Bound by Duty

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There is No Running Away

Minutes later, an announcement was posted on the Jade Pack’s official website and the article was shared on every one of their social media accounts — “We regret to announce that Danielle Fiona Arabella Ward, former heir-apparent of the Jade Pack has been expelled from the pack and exiled for one hundred and fifty years on grounds of violent, impulsive and indiscreet behaviour towards fellow pack members. We are also pleased to introduce the new alpha heir-apparent of the Jade Pack — Brandon Julius Ward. May the moon goddess bless his rule.”

Some people rejoiced, some were heartbroken, others were indifferent. But everyone, without fail, knew that by losing Danielle, the pack would never be the same again.

Soon, people began to disperse to let the family take care of Gerald’s mangled body. Suddenly, they felt a tug in their minds. Every wolf in the pack grunted with pain as the alpha heir-apparent broke her links with her pack, with her family and with her father. Howls instinctively filled the air, carrying grief, blame and confusion. With such an able leader abandoning her pack, it wouldn’t be long before the pack members doubted the pack’s leadership and its ability to rule.

Danielle was almost flying past the trees in the woods in her wolf form. The wind tore past her fur. It felt like she was being pierced by dozens of needles. Her heart thumped erratically. She was experiencing an adrenaline rush feeling many things at the same time.

This was the result of breaking pack bonds. The freedom that came with it and the relief she felt by breaking away from those chains of duty she never wanted to fulfil, made her feel both exhilarated and apprehensive.

But breaking the pack links had taken a toll on her wolf, Lupa, who was bearing the brunt of losing a pack. She refused to talk to Danielle for making her suffer. But Danielle knew she would come around eventually once the pain subsided.

She felt guilty about leaving Naomi alone to fend for herself, but she had had no choice. She had calculated the timing of the pack’s discovery of Gerald precisely. It left her some time to go to her room, stuff her important belongings into a duffel bag and take off like a bullet towards the borders.

The moment she crossed the borders, they found Gerald’s body. Naomi had told her telepathically that she had gotten away from the messy situation. Only then did she break all links and ties she had with the Jade Pack. Feeling suddenly like an uncaged bird, a thrum of enthusiasm ran through her body. It was as if nothing could tie her down. As her muscles were exercised to their limits with the speed she was going at, she called out to her wolf, ”Lupa," she spoke cautiously, ”are you okay, now?"

Lupa didn’t respond. Just when Danielle was thinking that she was still angry with her, Lupa answered in a belligerent tone, ”Do I have a choice? I am stuck with you anyway, aren’t I?"

Danielle smiled inwardly. ”Come on, don’t be like that. You know even I didn’t have much of a choice there, right?"

"Of course you did," Lupa snorted. ”You could have killed our so-called father and taken over the pack swiftly. I had even laid out excellent plans for that fight. I wanted to see his stupid face twist with agony."

"Killing him would be merciful," Danielle said flatly. ”It’s better for us to deal with him in another way when the time comes."

"I do not admire your patience," Lupa grumbled. ”Immediate. Things should be instant and immediate. Why at all wait, I don’t understand. Even when we were at that place. You were so cautious and... patient all that time." Lupa shuddered.

"Well," Danielle said, having had this argument many times in the past. ”How about I give you control for a while?"

"Give me?" Lupa sneered. ”I take control. Nobody gives me control."

"As you say, my queen," Danielle acceded with a smile. She gave up her control and Lupa took over. Danielle could feel her joy and cheer at being in full control of their wolf form. She knew Lupa had to be let out once in a while, otherwise, she would start feeling trapped and caged. Especially now that Lupa’s mood was off, it was all the more important to give her control.

Ahem, let her take control.

Lupa carefully sniffed the land and manoeuvred herself on to no pack’s territory. They would have to go through so much trouble if they accidentally stepped on a pack’s territory. It was then that she clearly realised that she had finally become a free wolf. Or a lone wolf, however, one might look at it.

And such wolves were known as Wanderers. Wanderers were a complicated part of the werewolf community. They were accepted according to the laws of the kingdom and belonged to no pack. They did, however, come under the crown. But legal acceptance didn’t always mean social acceptance. The Wanderers were severely discriminated against in workplaces. Whenever an employer asked for a CV and read saw the ‘Name of Pack’ section marked as pack-less, the applicant would be considered abnormal and be immediately rejected.

They would also face bias in educational institutions where the children of Wanderers wouldn’t be let into schools under the crown and even if they did, they would experience a lot of hate there. They faced bias even in communions. They could only settle down in narrow strips of land which was no pack’s territory and struggle for their livelihood and the upbringing of their children.

Facing such bigotry amongst their own kind, the Wanderers had long begun to form groups and associations of their own which began to conduct violent, forceful and coercive activities to restore their rights. This was always seen as a constant struggle between society and the outcasts. The crown held a very ambivalent attitude towards this issue. On occasion, it was known to turn a blind eye towards the Wanderers’ plight.

Being a Wanderer seemed free only at the surface. In reality, it was anything but. The way Lupa carefully trod on werewolf territory knowing she belonged nowhere made both her and Danielle realise that they were now Wanderers themselves. All that she had heard about their experiences as social outcasts would be something she would have to embrace. But could her dominant wolf, Lupa, tolerate any form of disrespect or face a situation where she had to bow before someone? The answer would be an unequivocal no.

If that was the case, then it seemed like she would have a colourful life as a Wanderer. Maybe some years from now, she could carry back some tales for Naomi’s amusement. Musing in this manner, Lupa shot off into the south-western direction. It was where her destination lay, and she had to make sure she got there before her father’s guard dogs caught up to her.

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