Laura, Colton and a few others ran alongside their Alpha on border patrol.
They were excited yet skeptical at first because as teenagers, they longed to spend time with their Alpha, a role model; but her altercation with the bison had made them wonder why she so desperately wanted to run.
On the south side, the rocks from the mountain peaks dug into the soft pads of their paws yet they continued on. Too used to the terrain to pay it any thought; as wolves on the border had to keep vigilant and distractions such as the marshy bogs, frozen land or jagged surfaces were avoided during their daily training.
For Mother Nature did not plan to change the Earths design and as wolves, they simply had to accept that these minor interferences were a part of life and as warriors, they had other, more important threats to watch out for.
Running behind their Alpha, they tore through the land. The sheer spirit coming from the wolves from the close company of their superior made them swifter, quicker, deadlier. Nearby wildlife hid in their burrows, not wanting a run in with the top predators that roamed the coniferous forests of northern Scotland. The only trace of them the pawprints they left in their wake.
Scouring the rough land the wolves kept up with Alpha Titania, showing that they too were worthy of the titles they bore. In many other packs, Border control was not seen as such an important role but in this type of land, it was a case of life or death and they pushed themselves even further into Deaths clutches.
Laura howled, and the others followed. I do love these parts, she mind-linked. Nodding to the glorious overview of the deep valleys carved out the land below. A light layer of snow dusted the rolling mountains and let the light glitter off; highlighting just how picturesque the unspoiled terrain was. But with its imperial beauty came death, a slow isolated one at that.
Colton bumped into her, Not as stunning as the western side. The lochs can’t be beaten and that’s fact.
Snorting Laura couldn’t help but disagree. Not everything is a competition Colton, how old are you? Five? She nudged him right back playfully, And for your information, it’s the southern cliffs that are the pinnacle of these lands.
Hardly. You’re biased because you live in the goddam cliffs. If you could you’d stay there your whole life and be a hermit, better yet you’d probably marry the blasted thing.
Everyone knew Laura’s whole life revolved around the cliff faces and steep sides of the south. Having been brought up in isolation from her fellow wolves the majority of her younger years, it wasn’t until the formation of the Duskfall pack that brought socialization to Laura, and her sister, Lucy’s, life. Her respect for the wildlife sunk deep into her soul and it was no surprise to anyone when she readily trained to be able to patrol the very land she so desperately loved.
At least then it wouldn’t annoy me every two seconds. Marrying a cliff sounds like a brilliant idea; no arguing, no chat back and best of all, it will always love me. Forget the male, nature’s the way forward for me, she teased.
Colton, Kirk, and Fredrik all chuckled at her very Laura-like response. No one could rival her love for the land.
Kirk ran alongside Laura. His midnight black coat a contrast to the snow grazed land, Don’t think your mate will be too happy sharing you with a cliff.
He can dam right deal with it. She exclaimed, the mention of a mate still, at the mature age of twenty-two sent a wave of nervousness through her form. Laura had lost hope at the thought of a mate but pushing her legs forward she didn’t dwell. If not then he can find someone else.
Someone else who isn’t obsessed with the land as you? Or someone who has all the screws tightly bolted in their head?
Laura snapped at Fredrik who simply sent her a cheeky smile and dodged out her way.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with loving the land you’ve known all your life. Bite me, Fred. She tilted her snout towards the tawny wolf, and this time, try not to miss.
He growled and lunged for her again.
I didn’t miss. I can’t exactly take you out while we’re on this type of terrain. He argued back, amber eyes glowing.
Amongst the banter she had grown used to during patrols, she stuck out her tongue to the male, Whatever you say to help yourself sleep, Fred.
The western side is still the best, Colton added, nipping Laura’s coat as he sped forward even faster. A low growl sounded and she gave chase. The bickering continued until their Alpha couldn’t take it any further.
All of Duskfall land is beautiful. Stop your nonsense and focus on the run, we’re meant to be scouting the borders not arguing over nothing of importance. Titania had demanded through the mind-link, none too happy with their lack of concentration.
Forgetting the presence of their Alpha in the mind-link the wolves kept the playful bickering to themselves. Slightly ashamed she had caught them arguing. After that, the Wolves kept vigilant and no more comments were made, for their respect for their Alpha was something that had never wavered, simply grew. Giving their Alpha much-needed space and reprieve from their childish antics, they scented the border for anything unusual, accumulated the herd numbers and locations and ensured there were no Humans on sight, not like there ever were.
Laura had to admit, running alongside her Alpha brought about a new kind of thrill. She enjoyed the sense of security Titania brought to her and her wolf and also the strength she emanated. Despite the appearance of her Alpha, with the coat that had scars of every shape and size seared into her skin; caused by silver and objects that one didn’t want to imagine, left puckered red skin. Giving the illusion of years of abuse. Not much of an illusion when that was exactly what Titania had suffered.
Scars shaped in crisscrosses littered her hind legs, hindering the growth of her coat. Her usual dark pelt was shaggy and didn’t cover the trauma she had clearly endured. Her neck had small blackened circles etched into her skin and her front paws had similar burn marks.
All in all; she was a sight to behold in wolf form.
Many minds echoed this thought as she strolled through the grounds after the run. Those who had not seen her fully shifted stared. Unable to tear their eyes off the wolf who looked like she had been tortured and in essence, she had.
Alpha Titania held firm under such scrutinised glances but inside couldn’t help the tiniest bit of self-consciousness seep through. She felt even smaller when her mate gave her one glance then stormed off. However, too focused on the stares, even she missed the anger that had scorned Nathan’s eyes at the sight of her.
Nathan left. Incapable of standing there while his mate stood before him. Scars lay out in front of him like a canvas waiting to be read. Although he did not want to be the one to interpret the ‘art’ on her skin or anywhere near for that fact but despite this, always seemed to gravitate towards her. Angry at himself more than anything, he stormed off towards his cabin. Needing some time to think things through, as well as have a glass of whiskey.
Eóghan waltzed up to the group and noticed the others expressions immediately, “I told you Alpha wouldn’t appreciate what goes on during patrol.” He tsked.
The Border patrollers sunk their heads even lower, If Colton wasn’t such a child then we wouldn’t have any problems... Laura trailed off.
Colton’s eyes widened and his wolf’s head snapped to her. He licked her cheek sloppily and she growled right back in his face. See what I mean! Amateurs.
Titania shifted. Her unamused and cold expression mirrored in her Human form, but unknownst to anyone but Titania, pain blossomed hungrily in her chest at the retreating back of her mate. She ran a hand through her tangled hair and let out a strangled breath.
The run had been tiring, especially with the comic voices from her patrollers. The perks of the lack of sleep- which she wore around her eyes like purple bruises- was that her temper had shortened and her runners had been, unceremoniously, on the end of it. Their playfulness had been too much and preferring the quiet, she quickly used her influence to silence them.
The Beta shook his head at the childish behavior of the patrollers and motioned for them to change inside. Training was just as crucial for them as it was the others and they had yet to complete their morning routines. Continuing the quarreling the four of them bound indoors, causing ear aches wherever they went.
Throwing his Alpha a spare kilt that slung over the shoulders for females, he remained by her side. “Despite the ruckus, they’re a good laugh. Shame they drive you insane before they make you laugh though.”
Titania shimmied into the kilt and covered the scars that everyone had been whispering about. There were rumors about her origin, her story and her body were evidence of such. But with a warped version of how events transpired, many Werewolves were not privy to the real circumstances that shaped her into the wolf she now was. To her, the wolves that took things as shallow as idle gossip as truth were not wolves she concerned herself with.
Then why did she care about Nathan? A thought that exited her head as soon as it entered. She did not care, it was simply the mate bond. Well, that was what she told herself.
Noticing how pale Titania looked Eóghan held back his concern. He knew her well enough to know that she wouldn’t appreciate it. It was clear this mate bond was doing more harm than good and after the Doctor had voiced his chat with Titania with him, he had his eye on his Alpha more than he’d like to admit. She had saved him from a bottomless pit of grief and it was his turn to reciprocate the favor.
Sending a sharp glance to the wolves who continued to stare at the female wolf, he gave her a bottle of water and waited until she had finished before he continued to chat.
“There are a few documents on your desk,” If her face was pale before it grew worse at the revelation, “But lucky for you, I dealt with it all. Like the amazing wolf I am.” He sent her a wink and she rolled her eyes in a flash of amusement. “Two are left, one from the Alpha Council and another from Alpha Brett.”
Titania’s mood dipped. She had forgotten about the festivities she had arranged with Alpha Brett.
“The traditional party?” They walked through the grounds together while Eóghan briefed her of the short phone call he had received from Brett when she was on the patrol.
“We’ll have to double up houses and rooms to accommodate but I don’t see why not. Our stocks, at this rate, will last us through winter. Even if the food is a little lackluster....”
“Just a little?” Eóghan quipped and the small smile from Titania made his concern lighten, ever so slightly.
Making her way to the kitchen table, she rummaged through the fridge and produced a pot of Supernoodles. Disgust was the key emotion on her face while she eyed up the neon packaging. “Vile is a much better word. I hope the ...problem will be solved them we can continue to our old ways.”
She retrieved a sweet potato, grown from their vegetable garden, and proceeded to slice it in half. Placing a knob of butter in the middle before setting it in the microwave. “Nothing beats the basics.” She hummed and Eóghan nodded.
The clock chimed eleven and sweaty wolves made their way into the pack kitchen; tired from their daily morning training. Garth followed soon after joking with some of the wolves, he had taken over the session while Titania secured the borders and was enjoying the attention it brought.
He glanced over to the two and strut towards them. “Everything okay on the border?” Titania chopped a block of cheddar cheese and nodded tightly at his question.
“Okay, except for the headache I know have.”
Garth looked towards Eóghan questionably who chuckled at her grouchy response, “The border wolves can be a bit... boisterous? That’s the best word I can use to describe them. If there is a word in the dictionary that describes the four of them.”
“Ahhh. Sucks for you Alpha, meanwhile I got to watch the she-wolves stretch and let’s just say, some of them definitely squat in their spare time.” He raised his eyebrows mischievously and Eóghan nudged him, hard.
“Pig.” She muttered, still consumed in the menial task at hand.
“Think you’ll find I’m a wolf.... and an incredibly attractive one at that.” Another nudge from Eóghan sent him stumbling back a few spaces but the grin plastered all over his face never wavered.
“Where did we find him? Think it’s time we got a refund.” Eóghan murmured to Titania but with the sharp hearing that all Werewolves possessed, Garth scowled at the comment.
“I think you’ll find that I’m worth my weight in gold Beta. I’ll give you a round later for that!” Eóghan smirked and accepted, for instincts drove wolves and a friendly spar would not hurt, not for Eóghan that was.
“Bring it Gamma. Are you sure you want to? Especially after the last time?”
Ignoring the jeer, Garth simply feigned innocence, “That time when I broke your leg? Oh, that time! let’s make it a repeat.”
With the audience of the room, Garth kept the easy-go-lucky smile on his face but his eyes danced darker. His wolf wanting to bite the Beta for the taunt and Eóghan wanting to do the exact same. The males parted ways but not before deciding that both titles would go head to head later on tonight, a fight which would most surely have bets on either side.
With her potato done, Titania simply sat down and ate. Her attention not on the continuous bickering that seemed to find space in every minute of her day. Like moths to a flame, many of the other Beta’s and Alpha’s sat at Titania’s table. Eóghan himself grabbed an apple and sat beside his Alpha. After a comfortable few minutes and many sending cautious glances to Titania, one of the French Alphas spoke up.
“Alpha,” Titania looked up from her meal and although her blue eyes were duller than usual they still held his just as sharp, “Je vous remercie. ”
She nodded at his words and before dropping back to her meal the other French Alpha, Lumiere, clarified, “What I think he means is thank-you. Many thanks for welcoming us on your lands, feeding us and showing us a different viewpoint. In France, we’re surrounded by Human settlements and this is... refreshing.”
Alpha Jules, only knowing broken English spoke his mother tongue. “C’est tout ce que j’ai rêvé d’être lorsque j’étais encore jeune loup. Libre. Je me sens libre.” (Trans- It’s everything that I dreamed about being a young wolf. Free. I feel free.)
Alpha Lumiere translated to the wolves who had decided to listen in, “Jules says he’s never felt freer than being here. To us, this is like a spa retreat and our wolves have never felt more at home.”
The Lithuanian Alpha beamed, “I must agree.” He dipped his spoon into the soup in front, “I feel as light as I feel.” He joked, gaining a few laughs around the table at the jab at his weight.
The jolly Alpha had lost a few pounds, seemingly from the constant training and the lack of Human commodities like fast food. He radiated happiness and Eóghan wondered how a man could be like Santa Claus reincarnated, bar the white hair and beard.
Focusing on Alpha Jules forlorn expression Titania spoke fluently to him which surprised him as his eyes snapped upwards, not expecting a response from the female.
“C’est une expérience libératrice. Entiérement dévoué à l’âme. Je suis content que vous compreniez cela.” (Trans -It’s a liberating experience. Definitely freeing to the soul. I’m pleased you understand that.)
The French wolves nodded enthusiastically, despite the toll training had taken out of them. The Beta from Bleulune, a tall male with slick blonde hair watched predatorily as she conversed in French with his Alpha. Beta Mathius, having unintentionally held eye contact with Alpha Titania quickly dropped his gaze. His foolish curiosity had nearly led him into a challenge with the Mountain Widow, a fight he certainly didn’t want.
After the death of his two nieces and the misery of his brother and mate, he couldn’t help but stay in his given lodge. But after attending training, he, alongside his pack and their Alpha’s especially had managed to reach an epiphany of sorts. The nature that surrounded them was soothing and so unused to such isolation, the French packs had thrived and found the distraction much needed to the catastrophe that they had on French soil.
Titania settled. The challenge lost as the male opposite broke the eye contact and dropped his posture. She was soon lost in the conversation, a spectator in a crowd of many. Her wolf thrashed around inside and the constant agony had not stopped yet here she was, playing happy families.
Many nodded along to the French Alphas except the Spanish wolves, who sat and sulked. Alpha Alfonso was still having the bones in his legs rebroken and reshaped and had not surfaced for the past few days. The man was seen as an idiot and the Spanish pack had not caused any problems since. Assumingly, keeping their heads down. Not like Titania complained, she just hoped the male learned from his foolish actions which could have easily cost him his life.
Having listened intently to the Alpha’s and Beta’s concerns, Eóghan and Titania both made mental notes. They needed another food shop, some items of hygiene and clothes along with requested art supplies from the Belgium Alpha Louis, who wanted to paint the landscape. He aimed to spend some time with the little ones, teaching them how to channel emotions through art.
Titania inwardly scoffed at such theatrics. Alpha Louis was known as the peaceful Alpha and humoring him she heeded his request but knew deep down, that nothing would stop a wolf running on natural instincts. Her whole life was show for that.
Titania did not make it to her cabin until ten hours later. Paperwork, training and observing her Beta knock some sense into her Gamma- and gaining a tenner from the winnings, had filled the rest of the windy day in August. Titania collapsed tiredly onto her bed. Creaks from the oak frame protesting at the force she had thrown herself. She simply stared straight at the timber ceiling. Mind numb. Heart aching and chest empty.
And fell asleep dreaming of a different path, a different childhood, a different first mate bond.
Nathan, lay in his cabin, unable to rid himself of a set of piercing blue eyes and the scars that adorned the pale skin that called to his very essence. Frustratedly, he flung a pillow over his face and screamed. Emotion spilling over. Silent tears from both the sorrow of his lost ones but even more so from the female that was his.
And fell asleep dreaming of a different path, a different life, a different mate.