The wind rattled the weak window panes of Helda's new home as our conversations paused at the sound of approaching feet, the snow blanketing the earth outside repeatedly crunching under heavy footsteps in a rough rhythm.
Helda's cup of tea trembled and Yanneek's eyes slowly lifted to my own.
My chair scraped against the wooden floor, leaving a nasty mark as I stood. Yanneek gripped my shoulder once I approached the front door, evidently concerned for what I intended to do, but my smile was one which I hoped to be reassuring and he released me.
I cracked open the door slightly, fingers grasping around the cold metal knob and leaned forward, both Helda and Yanneek by my shoulder as they too peered outside.
Male and female lycans walked, upper bodies bared of any clothing as they strode through the snow, unaffected by the cold. In their hands held partially covered animals, all of them appearing to be freshly killed. Blood trickled down the lycans' arms, coating their chest as they clutched these dead animals. The glimmer of hunger was clear in their eyes as they walked purposefully to the house which I had stayed in for the past several days.
I could hear Helda's shaky breath behind me as she inhaled, could hear Yanneek shifting on his feet behind me. A glance over my shoulder revealed the blush that had darkened his face as he surveyed the half-naked female lycans. He grunted, leaving my side as he turned and walked further into the house, the sound of paper shuffling revealing that he'd returned back to reading his newspaper.
The lycans eventually came to a pause outside of Hannes' house, and my body tensed at the sight of the grey-blue eyed female stepping out of the door.
My lip curled in displeasure as she strode forward, gathering a cardigan around her shoulders whilst a male lycan with locs, who I had seen many days ago after climbing off the roof, watched from a few feet away.
Helda sucked in a harsh breath as Lilith approached a man and lifted a blanket, revealing the body of a slain deer. Her bare hand trailed up and down it's bloodied neck as she spoke to the lycan who held it, her tongue trailing over her lips after she pressed it's mutilated head to her mouth.
The male and female lycans watched silently at the interaction, and I could hear Helda's fast footsteps as she retreated from the door but I remained a bit longer, confused.
It was only when the lycans broke away from the house and began to walk in various directions that I swung the door closed, shutting out the cold and rejoined Helda and Yanneek.
Helda's face was pale, her tea abandoned and I observed her curiously. We had all witnessed much more gruesome things in the Klawmoon prison, so her state of shock was surprising to me.
“I’ve been able to get into contact with some of my family.” She finally spoke, breaking the thick silence. Her voice cracked, but she cleared her throat quickly, strength regaining. "They would like to visit this pack when they can, but travelling has become very difficult...for many obvious reasons."
Her eyes flickered to the window and then back to the counter top. Yanneek nor myself said anything for a long while.
Yanneek stared unseeing at his newspaper, I stood by his side in silence and Helda walked back and forth, moving to the stove and then back to the counters, almost as if she was captured in a bizarre trance.
I left the kitchen eventually and roamed around the house before finally making myself comfortable on a sofa facing a fireplace.
I stared blindly into the flames, inhaling the scent which emitted from it, knees pressed to chest and my fingers simply holding my bandaged ankle.
And as usual, once I was left in silence, my mind drifted, memories of death and pain resurfacing. Clyde's anguished face, as he suffered for days in pain emerged in the forefront of my mind. He had not been killed simply for his refusal to eat.
What I had come to realize throughout the many years in which I was in prison, was that the lycans of the Klawmoon pack desperately craved violence and found any excuse to inflict pain and suffering onto others who they knew were weaker and could not fight back against them.
Clyde had, unfortunately, not been the only one to die under the hands of the Klawmoon pack. I had seen at least twenty three individuals succumb to their wounds throughout my ten years of being imprisoned.
I had thought that I had become immune to the reality of people dying around me whilst I was there, but Clyde's death, confirmed that I truly hadn't.
"Did you tell the Alpha my name?" I questioned the figure who appeared in the doorway, pulling me out of my thoughts. Helda entered, soft slippers moving against the cold floor, a plate of warm cookies in hand.
"He asked us," She revealed quietly, sitting opposite me, propping the white plate on her lap.
Her eyes remained fixated on the cookies as she spoke, fingers breaking and pulling them apart until chocolate dripped down to her fingertips. "He described you after taking us back to this pack, and I told him your name when he inquired."
My eyes dragged away from the chocolate snacks, its sweet scent making my stomach churn in discomfort.
"The Alpha seems like a nice man, Olivia. I-I trust him."
I snapped my attention to her, unable to control the anger brewing in my eyes, in my voice. "Then you are a fool. You barely know this lycan and yet you so easily trust him?"
Helda sighed, rubbing her nose with a chocolate coated finger. "He saved us. If he wanted us dead, we would have been killed already," She paused at the shaking of my head before blurting, "Not every lycan is like Anabelle, Olivia."
I tilted my head at that, a strange, yet familiar, cold feeling coursing up my veins, making a home in my chest. The shaking of my head slowed and my eyes fluttered shut with repulsion. I inhaled the scent of the fire as Helda scrambled for words, but her voice became a distant, nagging sound.
The mention of Anabelle's name only formulated a powerful, toxic hatred that I obsessed over and loathed. My fingers moved across the scar on my cheek, the permanent mark she had given me when I was a child and my lips lifted in a humorless smile.
I stood, eyes opening slowly. "I will see you around, I suppose." I spoke through clenched teeth, ignoring Yanneek who appeared by the doorway, looking between us in confusion.
I departed the house, stumbled down the pathway, my suffocating anger momentarily distracting me from the lingering lycans.
It was only when I came to a halt several feet from the house, chest heaving as I inhaled the cold air, did I realize the large circle that surrounded me.
Panic shot forth, but my body remained rigid, expression calm as I assessed each lycan slowly creeping forward, the blood of their prey still staining their exposed skin.
The air no longer seemed cold as I watched their advances, swallowed at the heights and muscles of the beasts.
My ankle began to throb, but I dared not look away from the lycans. My hunched shoulders straightened as I took a tentative step forward, shifting my weight from my pained ankle.
"What is this?" A booming voice, one which I recognized came from the near distance. The lycans stopped their approach, but watched with piercing eyes at my being.
The lycan with locs striding pass the fairly unmoving lycans, chest puffing as he looked me over. He faced his pack mates after a moment, hands on hips as he sighed in exasperation.
"This is not how you all should treat our guest." He reprimanded them tersely. He offered a hand my way, face still turned towards the crowd.
His hand wavered when I did not take it and he scowled, finally looked towards me as he hissed, "This is the part where you take my hand and I escort you back into the home, Livvie."
My eyebrows furrowed and he eventually snapped his hand to his side. Snowflakes began to fall on the coat I wore and my attention swivelled to them as the lycan began speaking to the crowd, urging them to return home.
"I did not know the Alpha had invited a guest." A male grunted. "A human one at that."
"Well now you know," The man took my arm in a firm hold, pushing me forward as he addressed the lycans. "Hurry into your homes now. The temperature is expected to drop further this evening."
The male and I walked in silence and he only released me once we stood behind the closed front door of Hannes' home.
"You're welcome." The male lycan said, taking off his coat and allowing it to drop noisily to the floor. I said nothing; the pain in my ankle had surprisingly increased and I bent at the waist, gingerly slipping off the boots, frowning at the blood against the bandages.
The lycan tutted at that, tattooed arms reaching forward to steady me, but I recoiled, eyeing him, like I did most lycans, with distrust.
"I will have Lilith bring you more bandages," The lycan said instead. He started at the way I brushed past him, limping down the stretch of the hallway.
"My name is Elijah, by the way." The lycan said, his voice bouncing off of the walls as he caught up with me. "I am the Beta of this pack."
My eyes barely flickered to his in acknowledgement.
The man squinted at that. "Not much of a talker, it seems." He mused. He did not speak further as we walked, which somewhat disappointed me; his words had distracted me from the thick, heavy anger that had formed, and I could slowly feel its return.
The raven haired female, Lilith was waiting for us. In her hand dangled a bag of bandages, which she allowed to drop to the floor once I stood before her. It rolled, but came to a stop once it grazed my toes.
My eyes slid shut for a few seconds, releasing a breath slowly as I fought down my rage.
"Lilith-" The Beta began, but she interrupted him.
"I heard you had a little oopsie with your ankle," Her voice was pitched, a tone which one would use if speaking to a puppy. Her eyes glittered with absolute contempt. "You should probably go upstairs and rest."
"That was my intention." My voice was dark, as I was unable to hide my vexation.
Elijah looked towards me, eyebrows shooting upwards when I spoke, but he did not comment on that. He lowered his large body to the floor, swiping up the bag with bandages as the female lycan pressed forward.
"It seems like for now, I may have to serve you," Lilith muttered with utter disdain, eyes skipping to the brown bag in Elijah's hand and then to my hair.
I shuddered as realization settled in. The curling of Lilith's plump lips confirmed my thoughts and I withheld from taking the bandages from Elijah despite his words of protests, quick to hobble up the stairs, dismissing the male and female guards when they caught sight of me.
The sound of the bedroom door slamming echoed in the quiet house.
My fingers ripped through my hair, unfurling the twists that the bitch had made, uncaring of the pain which pierced my skull at each hard tug.
I stumbled into the bathroom, hands grasping for bottles standing on a counter, quickly taking up one with shampoo.
After stripping off my clothes, I turned on the shower, moving under the water before it had a chance to become cold and slapped the shampoo I had poured into my hair, scrubbing it deeply and harshly, as if doing so would also scrub away the anger in me.