around me. It falls onto my face and I squeal in disgust. I flip around, just to come face to face with my reflection, shining back at me in a million places. All the leaves have turned to mirrors. The sickening feeling washes over me again and something whispers into my mind. Turn around, it says. Just turn around, everything will be okay. I don’t trust the voice, but I find my feet revolving around on the floor anyways.
On the floor of the forest lies a man, whose white shirt is soaked with scarlet blood, gashes covering his body. I let out a blood-curdling scream as his familiar blue eyes meet mine briefly before drooping lifelessly.
“Raven, you lazy cow, get up!” I open my eyes to see Vanessa standing over me, shaking me.
“Whaoouwan?” The dream is still thick in the back of my mind, and I can’t think clearly enough to form real words.
“Up, up! Today is a big day. We are not going to wait on your lazy ass to burn down a village! If I have to tie you to the back of my broomstick and drag you across the forest, then I will!” Vanessa decides to take my pillow and begin beating me in the face with it.
Vanessa is my best mate, and has stuck with me throughout Hogwarts. She is also the only person with enough bravery to shout death threats at me. Then again, Vanessa shouts death threats at everyone. But sometimes she can be a real pain, especially when she’s pelting me with a pillow.
“We are the Fire-Eaters and we will not wait on General Raven Black to wake her lazy ass up!” Oooh, she used the full name. Vanessa’s brown eyes meet mine in annoyance. She’s still sitting on me, hitting me to death. I must be really annoying her.
“I’m up, I’m up!” I cover my face in an attempt to save myself from getting a bloody nose.
Vanessa dismounts and lets me get out of bed. I stand in my dressing gown as she looks me over. I try to resist making a comment, but I can’t.
“Admiring the view, Vanessa?” I smirk at her.
Vanessa glares daggers at me. “No, I’m contemplating what to dress you in when I cast this spell. Vestis,” she waves her gnarled brown wand towards my bosom. I look down to find my dressing robes replaced with a torn, faded black dress.
“Merlin, Raven, don’t you ever buy new clothing?” Vanessa is wearing a new solid black dress with matching robes. Her brown hair had been tied into a ponytail. She looks pretty, but I don’t know where she got the new dress.
“Well, Vanessa, it’s not like I can just stroll into Diagon Alley and say, 'Hi, I'm Raven Black, the most wanted witch alive, but I was hoping you'd let me buy garments instead of throwing me into Azkaban?' " I spit at her. She raises an eyebrow at me.
“Come on, we really need to go. Everyone is waiting on you, you know.”
Yeah I know. That’s what sucks about being elected to run a secret organization – everyone always waits on you to make the first move.
We leave my bedroom and walk down a large flight of circular stone stairs. My bedroom happens to be in a tower in the Temple of the Night, a castle that is head-quarters to a secret organization called the Fire-Eaters. Under secret spells, the castle stays hidden to those who aren’t apart of the organization.
The stairs narrow out to an old, stone arch. We exit onto a platform out-looking a large courtyard. The bottom is cobblestone, surrounded by many old, stone arches, which lead to other sections of the castle. Ivy climbs the walls of the courtyard and around the arches, threatening to swallow the stone. The large court-yard is filled with witches and wizards wearing rugged black clothing and full cloaks. The black hoods are pulled over their heads, casting their faces into the shadows. Under the sleeves of those cloaks, on the right hand of each man and woman is a mark, a black tattoo, if that’s what you’d call it, which binds the Fire-Eaters together. It is a symbol; an icon for who we are, sealing us together with darker magic and curses than your mind could possibly grasp.
I stand over them in the courtyard, looking over them. I know they want a speech; a speech like one would give when heading off to war. Except this speech is recited and used every day before heading off to do our duties. I rather detest it.
I feel bile rise up in my throat as I speak the same sickening words as I do every day.
“Who are we? We are the Retribution to the world!” A chorus of hollers echoes back. I almost roll my eyes. Retribution, yeah right.
“What is our job? Exterminate the world of those unworthy to live in it!” The hollers become deafening, and I nearly throw up. Exterminate? What are we, pest control? Of course, they probably think they are pest control. Disgusting.
“Why are they unworthy to live in this world? Because there’s no such thing as good and evil, only power, and those who are too weak to fight and live do not deserve to live!” I feel dizzy. That’s a lie! The world is made of good and evil. Only the wicked want you to believe that power is everything, but I must continue my speech.
“How do we clean the world? By destroying all who do not join us.” I close my eyes as the hollers and shouts roar as loud as they can. Even my thoughts are overrun by the noise.
When the noise dies down a bit, I say the final part to my speech.
“Let Retribution begin!” I turn around to Vanessa who is standing behind me. I am acting as the leader and controller of this organization right now and Vanessa is second in command. She often acts as my personal secretary, as Muggles would put it. She nods towards me to continue on.
“We will be cleansing the village of Bendamore in an hour, at ten, so get prepared to go.” I nod shortly, and the people begin to wander off to different arches. Turning around to face Vanessa, I approach her.
“Where are the Priestesses at right now?”
“Well the Priestesses are in the North Tower, but Nydia is probably in the dungeons.” Vanessa’s eyes twinkle as she speaks. Despite her cruelness she often pushed onto her victims, Vanessa has a soft spot for Nydia. Nydia is the Head Priestess, but she is also a close friend to both of us. She has been our friend from the day we met at Hogwarts.
Vanessa motions for me to follow, which meant that she plans to come with me to see Nydia. The platform we are on has two arches: one leading to my sleeping quarters and the other to a staircase down to the main level. We leave through the arch and head down the dark stone steps until we are in the court-yard, the sunlight shining onto the ivy leaves. I walk with Vanessa until we exit through an arch in the courtyard into a room with another arch, revealing a staircase going down.
Vanessa reaches into the pocket on her dress and pulls out her wand. “Lumos.” Her wand lights up the staircase, and we descend down. I rather detest the dark (ironic, I specialize in the Dark Arts!)
Several minutes later, the staircase widens into a dim room. The room is cold, and I can see the cells where the prisoners take residence. It smells bad, like these people haven’t bathed in years. Then again, they probably haven’t.
“NYDIA!” Vanessa’s voice echoes through the cells as we begin to walk past. Females begin pushing their ways to the bars, their hands reaching out to grab our clothing.
“I’m Nydia!” “No, I am, you cow. I’m the real Nydia!” “Don’t be stupid, I’m Nydia!”
We ignore the sound of them trying to catch our attention and walk through the musk and dirt, staying out of arm’s reach of the prisoners. Apparently, they think we’re going to let them out or something. I look at them with regret as we pass by. It is hard to live and know that you’re the reason they are in there, but by now I’m pretty desensitized to it. We reach the end of the room, where around the corner is a hall, lit much better with torches. Weaving our way through rocks and around the torches sticking out of the walls, we enter another room.
A woman with wavy, dark hair in scarlet robes is sitting in a chair, flirting with a dungeon guard, who has abandoned his post. His eyes widen as he sees Vanessa and I.
“You!” Vanessa screeches, flying at him. “How dare you abandon your post? Don’t you have orders to stay there no matter what? Go, go back now. GO!!” Vanessa howls, and the man ducks away, running as fast as his short legs can take him.
Vanessa only saved her kindness for us, though I had the slightest notion that Nydia was about to get a small portion of her temper. Nydia could handle it though. Nydia only looks soft on the surface; she could be as hard as a rock sometimes.
“You encouraged him to leave his post?” Vanessa barks, turning on Nydia, who is scowling at her under her dark eye lashes and very pale hazel eyes.
Nydia finally looks up at her, her eyes widening like she had done nothing wrong. Nydia has long since perfected this look from her years at Hogwarts, though it works on none of us, especially not Vanessa.
“No, Vannie, I was interrogating him!” Her eyes widen even more as she uses her nickname for Vanessa.
Vanessa almost spits at her. “Don’t you dare call me Vannie! And what, interrogating him on what he liked in women? I would tell you to get out of here and get back to the North Tower, but Raven is here to see you.”
Nydia’s eyes glitter and she turns her gaze to me. I approach her.
“Will the Priestesses be heading to Bendamore?”
Nydia laughs. Her laugh is like the tinkling of bells, and much too sweet for a society as blood-thirsty as the Fire-Eaters.
“As much as I’d rather stay here, we will be going. If they take recruits for the society, then I need to be there.”
I nod. “That was all I wanted to know. Vanessa and I should probably go to get there early, just to make sure everything works out according to plan.”
Nydia smiles. “Alright, I’ll issue the command soon for them to leave. It is my job, anyways, to act when you two are absent.”
I nod shortly to her and hold out my arm for Vanessa, who takes it, her slender hands wrapping around my sleeve.. Closing my eyes, we Apparate. I open my eyes briefly to see the world spin around us before landing in Bendamore.
I look around me in confusion. Everything is dead silent, and there is not a person to be found. The old houses lining the straight have the shutters drawn and are dark inside. That’s really odd. This is mid-day, where are they?
“Where is everyone?” Vanessa asks me as she pulls her black hood over her head.
“I don’t know,” I am just as confused as she is. We start walking down the street. I hear a faint echo of noise emerging from an old inn on the corner of a street. Another echo slides through the air followed by cheering.
“Do you hear that?”
“Sounds like they’re rallying.” Vanessa smiles coldly. She seems to think this is going to be more fun. As much as I love her as my friend, she is just like the Fire-Eaters, and enjoys the blood-baths.
I turn around to see a board with my name on it.
WANTED: General Raven Black of the Fire-Eaters
REWARD: 50,000 Galleons
Fifty THOUSAND Galleons? Are they barking mad? I’d almost turn myself in for that money. Still, seeing my name on a notice board is rather depressing. I didn’t ask to be here.
I flash back to that night, the night it happened.
I received the letter when I was fifteen. “Take this package, love, to the edge of the Forbidden Forest tonight, at midnight. Don’t be late. Your aunt, Auxilry.”
I was orphaned, and my aunt promised that if I do everything she asked me to, she’d give me and my twin sister a home. So what was I to do but obey?
At eleven o’clock I set off from my dormitory at Hogwarts. I snuck out of the Gryffindor Common Room, and out the doors of the school, the package clutched under my arm. I managed to get out of the castle.
I walked across the lawn of the giant school, headed for the Forbidden Forest. I never noticed the full moon shining in the sky above.
I reached the edge of the forest, and waited. I still had ten minutes to spare, and the forest was scary at night. I wished I hadn’t gone so soon.
That was when I heard it, the growling deep in the night, coming from the forest.
“It’s nothing!” I said to myself, trying not to panic.
Then the howl came. I had never seen a werewolf before, but the howl was unmistakenable. I dropped the package and ran as fast as I could towards the castle. But I wasn’t fast enough.
The werewolf overwhelmed me, and I felt teeth sink into my shoulder. Falling to the ground, claws raked deep into my back. It flipped me over, and before I could cover my face, deep claw marks had been etched into my cheek. I covered my face and screamed as a bite sunk into my wrist, followed by angry raking. There was my blood, my own blood, splattered across the grass. When I was sure I was going to die, the wolf suddenly took off for the Forbidden Forest.
It left me there, on the ground, bleeding to death slowly, maimed for life. Just when I was about to abandon myself and fall into the thick sleep that threatened to overwhelm me, I saw her.
My aunt stood over me, silhouetted by the moon.
“Please,” I said, “Save me from death.”
“I can do much more than save you, child. I can give you a new life.” Auxilry leaned over me just as my eyes closed. The last thing I heard was her muttering the words to a spell, a long spell, a spell which would curse me for the rest of my life.
“Raven!” Vanessa pulls me out of the flashback. “The people, they’re coming!”
I look up and see the witches and wizards with their wands raised, looking at us. Well crap.
“Look, if it isn’t Miss Raven Black and her sidekick, Vanessa Greyback?”
Vanessa looks offended. “Sidekick? How dare you! I’d love to give you a kick in the side, now that I think about it. I’m not anyone’s sidekick.” She raises her wand, albeit to kill, when dozens of pops could be heard. It seems that all the Fire-Eaters have just apparated here, in the nick of time.
Some of them stand in front of us, some behind us, and some surrounding the large mob. The people suddenly looked frightened and I feel sick.
I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to watch them all fall dead. But I have to. It is my job.
I'm not sticking around with the Fire-Eaters to be a spy for some noble cause. I am only doing it for my own self-preservation, and I feel disgusted with myself.
When my aunt, Auxilry, had changed me into the first Fire-Eater, she had used her words of persuasion.
“They don’t like you, Raven. They don’t want you. You’re an outsider, Raven.”
That’s how it started. Overtime, her whispers became spoken words in my mind, until they were shouts.
“That’s it, Raven. Let you anger come out.”
“They deserve it, Raven.”
She had turned me against everyone I knew, besides Nydia and Vanessa. She had isolated me for her evil purposes.
She finally had changed my mind with one last phrase, whispered in my head over and over.
“He doesn’t love you. He could never love someone like you.”
And she was right? Who could love me?
I was more than a werewolf or a witch, I was a beast. The wicked woman had bound my soul with such dark magic that even death couldn’t break it. I was neither witch nor werewolf; I was stuck between the two.
Who needs a full moon? No, I can change whenever I want, into a black werewolf. Who needs to be poisonous? I don’t. The Priestesses can recruit.
The worst part is that I am have my name on every poster for Azkaban, and to the Fire-Eaters, I am the most important weapon they have.
When Auxilry created me, she didn’t realize her magic would begin to diminish. She was only able to create two other versions like me. After the third, she created nine others who had similar weaker aspects, until her magic waned. Aside from the original Twelve, no one could change into a werewolf whenever they wanted, and their magic was weaker.
I was the pure-bred, the icon. Sure, Vanessa and Nydia are the other two. They can change into werewolves at whim also, except it puts them into severe pain. For me, it is like changing clothes. I am the perfect beast. All three of us can control ourselves when in werewolf form, no matter what the circumstances are. The other nine have stronger magic, but were just plain werewolves who changed on the full moon, unable to control themselves. Every other Fire-Eater is just a werewolf, marked with the mark of the society.
When I had finally realized the power of the influence of lies Auxilry had spun around me and into the hearts of others, it was too late. I was inside the heart of evil, and I couldn’t escape.
I know that if I ever left, Auxilry would hunt me to the ends of the Earth and slaughter anyone close to me and anyone who stood in her way.
And I can't watch that happen.
A/N: Okay, with the help of my brand-new beta, NaidatheRavenclaw, the first half of this chapter has been fixed, but the second half of it isn't done yet. I'm also going to be writing on each chapter that Raven's age that she was attacked has been changed from 13 to 15, and her official age now is 25 instead of 23 (24 years after the death of Lord Voldemort).
Thanks for reading! Please R/R!