Grief. I had always wondered what it would feel like. I thought it would hurt me. I thought that it would make me useless, completely incapable of thinking. But it was nothing like that.
This grief was doing nothing to me. Sure, I felt something painful eat away at my soul. Sure, there was something in me that had broken apart and drifted away when my mother died. But this was not grief was it? It was merely the feeling of loss.
My wolf howled in pain and clawed at my chest begging to come out. She cried and clawed until dusk became dawn. Until my despicable father's Beta came to take me to my room. Arwin leads me down hazy hallways and personally stands on guard outside my door as I go to sleep.
I'm too exhausted to even tell him to stop and get some rest before I collapse in a heap atop my bed and fall into a restless sleep.
The next morning a knock on the door wakes me up. My head still aches from my lack of sleep and my eyes are itchy and sore but I let the person in.
Calla walks in with a small cup of something herbal in her hands. She smiles and hands the warm cup to me. "For your headache." I sigh. Despite being the head priestess of Luna, Calla was always acted like my caretaker first. "What would I do without you?" I ask her.
She chuckles and the moon gem resting on her forehead, marking her as one of Luna's priestess, dangling from the silver circlet around her glossy black waves, shakes a bit with the motion. I notice how her robes look white as milk and neatly pressed. In fact, now that I look at her, I see that she looks ready for a ceremony.
Calla stays unusually silent as she watches me drink my tea. "Calla," I warn. "What's wrong?"
She gulps visibly. "You," she hesitates, "-you have to give a speech today."
Too late I realize that my brother would be made Alpha today. I sigh once again. "Okay." Calla nods in relief and moves to get out. I open my mouth to say something but then shut it. What would I say anyways?
Soon maids come in my room and dress me in an elaborate ivory dress and bind my unruly crimson hair into thick braids behind my back.
It is night by the time I step barefoot into the temple with Alex by my side.
Right. I think as I enter the temple. I had to give a speech. Normally the chief female of the pack gives the speech before the Crowning. Normally that would be the Alpha's wife as she stood by her husband and watched him pass on his title to the next suitable son of the Alpha.
But nothing about today was normal. My parents had been killed and I was being forced to acknowledge and showcase the fact that I was upset, when I wasn't, only few hours after they had been murdered.
Now, not only did they make me stand on a platform above everyone to display to them their grieving princess, but they also made me address the crowd as the priests prepared to crown my younger brother Alpha of the wolves. In this male dominated pack, the only reason that Alex needed to be given the title of Alpha was the fact that he was a boy. Even when I was the elder one.
Maybe that's why father got away with most of the things he had done. Maybe that's why mama didn't say anything even when she heard it all and saw evidences of it every morning. Maybe.
The male heir, my brother, only had to offer three drops of his blood to the goddess to bind himself to Luna's granted powers. If Luna approved- which she always did- his might and right to rule would be proved. And Luna would claim him as one her sons, giving him powers of the Alpha.
It was unfair and unjust. But it was how it was.
I sighed as I looked at the anticipating crowd. Many faces had red eyes sore from crying. But there was something they all had in common, a small smile gracing their lips as they waited for me to continue the event of the crowning of their new pack leader.
So I took a deep breath in and steeled my back, sharing a look with my brother to find him already watching me patiently. He smiled sadly at me and nodded his head at me to begin.
Right. I had no idea how to begin.
I cleared my throat and looked back towards the hopeful eyes of my people and somehow found the words from somewhere within me.
"We didn't lose them," my voice is strong and clear and the crowd murmurs in confusion at my words. "They were taken from us. My parents and your Alpha and Luna." I cleared. "They weren't lost to us, they were taken from us." I pause for a moment. "As the daughter of your beloved leaders, I won't lie to any of you about their deaths." I take in a deep breath before I drop the bomb. "They were brutally murdered in their sleep with silver daggers dipped in wolfsbane."
Shock ripples through the crowd at my statement. "We still search for the heartless scoundrels who invaded our kingdom and committed this unforgivable sin. But trust me when I say that if I find who killed your Luna," a growl escapes my lips as molten anger builds up in my bones and my canines slip out. I unclench my fists and try to compose myself, "If I find who killed my parents first, then he's a dead man. I will rip him apart with my bare hands if I have to. But I won't let him escape twice."
I stop speaking and realize that the crowd has gone deathly still. I cut a glance at my brother to find him staring back at me with wide eyes and awe on his face.
Suddenly the pack begins to applaud. My face heats as I recall my words. It was completely unruly and out of line. Feeling chagrined, I remind myself that I'm here to make my brother Alpha, not to give out death threats.
The second I open my mouth to speak once again, the crowd grows silent. "But enough about death and gore," I say. "We are here today to not only grieve our beloved Alpha and Luna, but to pass on my father's title to my younger brother and your future Alpha, Alexander." The pack goes wild and roars. Not even death could stop them from finding joy.
I look at Alex and find his dark brown eyes staring at me. He's scared I realize. 'Don't worry,' I mouth back at him. He nods once and walks towards where I am standing. The pack cheers and hoots loudly, already celebrating their new Alpha.
I hug Alex as he reaches me and I move to leave the dais when someone catches my arm lightly. "You cannot leave yet daughter," she says in a warm voice. "Calla?" I question, looking at the older women. I furrow my brows in confusion but she simply smiles mysteriously and steps back. Why would Calla call me daughter? And why can't I leave yet? I decide to stay and see what had possessed one of Luna's priestess to stop me.
Alex steps off the dais and walks to the outside of the temple. I follow him and the pack cuts a clear path for us till the open doors.
Alex and I step out as the priestesses follow right along with the pack and Alex reveals a beautifully engraved silver dagger. Father's dagger, I recall from the countless times it has burned my skin. Alex hisses in pain upon contact but doesn't react much.
The moon lights everything with a silver hue as Alex drags the blade against his palm and lets exactly three shiny drops of blood fall to the ground.
A minute passes and then another. We wait for something to happen. Alex looks at the priestesses in confusion and then he looks at me. I give him an equally confused look and shrug.
"Why isn't anything happening?" Alex tries to laugh it off and clutches his painfully bleeding palm. If he had gotten the powers then the first to heal would be the cut he had made as a sign of his acceptance.
Another one of the head priestess breaks the circle everyone had formed around us and steps forward with an unnatural glow in her eyes. She takes the blood-stained dagger from Alex's grip and moves to hand it to me.
I stare at it in confusion before finally taking it. My skin stings at the contact, but I don't react, used to the pain. Arwin and Sal, my father's former Beta and Gamma have also closed in and everyone stares at me with bewildered expressions.
I look at the moon and silently ask Luna what she is doing. Nothing. No reply comes my way but my wolf howls wilder inside me. She begs to come out.
A sudden urge fills me and I cut open my palm, letting three drops of blood fall to the ground.
Instantly a burning courses through my veins. My blood smolders and an invincible feeling fills my body. I grin with my teeth flashing as pure, ancient powers fills me. My wolf howls and takes over. Copper fur erupts from my body and I howl at the moon, lifting myself on my powerful haunches.
My pack stares at me in disbelief before I growl at them with the Alpha's command lacing my voice.
One by one, they all drop to their knees and their feelings of hope and shock flit ever present through my mind.
My green eyes glow golden as I link my mind with my pack. "Hello Alpha," Arwin's warm voice reaches me through the link.
Alpha. I was Alpha. I was Queen. And this was my pack.
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