Heart of Stone - Book 3: Souls Entwine

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Chapter 41 - Stone (Part 2)

“We meet again, Sten.”

The last time Stone stood before Rumius, the Head of the Council, he’d been chained in silver and on his hands and knees before the older lycan with the rest of the Council members before him and his former pack behind him. His mate and pups huddled together off to the side, Arthur holding Adelaide as she struggled to stand on her own. He couldn’t look anyone in the eyes, he was so ashamed.

This time, Stone held his chin up and looked the Head of the Council square in the eyes like an alpha.

Because he wasn’t a warrior, nor the Exile they all saw him to be.

He was an Alpha. An Alpha blessed by the Goddess and he needed to be strong for his pack and Luna.

Talking with Aubree for a few minutes before the Council members arrived at the pack house gave him courage. He had no reason to fear. The Goddess was with them. The Goddess would make this right. He simply had to prove that he had done nothing wrong and that if the Council didn’t agree, the Goddess would surely punish them for turning their backs on Her and Her blessings.

“On different terms this time. Please, call me Stone. Alpha Stone. Sten died with Adelaide a hundred years ago.”

Olive green irises outlined in dark green stared back at him. Six other Council members—three females and three males—gathered behind Rumius. His light brown hair was streaked with fine strands of silver, marking his age. He had to be close to two thousand years old, but he was still a pup compared to Amora.

Amora’s absence unnerved him. If she wasn’t with the Council, where was she? She oversaw everything and was involved in all of the Council’s decision-making proceedings.

He noted missing members that had been in present at the last meeting he attended with Gwen in 2000. Could something have happened to them, or did they stay in Europe?

With the house behind him and the forest before him, he was not alone as he faced the Council. Alistair, Gwen, and Gunner stood behind Stone, with Gavin continuing his duties in the city and the Rosmi Maana warriors still resting inside.

“Metaphors are the stories of life,” Rumius stated, referring to Stone still being alive in body. “And this metaphor will only tell the story of your demise.”

Growls rumbled behind Stone as he suppressed his own from rising up.

This was what the Council did; they judged and punished wrongdoers according to the Lycan Code.

However, he did not stray from the laws. He had to keep a level-head and prove that, regardless of circumstances.

“Adelaide’s physical body died, but her soul was reborn into a human body. My mate. I have done nothing wrong in the eyes of the Goddess. It is you rejecting Her should you refuse to accept the blessings She has given me and my pack.”

“Nonsense comes in many forms to deceive,” was Rumius’ rebuttal.

His phone rang in his pocket and he casually withdrew it and pressed it to his ear. “Yes, Abbar?” he answered in Lykostroya.

Stone could hear every word uttered.

Abbar, the second-in-command of the Council, wanted to perform a test.

What kind of test? Where was he? He wasn’t with Aubree in Chicago, was he?

He growled, sharing the thought with his packmates behind him as their growls reverberated around him.

“Galib, if you would do us the honors?” Rumius said.

Galib, a pale male with flaming red hair and the most physically powerful one in their group, stepped forward and pulled out a dagger from its sheath tucked under his shirt. Tainted with flakes of silver melted into the steel of the blade, it was meant to harm, not kill—unless thrust into a lycan’s heart.

Stone overheard what the test was and complied, holding his hand out for Galib to grab with one hand before placing the blade against Stone’s palm and curling his fingers around it tight. In one swift motion, Galib yanked the blade through Stone’s flesh.

The pain was sharp at first, shooting up his arm before subsiding to a dull ache as blood gushed from the gashes across his palm and fingers.

Gwen ripped off a strip of material from her shirt and stepped forward to tie it around the wounds. It served little use as it continued to bleed, the flesh unable to heal immediately from the bits of silver mixed in the metal.

“Confirmed. The female has passed the test,” Rumius stated.

Stone knew that the Council needed to witness proof. Poor Aubree had to endure their tests without knowing what was happening.

“Satisfied now?” Stone asked. “She is my mate. I have done nothing wrong.”

Rumius ended his call. “Not exactly. One little test proves nothing. We still have yet to prove the ultimate question—will she become a bloodthirsty creature as we suspect, or something else? A human mate is impossible. The Goddess simply doesn’t allow it.”

“She would if it was to prove a point. That She is greater than us and our laws, and that we should submit to Her. Should you reject Her blessings, then you ultimately reject Her,” Stone said.

Rumius regarded Stone for a moment, stepping closer for inspection.

Stone mentally reminded his pack not to show any fear, that they had done nothing wrong. Not that they needed reminding.

“Before sealing the matebond, everyone here felt a connection with Aubree,” Stone continued as Rumius’ eyes scrutinized every inch of him. “Even though Adelaide physically died, her soul still held the bonds it made when it was reborn again because, even in death, those bonds are never truly severed.”

“Interesting, I will admit that,” Rumius said. “Until it is proven otherwise, everyone is under arrest for claiming a human as a mate and withholding the Truth from the Council.”

Stone narrowed his eyes. “We are at war with a coven of vampires trying to kill my pack and my mate. It would be unwise to lock us up and give the vampires full reign of our territory and the city we protect in the north. We will not run from our territory. This is our home and anyone who does not respect the members within our pack will be held accountable for any wrong that befalls anyone within our territory and the city.”

Rumius nodded his head respectfully. “Very well. As long as no one attempts to escape, we will allow you to continue with your business until the full moon. The moment someone leaves the territory or city limits, they are ours to hunt down and punish. Understood?”

Stone nodded and folded his arms across his chest. “Understood.”

Rumius looked up into the late afternoon sky, the sun touching the tips of the trees in the west and casting longer shadows across the open grass with each passing minute.

“Until the full moon, then.”

No vampires crossed their paths that night.

Dread held Stone tightly in its clutches as hints of dawn crept over the eastern horizon in a soft purple glow.

What if Carina planned to attack during the full moon?

Surely, she didn’t know Aubree would be having her first shift that night and would be an easy target, did she?

He turned his face up to the bright moon in the sky above, a few stars twinkling with fear that he only had a few nights left with his soulmate before everything could be stripped away from him again.

Goddess, say it isn’t so?

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