I saw my father standing outside our library. Was it him or did I see a ghost? He was the busiest person I had ever met – never had time for his son, or his niece. What was he doing here? Didn’t he have diplomatic missions to go for and problems to solve? I’d tried to link him several times after I told him this, but he had blocked everyone. I’d gone the old-fashioned way and sent him a text as well. No reply. Nothing. That’s how he was.
So I had no idea what he was doing at the steps of this small library. Had Reece called him? Why didn’t anyone inform me that my father was here? He spotted me a minute after I did – slow for werewolf reflexes. If this was a war zone, he would be such an easy target. He really should have kept all the paperwork to one side and practiced honing his warrior skills for a little while.
And yet, I was the one caught by surprise because he simply saw me and walked over. His face held several expressions - anger, sadness, concern, but not a shred of surprise, leading me to believe that he was expecting me. I stood there, stone still as he engulfed me in a protective hug. It was awkward, but welcome. I hadn’t felt protected in a long time. It seemed that all I did was protect.
But what was he doing here?
“Are you okay?” He asked me and I looked at him dumbfounded. “How come you’re here?”
He matched my quizzical look with his. “My niece died. Your sister.” He told me, as if I didn’t know that already. “I know.” I told him; my voice as confused as his. What was he getting at?
“So, I’m here to check up on you, which leads me back to my original question – are you okay?”
“No.” I answered truthfully, the concern and interest in my life from my father had rendered me stupid. He pinched the bridge of his nose before he hugged me again. This time, I returned the hug.
“I am so sorry you had to go through that alone. I wish I could have gotten here sooner but the earliest flight was this one and I was obviously too late.” He began to ramble, and I gave him a wide smile. Forget all that; I was just glad that he was here.
“When did you get here?” I asked him, as we began walking back to the library steps. “I landed half an hour ago and immediately came here. They were going to send another elder – the King requested for one, but I intercepted and said ‘No! I am going to go. I must meet my son!’” I smiled a small smile. So he didn’t forget me.
“I tried to link you...”
“I know, but you know our regulations. All elders must keep their links shut while travelling to prevent being tracked and for safety purposes.” He told me and I nodded, I did know that – I just didn’t know that he was travelling here, to me.
“So you’re here to help Reece?”
At that he stopped and turned around to face me. For once I felt like a small boy again. My responsibilities included making fun of my sister and getting dirty playing in the mud outside. “I’m here to help you. And along the way I will also help the King.” He told me and I hugged him.
“She died peacefully.”
“I’m glad to hear that. You were very strong, son.”
“I wish there was something we could’ve done. Did you suspect anything?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t. We just assumed she was going through a rebellious teenage phase like all she-wolves.”
“I want to kill the ones who are behind this. The second I get my hands on them, they die.” I promised my father and he nodded, equally vengeful. “These people must die.”
Satisfied, I nodded and opened the library door for my father, the elder. Reece was sitting inside patiently, next to his mate, our Queen. They were on one of those comfortable couches, Flora stretched, and her eyes shut, while Reece looked at her fondly, and occasionally playing with her hair. The moment he saw us, he straightened up a little, but just enough that the Queen didn’t stir from her sleep. Although, with her strong, regular heartbeat, I could tell that she was deep asleep, and there was a high chance that even an explosion wouldn’t wake her up.
We both acknowledged our King, and our Queen even though she was asleep. She lay cutely, her head rested gently on his side, her hair falling over her face. Reece gave us a curt nod as we entered. There lay a lot of food in front of us, it appeared that Reece had already eaten, but both Flora and our plates were untouched.
“I turned around to serve her some food, but she had passed out instantly.” He told us and I laughed, it sounded like something Flora could do.
“Why is she so tired, Alpha?” My father asked him, and he sighed. “I put her under The Command to jog some of her memory.” My father gasped while I pressed my lips together in disapproval. Nobody wanted the Queen to go through such a thing.
“Why? She is still half human!” He spoke, startled but still whispering, to not disturb the sleeping princess.
“She insisted, we needed the memory but it was too long ago, and she was too drunk to remember it without help from The Command.” He winced as he said the word ‘help’ we both knew that The Command was nothing that could be described as help.
“She is a strong woman.” My father continued, but his tone held questions that we both knew we had to answer. He had been patient and concerned about us, but he had to know what had happened to his niece.
“Indeed, she is.” Reece agreed. I reached for the serving spoon, this was going to be a long conversation and I was very hungry.
The pounding headache I was unsuccessfully trying to ignore had reduced to tolerable levels. It felt as though someone had beat me up, and then left me there to withstand the onslaught of pain, but there was no sign of any visible wounds. It was an extremely frustrating feeling. Almost instinctively, I knew that I had been beat up. And that no amount of morphine was going to prevent this pain. But I could stand it because of the big break that we had caught.
If I had to, I would do it again.
As soon as I opened my eyes, the brightness made me shut them again. And then I had to start all over – slower this time – to adjust to the illumination levels in the room. Hank and someone who looked like an older version of Hank sat in front of me. I was wrapped in something warm – a blanket of sorts and leaning on my mate, who’s one hand lay protectively curled on my thigh under the table and under the blanket. It sent pleasurable sparks throughout my body and helped manage my pain.
Maybe he could get naked and throw his body on mine later. That would help. That would help a lot.
“Welcome back to the conscious, Queen.” The older man said, and Reece turned to look at me. “Flora.” I corrected it as an automatic response.
The old man laughed and looked at Hank with kind eyes, “Exactly as you both said.” I gave them a quizzical look but neither provided any explanation. “Flora, this is my father, Henry Staple.” Hank introduced him, and I immediately sat straight to take his hand.
Big mistake, my head spun, and Reece tightened his grip on my thigh so that I would settle back to the previous position. “My Queen! Do not move after what you have gone through!” Henry Staple looked visibly upset that I had even tried to do so. I simply nodded and murmured a ‘nice to meet you.’
All three men looked at me warily as I got my breathing under control but I could feel Reece’s heated gaze on me the most. His other hand moved about the table, reaching to the other side out of my view due to his large body and finally he presented me with a plate.
“Eat.” He told me, and I rolled my eyes. But admittedly, I was starving. I nodded once, and he took a spoonful of some liquid and brought it to my lips. The action, so innocent yet intimate, made my cheeks turn red but neither of the Staples paid any heed to our interaction – as if it was a daily sight. I slurped silently for a while, listening to them talk about random pack business and about Sienna and Cole and other things including Reece’s parents.
Huh, I’d completely forgotten about them. I wonder if they knew the truth or they still hated me? My mind filled up with sad outcomes before I willed it out of my consciousness. I needed to focus on more important things. I’m sure he’d already told them – they’d have felt their son mark someone and it would have made them ask.
I’d question Reece about this later.
By the time I finished the bowl of soup which Reece had patiently fed me, I was feeling ten times better. “It’s the soup. I had the cook put some healing roots to help your mind.” Reece explained and I nodded. So many things to learn; so little time.
“Do you think you can sit upright?” Hank asked me softly and I nodded, I was certain that I could. Reece released his grip on my thigh and both his hands went to my shoulder to help me straighten up. He still made sure that my side was touching his, and I was glad for that. I needed the contact. I was sure he needed it too. I didn’t miss the way his eyes kept scanning me in the middle of the conversation and the way that his hand kept running patient circles on my thigh. Or the way this he kept clenching his jaw – berating himself for having to put me through such a tough situation. I wished that I could tell him that it was okay, and that I didn’t blame him but something told me that he wouldn’t believe me anyway.
His mindset would change when he saw me heal and when he saw me relaxed and eventually surmised that it was a good decision at the end of the day.
“There’s many theories about The Forgotten, they were an old sect of people who were granted various powers to counterbalance the speed and strength that werewolves and vampires had.” Began Elder Staple.
There are vampires? I saw Reece’s lips quirk up into a slight smile before he went back to focusing on the elder.
“Back then, they were called Nihls’ and they were a very rare sect to begin with. You could live an entire life without coming across one. The Nihls lived like most humans did, in peace and harmony with them, but they were a huge threat to werewolves. In the olden times, without strict laws and regulations, the werewolves would run amuck, ransacking human villages and murdering hundreds of innocents, especially on full moons. Things got out of hand very quickly and the Nihls had to step in to maintain the peace. Only they didn’t. They tried their best to control the wolves, but our very core, our animal center could never accept authority that wasn’t the Alpha. And well, as I’m sure you know, the Alpha never bows his head down to anyone.” Henry Staple finished, tilting his head towards Reece who held a proud smirk on his face.
Stupid wolf-man. I saw his smirk falter and my own smile increased at his frown.
“Anyway, a massive feud began to brew between the two species. The King at the time was a small pack boy who had been granted the opportunity to be King. He was benevolent and kind. He wanted to change things. He’d brought the packs under control and was in the process of establishing a series of enforcers, to maintain pack rules and boundaries.”
“Like what Cole does?” I asked them, and Hank nodded, “Cole comes from a long line of respectable Enforcers, who have helped the Kings’ of the past maintain peace.”
Henry continued, “Everyone thought that this was going to be an end to the bloody wars, and that finally, after years we could all live-in harmony. Nihls and wolves even became friends, there was an openness that had never been seen before and everyone was embracing it. To make matters even better, the wise King found his mate in a Nihl. She was a strong young woman with the power to generate ice crystals – however big or small out of thin air. She was a force to be reckoned with. Everyone thought that the marriage would be a sacred alliance, and finally the Nihls and the humans and the werewolves would live in peace.”
“But it didn’t.” Reece interjected, and all attention turned towards him. “The day after the official announcement ceremony, the King was found in his chamber, alone. She’d frozen the blood in his veins, thereby not exactly killing him, but left him that way all night, until his brain died without the intake of oxygen. When the body thawed, his systems came back to life, due to the werewolf healing but he had basically been left a stone. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t even blink. He was going to die within a few hours and everybody knew it.”
I gasped at this information. What sort of person could do this to their mate?
“And then all hell broke loose. The werewolves went on a rampage. The King’s family vowed to take revenge on them all. They eradicated every Nihl on sight, including the Queen, who was caught fleeing the royal borders just when the King was discovered. Not a single Nihl was spared, women, children, nobody. It was bloody and it was quick.” I gasped, my mouth turning dry at this story. Why was their history so violent?
“When they executed the Queen, she was completely deranged. Her memories were hazy and she was crying out for her mate. One of the elders got suspicious and within his investigation, which spanned a week, uncovered that the Queen had in fact been manipulated by another Nihl, with the power to brainwash anybody else.” Henry paused to take a breath.
“It was all a small part of the sect of Nihls, who’d orchestrated the whole event. They’d met the Queen at the ceremony and enchanted her to kill her mate. When the killings got worse and there were barely a hundred Nihls left on the planet; they’d come forward and confessed their crimes in the hopes that the rest of the Nihls would be spared, but it was too late. The incriminated were sentenced to die and those who survived were too less to carry on the genes. Eventually, they were forgotten. Werewolves everywhere mourned the loss of their friends – Nihls and wolves alike and realized that their actions should have been kept in check by someone. It was the first time that collectively, people began to evaluate their actions and the werewolves’ human counterparts were allowed to dominate the animal side. It is said that the moon goddess came forward and made our animal sides dormant. Only the reigning Queen or King was allowed to have two beasts within them - which is why only Reece can switch to let Zuka come to the forefront. It was a punishment.”
“So, till then your wolf could be on the surface? And for all of you?” I asked, looking at Reece and he nodded.
“The new King, taking note of all this, realized how erratic and quick to jump into action the werewolves were. The entire loss was devastating to the planet. Several werewolves also died in the war, as well as humans too. To ensure that no such thing happened again, and that it never repeated with the humans who were then starting to advance in their technology, he made the decision and swore each and every werewolf to secrecy. The Nihl’s were regarded as a warning chapter of the past, and history dubbed them as ‘The Forgotten’ while the werewolves receded out of human memories, remaining only as scary bedtime stories or folklore.”
There was a deafening silence in the hall as I took it all in. The crazy story that had my heart pumping but my mouth dry, my head buzzing but my legs stone.
“And you think I am one of them?”
“We know you are.” Reece told me gently. His hand squeezing my thigh below the blanket yet again.
A hand gripped my heart tightly. “How?”
“You have genetic markers that belong to none of the other supernaturals, and also to a human’s. Add that to the fact that you’ve been able to freeze a lake and other things, we also have an estimated guess of what your power is.” Reece concluded.
I waited for it.
“You can will things with your mind. There is only one recorded case of this power being with anyone. In 200 A.D, a young boy had similar powers before he was butchered by the wolves in the great war against Nihls. Nothing else was recorded about him, and no limits or repercussions are known.” Reece breathed out, his tone guarded and his eyes watchful.
I decided not to respond immediately. Instead, I made a big show of breathing in a lot of air, and then breathing it out again. I did this three or four times before Reece shifted in his seat to face me. Hank and Henry looked equally wary.
My heart was beating like a steam engine. I was sure it could produce its own electricity if need be. But on the outside, I was calm. I was breathing deeply.
“I think she’s having a panic attack!” Hank spoke up when I didn’t respond. Reece’s hands came to my shoulders and shook me, hard.
“Flora, say something.” He begged.
“I’m fine.” I mumbled weakly. He visibly relaxed. Henry stared at me with interest.
“I think you should get some rest, that’s enough for today.” Reece’s authoritative tone had no effect on me.
“I’m fine,” I spoke up yet again, stronger this time.
“Are you sure?” Hank asked, looking back and forth between Reece.
“Yes. No need to look at him, I said yes!”
“O-kaaay.” Hank said, still unsure.
Reece’s lips pursed into a thin line before he looked back at the two of them and nodded.
“When did I freeze a lake?”
“The night of the party, you were drunk and I was reckless.” He admitted, reluctantly. I fought to not let this information panic me. “Is that why I slept in till so late the next day? And why you guys were talking about me behind my back?” I asked, my tone accusatory and Hank nodded. Reece looked guilty, but then flashed me a smile, “I seem to recall that we made up quite well that day.”
A blush ran across my face as I felt my mark tingle. He did mark me that day…
“When did you first think I might have this power?”
“It was Atticus who suggested it first. In the forest, with the injured wolf-“
“That! I knew something was fishy there! It was a werewolf wasn’t it?”
“Yes, she was a small werewolf, who’s phased for the first time.” Reece corrected me, and I nodded. He continued, “Anyway, he told me how she was fine within seconds after you touched her, and even though werewolves heal quickly, the first phasing makes it quite difficult and slow, but you willed it and so it happened.”
“And the next time was when the young man Jose came up to me at the party and told me about the time you fell into the pool. He said that he had been watching you, and there was steam coming from the water only when you were looking at it, which is why he approached you, thinking you were messing around with something.” Reece told me. I nodded. I did remember watching steam rise from the surface, but I had never willed it at that time.
“I didn’t want the water to be hot though, so I don’t think that one was me.” I tried but they looked insistent. “It’s not a conscious thought. You can’t control this yet and therefore it must’ve happened accidentally.” Henry told me, sounding wise and so I shut my eyes and concentrated. If I could will things like this, couldn’t I will my mind to tell me what I was thinking?
Maybe it didn’t work like that, maybe it had to be physical things and there was a quantum physics theory that backed why my mind could alter physical reality from within itself.
Maybe I was writing too many fictional movie scripts.
“Don’t think too hard, just go back to that night and retrace your steps. What were you thinking when you reached the water?” Hank asked and I relaxed my mind.
“I was, thinking that I should call my mom…” I mumbled as pieces came together in my head. And then suddenly it was all there; crystal clear.
This one winter, Xena and I had gone to these amazing hot springs with my mom. It was magical. We spent so long over there, even changing our itinerary to stay in that town for longer. I closed my eyes with a sigh, ‘I should call my mom soon, she must be missing me.’
“I was thinking about hot springs! With Xena and my mom!” I told them, and Reece smiled triumphantly.
“See!” Hank cheered.
“Shit. How do I control this? Someone has to help me!”
“Don’t worry we have a plan. For both you, and those who want The Forgotten to stay forgotten.”