Eóghan marched with a purpose through the training grounds. With a keen eye, he assisted with the morning training while keeping wolves in line. He tried to contain a scowl at the gossip that flittered through the crisp morning of the Duskfall pack lands.
Alpha Alfonso’s voice was not one to be missed as many males discussed the topic of the Highland Alpha, an Alpha that was clearly not well liked by her fellow brethren.
“Finally gone mad I see, it was about time.” Despite saving his life, Alfonso still held contempt for the esteemed Alpha female. Although still struggling to walk steadily on his wounded legs, that didn’t stop his mouth running wild. “I have been telling the council for years that she needed to be put down. Maybe now they’ll finally consider my request.”
Another male joined in, “It probably won’t be much longer, have you seen her recently?” The others conversed, “This pack will belong to a male like it was always supposed to.”
Hugo, suddenly coming to a realisation. “Has anyone seen Nathan?”
“Last I saw of him was at breakfast.” Diego responded and Hugo’s eyes widened. He disappeared off, curious at his friends strange behaviour while the men continued to jeer.
“Last I heard she destroyed her cabin. I bet that she doesn’t make the month, no- make it the end of the week. Then this pack will crumble into the ground like it should have with her in charge.” Santiago spat on the ground.
His comrades including Diego, Apollo and Hugo laughed alongside him while Eóghan’s fists clenched tighter, his direction now changed as he strolled towards the bad-talking wolves. Before making it to the group of males, Garth beat him to it, sending a flying punch to Alpha Alfonso, knocking him back a couple of steps.
“She looks like a horse that’s been broken in, pathe-”
“Shut the fuck up you Spanish bastard!” Garth’s fist cracked onto the males temple, silencing his onslaught; readying himself as Alfonso snarled back at him.
Many of Titania’s wolves joined the scuffle, angered and offended at the words directed at their superior; a superior who had, no-matter the occasion, shone through for them and aided them in their daily quest for survival.
Alpha Alfonso’s lip curled at the surrounding wolves. Positioning his body for the fight, a shake of the head from his Beta had his wolf and him frustrated. His fused femurs ached at the very idea of a fight but his headstrong mentality refused to let him back down, not from wolves who he deemed lower in standing than himself.
“What do you think you’re doing pup.” He sneered at Garth whose eyes were darkening by the second, “Hitting an Alpha without warning? Surely that’s cowardly by the apparent standards of Duskfall, no?” He baited while the fellow Spaniards chuckled.
Pushing through the growing crowd, Eóghan caught Garth’s lifted fist, “Don’t. I’ve got this.” Garth’s eyes swirled but seeing the same outrage in his Beta’s eyes, he backed off.
“It would be too easy a fight. I’ve got no time for disrespectful bitches like you.” He spat in front of Alfonso before giving Eóghan center stage, “All yours, brother.”
Eóghan’s hawk-like eyes assessed the supposed Alpha standing in front. Undernourished and weakened by his stint with the Bison, he was not surprised to see that trouble had once again followed him, as usual with the Spaniard who was known for his single-mindedness.
Eyeing Garth and Eóghan with complete hatred, Alfonso jeered. “All you wolves are cowardly. You follow an Alpha unfit to lead and even when she’s on the road to madness you still follow. Forget being wolves you’re like sheep!”
“That’s a little something called loyalty,” Eóghan cracked his knuckles and smirked, “Something that we all know your pack does not have.”
“And never will.” Garth interjected.
Onlookers watched on as the Duskfall Beta took up position, eyes eerily blank as if he’d witnessed his own harrowing tale while the males postured each other. Chests puffed, claws retracted, fangs flashing and growls tumbling low and deep throughout the valley.
Many of the other Alphas watched and some shook their heads at Alfonso’s idiotic display, some muttering that he would never learn, never get over his prejudice of a female Alpha. It was tiring to see such wasted effort from such an old grudge between the two packs.
Growling, Alfonso took a step forward, “What would savages such as yourself know of loyalty?”
“We don’t have any traitors unlike yours.” Eóghan spat, “We don’t play by your domesticated politics, we use our initiative. I suggest you start using yours before it lands you in trouble.” He emphasized the last word with a tremble from his upper lip, flashing those gleaming canines.
Alpha Lumiere was none too pleased with the aggression from Alfonso. As an older Alpha, he rested a hand carefully on his fellow comrades shoulder. “Alfonso stop this, there is no need for such hostility, not when we’ve been treated well.”
He just snorted back at the French Alpha, eyes momentarily flickering from Lumiere, Louis and Jules to land back on Eóghan. “Treated well? Don’t make me laugh. These wolves are nothing but common animals and I don’t care what you all think. My opinions on them are clear and will not be changed.”
Having had enough, Eóghan let a dark snarl erupt from his chest. Olrig, a burly warrior stepped forward posturing towards the Spaniards. “You say we’re savage yet it’s only the Scottish packs without this tainted disease.”
Angus crossed arms and shrugged his shoulders, “He’s got a point, who’s coming to who for shelter?” This raised the hackles among the Spaniards.
“We follow our primal instincts and right now, mine is telling me that I’m going to smash your face in and send you right back to the doctor.... permanently.”
Eóghan’s threat hung heavily in the air as fur flew.
Ruffling her newly dyed hair, Lucy handed Titania her fifth bottle of water within the hour. She watched on, heart heavy as Titania sat on her office chair, eyes barren, face taunt with the little sustenance she had consumed. In that moment she looked as if she really was dead, sitting rigidly with no signs of life except the slow rise of her chest every few seconds.
Monotonously, Titania did the routine paperwork but her gaze was far away. Lucy flinched as they met her own. Desolate of anything. If eyes were windows to the soul then looking into her Alpha’s she spotted not one trace of one.
Even her voice matched her eyes, hollow. “Don’t you have anywhere else to be?”
“If you looked after yourself I wouldn’t be here,” She muttered under her breath. Catching her hushed words with that creepily vacant look, expression unchanging, Lucy just sighed scratching her head. She inwardly laughed at how the roles had changed over the past few days. Lucy felt more like the mother hen looking after a struggling fledgling.
Eyeing the untouched work in front of the teenager, Titania stared at her unimpressed but didn’t say anything. Instead stared into oblivion once again. It was clear that as she reached the seven-week mark unmarked and rejected, the more her body and mind were breaking down.
A quick recollection of Nathan and their conversations, or lack of, since her heat brought the tide of emptiness ever closer. He kept as far away as he could from her and didn’t let his eyes meet hers, but Titania knew if she so much as glanced into those captivating hazel eyes and see the hurt and hatred buried there she’d crack. She had grown immune to the whispers about her and it pained her that Nathan was feeding the rumors, but she soldiered on; exactly what an Alpha had to do. One word answers and limited contact was driving her wolf to the very lines of her brink capacity. She prided herself on her control and strength and right before her own eyes she was losing both: rapidly.
“I see.” Her words came out with a dark tinge, her wolf one thread away from taking full control. She could feel the inevitable and no matter how many runs she went on or how much furniture she broke to control her emotions; her wolf wanted out.
Lucy huffed and placed a plate of fresh fish, which she had caught herself on Titania’s desk. Ignoring the food, the Alpha steeled herself, her stomach rolling at the mere thought of food.
“Alpha....” Lucy nodded to the food, “You need to eat.”
Titania pushed it away, “I’m not hungry, maybe later.”
“We both know that won’t happen...”
Before Titania could give any form of response, a hulking and half naked Eóghan knocked and entered the room. Eyes immediately going to his Alpha, a female that was disappearing before him. The lack of food and all the hard training she was forcing herself through had resulted in her body eating itself. Titania’s gaze swept over his body noting the lack of clothing and blood that littered his broad chest.
“Alpha.” He addressed her and she acknowledged him, eyes latching to the blood stains but the absence of any flesh wounds made her question.
“That’s not your blood.”
Eóghan picked a scab of blood out his beard that had grown considerably. With a lop sided smile that he reserved only for his little brother Ramsay, the blood that stained his teeth became visible and Lucy suppressed a shudder. He got his Beta position for a reason, more specifically for how he used those fangs.
His gaze went from the multiple empty water bottles, the plates with untouched food to her deteriorating appearance within the space of only a few moments. “Only gave the mutt what he deserved.”
She nodded tight lipped and his eyes softened slightly at the lacklustre. He turned to Lucy and could see for himself the fear that lay below the surface of her eyes. “Sorry to interrupt Alpha but I need to borrow Lucy, there’s also a run along the western side for some of the newcomers. Starts at five.”
All he got was a small nod of acknowledgment as she resumed her paperwork. Mask unmoving. He motioned to Lucy and they left her office, talking a forest trail away from the surrounding land around the pack house.
“She’s getting worse.” His statement was the first words to break the silence between the two wolves. They delved deeper into the forest as the sounds of the wild flittered nearby.
Lucy sighed, “She’s not eating. I’m really not sure what else I can do.”
Eóghan ran a hand through his beard, “How bad are we talking here Lucy?” She caught the look of stress that passed over his hard features, “And give it to me straight, we need to help in any way we can so no need to pacify the harsh facts here.”
“She’s closing up. I barely get anything out of her anymore, weeks ago we would bicker and she would tell me off over all the stupid shit I do but now? Nothing. Just lifeless. I don’t know what else to do, I try- I really, really do...” Her eyes watered.
Eóghan schooled himself. ”Ifrinn,” He cursed in Gaelic, “I’ve seen a large difference this past fortnight and at this rate...I don’t even want to think. But eating nothing at all? Not even hunting in wolf form?”
She shook her head, “She’s not shifted the full week, I think she’s trying to keep some form of control. That’s what she’s been muttering about anyway.”
“This is worse than I originally thought.”
“How can we help? Nathan’s been avoiding her completely since the Alpha’s heat and I’ve tried talking to him but he wants nothing to do with her. I’ve even seen him with other females, you know the ones from the Belgium pack, a girl named Lorielle I think? There’s so many I forget. Who knows but it’s not looking good. Not one bit”
Eóghan growled, if Titania found out he’d be a dead wolf. “An idiot that’s what he is, I’ll have to knock some sense into him.”
Folding her arms she scowled slightly at Eóghan, “It won’t work. Trust me, I’ve had his neck between my teeth.”
“He won’t have a neck if he doesn’t pick himself up and stop the Alpha from killing herself!!”
The anger tore through his voice and the flinch of submission from Lucy was almost immediate. Her wolf and her too preoccupied with their Alpha’s health to fully relent to the rejection. She was glad, in a way, for the distraction.
Gingerly, the strong Beta male relented, taking in Lucy’s body language, “Sorry, the Alpha means a lot to me and it’s... tough to see her so unlike herself.”
She nodded along with the softness of his words. Titania was a hard female but she had given her pack more of herself than anyone could ask from an Alpha wolf. She was not only respected but held the pack’s utmost loyalty. The Duskfall wolves would not let her simply fade away. Not a chance.
Turning to an apologetic Eóghan she smiled, a smile which conveyed just how much this was hurting inside, “It’s hard for me too, for all of the pack. We need to stay strong and try our best to do right by her.”
“I know.” Their walk drifted past a flowing river, “She’s covering all the pack work but the other packs are sensing weakness. Nothing we can’t handle but if it’s not resolved soon then I sense unrest.”
Lucy hummed, “The elders are no closer to a cause or cure. With the way things are, if Nathan can’t mature and if Alpha continues going downhill then how much longer can we go?”
“Especially with winter coming.” Mused Eóghan.
They started to make their way back to the park grounds, thoughts whirring with possible ideas on how to assist their Alpha. Was pushing Nathan and Titania together the most valid option? Or would another potential bondmate fill the hole deep within her chest; for Titania’s deadline was drawing ever nearer: two months until she needed a mate. Three until winter.
“I’m going to call Brett, Nathan can’t be the Alpha male Duskfall needs. Not after this,” A deep set frown marred the usually warm features to Eóghan’s face. Titania’s mate, to him, was becoming more of a pest than anything else.
“Don’t get me wrong I agree wholeheartedly with you there, but he’s her true mate and I don’t think anything will come above him, not to her.” Lucy’s shoulder slumped, “He’s a rarity and I don’t see her letting him go, not without proving to herself that she doesn’t need him.”
“She’ll be able to let him go once he becomes scraps to feed the bears.”
“You men believe violence is the answer to everything.”
Eóghan shrugged, “It’s our nature. It’s what we are.”
Not agreeing with her superior Lucy just rolled her eyes. They discussed potential ideas and events to get their Alpha distracted again, and Eóghan promised to call Brett.
Wolves sparring in the training rings came into view as they approached the main pack lands. Mid-conversation the plans they were debating stopped. A terrifying darkness smothered both wolves, all Duskfall wolves crumpling to the ground. Lucy screamed, hot twisted heat invaded her mind as she clutched and pulled at her hair in agony. Eóghan, one of the most brutish males of Duskfall was bent on his knees, claws emerged as he dug his hands into the soil; seeking, desperately for some sort of reprieve from Mother Nature.
Alpha Titania’s growl, one so feral and so raw hung on the once pleasant morning wind. Signalling the start of something akin to the awakening of Satan.
In one terrifying blow, Duskfall wolves were mirroring each other no matter where they stood. Wolves on patrol felt the incredible darkness and they too, held their head tightly in their hands with bodies too limp to stand as something so extremely shadowy and distorted took control of their minds. It tasted foul to the tongue. Bleakness. Blankness. Barrenness filled souls to the brim. A perverted intrusion to their telepathic link as onlookers simply stood in both horror and wonder.
No Duskfall member was left untouched as the wave of sinister intent rolled over each wolf.
Many newcomers fumbled in a state of alarm. Dumbstruck with what to do as wolves took to the floor like dominoes. Some of the foreign high rankers locked onto the packhouse where the dark aura was originating, the very beams shuddering under its weight. Even children were in the same condition as their adult counterparts as Duskfall for all but twenty seconds witnessed an episode like no other...
The complete shattering of Titania’s soul.