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Mareska C

Romance Action Fantasy


4  

Mareska C

Romance Action Fantasy


The Faults In Us

The Faults In Us

235 mins 252 235 mins 252

I'm free. 

Those two words kept running through my head as I ran, as fast as I could; as fast as my legs could carry me in my human form. Without looking back, without any hesitation in my step, I ran. I was finally free. I was so happy I could cry.

But there was no time. 

As soon as I hit the outskirts of the forest, I shifted. It was painful, I almost screamed, but I pushed through it and ran. My wolf was howling with joy. I was feeling the same way, all traces of the pain gone. 

Every hit, every whip, every slap...

They all made me stronger. 

I won't let that planning and submission go to waste. 

As I ran, I didn't look back. Never will I ever go back to that hell hole. It's over. 

I'm free. 


****


'DRINKS ON ME!' I yelled loudly, and everyone cheered. I was here, in New Orleans, and it was the time of Mardi Gras. Everyone was out on the streets, dancing and collecting beads, while I and my group of friends were in our usual spot in the local bar, drinking 'till we couldn't anymore. It was a time of celebration, after all!

He was dead!

 'HERE'S TO THAT ASSHOLE! MAY HE ROT IN HELL!' Athena yelled. 

'CHEERS!' 


A few hours later, around two in the morning, Ena and I were the only people left. 

'Hey,' I slurred, clearly drunk (not that I'm going to stay that way for long), 'we should head home. Come on, Ena.'

'Yes! Let's... wait, what?' 

I rolled my eyes. 'Come on,' I said, hauling her off the chair. 

'Bye, David!' she yelled to the bartender, who had graciously put up with us until three am. 

'Thanks!' I yelled too.


Ena and I walked to our two-bedroom apartment which wasn't too far away. We undressed and collapsed immediately on the large couch in our underwear, not bothering to remove our makeup or brush our teeth. Hell, we didn't even put pj's on, just slept in our underwear and bras. 


The next morning, I woke up with a slight headache. My werewolf genes took care of the worst parts of a hangover and I knew even that slight pain would be gone in a matter of minutes. 

Ena, however, was a completely different case. 


She was a witch, but unfortunately, they don't have the regenerative powers we do, though they have powerful magic. Ena came to New Orleans about the same time I did and helped me get rid of those bitches who were always on my ass, haunting me and giving me a hard time. 

She's the daughter of one of the Seante, who are these all-powerful witches and are part of this high and mighty witch council that rules all the witches around the world. I pity the witches; they have dictators on the throne. Ena, realizing this fact, ran away from home and found me. 

We both protect each other, a werewolf and a witch working together can form a powerful team. Our species despise each other and try to stay apart, but somehow he managed to convince some of them to hunt me and make my life miserable. 


But I guess I must be grateful, he taught me how to fight and didn't tell anyone he had tabs on me. Not only physically, but mentally. When I was his prisoner he pitied me and tried to "protect" me, but in the end, it was all to use me. He wanted me to think of him as my saviour, and obey his every command. He wanted me like his personal slave, in all aspects. 


I found out about his scheme one day and since then, he had been nothing but cruel, before I ran away and was finally free. The witches were a major nuisance, but I could deal with them. Just as they were getting out of hand, Ena came along and everything was alright. 


I sighed, looking at her figure sprawled across the couch with drool dripping down the side of her mouth and a wet patch on the pillow. I did NOT want to deal with a hung-over Ena right now, but since she pays the rent and this is basically all her stuff (and I'm her best friend), I had to. But not just yet. 


I set a glass of water and Aspirin on the coffee table next to the couch. Then, I started making breakfast. One thing I'm good at is cooking. I can cook anything, anything at all. It's one of my many skills. And I love it. It puts my mind at ease and helps me forget my worries, even for a short time. 


Because the nagging feeling that he's going to find me someday just never leaves. Maybe one day he will. But for now, I'm just enjoying my life. I've got a new fresh start in New Orleans, where I have a best friend and an awesome place to live. Who knows, maybe I'll even find my mate. No, that's too much to hope for. 


Werewolves can find their mates at the age of 18. That's my age right now, because... Today is my birthday! Well, the only exciting thing about today is that I can finally sense my mate. Otherwise, it's just any normal, boring day. Well, almost. I have a hung-over Ena to deal with. 

I hummed a happy tune as I made bacon and eggs. I wasn't in the mood for something extravagant or time-consuming. I had to be somewhere. A job interview. 


Ena had finally forced my lazy ass to apply, even though I was more than qualified to do anything. Not on paper, though. Werewolf education is of high level for those who want to do something other than fighting (which is basically 1% of the werewolf population) and in 10th grade, I knew enough to get a master's degree in business and literature. So, I was more than qualified for a lot of jobs. 


But I couldn't get any of any value because humans didn't know we existed and the world is basically run by them with paranormal species in the shadows. Werewolves, witches, vampires, ghouls. All these species endangered. The ghouls are nearly extinct. People say they just lost the will to live. Vampires went underground, no one knows one unless it wants you to. Werewolves and witches are eternal rivals. So, the paranormal world isn't really thriving. 

There is an old myth about a time where all the species ruled the earth and lived together in peace and harmony. But that's all it is. A myth. With the way things are now, there can never be peace. 


Some werewolves even despise the Moon Goddess, our "Guardian", who hasn't been seen for more than a century. The legends say she often used to visit the earth, but no one in my lifetime has ever even heard about a person meeting the Moon Goddess. Many of our kind think she abandoned us and is floating around somewhere (or doing whatever divine entities do). In my personal opinion, I don't think she abandoned us. It doesn't make sense. She created the werewolf species, she could destroy it. Why just leave us be and not pay any attention? 

Anyway, I don't waste my time thinking about it. She's been missing since the Great War of the Species. The Great War...


'Aw! My head!' 

'Take the Aspirin,' I said, not too loudly. I heard a loud groan and gulps as Ena took the medication. I chuckled and bought the plates out. I almost burnt the eggs in all my brooding, something I've never done before. 

'Here,' I said, 'I made a big effort to get up and make these, so don't puke all over them.'

'Whatever.'

'Hm. Do you know what day it is?'

Being the conceited brat I am, I just had to ask. 

'It's Friday. Why?' Ena said, her mouth stuffed. I gave her a knowing look. 

She froze, then choked on her food. I laughed. 

'I'm sorry!' she whisper-shouted, reaching out to hug me. 

'It's fine, don't worry about it,' I said. She looked around frantically. 

'I've got to buy you a present!' she said and stood abruptly. Immediately, she cringed and gently sat back down. 

'Maybe later,' I said, 'you have a very bad hangover.'

She gave me a dirty look. 'The last thing I remember from last night is you telling me to drink those tequila shots.'

I gave her a toothy grin and hurried into my room before she remembered anything else I told her to do while she was drunk. I am a truly wonderful best friend. 


^^^^


I walked through the streets of New Orleans, the crisp and fresh air waking me up completely. It was a warm spring day, perfect for doing something outdoorsy. But unfortunately for me, I had a job interview to get to. 'What was the job about again?' I muttered, ruffling through my bag. I had absolutely no idea because Ena was the one to create my resume, Ena was the one to search for job opportunities and Ena was the one to find me this one. 


I pulled out my resume and the advertisement for the job fell out. I quickly scanned through it. 'So, I'm applying to be a... baker?' I looked around angrily. 

Ena!!!


I loved cooking, but baking was NOT my forte. In fact, I sucked at it. I shuddered, remembering last year when I tried baking a cake for Ena's birthday. We ended up munching on the toppings and frosting. That's how bad my baking is. And I had no doubt this job was going to be disastrous too. I pulled out my phone and called Ena. 


'Sup, Ren! Did you have trouble finding the place? Want me to pick you up and drive you there?'

'Ena.'

'Yeah, wassup?' 

'I think you're aware that the job involves the one thing I can't do.'

'Um, what?'

Really? Playing dumb?

'Baking.'

There was a split second of silence, then she started rambling. 


'Oh come on, Ren, you're not that bad. I bet you can learn. I took special care in mentioning that you weren't that good. See? Aren't I a good friend? Now just go to the bakery, the man who owns it is very nice and he gives good pay. Also, don't forget that you need to help me pay the bills. You've been living for free for too long, and you really need to pitch in and do your part. I can't do everything you know, even though I'm perfectly capable. So go to this job interview and get the job, so that you can finally be of some use!' she screeched and cut the call. 


I just stood there, frozen in place, all thoughts about "today is a good day!" gone. I calmly called Ena again. The phone rang once, rang twice, then thrice. Finally, she picked up. There was silence for a few seconds. 

'I'm sorry,' she said, 'I shouldn't have yelled at you. And I definitely shouldn't have pulled the useless friend card. And I'm more sorry than usual, because... today is your birthday. You deserve better than this. Come home. Fuck the job interview.'

I smiled and cut the call. 


I walked home, my cheerful mood gone. My mind lingered somewhere far away. No, not in the world where I produced delicious cakes and pies and souffles and other baked delicacies. It lingered in dark times. Today was my 18th birthday. That changes things. Somehow, that nagging feeling growing stronger with every passing second of thought. That feeling... no, it isn't a feeling. Realization dawned. It's instinct. 


I bolted through the streets, trying to get to the apartment as soon as possible. Ena was in danger. I was in danger. I could say that with utmost certainty. I ran up the stairs and burst into the apartment. The front door wasn't locked. This was a usual thing; Ena forgets a lot of stuff. But today wasn't a usual day. 


'ENA!' I yelled, looking around frantically. I ran around the house and barged into her room.

She wasn't there. 

'ENA!' I yelled again. 

'WHAT?!' someone yelled in my ear. I jumped and was immediately in a defensive stance. 

'Jeez, chill out,' Ena said, standing in the doorway of her room, wrapped in a towel, her hair dripping wet. 

'Ena,' I sighed in relief and hugged her. I could sense her confusion. 

'What's wrong?' she asked. 'I know you're angry, but I apologized. If that's not enough, I'm going to treat you to some-'

'There's no time,' I growled, using my wolf voice. She stilled immediately. 'Get dressed,' I continued, 'I'll explain on the way.'

She nodded and hurried to do as I said. I may be a lazy bitch, but I'm trustworthy. I'm there when it counts. Ena knew that and she didn't doubt me in the slightest. I quickly went to my room and started packing up. There's no time, my wolf chanted, hurry. I grit my teeth and packed as fast as I could. 


'Ren.' 

Ena stood in my doorway, completely dressed in durable clothes. She probably guessed what was going on and just needed my confirmation. I nodded to her and picked my bag up. She had a bag slung over her shoulder too. I grabbed my phone and made sure Ena had hers. 

'I'm sorry, Ena,' I said, 'but we've got to ditch these. He'll be tracking us.'

She nodded and wordlessly handed me her phone. I dropped them both and smashed them under my foot. Ena winced but didn't say a word. Inside, I felt a little sympathy. She loved her iPhone 11. But there was no other option. 


'We've got to move. Now,' I stated. I moved out of the door immediately but Ena hesitated. 'Ena,' I said, 'there's no time. We need to leave.'

She looked around helplessly. 

'Ren... do we have to?' she asked tears in her eyes. 'I love New Orleans. And besides, if we leave, where will we go? We have a life here. I have a job, a nice apartment, a nice bartender... you finally had a home... I don't want to go...' 

Tears started falling from my eyes too. 

'You're right,' I said, 'you don't.'

She looked at me, hope in her eyes. 'I don't?' she asked. 

'No,' I said. She ran up to me and hugged me. 

'Yay!' she chirped. 'Come on then. Let's celebrate!' 

I hugged her back tightly. Then I let go and stepped back. 


'Ena,' I said, 'you don't have to leave. But...'

The hope slowly crumbled to pieces. 

'... I do.'

She just stood there, staring at me with a horrified expression on her face.

 'You're... leaving me?' she asked. I nodded. 'No,' she said, 'you can't. I'm coming with you. I'd rather be with you in the wilderness than here, alone.' 

'No,' I said, 'you're right. You've built a life here. I can't take you away from that. You should stay. He won't know that I was with you. The fact that you're a powerful witch makes it more believable.'

'No.' 

I stared at her pointedly. 'You have no choice.' 

'Ren, I-'

'I'm sorry.' 

I knocked her out and walked out of the apartment.


As soon as I reached the tree line, I collapsed on my knees, crying my eyes out. I heard a twig snap. I was on my feet in an instant, looking around warily. 

'Found you,' that all too familiar voice said. 

'REN! SERENA!' I heard Ena yell. 

I jerked awake, panting. 


^^^^


'What... happened?' I panted. Ena looked at me, worry in her eyes. 

'I don't know. You went into some sort of trance,' she said. I looked around, not recognizing where we were. 

'Where... where are we? What happened?' I moaned, gripped my skull. 

'We're in the lobby of our apartment building,' Ena said, 'you left the house, but I sensed you didn't leave the building. I came down to check if something was wrong and I found you in the doorway, just frozen in place. You were crying and wouldn't reply when I spoke to you. I was scared but... you woke up.'

I stared at her. Then I hugged her tightly, crying. 

'What happened, Serena? What did you see?' she asked, rubbing my back gently. I sniffed and hugged her tighter. 

'Ena,' I said shakily, 'I'm scared. I don't know how much of what I saw was real.' 

'Ssh. It's okay. It's nine-thirty and you left the house seven minutes ago. You didn't leave the building. I came downstairs two minutes ago to find you. Does that help?' she asked. I stepped back and nodded. 'Come on,' she said, 'let's go upstairs. Tell me everything.' 


About half an hour later, I was bundled up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate in my hands. Ena was sitting next to me, gripping the armrest and thinking hard. I was too exhausted to ask her what she was thinking about. My wolf was agitated and wary, not liking what was happening. Her pacing and growling didn't make my condition any better. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. 


'Ena,' I said, 'what's wrong?' She looked at me with a serious look I've never seen before. The Ena I knew was always happy, always smiling. But now, under that look... I was scared shitless. 

'Serena,' she said. I froze. Using my full name? 'I... have a theory. But if it's true... then I have no idea of the future.' I nodded. 

'Spill.'

'Since witches are educated from an early age about the various dominant species of the earth, I know almost everything there is to know about werewolves and the other species,' she said. 'That thing just now... I think you had a vision. A look into a possible future and... werewolves don't have that ability. There has been no record of a werewolf doing that, ever. So, I started thinking. Only one type of species has the ability to look into the future: the ghouls. And you never knew the reason you were imprisoned and tortured all those years. You never knew your parents. This is a little far-fetched, but... you may be half-ghoul.'

I tilted my head to one side, not understanding. 

'All right, I'm half-ghoul. So what? That doesn't affect me in the least. It never has. Besides, I only feel my wolf. Nothing else.' 


'Ren, you don't understand. You're the first half-werewolf and half-ghoul. I know there have been a few hybrids witch-werewolf and ghoul-vampire, but you're the first of your kind. And that's... something. And it also puts you in grave danger.'

'But... why?' I was thoroughly confused. 

'Think, Ren. Use that non-existent brain of yours. Okay, I know you're smart, but now is not the time for a brain fart. You have the abilities of a werewolf but can see the future like a ghoul. You can turn into a wolf, but might also have other ghoul abilities that you haven't discovered yet. That makes you one of the most valuable beings in existence. Understand?'

I nodded. I did understand. Kind of. I don't know why it was such a big deal to Ena. 


'I think your former Alpha-'

'Don't. Call him. That.'

'Sorry. I think he knew that you were unique and that's why he kept you imprisoned. You escaped, but you tell me you don't remember the specifics of that night. Only blurs. I think your ghoulish side came out. Of course, this is all theory, but... there might be some truth to it. It's also the only explanation I can come up with about what happened.

'Ren, you have to take this seriously. I know you well enough to decipher when you're serious about something and when you just put it off as myth because you're either too lazy to look into it, don't think it's interesting, or hate that people are making a fuss. Now, you're thinking, "Wow, she really knows me well. And if she does, why bother talking to me about it?" Well, because it's fucking important. Your life depends on it. Geddit?'

I sighed. 'I've had a long day. I'm turning in.'

'It's 11 am. You woke up two hours ago.'

'Since you know me so well, I assume you know telling me the time isn't going to stop me from sleeping.' 


I walked to my room and collapsed on my bed. I could hear her sigh all the way inside. I said I would sleep, but my mind was racing. Besides, it was only 11 am. Whatever Ena said could just be a figment of her imagination. It couldn't be true. But what if it was? What if I really was the first werewolf-ghoul hybrid? That would explain so much, but raise double the amount of questions. But after a lot of thought, I came up with only two ways to know for sure, both having a high possibility of being complete failures.

1: Turn into my wolf. 

2: Find him and ask him. 

Option two was out of the picture until option one failed. That would be my last resort. 

Well, I only had two, but still. 

'Ena?!' I yelled. She walked to my room. Unlike me, Ena is one of the most active people I know. 

Wait, aren't werewolves supposed to be active?

Well, I was one of a kind after all. 

'What?' Ena asked, 'Decided to finally do something?'

I smiled. 'You know me so well.'


****


I screamed, but fortunately, it was over quickly. I hadn't shifted in over a month, so it was a little painful. I thought about all those myths humans had about us being able to shift only on a full moon. What nonsense. Werewolves had complete control over their bodies and had awesome relations with our second halves, our wolves. Therefore, we were able to shift whenever we wanted to. 


I had never heard of a werewolf fighting its wolf. True, they were extremely annoying at times, even they won't deny it, but fighting them would be like tearing yourself apart, inside out. I shuddered at the thought and my wolf whined. 


I gave her control and took the backseat for a while. She was annoyed with me for not letting her out more often, but I ignored her. We both knew that her being annoyed didn't change a thing, at least not in this case. Our apartment was in the middle of New Orleans, a wolf running around there would be... well, disastrous, to say in the least.


 My wolf ran around happily, half-heartedly chasing Ena's scent, who had come with us but had wandered away. I trusted my wolf completely, so I knew she wouldn't do anything irrational. My wolf doesn't really "talk", per se, I don't think any wolf does. Their desires are communicated through feelings. Since they are with you since the age of 12, you have a pretty good understanding of each other. 


She rolled around and made a fool of herself, and if any other wolf was around I would be embarrassed, but we were all alone so I let her be. 

'Come on, Ren, you big puppy,' I heard Ena say somewhat far away. I got up lazily and walked to her. When she was in my line of vision, I noticed something was wrong. The woods around her were too quiet. She was too still. 

My wolf growled. Ena looked at us, then gasped. I gave her a grave look, my muzzle set in a threatening growl. I didn't like this. 

What was going on?

'Your fur, Ren,' Ena said, 'why is it... like that?'

Like what, idiot? I mentally hissed at her, I can't conjure a mirror from midair as you can!

If she was talking about how dirty I was, I would seriously rip her head off. 

'Since when do you have red highlights?' she asked. 

What?

My fur was black, black as midnight. It wasn't a rare colour for a wolf to have, but highlights? And why now?

I growled, not understanding. 

Ena shook her head, dismissing it.

'I called a ghoul to meet us,' she said, 'I hope she can explain what's happening to you. Maybe confirm my theory.'

Wait, WHAT??!!!

Ena called A GHOUL???!!!


I have never seen a ghoul in my entire life. Since humans are their staple diet, wolves tend to stay away from them. But since they're almost extinct, the two races aren't having a hard time with that. 

But how did Ena contact a ghoul? 

How does she know it's friendly?

How does she know it will help us?

There were too many questions. 

This wasn't going to work. 

I had to shift back. 


Ena extended her hands towards me and muttered a spell. There was a dim glow around her hands, but it faded as soon as it came. 

'I just forged a mental connection between us,' she said, 'you can talk to me now.'

I took a deep breath. 

IDIOT! I yelled as loud as I could, How could you do that? Are you out of your fucking mind??!!!

She winced. I glared at her. 

This ghoul will help us, she replied, I'm sure of it. 

How? I growled, Ghouls are one of the most deceitful creatures in existence, apart from witches. How can you be so stupid as to trust one? Each one of them also has unique powers, different from every other. If it turns on us, how can we defeat it?

Ena sighed. 'You don't get it, Ren,' she said, 'this ghoul is different. I saved her life. She is forever indebted to me. She won't hurt either of us. Besides, she's my friend.'

I growled violently. 

Friend??!! Ena, please. Let's get out of here. I know better than to trust a ghoul, and you should too.

'Ren, come on. You know I wouldn't put you in danger. Now be good and wait for her to come.'

I snapped at Ena and started walking away. 


'Serena Montalouge.'

 I froze, then whipped around. Instantly, the air around me was colder, rougher. The sunlight seemed to be sucked out of the air. The world around me was bleak, with no colour. 

The ghoul was here. 

Fuck. 

'The rumours understate your beauty.'

Wait, what?

'What do you want?' I stated, loud and clear. Well, not the human ear. In my head. I was sure Ena made some sort of way for us to communicate in my wolf form.

'Athena informed me of your situation. I simply wish to help.'

The ghoul's voice sent shivers up my spine. It was lulling and dreamy, but it held a dangerous edge. Ghouls look like humans, but they have this aura around them... or so I've been told. 

I never knew this aura would literally suck the colour out of life. 


'I don't need your help. I'm perfectly capable of handling myself.' 

'Ren,' Ena's voice sternly stated, 'accept. Her. Offer.'

I snarled, despising the situation. This was a ghoul. Though I was kept in a dungeon for the majority of my childhood, even I knew ghouls were the last species you could trust. But here it stood in front of me, arms extended in a placating gesture, with Ena not far behind, giving me a look that was both stern and pleading at the same time. I sighed.


'I'm trusting you won't make any moves to harm me or Ena, for now. And I'm willing to hear you out. For now,' I growled.

The ghoul's face was covered by a large hood, but I could sense her satisfied smile. 'Thank you,' she said, 'but if what Athena suspects is true and you are half-ghoul, we are kin. I agree it is not wise to trust a ghoul. But we were very loyal to our kin, I'm sure you're aware.'

'Your point is?' I snapped.

'That I would not do anything to harm you. By the covenant of the ghouls, I swear it.'

I sighed. 'All right,' I said, knowing ghouls take their whole covenant thing seriously, 'tell me what you think about this whole situation. And your name.'


She cocked her head to one side, clearly intrigued. 'My name is Seraphina,' she said, 'Seraphina of the Twelfth Order.'

'What's that?'

'The highest order of the ghouls, the newest generation.'

'I have no idea what you're talking about, but please continue.'

'Ghouls have ranks,' Ena interjected. 'Similar to wolves, but they represent their whole species. There is no division into packs, or anything of the sort. The newest generation, which is based on every seventh year of the decade, is the Twelfth Order.'

'So you're the leader of the species when you're less than 10?'

Ena sighed. 'No, idiot. They have to be at least 20. They serve a minimum of 2 years, so if you're born in the fifth or sixth year of the decade, you have an extended time period to be in the Twelfth Order,' she said.

'All right,' I said, 'so basically, you're saying that you're one of the most powerful of your species.'

'Yes, basically,' Seraphina said.

'So you know everything there is to know,' I stated.

'Most of it,' she agreed.

'Very well then. Tell me.'

She sighed. 'First off, there have been no records of a werewolf and ghoul mating. There have been only ghoul-witch and ghoul-vampire couples so far, because they just seem to blend better.'

I nodded. 'Could it have been a fling?' I wondered.

'Ghouls don't do flings,' Seraphina immediately said.

I made a face. 'Weird... How can you speak for the whole species?'

They both gave me a look.

'All right,' I conceded. My wolf whined.

Werewolves were one of the horniest species. I myself was often struggling with urges.


'Anyway,' Seraphina continued, 'since ghouls don't do "flings", it is possible that your parents went to great lengths to keep their relationship a secret. And they succeeded, at least with us. Since Athena tells me you never met them, or you don't remember them, and you were imprisoned by the wolves, they knew, or suspected.

This much is not enough to move forward with. We need more details. I know you will not like this, but if you want to know more about the past, we will have to contact your old pack. Or at least, I will have to, if you don't want Ena's identity revealed. The wolves know better than to mess with us. Do you agree?' She asked.

'I... don't know,' I said, 'I need more details. And if you ask about me, they will know that you have been in contact with me. That will be a disaster, especially with him as Alpha.' I spat the last part out. Ena was lost in thought, so she didn't respond when Seraphina looked at her questioningly. 


'Who is "him"?' she asked me. I looked away with disgust.

'Kendrick Claw,' Ena said, snapping out of her thinking session. 'Alpha of the Claw and Fang Pack.'

Seraphina was quiet for a while.

'Well, that complicates things,' she said, 'the Alpha of the strongest pack of the continent...' she asked.

'What?' I asked, 'Not so eager about going to my old pack anymore?'

'No, that's the only way,' she replied immediately, 'but I'm just thinking about the future.'

'What about it?'

'Have you considered the fact that the two species could potentially be at war if I just storm in and demand information? Especially about you? So, I need an excuse. To visit a werewolf pack. Now, what could that be...?'


'Isn't the annual treaty signing coming up?' Ena blurted. Seraphina turned to Ena.

'Indeed, Athena,' she said, 'you just gave me the perfect excuse to visit the most despicable Alpha that ever existed. I swear that boy is worse than his father, and that's saying a lot.'

'Why do I not find that hard to believe?' I muttered.

'That Claw hasn't found his mate yet, so he's taking all his frustration out on everyone he can find. That whole pack despises him. I pity those people.'

'Well I pity the girl when he finally finds her,' I scoffed. Ena laughed and even Sera cracked a smile under her hood.

'So I will ask him about you during the annual peace treaty signing, a week from now. Agreed?'

I nodded. Ena gave her assent too. 'I will be coming with you,' she said. 

'Very well then,' Sera said, slowly fading into the black and white background.


'Wait!' I yelled, 'What about my vision?'

'Don't worry about it, dear,' her lulling voice said, 'it was just a possible future. It will not necessarily come to pass.'

'What if it does?'

'Then we will just have to be prepared, won't we?'

Her presence faded. The colour returned to the world.


'Well,' I said, 'I have no idea about what to do next?'

'Go home and cook something delicious for me to feast on?' Ena graciously supplied.

I gave her my best eye roll while I was in my wolf form.

'You still love me!' She yelled as I walked away to shift back. I chucked.

I wonder what the future holds.


*****


**One week later**


Ena burst into my room, panting. I lurched into a standing position. It was late at night, and...

Ena shouldn't be here. 

'What's wrong?' I asked, rushing to her side, 'Are you okay? Where’s Sera?'

She shook her head, unable to speak. But the look on her face said it all.

'Something went wrong...' I muttered, frowning, 'but what?'

'Ren...' Ena panted, 'leave... Claw...'

I froze.

My mind went blank.


Ena slapped me, hard, to get my attention. I looked at her, my horrified expression not melting.

'LEAVE!' she yelled, 'HE'S COMING!'

With that, I bolted out of the door, but not before picking Ena up in my arms and carrying her with me.

Even in my current state of mind, there was no way I would leave her behind. 

'Leave me,' she said, 'you need to get out as fast as you can.'

 I ran through the deserted streets as fast as I could, not bothering to respond. The details could wait; I just needed to get us somewhere safe for now. Somewhere our scents couldn't be traced, our identities obscured. Somewhere far, far away. 


I got out of the city faster than I ever had before, though I was carrying Ena in my arms. For the first time, I smelled... blood. 

'He's close,' I said, 'and he's already killed someone.' Ena shivered in my arms. 

'I never thought I would meet him like this,' she said, 'when I'm like this, completely powerless.'

'I will protect you, I swear,' I vowed. 'But for now, we need to get out. I'm going to shift. Can you stand?' Ena nodded. I set her down and quickly walked a few steps away. Then I shifted immediately, not caring about my clothes. As soon as I came closer, Ena immediately hopped on. I was double the size of a normal wolf, just a little above the size of the average werewolf. 

But I had the speed, agility and strength that could even rival an Alpha's. How did I know? Those years running hadn't been without werewolf encounters. Only my wolf and instincts had saved me. I was forced to fight to survive. And now, I had to fight again. The only difference was, now, I had people that cared about me. I couldn't let them down. 


'Sera?' I asked through the mind-link I knew she had formed with her remaining power.

'Later,' she whispered. I bared my teeth and ran at full speed. 

If Claw caught us... no. He wouldn't. At least, I would make sure Ena would escape. She had to. I could be Claw's slave if he wanted, I would do anything if it meant Ena was safe. 

'Shut up,' Ena snapped. 

Oops. The mind-link.

'Sorry,' I projected, 'but it's true. If we get captured, I want you to run. I know how to handle him. He will treat you much worse than he will treat me.'

The unspoken statement was clear.

If we were caught, he would kill her. Not me. He enjoyed watching people suffer. 


'Ren,' Ena said, 'please. Don't think like that. I don't know what I will do without you.'

I didn't reply, I just kept running. Silently, swiftly, without a sound. Our scents would be the only way we could be traced, I made sure of it. About half a mile ahead, I heard water. Ena was half asleep on my back, but I jumped high over a large rock so that she woke up. 

'Was that really necessary?' she muttered. 

'I can't risk you sleeping and falling off when I'm going sixty miles an hour,' I said. 'And, you're not going to like this.'

I splashed into the small creek. Ena let out a small shriek.

'Bitch!' she hissed. I shook myself dry on the other side while Ena still sat in the middle of the creek. 

'Move it,' I said, 'you're injured. I don't want you to get sick, but this is necessary to hide our scent. I've put some distance between us, but it's not enough to get them off their trail. Come on.'

Grumbling, she got out of the water. I shook myself once more to get the water off me. 'Stop splashing on me!' Ena snapped. I just snorted in response.

Suddenly, I heard paws beating against the ground. In a second, I had looped up Ena and was running faster than before. 


'Wha-'

'Shut it! They're very close. They know where we are going now, so we need to change direction. We're heading to a different town.'

'Got it,' Ena said through the mind-link, grim again. I could sense her swirling emotions. 

I veered off towards the right, heading towards another town, away from the one I had originally planned on going to. The sun would be up soon and it would be disastrous to run around in werewolf form then. The woods weren't very thick and humans could spot me very easily. 


Besides, Ena needed a good place to rest. Witches are the least durable of all the species. They are the closest to humans when it comes to physical abilities. The other species are no match for them in magic, of course, but physical strength is one of their great weaknesses. Ena wouldn't be able to stay conscious for much longer. The splash of cold water had helped, but it wouldn't last long. 

I pushed myself to run faster, but even I was tiring. Suddenly, my wolf howled in my head. She fought to take control.

Just then, I sensed another presence. It was very close, much closer than what I had sensed before. I gave a small growl in anger and changed course, hoping to confuse the wolf. But he would not be shaken off. 

It was getting more difficult to concentrate. My wolf was going crazy in my head, running around and battling for control. The presence was gaining on me, getting dangerously close. But there was something different about it. I felt almost... drawn to it, and I knew it felt the same way about me too. 


Calm down! I yelled at my wolf. But she didn't listen. As the presence grew closer, she became crazier. I decided to block her, which wasn't a good idea in my wolf form, especially if I needed to fight. But I couldn't handle it anymore. 

'Ena!' I yelled through the mind-link, which was somehow still intact. 'I might need to fight! If I do, I need you to run! I will be right behind you!'

'No,' she whispered. I cursed. She was getting weaker and the presence was growing stronger. 

Fine, then, I thought, if fate wants a fight, I'll give it to her. 


****


I weaved through the trees, the other presence less than a hundred feet away and gaining on me. I was surprised by how fast it could move, its speed could compare to that of a vampire, one of the fastest creatures alive. It was gaining on me fast and I was running out of time. There was only one option.

Fight. 


I quickly crossed another stream to get rid of our scent, though I knew it wouldn't shake that presence off. Ena was completely unconscious by now, our mind-link shattered. It took a powerful witch to keep a mind-link up in that state, anyway. I knew Ena would be alright if I left her alone for a while. 


I carefully laid her under a tree a few feet away from the stream. Hopefully, she wakes up soon and finds civilization. I drew an arrow in the dirt pointing to the nearest town, hoping she would get there safely in case I didn't make it back. 


I turned and ran back at full speed to face the presence. I didn't know what kind of creature it was, which made me nervous. I had fought no other creatures except werewolves and witches. If it was a vampire, I was dead for sure. Their bites could kill us unless we drank their blood within the first hour of infection. But no vampire would bite you and give you their blood just for the heck of it. 

If it was a ghoul... I don't know. I had done lots of studies, but creatures were Ena's speciality. I had no idea what I would do if I had to fight a ghoul, though I had been spending time with Sera. 

I could only hope it was something I had fought before. 

I was within feet of the creature in less than a minute. I circled it slowly, still hidden in the trees. Though I had good wolf vision, I couldn't see it. It had concealed itself, which made me nervous. Then, the scent hit me. I froze in shock. No.


I bolted back but was immediately tackled to the ground. I fell with a thud, the creature over me. I shouldn't say "the creature", I knew exactly what it was. Claw. Kendrick Claw. I would recognize that scent anywhere. I should've known. Vampires would never come out here. And only the biggest, most powerful alpha would have such strength and speed. I growled. Claw gave me a wolfy smirk.

 

I could finally see him. He had grown bigger and had gotten new scars. His fur had changed colour too, growing to a darker shade of black. It was so black it was almost blue. He howled loudly in victory. I struggled and growled. 

He growled back, glaring at me. That howl would call his pack warriors here. When they arrived, I didn't stand a chance. Those piercing orange eyes looked into my soul. We weren't in our human form so we couldn't talk. 

My wolf pushed through. I could see my green wolf eyes reflected in his bright orange ones, creating a blast of contrasting colours. 

But in that instant, something changed. 

As soon as my wolf pushed through, tingles flooded my wolf form. Claw was so surprised he jumped off me. I was on my feet in an instant. 

Only one word ran through my head. 

Mate.

And... I ran. 


Claw was so shocked he didn't follow. 

I ran as fast as I could, faster than before. I was almost a blur. Ena was on my back in an instant. My thoughts were moving much faster than my legs. 

The Moon Goddess wasn't cruel. 

Was she?

How could she do this to me?

Claw... my mate?

The man whose father tortured me for years and held me prisoner? The man who manipulated me over and over and almost destroyed my life? 

A mate was someone who is supposed to take care of you and love you forever. Be the person you couldn't live without. 

Claw could never be that. 

I blocked my wolf as she went on a rampage in my head, wanting to get back to her mate. Wolves feel very strongly about their mates, their human personalities don't matter. Now that I've met my "mate" once, she will have an unstoppable desire to be with him. 

Unlike us humans, our wolves cannot live without our mate. For humans, our mate is supposed to be our second half, the one that makes you complete. But for wolves, the connection is much stronger, deeper. They cannot live without each other and the Moon Goddess made sure of that by creating...

Heat. 

I stumbled and almost fell over. 

A week from now I would go into heat. 

We had completed one step of the mating process: physical contact. 

If I didn't have that physical contact a week from now, I would be in unimaginable pain and desire for my mate. 

Shit. 

No. 

I gave a violent growl and pushed that thought out of my head. The sky was lightening. I was very close to Birmingham. I would spend the day there and let Ena heal. She was still unconscious. 


I set her down and shifted at the outskirts of the city. I was thoroughly pissed off and my wolf wasn't making it any better. She wanted her mate. 

Now, I knew Claw's wolf had a much better personality than him. But did that really matter if he is the way he is? I know I'm supposed to take care of my wolf and myself, but the only way I can do that is by staying with my mate, which definitely wasn't happening. 


I carefully took off Ena's coat. I was barefoot, but I hoped no one would notice. I quickly rented a room in a motel, using Ena's credit card to pay for it. Of course, I knew her pin. But too many thoughts were going through my head to think twice about that. 

As soon as I entered the room, I laid Ena on the bed and closed all the blinds and turned down the lights. Throughout the rest of the night (or morning, rather) my wolf didn't let me sleep. She longed for her mare. She was pissed at me for running away. 

I tried to sleep, but each time I dozed off she would start running around in my head. My mental block goes down every time I get drowsy and she can easily break through then. I knew she would get tired eventually because we both shared the same body. But until then, I had no choice but to stay awake. I decided to take a bath and try to relax, while my "mate" hungrily hunted for me and my friend lay unconscious on the bed.

 

^^^^


I was woken by a loud crash. I was on my feet in a second, on high alert. I looked at the bed. 

Empty. 

Crap. 

I walked to the place where the noise came from, the kitchen, and threw open the door. Ena froze like a very awkward deer in a headlight. She was bending down to pick up a pan she had very gracefully dropped while holding onto the fridge door that slowly opened, making her lean sideways. 

I sighed and relaxed my stance. My green eyes went back to their normal dark brown. 

'Sorry?' Ena said. I walked up to her and looked her up and down. 

'Are you okay?' I asked, 'Have your injuries healed?'

'Yes,' she said. 'I woke up a little bruised and battered, but even that's gone now.' I nodded. 

'Good,' I said, 'now, keep the pan down and tell me what happened.' Ena sighed. We walked back to the beds and sat down. 

'It started somewhat like this,' Ena said. 'Ren, her friends and I had reached the pack's territory.'


**Flashback**


The jeep rumbled through the wrought iron gates that led to the Claw Pack's territory. The guards, some wolf, some human, growled in disdain. It was said the Claw pack hated visitors. The saying turned out to be true. 

It was a long, long drive to the packhouse. The pack's territory was so large; it took an hour to get to the centre of it. The borders were fenced off. 

Ena pitied some unknowing human who wandered in. 

As soon as they were 20 miles of the pack territory, their jeep was escorted by wolves running beside it. The ghouls sucking the light out of life made them uncomfortable, but they shrugged it off and stuck to the task. 

The interior of the car was silent for the whole drive. At least, on the outside, where the wolves couldn't hear. Inside the ghoul's and Ena's heads, it was chaos. 


'We have to attack!' Will, one of Ren's friends, yelled. 

'No!' Ren thundered, 'That will ruin everything! This mission is to get information only. Attacking will cause unnecessary drama and bloodshed.'

Drama? Bloodshed? Ena thought. I know ghouls are powerful, and no one knows the true extent of their powers. But can only the three of them take on the most powerful wolf pack on the continent? That's too much. 


Ena was very careful to shield her thoughts from the others. Since she was the creator of the mind-link and a powerful witch, she had that ability. She could also hear the other's thoughts, the ones they weren't aware they were projecting. 

A normal human would've been overwhelmed. Ena? Not so much. 

'Everyone, calm down,' she projected, 'attacking will get us nowhere. This is a mission to sneak in, get information on one of your possible kin, and get out. I am aware that you are very powerful, but you need to save that power for another time.'

Will rolled his eyes in the mind-link and said no more. It was quiet everywhere for the rest of the drive. 


The plan was very carefully laid, with a backup in case anything went wrong, but the ghouls were a violent and bloodthirsty species. Ena wondered how they were so endangered and if they would stick to the plan. 

Outside, few small houses came into view. Soon enough, they were driving through the main residential area of the pack, which held the packhouse, hospital, mess hall, prison and other important buildings, like any large pack.

The only difference was, the Alpha's house and the other VIP's houses were separate from the rest. Usually, the Alpha's house was near the pack. But here, it was nowhere in sight. 

Leave it to a Claw to be that overconfident, Ena thought. Any other Alpha or Luna would want to be there for their pack. 


They drove through the streets. Everyone stared. Many of them were seeing ghouls and a witch for the first time. The other ghoul, whose name Ena did not know yet, stopped in front of the packhouse. 

They got out of the car and walked in. The wolves that were escorting them shifted and put on some clothes. They led them inside the gigantic building.

The packhouse was three stories tall and wrapped around a small lawn, in which sat a huge fountain. Pups played around it while their siblings and parents sat around the area, in the sheltered corridors. Well, if you could call them corridors. They were 20 feet wide, with lounge chairs scattered around one end.


This wasn't only the most powerful pack on the continent, it was also the richest. 

They walked around the play area and to a large staircase. To their surprise, they led down, not up, where the Alpha's office was supposed to be. 

They entered a basement. It wasn't musty or filled with junk; it was clean, bland and completely empty, except for a squadron of people standing in the middle. 


The largest man stepped forward. He would be very handsome, if not for the scars. He had too many to count. There was one running down from his right cheekbone to his jaw. His fitted t-shirt covered many more Ena knew were present, but his arms were covered too. 

For some reason, Ena felt compelled to ask what happened to him. She opened her mouth but stopped when Ren gave her a meaningful glance. 

Ena shut up. But she couldn't stop looking at the threatening man. 

He just has this aura around him, she thought, it's really threatening, but why am I so interested...?


'I am Kayden Stone, Beta of the Fang and Claw pack. You are here to sign the annual treaty between the species.'

Ren nodded, frowning slightly at the rude statement. 'I am-' she started. 

Kayden held a hand up. 'I know who you are,' he said. 'Serena of the twelfth order, with her companions Will and the Unnamed One. But what I'm more interested is the reason why you have a witch with you. They are not part of this treaty.'

Ren kept the expressionless mask on.

'I have bought her along as guarantee,' she said, 'even though our species are not at war, we do not trust you.'

'Very well, then,' Kayden said, smirking. Ena's heart leapt. 'Follow me,' he continued, walking further into the basement. 


Ena and the others followed, not knowing what to expect. It didn't seem like a treaty signing anymore, at least to Ena. She felt like they were hostages, just waiting for the worst to happen. 

They followed the Beta, Kayden. The ghouls held acted all high and mighty like it was the werewolves’ privilege to have them there. Ena tried to do the same, but she was starting to panic. Ren was the one that usually calmed her down, but she wasn't here today. Ena was all alone, except for Sera and two other people she barely knew. She wasn't feeling very reassured. 


The basement was almost twice as big as the house. At least, that's what it felt like. Ena created a mind-link between Ren and her.

'I don't like this,' Ena projected, 'something's going to happen, I can feel it.'

'Don't worry,' Ren projected in her usual dreamy tone, though this time it had somewhat of a sharp sense to it. 'If they try anything, we are ten times stronger than they could ever dream of being.'


Ena cut off the mind-link and stared at the broad and muscular back of Kayden, who was walking in front of her. She was weighing the odds and figuring out the best and worst-case scenarios. At least, that's what she was trying to do. 

She got carried away staring; almost drooling over him. She mentally slapped herself and regained her composure. The Beta, sensing her stare, looked over his shoulder with those cold, icy eyes that held no emotion. 

He gave her a half-hearted smirk, and Ena's heart leapt. She was never much of a flirt, so she looked away. 

Unfortunately, since she did, she didn't notice the Beta had stopped walking. She walked right into him, her face against his chest since he had turned around. He caught her. 


'I- I'm sorry,' she said, flustered. She mentally kicked herself and stepped back. The Beta gave her a glance full of interest and then turned to the ghouls. 

'The Alpha is behind that door,' he said, gesturing to the door behind him. 'Only the person signing the treaty may enter.'

'How can we trust you?' Will said. 'We are her guards. We will not leave her side until the treaty has been renewed.'

'We are not negotiating,' Kayden said, 'these are the terms. Or there will be no treaty.'

 Sera gave Will a slight nod. Will gritted his teeth and stepped aside. She walked through the doors, following one of the wolves. Kayden stayed in his position, almost like he was guarding the door. Ena decided to reach out to Sera to create a mind-link. But for reasons unknown, as soon as she went beyond the Alpha's door, she was pushed back with such force she physically stumbled. 


Ena clutched her head, hit by a sudden migraine. Her vision was blurry. She almost fell, but someone caught her. 

'No magic can penetrate the Alpha's office,' she heard Kayden say softly. She was breathing heavily. The words swam through her head. 

No magic can penetrate the Alpha's office. 

How?

This is a werewolf pack! Werewolves don't collaborate with witches! 

And magic so strong Ena was physically affected was unheard of. 

'How?' she whispered. She looked at Kayden, the ghouls behind him. He was looking at her with those intense eyes, but this time, they held emotion. They held... sadness. For what, Ena didn't know. He slowly let go of her and she was able to support her own weight. 

'Incidents of the past made us take these certain precautions,' he said. Ena wanted to ask what, but she just looked away. She was still unsteady on her feet and she could feel the Beta's gaze on her. She wanted to get out, be anywhere but that particular basement. 

She took a deep breath, remembering who she was here for. She couldn't let Ren down. And if it meant bearing with the Beta for a few more hours, so be it. 

They waited around for hours. This was Ena's first treaty signing, so she didn't know how long it took. She assumed it would be a quick thing; Sera would just sign a document, ask questions about Ren and get out. She should've known that was too much to hope for. 

She wondered what they were doing inside. In any other case, she would've cast a spell or created a mind-link. But now she had no other choice but to ask. 


'Does it usually take so long?' she asked Will, the ghoul. 

'I don't know,' he said, 'this is my first treaty signing too.' Ena sighed. She would have to ask the Beta. She looked at him expectantly, assuming he knew the answer. 

To her surprise, Kayden's brow was furrowed. He seemed to be concentrating very hard, glaring at the polished white marble floor. Talking through the mind-link, I suppose, Ena thought, hopefully with the Alpha. 

'What goes on in the treaty signing?' she asked in general. 

'I have no obligation to answer you,' Kayden replied, still glaring at the floor. Ena rolled her eyes. He was no fun. All those looks and such a crappy personality. A colossal waste. 

'But since you asked and we have quite a long wait, there is no harm in answering,' he said. Surprised, Ena looked at him. He had stopped glaring and was staring at the Alpha's door. 

'They call it a treaty "signing", but that is not what is done at all,' he continued. 'It could never be that simple. Never is. They make a large and complicated pact between the two species, using the werewolf's wolf and the ghoul's powerful... magic. Even I don't know what goes on exactly since the ceremony is very private and secluded.' 


'So,' Ena said, 'basically, all you know is that they're not signing their names on a piece of paper.' The Beta's eyes snapped to hers in irritation. 

'It is never that simple in this world,' he growled. Ena smirked, remembering her relationship with Ren.

'It might not have been for you,' she said, 'but I am very familiar with simple, uncomplicated things.' 

The irritation slowly melted from the Beta's eyes, replaced with curiosity. Suddenly, they didn't seem so cold and distant. They both stared at each other. Ena opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted by a loud crash.

Everyone was immediately ready to fight. 

'Is that normal?' Ena asked. 

'I don't know,' Kayden said, gritting his teeth. 

'What should we do?'

She then realized she had asked the enemy the question. 'I mean,' she hurries to correct herself, 'what do we do, Will?'

She could sense Kayden's disapproval. But he too seemed to realize that they were enemies, though the connection they felt. 

'I'm going to check in,' Kayden said, heading towards the door, 'the rest of you are to stay here.'

Ena watched as he reached for the handle. Her eyes widened. 

'STOP!' she screamed. 

She was too late. 

There was a blinding white flash, and they were blasted back as a large explosion took place behind the door. The building shook. Ena struggled to open her eyes and rise. She realized she was pinned under some rubble. Looking around, disoriented, she spotted Kayden not too far away.

'Kayden!' she yelled, her voice cracking. He grunted and was on his feet in no time. Ena noticed he was bleeding badly. He trudged towards her and moved the rubble with ease. Ena guessed it was just the initial shock that had kept him down for so long. 

'Are you alright?' he asked her, as he helped her stand. 

'Yeah,' she said, 'I think so. Thank you. What do you think happened?' 

'Something bad,' he replied. Ena rolled her eyes, despite the current situation. The dust has not settled and they couldn't see very well. She realized they were still holding hands. She blushed and looked away. 


'Hey...'

Her head snapped back to Kayden. 

'I know this might not be the best time, but... I think...'

He was interrupted by a loud howl. His eyes widened. He quickly kissed Ena on the cheek and backed away. 

'I'm sorry,' he said, 'until we meet again.' 

'Wait!' Ena yelled. He hesitated, half-hidden in the thick clouds of dust. Ena muttered a spell, her eyes closing in concentration. A soft green glow surrounded Kayden. 

'It will help you heal faster,' she muttered, knowing he could hear. 'Until we meet again.' 

Kayden stepped forward and Ena couldn't see him anymore. 

'Sera?' she called out, 'Seraphina? Where are you? Will? Um... The Unnamed One?'

She received no reply. She started to get worried. She walked in the general direction of the Alpha's office, prepared for the worst, releasing energy in the hopes of settling the dust down. 

It just had to be a basement. 


****


'What happened then?' I asked. Ena's fists clenched. 

'I don't know,' she said. 

'Huh?'

'The mist was too thick. I tried to find Sera but when I sensed some wolves prowling around, I left. She is more than capable of taking care of herself. The reason I was so worn out when I came here was because some wolves started chasing me. I fended them off, but to get to New Orleans I had to perform a teleportation spell.'

I nodded in understanding. 'That takes a lot out of you,' she said. Ena nodded. 

'But my presence slowly fades away. The wolves thought I was completely gone, and I heard one of the warriors say, "We'll head to New Orleans, then." That's how I knew they were coming.' 

'But...' Ren frowned. 'How'd they get here so fast? They're a few hundred miles away and your teleportation spell takes a few minutes.'

'That's what I'm wondering too,' Ena said, 'and how did they know our location in the first place?'

I shrugged. 'I don't know,' I said. The words rolled off my tongue almost like a reflex. I knew it was a lie, a bitter one. But Ena could never know about it. That night, six months ago...


'Ren,' Ena said, 'there's something you're not telling me.'

Fear built up in my chest. Did she figure out I was lying?

'What?' I asked. 

'You've been acting different since last night. Ever since I passed out. You seem... guarded.' 

I sighed. 'Well, maybe because of the fact that... I think...' I paused. Ena gestured eagerly for me to go on, I grit my teeth. She needed to know. 

'Kendrick and I... are... mates.' I spat.

There was a moment of silence. I looked at Ena. She hadn't moved; her hand still set in an encouraging gesture. I stared at her with my wolf peeking through. My wolf had finally calmed down enough to let me sleep last night, but at the mention of my mate, there she was again. 


'Ena?' I said, after a solid minute. 'You okay?'

'WHAT DO YOU MEAN?!'

Power rolled off her, blasting back the furniture and unfortunately, me. I calmly got up and walked towards her, cracking my neck. The air around her hummed with her power. The floor was trembling. I stood right in front of her and put my hands on her shoulders. 

'Athena. Calm... Down.' I said, knowing full well that I was using my wolf voice. Ena glared at me, and I could see the Goddess Flame in her eyes. Shit. 

'I know this is a crappy situation but you can't do anything about it. Fate has decreed it. Even the one blessed with the Goddess Flame cannot go against it. I know you hate it, but I can just reject him and get it over with.'

Too late, I realized my mistake. 

Time slowed down. 

And... the hotel exploded. 


****


Ena and I sat across each other in the cafe, looking into each other's eyes and not saying a word. Ena hadn't even created a mind-link. We just stared, our eyes being more than enough to communicate our feelings. 

She wasn't mad at me. 

I wasn't mad at her. 

We were both mad at the same things. 

Fate and destiny. 

Stupid, stupid things. 

Why did they have to exist?

Just... why?

All those "what if's" and "could be’s" could come true. 

But no!

No way were those two best friends going to let us have that! I bet they were laughing as we sat as still as statues in the cafe. 


People stared, pointed and whispered. But I couldn't care less. Let this place blow up too, maybe it will compensate for some of my anger. I am just so tired. So, so tired, of being the only werewolf that has to go through such a life. Being a regular rouge is so much better. Same applies for Ena, being a regular runaway would be... simply amazing. 

Her Goddess Flame had died down. She was back to being regular Ena, just extremely livid. I took a sip of the water the waitress had so hesitantly placed in front of me, still not breaking eye contact. 

Finally, Ena spoke. 


'What do you want to do?'

'It doesn't matter. I know you've already come up with a plan.'

Ena looked at me, and suddenly, I caught a glimpse of the Goddess Flame again. Panic rose in my chest, but the Flame disappeared and I could see that Ena was struggling to control it. Then, she blurted out words I never expected her to say. 

'I don't have a plan.'

It took me a second to process that.

'No way,' I said in disbelief. 

'Correction,' she spat, 'I don't have a plan that we can actually execute.'

'Why not?'

'Because all of them involve killing your mate.'

The ways she spat the word "mate" out, with so much venom... it sent shivers down my spine. I never knew Ena could sound that way, and I was very sure I knew her better than she knew herself. 


'The problem here is,' she continued in that dangerous tone, 'that you can't reject him. It would be perfect if you could. You reject him, I kill him. But he just had to be the strongest Alpha in the world. His wolf will is so strong, none of the same race can reject it. Except for his mate, but it's after they are mated. Then she becomes his equal.'

'I've defied his will before,' I said. 'But I agree, I can't reject him. He's too strong for that. Killing him while we are still mates would cause me unbearable pain, ultimately making me take my own life.'

'I see no way!' Ena shouted. Heads turned. 'There's no way to keep you guys apart!'

I knew full well she was talking about heat. It would come in full force, maybe even stronger than regular she-wolves, because I'm his mate. 


'Let's get out of here,' I said, looking around for the first time in a while. We both left the cafe and headed to the forest. Ena paced around while I tried to control my wolf who was getting out of hand again. Ena kept muttering and started punching a tree. So hard, her knuckles were bleeding. I left her, she needed her space.

Besides, I couldn't risk another explosion. I already suspected that my very fated mate knew my location. 

A few hours and broken knuckles later, Ena had finally calmed down. She had healed herself almost immediately. Her Goddess Flame, which was barely beneath the surface, was healing her much faster. 

It was truly something to behold. 

And fear. 

'You done?' I said. Ena sighed. 

'Yeah,' she said. She slumped down under the tree beside the one she had punched, which still had blood running down it. 

'How much time?' she asked. I knew she was asking about my heat. 

'About thirteen days,' I said. Ena nodded. 

'I think I have a plan.' she said. 

'What?'

'We need to... go visit.'

'Who...?'

'Dear father and mother.'


****


I walked into witch HQ, extremely uncomfortable. But Ena strolled in like she owned the place. 

Everyone stared. Suddenly, there was deadly silence. 

I was very aware of my tank top and jeans and Ena's grubby appearance. 

'I demand an audience with Alistaire of the Seante,' she drawled. 

'Who are you and what is your business here? And why is this werewolf in our holy sanctuary?' some woman questioned.

'Aw, shut up,' Ena said. 'Just get me, my father.'

The lady, who seemed to be the secretary, stumbled back in shock.

'F-Father?' she stuttered. 

'Yes!' Ena shouted, exasperated. 'I am Athena Secarictia, bearer of the Goddess Flame!' 

She let it surface. A chilling power enveloped her. I just stood there with a proud smile. She was getting much, much better at controlling it. Everyone fell to their knees. Even I, being a werewolf, and accustomed to the power, had to control the urge. It was so strong, it was almost a reflex. 

'I demand to see my father!' she yelled again. This time, it shook the ground, echoing off the walls. It almost didn't feel like her voice. It was the voice of something ancient, something much, much stronger...

'Daughter, it's been a long time.' 


^^^^


Ena and her father sat across from her. I stood next to her chair, though I was offered a seat. We were escorted into Ena's father's personal office. It seemed like he was waiting for us to be alone. 

Finally, the secretary left. She seemed extremely clingy. I wondered who she was to them. As soon as the door was softly shut, the atmosphere of the room darkened. Ena and her father were giving each other death glares. 

I didn't know if they had formed a mind-link or not. It was difficult to tell, I wasn't a witch. Though I wished I was, dictatorship and all. At least I would have a place. I would know exactly where I stand and what I'm expected to do. Though I suppose I have more freedom this way. 

The staring went on for a few minutes. The tension was so thick, I could feel it as if it were a physical presence. 

Finally, Ena spoke. 


'Father.'

'Daughter,' her father answered. He was a tall man with a pale complexion and looked nothing like Ena except for the eyes. Ena was usually a nice and sunny person, but she also had a very intense side. It appeared whenever her Goddess Flame surfaced. Her father had that side without the help of the gift. 

'What is your business here?' he asked her. 

'I am here to seek a favour.'

I could sense wry amusement in her father's expression. At least, that's what I thought it was. It came out more like disgust.  I couldn't tell. 

I didn't know very much about Ena and her parents. She never spoke about them; all I knew was that they were members of the Seante. She didn't want to follow in their footsteps, even though she was blessed with the gift the legends spoke about. So, she ran away, and the rest is history. Unless there was something she wasn't telling me. 


'Tell me, daughter, what kind of favour?' her father asked. 

'I need the scrolls of legends.' 

Her father scoffed. 'Impossible,' he spat, 'you dare demand such unimaginable things.'

Ena glared at her father, the Flame appearing. 

'I need to see them,' she said, barely under control. I put a hand on her shoulder. 'You're the leader of the Seante. You can do something. But get them to me, no matter what. I will return.'

She stood up and started walking out. Her father didn't say a word. 

'And next time,' she said, pausing in the doorway, 'I won't hesitate to let loose.'

'Not even on your family? And your little wolf friend?' he spat. 

'My friend is stronger than you could ever be,' Ena replied, not turning around. 'And she is also my only family.' 

Ena walked out and I followed, giving her father one last glance. 

'Two days,' I said, wolf eyes on, 'be ready.'


****


We sat in another cafe. Only this time, we weren't staring at each other and nothing was about to explode. I was waiting very patiently for an explanation Ena didn't want to give. 

We left the forest today afternoon with a teleportation spell and ended up in some city. It looked like... any other modern city. Oh yes, it was Las Vegas. I had never been here. It was weird how the witch HQ was in Vegas. I never knew witches were gamblers, they always seemed so... calculating. Wait, was that a gambling trait?


'So?' I said. Ena sighed. 

'Do I have to?' she asked. I just gave her a look. She slumped down in the table. 'Tomorrow,' she muttered. 

'No,' I said sharply, 'now.'

She sat up again. 'Fine,' she breathed. 'I ran away from my parents when I was 16. I spent a year on the run, but honestly, it wasn't very difficult. I was a powerful witch and used that as leverage. A lot of people owe me favours, like Seraphina. Powerful people.’ 

'Finally, I ended up in New Orleans and saw this werewolf sitting at a cafe, all alone and very cautious. I went in, curious, and spoke to her.'

'I’m not asking you to tell me how we met,' I laughed, 'focus on the important stuff.'

'This is important, idiot,' she said, 'probably the most important event of them all.' I smiled. ‘That day, I was being chased by those bitches. They interrupted us talking by bursting into the cafe and making their way towards me.’ 

Ena dealt with that real quick. 

'There's something else,' I said. She nodded. 

'I bear the Goddess Flame. They can't let go of that. Not in a thousand years. It was prophesized by the legends. And it's probably my destiny to fight against with the Moon Goddess, save the world and all that crap.' 

'We don't know its crap,' I said. Ena rolled her eyes. 


'Well, anyway, I was being followed constantly. I thought I had lost them, but they were always less than a step behind me. Hell, sometimes they were even a step ahead. But thank god they know better than to rush prophecies.’

'They couldn't keep me against my will, so they let me go. They also couldn't risk the Goddess Flame getting out of control. The Legends spoke of the great power it beheld...' she looked away in disgust. 'Why me?' she asked. 'It could've been anyone else. I know it is no use whining about it now, but... why?'

I sighed. I knew exactly how she felt. 


'Ena,' I said, 'why did you ask your father to show you the Legends? Do you think they say anything about me?'

'Not exactly,' she said, 'large sections of the Legends are not presented to the public. Only very specific parts. They are left to us by the higher beings after all and contain priceless information. The parts that we have, we have been able to process, of course.'

 'What language is it again?' I asked. 

'The Tongue of the Old,' she said. 'You know that humans came after the other paranormal beings. How... is still a mystery. Maybe they did evolve from monkeys. But the paranormal beings that roam the earth today are very different from their ancestors, in appearance and mindset.'

'How do you know that?' I asked. 

'The Legends,' Ena replied, in a duh tone. 'They describe the different species. They also talk about my gift, the Goddess Flame, and the epic battle between the Flame Bearer and the Moon Goddess. Well, we assume it's the Moon Goddess, the way she is described. She might be some other deity altogether.'

'Like?' I asked. She threw her hands up. 

'I don't know,' she said. 'Honestly, you and Claw might be the strongest werewolves alive, but even with your ghoul abilities, I don't think you can defeat me in a full-on battle with my Goddess Flame.'

'Of course not,' I said, 'and I hope it never comes to that.' Ena laughed. 

'It never will,' she said. I nodded, laughing too. 

'Tell me more,' I said. 


'Well,' Ena said, 'the Goddess Flame is a gift described in the Legends. They say only the most worthy witches can wield it. It has been given to others before, in many cases. Right now, it's me. It gives me immense power and control over the paranormal species, not only the witches. I am supposed to be respected by all species. I'm not, just because I don't enforce it and they haven't seen the true extent of my power.' 

'I don't think anyone has,' I said. Ena nodded. 

'Until the epic battle,' she said, 'no one may freely use the gift of the Flame. Honestly, it's too much pressure. I wish I had stayed out of my Father's way, but I just had to know.'

'What?'

'If the rumours are true. There have been mutterings in the Seante about there being an ultimate unbinding spell in the Legends.'

'Unbinding...?'

'It can unbind anything. Absolutely anything, even nature. Things that have been happening for thousands of years.'

My eyes widened. 'And you thought that you could use that to unbind my mate bond?'

She nodded. 'I hoped it existed,' she said. 'It could just be rumours. But... I just had to know.'


'How did you know about the rumours in the first place?' 

'Sera. She keeps up with these things.'

I nodded. 'Any word from her yet?' I asked. 

'Nope. I'm very worried,' she said, 'I hope she's fine. She can handle herself, but...'

'You still feel uneasy,' I said. She nodded and slurped her coffee. 

'I am about to say something very stupid,' she said, 'but I think I should go back to the Claw pack and check. I'll use my title this time.'

I raised an eyebrow. 'That is a very stupid thing to do. But... even I'm worried and I can't see a better solution at the moment.' Ena looked surprised. 

'So, I go...?' she trailed off. I sighed. 

'It's your choice.'

She nodded in thought. 'I'll go tomorrow. I'll teleport there. This time, they won't be able to ignore me.'


'Whoa, wait,' I said, 'isn't tomorrow...?'

'What?'

'Your birthday?' 

Her eyes widened. 'That's right,' she said, 'our birthdays are two days apart!' 

I laughed. 'I'm sorry I forgot,' I said, 'you know, with everything going on...'

She laughed too. 'You have no reason to be sorry, you didn't forget it. And besides, you can cook something up when I'm away. I know that if you don't, you'll feel bad.'

'True,' I cooed, 'you know me too well.' 


^^^^


The next day, Ena and I headed into the forest after buying new phones. We kinda lost our old ones somewhere along the way. The plan was, Ena would just march in and do her thing while I would be on-call, listening to everything that was said. A lousy plan, I know, but everyone has to listen to the birthday girl. 

I had convinced her to let me stay in a car a few miles away. The pack was in Ohio, I didn't know the exact location, though. But Ena convinced me she could find it. We both would track each other's GPS locations and I would stay a few miles away. If I could defeat a small pack of rouges, I could hold off the pack long enough for Ena to teleport us out, if it came down to that. 

I knew the teleporting exhausted her, but if she dipped into the power reserves of the Goddess Flame (which she did occasionally even for the stupidest of reasons) she had no trouble. 

A mind-link would also keep us secure. After we were safe and far away, hopefully knowing Sera's whereabouts, we would celebrate her 21st birthday. That is if we made it back. 

I was driving behind her. We weren't very close to the pack so we didn't worry about being found. 


A little while later, there was a little buzz in my head, like a mental knock. I let Ena's mind-link in. 

'What's wrong now? Chickened out?' I teased. I could sense her disapproval.

'Never,' she replied. 'I was just worried about your close proximity.' 

I gave her a mental eye roll. 

'A few MILES, Ena. He can't smell me from that far.'

'He's the strongest Alpha. You couldn't reject him. Who knows what will happen? I changed my mind. I don't want you taking that risk.' 

I scowled. 'Ena, you can't change your mind now. We've come this far. Don't spoil it. Sera's safety is more important.'


Ena hesitantly agreed. We continued driving for about an hour, not talking at all. I admit I was nervous. What if Claw didn't listen to Ena? What if she got hurt? What if I was too late?

'Shut up!' her voice snapped. My car swerved, and almost went off the road. 

'I told you to STOP DOING THAT!!!' I yelled. 

'Sorry,' she said. 

'I almost crashed!!'

'I said, I'm sorry.'

I sighed. Sometimes, we create a mind-link and forget to cut it. Since super-naturals have different minds than that of humans, we can manage multiple links at once with ease. That's why werewolves have pack links and personal ones. 

It's pretty handy, really. 

I blocked Ena and continued driving. A few miles later, my phone rang. It was Ena. 


'Stop here,' she said after I answered. 'I'm turning GPS on. Stay on call, according to plan.'

'Got it,' I said. 'All the best!' 

'Thanks.'

I heard the car door slam shut, and then her footsteps. There was a wind whistling too. Nature just reacted to the presence of one of the most powerful beings on the planet. But in Ena's case, it was only when she powered up. 

I would hear muttering and low whines. I got out of the car and paced around. Listening intently and seeing through the mind-link. 


**Ena's P.O.V.**


I marched through the gates, the blue flames encircling me. I could tell I was recognized by the shocked expressions of the guards. Everyone immediately backed up. 

I walked right through the center of the pack and to the packhouse. The ground was quivering. As soon as I got close, the huge doors of the packhouse blasted open. In the doorway stood a tall man, with multiple men behind him. 

As soon as I focused, I could see that it was Claw. There was no doubt about it. Ren had described him to me once, and that description chilled me. 

Bright orange wolf eyes, scars running down his arms. It was very rare for werewolves to have scars, their regenerative abilities took care of it. But some injuries were so severe that they couldn't heal completely. I always wondered. 

How could the strongest Alpha and Beta have so many scars?

Chiselled features. A handsome face, if it didn't wear such a cruel and unforgiving expression. 

Behind him stood Kayden. His Beta. 

Our eyes met, but I showed him no recognition. I was here for a purpose. 

But what was that pull???!!!

I tried my best to resist it, but I still took a step forward. It was too strong. 


'I am the Bearer of the Goddess Flame,' I thundered, 'Athena Secarictia.' 

Everyone got down on their knees, except the higher ranks of the pack. They just stood there, staring. 

'I have to discuss terms with your Alpha,' I said, glaring at Claw. Our eyes locked. Sensing disrespect, power flared out from within me. Claw gave up and gestured for his pack warriors to move aside and clear a path. 

'This way, Ms. Secarictia,' he said, turning his back to me and walking inside the packhouse. I grit my teeth and followed him. As I walked closer, and the pull became almost unbearable. I shook my head, trying to refocus. I increased my pace, hoping it would go away. I didn't know what it was. I felt like it was calling to me. 

'Fight it, Ena,' Ren said in my head. I gave her a feeling of reassurance and continued, but we both were scared. 


I entered the basement and went to the Alpha's office. He held the door open for me, and I made sure my flames burned him a little. I could hear the low growl he gave, but I ignored it. 

It didn't look like it had exploded just a few days ago. It was plain and had a modern theme to it. Built for accessibility, not for comfort. 

Claw offered me a seat. I just glared at him. 

He gave me a mock smirk and sat in his chair, putting his feet up on the desk. My glare intensified. 

'So,' he said, 'what is your business here, O... mighty one?'

'Do not mock me,' I warned, 'you may be the strongest werewolf alive, but I am the bearer of the Goddess Flame.'

'You don't scare me,' he replied. 'What I'm doing right now is out of respect for my mother's teachings. Always respect the Bearer of the Goddess Flame.'

'You have a twisted sense of respect. But from a man like you, I know this is the best I can get. Tell me. Where is the ghoul Seraphina?'

 He arched an eyebrow. 'How am I supposed to know?'

I slammed a hand on his desk, flames coming out like a wave from it. 

'Do not play dumb,' I said, 'I don't have time to waste. I was here that day. Tell me, where is Seraphina?'

 'I don't know.' 

'I don't believe you.'

'You are more than welcome to check the pack. But you sound like you're in a hurry.'


I hesitated, not knowing what to say. 'Ask him about the explosion,' Ren whispered through the mind-link. 

'Why was there an explosion?' I asked, 'Is the treaty not complete?'

'That is personal and classified pack information, Ms. Secarictia. You have no rights to it. Now, put your flames off, it's getting hot here.'

I lowered the intensity of my flames. 'You're right,' I said, 'I have no rights to it. But I do have the right to know whether the treaty stills stands.'

'It doesn't,' he replied. 

'And why not?' 

'I found my mate.'

A shiver ran down my spine. 'How is that a valid reason to break a century-long treaty?'

'Because we are the strongest pack. Stronger than the ghouls. Once my Luna's here, my pack will be united and stronger than it has ever been.' 

'If you found your Luna, why isn't she here already?' 

That stumped him for a second. 

'She... slipped through my fingers,' he replied. 'But I'll get her next time.' 

I smirked in satisfaction. 

'What about the other ghouls?' I asked. 

'They left of their own accord. Apparently, they were gone even before the dust settled.' 


'Tell me,' I said, 'was the explosion created because of a fight between you and Seraphina?'

'No. It was an aftereffect of the treaty being broken. It wasn't intentional from either side,' he replied. 

'Then where is Sera?' Ren wondered. I didn't answer her. 

'Is your business here complete?' Claw asked. 

'Ask him about me,' Ren urged. 

'Not just yet,' I replied. 'I have a few more questions.' 

'Make it quick,' he said, 'I don't have all day, and I sense that you're in a similar situation.'

I sighed. 'Very well,' I said. 'What do you know about Serena Montalouge?'

He stilled. In a split second, he had me pinned against the wall. My flames flared out, and he had to step back. His clothes were half burnt, but his skin was unharmed. 

'How do you know her?' he growled. 

'That is none of your business,' I said. I hesitated, debating if I should say it. 'I understand that she is a very strong and exceptional werewolf,' I continued. 'And also... your mate.'

He pinned me against the wall again, and this time kept me there, though my flames burned him. I sent out a wave of force and sent him flying into the wall. He was in my face almost instantly. 


'How do you know that?!' he thundered. He paused. When he looked at me, he seemed to realize something. 'That day...' he said, 'in the woods. I was chasing her. The other scent... that was you.'

My eyes narrowed. 

'You're cloaking your scent right now,' he said, 'but I remember it vaguely from last time. You were with her the day we met.' 

I tilted my head. 'I guess there's no point denying it,' I said. 'I was there that day.' 

'Then you must know her story. Why are you asking me?'

'Because I'm trying to find out why Ren was imprisoned all those years. She was never told a reason.'

'And why should I tell you?' he said. 'You're asking me all these questions, but what's your leverage? That you're the Flame Bearer? I've been entertaining you until now, but you're crossing your limits.' 

I glared at him. He was right, I had no leverage. 


'Ena,' Ren said through the mind-link, 'Tell him he can meet me if he tells you the reason.'

'No way,' I replied, 'you are never going to meet him. Not on my watch.' 

'It's the only way he'll agree. Tell him I will meet him.'

'Imagine I'm talking on behalf of Seraphina,' I said out loud, ignoring Ren. 'She has the right to know. Besides, you're mates.'

Not for long, I growled internally. I'm never letting her come back here. 

'Yes,' he said, 'we are. And didn't Ren teach you better? Your bargaining skills are trash. Or... you're purposely not bargaining something of value.' 

My fists clenched as Ren sent me a strong feeling of urgency through the mind-link. 

'Fine, then,' I said, 'you can meet Ren for a short period of time. But you will come alone, and I will be close by. If those conditions are not respected, I will kill you immediately. You can give her answers in person.'

He smirked. 'Deal. It's not like she can last long without me anyway.' 

'It goes both ways,' I countered. He sneered, knowing it was true. 


'When will this meeting be?' he asked, 'She's going to go into heat soon... if you haven't realized already.' 

I hesitated. 'Now, Ena,' Ren said through the mind-link, 'tell him we can meet now. Walk him to where I am.' 

'You can meet her right now... under those conditions.' 

He didn't seem surprised. 

'Very well, then,' he said. 'What are we waiting for?'


** Ren's P.O.V. **


I heard footsteps approaching. They were here. I took a deep breath. 

'You can still change your mind, you know,' Ena said through the mind-link. 

'I can finally get the answers I've been waiting for. We've come this far, there's no point backing down now.' 

'Are you absolutely sure?' she asked. 

'Yes,' I replied. 

'We're here,' she said. Ena stepped out of the thick line of trees, and behind her was Claw. He smirked as he saw me. Ena began walking to the car, which was parked down the path. 

'Don't worry,' she said aloud, 'I'll be right here if he tries anything. I made sure he came alone.'

 'I can handle it,' I said, 'thanks.' 

She nodded and got in. I finally looked at Claw, and I took a sharp breath. 

'Hey, Serena. Long time no see.' 


^^^^


'Kendrick,' I greeted stiffly. He smirked. 

'Now come on, don't be like that. You're going to be my Luna after all,' he said. His silky voice gave me chills. I remembered it from my dreams, haunting me in my every thought. But finally, I could get some answers. 

'Kendrick. Why was I imprisoned? Who were my parents?' I asked, getting straight to the point. 

The smirk didn't leave his face. 'And why should I tell you what I know?'

'It's my life and my story. I deserve to know.'

'I'll tell you how to get all the answers you want. Come with me and become Luna peacefully. You're going to either way, but if you come without any resistance, count it as a bonus.' 

'Stop playing with me, Claw. Just tell me. And, I'm not being your Luna. Not now, not ever.' 

He kept looking at me with that amused expression as if I was a child who didn't understand what was going on. It annoyed me to no end. 

'And how do you plan to do that? Suicide?' 

I smirked evilly. 'You guessed it.' 

His eyes widened. I knew I got him. 


'That's it,' he breathed. He took a deep breath. 

'You can't stop me from killing myself, even if you take me,' I said, 'I'll find a way.' 

Ren, Ena said in my head, what are you doing? Are you serious? 

She sounded genuinely panicked. I laughed hard internally and it was hard to not give myself away. 

Of course not, idiot, I replied. I'm playing with him. I need answers. 

'So, what now? Answers? Or my death?' I asked. 'I'm sure Ena won't mind dying with me if you think the burden would be too much for her to bear.' 

He sighed. 'Fine,' he said, 'I'll give you your answers. What do you want to know?'

 'Is my real name Serena Montalouge?'

 'Yes.' 

'Who gave it to me?'

'My mother. You had no known name.' 

'I have been living with the pack as long as I can remember before I left. How did I get there?' 

'My father bought you here, I think,' he said, 'I don't know the exact details.' 

'Who were my parents? No, from which species exactly?' 

'I don't know,' he replied. 

I glared at him. 'How do you not know?' I asked angrily. 

'I was very young,' he said, 'my father was in charge of the raid. I hardly knew what was going on. He even burnt all the documents.'

I turned around angrily. Burnt the documents? Kendrick was useless? How else was I supposed to know what happened?!


'Your mother,' I said, with my back to him, 'Would she know?' 

'I don't know,' he said, 'she's never mentioned it to me. But... if you want to ask her...' 

I felt the evil smirk again. 

'You'll have to come to the pack.' 

I didn't turn around, still thinking. What should I do? I asked Ena. 

Suddenly, I felt like a wall slammed into me. I crumbled but I was held up by something. Ena was by my side in an instant, I could feel her. She seemed panicked. 

I couldn't see anything. There were spots dancing in my eyes. Voices echoed in my ears. I felt like my spirit was leaving my body. 

I opened my eyes. 


****


I was back in the dungeon. I could see my younger self huddled against the wall, crying. I moved upstairs. The Asshole was arguing with the Luna, Kendrick's mother. He slapped her, hard. She fell to the floor, blood dripping from her face. 

Asshole kicked her. And kicked her again. I took a sharp breath. 


Mates. Is this what they're like? 

How could I be so stupid as to expect something better from the son of such a man? 

I knew not everyone was this bad. But having a mate is not a blessing. Being a werewolf is not a blessing. 


The scene shifted. I saw a young Kendrick and Kayden mock fighting in the yard. The Beta, Kayden's father, stood nearby talking to some pack warriors. They were in the garden outside the packhouse. 

I always wondered what the pack thought about such an Alpha. But I bet they were too scared to do anything. The pack warriors looked uncomfortable talking to the Beta, always saying what was required and being very polite. 

I hated this pack. 

It was a prison. 

The Luna was the only person that showed me what kindness was. 

I would've died long ago if it wasn't for my werewolf abilities. And maybe my ghoul ones. I slowly sank below the soil and back to the dungeon, where my sobs echoed. 

I wanted to shut it out. I didn't want to relive this nightmare. 

This is your past, someone whispered. Accept it, and the future will be clear. 


I didn't truly understand a word, but I just stared at my younger self. Not with pity, not with sadness. My face was blank. My emotions stopped working. 

Footsteps descended. Someone was coming to meet me. I remembered this day so clearly. 

The Luna walked into my dungeon and hugged me. Her warmth was the only thing that kept me alive at that moment. I knew I meant something to her, and if I died the only person that ever showed me kindness would be sad. 

I didn't want that, so I kept pushing on. 

We both cried and comforted each other. I closed my eyes and looked away, both our sobs echoing. 

I felt guilty for never checking in on her after I left, but she made me promise to never come back, for her sake and mine. Maybe seeing her again wouldn't be so bad. 


The scene shifted abruptly. I was suddenly someone else, running as fast as I could with my baby in my arms. 

They had killed him. They had killed my mate. I only had my child now. 

I ran through the forest, them right behind me. I was very weak from labour. My ghoul abilities were not working at all. I wasn't even able to cast a magic spell. 

I wasn't even able to save him. 

He was ripped apart in front of my eyes. Braxton, my own mate, was killed in front of me. 

They had almost caught up. I was going to die, I knew it. I just wanted my baby to live. That's all I wanted. 

With the last of my strength, I set her down and cast a spell, making the huge willow tree her guardian for the next year. 

I saw her innocent, curious eyes, filled with wonder, for the last time. 

I smiled. 

Then everything was black. 


****


I woke up with a start. 

'Whoa, easy there,' I heard a familiar voice say. My eyes took a second to adjust to the bright light. 

I sat up and regretted it immediately. The blood rushed into my head and I felt dizzy. Scenes from the vision swam around in my head. I fell sideways, away from the voice, but someone caught me. I slowly turned and looked at the person, my head still spinning. Slowly, the face came into focus. 

It was her. 

Tears filled my eyes and clouded my vision. I blinked so I could see better and make sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. But there was no mistaking it. 

It was really her. 

Luna Oriana. 

I whimpered, crying. She smiled. Then we both crushed each other in a hug. 

'I- I- I'm s- so sorry,' I sobbed, burying my face in her shoulder. 

'Sh, my love,' she said, 'I'm just happy you're alive and well.' 


I cried more when I heard her voice. It was the voice that kept me going all those years. The voice of my mother. I don't care what anyone says, Luna Oriana was my mother. We may not be related by blood, but she was my everything at one point. 

I pulled back after a few minutes and looked at her up and down. 

'Has Kendrick been treating you well?' I asked. 'If not, I swear I will-'

'Honey, Kendrick is treating me extremely well. Unlike his father, he... understands.' 

I didn't know what that meant exactly, but I didn't ask. Asshole was a sensitive subject. 

'How have you been?' she asked. 'I have been hearing so many stories from your friend.' 

I turned. Ena was right behind me, on the other side of the bed. She looked tired but still smiled. I leaned over and gave her a side hug. 


'I have been on a lot of adventures, Luna,' I asked. 'I'll tell you about them soon. But... what happened?' I directed my question at Ena. 

'You were talking to Claw,' she said, 'but suddenly, you collapsed. You were having muscle spasms, and...' she paused, shifting uncomfortably. 'I'm not sure, but it seemed like you were radiating magic power.' 

My brow furrowed. It didn't bother me much that I was radiating magic power. What bothered me was...

 'What do you mean you're not sure what was happening?' I asked. 

'Because I don't know what to call it,' she said. 'It wasn't ghoul magic, exactly. But it wasn't witchcraft either. It was something completely different. Not a mix, but... I don't know what it was. Suddenly, your presence was much heavier. The environment turned colourless, like when a ghoul is around. You were mumbling something. I think... it was the tongue of the old.'

 'Impossible,' I said, 'you know I don't speak that.' 

'I know, but from what I've seen and heard... it was definitely it.' 


I slowly stood up with the Luna supporting me. 

'You okay, hun?' she asked. 

'I'm not sure,' I replied, 'when I spaced out... I had a vision.' 

I told them what I had seen. 

'I've never heard of ghoul being physic,' Ena said, 'that's not one of their gifts.' 

'I hope you ladies are done talking,' Claw's voice wafted from the door, silky smooth and demanding as usual. 'Because we have important business to attend to.'


^^^^


'We are having a chat, Kendrick,' the Luna said, annoyed, 'I would appreciate it if you left us alone.' Kendrick gave a dry chuckle, ignoring his mother's statement. He casually leaned against the bed next to us. 

'Tell me, mother,' he said, 'what exactly happened with Serena?'

The Luna sighed. 'I don't know,' she said, annoyance clear in her tone, 'your father never told me anything about pack work. All I know is that he set out on an expedition to find a child. There were rumours circulating about a ghoul and werewolf mating. He wanted the hybrid for himself.' 

'What happened?' I asked. She shook her head. 

'I don't know,' she repeated, 'he set out with the pack warriors and came back empty-handed. He didn't tell me anything. But then, a few years later, he suddenly stormed in with the toddler.'

I raised an eyebrow. 'And I was that toddler,' I stated. The Luna nodded. 

'Was I a year old?' I asked. She shook her head. 

'Definitely more,' she said, 'about four.' 


I was shocked at that statement. 'But assuming my vision was true, the tree protected me only for a year. Then... where was I?' The Luna looked down sadly. Ena was deep in thought. Kendrick just stood there. 

'So, you're the hybrid for sure?' Kendrick asked. 

I glared at him. 'Nothing's for sure,' I said. There was a brief silence as we all contemplated the future. 

'Are we in the Claw pack?' I asked. 

'Yes,' Ena replied, 'Kendrick caught you and took off, I had no choice but to follow. Besides, I was too worried to care. This is the second time you've had a vision. The only difference is its past happenings... possibly. There's no way we can know for sure.' 


Kendrick stood up. 'Now I know all I needed to,' he said. As if heeding a silent command, warriors filed in. 

Ena and I were immediately on our feet in a fighting stance. 'Kendrick,' Luna said, 'What is the meaning of this?!' 

'Stay out of this, Mother,' Kendrick said. He nodded to some warriors, who tried to escort her away. She growled at them and they took a step back. I shook my head at her. The last thing I wanted to be was for her to get hurt. 

'I need to talk to you as soon as you're free, Kendrick.' the Luna calmly stated and stormed out after giving me a glance of reassurance.

'Won't be for a while, Mother,' he called out. 

'What do you want, Kendrick?' I asked, 'I have no plans on being your Luna. And let Athena go, she has nothing to do with this.'

He smirked. 'Of course, she does. She's the Goddess Flame bearer, isn't she? And I have a feeling she's going to be the one to fight the legendary battle. It will be disappointing if she doesn't.'

'Shut up,' Ena said, 'What happened to respect?' 

'It got boring,' he said. He gestured to his pack warriors, and they swarmed us. I got ready to fight them off, but suddenly, I felt faint. 

I saw Ena collapsing right in front of me before my eyes closed. 


****

A giant migraine thudded behind my eyes. I wasn't used to the feeling, and a million thoughts ran through my head the second I was semi-conscious. I was lying on the ground, my hands cuffed behind my back and my feet tied. There was nothing over my mouth. I could hear someone breathing beside me. Possibly Ena. I remembered what happened in flashes, which didn't really help my head. Damn that Claw. 

How did he even knock us out? I was pretty sure I wasn't hit on the head with something...

I hoped the Luna was safe. I knew she would protest against Kendrick's actions, but since she wasn't the official Luna anymore he didn't have to listen to her. Nor did the rest of the pack. Former Alphas and Lunas were respected, but their word could not overrule the current's orders. 

I sniffed the air, taking in scents. Ena was definitely beside me. There were a few people nearby too, presumably outside the door of whatever room we were in. 

It was cold. And damp. The distinct and overwhelming smell of silver came to my nostrils. 

Oh, hell no. 

I was back. 


****


I slowly gathered the courage to open my eyes. The scene wasn't very different from two years ago. The silver shackles in the corner. The cold floor. The iron door, lined with silver spikes. I swallowed. My headache got worse as years of bad memories flooded into my mind, uninvited. 

I clenched my fists and closed my eyes, trying to regain composure. Claw would be here any second. I didn't know if I could deal with that. 

I wanted Luna Oriana by my side, shielding me from what used to be my life- beatings, bruises and work. I clenched my jaw, trying to dispel those thoughts. That was a long time ago. 

I quickly looked at Ena. My blood ran cold. There were bruises starting to form on her arms and blood running down the side of her face. Her eyes were closed and her skin was pale. My vision turned red. 

'CLAW!' I hollered, 'COME DOWN HERE, YOU LITTLE-'


The door opened before I could finish my sentence. In the doorway stood the Beta, Kayden. I glared at him, seeing pain flash across his face. I was confused for a second but shrugged it off. 

'Where's Claw?!' I yelled, still livid. 'Is he too much of a coward to come down here and face me himself?!' 

'Relax, Serena,' Kayden said, 'he's welcoming a guest. He will be here shortly. You can rage on him all you want then.'

I snarled and struggled against my cuffs. I was stronger now, so I was confident I would be able to break them. Unfortunately, they wouldn't budge. I knelt over Ena protectively, glaring at the Beta. The pain was back on his face. 

'Why that expression? Are you pitying us?' 

His eyes snapped to mine. Only then did I realize he was staring at Ena. 

Wait... it couldn't be...


'Maybe a little,' he said, staring at Ena again. I gulped. 

'You're kidding me, right? It can't be.' 

He sighed, knowing exactly what I was talking about. 'It is,' he said, sadly. My fists clenched, and I let out another snarl. 

'Does she know?' I asked. 

'I don't think so. But she suspects.' 

'Keep it that way,' I said, 'you're not getting anywhere near her. You'll go through me first.' 

He returned my glare. 'She's my mate,' he growled, 'you have no right to take her from me.' 

'If she doesn't want you, then it doesn't matter whether it's my right or not.' 

He was visibly shaking. Deep inside, I pitied him. Your mate was your world. When your world doesn't want you... it's scary. 


Just then, footsteps came thudding down the stairs. While the Beta turned around, I quickly tore off the binds on my legs with my teeth. I wasn't going to be on the floor when Claw came around. 

'Is she awake?' I heard Claw ask. 

'Yeah,' I heard the Beta spit. 

'You alright? You're shaking.' 

'I'm fine.' I heard Claw click his tongue. The familiar habit chilled me. 

Kayden stepped aside and Claw came in. 'Well, well,' he said, as he rounded the corner, 'how's my little mate doing?' 

'Not so little when I chew your head off,' I snapped. He smirked. 

'Someone's in a mood. Don't take the binding and being thrown into the dungeon personally, it's just basic protocol.' 

'I'm sure it's not basic protocol to injure an innocent,' I snarled, seeing red again. He seemed confused for a second, then looked at Ena who was still lying on the floor, pale and still. 

'Oh,' he said. I glared at him, my body shaking with anger. 'That wasn't intentional,' he muttered. 'But oh well. Sorry.' 

'You think sorry's gonna cut it? I will-' 

'Oh, things are getting hot in here.'

 My fists clenched and unclenched. If someone interrupted me one more time, I didn't know what I would do. 


I glared at the man who just walked in like he owned the place. He looked like he was in his late twenties, with blond hair and eyes hiding under dark sunglasses. It didn't feel like he was part of the pack. Or any pack. He didn't even feel like a witch or any other paranormal species. 

What was a human doing in the Claw pack??!!

'I'm not a human,' he said, 'though I'm happy I deceived you.'

I was shell shocked. 

Did he... just… read my thoughts?

'Yes,' he replied, 'I did.' My eyes widened. I had never heard of a creature who could read thoughts. My wolf started running around my head in alarm. I went in full panic mode, my thoughts going a billion miles an hour. 

'Can you stop that?' the stranger snapped, 'it's annoying.' 

I looked at him, eyes still wide. I wished Ena could see this. 

'Who... are you?' I asked. 

'I thought I raised you better than to panic whenever you face something unknown,' he grumbled, not answering my question. 'Looks like I was a bad parent. I am a little disappointed that you didn't recognize me, but in this form, what was I expecting? It's truly wonderful, a parent's love. Maybe I was wrong to take you in? But I was glad I experienced it, I was hooked before I knew it. But what if...'

I stared at him, not understanding a word. 

'How about,' Claw interrupted, 'we make introductions?'

 I tiled my head to one side, trying to calm my wolf down. She finally sat down. 

'Serena,' I said. The stranger smiled. 

'Lovely name,' he said, 'no doubt Oriana's doing.' I didn't depend on his looks to judge his age anymore. That rant shook me. 

 'And you are?' I asked. He sighed. 

'Call me whatever you want,' he said. 'Dracula, Edward Cullen, Count Orlock, Ambrogio... I don't really care.'

'So, you're a vampire,' I stated. He scoffed. 'I don't remember vampires reading minds,' I said, 'In fact, they're almost never found.' 

The vampire and Claw burst out laughing. 


'You have much to learn, little one,' Vamp said. I ignored how weird it was for someone who looked not much older than me call me "little one". 

'Then tell me,' I said. 

'In time,' he replied. 'Now, can we come out of this claustrophobic room? This is even worse than the Syrian torture chambers.' 

'Wait,' I said, 'Ena needs medical attention. I'm not getting out of here until I know she's safe.' 

'She's the Goddess Flame, she can take a hit,' Vamp mused, more interested than concerned. I glared at him. 

'She's also my best friend. And I'm the hybrid, or whatever. Just take her.'

 I looked at Kayden as I said this. He silently walked towards her while Claw gave him a look of slight confusion. 


'So you're Dracula, huh?' 

I whipped around. Kayden froze in his tracks. 

'That explains so much,' Ena continued. 'You just put in the missing piece of the puzzle for me. Now, I just have one more question. Can you do the Goddess Flame a favour?'

 Vamp stared at Ena, expressionless. I couldn't tell what he was thinking at all. His eyes still hid behind the dark glasses. 

'What favour?' he asked. Ena stood up with little difficulty. It was almost like she wasn't hurt at all. 

'I'll have to start from the beginning, let's get more comfortable, shall we?'


^^^^


We sat in the enormous mess hall of the packhouse. Ena, Luna, and I on one side of a large table while Claw, Kayden and Vamp on the other. There was silence for a hot minute until Luna said, 'Can someone explain what happened, exactly?'

'Yeah,' I said, 'Claw knocked us out and threw us in the dungeon, sent his Beta to keep me calm so that I don't bite his head off when he entered. Didn't work. We had a short conversation but I was interrupted by Mr. Vampire here. And Ena suddenly woke up and we had to have a talk. The problem is, no one's talking.'

 I took a deep breath after my aggressive little rant. I didn't miss the smirk on Claw's face. 

'Did you know you rant when you're nervous?' Ena muttered under her breath. 

'Shut up, not now,' I breathed back, knowing every person present could hear me. Ena smirked and looked away. Even Luna held back a giggle. 


'What do you want to know?' Vamp asked. 

'What happened to me, all those years ago?' I asked, 'And my birth parents?' 

Vamp sighed. 'Your mother was a ghoul. Your father a werewolf. They were mates, the first of their kind. Alpha Claw, Kendrick's father, wanted you for himself because you would be a powerful weapon. He set out to capture you and kill your parents. Your mother was weakened by childbirth, or she would've killed him. Claw knew this, so he chose the perfect time to strike, minutes after you were born.'

I expected nothing less of that asshole... I thought, so then if this is the truth, my vision was correct


'They came after you. Your father fought to his death and gave your mother a few seconds to escape with you. As the wolves caught up to her, she cast a powerful spell with the last of her strength that made an ancient oak tree your protector and guardian.

'She left you in its care and soon after, the wolves tore her apart. But they could not defeat the tree. I thought it was interesting that a werewolf and ghoul had a child for the first time, so I decided to check it out. When I found out what had happened, I pitied you. ‘

'So I defeated the oak tree and took you in. I cannot decide whether that was the best or worst decision of my life. Perhaps we will find out.' 


I took a few seconds to process the story. My parents had died protecting me, and I didn't even know what they looked like. My vision was dark and full of shadows, so that gave me no information. 'What do you mean...,' I said, 'when you say you took me in, exactly?'

Vamp leaned forward. 'I was your parent until you were three and a half years old.' 

I just stared at him open-mouthed. This man, who looked like he was only a few years older than me, my parent?! And he was an all-powerful vampire, who was centuries old?

'Thank you for the compliment,' he smirked, 'but I am not all-powerful. And I am obviously not as young as you think.' 

The mind reading's getting annoying. 


'But... why?' I asked. 'I don't understand, why would you just raise a random baby?' 

'Honestly, I still don't know,' he mused. 'It was quite interesting, to say in the least. It was the first time I felt a connection to a being of a lesser species.' I raised an eyebrow, not knowing whether to be insulted or not. 

'Then why would you hand me back to Claw?' 

There was silence. I felt his gaze burning into me from behind those dark shades. Not gonna lie, I was angry at him for giving me to Claw. He could've saved me from years of imprisonment and torture. But I guess he did save me, or I would've been in the Claw pack as soon as I was a year old. 

'The reason I gave you back...' Vamp said, 'was because... I had something important to do.' 

I stared at him, at a loss for words. 


'You- you...' I tilted my head to one side, trying to control my anger. I saw Ena's fists clench besides me. She looked as angry as I felt. 

'What... kind of parent...' Ena growled, glowing blue, 'abandons their child...' she grabbed him by his collar and forced him to face her, 'in the hands of a psychopath??!!' 

Her volume was low, but you could see how angry she was by the way she was clutching Vamp's shirt. Blue games burned him, but he seemed unfazed. 

'The kind of parent that needs to save the world,' he said. His voice held the same silky smooth tone it had before, Ena's grip not affecting it at all. He put his hand on Ena's wrist gently, trying to move it away. 

'Ena,' I said. She turned her murderous glare towards me. I nodded. She moved aside. As soon as she did, I leaned over and punched Vamp in the face, hard. The hardest I could. I heard a loud crack and his head jerked to one side. 

Hopefully his neck, my wolf was saying. I smirked. 'Well, that doesn't exactly even out all those years, but at least I'm satisfied. For now.' The corner of Vamp's mouth turned up in a sneer. One sharp, long canine was visible. He leaned forward and his head jerked back in place. There was blood dripping from his nose. 

I hid a satisfied smirk. The snarl was still on his face. 

'The disrespect,' he growled. I could tell he was furious but was holding back his rage. 

'Come on,' I taunted, 'don't hold back because I'm your little adopted kid.' Luna shot me a warning glance. I knew what I was doing was extremely stupid, but his anger was nothing compared to mine. 

'You're indeed lucky,' he said, 'any other being's head would be rolling on the floor by now.' 

'I'm lucky?!' I snapped. I took a deep breath. The tension in the room could be cut with a knife. 


'Okay, this certainly was interesting,' Kendrick's calm voice said, 'but we have pressing matters at hand. Since my mate is a hybrid, people will want her. The news is out. And since the battle of the Flame Bearer and the Moon Goddess will soon come to pass, we have to be smart about her protection.' 

A few seconds of silence passed while everyone processed that. 

'Wait, what?!' Ena said, 'How do you know that for sure?!' 

'He doesn't,' Vamp said, 'I do.' 

Ena was speechless. A century, and now the weight fell upon her shoulders. I looked at her in shock and then put my hand on her arm soothingly. She didn't even realize it was there. 'How do you know for sure?' I asked, not looking at him. 

'I estimated the time in the scriptures to right now, or in another three hundred years. The language of Old is difficult. Even I, one of the oldest beings on earth, do not know it as well as I would like to. It was not my species that spoke it.' 

'Then who did?' Kayden asked. 

'The ghouls,' was his calm reply. He then stood up lazily. 'It was nice meeting you again, little one,' he sighed, 'but I have important matters to attend to. I will return.' 


And just like that, he was gone. His lazy demeanour could've fooled anyone. I gave Ena a worried glance. She seemed deep in thought, but there was no sign of worry. There was silence around the table. 

'Well, I'm going to check on the pack. I will be back.' Luna said, and gave Kendrick a glance that clearly said, "Don't mess around". Claw just nodded. 

'What now?' Kayden asked, sounding exhausted. I looked out of the window and realized the sun had set a long time ago. 

'We'll discuss this in the morning,' Kayden said, 'Serena and the Goddess Flame can spend the night in the private suite.'

'Whoa, hold up,' I said, 'we're not staying here. We need to head back.' Kendrick glared at me, but I saw the exhaustion in his eyes too. I wondered what happened when we were knocked out. Did Vamp do something? 

'Don't argue. It's two in the morning and Athena is clearly not in a good place. Just use the suite, the door on the very left upstairs.' He grabbed the keys off the wall and threw them towards me. I caught them, unsure of whether I should trust him or not. 

But I saw Kayden nod slightly, and I knew his intentions were pure. A werewolf would do anything to protect his mate, and I knew Kayden wouldn't allow Ena to get hurt. I led her up the stairs, ignoring the fact that it applied to me and my "mate" too. 

Once we were in the suite, I shut the door and locked it. 


'What's on your mind?' I asked Ena. She remained silent for a few seconds. Then she shrugged. 

'I don't get why that's a bad thing,' she said. I stared at her in horror. 

'You could die!' I said. Kayden's name almost slipped past, but she didn't notice it. 'People need you!'

'I could die ever since I left the witch community. Besides, who cares? I'm ending a cycle of torture for all the Flame Bearers. Sure, it has its perks, but in the end, it's just a curse to look over your shoulder every day and wonder if the Moon Goddess is coming for you.'

 'You... you...' I stuttered. I understood her reasoning, but I was selfish. I didn't want to lose my best friend. 'I don't want you to die,' I said, my voice cracking, 'I don't really have a reason to live if you're not there.' 

She smiled. 'Vamp was talking to me through a mind-link,' she said. 'He explained the scripture in detail. I understood it, this Flame is not mine, it was given to me as a gift. For a reason. And I need to use it for that reason. All this time, I've hated the witch community and their leaders. But I still have time before the battle. Since I'm the one to fight, I have more power than anyone there. I'm going to change the system and make sure it never goes back to what it is.'


 I swallowed, my throat dry. Then I said, 'I will support any decision you make... as long as it's good for you. And this definitely is. Besides, this is your revenge... you're father's gonna go crazy.' 

She laughed. 'That's the best part. I'll do it when we go to meet him tomorrow and look at the Legends.' I nodded. Then we both fell on the bed and slept, exhausted. 


^^^^


The next morning, Ena and I headed downstairs. Kayden was waiting in the mess hall. 'Morning,' Ena said. He smiled and repeated the greeting. When he noticed my glare, he looked away. Claw then walked in with Luna behind him; Kayden must've told them we were awake. I immediately walked over and gave Luna a hug. 

'Good morning, Serena,' she said fondly, rubbing my back. I greeted her cheerfully. Then I turned to Claw.

'Since you're going to go ballistic if we leave without notice, Ena and I are going to Witch HQ to take a look at the Legends. We'll be leaving soon.' I looked him in the eye to show him I wasn't backing down. He was irritated by my show of dominance but accepted it anyway. 


'If you're going, my warriors and I will go with you,' he said nonchalantly. As if on cue, four pack warriors walked in. Ena pursed her lips and took a good look around her. 

'More werewolves than necessary will just cause trouble. The witch community is already on edge, we do not want to give them a reason to turn on us.' she said. 

'They are already against us,' Luna said, 'the strained treaty over the years broke when the news leaked about Serena and the dissolved treaty with the ghouls.' 

'I guess they wouldn't want to keep the peace when I'm with you guys anyway,' Ena said. 'Well, we're heading out now.' 

I gave Luna one last smile before turning around and walking away. 'I'll be back to check on you,' I called out. I could sense her happy smile, which got me smiling too. 

That smile faded when I realized Kayden and Claw were right behind us. I turned around to face them as soon as we were out of the packhouse and Luna's line of vision.

 

'Where do you think you're going?' I asked. 

'Witch HQ,' Claw replied. 

'With who?' I asked. 

'My Beta.'

'And how do you plan to get there?' Ena and I were going to teleport, there was no way he could follow unless Ena included him in the spell, which I knew she wouldn't. 

'Why are you annoying me?' he snapped. 'I have my ways. Now you guys want to leave, so leave.' 

I got the feeling this was the first and only time he would voluntarily tell me to leave and go far away. I narrowed my eyes. I could feel Ena's impatience growing, but she was curious too. How could they go all the way to Vegas, which was a thousand miles away, without a teleportation spell?

There's something going on here, I told Ena through the mind-link she had created, something fishy. They're hiding something. 

Or someone, Ena replied. 

My eyes widened, a wild thought entering my head. 

What if...?

'They're still working for you, aren't they?' I asked. He growled. I snarled in response, my wolf coming out. Those witches, who had chased me for over a year before I settled in New Orleans were still around, working for Claw. My fists clenched and unclenched. I was debating whether to start an all-out fight or not.

 

Ena put a hand on my shoulder. 'Come forth,' she commanded. Four witches silently walked out of the packhouse. I had no idea how I didn't smell them or sense their presence. I gave a low growl as I saw the satisfied smirks on their faces. 

Oh, did I mention? They were my age. Therefore, bitches. No, that wasn't even an appropriate insult because they weren't werewolves. I was basically insulting my race. 

Two of them even had the audacity to get all comfy with Claw and Kayden. The other two just stood there, enjoying the drama. I assumed they had mates or were married because there was no way they wouldn't jump at this chance to mock me. 

'You wanted my help, baby?' one of the two asked, Abbey, I think, and gave Claw a kiss on the cheek. She knew very well that he was my mate but obviously didn't respect that fact. Claw seemed amused. 

'I need you four to teleport Kayden and myself to Vegas. We will be giving the witch hive a little visit.' 

'Easy as pie, hun,' the other one, Karen, who was snuggling up to Kayden said. Kayden looked uncomfortable, but let her hang on anyway. The other two witches joined Abbey and Karen, forming a circle around Claw and Kaden. 

They chanted a spell for a few minutes until there was a flash of red light and the two faded away in the wind. 

'See you there, ladies,' Claw's voice said. I rolled my eyes. 


Please? I asked Ena, I promise I won't do anything impulsive or stupid for the rest of the week. 

She gave me a dirty look, knowing exactly what I was asking permission for. She sighed just as the four began to walk up to us. Fine, she said, you have the Flame Bearer's permission. 

'Yes!' I exclaimed out loud, then did a happy dance in my head. The witches seemed confused, but not for long because their heads were cleanly ripped off by a sharp set of werewolf teeth. 

Bet the only thing they were sad about in the afterlife was how their $3000 Gucci purses got stained with blood. 


****


I felt the warm breeze and I knew we were in Vegas. I opened my eyes to see the glass doors of Witch HQ. I wondered what humans thought it was, but didn't put much thought into it. I sensed Claw and Kayden walk up to us, with another pair of footsteps. 

I turned around in confusion. 

Vamp. 

Of course. 


I sighed. 'Very well,' I said, 'Ena?' She nodded and walked through the doors. Unlike last time, people weren't everywhere. There was a single person behind the reception desk, the clingy secretary. She stood up as soon as she saw us enter. 

'We've been expecting you,' she said, 'this way.' She led us through a set of glass doors and into an elevator. It wasn't very spacious, so my arm was rubbing against Claws. I wasn't happy that the tingles I felt were very, very pleasant. The worst part was he could feel it too. 

It wasn't the longest elevator ride of my life, and that annoyed me. 

We came up to the thirteenth floor. It was surprisingly empty, not one decorative piece in sight, unlike the rest of the building. We walked out of the elevator and towards a set of wooden doors. 

'He will be waiting for you inside,' the clingy lady said and walked back into the elevator. We crossed the floor and stood in front of the doors. Ena opened them, while Kayden held it. We walked into a dimly lit room, with mostly wooden furniture. Ena's father sat a wooden desk with his back to us. 


'I see you've bought the vampire with you,' he said, 'I never thought he would agree to an alliance, especially with the werewolves.' 

'That really is none of your business, and you're starting to annoy me. Just bring out the scrolls.' Vamp said. 

How could someone thousands of years old act like a teenager? 

"I do not act like a teenager," Vamp said in my head after a mental knock. He didn't even wait for me to let him in, which was kinda impolite. But when a being has so much power, there's really no choice. 

'Which part would you like to see?' Ena's father asked. 

'The whole thing,' Ena replied. For the first time, her father turned around. They both gave each other death glares, seeming to have a silent argument. 

'That is not possible,' her father spat. 'It is an immense privilege to even see a tiny piece in a lifetime. Shamelessly asking for the whole thing? Know your limits, child.' 

'I'm not a child. I know exactly what I'm asking for. The Legends from the higher beings, show them to us. All of them.' 


I never knew they were in parts. But when so much is kept secret, I wasn't surprised. Ena's father sighed. He knew he had no choice, the world's most powerful beings were all in one room. And it wouldn't matter if he was Ena's father or not if he didn't comply. 

He walked to the middle of the huge room and chanted a spell. Suddenly, the room was brightly lit with candles I hadn't noticed. A blue magic circle swirled around him. Scrolls materialized from thin air and flew towards him, seven in total. Beads of sweat formed on his face. 

The scrolls floated to a table in front of us and set themselves down on it. We immediately swarmed it. 

They didn't look anything like I'd imagined. 

In our textbooks, there were only images of the text. Never the outside. I had no idea if there was a reason behind that or they were just playing safe. 

I imagined them as a golden book or something, filled with wisdom. 

Instead, they were scrolls made of paper, which looked somewhat flimsy. I wondered how they had survived for so long. Ena and Vamp each grabbed one immediately and carefully looked at them. 

I just stood around, not knowing what to do. 


^^^^


Ena and Vamp examined the scrolls very closely. Ena's brow was furrowed in concentration. I could tell she was struggling to translate the script. Vamp wasn't having as much trouble. I wondered what he was looking for. Confirmation that Ena was the one, probably. I hope he didn't get it. 

My gaze wandered to Claw and Kayden. They were having a quiet conversation behind me. Ena's father just glared at Vamp and her touching the precious scrolls. A small smirk of satisfaction crept across my face. It fell when I remembered that Ena might not make it out alive. 

The pair read on for a long time. The tension got thicker as time passed. Having the most powerful beings in one room for a long time wasn't a good idea, though temporarily allied. I felt a mental knock in my head. I let the person in. Surprisingly, it was Claw. 


'For your protection, you're coming back to the Claw pack with us after this. Athena will come too. Drac has something to say that can potentially affect all the paranormal species on the planet.' 

'And you know what it is?' I asked sceptically. Our gazes met. 

'No. But I trust him. When a being thousands of years old suddenly appears and warns you, learn to trust his word because the events following this day will surely be recorded in paranormal history.'

'If he's thousands of years old, that also means he has thousands of years of experience in treachery and lying.'

'Are you saying he's not to be trusted? Or do you still hold a grudge against him?' 

'I don't know. He's a man I just met yesterday and apparently he cared for me as a child. How do you think I should react? You would be stupid to not be suspicious.'

'This man has done unimaginable things, but that doesn't mean he's not to be respected. He has proved that to be trustworthy.' 

'Someone I don't trust is telling me that someone else is trustworthy,' I scoffed. Claw's gaze hardened. 

'I have said all I wanted to,' he said, 'come without resistance and I won't knock you out again. I have the means to do it as many times as I want.'

I sighed. 'Fine. I want to see Luna again anyway. But as soon as Vamp's done, we're leaving.'


 Claw cut the mind-link without replying. I walked over to Ena. 'What have you found so far?' I asked. She kept staring at the curly text for a few seconds and didn't reply. Finally, she sighed. 

'There's a lot of history. Things I've never read before. This particular paragraph I'm reading is about the ghoul's powers when they were just being discovered. They have evolved very much since then.' 

I nodded. 'And what anything about... that?' I asked, hinting towards the unbending spell. She shook her head. 

'Maybe it was just a rumour after all,' she frowned. 

'Don't worry about it,' I said, 'we can think about that later. Just focus on the battle now.' She looked like she wanted to argue but just nodded. 


'Drac, you see anything?' Kayden, who had been quiet this whole time, asked. Drac looked up, his lips pursed. 

'Unfortunately, it seems that time is now. I have looked at it in many ways, but the result remains the same. I apologize, Athena, but this is something even I cannot change.' 

I looked worriedly at Ena, a feeling of doom slowly creeping up on me. But she looked completely at ease. 

'Thank you, Vamp. I-'

I suddenly, the ground shook and I lost my balance. 


'All units, investigate!' Ena's father's voice echoed around the building, 'Protect the Legends and the Goddess Flame at all costs!' 

'I can take care of myself, thanks,' Ena mumbled, getting up. All of us got to our feet except Vamp, who hadn't fallen down in the first place. I walked out of the room, trying to find the cause of the earthquake. I looked through the cracked glass windows, but everything around the building seemed to be fine. 

'What's happening?' I heard Claw demand. 

'Someone seems to have broken in,' Ena's father said, 'the details are not clear. There is too much commotion downstairs.' 

I raised an eyebrow. The only way to get up here was by the elevator, which was surely blocked. But if the intruder was a paranormal being, I had no doubt that they would get up here somehow. If it was a human, I pitied them. 


Again, the building shook violently. Everyone ran out of the room and joined me in the corridor. 'It's not safe,' Kayden said, 'we need to leave.' 

'The only way down is the elevator,' Ena's father said, 'but they're paranormal beings. They've taken out several units already and have not been identified. We should leave immediately with the Legends.'

'You're going to abandon your subordinates?' Ena hissed. Her father gave her a hard stare. 

'It is sad but necessary. We're leaving.' He gestured to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows and they shattered without a sound. The Legends appeared around him, floating in midair. 

'I'll come back to help later, but for now, we escape,' Ena said. To my surprise, Vamp shook his head. 

'There's no point,' he said, 'escape is impossible. They have surrounded us. They seem to be aware that I am with you and have bought my weakness.' 

'Who?' Kayden asked. 

'The ghouls,' Vamp replied. A chill ran down my spine. 

'What do you think they want?' I asked. 

'You,' he replied, 'Athena. And the Legends.'

 'Why now?' Claw growled in frustration. 'Though the outnumber us, surely we can defeat them. They must know that.' 


For the first time, Vamp took off his sunglasses. Under them were glowing red eyes, resembling hot balls of lava. They sent chills down my spine as he looked at me. 

'This is a battle we can't win,' he calmly stated, 'and it will be very difficult to escape if we do not leave right at this moment.' 

Before I could process his words, he grabbed Ena and I and jumped out of the window. I heard everyone follow. We landed hard on the concrete pavement next to the skyscraper, and I heard the pavement crack as the other three landed too. Vamp took the whole brunt of our fall but seemed unscathed. As expected.

'Teleport. Now!' he commanded, as soon as he let go of us. Ena immediately began to chant. Her father transferred the scrolls over to her, and her Flame appeared. But halfway through the spell, there was a huge explosion. 

I was blown back, and landed hard. There were spots dancing in my eyes. I slowly got out of the pile of concrete I was in. I blinked multiple times and tried to see clearly. I seemed to have crashed into the wall of the building across the wide road. I was still in a trance, that explosion took me by surprise. 


I squinted across the bright, wide road at the pavement we had originally landed on. Vamp seemed to be fighting multiple people at once. I looked around me, and Kayden and Claw were running out of the building beside mine. 

I looked around frantically for Ena. I couldn't see her anywhere. I prayed that she had the sense to teleport out of here as soon as possible with the Legends. I didn't care if I was taken, or killed, or whatever, as long as she was alive. 

I considered shifting but took a look at all the panicked humans running around. A giant wolf would just make the situation worse. I growled as I saw more people run up to Vamp, Kayden and Claw, who were already outnumbered. 

I snarled in frustration and ran across the street to help them, wishing fervently that Ena wasn't here. Her father wasn't in sight either, and that gave me some hope he had convinced her to teleport away. But knowing Ena, I wondered how she didn't tell me first. 


As soon as I joined the crowd, the atmosphere turned colourless. The ghoul's presence was heavy, but I didn't feel any extreme magic. I hoped we would be able to escape. I got chills when Vamp said we couldn't win, he knew best what power we wielded. 

I punched and threw people around, not giving them time to cast spells. I knew I had to learn how to use my ghoul powers quick to defend myself against these traitors. 

I fought like I hadn't in a long time, my movements were a blur. Vamp was almost invisible, moving with grace and precision. He didn't waste a single move, unlike Claw who was going on a rampage. 

While I was distracted, a ghoul pinned my arms behind me and another repeatedly punched me in the face. I took a few hits, struggling to break free. Suddenly, there was nothing holding my arms back. I took the opportunity and tore the head off the ghoul punching me. 

I turned back to see Vamp, his eyes feral, holding a ghoul's head in his hand. I nodded at him and proceeded to help Kayden, who had a horde on him. 

'Is there an end to these guys?!' I yelled.

'Doesn't seem like it!' Kayden yelled back. 

'I thought they had magical powers?!' 

'They're low ranks!' Vamp said, 'Probably sent to keep us busy. Where's Athena?!'

'I saw her running across the road!' Kayden yelled. I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe she had escaped. But just then, I heard a huge explosion. I looked back and saw the building I had crashed in turned to rubble. 

But I couldn't see what was going on because of the mob of low-rank ghouls in front of me. 

Oh, to hell with it.

I ripped my clothes apart and shifted. 

The job was done much quicker. My wolf feared for Ena too and having my mate (not for long) gave me a boost in strength. It worked both ways. 

Finally, we were done with the mob. I was tired and out of breath, but immediately darted across the road. 

'NO, SERENA!' I heard Vamp yell. I looked around in confusion. 

All three of them were staring at me, horrified expressions on their faces. 

No, they weren't staring at me... they were staring at something behind me. 

I turned around slowly only to see a huge fireball coming towards me. 


***


I stared at the incoming fireball, eyes wide, unable to move. 

Time slowed down. 

My heartbeat thudded in my ears. 

I was going to die. 

I wish I could say my life flashed before my eyes, but there was only one moment that I remembered. 

It was when I was very young, about five to six years old before the torture and abuse started. Claw and I were walking through the training grounds, looking at the pack training. He excitedly talked about being a strong, fearsome warrior when he was older, and I laughed, saying that a cowardly boy like him could never do that. 

He told me that one day he would meet his father in battle and beat him. He swore it. "I'll be cheering you on for that battle," I had said, "but the next opponent you face would be me, so don't get your hopes up."

We both laughed. Then Luna called us in for dinner, and we ran in like the excited toddlers we were. 


I closed my eyes when the fireball was only a few feet away and waited for death to take me. I had some regrets, but I had lived a good life. 

I kept my eyes closed, waiting. Nothing came. I slowly opened one, wondering if I was in heaven or hell. 

Instead, I saw Claw's face, only inches from mine. 

Was this hell? 

We both were breathing hard, lying on the ground. 

'Lesson one,' he breathed, 'never give up.' 


For the first time, I realized what had happened. I looked back and sure enough, there was a huge hole burnt into witch HQ. 'You...' I said through a mind-link, unsure, 'saved me...?' 

'You think?' he asked. But I felt his confusion. He didn't plan it. I didn't know how to react. 

'Go find Ena and get out of here,' he said, panting, 'she's still here and in trouble. Next to the building you crashed into.' 

I nodded and got up. When I looked down at Claw, wondering why he wasn't coming with me, my heart almost stopped. 

His front seemed okay, but there were huge burns on his back. Severe ones. He was in bad shape needed medical attention immediately, werewolf alpha or not. 

A tear fell. I knew I had to act, but I was stumped at the fact that he had sacrificed himself to save me. Was it because I was his mate? 

And I had a heavy decision to make. 

Should I save Claw or help Ena? 

I hesitated, unsure of what to do. 

Then I whined and ran back to Claw. I hoped Vamp and Kayden could hold out for a few more minutes. 


When I knelt down, I realized he was unconscious. I picked him up carefully and walked to Witch HQ as fast as I could. When I got to the back of the building, I saw many witches gathered, tending to the wounded. 

I set Claw down very carefully and ran to them. 

'Please,' I breathed, through a mind-link, 'please perform a teleportation spell and send him to the Claw pack. I beg of you.' 

They stared at me and Claw with fear. They probably didn't recognize me in my wolf form. 

'Please!' I yelled, 'There's a life in danger here!'

They nodded. A few surrounded him and started chanting. Once I saw him slowly dissolving, I sighed in relief and rushed back out. 


As I broke out in a run again, I realized how hurt I was. I had a broken nose, a few cracks in my ribs, and other minor cuts and bruises. I wouldn't last long in this state. I needed to get Ena and the Legends and escape immediately before anything bad happened. 

My wolf pushed forward and I gave her control. Now that her mate was safe, she was ready to let loose. I rounded a corner and saw a group of people in a large alleyway at the back of the building. I growled. 

Ena, Vamp and Kayden stood facing six ghouls. To my surprise, I knew one of them. 

Seraphina? What was she doing? 


 I ran up to the four and created a mind-link. 

'What's going on?' I asked. 

'Sera turned rouge,' Ena said, 'wants the Legends. And you. Get out of here.' 

'I'm not going anywhere,' I said. 'Vamp, Kayden. What should we do?' 

'We have no option but to continue to fight, and look for a chance to escape,' Vamp said, 'I cannot go all out and risk hurting you three. Seraphina carries my only weakness, so I have to be wary of her too.' 

'The ghouls control the elements,' Kayden said, 'be prepared.' 

I noticed Ena and Kayden were staring at each other. 

Oh well. I can't mess with fate.

 

'Have all the humans evacuated?' I asked. 

'They left as soon as the explosions started,' Ena said, 'Where's Claw?' 

'He saved me from the fireball but suffered severe burns. I told the witches to teleport him to the Claw pack.' 

They all nodded. Kayden sighed in relief.


 'Athena, get your Flame ready,' Vamp said, 'we'll need it in the upcoming battle.'

Everyone got in a ready stance. The ghouls hadn't said a word so far. I wondered why Sera turned on us. According to Ena, she owed her life to her. 

What went wrong?

The ghouls flew at us without warning. The atmosphere turned colourless again, but I knew better than to assume these six were like the mob we had fought earlier. They oozed with power and confidence. 

And hostility. 

They launched another fireball attack, but it was smaller than the last one. I jumped out of the way and slashed my claws against one's chest. 

To my surprise, he caught my paw. We both locked eyes. His held satisfaction, mine held horror. 

I nipped at his hand and he let go. He was wearing a hood, so I couldn't see his face, but his bright green eyes were visible.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kayden being blasted into rubble, but he was on his feet immediately. 


The battle continued. Vamp and Ena were taking two on at once. I would've helped, but that green-eyed ghoul always blocked my way. I growled as he launched another fireball at me. 

I ducked under it and charged. It singed my fur, but I paid no attention, wanting to end the battle as quickly as possible. I feigned left and attacked from the right, but he saw through it immediately. 

Damn, this guy was smart. He blew fire at me, and I barely dodged. My reflexes were getting slower and I was getting tired. My wounds were starting to hurt. 

We circled each other slowly. I ran countless tactics through my head, but nothing seemed to work. My wolf was getting angrier by the second. The fact that Seraphina had betrayed us had finally settled in. 

Suddenly, she pushed forward with immense force for full control. I was so surprised, I gave in. 

Before I knew what was happening, a green-eyed man was lying in front of me, dead. He had a clean slit across his throat. I stared at him, confused for a second. 

Did I do that? 

I didn't think too much about it. That could wait for later.


I immediately ran over to Ena. My wolf still had control as she jumped on one of her attackers. Like earlier, before I could process what happened, she lay dead in front of me. Her throat cleanly slit. 

Ena stared at me in shock. 

Her attacker took the chance and jumped on her. 

My wolf growled violently, and he stopped in midair. Literally. He was suspended in the air, a surprised expression on his face. Then, there was a cut on his throat, and he fell to the ground. 

I fell too, suddenly exhausted. I had no idea of what just happened, it was too quick for me to process. 

Ena stood over me in a protective stance, battling Seraphina, who shifted over from Vamp. Kayden soon defeated his and helped Vamp. 


A few moments later, the three of them stood in front of me, battered and bruised. Seraphina was their only opponent. 

'Why are you doing this?' Ena asked, 'I saved your life. And you repay your debt by betraying me?'

'I owe you nothing,' Seraphina spat. 'And the survival of my race depends on my actions. Hand over the legends and the half-ghoul and the three of you can walk away without any further harm.'

'Yeah, right,' Ena said, 'we're going to do that. Unlike someone here, we don't betray people who put their trust in us.'

Seraphina sighed. 'Very well, then,' she said. 'I'll take her, dead or alive.'


The three in front of me tensed, waiting for her to attack.

Sera raised her eyes to the evening sky and knelt down. She spread her arms and started chanting.

That looks dangerous, I thought, is she calling reinforcements? Or does she plan to kill us? And at this point, I doubt running would help.

Suddenly, Vamp snarled. He looked back at me, and for the first time, I saw fear in his eyes.

Did he recognize her chant?

'At my mark,' he said, 'we split up and run. This is a spell that could seriously injure, and almost kill me. I don't want to think of what will happen to you three.'

I didn't process his words. I was slowly losing my grip on reality. The most I could do at the moment was stay awake. Vamp snarled, looking at my condition. My eyes slowly closed. The last thing I heard was Vamp shout and an earth-shattering explosion. Then I fell into the darkness. 


****


I slowly opened my eyes. 

It was bright, too bright. Everything around me reeked of unfamiliarity and suspicion, but I was too tired to move, or even think too much about it. All I could do was slowly open my eyes and let them adjust to the brightness. 

A few seconds later, a voice spoke. It sounded very familiar. 

'How are you feeling?' 

With difficulty, I turned my head to look at the voice. It was Luna Oriana. I sighed in relief. I gave her a small nod to reassure her, though I was far from fine. At the sight of her fact, the events started to return slowly, then all at once. 

I closed my eyes shut tightly, processing the details. 

I tried to sit up, and Luna helped me. She then handed me a glass of water. 'Here,' she said, helping me drink it, 'I'm sure you have questions. But what you need right now is rest.' 

I gulped a few times and licked my lips. 

'How long was I out?' I rasped, then coughed. Luna rubbed my back soothingly. 

'About a day,' she said. 'Do you remember what happened?' I nodded fervently. I had so many questions, and I wished I could voice them. But talking felt more exhausting than it had ever been. 

'Then I'll tell you this, to put your mind at ease. Dracula is fine. He sustained some injuries, but his regenerative abilities and pain tolerance is superior to ours. He'll be okay. Kendrick suffered from some severe burns, but he'll recover soon. In fact, he's already on his feet.'

I nodded, waiting for her to go on. She didn't. I gave her a questioning look, then formed a mind-link. 


'How's Ena? I asked, 'And Kayden, the Beta?' 

She was quiet. I looked at her, panic rising in my chest. 

'No,' I croaked out loud, 'she can't be dead.' Luna shook her head. 

'She isn't dead,' she said. I let out a huge sigh of relief and sank down on the bed. 

'You scared me,' I said through the mind-link. 'Where is she?' 

'No one knows,' Luna replied. 'After the gigantic explosion, she disappeared, along with Kayden. Dracula took you and managed to escape in the nick of time. He was injured in spite of his super speed. The witches say Ena is alive, and Kendrick assures me Kayden is as well.' 

I nodded. 'Then we just wait for them to contact us,' I said. 'I know they will.' Luna smiled and nodded in conviction. I took a deep breath. 'So, what now?'

'We wait for you to make a full recovery. You will be under guard all the time and must be in either Kendrick or Dracula's presence. The ghouls are actively hunting you, for reasons unknown. The other species have also taken an interest. This time is crucial.'

I nodded. 'When do I start being in either Claw or Vamp's presence?' I asked, not bothered by the danger.

'You are in it right now,' she said, rather disapprovingly, 'though I told him I wanted to talk privately.' 

'That stubbornness,' I sighed. 


'Come in, Kendrick,' Luna said out loud. Claw walked in, shirtless, his chest and stomach wrapped in bandages. 

Why was that the first detail I noticed about him???!!! Being shirtless was nothing special, understand? Werewolves are shirtless all the time!!!

I mentally slapped myself to regain focus. It didn't work. 

'Looks like you're finally awake,' he said. I nodded, forcing myself to look anywhere but at him. 

'Mom, could we have a private conversation?' Claw asked. Luna seemed hesitant to leave us alone, but after a nod from me she stood up. 

'I'll be downstairs if you need me,' she said, shooting a warning glance to Claw. He shut the door after her and sat down on the chair she had previously occupied. The close proximity made my skin tingle. 


We sat in tense silence for a few minutes. I thought it would be polite to not make a mind-link, so I gave him a mental knock. To my surprise, he didn't let me in. 

'Drac said you carried me to the witches and told them to teleport me back to the pack. Is that true?' he asked. I raised my eyebrow and nodded, not expecting that question. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect. This was the first time in two years that we were alone and free to have a private conversation. 

I tried to create a mind-link again, and this time, he accepted. 'My turn to ask,' I said. 'Why did you save me from that fireball back then?' I looked at him, and he was staring at me intently. We locked eyes. 

'I don't know,' he said, 'I really don't.' 

'Do you regret it?'

 'No,' he blurted immediately, then seemed confused about his response. But he regained composure immediately. 'I did what was necessary,' he continued, 'I would've done it for anyone.'

Liar. 

He spoke with a straight face, but his eyes gave away his confusion. He was wondering the same thing. Looks like he had been for a while now. 


'Where's Vamp?' I asked, wanting to give him another topic to talk about. 

'He said he had to gather information and look for Kayden and Athena,' Claw said, 'he left a few hours ago.' 

'And his injuries?'

 'Healed completely.' 

I sighed in relief. Sure, he was nominated for the worst parent ever, but I didn't want him to die. There were too many things left unresolved. 

'What happened after I passed out?' Claw asked. 

'Didn't Vamp already tell you?' 

'He did. But I want to hear it from you. If you're up to it.' 

 'Very well, then,' I sighed. I briefly relayed the events from the time I noticed his injuries to when I passed out. I left out the weird parts of the battle, not making sense of them myself. He was quiet the whole time, asking small questions occasionally. 

After I was done, I realized Claw was a very good listener. I was shocked at how comfortable I was compared to when we first started. 

'So the last thing you remember was Drac telling you to run, and then the explosion,' he said, thoughtfully. 'Drac told me that he escaped with you in the nick of time, and the explosion blocked his view of Athena and Kayden. More ghoul reinforcements arrived, so he had to run.'

I nodded. 'Did he get here on foot?' I asked. 

'No,' Claw replied, 'he has special contacts. He was able to get a plane here in a matter of minutes.'

I raised my eyebrows, not expecting that response. 

'And a super-light private jet too, I should really buy one,' he muttered. I smirked. 


'Anyway,' he continued, 'care to explain how you stopped a ghoul in midair?' 

I looked at him with surprise, then sighed. 'I'm guessing Vamp told you about that.'

 'Of course. All three of them saw it. He's very concerned. Also, Vamp had something to say that could potentially turn the tables.' I frowned. Hopefully, it didn't make things worse. 

'Tell me,' I said. Claw took a deep breath and leaned forward on his seat, coming closer to me. My heart rate increased slightly, and I could hear his too. But I knew whatever he was going to say was serious, so I tried to control those stupid mate hormones. 

'During those three years that you lived with him,' Claw started, 'he infused his blood in you. Every single day, he put a few drops of his blood in your system. Since he didn't put his venom in you, he didn't turn you into a complete... hybrid. However... he suspects you retain some vampire abilities.' 

I blinked. 

'Hold up,' I croaked out loud. 'Saw that again. In less than twenty words this time.' 

Claw sighed, clearly frustrated. 

'You are a mix of three breeds: werewolf, ghoul and vampire. That makes you the strongest creature on Earth,' he stated. 

I let out a hoarse chuckle. 'You're kidding, right?' I said. 

'I wish I was,' he replied. 

I looked at him with shock, the weight of his words suddenly washing over me. 

We both stared at each other, thinking about the future. 

All I saw was blood. 


'Aah!' I exclaimed, clutching my head. There was an intense pounding. Claw was at my side in an instant, holding me and saying something. The screams in my head were too loud to figure out what. 

I saw a gruesome scene. 

Bodies were lying on the ground. There was blood everywhere. But they weren't ordinary bodies. They were filled with magic power. Some large wolves lay amongst the dead too. I heard a baby crying. A red moon shone in a sky of spirits. 

As far as the eye could see, there were only bodies. Bodies of people who had lived. Bodies of people who had someone to love, someone to live for. Bodies of people who had a purpose, who wanted to do things before they died. 

All that had been taken from them. 

This is the horror of war. 

It was unimaginable. 

A lone figure stood on a huge pile of bodies.

As I stared in utter horror and the dust settled, a pair of glowing red eyes glared right at me through the smoke. They held intense, fiery rage. A rage that could never be quenched. 

This being was a beast, not capable of human emotion. He slaughtered thousands alone. It was a bloodbath. 

That beast was coming for me. 

I jerked up in a cold sweat. 


'Serena?' I heard someone say, right beside me. I looked at them with fear. Turns out, it was Claw. 

'What happened?' I asked. 'Where am I?' 

'It's only been a few minutes,' he said, 'you must have had a vision.' 

I nodded, the disturbing images flashing through my head. Suddenly, I stilled. I looked at Claw. He was shocked at the tears in my eyes. 

'Claw,' I said shakily, 'do you know a person who has bright red eyes?' 

'Yes...' he said hesitantly, 'Drac took off his sunglasses at Witch HQ... his eyes were red underneath.' 

I gulped. 

'What was your vision about?' he asked urgently. I slowly relayed the event, though it terrified me to do so. He seemed deep in thought. 

'Are you sure you felt killing intent?' he asked. I stared at him, managing to pull off a disgusted look. 

'Don't you think, after all these years, I'll know malicious intent when I feel it?' I asked. He nodded, convinced. 

'I know...' I said, 'that we've lost many people we can trust, like Kayden and Ena. But my visions have been accurate so far, though I really hope it wasn't this time.' 


We sat in silence for a few minutes, just thinking. The fact that I was a mixture of three breeds hadn't fully sunk in yet either. Everything was moving too fast for me to process. I couldn't handle it. 

'When will Drac be back?' I asked, almost in a whisper. 

'In about a week,' Kendrick responded. I nodded and slowly leaned forward and rested my head on his shoulder. He didn't question it, instead, he put his arms around me. We stayed like that for the rest of the night, not getting a wink of sleep.


****


The next morning, Kendrick told me to get ready. I would be attending a war council at the Claw Pack, as an ally and asset. I was not part of the pack, and almost no one knew I was Kendrick’s mate. This helped keep things calm, at least for now. I could deal with the whole mate thing later. And since I was staying at the pack and close to Kendrick, I wouldn’t have to worry about heat either.

I quickly got dressed and walked down to the mess hall. Apparently, that was where the war council was held. I wondered how they could discuss serious matters while pups were playing hide-and-seek not even twenty feet away.


I met Luna Oriana in the hallway. ‘Good morning,’ I said. She smiled and repeated the greeting.

‘So,’ she said, ‘how did your talk with Kendrick go last night?’ I sighed.

‘That’s not very important,’ I replied, ‘I had another vision.’ Luna was concerned immediately. She knew by now that my visions were not very pleasant.

‘What was it about?’ she asked. I shook my head.

‘I’ll talk about it in the war council.’ I said, holding the door open for her. We walked in, and I saw that breakfast was served. It was a gigantic buffet, of course, us werewolves eat a lot. People were wandering in and out, and a couple of people were sitting at the head table and talking quietly. I assumed they were the pack elders.

Luna and I got some food and headed to a table. We ate in comfortable silence, both of us thinking about different things. About twenty minutes later, Kendrick walked in. 


Everyone immediately stood up and bowed to the Alpha as a sign of respect. Everyone except Luna and myself, of course. As if I would ever bow to him.

The children and the other pack members quietly filed out of the room, while others, who looked like pack warriors, walked in. ‘Come on,’ Luna said, and walked to the head table. I followed.

As soon as everyone was seated, Kendrick stood up from his seat at the center of the table and started talking. 

‘I will now relay the recent developments of events,’ he said, ‘but I would like to introduce someone first. This is Serena, the ghoul-werewolf hybrid. Some of you might remember her.’ I gave a little wave, and everyone’s eyes were on me. ‘She’s a guest here,’ Kendrick continued, ‘and is to be treated with the utmost respect.’

There were mutterings of “yes Alpha” and “welcome” all round the table. Kendrick seemed satisfied. 

‘I will now start.’


He then started talking about everything that had happened. He spoke about how he had dismissed the treaty with the ghouls, and how their leader, Seraphina, had “disappeared”. He also talked about Athena, the Goddess Flame Bearer, coming in and demanding an explanation.

He then moved onto talking about me, and my vision in front of him. He talked about how they were accurate and depicted both the past and possible future.

After that came a large-scale rouge attack on the pack, which I knew nothing about. It must’ve happened when he knocked me out and threw me in the dungeon.

That explains why I remember them being so exhausted that day.

Vamp arrived, and we had a talk about my parents and how I was the first ghoul-werewolf hybrid. He explained how I then killed the pack witches, which many of them were not happy about but ignored anyway.


He then explained our trip to Witch HQ and how it was confirmed that the battle between the Moon Goddess and the MIA Flame Bearer was at hand. Next came the ghoul attack, where we almost died.

Finally, he moved onto my vision last night.

‘Serena,’ he said, ‘could you please explain?’

I nodded and stood up. I then recounted the scene with the blood and the bodies. And the glowing red eyes. ‘I am sorry to say that the only person I know with glowing red eyes in Dracula,’ I concluded, ‘and this was a vision of the past. But the malicious intent is unmistakable, no matter the time or place.’


As soon as I was done speaking, there was silence around the table. People were still processing the events. I was processing them too. One thing was very prominent to me.

‘Alpha, if I may,’ I asked. Kendrick nodded. ‘Speaking from first-hand experience,’ I continued, ‘I think our focus right now should be on finding out why the ghouls require the Legends, the Flame Bearer and me so much. They are the main threat, apart from rouges.’

‘Do not forget the other species have also taken an interest,’ Luna said, ‘there have been reported vampire sightings from all over.’ My eyes widened. Vampires coming out of hiding?! That was practically unheard of. And them revealing their identity was harder to believe.

This situation was like nothing I’d ever heard of before. We had two huge battles on the horizon. The races would definitely be part of the epic battle between the Flame Bearer and the Moon Goddess. I just hoped we would not have to choose sides.

The ghouls could attack at any moment, and once the other species understood what was going on they would undoubtedly join in on the fun.

This was going to be just great.


‘Does anyone have any questions?’ Kendrick asked. A female warrior raised her hand.

‘I volunteer to go out a scouting mission to find the ghoul’s base and their reasons for attacking,’ she said. Kendrick chuckled.

‘That’s not a question,’ he said, ‘but I condemn your initiative. You have my permission. I will send a small group of elite warriors. Seraphina and I will go with them.’ He looked at me for confirmation, and I nodded.

‘The council is dismissed,’ Kendrick said, ‘we will tighten security around the pack borders by following the new patrol map I sent to the warrior captains.’ Everyone stood and bowed respectfully. They then walked out. Luna also pat my back and left.


I remembered that there were pack ranks, the current Alpha and Luna being the highest. Then came the previous Alpha and Luna. The Beta and Beta female. Then the pack elders and warrior captains. Then the warriors. Then the other pack members. But everyone in the community was respected, no matter the rank.

The Luna usually looked over pack issues while the Alpha handled business and relations. I remembered Luna Oriana explaining everything to me a long time ago. Since Ena was Kayden’s mate, and Kayden was the Beta, I wondered if-

‘Sera?’

I snapped out of it. ‘Yeah, Kendrick?’

‘You have to get some rest. If you want to accompany us on the scouting missions, you will have to get some training in. Head up to the suite.’

‘What will you be doing?’

Why did I just ask him that?

He seemed surprised by my question too.

‘I’ll be looking over pack training and the new patrol schedule,’ he replied, ‘and putting together the scouting group. If Kayden was here, the three of us would be enough, but things have changed.’

I nodded. ‘I’ll be upstairs then. But we do need to talk, so contact me as soon as you’re available. Also, I need a phone and a laptop.’

He sighed. ‘I’ll have someone get you new ones. The doctor has said you need to be in bed for at least two days, and you’ve been on your feet for long enough.’

‘What about your burns?’ I countered.


‘Never mind them,’ he replied stiffly, clearly getting tired of the conversation. I decided not the pressure him. I didn’t care anyway.

I turned and headed back to the suite, realizing just how tired I was.


^^^^

For the next two days, I stayed in the suite, not going outside even once. I was starting to heal up nicely, though that was the least of my worries. 


It had been about four days since Ena and Kayden went missing. I was sure they would have contacted us by now. Vamp was coming in less than three days, and we still hadn’t come up with a strategy to deal with that. 


And I was locked up in my suite, not able to go outside. Luna occasionally visited, but she was also getting busy with the war preparations. I hadn’t seen Kendrick since the War Council, though I told him we needed to talk. My wolf was struggling with the fact that he was avoiding us. I couldn’t care less. 


I regularly checked the news for any clues that hinted paranormal beings were on the move. It was easy to figure out if you knew what you were looking for. Las Vegas was still buzzing with reports about the freak gas accident that happened in a privately owned skyscraper. Humans, humans. How oblivious. And how pitiful.


I stretched and got off the bed to get dressed. My ribs barely hurt anymore, and there was only a light bruise on my nose. I had no doubt Claw had healed completely by now. I got a mental knock. I let the person in.

‘How are your wounds?’ Claw asked. I was surprised by his sudden visit.

‘They’re much better,’ I said. I wondered why he was asking, though there could be multiple reasons.

‘Do you think you could start training tomorrow?’ he continued.

‘If it’s not extremely rigorous, yeah,’ I replied. Training, huh? I wondered what kind.

‘Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow then. Be at the grounds by nine.’ He was about to cut the link, but I stopped him.

‘Wait,’ I said, ‘what do we do about Vamp?’ I asked. I could feel his indecision. 


‘We don’t know for sure that he is the enemy,’ Kendrick replied, ‘He hasn’t shown any signs of betraying us. At this point, he is stronger than you and I combined. Violence will get us nowhere.’


‘So, what’s your solution?’ I asked. 

‘We’ll explain the vision to him and hear what he has to say.’ 


I raised my eyebrows, though he couldn’t see me. I made sure he felt my apprehension through the mind-link. ‘Are you sure that’s a good strategy?’ I asked, ‘what if he flips out?’


‘We’ll have to deal with it then,’ he growled and cut the link. I sighed. What an impolite ass. Not to mention stupid. 


But I didn’t have a solution either. If Vamp flipped out, the entire pack was at risk. Innocent wolves. I didn’t want them to get hurt, they were once my family.


To clear my head, I decided to go on a run. There was too much going on at once, and I didn’t want another vision to pop out of nowhere. 


I headed into the forest, away from the pack. My senses told me that the patrol was close by but I steered clear of them. I was sure they were aware of my presence too, but let it slide. 


I stripped and shifted. The familiar sensation of my bones cracking and shifting into a new frame was welcomed. As soon as the process was over, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off me. I was able to think clearer, more primal thoughts. 


Overthinking didn’t exist right now, and I was so glad. 


My wolf purred when she sensed Kendrick nearby. I rolled my eyes, hoping she didn’t try that stunt where she suddenly pushed forward for control. 


It scared me last time because I didn’t completely understand what happened. I was able to control motion? That’s new. 


I don’t think something like that has happened before. I decided to take a look at the library later. 


I ran at a comfortable pace, taking in my surroundings. As the trees flew past, I had an idea. 


I took a sharp turn and headed south. It had been a few years, and I didn’t know if my secret spot was still there. It wasn’t really a secret, a lot of people knew it existed. But no one ever had the guts to go down there.


I ran faster, getting pumped up. My wolf shared my excitement; she loved that spot too. I took a short way, cutting through one side of the pack resident’s houses. Everyone was busy with pack work, so I doubt anyone saw that small streak of red and black.


After a few minutes, I finally stood in front of the waterfall. I jumped in and swam to the center. I dived and ducked underneath the crashing water, going behind it. I surfaced behind the water and climbed on the huge sandy rock behind it. 


I shook vigorously to get all the water out of my fur. Then I jumped up to a bigger rock and sat down, enjoying the view. 


It had been a while since I had eagerly waited like this, and a deep feeling of nostalgia surrounded me. Not many memories, though. Perks of being more feral than human.


I stared at the water and listened to it crashing down as I waited patiently. Suddenly, I heard footsteps. I was on my feet immediately. It took me a sniff to realize who it was. When I did, I sighed and sat back down. 


Of course, he knew exactly where I was, he had discovered this place after all. It used to be “our” spot, before his father changed him. I thought he had forgotten about it completely, but apparently not because I just heard him dive into the water. 


I lazily waited for him to jump up here. I was in my wolf form, so I didn’t care as much as I would if I was human. My wolf got more excited as seconds passed. When he still didn’t jump up, I looked over the edge in curiosity. 

I found two green orbs staring back. I tilted my head in a confused manner, wondering what he was waiting for. I got a mental knock and I let him in. He didn’t say anything. 


‘Are you coming up or not?’ I asked. He grunted in response and jumped up. I scooted over to make room. We sat in silence for a while. It wasn’t awkward, but there was tension. Though we felt and sensed more than we thought, the roots of pain and distress weren’t forgotten. 


‘It’s been a long while, hasn’t it?’ he said. 


‘Almost too long,’ I replied, ‘I didn’t realize how much I missed this view…’ Kendrick settled down and put his head on his paws. 


‘How much longer?’ I asked. He chuckled. 


‘About another fifteen minutes,’ he replied. What was he laughing at? My impatience? I was confused. 


‘Why did you follow me here?’ I asked. This question had been bugging me for a while. He looked at me from the corner of his eye. 


‘I was with the warriors and I felt you nearby. But then, you suddenly turned and ran. I was worried you were in danger.’ 


‘I see. And how did you know I would come here?’


‘I was surprised you didn’t come sooner. You used to come here every day. I started coming here too, but then the drama started up.’


I was surprised. He came here? ‘When did you start coming here again?’ I asked, ‘I thought you forgot about this place completely.’


‘I started coming back two years ago. And of course, I wouldn’t forget, I discovered this place.’ 


I scoffed. ‘True.’


A few minutes later, he said, ‘It’s almost time.’


I sat up straight, noticing it was faint, but growing stronger each passing second. I was aware of how hard my tail was wagging and Kendrick’s amused chuckle, but I didn’t care. 

Finally, it appeared in all its glory. The huge, glittering rainbow. 


The setting sun’s rays came at an angle at a specific time every day, creating a magnificent rainbow behind the waterfall. It stayed only for a few minutes, so it was very easy to miss. 


But it was worth the wait. 


The colors shimmered and moved, making me doubt that there were only seven. The whole area was enveloped in colors, and I looked around in wonder. I had forgotten how mesmerizing it was. 


It soon started to fade away. I smiled, knowing it couldn’t last forever, but I was glad I experienced it after so long. I purred in contentment and sat down. I don’t know when I stood up. 


I looked at Kendrick and gave him a wolfy grin. He was staring at me. I suddenly felt self-conscious and wondered if I did something weird. 


**KENDRICK’S POV**


I stared at her as she looked around in wonder. I missed that. I remembered that each time we came here to watch, I would never look at the colors. Only her. I remembered how she made me happy. 


I know what my father taught me was wrong. But it was a routine engrained into my brain. I couldn’t remove it, no matter how hard I tried. I could clearly remember the words, even in wolf form. 


You are a Claw. 


Claws will rather die than lose. 


Giving up isn’t an option, nor is failure. 


We are the strongest of the wolves and the representatives of our race. You and your sons, and their sons, will live up to that title.


A little shiver ran up my spine as her eyes met mine. I realized the colors had faded away. I gave her a small smile in return to her wolfy grin. It was the first time I had seen her be so open with me. 


‘Did you enjoy it?’ I asked softly. 


‘Of course,’ she sighed, ‘I forgot how gorgeous they were.’ 


I could say the same for you. 


We sat in comfortable silence as I watched her. I knew she was aware by how her ears twitched. Her orange eyes, always blazing with curiosity and compassion, looked anywhere but at me. 


‘What?’ she said. I tilted my head, not breaking my stare. I enjoyed making her squirm. 


‘Nothing,’ I finally said, and looked away. I knew she was confused, and I loved it. 


She then did something I totally didn’t expect. 


She pushed me into the water with all her might.


I wasn’t expecting it, so I stayed under the waterfall’s strong current for a few seconds. When I surfaced and ducked behind the curtain of water, she was gone. 


I heard paw steps on the ground and I knew she was running away. 


So she wants to play, huh? 


I gave my wolf full control and took a backseat. Let him do as he pleases. 

I swam to the bank, not wasting a stroke. She had a huge head start, and she was one of the fastest wolves I knew. 


But if she wanted a chase, I’ll give her one. 


We ran around for hours, and a few times I almost got her but she just danced away. Her smaller frame made her more agile and quick to dodge. Her senses were honed to perfection, there was nothing that slipped past her. 

She recognized most of my feints immediately, and I was impressed. I was well-known for my feints. While sparring, my warriors didn’t know what hit them. 


After almost half an hour of vigorous and fun tag, I caught her. She turned over, panting hard. I was too, I had never chased anyone for more than a few minutes. I just lose interest, like I do in many things. 


I was half on top of her, both our tails wagging. We stayed like that for a while as we caught our breath. 


Then we heard a twig snap, and we were immediately on our feet.


^^^^

Claw and I whirled around, on our guard immediately. I sniffed the air, and my eyes widened. I looked at Claw in horror. He looked back, his expression mirroring mine.

Then we ran.

Claw yelled curses through the mind-link, but they were directed at himself. I flinched at his behavior as we ran, the top priority was to escape.

I could feel them chasing us. They were gaining. I snarled, how were they keeping up?

‘We can’t lead them to the pack,’ Claw said, ‘I don’t want more casualties than necessary.’

‘Call the pack warriors here immediately,’ I replied, ‘we should be able to hold them off until they arrive.’

‘They’re on their way,’ Claw said, ‘but we aren’t at full strength. We can’t win.’

Shit, he was right. I wasn’t fully healed and pushing myself to run at full speed was putting strain on my ribs and other wounds.

‘We have no choice then, unless we wanna die,’ I said. He nodded. 

Time to go on a deadly wild goose chase. 


‘Now!’ Claw shouted, and we split up. 

That did not go as planned. 


To my surprise, they pursued only me. Claw ran at super speed in the other direction, but there was no one after him.


It was like he didn’t exist. 


I didn’t understand their plan, and it freaked me out. 


Did they know I was his mate? 


My heart beat faster at that thought. I knew how much danger I was in if word got out that I was his mate. Claw had innumerable enemies. People who wished his death. 


Most of them were people who hated his father and were looking for revenge, but he had his fair share of resentment. 


My ribs started to hurt badly, and I cursed. Claw had taken a sharp turn and was running alongside me now, but at a distance. 


‘Any second now,’ I said through the mind-link.


‘They need more time,’ he snarled. 


‘My ribs are going to burst,’ I countered. Claw growled violently, but it was true. I was heaving and slowing down. My whole body hurt. 


My wolf pushed through the pain and demanded control. I gave it to her, knowing that she was better at handling this situation. 


To my surprise, she skidded to a halt. 


‘What are you doing?!’ Claw yelled, taking another sharp turn and running towards me, ‘Do you have a death wish?!’ 


I was too shocked to form a coherent response. Had a part of me gone totally insane?


My wolf closed her eyes while I stormed around inside my head, yelling at her. 


Had she given up? 


Was I dying here, at the hands of these filthy bastards, while my mate watched? 


A feeling of great urgency suddenly overwhelmed me. The feeling grew stronger, and stronger. So strong, that I wasn’t sure what it was anymore. 

My whole body felt hot. It kept getting hotter. My wolf didn’t open her eyes, though that was the thing I wanted to do most at the moment. 


What was happening?


Was I being burned to death? 


I screamed loudly in my head. My wolf howled, her voice cracking. 


Suddenly, the overwhelming pressure and heat was gone.


I sensed a huge blast of air going outwards with me in the center. 

I collapsed but was still semi-conscious. I slowly opened my eyes, not knowing what to expect. 


Since I was unprepared, the sight had me quivering. 


Forty rouges. 


The wolf who snapped the twig was one of them. One of the forty. 


They were all on the ground, motionless. 


There was no blood. 


It was like they were sleeping. 


But I knew better. 


They were dead. 


Forty wolves, dead in a second. 


**KENDRICK’S POV**


Ren stopped running. 


What the actual-


I skidded to a stop and started running towards her, screaming at her to run through the mind-link. To my surprise, she blocked me. No, her wolf did. She wasn’t in control. I panicked. 


Heat was radiating off her. I didn’t slow my pace, the rouges weren’t twenty feet away from her.


Was she going to die, as I watched? 


The first rouge jumped. But just as he did, Ren let out a huge wave of air that pushed me and the other wolves back violently. 


I was slammed into the tree behind me and was pushed in harder as another wave approached. I felt something crack.


What was this? Was Ren doing this? 

The huge blast lasted for a few seconds. I fell out of the tree and my ribs hurt badly. I was sure many were broken or cracked. 


I painfully staggered to my feet, and I could tell the other wolves weren’t so lucky. 


They were dead.


If I had been closer, I would be too. 

I saw Ren go limp, and I rushed towards her, pushing through the pain. I could hear my pack warriors approaching. 


‘Clear this all up and make sure she’s in the hospital,’ I said. I saw that she was breathing and sighed in relief. I started walking back, knowing I was in bad shape. But I had to put on a strong front for the pack. 


I missed Kayden. We had been friends for as long as I could remember, and I knew he could handle situations like these- where I was injured or out of commission. My warriors were very capable and strong, but they did need a leader. 


Ren was a good leader too, but her powers were out of control. They were unpredictable and strong beyond imagination, making them utterly terrifying. She was one of the strongest wolves I had met, but having these powers put her in a completely different league. 


The only one on par with her now was Vamp and the Flame Bearer. Even if I went up against her, I would lose. Badly. 


For once, even my wolf agreed. 

Taking out forty wolves in less than a second… that would go down in history. 


But she had passed out as soon as she did it. Of course, anyone would. But that meant even one of those attacks would put her out of commission. 

But what were those attacks, exactly? 

Even though I saw exactly how it worked, it took me a minute to understand it. 


She was half ghoul by birth, but with the amount of blood in her, she was one third vampire too, by genetic procedure. And one third werewolf. 


Would that grant her the power of all three species? 


Even if it did, would she be able to use them?


She had the visions, but we couldn’t trace which part of her they came from. None of the three species have that power. 


And those invisible attacks… she described how the ghoul she fought that day suddenly froze in midair, and how his throat was slit before she realized what was going on. 


Were her movements so fast that we couldn’t see them?


But that doesn’t explain the forty wolves, because it looked like a blast of air killed them. And me too, almost. 


It suddenly hit me. 


I am stupid.

My pack should be ashamed of me.


I changed course and headed to the pack library. My injuries could wait, her powers were more important. She could die if she didn’t use them in the right way. 


My mother, however, had different ideas. 


‘Kendrick Claw.’


I stilled. 


‘Get to the hospital, right now. Whatever you want to search for, I can do it.'


‘Mom, do you have any idea about what just happened?’ I whined through the mind-link, ‘this is important. My injuries can wait.’


‘If it was any other day, I would’ve agreed. But Ren is in bad shape, and you need to be at her side. Having her mate there will speed up the healing process.’


‘What do you mean by “bad shape”?’ I asked immediately. 


‘It will be better if you see for yourself.’


After shifting and putting pants on, I burst into the hospital. 


‘What’s wrong with her?’ I snapped at Wendy, the head doctor. She was used to my demands, so she didn’t mind my tone. 


‘Whatever she did took a lot of energy out of her,’ Wendy replied, ‘and her injuries are bad. We’re working on it, but… she might not make it out. She’s just too exhausted.’


Fear rose in my chest. Wendy led me to her operating room and I fearfully looked inside. 


She was lying on the bed, motionless. There were medics all around her bed. Her eyes were closed and she was breathing through an oxygen mask. My eyes watered when I felt her life force. 


It was faint. Too faint. 


I grabbed her hand. I was not going to let her die. I know we had our ups and downs, but I didn’t want to lose her. My wolf was howling in pain while I silently urged her on. It pained me that it was all I could do, urge her on. She couldn’t let go of her will to live, I knew she was in there somewhere. 


I had no idea her injuries was that serious. Did I overestimate her regenerative abilities? 


Shit. 


I couldn’t believe this was real. 


It was only minutes, but it felt like hours. 


Finally, the medics stepped back.


^^^


**KENDRICK'S POV**


The line on the heart monitor went flat. I could hear my rapid heartbeat. Everything seemed to  be happening in slow motion. I could feel Wendy's sadness, the other medics disappointment in themselves. I could feel how they were dreading my reaction. There was none.

I turned around and ran out of the room, faster than anyone could see.

I don't know when I shifted, but I did. My body felt heavy. My heart felt like it was on fire with demons dancing on it.

I was done.

There was no point anymore.


Kayden? Gone. Ren was the only one keeping me sane. My mother... she could handle herself.

I let out a painful howl. It cut through the forest, letting everyone know my pain.

My injuries were nothing compared to this hellfire.

She was dead.

Thousands of memories washed over me. I had secretly been dreading this moment but had stupidly clouded rational thought with the belief that I could protect her, no matter what.

But I was too late.

I crashed into a tree as I ran through the forest in a haze. The moment when the heart monitor went flat still ran through my head in a never-ending cycle. I could see her face, peacefully resting on the pillow.

I would never see that face again.


If there was something after this life, she would be in heaven. I would accept my punishment in hell, where I deserved to be.

I had many regrets, but I don't want to live without a purpose. My pack was completely capable of handling itself, especially with my mother there.

Mom.

I silently sent her a sincere apology for what I was about to do. But there was no choice but to end it all, even if I lived, I would live an empty, shallow life without emotion or purpose.

I would rather die.

My own rules sounded in my head.

Never give up.


I guess I was never the one to practice what I preach. I knew I was held in utmost respect, and my pack would understand my actions.

That was all I needed.

I was close to the cliff. It was about a seven-minute run in my current state. I didn't mind, I had all the time in the world. There was no one coming after me, not anymore, and that gave me more time to reflect upon my short and eventful life.

Soon, I could see the edge. It was blurry, so I blinked multiple times to get my vision right. I realized I was crying.

When was the last time I cried?

It had been a few years. My wolf sent me reassurance. He had accepted the circumstances and was with me until the end. I remembered small moments when we fought for control. When he ran around in my head and I shut him out.

When he forced control and killed my father.

I sighed, and I was over the edge before I knew it.

Well, it had been a life. Some would remember me with fondness, some with hatred.

I could accept that.

What I could not accept was the voice screaming my name just as I leapt.


**SERENA'S POV, EIGHT MINUTES AGO**


I felt something inside me change.

A completely new sensation enveloped me. I felt the blood rushing through my body, though I had no heartbeat. There were tingles running up the right side of my arm as if there was someone I wanted standing there. Those tingles faded away as soon as they came. I was in a state of suspended confusion, but I let things take its course.

There was nothing I could do to stop it anyway.

I had no control.

After what felt like an eternity of emptiness, I opened my eyes.

I heard gasps all around me.

I blinked, the bright lights distorting my vision.


'Serena? Can you hear me?' an unfamiliar voice said. I squinted at a young lady in a doctor's coat.

'You need to find Kendrick,' she said, 'he thinks you're dead. You're the only one who can stop him.'

Her statement sent a chill through me.

'Where?' was the only word I spoke.

'East, through the woods. There's a cliff not very far.'

My eyes widened, and I ran as fast as I could. At that moment, it never occurred to me that I was a blur of motion while still in human form.

All I felt was dread.

I couldn't be too late. Not today.

I caught his scent and followed it as fast as I could. We weren't moving in a straight line and was constantly drifting off, which made it harder to track. I didn't realize tears were falling until I tripped over a branch.

I saw the cliff.

He was standing there.

'Kendrick!' I screamed, just as he jumped.


Time stopped.

I lurched forward and leapt over the edge too.

Great. Now we both were falling.

Kendrick just looked at me with pure shock. I looked back with hostility, how could he do this?

The wind whipped around us, and I realized that would have to wait. We had to survive a free fall from a hundred foot cliff first.

I looked down, not even a second had passed. Kendrick seemed to come to his senses, though. He grabbed my clothes with his teeth and landed on his feet on a rock jutting out.

We had barely fallen fifteen feet.

I was hanging from his mouth, my clothes half torn.

We stayed like that for a few seconds, until he gently set me down. I turned and glared at him, not knowing what to say.


'How are you still alive?' he asked, though a mind-link. I took a second to think it over. The past few minutes were total chaos.

'I died?' I thought out loud.

'You have no heartbeat,' Kendrick said, 'but you're still standing here, in front of me. I can draw only one conclusion.' We locked eyes.

'Vampire blood,' I said. He nodded. 'I don't even know what I am anymore,' I sighed, 'I've turned into a vampire now?'

Kendrick was silent. I knew he was still shaken.

'And how could you even think about this?' I gestured all around us, especially at the dark chasm below, 'You know that's the coward's way out! What happened to "never give up"?'


'I don't know,' he said, his voice low. I couldn't figure out the emotion behind it. 'I've called warriors to come and pick us up,' he continued, 'this changes things drastically. I've decided what to do with Vamp.'

Wow. That was quick.

'Very well then,' I said and plopped down. I wasn't tired and I couldn't feel my injuries. But I would take physical pain over contemplating the fickle and dangerous future any day.

Never give up.

What did that even mean?

There was no being capable of persevering through this mess.

I have no idea what will happen next. Once word gets out to the ghouls...

We might be looking at the next paranormal war. 


****


Kendrick and I sat at the table, waiting for Vamps arrival. My mate was confident he wouldn't hurt one of his own. That was a natural instinct embedded into each paranormal being, almost impossible to go against if you shared a connection with the person. 

But I wasn't so sure. My last vision had deeply disturbed me. The way that he just massacred hundreds of people... that would haunt me for the rest of my life. I had no doubt that he could do that to this pack of werewolves or any other species, for the matter. 

'Are you sure about this?' I asked, 'That vision was a definite warning, you know.' Kendrick sighed and leaned back on his chair. 

'I've told you this before, but he has no reason to betray us. Even more so now because you're half... I mean, quarter vampire. He may not show it, but he does care for you.' He looked back at me. 


'He still hasn't told me why he abandoned me,' I retorted, 'how many damn times would you have to save the world? I get that he would more than the average being, but there's no way anything happened at that point in time that you didn't know about. And how can you trust him so easily? I don't get it.' 

I glared at him. 'I don't get anything about him. He's a total enigma who waltzed into our lives pretending to be a hero.' 

Kendrick just sighed. 'You've got to let go of the grudge and look at it from a different perspective. He saved your life. And mine too. He's the biggest asset we have, is it that hard to hear him out?'

I stood up. 'Fine,' I said, 'but if he decides to kill us, just like those hundreds in my vision, I'm going to die knowing I was right.'


'Who's going to kill you?' someone said from behind me. I flinched, how did I not hear him? 

Oh, of course, I didn't. But yay! 

He was here. 

I took a deep breath and turned around. 'No one,' I said, staring into those glowing red eyes. I know there was no point in lying, he had already heard our whole conversation. But I did anyway. 

'Let me make this clear,' Vamp said, walking past me and leaning against the dining table. 'I do not intend to, and never will hurt you or any of your allies. Now please, do explain your vision and your doubts. I will try my best to explain. If my words are not satisfactory, I will leave and you will never see me again.'

Kendrick shot me an icy glare. I knew what he meant. He didn't want to lose his "biggest asset". 

Even if it meant it could potentially wipe out the whole pack. 


I took another deep breath and faced him. Then I started explaining my vision. Vamp had his shades on and looked at the table the entire time I explained. To the untrained eye, it would seem like he was hardly paying attention, but I knew better. 

'And when I woke up, I remembered looking at glowing red eyes,' I concluded, 'your eyes.'

 Vamp remained silent for a few seconds. He seemed to be deep in thought. Finally, he spoke. 

'What you saw,' he said, 'was the end of the first paranormal war.' My eyes widened. I had never imagined what that would be like. 'I was not alone in the slaughter. Your vision was not wrong, I was the only one standing on the battlefield. But the reason I killed those who caused chaos, the so-called "victors" of the war...'

He sighed. 'It is complicated to explain. But they killed someone close to me. One of the reasons I lived.' He took off his shades and looked at me with an intense stare. 'They killed my daughter.'

 I stared back in shock. 'Y-you had a daughter?' I stuttered. Wow. What? 

'And a wife,' he said, 'but she died a few hundred years ago. I've moved on. My daughter, however... she was out, unaware of what was happening. She was ambushed and killed, without my knowledge. I was full of rage at that moment and for a few years after that. It took me a long time to move on.'

I was speechless. He wasn't a monster. 

The emotion in his eyes was real.

And the fact that he trusted us enough to share this spoke for itself. 

At that moment, I understood how naive I was being. 

'When I saw your mother being chased that day, Serena,' he continued, 'I regret not saving her. But saving you was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Letting you go was necessary, though I wished it wasn't. Word got out that I was taking care of a child. I... didn't want to lose another daughter.' 

I tilted my head. 'Then what was all that talk about saving the world?' Vamp laughed. 

'I have saved the world many times, for selfish reasons of course. And at that point, you were my world. So I saved you... by letting you go.' 

I couldn't believe I was hearing this. Was I dreaming? 


'You wish you were, don't you?' Vamp chuckled. I blinked. I had forgotten he could read minds.

 'How do you do that, anyway?' Kendrick asked, before I could think too much about it, 'Read minds?' 

'It was a gift,' Vamp replied, 'A very powerful witch blessed me with it a few decades ago, a former Flame Bearer. You may not know this, but random spells appear in the Legends from time to time. The Unbinding spell Athena was looking for might have disappeared before she could look for it.'

'I did NOT know that,' I said, 'what else do we not know?'

'Too much to explain in one sitting,' Vamp said, 'but for now, I can take one more question, then you can decide whether you want me to leave or my help. Athena and Kayden are still out of the picture though I searched for them on my way. Please keep that in mind.' 

He plopped down on a chair, all relaxed as if we hadn't just discussed earth-shaking matters. 


'Since Serena is the one who doubts you the most, she can ask,' Kendrick said with a tinge of satisfaction, though he knew that no longer applied. 

'I was just thinking about my vision, okay?' I grumbled. 'But I do have one more question. You do not need to answer it, but I am curious. That day, when Seraphina invaded Witch HQ, you said she had your weakness. What was that all about? Is it like your Kryptonite?' 

Vamp chuckled. 'Are you calling me superman?' he asked. 

I shrugged. Well, he was pretty durable, I'll give him that. 

'I guess you could compare it to that,' he replied, 'she had my kryptonite. Since I grew to be one of the strongest vampires very early in my afterlife, I had many rivals and people with grudges against me. One such person went out of the way to get something made that could kill me.'

He let out a laugh. 'Ironically, it was the witch that blessed me with the mind-reading that made the dagger of jade.' 

I raised my eyebrows, what a fancy guy. The weapon that could kill him had a special name and everything. 

'Why would she do that?' Kendrick asked, 'Wasn't she on your side?' 

'She was merely repaying a favour. Backstabbing creatures, those witches. But anyway, Seraphina found out where I hid it and stole it. The spell she performed that day used the dagger and could be fatal to everyone within the range. Including me.'

 'Wait,' I said, 'you fought her that day knowing she had the only weapon that could kill you?' 

He smirked. 'You underestimate me, hun. I outclass her in everything except maybe stupidity and traitorous intent.' I scoffed. 

'Of course.' 

We stayed silent for a few seconds after that, processing the deep conversation that just happened. Suddenly, Vamp was right next to me. 


'Is something wrong with me?' he said, putting his arms around me. I looked at him in confusion. 'Why...' he said in a dangerous tone, 'can't I hear your heartbeat?'

Shit. 

That completely slipped my mind. 

Kendrick was right next to me too. He put a hand on Vamps shoulder. 'Please step back,' he said. 

'It can't be,' Vamp whispered. I pursed my lips and looked down. 

The mess hall exploded. 


^^^^


'Vamp, CALM DOWN!' I yelled. He was shaking. The mess hall was destroyed. Everything was in splinters, including Vamp's composure. 

Why was he so mad? 

'You could've died!' He thundered, 'And this is almost worse!' 

I was so shocked by his words, I automatically stepped back. He was by my side immediately. 

'I'm so sorry,' he said, 'I didn't mean that. I wasn't thinking. Please forgive me.' He gently took my hands in his. I just stared at him. 

'Was I wrong in thinking that this could start the next paranormal war?' I asked. Vamp sighed. 

'Unfortunately, no.' I gulped. 'It could be far, far worse,' he continued. My eyes snapped to his in shock. 

'I don't think you understand the scale of this,' he said, 'allow me to explain. Kendrick, listen carefully. You both need to make big decisions from this moment onwards.'

Kendrick gave me a worried look and stepped closer, nodding. Vamp sighed. 


'You are the first werewolf and ghoul hybrid,' he said, 'gaining the powers of both races. Shifting into a wolf, and these visions. I suspect those are from the ghoul side, along with the ability to control air, though you can't do it out of wolf form.' 

 I nodded. I knew this already. 'However,' he said, 'I infused some of my blood into you as a baby, that circulated throughout your body and settled into you, giving you a boost in abilities such as strength and speed, but not doing much else. But that has changed since you died.'

He looked at me with sad eyes. 'Even I do not know what lies ahead,' he said, 'this was only intended to be a backup. I never planned what I would do if you actually died... this is bad.' 

I gulped again, at a loss for words. 'You are potentially the most powerful being on the planet, with no idea of how to control your powers,' Vamp continued, 'once the other races hear, they will come for you. The idea of equality in power between races does not exist. And the paranormal will not like that.’

'The number of attempts there have been to assassinate me are too many to count. I have to be on lookout wherever I go, just because I happen to be a powerful vampire. No one can complain too much because I have lived longer than a bunch of them combined.'

'But that's not the case for Ren,' Kendrick said, 'we don't even know if she's immortal.' Vamp nodded. 'And werewolves are not particularly liked by anyone, because my father ruined our reputation,' Rick continued, 'so people who want revenge will also start targeting her because she's my mate. The number of reasons someone would like to target Ren is too many to count.'

'Bragging rights,' I said, 'revenge. Remorse. I have no doubt that people will soon know that Vamp took me in too.'

'Unfortunately,' Vamp said, shaking his head, 'that's not all.' My eyes widened. 

'You mean there are more reasons people would like to kill me?' I asked. Vamp sighed, along with Kendrick. 

'I fear...' he started, but then stopped midway. 'Never mind,' he said, 'that's reason enough. You need to decide what to do right now.' 


Kendrick and I looked at each other. I could see the worry in his eyes. There were so many people trying to kill me, and in the process, they could harm the entire pack or totally uninvolved beings, like humans. 

I didn't mind dying if the pack and innocent lives were spared. Dying was the least of my concerns. 

I was worried about Ena and Kayden. Luna. Vamp. And... Kendrick. And the pack and my other friends, of course. 

I sighed and sat down on the floor. Vamp and Kendrick looked at me in concern, but I waved them away. We stayed in silence for a few minutes. 

Luna suddenly walked in and looked around in shock at the completely obliterated mess hall. I just gave her a small smile. She didn't ask for an explanation but turned to Kendrick. 


'The scouts you sent out just came back. Or should I say, just one,' she said. We all were alert immediately. Kendrick strode to the entrance of the room. I stood up and followed him to the infirmary.

'He was badly injured,' Luna said, as pack doctors rushed in, 'but he was able to give a small explanation. They found the scout team, he doesn't know how. The other four were killed. He survived, but barely. He did find some useful information, though.'

Luna took a deep breath. 

'The rouge attack the other day... the ghouls ordered it. And they're coming, with half the vampire race, to kill you. Apparently, they made up some theories, like the Flame Bearer stole the Legends and they are genetically modifying you to become a weapon.'

'What nonsense,' Kendrick spat. Luna gave him a serious look. 

'People believe this nonsense, Rick. That's what makes it so dangerous. They honestly think that your intention is to rule over the paranormal world.' 

'Why?' I asked, 'Why would the ghouls do that? There are too many unanswered questions!' 

'I went out to find something about that,' Vamp said, 'apparently, the ghouls are dying, slowly. Starting from the youngest generation. The children. It is some kind of fatal disease, no one knows the actual cause. But Seraphina, one of their influential leaders, seems to think the answer lies in the Legends. 

'And since Athena has the Legends and has gone MIA, she will come for you. I am not sure whether she knows that Ena is not here, or if she wants to take you hostage. But her malicious intent cannot be mistaken.'

A sudden wave of nausea hit me. 

'Oh, no...' I muttered, 'its happening again...'

I sank into the vision. 


^^^^


There was nothing but green in my line of vision. I was in a huge evergreen forest. I could hear all the birds and insects in the trees, and the faint sound of water running downhill. 

For the first time in a long, long time, I felt at peace.

But of course, that had to be disrupted. There was no way the higher beings would leave me in peace, is there? 

A person was running through the trees at a fast pace, compared to the average wolf. I couldn't figure out who it was or the species. But there was a feeling of familiarity surrounding me, so I guess it was someone I knew. 

I followed the being. It ran for a while, and I wondered where it was going in this peaceful forest. Soon, a tiny wood cabin came into view. To my surprise, I felt an overwhelming sense of deja vu. 

This place... something about it set me off. 

What left me completely speechless was the sight of the person that walked through the door. 

Athena. 


I wanted to lunge at her and give her a huge hug, but I couldn't move. I watched the being come to a stop and realized it was Kayden, Rick's Beta and Ena's mate. I stared as they smiled and gave each other a small hug and kiss. 

'Is everything safe?' Ena said softly. Kayden nodded. She sighed and sank into the hug. 

'I can't wait to go back,' Kayden said, 'all this waiting really gets on my nerves.' Ena let out a tiny laugh. 

'I can't wait either,' she replied, 'I'm worried sick about Ren. But if the battle is anytime soon, the Legends instruct me to have patience and stay hidden. I can't disobey that, no matter how much I want to. And this gives me time to document all those spells.'

Kayden nodded. 'I wondered how much the Witch Council actually hid from us,' he said, 'they were in charge of the Legends. We never knew what they looked like, or the spells. I don't know why they went to such lengths to keep everything hushed.' 

'My father once told me there was someone out there that we needed to worry about,' Ena said, 'but I assume he was talking about Vamp. Everyone is scared of him.' Kayden nodded and broke the hug. Their hands were still intertwined. 

'Wanna go in and have dinner?' he asked her, flashing a dorky smile. Ena laughed and they both went into the cabin, still talking and laughing. My vision zoomed out and changed to a different place. 


Compared to the warm bubbly feeling I had watching those two, the sight chilled me to the bone. 

Ena's father. 

He was chained and bloodied. There was no one around him, and it seemed like he was unconscious on the floor of a dark room. He looked nothing like the regal man I saw before, who held himself with poise and grace. He seemed like a tired old man, whose only desire was to... die. 

Before I could do anything or even process what I saw, I was pulled out. I jerked awake with a gasp. I looked around in panic and realized I was in my suite in the packhouse, with no one around me. I scrambled off the bed and ran downstairs, not bothering about my appearance. 

I hastily created a mind-link with Rick. 'Where are you?' I panted. He seemed confused and panicked at my sudden words.

 

'I'll be at the packhouse in under a minute,' he replied, 'what's going on?'

'I'll tell you as soon as you get here. Bring Vamp and Luna.' 

Not even two minutes later, the trio marched in. 

'What's wrong?' Kendrick asked, 'Was it your vision?' I nodded. What I saw made me sick to my stomach. Even though I didn't like the man, I never wished for him to be tortured like that. He was still Ena's father, no matter how cruel he was. I slowly relayed the events. 

Everyone seemed relieved that Ena and Kayden were safe and well. From what I saw, I could spot no injuries. Kayden couldn't run at that speed if he was injured and Ena looked like her usual bubbly self. 

'And we can't rescue them? Are you sure they are safe?' 

I snapped out of my thoughts to answer Luna's question. 'They're fine,' I replied, 'and Ena said she had to wait and hide. There was no way Kayden would leave her alone. I assumed she read the Legends on her way here and realized she had to stay far.'

Everyone nodded in understanding. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest, I knew now that my friends were safe. This made everything so much easier. 


'And about the other scene, with the Grandmaster,' Vamp said, 'do you know his location?' I shook my head. 

'It was only that tiny room. He was unconscious and badly beaten up, almost to the point of death. I... I'm afraid he won't last long.' There was a solemn silence as everyone thought about that. 

'Could it be the ghouls?' Luna asked. 

'There is a possibility,' Vamp replied, 'but I see no reason for them to do that. They knew Athena had the Legends. The only other option is for them to take him hostage, but Ena doesn't know about this. We are in quite a problem.'

I nodded. 'She'll... I don't know how she'll react if she finds out her father died to the hands of the ghouls. She will set out to get revenge and might die in the process.' 


Moments of silence passed. Kendrick sighed. I looked at him and felt a pang of annoyance. 

'We can't do much about it,' he said, 'we don't know where they are and going against the Legends is never wise. All we can do is wait.'

'For what?' I countered, 'For everyone to find out I'm a vampire now?!' the three looked at me, wide-eyed. I knew I was being irrational, but I was tired of sitting around, especially since I knew Ena was safe. 

'What else do you think we should do?' Kendrick snapped, 'Invite the ghouls over for dinner?!' I glared at him. He glared back. 

'This is stupid,' I sighed, 'we're waiting for them to waltz in and attack. Let's gather warriors and take them by surprise. Eliminate the threat.'

'That's just going to make you more of a threat,' Vamp said, 'other species will think you're a ruthless killer, just like you saw me in that vision.' I growled in frustration and almost stomped my foot. 


'Why don't you train instead, Ena?' Luna suggested, 'Find out what those powers can do. Rick can help you. He needs to see them too.' 

'Not a bad idea, Oriana,' Vamp said, 'I should get going soon, and this would be perfect. This time, I'm heading over to the ghouls. See if I can find anything. I'll also get in touch with some old friends, see if I can find any more allies.'

I nodded. 'Good luck, Vamp.' To his surprise, I moved over and gave him a hug. 'And thanks.'

He hugged back almost immediately. He was much taller than me and my head hit his chest. 'I'll see you soon,' he said. I let go and he disappeared. I sighed. 


'We'll start training tomorrow morning,' I told Kendrick, not looking at him. I walked right past his fuming figure and to my suite. As soon as I got there, I collapsed on my bed. Staring at the ceiling, I put my hands in my hair and wondered why I was such an idiot. 

Why did I act that way? I thought, It was stupid of me to be so impatient. But I kinda wanted Rick to react...

'What is wrong with me?' I groaned and slowly tipped my body over the edge of the bed.

'The fact that you voluntarily roll off the bed. Who even does that?' 

I jerked upright and realized someone was in my bedroom. I loved over to see that it was none other than my mate. 

'Shut up,' I snapped, 'it’s none of your business.' He gave me an amused smile but turned serious immediately. 


'Did those visions disturb you?' he asked. I scoffed. 

'Of course. Though that man was my enemy, seeing him on the brink of death made me realize he's still Ena’s father.' 

'So you were worried about him?' Rick inquired. I narrowed my eyes. 

'Cut the crap. Why are you here?' He seemed unfazed by my question. He even had the audacity to take a seat on my bed. 

Well, technically it was his bed. But I didn't care. 

'There is something you're not telling me,' he said.

'Oh yeah? And since when have you cared? Why am I even obliged to tell you anything?'

In a split second, he was in my face. I just glared back, not giving in. I was his equal, if not superior. If we had a showdown, it was sure to be an epic one. 

'Why are you resorting to violence?' he growled, 'It's not like you. I can feel your bloodlust.'

'You know nothing about me,' I spat, 'there was a time you did. But all that went down the drain when I realized you were manipulating me and it was all a setup. You never cared. After I found out, you didn't even apologize. You were just crueler.'

'You don't even know the whole story!' he yelled, 'How dare you judge me?!' I sneered at his words.

'I know the facts,' I stated, 'it was complete hell for me and Luna. You did nothing to stop your father. In fact, you cheered him on.'

Kendrick was shaking with rage. He was desperately holding back, I knew he was. He wanted to punch me. Slap me. Do all the things his father did when I was rebellious. 

But his next words shocked me. 

'Let me explain.'

I stared at him. 

'Sorry, what?'

'Let. Me. Explain.'


I gaped. I couldn't believe he was actually offering to explain. He took my silence as a yes. 

'You know... I wasn't raised right by my dad. Whatever he taught me went against my natural instincts. To treat pack members like personal assistants. To protect only the Alpha and Beta line. To be nothing but ruthless.'

He took a deep breath and looked at me. I had not completely recovered, but I gestured for him to go on. 

'My mother told me not to listen to him. My father demanded that I remembered each word. My family life was filled with too much conflict to comprehend. But... there was this girl.'

My eyes softened when I realized who he was talking about. 'Being with her was an escape from reality. She was independent, strong and didn't let how she was being treated affect her. She always smiled and laughed around me.' 

I swallowed to get rid of the lump in my throat. 

'But the day my dad commanded I prove my strength by manipulating you... and I agreed to... was the worst decision I had ever made. In truth, I wasn't manipulating you at all. What we had was real. I just said that to satisfy my father.

'Kayden was concerned for you too. That's why he told you in secret. When I realized you knew... I didn't know how to react. So I made the second bad decision. I distanced us and acted cruelly towards you. Made you think that I was just like him.'

He sighed. 'I didn't know how to fix it. At the time, I didn't see any other solution. When you ran away without telling me, it hurt. I... thought about all the times we had made plans to escape. But no one but my Mom knew about it. I was... depressed for weeks after that.' 


I looked down to hide my tears. Rick breathed heavily for a few seconds, then continued. 

'A year later, I challenged my dad to a duel and killed him. Kayden helped me. I took over the pack and tried my best to right my father's wrongs. But there was too much. The burden was too much. And you weren't there to help me through it. I started acting as I did before, thinking that it was best to seem invincible. But in reality, it was anything but that.'

'Wait...' I said, 'you killed him?' He looked at me with confusion. 

'Who else could?' 

I blinked. Then slowly my expression started to change. Tears started flowing freely and I looked down to hide them. I wiped them away with my arm, but more just came. 'Why didn't you tell me?' I asked, tears in my voice. I looked up to see his kind smile, the one I had missed with all my heart. 

'I'm not any smarter,' he said, 'I still make stupid decisions. I had so many chances to tell you, but I knew you hated me. The fact that we were mates just made it worse. You thought we were stuck together, and like I was just like my father.'

'I knew you weren't like him,' I mumbled. It was true. At one point, the memories from our childhood had kept me sane. 'Kendrick...' I started and looked at him. He looked back, worry in his eyes. 

To his surprise, I lunged at him and hugged him. We fell on the bed. He took a second to recover, but he hugged me back just as tightly. 

'This doesn't erase all those years,' I said softly, 'but this is our second chance.' I then glared at him. 

'Mess it up, and I'll kill you.' 

His laughter stilled for a second but immediately burst out again. 

'I swear I won't mess it up, Ren. I will do everything in my power.' There was a serious tone in his voice. I smiled against his chest. 

'Who knows? You're an idiot after all.'


^^^^


I slowly opened my eyes. The sunlight was shining on my face like a gentle alarm. I hated alarms in general, but the sun wasn't too bad. I tried to sit up, wondering why I hadn't closed the curtains last night. The warm memories came back in a gentle wave and I smiled. 

Sighing in sadness that we had wasted so much time, but never mind that. We could start over now. 

I turned over to look at Kendrick. His heavy arm and leg over me were the reasons I couldn't sit up. I giggled softly at his drooling face. 

'Rick,' I sang, 'good morning!' he gave a small grunt and buried his face in the pillow to escape the sunlight. I tried to wriggle out of his arms and get dressed for a busy day, but he just held on tighter. 

'Let me go!' I squealed. 

'You're my new body pillow. You're not going anywhere,' he said in his sleepy morning voice. It sent chills up my spine. Staring at his messy bed hair, I reached out to ruffle it. 

'We have things to do. Come on.' He groaned. 

'Five more minutes.'


We ended up getting out of bed half an hour later, only because I wriggled out when Rick finally fell asleep again. He was a little grumpy when I kicked him off, but oh well. Just because we made up didn't mean he could slack off when it concerned the pack.

'Morning, Luna!' I chirped as I knocked and entered her suite. I looked around in wonder, it was extremely pretty, perfectly reflecting Luna's personality. It had a red and gold theme to it, representing her regal beauty and intelligence, according to me. She walked over to me from her dining table. 

'Morning, Ren!' she said, giving me a hug. 'Would you like some breakfast?' 

'How about I cook?' I suggested enthusiastically, 'It's been a while.' Luna laughed in delight. 

'That would be great!' she said, 'It’s been so long!' I smiled brightly in response and headed to the kitchen. Opening the fridge, I realized it was full of everything I could possibly need. I decided to make a quick breakfast burrito with three cups of coffee. 

Three, because that lazy ass should make his way downstairs any time now. 

About twenty minutes later, I walked over to the table and set everything down. Luna walked out of her room, dressed in her combat clothes. 'Breakfast is served,' I said. She gave me a bright smile and sat down. Just then, there was a knock on the door. My wolf got all excited, knowing exactly who it was. 


'Morning,' Rick said, walking in and giving me a hug, though it hadn't been an hour since we last saw each other. Luna looked at us in shock, then understanding. 

'You finally told her, didn't you?' she asked. Kendrick sighed. 

'Yeah,' he said, 'I finally did.' Luna sprang up, a huge smile on her face. 

'That's great!' she said, 'I'm finally getting my daughter-in-law!' I laughed. 

'That's still a long way away,' I said, 'we do have very long lives, you know.'

'That is true,' she said, 'I know that you can handle him if he causes any problems, but I will personally give him a good beating if he hurts you in any way. You may not biologically be my daughter, but I consider you one anyway.'

I said "aw" and gave her a big hug while Rick shook visibly. 

'The fact that you can threaten me like that with a bright smile on your face is scarier than you think,' he said. I laughed loudly at that, while Luna kept smiling. Rick sat down at the table and I set his coffee and burrito in front of him. 


His eyes adorably lit up when he saw it. He was becoming the older version of himself that I knew and fell in love with and I couldn't be happier. 'Did you make this?' he asked. 

'Yeah,' I said, 'I thought I'd cook for Luna for today and knew you would be coming along soon.' 

'It's been so long since I've tasted your cooking,' he groaned, 'I don't care if it's impolite, I'm eating this right now.' I laughed. This has been one of my best mornings in a long, long time. 

'So what's the plan for today?' I asked as I sipped my coffee.

'We should probably get started on your training if you're up for it,' Rick said, 'I'll come over after I finish the paperwork. There's a ton piled up because I've been so busy lately.' 

'I can help with that,' I said, 'since I'm gonna be Luna and everything.' I had pretty much accepted the fact that I would be Luna. Deep down, I knew Rick wouldn't ever hurt me again. Making threats was just fun. 

'You sure about that?' he asked skeptically, 'Wouldn't you rather do something other than signing documents and sending emails?' I shrugged, I didn't mind. 'If you would like it, I can get you your own office soon,' he continued, 'since you're gonna be Luna and everything.' 

I smiled. 'I would love that,' I said. 

'Make sure it's not in the basement,' Luna said, 'its such a silly place to keep your office, so hard to access.' 

'That's the point,' Rick said. I laughed. Luna stood up. 

'I'll oversee pack training today, Rick,' she said, 'you and Ren can finish the paperwork and then work on her training.' Rick nodded and Luna walked out with a smile. I stood up and started clearing up while Rick texted someone on his phone. We headed to his office soon after that. 


I spent held the day reading documents and asking Rick questions. It was... quite the experience. Rick was quite patient, but I was completely clueless when it came to some topics, such as relations with the government and schedules for the pack. 

I embarrassed myself a few times asking questions that were painfully obvious. 

Finally, three hours later, we were done. 

'That was… harder than I expected it to be,' I stated, 'I don't like it at all. I suck.' Rick laughed as he got up and stretched. 

'You should probably leave business and relations to me,' he said, 'pack work better suits you.' I nodded in agreement. 

'I didn't know you owned two companies,' I said, 'there was a ton of paperwork from there.' He sighed. 

'It was just a hobby. I have a bunch of people handling them.' 

I stared at him, open-mouthed. 'You're telling me two multi-million dollar companies were just a hobby?' He shrugged, not knowing what else to say. I was still waiting for an answer, but he decided to not give me one and walk away.

'Not so fast, mister,' I muttered and jumped on his back. He laughed and caught my legs, giving me a piggyback ride to the training ground. I changed into my combat clothes and warmed up. 


'Would you like to shift or remain in human form?' Rick asked. I took a second to think about it, both forms had different perks. 

'Let's shift,' I said, 'I can do that weird thing only in wolf form.' Rick's face lit up with realization. 

'I forgot to tell you,' he said, 'but I have a theory on that weird power.' I hit on the head. 

'You should've told me sooner,' I said, 'this is important stuff, stupid.' Rick proceeded to explain how he suspected I could control air.

'I did my research later,' he said, 'it is highly possible since ghouls can control the elements. But it was the first time forty wolves died in one shot.' Of course, it was. I was the "first" everything. 

'I'll give full control to my wolf,' I said, 'I can't control it, only she can.' Rick nodded. 

'It might be different from last time since you're half vampire now,' he said, as I got ready to shift. 'Be careful and try to control it the best you can.' I sighed. 

'I don't know if you should be here,' I said, 'it's too dangerous.' He smirked. 

'I survived the forty wolves, didn't I? Now shift.' 

I got down on all fours, not bothered about my clothes. There was silence for a few seconds as I stared at the ground shifted. 

Well, tried to. 

I looked up at my Alpha mate in fear. 

'Rick?' I whispered, 'I can't shift.'


 ^^^^


I stared at him, scared. There was no way. 

Had turning into a vampire taken away my ability to shift into a wolf? 

'Baby, breathe,' Rick said, gently hugging me. But there was worry all over his face. 'Describe what's happening.' 

'I... try to shift,' I said, 'to go through the usual process. Feel the familiar feeling.' He nodded for me to continue. 'But I can't,' I said, 'my wolf's there, but she's changed. She can't shift.' He pursed, trying to think of a solution. 

Just then, a sharp pain shot through my chest, right where my heart was. I clutched my chest and fell on the ground. 'What's wrong?' Rick asked, shocked. 

'My chest... hurts,' I groaned, 'I'm...' I grit my teeth to keep from crying out as the pain intensified. 

What the actual...

'I'm... shifting,' I said, as bones cracked in my face. It was as painful as my first shift, if not more. 

But why?

My scream slowly changed into a strangled howl. I could feel Rick cringe from my pain, I know he couldn't bear seeing me like this. Finally, the pain subsided. 

I opened my eyes, slowly. 


The colours hit me hard. They were vibrant, radiating emotion. I looked at them in shock and then slowly turned to my mate. 

He was staring at me open-mouthed. His green eyes with flecks of orange in them were brighter than ever. 'R-Ren,' he stammered, 'what...?' I raised an eyebrow, confused. Why was he staring at me like that? 

Whoa, hold up. 

Why was I able to raise an eyebrow? 

Why was he not towering over me? 

I looked down, panicked. I was staring at my own two feet. 

Feet? Not paws?

What exactly... had I shifted into?

'Rick,' I said, almost having a panic attack, 'what do I look like, exactly?' 


'You... you...' he said, still not able to form a coherent sentence, 'look like...' I gulped. 'You need to see this for yourself,' he finally stated. I nodded and dashed into the forest and towards the waterfall. Our spot. I got there faster than I expected. 

I hesitantly looked into the water, staring for a few seconds. I was still... me. 

But I had bright green eyes and prominent fangs. My facial features looked more feral. I subconsciously gave the reigns to my wolf because I couldn't handle the shock and wanted to see how she would react. To my surprise, she seemed quite comfortable in this form, like she had been waiting for it. 

I was anything but comfortable. 


Rick came up behind me. I didn't turn around. I didn't know what to feel, how to react. I didn't know how he would react. 

I was... a vampire. 

I realized I was crying when my tears fell into the waterfall. 'Rick,' I said, my voice cracking, 'what... am I?' He quietly hugged me from behind. My body shook in his arms. The realization that I would never be able to turn into a wolf again hit me hard.

I realized just how much I had been depending on that form's instincts, simple emotions and comfort. My wolf... she meant so much to me. And she was a vampire now? 

I couldn't get my head around it. 

I cried for a few minutes, letting everything that happened wash over me. Seraphina's disappearance, carrying Ena out of New Orleans, finding out Rick and I were mates, visiting Witch HQ and the Claw pack. I remember Luna's smile when I woke up and Rick throwing us into the dungeon. 

I remembered how Vamp waltzed in like he owned the place. Us going to Witch HQ and the ghouls ambushing us. Ena and Kayden disappearing and Rick telling me what I thought were "facts" weren't the truth. 

And finally, this. I was a vampire. Kinda. 


I turned and buried my face in Rick's chest. His hand moved over my hair, soothing me. 'What now?' I asked. 

'They'll be coming soon,' Rick said, 'we need to prepare for war and hone your abilities. Everyone believes the lies spread. We need you, Ren. I know it’s hard, but... we can get through this. We'll see Ena and Kayden again and even save the head of the council. But all of that's possible only if you stay strong. This doesn't change anything. You're still Serena.'

I nodded. He stood up, picking me up in his arms. 'Do you think you can shift back?' he asked, as we walked back to the pack. I nodded and concentrated. My fangs retracted and I could feel the muscles in my face relax. 

I sighed. 'I can't shift into a wolf anymore,' I said, 'will the pack even accept me?' He looked at me with a determined look on his face. 

'This is your family,' he said, 'of course, they will accept you. You just need to accept yourself.' 

The words stabbed through my heart. 

You need to accept yourself. 

Accept. Yourself. 


I took a deep breath and blinked the tears away. The pack came into view. 'Rick,' I said, 'let's do the Luna ceremony tomorrow.' He looked at me in surprise. 

'Are you sure?' he asked, 'It can wait, there's no rush.' I shook my head. 

'The pack is completely confused. We'll explain everything tomorrow and hold another council to discuss war preparations. Is that okay?' Rick's shocked expression slowly turned into a smile. 

'Of course,' he said, kissing my forehead, 'I'll inform the pack and start the preparations.' I sighed and wriggled a little so Rick could set me down. 

'I'm going to shift again,' I said, 'and I'm going to try to do the air thing, so please step back.'


I spent the rest of the evening practicing those weird things I did with the air, and I soon realized that they relied on natural instinct, like my wolf. It was extremely difficult to do it on will and they always came out weak. Rick and I even did some hand-to-hand combat to improve my reflexes and control. 


Later in the evening, when I told Luna about it, she seemed confused. 'There's one thing I don't understand,' she said, 'you turned into a wolf directly after you... died. So why the delayed reaction?' 

'I was thinking about that too,' Rick said, 'perhaps because she was just newly turned? I'm not sure.' 

'I'll ask Vamp about it later,' I said, yawning. 'For now, I'm heading to bed. I'm exhausted.'

'Good night,' Luna said, 'I'm working on the preparations for the ceremony tomorrow, so you need to be up and about early to enjoy it.'

'All right!' I said, 'thank you, Luna!' she smiled and walked away. I turned to Rick. 


'So,' I said, walking towards the suite, 'what exactly happens in the ceremony? Each pack is different and I never came around to ask.' Rick sighed. 

'It's nothing too fancy,' he said, 'you'll say a few vows. Fight me. And then have a huge barbecue in the evening.' 

'All right,' I shrugged, 'not too bad.' I did a double-take. 'Hold up,' I said, 'did you just say "fight me"?' He sighed. 

'As I said, it's not too big of a deal. Just put on a good show. It's mostly entertainment for the pack, we don't need to wound each other.' I sighed in relief, but I was still worried. I didn't want to accidentally use those weird air powers and hurt him. 

'Don't shift,' he said as if he knew exactly what I was thinking, 'we'll fight in human form.' i laughed. 


'Remember the time when we were kids and you promised you'd fight me after you took down your dad?' I asked. He gave me his signature smirk in return. 

'Well, we have the perfect opportunity now,' he said. I scoffed. 

'Like we haven't fought before,' I teased. 

'It was never official,' he retorted. I punched him on the arm, but I knew he didn't feel a thing because I didn't have any energy. 

We reached the suite and I collapsed on the bed and fell asleep immediately. 


^^^^^


The next morning, I woke up bright and early. Compared to my old self, who woke up at noon, this was pretty refreshing. Rick was softly snoring next to me and I decided to let him get some precious sleep. 

We never knew when they could attack. 

I walked downstairs and grabbed some breakfast from the mess hall. The pack was busy with preparations for the ceremony and the party later. Little pups were running around, all excited. I smiled and waved as they passed me. 

It had been a while since I had seen them all so happy and excited. 


A few people greeted me with respect as I passed, a few ignored me. They probably heard that I couldn't shift anymore. I tried not to think too much about it. I wandered all around, past the packhouse and to the prison. I greeted the guards outside and had a small talk with them. 

The prison mostly held rouges who had tried to attack the pack, but to my surprise, it now held humans too. Apparently, they were people who had found out about our existence. They weren't mistreated or locked up in a cell, the prison had special rooms for them where they lived peacefully. 

Of course, there were people who had found out about us that weren't in custody, but there was nothing we could do about that. Not many people would believe them if they spilled, anyway. 


I continued walking towards the pack hospital and met the pack's head doctor, Wendy. The last time we had met was complete chaos, so it was nice to have a peaceful chat. She was about a year older than me and had a brilliant sense of humour. We clicked instantly, but I didn't remember seeing her here before. 

When I asked her about it, she said she had transferred from another pack that Rick had taken over. It wasn't by force, it was a peaceful merge. 'I'm glad to hear that,' I said, breathing a sigh of relief. I didn't want her to think of Rick as an enemy or anyone else for the matter. 

We chatted idly for a few more minutes about my "death" and sudden shift. 'I was shocked when you woke up,' Wendy said, 'I wasn't aware that you had vampire blood in your system, though I knew about the ghoul part. I thought Alpha was going to go ballistic.'

I laughed. 'It must've been quite shocking,' I agreed, 'but I was petrified when I realized he was going to jump.' Wendy shook her head in disappointment. 

'He can't live without you,' she said, 'he's been keeping track of you all those years you weren't here. You were constantly on his mind, he didn't even look at another girl.' I sighed. 

'Did you try to shoot your shot with him?' I asked. 

'Yes,' she replied honestly, 'but he shut me down immediately and I never tried again. I'm sorry if I offended you, I didn't know he was your mate.' I laughed. 

'Don't worry about it,' I said, 'I understand why you would like him. I hope you find your mate soon.' She smiled, then politely left since she had patients to tend to and I had to start heading back to prepare for the Luna ceremony. 


I took my time walking back, looking around and taking everything in. When I finally walked into the packhouse, I was greeted by a very hassled Luna.

'Where were you?!' she said, 'The ceremony starts in less than an hour and you need to get dressed!' I stared at her pleadingly. 

'Do I HAVE to?' I whined. She gave me a stubborn look and I sighed. 'Fine,' I said, 'what am I wearing?'

'Well, you have two options,' she said, 'either a super fancy cockatiel dress, or tank top and shorts.' I gave her "that" smile. She laughed. 

'Tank top and shorts it is,' she said. 

'You know it,' I said. 'Is Rick up yet?' 

'Yeah,' she replied, 'he's getting some last-minute work done in his office. If you're planning to go there, just tell him to come upstairs and grab some breakfast.' 

'Or... I could just mind-link him,' I said, 'because I'm too lazy to walk down two flights of stairs.' Luna laughed and walked out of the room. I gave Rick a mental knock. 


'Watcha doin'?' I sang. He sighed and I could tell he was stretching. I wished I was there now...

'I just finished up some paperwork. I'll head upstairs, I know it's time for the ceremony. Did you decide what it's going to be? Formal or casual?' 

'You know my decision, why are you asking?' I scoffed. He chuckled and I could smell him getting closer. 

'I'll go grab some clothes. See you in five.'

'I'll grab some breakfast for you,' I volunteered. He muttered thanks and cut the link. I quickly grabbed a plate and started filling it. I didn't put too much in because he had to fight me later and then there was the humongous barbecue. My mouth watered just thinking about it. 


A few minutes later, he walked in with Luna. As soon as he saw me, he walked over and gave me a small kiss on the forehead. I giggled. Luna smiled and "awwed" as she watched. 

'I would give you more time to ogle at each other,' she said, 'but you guys need to scarf down breakfast and get to the altar. We're late.' I looked at her in surprise. 

'Didn't you say we had more than half an hour?' I asked, 'How are we late?' Rick sighed. 

'The to-be Luna and Alpha of the pack need to be there fifteen minutes prior to greet the guests,' he said. I looked at him in shock and began eating, not saying a word. Rick shrugged and followed suit while Luna just shook her head in disappointment. 

'Mmm hmphmphm mh-mm hmm,' I said. 

'Mhhhmmm! Mhm mm,' Rick replied. Luna gave me a mental knock. 

'Hold up,' she said, 'I didn't catch that.' I gave her an odd look and continued stuffing my mouth. 

'What did you not get?' I asked, through a mind-link, 'I said, "You're supposed to tell me things like that", and he replied, "Sorry! I forgot."' Luna continued giving me the odd look. I ignored it and finished eating. 

'We gotta get going,' I said, running to the doors. 

'Mmmhm! Mhmm mm hm!' 

'Wait up, I'm not done yet,' I translated for Luna. She gave me a small "oh" and walked out through the opposite doors. I was still confused about why she didn't understand, it was perfectly clear to me. 


I jogged to the altar. I knew where it was because I had passed it while walking today morning. Rick caught up not a minute later. 'You could've waited,' he said. 

'Aren't you cute?' I cooed, 'But guests are more important.' 

'They're not guests, they are people you've known your whole lives.'

'Right now they are since we need to welcome them.' 

'The need to greet doesn't make them guests.'

'Says who?'

'I do, the Alpha of the Claw Pack.'

'And I say, as the future Luna, that it is false.'

'And do you have any proof?' 

'About what?' 

He was silent for a second. 

'What are we talking about again?' he asked. I burst out laughing. We walked to a small arch that marked the entrance to the open-air hall and altar. It was also used as a stage for big pack gatherings. 


People weren't in sight, but I could hear and smell them coming closer. The packhouse and the houses of the members weren't too far away so they would be here in less than a minute.

'Ready?' Rick asked through a mind-link. 

'Not really,' I replied, 'we do need to give a big explanation after all. I wonder how they'll take it.'

'They're a tough pack. This is nothing.'

'I sure hope it is,' I replied as I greeted the first couple and chatted for a few seconds. After that, people just started piling in. 

Less than fifteen minutes later, almost the entire pack was seated. The border still had tight security, so many warriors were on their shifts. But it was a necessary sacrifice. 

Rick and I climbed up to the altar. I took a deep breath and saw the people sitting in front of me, about three hundred of them. They were my pack, my family. 


'Good morning!' Rick greeted. Everyone repeated the greeted and I smiled. 'I would like to introduce your new Luna,' he said, gesturing towards me. I stepped forward. 

'Hello!' I said, 'I am Serena Montalouge. Kendrick Claw's mate and a member of this pack.' 

There were whispers and mutters. Rick frowned. 

'Now, can we please show some respect? This is her Luna ceremony, where she will officially be declared Luna. Does anyone dare oppose this?' 

The mutters decreased but didn't stop. I looked at Rick uncomfortably, I feared this would happen. 

Someone in the crowd stood up. 

'With all due respect, Alpha Claw,' he said in a loud voice, 'isn't she the person who abandoned the pack a few years ago? And isn't she half-ghoul?' 

I stared at the person in shock. Rick growled violently. 'How does that matter?' he replied, 'She received the worst of my father's punishments. He kept her locked up in a cell for her origins. She didn't abandon the pack, she did what she thought would help her survive at the moment.' 

I knew the only reason Rick didn't bite that guy's head off was because he was trying to set an example. He was trying to show the pack that he was not like his father. But then again, no one would dare speak up if they knew he was. 

'I assure you,' I said, 'I have no intentions of betraying the pack. I will protect it with my life.'

There was tension between us both and the members. They didn't trust me. Rick opened his mouth, but I cut him off. 

'What can I do to earn your trust?' I asked them. Everyone in the crowd was shocked. Rick looked at me like I was crazy. 

'You don't need to do anything,' he said, and then addressed the crowd. 'Serena is your Luna since she is my mate. And that is final.' 

'Does anyone oppose this decision? Or have any questions about where my loyalty stands?' I asked. The same guy from earlier stood up. 


'Alpha, if I may,' he said, completely ignoring me. 'Is it true that your mate cannot shift into a wolf? And that her heart does not beat?' There were gasps of shock. I shifted uncomfortably, this was not how they were supposed to find out. 

'What an outrageous assumption!' a female yelled. I opened my mouth but was cut off by someone else. 

'She's fake!' 

'Shut up! You have no proof!'

'Our Alpha has no mate! That's proof enough!' 

Those words were like a bullet to my heart. 

Rick was shaking in anger. If I didn't step in, things would get bloody. 

'SILENCE!' I yelled, using my wolf voice. Everything was quiet immediately. Not even the birds chirped. 

'I am Kendrick Claw's mate, Serena Montalouge!' I yelled, 'And the future Luna of the Claw Pack! This is my family and I will protect it with my life! Those who doubt me and my intentions...' I took a deep breath, 'will be proved wrong.' 

Rick looked at me in awe, his anger disappearing. I glared at the crowd, challenging anyone to oppose my statement. 

No one did. 

'Now,' I said, smiling, 'let's move on with the ceremony.'


It was pretty simple. I had to cut my hand and let my blood drip into flames. They burned bright blue once my blood touched it. There were shocked gasps when the colour appeared, blue meant that tough times were coming. 

There was no guarantee if we lived or died. 

I pushed that thought aside and continued. Kendrick put blood in too and that was over with. Now for the hard part. 


Instead of giving speeches about the packs future, we didn't follow tradition and gave them an explanation of the events that happened so far. Once they heard that, everyone was much more accepting of me. The way Rick put it, nothing was under my control or my fault. 

He had a way with words. 

'And so, we need to be prepared,' he continued, 'the world believes the lies spread. We have allies, but the war is inevitable. But we will be the victors, no doubt about it!'

'Do remember the evacuation plan and let the warriors take charge,' I reminded, 'do not panic or scream. Stay calm and you will be safe, I promise you.' Rick nodded in approval. I smiled. 

'Now that everything is clear,' I exclaimed with a mischievous smile, 'time for the fight! It's going to be epic...' 


^^^^


Everyone filed out of the area and headed towards the training grounds. On the way, I walked beside Luna. It was quite a long walk, since the training ground was on the opposite side of the pack, so I decided to ask her some questions. 

'Luna,' I said, 'how did your ceremonial fight go?' She smiled. 

'It was completely staged,' she replied, 'he planned every move out. It was an easy victory for him since I wasn't even trying.' I looked away, sad that I wasn't surprised. 'It won't be that way for you, though,' she continued, 'I am personally looking forward to this. I know this will be one to remember.' 

I laughed. 'This fight has been overdue for a very long time,' I said, 'and I honestly don't know who'll win since we're not shifting.' Luna nodded. 

'Just have fun,' she said, 'and go easy on him. If you win too fast, you'll hurt his pride.' 

'Don't underestimate me,' Rick said, breezing past us. I laughed. 

'Are you sure his pride isn't already hurt?' I giggled. 


Soon, we were in the ring. The pack gathered all around us and cheered. I cracked my knuckles and faced Rick, feeling confident. 

'Not so fast,' he said, 'we need a referee.' My eyes widened. I hadn't thought about that. 

'Allow me,' Luna said, walking out of the large crowd. Everyone cheered at the sight. I smirked. 

'This is going to be so much fun.'

'And... begin!' 


The timer went off. It was a traditional one versus one, there would be three rounds, each lasting five minutes. If any round came to a draw, the number of rounds would be increased by two. Therefore, if there was a draw in any of these three rounds, we would fight five rounds in total. 

Rick and I slowly circled each other. The crowd was holding their breath in anticipation. They expected great things of me after my words at the ceremony. I knew they wouldn't be dissatisfied, I had some tricks up my sleeve. 

I gave a quick glance to the watch. Twenty seconds had passed. Rick and I locked eyes, each waiting for the other to make the first move. 

Oh well. 


I ran at him, but just as he was expecting me to attack I jumped up and landed in a somersault behind him. I turned around and kicked him hard, but he caught my leg. 

Uh-oh. 

He turned me over and slammed me into the ground. I let out a gasp as the impact spread through my body. The crowd "ooohed" and I could feel Luna grimace. 

I pushed him off and stood up. Thirty seconds had passed. 


This time, we both charged simultaneously. We met in the middle and I saw his signature right hook coming. But I knew that was a feint because he had tensed up his left leg. As he ducked down and tried to trip me, I jumped and kicked him in the face. 

I turned and faced him as he stood up. We locked eyes and he smirked, wiping blood from the corner of his mouth. I licked my lips, knowing he was about to get serious. 


The next minute passed with neither of us getting a hit on each other. We saw through feints and blocked each attack. I was starting to worry about a tie. No one would want extra rounds against him, not even me. 

But it couldn't be helped. 

'Time's up!' Luna declared, 'This round ends in a tie! The number of rounds will go up to five!' 


This was perfectly normal but I couldn't help but feel nervous. This was all fun and games, but I didn't want to lose. That meant I needed to play smart. 

Brute force wouldn't work against him. He outclassed me in strength. But I was quite sure I had the agility and brains to beat him. That is, if he didn't go into a complete try-hard mode. He wouldn't let me win, I had to work for it. 


'Round two, begin!' Luna said. The clock started ticking. This time, I charged immediately. I could tell Rick was trying to figure out what I was up to. We exchanged punches and kicks, but it was pretty even. I knew I had to change it up so that this round would have a winner. 

Just as he tried to trip me again, I caught his leg and got up in a handstand, kicking his face again. He staggered back, half on the ground. Just then, I kicked him hard on the stomach, still on my hands. He fell to the ground. 

'And that's a K.O.!' Luna declared smiling, 'The round goes to Serena!' There were cheers all around. I walked up to Rick and helped him up. 

'Where did you learn that?' he muttered, 'I've never seen it before.' I gave him a small smile and retreated, not answering. He gave a small growl. 

'You're going to regret that, honey,' he said through a mind-link. My eyes widened and a chill ran down my spine. 

Wrong time to provoke him. Wrong time to provoke him. Bad idea. I'm done for. 


'Before we start round three,' Luna said, 'there is a little change.' I looked at her in confusion. 'Weapons used for hand-to-hand combat are now allowed.' 

My mouth dropped open. 

'The competitors have a choice to use one of the weapons provided, or fight barehanded. They can have a mutual understanding, or... spice things up.' 

I gulped. This was bad. Bad bad. 

'What do you say, my Luna?' Rick asked out loud, 'Shall we?' He walked over to a table containing weapons and picked up a pair of bolases. They weren't made of rope, but of iron chains. The weights at the ends had nasty-looking spikes on them. 

This is just great!

I walked over and picked up a pair of hunting knives. They were as long as my forearm and had a sharp, jagged edge. They fit in my hand perfectly, like they were custom-made. 

'I had a feeling you would go for those,' Rick commented. 

'And I'm seeing something new here,' I mused, 'Bolases? Interesting. Let's see how well you can use them.' Rick came close to me and gripped my waist. 

'I can use them extremely well,' he said in my ear, 'as you're going to see.' 


He walked to the ring. I caged my fan-girl side and shook off the intimidating feelings. We were evenly matched opponents and I felt much better with these knives in my hands. 

'Round three, begin!' Luna declared. We circled slowly. Rick spun a bolas at his side and held the other one with his free hand. I twirled the hunting knives around my hands and kept them aligned with my forearms. This was more efficient than having them in front of your face where your opponent could predict their movement. 

'A minute has passed!' Luna reminded us. The crowd "oohed". 

Time to fight.


Rick knew exactly what he was doing, keeping his bolases in constant motion meant that I couldn't predict their movement accurately. I would have to rely on instinct for this one. 

He charged this time, swinging his bolases everywhere. Now that I was closer, I could see that the edges of the spikes had been made blunt for this fight so that there would be no serious injury. But I couldn't hold back. 

I had the disadvantage since those bolases had a pretty long range. Getting up close was harder than I expected since Rick kept his guard up. But a few seconds later I began to see a pattern in the movement of the bolases, though extremely complicated. 

I decided I had no other choice. I charged and predicated the pattern. Depending on where the bolases' position, I could predict where they would come from to attack me. 

I dodged one, narrowly missed the other and tackled Rick. But one hit me in the back while I tried to pin him to the ground with my knife. I cried out in pain and tried to breathe. Rick used this moment to land another hit on me, his signature right hook with his chain covered fist. 

I fell to the ground, coughing. 

'Round three goes to Kendrick!' Luna declared, 'K.O. for Serena!' The crowd cheered. I grit my teeth and clutched my side. Rick walked up to me. 


'Are you not able to go on?' he asked. I snarled and jumped up. 

'In your dreams,' I said and spat out blood. Rick smiled. 

'Did I hit you too hard?' he asked through a mind-link. 'I can go easy on you if you want. You need to make a good impression on the pack.'

'And what will the pack think when you go easy on me?' I countered, annoyed, 'We're evenly matched. Don't get too cocky.' 

'That's what I like to hear.'


'Round four, begin!' Luna said. 

A few minutes later, I stood over Kendrick. He had a cut on his arm. It wasn't deep and it wouldn't leave a scar, but it did mark my victory. 

Panting, I extended a hand. He accepted with his good arm. 

We didn't exchange words, our eyes and movements were enough. I knew this wouldn't be easy, but it looks like he went out of his way to make me lose. This round was a tough one. 

'Round four goes to Serena!' Luna declared, 'The victor of the next round wins this match! If it is a tie, two more rounds will be added!' 

Please don't be a tie. 

'Begin!' 


The bolases spun all-round the ring. I twirled my knives and got into a fighting stance. 

This was it. 

I ducked under one and dodged the other. Jumped to avoid the trip. The crowd "ooohed" at my defensive strategy. I patiently waited for an opening, but time was running out. I couldn't afford a tie. 

I slashed at a bolas and twirled the chain around my knife, stopping the motion. I then yanked it out of his hand and threw it on the ground. Everyone "oohed", impressed. I smirked. 

Feeling more confident, I charged. I got up close and in his face, slashing and dodging. 

I was right. I was superior in agility. He was at a disadvantage while I was up close, unable to get a hit in. 

Time to finish it. 

I went in to cut his chest, but to my surprise he blocked my knife with the chain. He then wrapped it around and pulled, twisting it out of my hand. 

I stepped back and twirled my last knife all round. The bolas started swinging again. He kept hitting me, and I kept dodging and blocking. 

'Thirty seconds left!' Luna yelled. That distracted me for a second, since I didn't want this to tie. Rick took that opportunity and punched me hard in the stomach. I staggered back and ducked to avoid the bolas. 

'Shit,' I muttered. Rick hammered me with his bolas, not giving me a chance to recover. 

'Time's up!' 

Rick stopped immediately. 

'This round goes to Kendrick! The victor of this match is Kendrick Claw!'


^^^


I was panting hard, still on the ground. The crowd burst out cheering. I slowly sat up and smirked, looking at Rick. I thought I would win, but I'd forgotten his combat skill. That was my mistake. But I must say, I was kinda proud of him. 

He walked towards me and helped me up. 'Are you all right?' he asked, 'I hit you too hard. I'm sorry.' I laughed. 

'As if,' I said, 'and you should get that cut on your arm checked out. It looks bad.' He scoffed and helped me walk towards a bench. As we both sat down, Wendy made her way towards us. The crowd started to disperse, no doubt preparing for the huge party.


 'You guys put up a great fight,' Wendy said, as she lifted my top and started patching my back up. A male doctor took care of Rick. 'The pack was impressed. I heard a lot of people praising the Luna's technique.' I smiled. 

'It was fun,' I said, 'I didn't know who would win.' Rick elbowed me. 

'Liar,' he scoffed, 'you had no doubt you would win. I had to prove you wrong.'

 I shrugged, 'We're evenly matched.' Wendy chuckled and stood up. 

'All done,' she said, 'you can have some painkillers if it hurts.' I shook my head. 

'Some barbecue will fix me right up,' I said, 'what about Rick?' 

'He'll be fine,' the male doctor said, 'the cut wasn't too severe.' I nodded and extended my hand. 'Luke Hannings,' he said, 'a pleasure to meet you, Luna.'

'The pleasure's all mine,' I said, smiling. 'Now, I'm starving. Let's go.' Wendy told us to go ahead because she and Luke had something to discuss. Rick led the way towards a place where all kinds of delicious aromas wafted from. I sighed in satisfaction. 


'I'm happy we got that over with,' Rick said, 'now the pack is prepared and knows exactly what could happen.' I nodded. 

'I hope they can enjoy today,' I said, 'who knows what can happen next?' Rick put his arm around my shoulders. 

'Don't think about it,' he said, 'today's your day. Enjoy it.' I smiled and gave him a small squeeze.


Soon, I was standing in front of a huge array of barbecue grills and different kinds of meats and a lot of plates. I grabbed one and started filling it. When nothing more would fit, I sat down next to Rick, who to my surprise had taken a decent amount. 

'Mmph? Mmhm mm-hmm?' I asked him. Luna walked up to us. 

'Translation, please,' she sighed. 

'"Huh? Aren't you going to eat more?"' Rick said. Luna laughed. 

'That is a lot,' she said. 'I'll be back in a minute, I need to regulate the alcohol with those silly teens. They don't know how to stop...' Rick and I laughed with our mouths full. There was laughter and smiles all around and I loved it. 

What can I say? Barbecue brings everyone together. 


'This is delicious,' I said, 'I haven't been at a barbecue for so long.' Rick nodded, not saying anything and just enjoying his food. Kids ran past us, laughing and playing tag. Teens a little younger than us hung out in their groups and talked. 

I never had an experience like that... I wondered how it would feel like to have a huge friend group with tons of people you could share your troubles with. I scoffed, my teenage life was filled with beatings and then finally running away. But I was past all that now. I looked at Rick, calmly scarfing down his food. His green eyes were bright in the sunlight and his raven hair had a little shine to it. 


'Are you going to keep staring or is there something you wanna tell me?' he asked. I shook my head. 

'I'm gonna keep staring,' I said, giggling. His eyes met mine and he leaned closer. My breathing hitched, his face was so close. But then he leaned back and I noticed he had a drink in his hand. I looked behind me and sure enough, there was a six-pack of beer. 

I blushed hard and punched him in the stomach. He wasn't going to kiss me, he just wanted a drink. He laughed with a little "oof". I was just about to stand up and walk away, but he grabbed me and turned me around. 

Then he kissed me. 

I was so surprised, I froze. But then I melted into the kiss. It was amazing, I felt tingles all over my body. 

I pulled back when I heard cheers. I opened my eyes and everyone was clapping and cheering. I blushed and hugged Rick to hide my face. He chuckled and hugged me tightly. 


Suddenly, there was a loud scream. We were on our feet immediately. 

People were running and panicking. Blood splattered on my face. 

Rick fell to his knees while I stood there in shock. 

The blood... was...

There was a war cry from two sides of the clearing we were in. The one on my left was only a single person. The one on my right was hundreds of people. My ears could pick out the difference. 

But all I could see was my mate. There was a huge knife in his back, which I sensed a powerful magic form. I fell to my knees while chaos erupted all around me. There was blood and bodies everywhere and fighting all around. 


'Rick,' I breathed, 'you'll be okay. Breathe, baby.'

'Ren,' he said, gripping my shoulders, 'listen to me. I love you.' My eyes widened and tears overflowed. 'I need you to do something for me, sweetheart,' he continued, 'I need you to fight. Keep the pack safe. They need their Luna to be strong and lead them right now. I'll be fine. Tell Mom I love her and remember, you're a Claw now. And...'

'A Claw never gives up,' we both said together. I hugged and kissed him. 


'Leave me,' he breathed, 'the pack needs you.' I gripped his shirt, not wanting to let go. I had finally found love. I had finally sorted it out. But in a split second, everything was crumbling to pieces. I didn't want to go on. I didn't want to live. 

'Baby, I'll always be with you,' Rick said, as if he was reading my thoughts. 'Now fight, for me. Save the pack. I love you...' I cried and hugged him one last time. Then I gently laid him on the ground. Medics swarmed us, but I knew it would be too late. 

I looked across the field and my eyes met familiar blue orbs. 

Athena. 

For a millisecond, I was happy to see her. 

Then I realized the dagger that hit Rick had come from the left. The direction she was in. Kayden appeared behind her. 


'How...' I said, my voice cracking, 'Why...?' 

I couldn't believe Athena did it. But there was no one else. 

She killed him! She killed Kendrick! My best friend in the whole world destroyed me!

Before I knew it, I was in her face. I punched her so hard, she went flying about a hundred meters. 

'HOW COULD YOU?!' I cried. It was heard all over the battlefield. For a second, everyone was in shock. The ghouls and their vampire reinforcements stopped attacking the pack as the person they wanted was punched by their ally. Former ally. 

Kayden appeared from the woods, totally confused. 

'WHY?!' I screamed, 'WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO ME?!'

Athena got to her feet. 'It was for the best,' she said, 'he manipulated you for years. His father tortured you. Don't you want revenge?' I was so blinded by rage, what I did was just pure instinct. 

I grabbed Kayden, who was standing next to me. 

Then I ripped his heart out. 

There was complete silence on the battlefield as Kayden's limp body fell to the ground. 

'Don't you want revenge?' I asked, my voice completely monotone. 

Tears fell from Athena's eyes. She started shaking and her Goddess Flame unleashed. 

'SERENA!!!' she yelled, flying towards me. I shifted instantly and charged her too. 

'ATHENA!!!'


^^^^


We clashed in the middle. She threw a volley of punches and kicks at me, I dodged them all and returned them. We were moving around so fast, all human eyes could see would be shadows of motion. Her eyes were bright blue orbs and flames danced across her skin, burning me. 

But I wasn't any worse. My nails elongated into claws and slashed everywhere. My eyes followed her every movement, not giving her an opening. Knowing each other inside out, fighting was difficult. Predictions were deadly accurate, both hers and mine. That made it hard to move freely. 


A battle cry made its way across the field. The pack had launched a counter-attack. Fights broke out all around us, but I didn't let it distract it from my battle. Even though Athena and I were continuously bruising each other, I didn't feel the pain. The adrenaline rushing through me combined with my emotions increased my strength tenfold. 

I felt a surge of power and I knew what was coming. My air powers were about to activate. In a split second, all the trees around us were cut in half and fell to the ground. Ena doubled over in pain. Her Goddess Flame protected her, but she took decent damage. 

I saw my opening and charged. I kicked her right in the face and sent her flying about a hundred meters again. She crashed into some rubble but was back in my face instantly. While we fought, my rational side told me it was pointless. We were both opponents that held great power, fighting around so many people would just cause unnecessary casualties. I was pretty sure I had killed people already with my air attack earlier. 

But Ena didn't care. She fought me like that's all she lived for. I recognized the look in her eyes, it mirrored mine. An expression of intense pain. A pair of eyes desperately wanting revenge. 


I slashed at her arm and dodged her kick. Her flames lashed out and burned me, and my air then pushed it back. I ducked down and tripped her, but she somersaulted, landed behind me and hit me hard in the back. I fell forward but didn't waste any time, kicking up and hitting her face. 

This went on for a while as people fought around us. I didn't have time to look around, but I did see bodies everywhere; both of my family and of my enemies. Many were still fighting. I saw Luna in her wolf form tearing ghoul's heads off. 

Suddenly, I felt two presences. It felt that they were fighting and nearing our location. One, fortunately, was Vamp. I was happy to know that he was here. 

The other was... 

Seraphina? 


I couldn't ponder it further because Ena started hitting me with Flame covered fists. I had to step up my game or I was losing this fight. 

And there was no way that would happen. 

We both jumped back, panting hard and exhausted. Using my air powers so much took a toll on my body, but I couldn't afford to break down now. This war was far from over. 

I saw Ena's eyes flicker to Kayden's dead body, only for a moment. I took the chance and tackled her. We both fell to the ground and I pinned her arms and body under my legs. 'Why... would you... my... best... friend...' I said that in between punches at her face. She pushed me off and I went flying into some rubble behind me. 


I was sure I cracked some ribs, but I ignored it. At that moment we both were in a fix, not at full power and facing a long battle ahead. I charged at her, wanting to finish it. This time I gave control to my wolf, not wanting to mess it up. Ena seemed to have upped her game too, she suddenly seemed to be able to dodge attacks she couldn't before. 

My wolf hit her with some combos and a few feints. She then attacked with air, though that used a lot of my energy. We knew we would be reaching our limit soon and when I did, I would be immobilized for a while. Maybe even lose consciousness. 

I had to finish this before that and get Ena away from here. Not because I wanted to protect her, but because I didn't want another of my enemies to get what they wanted. My eyes widened when I realized what Ena was to me now.

Just another enemy. 


We clashed again, faster this time. I could see the tiredness in her eyes and I knew mine was clearly visible too. There was no hiding the fact that I was exhausted, barely able to keep the blocks and attacks coming. 

I jumped back to take a few quick breaths. Ena's strategy was to tire me out because we were about the same now. I remembered how I said I never wanted to fight her, and how I would hate it. 

I was living my worst nightmare. 


I charged but ducked down last second to trip her. Our speed had decreased drastically compared to what it was a few minutes ago, but we were still moving too fast to see clearly. 

Ena knew my trick by now and jump-kicked me. I flew backwards but landed on my feet since her kick was nothing compared to the one before. 

As we both ran towards each other again, I had a feeling it would be the last time. Preparing my air powers, I boosted myself forward and launched punches. Ena was forced into a defensive stance and bore the brunt of them. Her arms were badly bruised and bleeding, but she summoned tow columns of flame and cast a spell. 


'Power of the Heavens: Commence!' she yelled. Lighting struck down and I barely dodged. If I hadn't, I would be dead. My hair stood on end and shivers ran throughout my body. I staggered, my vision was a little blurry because of the shock. 

Athena came through the debris and kicked me. I slid back on the ground with the force. The impact left my vision even more distorted than before. I coughed up blood and tried to stand. My wolf whimpered and gave control back to me. We both didn't want to fight her, not like this. 

She stood over me, tears falling. She held a dagger identical to the one that killed Rick. I stared at her, wide-eyed. She slashed down, but I rolled out of the way, only making moves that would save my life. 

So this was what it had come to...?


I rolled out of the way again. The only reason she hadn't got me yet was because she was just as exhausted as I was. 

Would I die by my best friend's hand? After everything we went through, she would be the one to kill me? 

I never expected it. 

As the knife slashed down again, I had no strength. I closed my eyes and waited for the pain. When none came for a few seconds, I opened them again. 

Ena fell to the ground beside me. Luna Oriana stood over the both of us. I sighed in relief and my eyes fluttered close. 


^^^^

When I came to, I couldn't move. I didn't feel any binds, but I was too tired to open my eyes. Smelling rubbing alcohol and blood, I knew I was in some kind of hospital. Flashbacks of what happened began playing in my head. 

Ena killed Rick. And out of pure rage, I tore out the heart of Kayden, her defenseless mate. I did not know what made Ena act this way, but deep down I always knew she hated Rick. 

I just didn't realize how much. 

At that moment, I didn't regret killing Kayden. I didn't know if I ever would. 

Slowly, I opened my eyes. The place I was in was dim, so nothing startled me. I looked around, disoriented, seeming to be in some sort of underground chamber. Sounds of battle still raged above me. 


'Serena?' someone said. I turned around, startled. My ribs and back ached at the movement, I must have some broken bones. I realized the person was talking through a mind-link, and I recognized the voice. 

'Vamp...?' I asked hesitantly. I heard him sigh in relief. 

'I'm glad you're awake,' he said, 'the battle continues.'

'What happened?' I asked, 'I fought Athena, but then... just as she was about to kill me... I remember seeing Luna... and then this. But where are you? How much time has passed?'

 'Don't worry,' he said, but I could hear cries and explosions in the background. 'About fifteen minutes have passed while you were unconscious. Athena has been given a strong sedative and is asleep. She's not harmed, just bound underground. Oriana interfered just as she was about to kill you. ‘

'She was hesitant since it was the battle of the Prophecy, but she did anyway. Now, my vampire reinforcements have arrived but there is no end to the ghouls. It is hard to believe they are an endangered species. They have some vampires on their side too, and the Newest Generation's elemental powers are quite a pain. ‘

'We need you up here, if you can make it.' 

My eyes widened. 'Of course,' I said, getting off the bed, 'I'll be there. What about Seraphina?' 

And what was that about the Prophecy...?

'She's dead, but her ghouls want the Legends and Athena. We need to stop them as soon as possible, or they will have both.' 

'I'm on my way.' 


I cut the link and with that, my emotions and thoughts. I could think later. I would cry later. Right now, I needed to fight. To save the lives of my family and prevent my enemies from getting what they wanted. I had to stay strong, just like Rick told me to. 

Rick. 

Tears came, but I blinked them away. I stormed up the first set of stairs I saw and through the trapdoor. I made sure it was firmly secured and hidden, for other's safety. 

And then the beheading began. 


****


'Vamp?' I asked, a few minutes later, 'where are you?' There was no reply for a few seconds, but I knew he was there because I could hear his grunts and other's screams. 

'I'm getting rid of the higher-end vermin now,' he said, 'the new generation. Their elemental powers are quite annoying.' 

'I'm on my way,' I said, 'where are you?' 

'South-end. But I'm surrounded by hordes, are you sure you can handle it?'

'Of course. And Sera?'

'She's dead. The dagger is safely in my possession.' 

'All right.'


 I carefully made my way towards the southern end. Bodies and blood were everywhere. The ghouls outnumbered us by far and the newest generation was the strongest. If we could take them down, the tables would be turned. 

Someone pounced on my back. I turned around and crushed them into the ground. Others swarmed me immediately. I realized vampires were attacking each other around me too, they must be Vamp's reinforcements. Seeming to be doing pretty well, they handled the ghouls with ease. 

But I didn't have time to see how others were doing. Vamp's scent hit, and I shifted. I was too tired to shift earlier, but with the adrenaline pumping through me that feeling was long gone. I ran towards him, dodging fights and killing lower ranks. 


A few seconds later, he was in sight. But beings were all around him, blasting him with elemental powers continuously. Some vampires were there too, and I could tell he was struggling. Even with his monstrous strength, he wouldn't last long. 

I took a deep breath and screamed as loud as I could. A huge gust of air blew everyone around him away. Vamp himself was pushed back a few meters. I ran towards him and we stood back to back. 

'Are you all right?' I asked, 'you seem hurt.' 

'I'm fine,' he huffed, 'it’s no big deal. Thank you for your help.' I nodded. The ghouls got back up and came at us again. We started fighting, but the amount of pressure they put on us was too much. We were moving deeper into the south forest, away from the pack. Away from reinforcements. 


'This is bad,' I panted, as I rolled under flames and balanced on a small earthquake, 'we need to get out of here.' The ground split under me and I barely held onto a ledge and managed to survive. No matter how many I took down, more took their place. And that wasn't the worst of it. 

There seemed to be lower ranks mixed in with the ghouls we were fighting, who acted as decoys and allowed the New Gen to attack from a safe distance. Normally I would charge them and take them down, but with so many hostiles around me, it was impossible. 

'Serena!' Vamp yelled, 'you have to get out of here!' someone jumped on him and they went rolling away. Bodies were flying everywhere from Vamp's direction, while I silently and swiftly tore heads off, not giving them a chance to attack. I moved towards his general direction, but it was hard to locate him in this swarm of bodies.

Fortunately, some warriors from the pack seemed to have ambushed the New Gen and were busy attacking them. With no earthquakes and fireballs coming at me, I was able to finish off the lower ranks easily.

But where was Vamp?


'Vamp!' I yelled, 'Where are you?!' I heard a grunt from behind me, and was immediately in a fighting stance. Dirt and grass flew everywhere, and out came a very grubby thousand year-old vampire. Vamp spat mud out of his mouth and scowled. 

'Those annoying little...' he sighs, 'couldn't get out of this one.' I nodded in understanding. 

'Let's head back,' I said, 'we need to clear this up.' He and I started running back, but there was a huge explosion on site. The shockwaves reached us and I couldn't fathom the number of lives lost in that one moment. 

'That's Athena,' Vamp muttered. My eyes widened. Vamp picked me up and ran towards the shower of blood. 


^^^^


We were at the scene in seconds. Vamp set me down and we carefully made our way over to the slumped kneeling figure in the middle of a sea of bodies and blood. It reminded me of my vision with Vamp... but this didn't have a cause. This was a slaughter for nothing. People scattered, we were the only ones left in the middle battlefield. 

'Athena,' I said, my voice shaky, 'your fight is with me. Leave innocent souls out of this.' The figure slowly lifted its head. The sun was starting to set, and the shadows made her look even scarier. I could not believe this was a person I had once known, someone I had once bonded with.

 'You...' she lowly growled, 'you're right.' I don't know what happened then. I was staring at crazed eyes right in front of me and I was being choked. Even Vamp was too surprised to react, but he threw her off me with force after a second. She crashed into the ground a few meters away. 


'Is this how you repay a friend trying to help you?' she whispered. It was extremely soft, but I heard it. 'You kill her lover... the one she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Who knew the battle of the Prophecy would be between us?' she got to her feet. 

'What now, Vamp?' I asked him through a mind-link. I was internally panicking, this was bad. I had no idea what she would do next or what I should do to stop her. 

'She's not done yet,' he replied, 'she might go on a rampage. I know you're in no condition to stop her, but we both have to find a way to... put her out of commission. Or it will end in blood.' I pursed my lips. I knew it would all end in blood.


'Oh, trying to defeat me, I see,' Athena mused. 'It won't be so easy. This is my final act.' 

'Athena,' I said, my tone reasonable, 'stop this. We used to be best friends. Let's sit down and talk this out. We're both exhausted.' Right now, I just wanted to stop whatever she was about to do without hurting her or anyone else. But of course, that wasn't going to happen. 

She laughed. It started out as a low chuckle, but became louder and more maniacal as the seconds passed. It was the only thing you could hear on the deathly silent battlefield except dripping blood. 

'You think we can talk about this? ' she said, 'no. No, no, no. How about, I show you exactly what I can do to someone who takes away my purpose to live.'

 I swallowed. She was past the stage of reasoning. For the first time, I had no idea how to deal with her, or what she would do next. My best friend was long gone. In front of me stood a monster with no feelings, a person who didn't care about the consequences anymore. 

And that terrified me. 


She started to glow with blue flames again. 'Prepare yourself,' Vamp said, 'for everything.' I knew what he meant, but didn't want to accept it. 

Instead of charging at us, she threw her hands forward and muttered a spell. To my surprise, Vamp flew towards her and was blasted back. They were in contact for barely a second, but Athena was grinning like crazy. I was confused, what just happened. But Vamp looked back at me, shock on his face. 

I ran towards him, not knowing what was going on. But barely a second later, I realized. 

The dagger. 

The weapon lethal to Vamp. 

She had taken it. 

I don't know how she knew, but she had it now. 

I shielded him just as she threw it. 

I felt it go right through me, but it didn't even graze Vamp. 

Smiling, I fell face first into the ground. My eyes fluttered close. 

The last thing I heard before I died for the second time was the pained yell of a man who had seen countless deaths, but still considered me his daughter. 


^^^^


I was floating. 

It was an eccentric feeling. 

There was nothing around me, absolutely nothing. I was suspended in a place far from time, far from my worries. My life seemed like a distant echo. 

It was peaceful. A world apart from my life, literally. 

But it didn't last long. Everything ended eventually, but I was dead, wasn't I? Things shouldn't end for me anymore. 

I was pulled from my suspended state and into a place I had never seen before. It was... empty. Grey and dull. 

Was this... heaven? Or hell?

Did they even exist? 

Well, guess I'll find out. I have no other choice anyway. 

I walked through the grey wispy clouds, not knowing where to go. With no landmarks to identify my position, I may as well have been walking around in circles. 

But I had an eternity to do so, didn't I? Maybe I'll spend it like this. 

Nah, fate said "sike". 


A flicker of glowing white light moved towards me. Curious, I walked towards it too. Suddenly, it went out. I looked around in surprise. 

Where did it go?

'I'm here,' a melodious voice called out from behind me. I turned around, but saw nothing. 'Where are you looking?' it said again. I turned around in circles, unsure of the direction as it echoed all around me. 

'Fine, I'll stop playing,' the voice drawled. The flicker of light suddenly appeared right in front of my face. I stepped back in surprise. It slowly became brighter, until I couldn't see it anymore. 

When the light subsided and I opened my eyes, I saw the most beautiful woman I had ever laid my eyes upon. 

No, I couldn't see her face, but her dark mocha skin and her demeanour just screamed beauty. I fell to my knees. 


'Moon Goddess,' I whispered. She smiled at me. 

'Rise, Serena,' she said, 'and come walk with me. We have much to talk about.' she turned around and held out her hand. I took it, and we walked. 

'You have been through a lot in these past months,' Moon Goddess said, 'and I am proud of you for handling it so well. It was indeed a hard job, being the first hybrid of your kind... or should I say, tribrid.' I pursed my lips and nodded. I couldn't remember exactly what had happened, but I knew what she was talking about. 

There was something I wanted to ask her...

'Moon Goddess,' I said, 'may I ask you a question?' she gestured for me to go ahead. 'What happened to Vamp? I mean, uh, Dracula? And Athena?' The goddess looked sad. 

'I pity the girl,' she mused, 'bearing the Curse of the Flame Bearers. I should never have let the Flame down, but that cannot be helped. Dracula, as you call him, killed Athena less than a second after the dagger pierced your heart.' I looked at her, wide-eyed. Then I looked down. 


'So she's dead,' I said. Moon Goddess didn't respond. 

'Tell me, Serena,' she said, 'would you like to go back?'

I looked at her in confusion. 'Back...? Where?' 

'Would you like to go back to your past life?' 

My confusion melted into shock. 'I can... do that?' Moon Goddess nodded. 'Uh...' I said, 'can I ask you another question?' 

'Go ahead,' she replied, 'this is my first time talking to a mated pair after a century.'

'You spoke to Rick?' I squealed. She laughed. 

'I offered him the same choice,' she continued, 'and he chose.' 

'What did he say?' I asked eagerly. Moon Goddess shook her head. 

'I can't tell you his decision,' she said. 

'Why?!' I whined, I wanted to stay with him wherever he was. I was secretly hoping that we would meet in the afterlife, if there was one. 

'I can't tell you that,' she said, 'but I can give you one tip. Trust your bond.' 


Jeez, what kind of tip was that? Really, gods and their confusing prophecies and their disappearances... I need a break. 

I took a deep breath. 'I've made a decision,' I said, 'but I have another question.' 

'Just say it,' she said, 'and let me send you back already. You have stuff to do and so do I.'

 Eh? 

I brushed it off.

'Athena,' I said, 'What happened to her?' 

'Since she was the last of the Flame Bearers and the one to fight the battle, she is blessed. She is alive, but barely. Her soul is now in the dagger lethal to Dracula. It is now... a cursed weapon, because of her bitter end. But she lives on. Kayden, however, is gone for good.' 

I looked away, tears forming in my eyes. 

That was my fault.


'Moon Goddess,' I said, 'if it isn't too much to ask... could my choice be given to someone else?' She looked at me, her aura changing to mild surprise. 

'Who would you want to give it to?' she asked. 

'Kayden,' I said, 'I had no right to take his life. It was an act of pure rage. And maybe Athena's dagger won't be cursed anymore if he comes back.' 

'If he chooses to return,' she said, 'would you rather see him live in pain, with his mate confined in a place she can never escape from? Do you think he would be happy obsessing over the dagger every waking moment of his life?' 

I sighed. 'That's why it's his choice,' I said, 'I know... it's selfish, but... please. I'm begging you.'


She waved her hand in dismissal.

'It's very rare that I see a mortal so selfless,' she said, 'since you're one of my favourites, I was just testing you. Ena's alive. I'll bring Kayden back. Now off you go, I'm a busy person.' 

'Wha-' I started saying, but she kicked me off an edge I didn't even know existed. I fell from Purgatory, the place I had met the Goddess of the Wolves in person. 


^^^^


Imagine waking up at your own funeral. 

Freaking hilarious. 

Once Moon Goddess kicked me off the edge of purgatory, I fell straight to my body. It wasn't a soft landing or a comfortable one. But hey! At least I was back with knowledge I never wanted!

But I felt like I was being sucked into a void, squeezed into OJ (more like TJ? Tribrid Juice?) and being pressurized until I would burst. 

I sat up screaming. 

Not the best start. There was a collection of screams in reply. 


I opened my eyes. The sun shone in my face, and it took a moment for my back-from-the-dead senses to adjust. The sight before me sent shiver up my spine. 

More than two thousand people stood in a huge arena. I was sitting in a solid black and white coffin. Almost everyone was staring at me, terrified. 

Oh, right.

I was supposed to be dead. 

Before anything drastic could happen, I locked eyes with someone in the crowd. Tears instantly came. 

She looked emotionless. Like a ghost. Her eyes were lifeless, something I'd never seen before even after all she'd been through. Her hair was dull and dry. Eyes red and puffy, but with no sign of tears. 

Luna Oriana.

I couldn't imagine how she must be feeling. 

I leaped out of my coffin, where my lifeless body had just been laying moments before, and ran to her. She didn't seem to register what I did, just staring blankly into space.


Unable to hold back, I hugged her with all my might. 'Luna,' I cried, 'I'm back! The Moon Goddess bought me back! I'm right here! Rick will be coming too! I promise!' 

Her hands slowly touched my back after a few seconds. 'Serena...?' she asked hesitantly. I cried even louder at the sound of her voice. All the emotions I had been holding back came out like a wave on the shoulder of one of the strongest people I knew. 

'You're... alive?' she asked, her voice soft, nothing like her usual self. I screamed yes, still crying. I missed her so much. She clutched my back and hugged me so tight, I was pretty sure I felt a rib crack. 


Someone screamed from behind me. I let out a small smile, knowing the reason. 

We were both engulfed with a giant bear hug from behind. I don't know how long we stayed like that, but I finally turned around to see the face I was waiting for a while now. We stared into each other’s eyes for less than a millisecond, making sure we were really there. 

Then I kissed him, hard. He kissed back with the same passion. 

Everyone seemed to have snapped out of the shock.

A huge cheer went up from around the arena. I pulled back, panting hard. 'Took you long enough,' I said. He chuckled, sneaking a hand around my waist and pulling me to the raised platform where our former coffins sat. 

He kicked them off, and they splintered. The cheers got louder. 


'My beloved family!' he yelled, 'a great miracle has happened today!' The cheers surged but died down once they were aware that he needed to speak. 'My mate and I have had an audience with the Moon Goddess! In short, she offered us a choice and we chose to come back!' 

The crowd stared at us in disbelief. I realized there were werewolves from all over the world, and some nice vampires too. Rick sure had a lot of connections. 'I know it sounds impossible,' I said, 'but it’s true! The Moon Goddess has not abandoned us, she is on our side! And I am sure she will be in contact with our races from this day on!' 


Cheers from the crowd. I had to put in a good word for the Moon Goddess, she had saved me after all. 'I would like to thank you all for your support in the battle,' I continued, 'Alpha Kendrick was injured early on and could not be by your side. I personally, take responsibility for that incident, since it was caused by one of my connections.'

There were mutters in the crowd. People shot me suspicious looks. 'It wasn't something Luna Serena could control,' Rick said, 'and I do not hold her responsible. The person acted out of her own beliefs. But that is all in the past. I now have important things to say about the future of the pack, and about the werewolf race in general.'

It was hard to believe there were earth-shaking cheers just moments ago. It was so quiet, you could hear the birds squawking about half a mile away. 

'As you see, Luna Serena here is a tribrid, a mix of werewolf, ghoul and vampire. We are not entirely sure of her abilities or the extent of her strength, but she has sworn to protect this pack with her life as a Luna. We must treat her accordingly. Furthermore, we will work on bringing back order to the supernatural world and the ghouls. We will help them sort out their problems in a peaceful way and dismiss the rumours.

'I hope you will support us and lend us your insight. I look forward to a bright future, and a huge party on our return. It's not every day that someone comes back from the dead, you know.' There were cheers all around. People flooded the arena and proceeded to congratulate us on our safe return and future plans. Luna joined us and we were a happy little trio the while time. 


A while later, everyone was at a party. The pack was still wrecked and people were still mourning over their lost ones, but I was glad we hadn't suffered many casualties. Everyone was in high spirits, the worst was over and peace would be bought back. 

I was smiling like an idiot. Rick wasn't any better. 'I can't believe we're here right now,' I said, 'so much happened and I thought... you were gone.' Rick looked at me, the smile gone. He slowly leaned in and kissed my forehead. 

'It's all in the past,' he said, 'I'm here now, and so are you. Back form the dead and everything don't spoil what we have with all those memories. We always have tomorrow to look back on it.' I nodded and gave him a side hug. We were sitting down on a small bench on the mostly empty side of the clearing the party was held on. 


People saw us, but they knew we needed space. Besides, they were too busy partying. Luna was back to her old self, all cheery and organized. She never ceased to amaze me with her strong mindset. 'I forgot to ask,' I said, 'but what happened to Vamp? Where is he? And Moon Goddess said she was sending Kayden back too, and Athena is supposedly alive.'

Rick looked at me in shock. 'Kayden died?!' he asked, 'What happened?!' My eyes widened, and I looked away in guilt. Rick put his hand under my chin and turned my face towards him. 'Please tell me,' he said. I went to grab his hand, but hesitated and sighed. I didn't know how he would react. 

'It was my fault,' I blurted, 'after you died, I lost control. Ena messed with me and I took my rage out on the nearest person... Kayden.'  Rick's eyes widened in shock. He stared at me and looked down, ashamed. I would bear that guilt for the rest of my life. 

'Look at me,' he snapped. I looked at him, knowing I had fear written all over my face. 'Are you saying you killed Kayden?' he asked. I flinched and didn't reply. 'Answer me!' he growled. I jumped in my seat. 

'I... did,' I said in a whisper, 'I killed Kayden.' 

The silence was suffocating. 

'At that moment, I didn't know what I was doing,' I said, 'I just lost control. Looking at your murderer... I couldn't hold it in. I had to get revenge. I know what I did and I understand if you don't want to see me anymore. He was your best friend. It was all my f-' I couldn't complete my sentence, because another pair of lips silenced mine. He pulled back after a second. 

'I don't understand,' he said, 'and maybe I never will. It'll take time, but I'll forgive you. The fact that he can come back makes it a lot easier. As for Athena... I don't know how I feel about her. I always knew she hated me because she believed that I tortured you all those years. But in the end, she was just looking out for you in her own, twisted way.'

'That's no excuse,' I replied, 'what she did is unforgivable. She should've consulted me first. No point in hiding it, but before I knew the truth about your intentions she had planned to break the bond between us and kill you. At the time, I had agreed.'

I looked down sadly. He hugged me, knowing what I was thinking. 

'It's gone,' he said. I nodded. 

'She succeeded after all,' I sighed. Rick shook his head. 

'We don't need our mate bond to love each other,' he said, 'and I know one thing. I love you.' I stared at him, my eyes wide. Tears came, but I blinked them away. 

'I love you too,' I said, smiling. We spent the rest of the party on that bench, talking while looking up at the stars.


****


'I can't imagine how he must be feeling,' I said, 'he still thinks we're dead.' Rick nodded and huffed. He offered to carry my hiking pack, though I told him it was okay. Even the big bad Alpha was having a tough time climbing an icy mountain while unbalanced with 500 pounds of gear.

'How cliche,' I continued, 'he has a hideout on a mountain.' Luna laughed, easily keeping pace with me. The trail was extremely steep, going uphill. I was having the time of my life, seeing Rick dawdle around with all that gear. Okay, he wasn't dawdling, but teasing him was fun. 


'Babe, can you hold this for me?' I asked, handing him my flask of water and my phone. Now, he had no free hands since one was carrying my gear. His was on his back. I was perfectly aware I had pockets to put those into and the ground to set it on, but hello? We're talking about teasing Rick here. As if I would pass up such an opportunity. 

He took them without complain. Okay, okay. 

But I wasn't done yet. 

It was even funnier because on his other side was a cliff with a hundred foot drop. If he fell, it would be a weird deja vu moment when I caught him. 

If  I caught him. 


I snickered and bent down to tie my shoes and pretended to look around for something. 'Shit!' I exclaimed, 'Where is it?' Rick looked at me, concerned. 

'What's wrong, baby?' he asked, 'What do you need?' I tried my best to hide my laugh as I looked at him with an "upset" expression. 

'Ricky,' I whined, 'I can't find my chap stick.' I heard Luna wheeze from behind me. I was having a hard time maintaining the act too. 

Imagine me actually being this pathetic. 

Hilarious. 


But Rick, being the sweet guy he was, looked troubled. 'When was the last time you used it?' he asked. I gave a vague reply, which confused him even more. My stomach hurt from holding in my laughter. I would burst if this went on. He kept asking me questions like "where do you remember keeping it?" and "what color is it?" 


After a minute, I was having a hard time figuring out if he was actually concerned or just playing around. But one good look told me it wasn't the latter. Finally, when he asked me what brand it was, I couldn't hold it in any longer. I burst out laughing, rolling on the ground. 


Rick looked at me like I was crazy. 'What's so funny?' he asked, 'What about your chap stick?' I laughed even more at that statement, feeling a little bad about playing with his genuine concern. But looking at Luna, who was red in the face with laughter, I changed my mind. 


'Rick,' I wheezed out between bursts of laughter, 'did you actually think I would go so far over a chap stick?' I just got a confused expression in return. Luna was laughing so hard there was no sound coming out. The pack warriors we had bought along who were trekking behind us were laughing too. 

Rick took a second to get it. 

'I see,' he said, his expression turning dark, 'you wanted me to fall off a cliff searching for a chap stick, didn't you?' I wheezed at the statement, unable to reply. Everyone except Rick was on the ground now. He slowly dropped his gear, emitting a dangerous vibe. I stopped laughing. 

Shit. 

This just turned super scary. 

I regret messing with him.

Ooooh no. 

I was done for. 

I shifted and bolted up the path, faster than human eyes could conceive. Rick was barely a step behind me. I squealed in playful fear, knowing he would never actually harm me. 

But that didn't make it any less scary. 

I looked back for a second to see how far behind he was. But just then, I crashed into something. 

No, more accurately, someone. 

I looked up and saw a familiar face. 

Vamp. 


****


His house was freaking amazing.

Set about five thousand meters over sea level, inside a mountain and about 10,000 feet square, this place was fit for a god to live in. The air was thin, but it was no problem for super-naturals. It had a modern theme to it, which I loved. 

I wondered who did the housekeeping for this freakishly large place. 

'People come in by helicopter once in a while,' Vamp said, answering my question. Jeez, that mind-reading. It had been a while since he had used it on me. 


Once I had crashed into him, he had taken the news of our return surprisingly well. And turns out, he hadn't killed Athena. His centuries of experience had held him control his emotions (unlike me) and not act in the heat of the moment. 


Athena had escaped though. And Kayden was alive. That meant they would find each other. 

'Have you decided if you will search for them?' Vamp asked, as he set down a mug of hot coffee in front of me. Rick was with the guards and Luna, giving me and Vamp some time alone. I nodded to answer his question. 

'I won't,' I said, 'this is their second chance. Once they find each other, which I am sure will not take very long, they can have a chance at a normal life. Pretty sure they deserve that much.' Vamp nodded in approval, taking a seat and putting his arm around me. 

'That's a wise choice,' he said, 'and it will benefit all of us. Let's not reopen old wounds.' I sipped my coffee and thought about everything. It happened so fast, but I had come to terms with it, accepted it, even. Rick and Luna were a huge part of that. I had to move forward, for them. 'You can be selfish sometimes, you know,' Vamp said, reading my thoughts. 

'Stop it,' I sighed, 'it’s super annoying.' He chuckled and kissed my hair. Everyone else came into the room and there was merry chatter. Rick made his way over to me while Luna talked to Vamp. I don't know what's wrong with my ears, it sounded like they were flirting. 

Ew. 


'Have you sorted everything out with Drac?' Rick asked. I nodded and fell into his arms. He hugged me back. 

'I'm exhausted,' I said, 'that trek was definitely something. We should all get some rest, the warriors are tired too.' Rick picked me up and Vamp began directing everyone to their rooms, as if he had read my mind. 

Oh, right. He did. 


We headed back home the next morning after making Vamp promise to come visit regularly. He said he would be busy working on finding the mysterious cause of the ghoul disease, but I insisted until he agreed. 

I am one of the most stubborn people I know. 


On the way back to the pack, we met up with Ena's father, who had been captured by the ghouls. They had set him free as soon as we had promised to lend them the Legends, which were now in our possession. Unfortunately, the last Flame Bearer was MIA for about a month now.


Rick and I worked extremely hard on getting the pack back to the way it was and developing friendly relations and truces with other races. This was important for safely of future generations. Never again would we have another war. 


Rick and I headed to our new house, which we had just built a few days ago. 'The reconstruction is almost complete,' I said, as we climbed the steps. 'Vampires come to visit often, and the pack really seem to like them. It's great that they aren't in the shadows anymore, and they feel safe enough to come out.' 

Rick hummed in response as he opened the door for me. I walked in and looked around at our cosy little place. I loved it since the first time I saw it, with the modern look but a comfy atmosphere. 


'You've had a busy week, handling all that business paperwork,' Rick said, opening the door to the porch and walking out. The porch was my favourite place in the whole house, apart from the bedroom. 

'You're the one to talk,' I said, 'having vamps in training and dealing with the ghouls is no walk in the park either.' He chuckled and hugged me from behind. I looked up at him. 'I love you,' I said. He smiled and pecked me on the lips. 

'I love you too,' he replied, 'but I still haven't paid you back for the stupid prank you pulled on me earlier today.' I looked at him, giving him the big innocent doe eyes. Or would it be wolf eyes? Nah... vampire? 

Okay, let's not go there.

'The huge bucket of water over the main entrance of the packhouse while I had to meet with the ghoul leader?' he reminded me. I gulped. I was in his arms. Nowhere to run. 

Sike. 

I jumped out and ran into the woods. 'It was a prank!' I yelled back at him as he chased me. 

'He didn't like it!' he yelled back, 'And that was my new suit! Do you know how much it cost?! And don't even get me started on the shoes!' I laughed hard and somehow stumbled and fell into a body of water. I knew exactly where I was, but being clumsy with tribrid supernatural senses is quite an accomplishment. 


I was at Our Spot, and Rick leapt into the waterfall with me. It was dark, but we didn't care. 

'Guess you paid me back, huh?' I said, laughing at my wet clothes. 

'I'm wet too, so it doesn't count.' 

'It was your fault for jumping in.'

'It. Doesn't. Count.' 

 I dived in and pulled him under. We play fought under the water for a while, but we were exhausted. A few minutes later, Rick carried me out and set me on the bank. I looked up at the stars as I listened to the calming sound of the crashing water. 


Everything was sorted out. Vamp was all right, and so was Luna. Athena and Kayden were alive, somewhere. The ghouls were our friends. 

And he was here with me. My life was complete. 

'This is the part where you propose,' I prompted jokingly. 'I would've, but you're better at this kinda stuff.' He chuckled. 

'I would,' he replied, 'but I don't have a ring.' 

'Excuses, excuses.'

Laughter echoed around the place that held our fondest memories, and a Goddess smiled down on us from above. 

THE END


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