Chapter23: Final Ceremony
BRADY’S POV 3/3|
We ascended from the steps, fully briefed through the mind link that I now shared with Malik, through my marking. The witch stood towering over her our pack Oracle’s crouched body; hands clasped together, lips moving in prayer. Sink or swim the end was inevitable, I braced for my drowning and it had to be done now for I was never going to be ready.
The Oracle slowly lifted her head at my entrance and pivoted towards me slowly bowing in submission; my parents threw me supportive curt nods even when I knew my mother didn’t advocate how I could give up. The Council members had apparently gone through a debate over liaising with the enemy but in the end, they all saw and agreed to protect the bigger picture; an Alpha with a reluctant, hostile mate was a worse fate than an Alpha with no mate or a replacement mate.
My Betas had already filled me in on decisions made by the council for the stability of our pack.
There were plenty people with mates that’d died in battles and crossfires, plenty were pure in mind and body and because I had to be formally crowned Alpha soon it was very important for our pack’s security a mate was found for me. And I still hadn’t let it sink in yet to feel relieved or worse that the gods had allowed it.
I felt a presence to my left and tried not to soak in the guilt-ridden appearance and scent off Malik.
It was foolish to believe that perhaps he truly had feelings for me but the truth as bitter and emotionally offensive to face as it was made it clear that at his core he didn’t like me as a person, let alone as a lifelong partner in the way that mattered, we were of the moon; sex didn’t mean much as it did to humans, so there wasn’t much to read into his actions with me.
I let that sink in as I approached the fire on the centre stage. The pack knelt and cried a chant of Alpha praise, even though I hadn’t yet been coroneted. It lent me strength, that they still trusted me with all this chaos I had brought onto the pack; in fact in packs of most of our kind, my qualifications, merit and person would be getting zero support for the Alpha or council crowns.
Jenna whistled for the pack’s undivided attention her eyes full of purpose and when her arms lowered the fire erupted as though a dose of petroleum had been thrust in it. Two witches each by her side slit to draw blood from their palms in rhythm with their bitter chanting until they stopped and beckoned me to approach.
The crowd crossed their fists on their chests howling once, then twice all in the sign of support and I approached the Oracle the instance she gave me a curt nod with her chin.
Jenna took my wrists in her cold hands despite the fire which they were shooting not so long ago. Her eyes lit back with their blue-the only trait she shared with the rest of the family, uncertainty enveloped her features but despite that she beckoned Malik to approach and when he did the crowd arose off their kneels, pumped the air with their fists snarling and marbling with the disapproval of him.
My father’s single howl on the mind link connected to everyone to be cordial.
I understood his need to get the unbinding over with, he had a meeting set with selected Alphas so he and the council could find me a replacement mate. And in truth to my feelings I wanted the unbinding over with too, the burden of the bond fell solely on my shoulders, I felt everything, reality was unbearable and if it was uplifted then perhaps I could get over Malik and find someone who could actually care for me how I deserved to be cared for.
Jenna stroked Malik’s wrist once again and brought her nose down to sniff out his wrist, she barred her fire in her other and as her gaze drawled on me. Then swiftly she left a trail of smoke behind her when she dangerously approached me and forced my wrist to her nose.
She glared down at us in utter detest.
The heat emitting from her eyes loomed with cruel intend a fiery golden flecked glaze swam in her eyes as the smell of smoke enveloped the room, reeking of her scent and bad intentions. The crowd silenced with batted breaths, Malik retreated a step, then two back and I straightened my posture ready to face her terror.
She padded through the room moving toward me a slither in her walk like an Amazonian python with complete purpose and pulsating neon veins as her fists clenched and unclenched with dancing bolts of fire that kept growing in width and length with every fresh unclench.
That very instance her drudges bolted to her grasp their hands on her arms one after other they each piled in and bowed down to her pleading for something I was neither aware of nor cared too much about though I should have.
The witch threw the bolts at the ceiling above which was caught by two werewolves from falling on us. She grabbed Malik closer by the back of his loosened hair and inhaled his scent deeply from the wrist and twice from the crook of his covered neck on the third time she shoved him down on the floor.
“WHAT DID YOU DO?” she screeched through gritted teeth with enough rage to turn the hair that was cascading down her waist to turn rouge-red as it spiralled in the wind that was gathering around her only.
I stepped forward releasing a bolted pent up frustrated roar in her face, even to my ears it sounded thick with command and the measure of vitality it carried was intensely and intently god-like...just like my Father’s. Once upon a time in addition to a night with Malik, it was all I ever wanted. I knew it demanded respect.
The pack Malik included knelt and bowed with complete surrender in their submission exclusively reserved for an Alpha.
“Can you break it already?” I avoided looking at Malik but the waft of pain and discouragement was unmistakable on him.
The sooner it was over, the sooner he would break free from the prison of his feelings dictated on him for me and the sooner I could heal from him.
She cast me poisonous but relieved glance “Fine, offer me your wrist.” she said as she brewed a fireball and flung it at the dying fire.
“Brady!” Malik wailed “WAIT...I-I thought we.” Pause “C-can I say something bef...” tears were springing and running a freefall from his eyes.
“Please let Malik say something.” his best friend pleaded.
Hair sprout on my arms and I could feel my ears ringing as loud as I could hear the blood in my veins rushing, It felt a lot like my heart was shattering in two and there’s nothing I wanted more at that point than to do something, anything to save what little we might have had, I felt like we had something...but it was just a fated bond.
“No,” I faced Jenna “Can you speed this up?”
Her drudges gasped; clearly, they weren’t counting on my compliance.
Jenna blinked then nodded.
The crowd rejoiced my name in howls.
My heart raced with loss, for someone I never truly had.
The rest of the ceremony was carried out in suspended fashion; my mind was in a trance.
First, our claws were cut out and offered to the fire, and then bits of our fur followed before I was subjected to personally draw blood from Malik’s left wrist with my veneers in order to access his wolf from his pulse points. It pained me to hear his cries as his wolf broke out of him.
The ceremony was dragged out for hours until the sun started to set.
Eventually, as the dark of the night started to surround, our Oracle lifted from her sitting position and brought with her, her tools for accessing and delivering the gods message.
The room was silent, the quiet deafening save for the whimpers coming from Danielle that littered the room when the Oracle finally delivered the message “The gods accept and now that the ritual is complete.” she bowed her head to the Councilmen and women and pivoted picking the train of her midnight red cloak in her wrinkled hands as she staggered back to her seat.
A commotion ensued amongst the pack, it was clear they were relieved I was free from a reluctant mate’s obligation; the pack’s weakest link had been successfully cut off. The air was filled with their impatience and detest for him.
Malik’s parents had been relieved of their duties from the council, yet Mateo had been formally invited into the council based on merit. The logic was whatever went wrong with Malik was due from the parenting, therefore, Mateo had been cleared. Hannez had been cast out to the band of witches; Dani had been assigned rehabilitation classes along with Hannez’s children under the pack’s therapists.
And now what was left was for Malik to be formally thrown out.
The Oracle crawled to the back to position, crouched down in perfect form; hands clasped together, lips moving in one last prayer to the gods before Malik would officially be kicked out.
It wasn’t compulsory I watch, and with that thought in mind, I chanced one last look at him.
I thought I would be affected differently but god the man was ...beautiful wasn’t the word that’d do justice to describing him even as his face was red and swollen from crying.
But he wasn’t mine to console anymore, in any way and I desperately needed my heart to stop constricting with longing affection for him, I had to stop. Time would heal all wounds, the goddess of love wouldn’t forsake me, even though it seemed at the moment the gods had pooled and forsaken me.
It may have seemed foolish but I still had complete trust in them, even my wolf agreed.
So I cleared my throat to respectfully bid my gratitude and farewell to both the Council and the pack.