Chapter One: Smother your fears

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      Rika quietly followed the hooded man further down the treacherous path deeper into the belly of the catacomb, aware that she would probably die. It was obvious by his built that it was, in fact, a male, perhaps a younger man too on account of the confident, sure way he stood in front of the crumbling temple in the frigid, rank catacomb. The temple's four faded white columns forming a narrow colonnade.

    When was this built? And by who? Rika asked herself as she cautiously peeked over a section of a fallen column. She had no clue how to escape from here or even what she was doing here. One fact that Rika was certain of was that the man she felt compelled to follow, as though in a dreamlike trance, meant her harm. She had no clue who the man was but experienced a deep sense of dread that felt like death running its cold fingers down her spine.

     Her breath came out in a cold huff as she tried not chattering her teeth. Her satin slippers providing no protection against the cobblestoned path. The blue satin nightgown faring little better against the cold.

     The man was now walking up the stairs leading into the temple, the low light from the torches casting a distortion of his shadow across the columns. Rika tried swallowing past the lump in her throat, afraid to move from her spot. What is he doing? She questioned as he disappeared from view. Rika's fingernails dug into her palms as she listened carefully for the sound of approaching footsteps, certain he would find her hiding spot.

     "You're not supposed to be here." An annoyed voice huffed in her ear. Rika jumped, clawing at the column as she struggled to get as far from him as possible. Her heart threatening to explode as it beat closer to the surface. Rika glanced up to find the man's face still covered almost completely covered. The sharp contrast of his scarlet lips against his pale skin standing out beneath the hood.

"How did you even get in here?" He inquired, taking a step further. Rika shook her head. Backing away from him without taking her eyes off of him for a single glance, Rika fell over the fallen column.

"Oww!" Rika hissed in pain as her hand scrapped on the rough cobblestones.

"Hmm, well it matters not. I have more work to do." He purred then seized a handful of her brown locks. Rika screamed, clawing at his hands as he dragged her back towards the temple. Her right slipper falling off as the cobblestones showed her feet no mercy. Pain bit deeply at her roots as his grip tightened.

"Stop!" She wailed, grabbing his hands to lessen the pressure on her scalp. He didn't hesitate slightly as he continued forcing her towards the base of the stairs.

"You'll provide a small meal for them." He let go of her hair, choosing to stroke the top of her head lightly as he gave out a low whistle. Rika sat there, dazed with hot tears streaming down her face. Why can't this end already? She wondered, horrified at what was to come.

The earth shook beneath her bare feet as a whoosh came from within the temple. The scones on the walls blowing out in the sudden gust of wind. Rika bit her lip deeply as what little light had kept her safe disappeared completely. Darkness galloped in as filthy claws struck at her face and sliced effortlessly through her nightgown. Rika screamed, covering her face and collapsing to the ground as claws and teeth joined in. Pain beyond anything she'd ever experienced struck every nerve of her body viciously.

The hooded figure's cold hand never stopped stroking her head, even as she fell after her throat had been torn out. As she choked on her own hot acidic blood, he bent down and kissed her forehead.

"Sweet dreams, little mouse." He whispered. 

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