It was harder than she had thought it would be. After living for many years in a "paradise", Claudia now found it hard to get used to a life of poverty. The sun was shining gloomily over the grief stricken realm. The huts of the poor were scattered around the land had and carried on with life as they knew normal. Nothing had changed and nothing would ever change as far as they knew.
It had been about a year since that night when the prison had shown its true form and the world had begun to crumble. The realm had never been the same since. They had been forced to live off whatever was left of the land- which wasn't much. Claudia felt a sense of nostalgia as she thought of how easy life had been before, she thought of Jared and their lives before.
She was brought out of her reverie by a loud clank of metal against metal. She shook off the thoughts and glanced over her shoulder to Attia who was standing on the other side of the hut cleaning what they had been using as crockery.
"You know, Claudia, those roots that you are supposed to be washing aren't going to wash themselves if you don't snap out of whatever has got you distracted." Claudia smiled timidly at her and proceeded to clean the roots. She had grown close to Attia over the past year, Claudia had noticed that she wasn't a very imposing person and although she was rough around the edges she was always good company considering the circumstances.
The greying sun had begun to set and the dark clouds brought threat of a storm. Claudia and Attia had stepped outside and they were preparing the hut for rain. Any material which could be used was used to make the hut as stable and as habitable as possible.
The first few drops of rain were hitting the grey earth as they stepped into the hut. The fire in the centre of the hut sparkled and crackled as Attia threw a log onto it. They sat staring at the flames, each thinking their own thoughts. Claudia's hand was rested on her chest and she could feel the large bulge that the cube made through her clothes. The prison pulsated warmth as she caressed it and ran it through her fingers.
She had often spent many nights like this wondering how Jared was doing in the prison. She missed him terribly and even though a year had passed she still felt a pain in her heart every time she thought of him. She wondered if his sickness really had gone away, she wondered how he was getting on with her father and she wondered if she would ever see him again.
The fire crackled and sizzled as Attia placed the pot on the flame. The food that lay in the pot was dull and unappetizing; it contained a mixture of various vegetables which were all brown in colour. Claudia kept her gaze on Attia as she too seated herself besides the fire. "I wonder where they are." Attia's voice crackled like the fire that was burning in the hut.
"They have been gone for a while," Claudia replied "you know how they are when they go out looking for food they always lose track of time." Claudia said this with a smile on her face but she knew that Attia was right to worry. Finn and Keiro had never been gone that long. They were always sure to return before dark.
Neither of them said anything more. Attia continued to cook and Claudia stepped outside to see if she could catch a glimpse of the boys. The silvery light of the moon shone through the dark clouds. It cast obscure shadows across the realm. She took a breath of the cool air and breathed out a thick line of vapour. The night was silent save for her breathing and the noises that were being made behind her by Attia.
Almost out of nowhere there was a wailing cry and the sound of harsh jagged footsteps. Two shadows emerged from the darkness and she could hear their loud puffing and panting. She realised it was Keiro and Finn and she sprinted towards them sensing that something was wrong.
She froze in her footsteps and the horror was clearly drawn into her expression. Finn was lamely hanging onto Keiro's shoulder and he could barely keep up with him. There was blood flowing from his arm and his foot was lifted above the ground as if he had broken his ankle. There was a long arrow protruding from his back and it was covered in blood. Attia quickly rushed to his side and helped Keiro. They rushed him into the hut and they were greeted by Attia's petrified expression.
Finn was clumsily placed by the fire and Keiro quickly removed the arrow from his back. He looked closely at the arrow and frowned. Claudia saw it too, there was an emblem imprinted on it. It was the emblem of the steel wolves…