Read Tasting Darkness By Jessica Hall Chapter 15 – “Move it, Aleera, twenty laps now,” Tobias roared behind me. Despite not wanting to run, my feet start moving, the rocks digging into my feet painfully. It didn’t take long before the men overlapped me. Around a hundred or so barging and shoving past me. What the heck was their problem? I didn’t even know them, and they took no care when they came too close. “Aleera!” I hear Zac’s voice behind me before looking over my shoulder in time to see him running straight at me. I tried to step out of his way when he dropped his shoulder and barrelled straight into me, diverting slightly off track to deliberately hit me.
My body was tossed across the gravel, and I felt like I was being skinned alive. My face burned as I skidded across the loose gravel, my hands I used to try and brace myself grazed, and I felt battered and bruised all over. “Up Aleera, you have only done three laps,” Tobias calls from the center where the obstacle courses were. I haul my body up t o my hands and knees. Trying not to cry out at my pain and discomfort.
It was agonizing, I kept going, and by the time I finished the laps, the men had completed theirs plus the obstacle course. The rest of the class moved on to their next lesson while Zac had been told to make sure I finished the course. His sneers and name-calling were starting to get to me. I was starving, and the sun was cooking me alive. I wondered how long I had been out here when the blare of the alarm sounded signally; it was lunch.
Someone brought Zac out some food while I tried to navigate the climbing wall. My arms could not take my weight much longer and shook as I tried to haul myself up when I felt something smack me in the center of the back. I was about five meters up when pain rippled up my spine, and I lost my grip, plummeting to the ground below.
A shriek left my lips as I grasped the air frantically, hitting the ground with a thud before darkness swallowed me.
It was the sound of angry voices that pulled me back to my surroundings, a furious growl has me blinking, and I found the sun was no longer directly above me, the sky in orange and pink hues as I tried to remember what happened.
“If she ran again, I swear I will fucking kill her,” Darius’s angry voice boomed. I groan, rolling on my side, my head pounding to its own beat, and every muscle ached. My back was killing me and my skin felt sunburnt
“You know she wouldn’t be able to find her way through the . forest to the road. She wouldn’t even know what direction to g o in,” I hear Lycus’s voice answer, Darius.
“Wait, I can smell her scent,” Lycus growls, and I pull myself up to my hands and glance around to see them coming up over the small hill from the castle.
“Found her,” Tobias calls out. Pointing at me. My vision was blurry, and I squinted about to get to my feet when suddenly Darius gripped my hair, yanking my head back. He moved with speed that made the air rush around me. One second he was over on the crest of the small hill; the next second, he was beside me.
“You think you can skip classes, Aleera?” He snarls as I clutch his hands and cry out. My hair ripped painfully from my scalp, and I would need to find some scissors. The taunts and bullying I could deal with. The hair-pulling was a low act and very demeaning. I suddenly cursed being a girl.
“Let go. You’re hurting me,” I choke out, and he laughs before shoving me forward back in the dirt.
I rubbed the back of my neck and noticed Kalen was nowhere t o be seen, which at least gave me comfort, knowing the only person who had been decent to me since being here wasn’t hunting me down to inflict more injury when my brain backtracked. He was one of them. He could be looking for me elsewhere.
“Get up; you have power placement with me. If I ever have to come searching for you again because you have missed class-“.
“Ah, finally you found her,” Kalen says, cutting Darius off as h e jogged over to us and a look of relief crossed his features as h e let out a breath.
“Had me worried for a second, I thought you left us again,” Kalen says before his smile falters when he looks at me. Kalen turns and looks at Darius before he shoves him. “Why is she bleeding? What the fuck did you do?” Kalen snaps out in an angry growl.
Darius rips Kalen toward him by the front of his shirt. “I haven’t done anything but take that tone with me again, and I will make you watch her punishment,” Darius growls at him.
Lycus grips Darius’s arm, and Darius looks at him. “We have enough going on. We don’t need to be fighting each other, especially over her,” Lycus says before glaring down at me. I remained quiet, not wanting to draw any more attention to myself. Kalen, however, doesn’t.
“Punishment for what?” Kalen demanded.
“She skipped my class and Lycus’s,”
“Come on, give her a break. It’s her first day,” Kalen says, reaching down to offer me his hand. I reached for it, and Darius slapped my hand away.
“She can get up herself. She survived for six years holed up, God knows where, or with whom, she can get herself up,” Darius snaps at him. Kalen frowns and appears to be thinking.. He went to speak before closing his mouth. A dark expression crosses his features before he turns on his heel and walks off.
My stomach sinks, wondering why the sudden change in his attitude. Surely, he didn’t believe what Darius had said, but then again, I didn’t really know any of them well enough to judge their behavior.
Though a kick to my leg pulls my gaze away from a retreating Kalen. I hiss at the sudden pain radiating up my leg.
“Get up and get to your next class.” Darius spits at me. The look of pure hatred on his face makes me cringe away. My eyeballs pulsated in my head, along with the pounding headache and all I wanted to do was find somewhere to lay down and rest for a bit.
Climbing to my feet, I staggered. The ground felt like it was moving, and my vision blurred worse. Touching the back of m y head, I wince, quickly pulling my fingers away to find blood stained them.
“I said get to the next class,” I flinched at his closeness and forced myself to move.
“What time is it?” I ask as I try not to limp. Each footfall caused pain as the rocks stabbed and sliced my tender feet open more.
“Lunch just finished,” Lycus answers, and I nod. My stomach growls hungrily at the mention of food. I couldn’t believe I had been out here for hours. Zac just left me there. That thought. stung a little at the knowledge that not a single person here cared if I suddenly dropped dead.
“Where are your shoes?” I don’t bother answering Lycus, and Darius growls behind me when I stop glancing back at him.
“I don’t know where I am going,” I admit. Let alone what class I had next.
“The mess hall, now get moving,” Darius snarls. Lycus moves toward me and grips my arm, and Tobias and Darius both growl at him.
“For fucks sake, Darius, look at her feet. She can barely fucking walk,”
“Well, if she didn’t skip classes, I may have given her shoes,”h e retorts.
“I didn’t skip. I fell off because of that jerk-” I argue but stop not seeing the point in debating my tardiness with him.
“Because of who?” Tobias demands, and I glance at him to see Darius glare at him. Tobias quickly looks away and adds nothing else when my feet suddenly go from under me. I shriek, not expecting it, and Lycus grabs me, scooping me up i n his arms.
“Lycus!” Darius roars, and I feel the energy rush out of him, which makes me suddenly want to run. Terror filled me, and I wanted Lycus just to put me down before Darius did something. Lycus just holds me tighter and starts walking when I smack into Darius’ chest while in Lycus’s arms. Lycus stops staring at him.
“She can walk,” Darius tells him, but Lycus holds his gaze unafraid of him while I push closer to Lycus. The movement is not missed by Darius, who glares at me.
“She is done for the day,” Lycus says, his voice even as he barges past him, walking around a furious Darius.