Skyward: Gabriel's Return

After Hailee and Zander find themselves in Gabriel's grasp. They know he is much stronger than they imagined. Forgetting themselves, who they are and what they ever knew, how will Trevor and the others get them back? And how can they fight Gabriel? Find out in the second book of Skyward. Copyright © 2013 Hailee Reynolds.


15. One of Us

(*** Authors Note: TRIGGER warning for anyone triggered by blood, bones, mild language, and some cultist activity** Read at your own digression**)

The forest seemed to tangle and knot around her. She could feel the raw power emitting from the woods and she drank it in. Hailee had never been near anyone like her before, the darkness clan was a place she knew she belonged in. She noted that anyone that didn't belong here would feel it. Assuming they didn't lost in the maze of a forest. She landed and started walking, realizing she had no idea where to go. 

There was faint laughter and her hairs stood on end. She didn't like how quiet it was. Then, a boy emerged from the trees, almost like he was expecting her. His hood was off his head and he displayed black, soulless eyes. 

Before she could react he lunged at her, a knife coming out from his sleeve. She ducked and moved away from him. He smiled and laughed at her.

"Stupid girl, we will not let you join us," He growled. He ran at her again, the dull knife shimmering in the moonlight. Her body remembered her self defense training and as he grabbed her, his arms around her. She brought her foot up by his knee and kicked down, breaking it instantly. The boy howled and Hailee figured he was down. But he boy kept going like he hardly felt his leg snap. He lunged at her again and she grabbed his arm, popping it out of place. She kicked his knife away and pinned him.

"Are you done?" She hissed to the boy.

"I refuse to be led by a bitch," He spat and grabbed her arm. Black flowed up her arm and onto her head, giving her nightmares. She knew this was a self defense move. But, it was useless, she knew all the moves. She let out a sinister laugh at his attempt and his smile faded. Her own darkness went through her enough that she wasn't scared of barely anything. The boy ceased laughing and smiling as he looked at her; her eyes went from her hazel, blue green, to coal black and her grin was something he didn't expect to see. 

She moved swiftly, grabbing his arm again and snapping it. She knew it was a clean break. He howled and fell to the ground.

"Have mercy," He stammered. 

Then there was a single clap and the man she had talked to earlier came out from the trees.

"Well done, you have proven your strength to us," He paused, looking down at the boy," and your brutality," He finished. Hailee only stared at the man and the boy who was breathing unevenly. 

"The darkness is not a power to be taken lightly," The man paced back and forth. "The sinful thoughts that the darkness brings are strong enough to make us some of the smartest serial killers, most unpredictable psychopaths, one of the most feared groups in the guild. It can be hard to handle," He told Hailee. He looked down at the boy.

"There are those that can't handle it. They have a blood lust worse then a vampire and execute the darkness in the most stupid ways I've ever seen. This boy attacked you over the sheer persuasion that he wanted to be dominant," Te man spat at the boy's feet. "He thought he could do it too. Now,Hailee, do what we all want. Your last test. Kill him," the man said almost bluntly as the rest of the guild stepped out from the trees and nodded silently. He handed her the dull knife she had kicked away.

She didn't even hesitate as she had wanted to do that very thing since she broke his arm. She practically swiped the knife away from the man and bent down near the boy. She slid the knife in by the bottom of his head and twisted. It was a quick painless death for him, she noted. He gasped and as she twisted the knife his lifeless body fell to the ground. 

She saw his eyes as they were before the darkness had consumed him. They were a baby blue, making him seem younger than he was. The man nodded in approval.

"Take his body back to be burned," He ordered. The other members lifted him silently and quickly away. The man turned to Hailee after they had left. 

"The death that came to him was necessary but let us hope his soul finds its way back to us another time," The man said. Hailee had calmed down a bit by this point but her eyes remained a coal color.

"Who are you?" She asked.

"I am, Tyler, leader of the darkness," He said, holding a hand out to her. She took his hand in hers and shook it, a bit harder then intended. "Easy, I'm not going to hurt you ," Tyler told her. She couldn't see it but she swore he smiled under his hood. He gestured for her to walk with him and she followed.

"Now that you have proven your power and willingness, we must welcome you as one of us," He said looking back at her. She nodded and her wings fluttered in agitation. She was used to flying everywhere and the short flight here only made her wings long for more. 

"Do they ever get in the way?" He asked her. She gave him a puzzled look. "Your wings, they're huge," Tyler added.

"No, not really anyways, when you have them all the time you get used to them. I guess the only hard part is showering," She paused. "Or even fitting them in a shower." 

For the first time since she met him, he laughed. "I can see how that would be difficult," Tyler said. They stopped at one of the biggest trees in the dark woods. He bent down and from under the brush he pulled out a handle, revealing a trap door to his base. He hopped down and held his arms out to catch her. She jumped down and he caught her with no troubles. She could tell from his arms that he was built under the robes he wore. 

She gasped when she took in the place. The place was made from a dark rock and wood from the trees in the forest which had a chocolate brown color to it. The stairs that they had landed on led down to a main room that was lit by two fires from different sides of the room. On one side, black leather couches and chairs sat by the fire with a wolf skin rug under a coffee table. Above the fire place was a banner with the yin and yang sign. 

Only difference was that the black portion or the yin and yang, looked like it was almost consuming the whit portion completely. Above the other fire place near a kitchen and bar was a crude painting of an angel of death slaying humans below. There were three different hallways all leading to rooms for the members, Hailee guessed.

"Darkness show yourself," Tyler called. The members she had saw earlier almost melted from the walls or darker  areas of the base she couldn't see. It gave her a feeling like she was always being watched whether she liked it or not. 

"Brothers, Sisters, I come to you as your leader, your brother, to accept the goddess of fire and darkness, Hailee, as one of us," Tyler said. There was quiet murmurs and whispers from them, Hailee flushed. She was being judged.

"We accept," They chanted back to him. Tyler nodded.

"Then the choice has been made. Bring me the robes," He called. 

After a moment a robe of pure white emerged from the crowd.

"Put it on her," He called out again. Bodies in robed swarmed her and stripped her naked. She gasped and hissed, trying to push them away from her but they were relentless. Snickers and laughing was heard from the crowd as the robe was put on her and the flood of people were pushing her down a long hallway. They twisted and turned and Hailee lost track of how she would even get back. They were going deeper underground, Hailee noted as the air got more musty, damper, and cold. With a push she was thrown threw a door and onto cold stone. 

Tripping she lost her balance and fell the the floor. The voices ceased  and she tried to let her eyes ajust but she could only make out rough shapes here and there . Her heart was about to beat out of her chest before she calmed herself. She shouldn't be scared she was a god, she could do anything. 

Candles flickered from bodies holding them an she looked up to she the members on a loft above her and on the ground with her. A single match was dropped from the ceiling and light seemed to explode off the walls as the match lit a liquid pool, setting it aflame. She shielded her eyes for a moment before she looked to see Tyler standing before her at an alter.

"We are gathered here tonight to welcome a new member," He called, moving down from the alter. A chill went down her spine as she felt almost like a caged animal.

"Hailee, we welcome you to our family," Tyler chanted, taking her hand in his and lifting her from her kneeling position. 

"We welcome you as one of us." the crowd echoed. Tyler grabbed a golden chalice from the alter; it had the same yin and yang symbol she saw earlier on it.

"We give you blood to rebirth you into the darkness," He called out.

"We welcome you as one of us," the crowd echoed again.

"You need to agree to my rules though first," Tyler told her. "Put your hand on the chalice to mark your words true," She walked forward and grabbed the cup, her hand over his.

"Will you, Hailee, goddess of fire and darkness, swear to never talk of our group and its ways?" Tyler asked.

"Yes," Hailee whispered.

"Repeat it," He told her.

"I swear to never speak of this group and its ways," She recited. 

"Do you, Hailee, swear to obey your leaders orders and not use your powers in irresponsible ways?" Tyler asked.

"I swear to obey my leaders orders and to not use my powers irresponsibly," She recited again. He grabbed her hand quickly.

"We welcome you as one of us," Tyler, and the rest of the group chanted. He pulled out a knife and slit her palm wide open, pouring blood into the almost filled cup. She grunted and tried to pull away but couldn't. He lifted the cup and poured it over her. It was warm and sticky as it drenched not only her, but the robe as well. The rest of the members came forward with vials of blood and emptied them over her, covering the rest of her once pure white silky robe, into a crimson-black colored robe. 

Tyler threw off his hood and for once, Hailee saw his face. He had dark brown hair that was swept over his face and his hair curled at the back of his head. He had a tiny bit of stubble at the bottom of his chin and his face seemed a bit scarred. The only thing he did not show was his eyes which were still black as night. She noted he looked tanner then she expected. 

He dipped his fingers in the chalice and drew a line from her forehead to her chin, two lines under her eyes.

"You are born again in darkness; we welcome you as one of us," Tyler chanted, ending the ritual. Everyone nodded and clapped, patting her shoulders and whispering congratulations. They exited the room almost as quietly as they entered. Tyler smiled at her, his face still showing. 

"We are strict and disciplined, but don't think we are horrid people by any means," He told her with a small smile. She nodded. 

"It feels right here, I'm sure I'll like it," She agreed with him. 

"Well, it should because you do belong here. You wouldn't have your powers if you didn't," He added. He threw up his hood again. "Return here again tomorrow night, and don't be late. The others don't like-," Tyler paused and smiled at her, "unwelcome guests," He went to turn to leave.

"Wait!" She yelled. He turned to look at her. "How do I get out of here?" She asked him. He let out a small laugh, rubbing the top of his head.

"I almost forgot about that," He took her hands in his and the the air went from damp and cool to cold and windy. She looked around and gasped, she was outside in the woods, just outside the clan's home.

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