Parts of this chapter may be tough to take. If you are squeamish, skip ahead to the section marker.
Larry collapsed to his knees as she was hauled out of the courtroom, being taken to the field out back where punishments were carried out. John helped him back up. “Come on, you don’t need to see this,” he said as he turned him around.
“NO!” Larry shook him off. “I promised her I’d be there to the end. Someone has to be there for her.”
I looked at him, he was dying inside but he couldn’t abandon his mate and I respected that. “Come on,” I said. “We’ll stay with you.” We joined the crowd leaving the room and heading outside, ignoring those who gave us a wide berth or looked at us like we were somehow guilty as well. The guards had led her to a pole, it was about eight inches wide and twelve feet tall. Chains were attached to the top, and one of the men held her in place while the other adjusted the cuffs and secured her in place. She was standing tall, her arms protecting her face as she shivered in fear. The guards removed her coveralls, cutting it off of her and leaving her naked and facing the pole.
The crowd had started to circle around, and we went around to the back and pushed our way to the front. “Liz… look at me Liz,” he said. Her tear-stained face went to his, and I could see how devastated and scared she was. “No matter what, you keep your eyes on me. Nothing else, just me.” They removed the silver collar from her neck, and with the mind link available again, Larry started talking to his mate privately.
The Council took their places to witness the sentence, and Francois nodded to the Enforcer who carried a whip, the leather infused with silver. The first lash landed across the middle of her back, and she screamed in agony as skin was torn and blood sprayed. The silver would retard healing and leave scarring, not that it was a concern for her now. The second lash landed, a few inches below. She let out another scream, the agony building for her.
John and Viktor each had a hold of Larry’s arms, holding him back as his wolf fought to get to his mate and those who were hurting her. Three, four, five, each lash tearing into her back. Blood started to fly, the whip sending droplets out when it hit and when it was flung out again. The strikes were going lower, hitting her bare ass, then thighs. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten. The Enforcer paused, and the doctor looked at her briefly. She was hanging from her arms, moving side to side to relieve the pain that would not stop. Her throat was raw from screaming, and she was staring at Larry, pleading silently for this to end.
The Doctor nodded to the Enforcer, and the whip sung again. Her howl of pain was different now, and as twelve, thirteen and fourteen hit, her screams never stopped. Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty. The lashes came from the other side, the strikes crossing the previous ones on her back and tearing it to ribbons. When he paused this time, she was breathing heavily, her head against the pole as she tried to catch her breath. Larry was on his knees, he was in agony as well, the bond open to share the pain and take some away from her. I respected him, he was doing everything he could for her and it would never be enough.
The Doctor nodded, and the Enforcer started again. Twenty-one, two, three, four, five. The lashes moving down steadily to her thighs before he went back to the original side. She danced in the chains, trying in vain to escape the whip but only making it worse. She screamed in agony as a whip strike wrapped around, slicing her right breast open. Twenty-six, seven, eight, nine, thirty. Her screams weakened, her head falling forward, and she seemed to give up as her body slumped against the pole.
The doctor approached, shining a light in her eye and checking her heart. She could barely move now, and I watched her look at Larry and mouth “I love you” before her head fell forward again. Her body was covered in blood, only her arms and head were spared. The doctor nodded, and the enforcer continued at thirty-one. Two, three, four, five, she wasn’t even screaming anymore. By forty she wasn’t even twitching when the whip struck, she was just swinging there like a piece of meat on a hook.
Larry screamed in pain and loss as the bond was ripped from his soul, and it took three of us to hold him down. The doctor approached again, checking her eyes, then her heart. “She’s dead,” he said to the Chairman.
“Release her, and let him have his mate’s body,” Francois said before they turned to leave along with the crowd. When she was on the ground and the Enforcer who had beat her was gone, we let Larry go and he ran to her side. He picked her broken body up and held it in his lap as he cried in loss.
I stayed with him, bringing a sheet that had been handed to me to hide her. I was tucking it around her, my head near her waist, when I caught the smell. It couldn’t be. I put my head by her sex, taking a deep breath, the scent of lilac and new life was unmistakable.
“SHE WAS PREGNANT,” I yelled out, causing the Doctor and the Council to turn back. “You idiots, how could you not know?” Larry was howling in grief now, his loss instantly doubled. “Move him away, I’m going to try something.” They pulled him free and I laid her on her back, my hands glowing as my power surged into her body.
I had read something in the spell book as it was translated, it was in the section on werewolves. Searching for her wolf, I found her faint and fading in her mind and sent my power towards her. As she strengthened, her body started to glow and then shifted into her dark brown, white and black wolf. I continued to pour my power in, the stripes of open flesh on her fur closing, and finally she took a breath.
“What are you DOING,” Francois said. “She was sentenced to die!”
Having done all I could, I moved my hands back and let the glow stop. “Let him go,” I said to John, and a second later Larry was on his knees next to her. He shifted, tearing his clothes away, and curled around her as she panted and tried to get up. He was licking her fur, cleaning her neck and ears as he whined in excitement.
The Enforcers came running back, but I held up my hands and stopped them. “Conference room, NOW!” The Council members turned to obey me, and John looked at me in wonder as they obeyed my Alpha power which was surging forward. Larry was my Pack mate, and what they had done to him was monstrous. “Stay with him,” I told John and Viktor as the stood slack-jawed above the two wolves.
The crowd, which had been leaving satisfied with their justice, was now talking loudly and uncertain. No werewolf would condone executing a pregnant woman, and the excitement of seeing justice was now tempered by guilt. They made a path as I walked quickly back inside, the Council already in the room as I slammed the door closed. “How could this HAPPEN? Was she never examined?”
“I don’t know, and we didn’t know,” Francois said. “Rest assured I will get to the bottom of it.”
Javier looked at me. “What did you do out there?”
I sat in a chair, the magical exhaustion starting to overcome my adrenaline. “I saved her wolf,” I said.
“She is under sentence, you can’t just bring her back,” Armando said. “We will be forced to kill her again. All you have done is forced her to go through all that pain again.”
“Elizaveta IS dead,” I said. “You killed her. She’s not coming back. What I saved was her wolf, and hopefully their child.”
They all looked at me like I was crazy. There were werewolves, and there were werewolves who killed their wolves, but there was no such thing as a wolf who killed his human. It just didn’t work that way. “You can’t have a werewolf without the human, it’s impossible.”
“That’s what I thought, but it wasn’t true,” I said. “Her human side was dead, I brought her wolf back to life. Her wolf, which was against everything her human side did from the very beginning. You know, you searched her mind and examined her wolf before. She is fully wolf now, no human left. She can’t shift back to human form, and she has no human mind. She is a wolf, nothing more.”
“And he is still her mate?” Francois was leaning back in his chair, his fingers rubbing his temples with the headache I just gave him.
“Did you not see how he reacted to her? His human side loved her, but the bond was with her wolf.” I still couldn’t believe it worked, but the book had shown me a way to seek out her wolf spirit and that was the key to focusing my healing power. I was also shocked I was able to bring her back to life; my healing power was barely enough for the job. I was lucky her heart hadn’t stopped too long for it to restart. “In any case, you sentenced her human to be whipped to death. She was. Her wolf and her child were innocent, so you will leave her alone.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Francois said. “Powers like you have are a new thing for us.”
“Power must be tempered with mercy and wisdom,” I said. “Find out why a pregnant woman was not identified prior to sentencing and fix it,” I said. “I’m going back to be with my Pack member.”
No one said anything as I got up and left; any outrage they might have had at my outbursts and treatment of them was overcome because I was right, and they all knew it.
I stopped by the kitchen and got some fresh, cubed steak and put it in a bowl along with a large bottle of water. Carrying it out, I walked through the remaining crowd to where Larry was sitting protectively over his mate. John, Viktor and Stan had all shifted to their wolf forms and were stationed around her, facing out. No one knew if one of the victims might feel cheated and try to harm her now. I set the bowl of food down in front of her, then poured the water into the second bowl. She licked my hand, then started to eat.
I sat down next to my mate. “The Council is satisfied that her human part is dead,” I told him along with Stan and Larry. “What I did, it saved her wolf. She will no longer be able to shift, she has no human left. Larry, you have your mate but that was the cost.”
“I don’t care if she can shift as long as I have her,” he said. “What of our baby?”
“I don’t know yet,” I said. “It’s not like I’ve done this before. My healing power was in her, but we will have to wait and see.”
“Thank you, Jessie. Thank you for everything.” Liz had finished eating and drank most of the water as the crowd watched. She went back to Larry, licking his face as he cleaned her muzzle. Feeling better, she started to rub her fur onto him, spreading her scent and basking in the mate tingles. The two sniffed each other, then she dropped her forelegs, butt high and tail wagging, and barked at him. He mirrored her stance before she took off for the woods, Larry yipping as he chased her.
“Alpha Stan, can you follow them, make sure they are all right,” I asked.
“Of course, Jessie. What are you doing?”
“Going back to my room with my mate, that exhausted me,” I said. He took off for the woods, Alpha Viktor following him, as the crowd started to break up. “Come on, my mate. I need to be held.”
He came alongside me, licking my ears. “You’re amazing, you know that? You made an entire Council submit and you weren’t even trying.”
“They fucked up and they knew it,” I said. “Now come on, the baby and I are tired.” We trotted back to his clothes and he shifted back and pulling them on before going back inside.
After a fun shower with him, we fell into bed, the window open to let the cool mountain air in. I heard a howl in the distance, the howl of a male claiming his mate in wolf form, and I smiled. Larry would have his future.