She was breathing hard; her lungs burned and her tears stung. But she had to keep running. She had to! "Oh God," she whimpered as she ran headlong into a tree. She caught herself on the rough bark and paused for a just a second, scathing her delicate fingers across the grooves, and then zigzagged back into a new direction.
Why? It was the question that plagued Eren's mind as she sprinted through the dying underbrush of the wilting forest. She glanced back behind her, searching, but she saw no one. But she knew better. They were on her heal and she knew she had little chance of escaping.
A tear glimmered down her cheek as she ducked under the whipping branches into even denser forest. The tightness of the trees caused her to slow. Her heartbeat began beating in her ears, deafening her to the silent forest. She was pulling her cloak up further on her shoulders, fighting the cold, when she heard it.
A snap of a twig.
She squeaked in surprise and turned rapidly side to side. Dark forest in each direction greeted her. Damn it all. She had long lost her sense of direction. How the hell was she going to make it out of this forest now?
Eren realized with a sharp intake of breath. No, she wasn't going to make it out. She was dead meat.
She backed up slowly with her fingers laced into fists. The moon was hidden behind the trees, casting everything into shadow, but it did little good for Eren. She stuck out spectacularly in her red cloak. Suddenly she found herself in a clearing.
There was another snap of a twig and she whipped in its direction. Anger swelled up in her. She was being hunted but why? "Who's there?" she called. The silence greeted her once again and it put her more on edge than ever. "What do you want from me?" Her voice shook and her green eyes shot back and forth as she searched.
She forced herself to still, setting her features into a determined expression. Her breath came out in wisps of steam, rising up between her brown locks of hair. She sniffed sharply, thinking of her mother who would be all alone without her once she died. "Alright bastard," she yelled roughly. "Come and get me already! Kill me! I know you're going to, so just do it already!" Tears began streaming down her face. "Come on! What are you waiting for?"
Another crack in the undergrowth had her spinning. She froze. A tall, dark, hooded figure had emerged from the forest and then three other behind him. They walked slowly, silently towards Eren. Her terror consumed her.
"What do you want from me?" She whispered. She dug her fingers into her cloak, watching the figures warily. She could run but they would catch her again. Eren knew she was doomed.
None of the figures said a word, they just continued their approach. Eren stilled and waited, closing her eyes and whispering soft prayers under her breath.
The one in front of her reached out and grabbed her chin roughly. Her eyes flew open and she stared into shadowed face before her. She couldn't make out a single feature. Eren silently cursed. She was hoping to hunt this person in the next life, if only she could catch a glimpse of his face.
"This is the one," he said. His voice was low and smooth but cold. It was lifeless.
Eren shook her head, trying to shake him off of her. He held on tighter. "Are you going to kill me?" she asked fearfully.
A different cloaked figure laughed a girlish laugh but it sounded rough to Eren's ears. "Kill you?"
"Silence," the male in front of her said. The woman continued to laugh but under her breath.
Eren let her eyes wander back to him. "Who are you?"
She gasped, disbelieving. "What the hell do you mean by that?"
Someone laughed behind her. "What a spitfire."
"What do you mean by it?" Eren repeated.
"Your father," the cloaked man said. "He sold your soul in exchange for his freedom."
"What?" She felt her heart sink. Her father had disappeared five years ago.
He chuckled, squeezing her cheeks painfully. "Yes, he committed a foul sin five years ago today. He gave his soul to save the one of your mother. But it appears that he could not live without his soul any longer."
That's why he'd left, Eren realized with a jolt. He was cursed and could no longer with them? Was that why mother had recovered so quickly?
"He passed his curse onto you," he whispered into her ear.
Eren's eyes were wide, prickling with tears. Her father did this to her. "No."
"Yes!" he roared gleefully. "Now you and I get to spend an eternity together."
The tears burst forth, streaming down the edge of her nose. "This can't be happening."
"But it is." He took his hand and braced on her left shoulder and lifted his right to press against her chest above her heart. He breathed in deeply. And suddenly there was pain. It was pain beyond pain. Eren cried out in a shriek and she pounded at the man with her hands, trying to push him away. It was no use. The pain rose and she squeezed her eyes shut, riding the pain through until… all went black.
Eren came to when early morning light glittered across her face. She blinked slowly. There were green trees swaying above her, filtering the light between the leaves. Where…? She turned her head slowly, hearing the chirp of a bird off to the side. How….?
She was in the middle of a forest, she realized. After a moment she sat up. Eren squeezed her eyes shut. The last thing she remembered was the cloaked figures. But hadn't it been autumn? She reopened her eyes and looked about her. Green shrouded the forest. Perhaps it was all a dream.
Standing on shaky legs, Eren dusted herself off. She was extremely dirty and her red cloak was almost completely stained brown. She huffed in frustration. Mother would not be happy about this. Taking one last displeased look at her attire, she set off in the woods, heading in the direction she thought her home would be.
It took a while, a long time wandering, till she finally came upon her home. It was a log cabin, surrounded by a wide meadow on one side and the woods on the other. The sight of it had her grinning immediately. She started running.
At the door, she threw it open, and rushed inside, immediately going for the kitchen. "Mom!"
The woman at the table jumped before turning slowly. "Eren?" Her face was drawn up in shock. "Is it… Is it really you?"
Eren frowned. "Yeah. Why wouldn't I be?"
She stared at Eren in disbelief. "It's not possible. You've been gone for months."
Eren shook her head. "No, Mom. I was here yesterday."
"It… It doesn't matter. C-Can I hug you?" Her mother looked on the verge of tears. She was trembling.
"Yeah, sure, Mom," she said. She was so confused. Slowly, Eren crossed the room to her mother and held out her arms. Eren's heart rate sped, becoming unbearable. What was this feeling? But she pulled her mother into a hug nonetheless. Her mother smelt of flowers, particularly of the daisies that grew in the field. It was a smell that comforted Eren.
Suddenly her mother convulsed in her arms, choking back a cough. "Mom?" Eren pulled back, looking at her mother. She shook, uncontrollable, with a gargled sound erupting from her throat. "MOM!" Eren screamed. What was happening?
Her mother fell forward onto Eren, becoming dead weight and Eren could no longer hold her up. Slowly, the two slid down onto the wooden floor and Eren panicked, tapping along her mother's face, trying to snap her out of it. "Mom? What's wrong?" Her eyes clouded with tears. "What's happening?" Fear shook her voice.
Eren gasped, looking up over her shoulder in surprise. She knew that voice. It was the deep voice that shook her bones. "You," she growled.
"Me," he replied with a laugh. It was the figure from the forest. He was wearing the cloak again and the hood was drawn deep over his head, hiding his face again. But Eren could see dark black hair hanging down by his chin.
"What did you do her?" She demanded, looking back at her mother. Her stomach dropped at the sight of her mother. She wrapped her fingers around her mother's dress. "Fix her!"
"I didn't do anything. You did."
Eren shook her head, not sure if she was hearing him right. "What are you talking about?" She looked up at him.
A grin was just barely visible under his hood as he approached her. "You're killing her. Your hands, you touched her."
Eren's tears were slipping down her face. "Wh-what does that have to do with anything?"
"You're cursed. You're cursed to kill."
Eren watched her mother convulse one more and her eyes rolled up into her head. Eren was sobbing now. Then she stilled. "No," Eren whispered.
The man reached down and yanked her upwards by her arm abruptly and roughly. "Come. You work for me now." He started dragging her away and she just let it happen. Her mother was lying motionlessly on the floor and it was forever burned into her mind. She'd killed her own mother.
Her feet scraped the wooden floor she'd grown up as she was dragged away. She stumbled and let out a soft sob, pulling at her arm. Eren didn't want to go with him. But he only grinned that sick smile at her as he pulled her out the door. She hated him. God, she hated him. He took away her life and she would never forgive him. Never.
This is my first SNK fanfic. I'm usually an OHSHC writer but I decided to try my hand at a new fandom. Tell me what you think!