Twenty-One: Cerise

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There was such a thrill in treading lightly over the snow without stumbling or being frozen. Cerise yipped happily as she bounded over a mound of snow, her nose taking in numerous scents at once. This was the longest she had ever remained in wolf form, and it was exhilarating. Her body was stronger, her senses sharper, and she was actually enjoying it.

But it also brought back memories of Raina.

Raina. The name brought fear gnawing at her flesh every time. How she would hit her until it made her shift in rage, or how she would force her to hunt, all the while wearing a magical collar that wouldn't let her shift or run away.

She had been a powerful witch, one who all the villagers would turn to when in need. She would manipulate them, cursing whole families with sores only she could heal, and then charging them extravagant prices to remove them. The lord of the town had been a push-over, preferring to drown his worries in alcohol and lavish parties, so Raina had near complete control of Lithrium.

Once her mother had left to lead her pack, they had moved to Lithrium. Her father saw what Raina was doing to the people and tried to put a stop to it.

Cerise had been only eleven when Raina had murdered him, driving an enchanted dagger through his ribcage, killing him before he even hit the ground.

Cerise remembered the feeling of her heart being ripped to shreds. That was the first time she shifted, a snarling pup trying to kill a seasoned witch.

The memory of the pain had disappeared, but her mind . . . that's what she remembered. It was like her conscious was being ripped away from her body, placed in the corner of her mind where she could merely watch. She had never been afraid of herself, but that overwhelming bloodlust, the fact that she could have ripped out Raina's throat and felt no remorse. That was what haunted her even now.

Of course, she had tried to attack, just a child, and had been grabbed and enslaved from that day on. Only seven years later had she been strong enough to kill her.

A magical pull came upon her, so strong she stumbled. Shaking snow from her fur, she whirled around, bewildered by what had just happened.

The pull came again, an irresistible force. It was potent and beautiful magic, something she had to discover.

Spell of consuming.

Cerise backed up quickly, more alarmed by the fact that she had recognized the spell than by the fact that she had almost died. She had never been able to recognize spells before, she knew that, because Raina had used many. Why now? Perhaps it did have to do with her being eighteen.

Before her mother had been forced to leave, she had explained that a werewolf's full abilities were developed at the age of eighteen.

At the time, they had believed that Cerise had no werewolf abilities, except for heightened senses. That had been the reason her mother had to leave her.

As the alpha of her pack, she was obligated to protect and care for them. When Cerise showed no signs of being able to shift, she had been compelled to leave her with her father. She had said she would come back someday, but Cerise had known it was unlikely. Her mother and father had shared a tender and tearful goodbye, the type that was a last goodbye.

It was her dream to go find her mother and her pack, now that she was free of Raina. They would roam Allegora together, enjoying the freedom Cerise had always craved.

Focusing on her task, Cerise cautiously moved away from the spell, discovering that there were two other spells.

Spell of burning. Spell of madness.

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