Bound by Duty

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Listen to Grandpa

“In other news, the Jade Pack, one of the nine major packs in the kingdom, has announced the exile and expulsion of its heir-apparent of twenty-one years, Danielle Ivy Ward. The reasons have been cited as violent conduct towards fellow pack members, but the entire incident is quite mysterious. We have not been able to get any more information from the pack officials.”

On the television was a grainy picture of Danielle which was beyond recognition. That was the only picture she had allowed the pack to take of her, and the only one they could give the media. On the ticker, the hashtags, #WhyExile and #HeirDisgraced were trending. Danielle instantly looked at the innkeeper, seeing if she had noticed anything. The woman seemed blissfully ignorant.

“That’s too bad!” She commented. “That girl was a fine leader, I had heard. Well, who can know what a person is really?”

Danielle felt a strange mix of emotions. She had wanted to fulfil her duty at the Jade Pack. But now that she didn’t have that opportunity, she was feeling rather guilty. On the other hand, she was relieved that she didn’t have that on her plate anymore; she had enough on the agenda without having to rule a pack.

So, answering the innkeeper’s question, what she was really was something very few people knew. And she had no plans of changing things from the way they were.

The innkeeper finally handed the room keys to Danielle, who quickly grabbed them. Danielle picked up her bag and quickly headed upstairs. “Don’t forget to be careful in the area, love! Being a Wanderer around here is not easy!”

Listening to that well-meaning advice, Danielle sighed. That woman was actually not bad. Danielle could really learn to be more patient with the people around her.

Minutes later, she had settled into her room. Her injuries were healing at a rapid rate but they would still take a whole night to heal completely. She sat on the bed and closed her eyes, not caring about staining the sheets with her blood.

She was only a few hours away from her destination. But before going there, she had a few things to take care of — a few people to talk to. She didn’t carry her mobile phone because it could be used to trace her location. So now that she had the opportunity, she would make the most of it.

She picked up the inn’s phone in the room and dialled a number. It rang a few times before the call was answered.

“Alpha Wilson,” a gruff voice said.

Danielle blinked rapidly, suddenly not being able to answer.

“Hello?” The voice said impatiently. Danielle cleared her throat.

“Grandpa, it’s me,” she muttered.

There was silence for a few seconds. “Dani?” Henry Wilson whispered.

“Yes,” Danielle said.

“It’s really you,” he said quietly.

“It’s me.”

“Where the hell are you?” Henry’s voice rose to a roar. Danielle kept the phone away from her ear.

“Somewhere. I can’t tell you,” she replied in a blasé manner.

“You- I- how can you- I can’t even- Danielle!” Henry blustered.

“No, really. I don’t want to take chances. Your phone line might even be tapped.” Danielle said seriously.

“You... okay,” Henry sighed. “I can understand. At the very least, are you alright?”

“Yes,” she assured him. “I’m completely fine.” Yeah, right.

“That’s good,” he said, sounding relieved. “As long as you’re okay, I can answer your mother beyond the grave.”

“Mum wouldn’t care,” she said. “She would rather I fulfil my responsibilities. I bet she would be disappointed in me, now.”

“I dare you to say that again,” Henry threatened. “Your mother never wanted you to return to that pack ever again. Don’t know why you returned at all after—”

“O-kay! Let’s not go there, grandpa. I just called to tell you that I’m safe and I’m going to be just fine.”

“You’re just like your mother, keeping secrets all the time. No one would know what she did. She got so strong but she got herself killed in a freak accident, of all things.” Henry said in a low tone. “Honey, you need to open up to someone. Otherwise, there is every chance that something might happen to you and no one would know what to make of it. And don’t think I don’t know that there’s something fishy about her death. So fishy that even my resources can’t uncover the truth.”

Danielle remained silent for a while. “I know,” she said, placating the old man. “I understand, I will get to it when this whole problem is over. I promise. And you have to take care of yourself too.”

He sighed again. “You won’t get to it. You don’t need to lie to me. But this is the fate the goddess has given me — worry all the time about my daughter and then about my granddaughter until my hair turns white,” he said. “Go on, do what you have to do. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.”

Danielle quietly said goodbye to him and ended the call. With all that was going on, the only person who would actively worry about her was her maternal grandfather, alpha of the Topaz pack. There was every chance that he would do something reckless if she didn’t contact him every now and then. Being an alpha gave him the same powers and privileges that Jacob had, so Henry could go against his son-in-law anytime he wanted.

Splashing some water on her face and cleaning her wounds, she switched on the TV and put herself through some torture by watching the news about her all over the media. Her stupid photo was stuck on every news and entertainment channel which was scavenging for more information, knowing there was some gossip to be extracted in this news item.

It was late evening when the innkeeper knocked on her door to give her dinner. She took it gratefully and even managed a smile for her this time. Scarfing down the meat, she felt satiated after a long time. The only thing she had to do now was rest. And the next day, she would reach the place she was yearning to be at.

Before she fell asleep, she stared at the amulet around her neck for nearly a quarter of an hour. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Her face had a complicated expression. She wouldn’t, she decided. The amulet fell back into her cleavage and she fell back on the pillow, slipping into a dreamless sleep.

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