The following week had its own obstacles.
Last minute housing had to be sorted and that required hours of manual work; to allow for the chopping, sizing and construction of the Oak cabins. The wolves scattered in the cliff faces of the steep inclines started work on chipping away into the rock itself. Expanding new caves to accommodate.
Titania had received word of the addition of five packs to her own. One Spanish, two French, one Belgian and one Lithuanian. She was well versed in Gaelic, French and Italian but were unfamiliar with those that were joining her pack for the time being. So, she had picked up some language books from the next town over and had made it a bedtime mission to be able to learn the basics.
She did not want this transition to be more painstaking than it already was.
Currently, she was sat with the little ones of her pack going over some basic French. She had learned that the French, the Bleulune pack, had lost many children to the shift and felt it out of respect to try to make more effort.
The children were at ease with their Alpha.
They recognised her strength and saw, with their own two eyes, how she protected them from the bitter way of life on the mountains. Even though Titania could decapitate, maim and torture mercilessly without remorse, these children did not care, for she gave them the best she could and provided for them as if her own children. So, it was understandable that these children fawned over her. Enthusiastically answering her answers and glowing under the minimal praise received.
Although never admitting it, Titania cared deeply over her pack and tried to strengthen it as much as she could.
From warriors whose iron could defeat army’s, to educating and fortifying the community she had spent the last seven years of her life with. They were much a part of her as she was of them. Although Titania had never conveyed that, she knew deep down that they meant something more to her. But, emotions were not something she was comfortable showing; but from her dedication to her pack, it was clear she held them close.
“Trés bien Lydia, now can you say hello?” Lydia, closed her left eye in concentration, scrunching up her face.
The group around her rose their hands, knowing such a basic answer. Lydia, being the youngest at only three-years-old, continued to think. Unsure but having inherited the unyielding will of the pack, knew that giving up was not the way and instead; trying and getting the answer incorrect was advised over the cowardice of not trying at all.
Intent on gaining a smile from her superior, Lydia grinned and gave it her best.
“W-w-w-wonjoor?” At the look from her Alpha, she tried again.
“Ah... Oh, wait I know I know! Bonjour!”
The children around her clapped and she grinned, teeth missing and all. Titania did not melt at such a look, as many would at such a display of innocence. An innocence Titania had long lost, but she had accepted such a fact.
“Now, who can count to twenty?” She asked, and was once again met with animated hands and excited voices.
The door to the Oak school-house opened and she could sense her higher ranks. They observed, knowing not to disturb her.
Murray, and ten-year-old twin, Marcus, answered simultaneously. It was quite amusing to see twins so in sync at such an age. Correcting their pronunciation of seize, she nodded and her mouth twisted up, pleased at how they were coming along.
In a weeks time, they’d be able to converse with some of the other pack’s children- who had experienced deaths of fellow friends and family. Something that was harrowing in its own.
Death took indiscriminately. We were continuously at its mercy and it was how it was dealt with that brought character to the wolves. Packs that were built on death were used to such a fractured way, but ultimately, it made it easier to deal with. The children were no different. Death was constantly waiting by their doors and they were well aware of such. But, determination to survive filled their veins at such an early age and as the Duskfall pack always say: Oak and iron guard me well, or else I’m dead and doomed to hell.
A motto forged from their very way of life.
Leaving the children to practise their verbs and sayings; she returned to the males lingering at the cabin door. Some watched on with a smile at the interaction between the children and their notoriously cold Alpha Female.
She dismissed the looks and adorned her business face. No trace of any emotion found. In Titania’s mind, that was what it took to keep these wolves safe.
Eóghan gave her a brief nod. His heart warming as he spotted his brother, Ramsay, surrounded by the other children, conversing completely in French. An intuitive idea that only his Alpha would consider, despite her exterior she acknowledged things below the surface. Giving thought too much more than she let on. Not many had even considered how the other pack’s children felt after such catastrophes, but Alpha Titania did.
She closed the cabin door, not wanting to disturb the children. The pack knew of the new arrivals and unlike how the city wolves must be feeling, her pack took the news well. For there were bigger worries in the world other than a few new packs.
This was nothing her pack couldn’t handle and other than a few complaints, to which she quickly silenced, many were keen to welcome the other packs after recent events. The Duskfall pack did not show weakness in such petty things.
“Training’s about to start Alpha, we were wondering if you were wanting to join?” Garth asked her.
She nodded. All the dealings, comings and goings of the week had her brain fried. She needed to let off some steam and there was nothing other than a spar session, with wolves who would not back down because of her gender, to do the job.
“Gladly. I need it to keep my mind on point.”
Eóghan sent her a smirk to which her expression soured. “How did I know that would be your answer? I guess working with children and stacks of papers will do that to you.”
She sighed but otherwise kept her face blank. He was right, of course. She felt as if the preparations of the week had aged her a few years, but it kept her busy, and because of that her mind wouldn’t wander into dangerous territory.
“You know fine well it doesn’t take much to have me on the training grounds.” She supplied.
“That much is true. Your presence definitely keeps the morale up and the warriors on their feet.”
Angus snorted, “No wonder to that.”
She inwardly smirked at the reference to her first few training sessions as Alpha. Many refused to listen but she showed them how she ran things and sent wolves straight to the pack hospital, limbs unattached and scars galore.
Garth nudged Angus, “I remember quite clearly how she took you, brother, not so smug now are you?”
“I’m sure my fist loosened the stick lodged in his arse,” the males, other than Angus who huffed, laughed at Titania. All knowing how Angus’s ego had deflated after said incident.
The tall male beside Garth, Angus- a strong warrior that was jollier than most of the males in her pack let out a snort at the statement. Still a sore spot for the once egotistical head warrior. He had kept his position but regarded Titania with more reverence than just another wolf, for he had learned the hard way and would not be forgotten of how ignorant he had been.
“Don’t think that everyone’s forgot how you ended up in a coma Garth. Not so lucky either.” Angus retorted, proud at the redding cheeks of Garth who wanted none other than that memory erased from the Duskfall pack.
Angus’s hearty laugh filled the small group as Garth closed up. He pouted as everyone laughed at the embarrassing memory.
Titania had not seen her head warrior for around a week, not after their last encounter, which so happened to be in the bedroom. It was not only men that had urges, but females too and she did not let titles, genders or idiotic societal rules determine who, or how many times she had sex.
It had taken her a while to get over the trauma of her past and while sex was still difficult for her, she found that being dominant in the bedroom let her overcome her past, step by step. Using experimenting to bridge over the past fear, which taunted her unflinchingly. After three years, she cursed the moon and took the leap. Fear would never rule her, not again.
She stretched and cracked the stiff joints in her vertebrae, “I’m going to need several spars to get over how dull my work has been. I bloody hate paperwork.”
The group made their way to the spar rings which had started to fill up. Eóghan started to unbutton his shirt, not wanting to do another wash after his little brother had ruined his shirts from the days previous. Hand washing and drying clothes took hours to do.
“Really Alpha, none of us would have guessed.” He commented dryly, receiving a low growl from the female
“That’s what you do in your office? I always thought you sat on your laptop and watched porn.” Garth coughed as Titania had his neck between her hands.
Her eyes gleamed and the males around sniggered, “If only.” She smirked.
She released him but the warning was clear. The top rankers of the Duskfall pack may have the strength and stubbornness of an ox but she was still the Alpha, one that had much darker beginnings than most.
“At least there will be other things to do once the packs have arrived. Other than porn, Garth.” Angus sent his companion a look, but Garth just smirked. His dirty sense of humor was what helped him overcome his own demons, and only his Alpha knew of such.
“You’ll have brawls and bad blood between them to deal with, especially the Spanish pack who will have a grudge against you from the start.”
“They’ll soon learn our way of life, and maybe then realize we are just as a part of the Werewolf society as they are. Half of them are stuck in the past and have brown noses.” She replied, meeting Angus’s clear emerald eyes.
There was nothing emotional between them. A fling was a fling and sex was sex. A way to release pent-up stress and reach mutual pleasure.
At twenty-six, she was just as driven by her urges as any wolf and saw to it that her needs were met. She did not sleep with males that had any kind of feelings towards her as that would be messy, and unfair to them. She had rules, and she followed them well.
So she was glad to see that his eyes held only lust and no other lingering emotions.
“If they survive it that is, winter is not long around the corner,” Eóghan added in thought.
Titania blanched slightly. She had only four months to decide on a bondmate of her choice and she needed to make such a decision wisely. The choice was not for her benefit, so it needed to be based on what was best for the pack and how time was not on her side to make such a weighted decision.
Grant joined the males, stripping down to their training shorts, unaware of the absence of Titania’s expression. “I’d like to see how they fight. They’ve been looking down on our traditions for years, it will be a nice change to watch them try to adapt.”
“If they don’t die first,” Angus interjected smirking.
His conceited statement drew Titania’s eyebrows together. She held no respect for many of the packs she had encountered and hoped, for their sakes, that the ones that came to occupy her lands were not some of the ones that she had grudges against.
Despite her cold exterior, Titania spoke up, “We do our best to welcome them. We have accepted what needs to be done and will make our own sacrifices but for now, we do not stoop to low levels. We are Duskfall and do not show weakness in any forms. Including stereotyping or bullying.” She sent hard looks to the males and they all dipped their heads in response to her dominance.
“I couldn’t have said it better myself. But if provoked I will not back down.” Eóghan said, watching his Alpha discard her thick jumper.
Her lips turned upright and the three males froze, feeling the air around them charge. “Did I say such a thing, Beta?” The tone of her voice told him to back down.
He lowered his eyes so he was looking at her nose rather than the freezing arctic of her deep blues.
“I said show sympathy in regards to recent events, but if there is a confrontation you know our way. Do not back down. Ever.”
Relieved at her statement but also very much aware of the simmering anger coming from Titania, the males took that as a green light to start training.
“Alpha,” Angus nodded, to which she acknowledged him, “May we spar first?”
Titania flashed teeth and took the male head on. There was no holding back in a spar on the perilous mountains as the terrain never went easy on the wolves. It was hours before Titania emerged from the spar rings; slick and coated with sweat despite the light drizzle of rain moving from a grey sky.
She wiped her brow with the back of her hand, walking side by side with the other males; who adorned some new battle wounds courtesy of their Alpha.
She felt lighter. Much better after hard exercise and deep pain within her muscles. The males continued their assessment of each other’s fights and compared notes, wanting nothing more than to improve and support their pack. Titania threw in comments here and there and even received some of her own. Titania fought with an unbending sense of will and even she, had to keep on her toes.
They made their way back to the pack house. Word through the pack link had alerted her to the full healing of both Orig and Henry; now was the time for answers. She went inside and met the two males who did not know anything other than the direction in which they came from. One thing, she knew, was certain: it was premeditated.
Disappointed but also frustrated that the males couldn’t shed any more light on the attack, she knew what needed to be done. Something she had neglected since her plans for winter had been thrown into bedlam.
She had a rogue in her basement that needed to be dealt with.
With one thing on her mind: answers, she stormed with a mission down to the dark depths of her pack house. The stone stairs that led down were lit with a single flickering bulb. Giving off a harsh light over her pale skin. Her feet grew slightly damp as the floor levelled, leading onto rows of cages sat side by side. None occupied other than one. If Titania did not have a use for you then she’d dispose of you for good.
Plain and simple.
Mould, dirt and sweat, among other things, filled the stifling air so far below the ground. Leaving nothing to the imagination. She detected the rogue’s scent, dark, lurking and strong through the other scents that usually, overpowered the rest. For the Moon Goddess could not see the room so far beneath her moons rays.
She strode forward and despite feeling irritated at the ambush, she kept her emotions controlled tight behind her mask. A mask that hadn’t cracked in years.
A low voice responded to her presence, “Are you going to kill me now, Oh mighty Alpha of the Mountains?”
The sarcasm lacing the male voice nipped at Titania, but she continued forward until spotting the hung figure in one of the cells. She wanted nothing more than to punish the wolves who thought they could steal, plunder and infiltrate her lands and looked forward to dealing such justice by her own hands.
“That depends on if you tell me what I want to know.”
Even to her own ears, her voice was a show of dominance. Posture straight, eyes narrowed and wolf snarling, Alpha Titania was the exact image of what those made her out to be. The coldness took residence in her blood and the bitter gleam to her eye promised, those who were unfortunate enough to get on her bad side, that Hell came in many shapes and forms.
The rogue stirred and spat at her. Due to his current dehydrated state, it didn’t manage further than the direct stone in front of him.
The male had his hands bound and strapped to the wall, restricting his movement. His head fell forward, brunette curls covering his face. This didn’t stop him, however, as he continued to thrash around. He had not eaten or drank in days and was growing ever weaker, but after witnessing the deaths of his friends and family, his blood only bittered towards the Alpha in front of him.
“As if I’d ever give you anything! Sick bitch.” He flung his body angrily, trying to release himself from his silver prison. But to no avail.
Titania stood and watched, eyes glowing. And stunned herself when a spark of concern danced over her systems towards the male rogue. She had surely gone crazy, she uttered before once again laying her hard gaze on him.
There was something amiss she sensed, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Strangely enough, her body hummed at the close proximity to the male and she grew ever more confused.
“That’s not very nice.” She taunted.
Titania had an urge, like an itch, to see his face and the mocking that came off her did just that.
He jerked his head up. Eyes blazing. Nostrils flared. Teeth extended.
“You deserve nothing! Absolutely fucking nothing, especially not kindness you-”
Their eyes met and immediate knowing filled the both of them. He cursed and she very much did the same. For fate had a funny way of working and loved to play yet another cruel trick on Titania.
In unison, they spoke the word that had bonded them as one, “Mate.”