“Yes, they have search parties for her every day.”
Athdara put her hand over her phone in a hushed manner as she locked the bathroom door. She could never be too careful. “The East side of the territory is the main focus.”
She listened to the gruff voice over the phone. “Yes, there’s been sightings… Okay, I will, bye.”
She sat on the porcelain bowl and sighed deeply. Her soul ached due to her actions within Duskfall, seeing as a wolf to commit such treason against her own pack was unforgivable. However, desperate times called for desperate measures, and ever since Alpha Jared got lost in his revenge against Alpha Titania, many innocent wolves got dragged into the carnage; her adopted family included.
Athdara flattened her hair with her hands, straightened her blouse and splashed water on her face before giving herself a quick pep talk that got her through every day, her own wolf and mind disgusted at being a snitch. There is no other choice, she reasoned.
She hid her phone behind a slack piece of wood inside her en-suite wall, which had become her typical routine for the past few months and made her way to the kitchen. Blending in was easy for her, especially with such hustle bustle. Being inconspicuous was her trait. It was her mode of survival, however pitiful it seemed. She was still alive and so was her family. That was all that mattered.
Eóghan couldn’t believe what he was hearing over the phone, which surprisingly remained in one piece enclosed in his grip. “You’ve got to be kidding me, Elder Talon.”
Garth and Argus glanced up from the map they were studying as Eóghan’s tone and mention of the Elder Council had their curiosity peaked. Now was not the time to allow more things for them to juggle.
“We are dealing with the current situation,” He said through clenched teeth, “but little can be done since it’s winter.” But excuses were not the Council’s forte, and right now, while relaxing in their chambers somewhere out of harm and one of the bitterest winters in the past five years, they were demanding results. Results Eóghan did not want to hear nor could carry out.
Leaders with no concept of what was going on outside their own personal bubbles.
The line on the other end vibrated with Elder Talon’s voice and Eóghan’s face remained stoic, but Garth could see his friend’s torment. It may have laid underneath the surface but to him it was clear as day.
“Duskfall is hunting her down as we speak. As you are calling me from a number in Spain, I assume you’re enjoying yourself while we, as in the packs that you’ve left behind, are fighting for survival from the cold. I hope your search to find out what is happening in the lowlands is successful soon. Good day, Elder Talon.”
The phone slammed down and the room held silence for a tense minute. The two males not knowing what to say. Eóghan had started to shift, but after a couple of harsh breaths, he and his wolf calmed. His wolf was angered by such ignorance from their supposed superiors, yet while he may have disagreed with their ideas, challenging them was not an option.
Thus, he had to accept that while the three Elders relaxed on whatever break they had taken, they did not have any pack specific associations and therefore, could live wherever they desired. Unjust, perhaps, but it was reality.
“Well...” Argus began, “not good news I assume?”
“When is it ever good news?”
Deflated and enraged, Eóghan paced back and forward, dragging a hand through his untamed tresses. Argus didn’t press the wolf, mostly because he valued his life but also because werewolf hearing meant he already heard the majority of the conversation. The Elders were quick to point fingers and give commands but were lacking when it came to actual leadership.
“Brett spotted Titania yesterday. That was a win for us.” Eóghan faced the males at Garth’s input. He was right and the admission had Eóghan’s wolf’s head held high. For the first time in over a month, Eóghan’s emerald eyes glittered with an unfamiliar emotion...hope. But with that, came danger. Hope was an emotion much more dangerous than pain and hurt.
While plotting their patrol routes, the males kept in mind that Titania had been spotted three times within the past two days, and all three times had been due to Brett’s insistent search parties for her. They couldn’t put a light to Brett’s adoration for their Alpha Female as he’d proved the many claims and whispers between the packs wrong; Titania was still alive.
“That’s it sorted.” Eóghan colour coded each boundary with the wolves’ patrol routes. “Now that the other packs have trained and hunted, they can patrol.”
Argus, while sceptical of including wolves from the arriving packs, knew that Duskfall was limited. Seven patrol wolves were injured. Some had fallen through ice and had contracted pneumonia, and others had slipped on the icy ravines while two were lost to frostbite.
Funerals had to be postponed which only added to the sombre atmosphere over Duskfall lands.
“Maybe we could give them intermittent patrols while the weather is at its peak, lessen the chance of injury. We need every wolf we can get, especially with the unknown looming.”
Eóghan nodded at Argus’s smart observation and Garth wrote another name on the patrol list. Argus squinted as Lucy’s name appeared bold on the southern border, he looked to his pack brother.
“Lucy deserves a chance to prove herself.” Before a protective Argus jumped in, Garth continued, “She’s not the same person we grew up with, and I don’t see why she can’t. She trained under Titania.”
Argus’s face screwed, his grey eyes finding any excuse to keep Lucy away from the danger that Duskfall was inevitably going to witness. “But she can fall-”
Using his fingers to list reasons why Lucy should patrol, Garth didn’t lose eye contact with Argus.
“Firstly, she’s becoming a great tracker. Secondly, her sister is also patrolling there and thirdly, she grew up in the Southern cliffs. She knows the land well, if not better than anybody, so no, she won’t fall off. Give her a bone, Argus.”
Argus looked pointedly at Eóghan who watched the interaction closely. “Garth’s right.” Garth stuck his tongue out at an irritated Argus who rolled his eyes at his packmate.
“But we need a few more names added to the list.” Using his messy scrawl that blurred the lines of handwriting, Eóghan noted more names.
“Hugo and Apollo?” Garth’s eyes rounded, “aren’t they Spanish wolves?”
A one-sided smile took over Eóghan’s face, “Hugo is a suspect for the mole. This gives us an opportunity to watch him while also keeping him busy. If we pair both on a patrol route with trusted wolves, we can have eyes on them.”
Both males nodded along with the reasoning, unaware that Athdara had fed lies to her Beta male.
“Speaking of the mole, I’m going to assign you both wolves who I need you to watch closely. Call it surveillance duty.” He pointed to two names written and circled in red.
“More like glorified babysitting duty...” Gath muttered while he eyed the names distastefully.
“Well we can’t just torture them, can we?” Eóghan deadpanned. That was not who Eóghan was. Years ago perhaps, but now he questioned if he even had the capability after everything that had happened.
Argus cut the tension with one line that made them see the situation for what is was worth. “It’s what Titania would have done.”
She would have slaughtered and tortured anyone who posed a threat to her pack, she valued them that much that she put them above her own opinions and sanity. If she needed information, she’d have gotten it. If she wanted to find a mole, she would’ve kept the pack under tighter control and hunted it down wolf by wolf. No waiting around, no relaxing, always on alert.
Eóghan finally realised then that it was his fault that Duskfall was slipping.
The Spanish wolves, including Hugo, Santiago, Diego and Apollo stood in a small ring facing each other as they sparred. The heat from all the wolves only added to the sweat dripping down their tanned bodies as they only donned kilts fashioned out of animal skins. Something none of them would’ve done three months ago, but now, they enjoyed strengthening their bonds and their wolves.
Since training outside was impossible, the wolves had to use a large cabin constructed specifically for training. Titania’s smart thinking that ensured they could stay fit and healthy through the winter months. A crucial time for survival. Durability. Strength.
The males wrestled and finally Diego came out victorious. He smiled and laughed at his friends despite sporting a bloody nose. Nathan watched them from the side-lines with pain as they all patted each other on the backs. Brett raised his arm in victory as the crowd cheered at the spar winner. Due to recent tensions within the pack, Brett had decided to ease some of the recent in-pack strain mostly caused between the Spanish packs and the others. A friendly pack vs pack sparring challenge was what they needed. Not that the wolves needed an excuse to spar.
The crowds cheered. Blood spilled. Jaws snarled. The atmosphere was electric and wolves relished in the moment to forget the heartache and misery of the past few months. A chance to listen to their instincts, fight, and enjoy companionship.
“Alpha Lumiere and Beta Adams are next on circle one.” Brett called next, motioning for the wolves to come to the front. “Leja and Olrig on circle two and Mila and Emma on the third circle.”
Nathan barely concealed his annoyance towards the ice giant, the cocky yeti, he had named him. He was aggravated with Brett for arriving out of thin air when the pack didn’t need him and with him trying to steal his rightful place with his macho Alpha male show. He was surely running out of patience as he ground his teeth at Brett.
He sat cross armed on a bench with a few wolves, not any he was previously close with. He’d struggled with making new connections but a young teen called Caymden kept him company during training. That did not stop his arrogance as he tried to socialise and waltz around the packs with a sense of entitlement daily.
“Look at him,” Nathan’s eyes pointed towards Brett who was ushering the wolves forward, “acting like he owns the place.”
Caymden nodded, but as a man of little words, he did not contribute to Nathan’s comments.
“It makes me fucking sick, the pedazo de mierda thinks that he’s in charge of the whole world. I can’t wait till I see his face drop when he goes back to his islands with nothing.”
The chatter and excitement of the spars droned Nathan into the background. Brett, although heart heavy, had a small half smile on his stony face as Duskfall and the other four packs cheered and booed, laughed and chuckled.
Titania would be happy, he thought. Like her, when the pack was happy, so was he. Brett hoped that he could do his part to prevent the packs imploding before the worst had even occurred. While Ash Crescent was fine, thanks to his fellow Alpha’s, he still felt a sense of betrayal at his decision to be with Titania.
He schooled his face back to its chilly deposition before the taunting thoughts of Titania took over and watched with an icy stare as wolves enjoyed themselves.
The wolves called came forward ready to fight. The first had two French wolves from separate packs. The pair were notorious for bickering over the dinner table so Brett had paired them specially, hoping some bloodshed would get them to cease with the teenage quarrels. Beta Adams gave Marigold a sweet peck to her cheek to which she returned with a hesitant smile, all while Lucy watched. A scowl painted on her face. As if Lucy didn’t need another reason to despise the male, the fact he was a suspect for the snitch made her wolf claw at its confines.
Her claws peeked through her skin. She wanted blood. She wanted his blood.
It was time.