I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I tore through stack of books, searching for anything that might even mention my Pack. I was alone in the Pack Library, my only company a decrepit, musty smelling old woman who glanced at me every now and then through her half-moon glasses. I tossed the book in my hand to the side in frustration.
Nothing. None of these had any information on my Pack or what had happened eight years ago. I piled my hair up on my head, the loose tendrils annoying my face. There had to be somewhere else. My eyes scanned the large room filled with stacks and rows of texts. There was a dark corner roped off from the rest of the room. While the crypt keeper librarian bent down to rifle through the drawers of her desk, I darted over to the unexplored corner. There was a sign on the rope the read Restricted. Like that was going to stop me.
I ducked under the flimsy barrier and assessed the materials around me. Everything was coated in dust and cobwebs- this area obviously didn’t get a lot of traffic. I stifled a cough as I brushed some of the grime of the bindings. The crypt keeper was obviously slacking in her cleaning duties. I skimmed through several annals, finding plenty of history on my people, but nothing remotely recent.
There was a clattering of noise from the main desk and I peaked around one of the bookcases to make sure little ole crypt keeper was still sitting behind her test. She hacked a wet, slimy cough as she reorganized her fallen stack of magazines.
I went back to my search, coming up empty again. This was completely ridiculous. An entire library full of werewolf texts and nothing that could tell me about what happened to my Pack. I was ready to give up when I noticed a small stack of books tucked back into a corner of one of the shelves. My hands picked them up, the weight heavier than I expected. There wasn’t any dust on these volumes. Someone must have been handling them recently.
I sank down to the floor in silence, setting the books in front of me. I looked at the titles. The History of the North American Packs. The Fall of the Spartans. The War of Spartan Aggression. I snatched up The Fall of the Spartans, flipping through the pages as quickly as I could while hiding in my corner. I flipped. And flipped. And flipped. But there was only the ending. I knew what had happened after the attack. Everyone was gone. Dead. Slaughtered. No book could further educate me on what had happened after the battle. It was like they had completely skipped over why it had happened. Upon further inspection, I found out the reason for that. A good twenty pages had been torn from the spine. My teeth ground against each other in frustration. I wanted to throw the book across the room, but that would only get me caught and booted out of here.
Setting the useless hunk of paper to the side, I reached for The War of Spartan Aggression. The title was throwing me off. Yes, we had been a militaristic Pack who lived for the thrill of battle, but we never fought an unjust war. My people fought with respect and honor, not unwarranted hatred. My eyes read through the lines of false accusations, fraudulent fabrications, and blatant lies.
This pathetic excuse for historical record was trying to tell me that my Pack- my people- were mindless warmongers. Classless barbarians with no sense of right and wrong. Bloodthirsty beasts who lived for the kill. They painted us like monsters- the stuff of nightmares. The illustrated pictures showed rabid looking wolves, feral and wild. We looked like animals- not the proud, noble people we were. My heart was hanging low in my stomach as I read. This wasn’t us. This wasn’t my Pack.
I flipped forward in the book anxiously, the pages slipping through my trembling fingers.
The Spartans despised those who stood against their values. They relished their military prowess and regarded themselves to be superior to all werewolf kind. The only power that stood to oppose them was the Royal Pack. They alone had the numbers and strength to combat the merciless Spartan horde. Coveting the reach and power of the Royal Pack, the Spartan Alpha Killian Lupei ordered his Guardians to attack the weaker packs near Varcolac. They ambushed people in the woods, using their guerilla tactics in the dark of night. Bodies were found throughout the forests for weeks, their corpses burned from silver and disemboweled by razor sharp claws. It was a grotesque display of the abuse of werewolf capability.
The threat grew with the passing days. Fear spread throughout the northern packs as the death toll rose. Alpha Killian opened the gates of war between the Spartans and the Royal Pack, their actions demanding an organized, defensive response. Alpha King Marcus made the decision to protect the people of his Pack and its neighbors by facing the Spartan threat head on. Emissaries were sent to the Spartans on a peace mission in an effort to negotiate a treaty. None of the emissaries returned to Varcolac.
What was I even reading? None of this was true. Our Alpha was never some power-hungry madman. We had been in a period of peace- we hadn’t gone to war since I was little, and even then, it was because a pack of rogues tore through our territory trying to claim it as their own. I kept reading, silently shaking my head as I took in the words. It said that the Spartans incurred the justified wrath of the Royal Alpha. Marcus had led his warriors against the Spartans. The book said the battle was long and grueling, only four wolves survived the event- Alpha King Marcus Sandoval, Royal Beta Alistair Harding, Royal Gamma Thomas Rainey, and Royal Delta Aaron Wagner. All the leaders of the Royal Pack. I couldn’t believe any of this. I was there, I knew my Pack’s business inside and out just as my father had taught me. This book was nothing but garbage and lies. Who wrote this shit anyways? I let the pages flop to the side, rolling back to the title page.
The War of Spartan Aggression by Alpha King Marcus Sandoval.
Fury coursed through me as I charged through the halls of the manner. The written record of blasphemy against my people was clutched tightly in my hand, my nails digging into the leather cover. I threw the door of Ryker’s room open and flipped the light switch on.
“What the fuck is this?” I screamed at him, chucking the book at his sleeping head as hard as I could.
He thrashed awake in a frenzy of swinging limbs; the book having made contact squarely on the side of his face.
“What the hell, Asenna?” He shouted with anger rising in his voice. Ryker rubbed his face where he had been hit and I longed to land a right hook on his other cheek.
“Tell me right now, what is that bullshit?” I pointed to the book that was now lying on the covers above his legs.
Ryker picked up the book, read the cover, and closed his eyes with a heavy sigh. “Come here.” He was trying to coax me over to him, but I stood firm, my feet planted to the floor. Defeated, he attempted to explain himself. “I didn’t know how to tell you. I knew you would be hurt. I knew how huge this was. I just… I just didn’t want to see you in pain.”
“Cut the shit, Ryker.” He looked at me with a pained, guilty expression. “You knew this whole time what your pack had done to mine. You knew who was responsible. And you let me go on this entire time feeling like I…” I didn’t even know how to put it into words and to be honest the things I had been feeling for him had frightened me with their intensity. “I gave you every part of me, showed you everything I knew, trained you like a Spartan and all the while you’ve kept this from me.” My mind was reeling. I had trusted him, let him in, made myself be vulnerable, and he betrayed me. He was the son of the man responsible for the death of my entire Pack- every man, woman and child. How could I look at him the same way?
“Every word of that book is a lie.” My voice was shaking. “We never attacked you people. We never plotted against anybody. We never saw any emissaries. We never challenged the authority of your Alpha.” I was hysterical, my breath caught in my throat and my heart drummed in my ears. “Your father calls us barbarians! Monsters! Wild beasts always on the hunt for blood!”
His brows drew together, his face falling in concern. “Asenna, you were just a kid. You couldn’t have known everything that was going on. Political life is complex, no matter what pack you’re from.” He reached out for me and I recoiled from his touch.
“Don’t patronize me.” I snarled. “I knew everything that happened in that Pack. I lived and breathed it every day. I sat in on council meetings. I strategized battle tactics. I knew the leadership of the Spartans better than anyone.”
“How?” Ryker challenged. He didn’t believe me, but he was trying his best to be gentle with my already tempestuous rage. “I’m not even that involved in Pack affairs, not yet anyways.”
I snatched the book from his hands. “What a future your pack must have then.” I spat with venomous sarcasm. I ignored the hurt on his face, flipping to the page that held the black and white portrait of Alpha Killian. “This man. The one your people call a monster. The one your father says is an evil, merciless murderer.” Tears flooded out of my eyes, my arm shaking as I held the book out for him to see. My voice scratched against the interior of my throat, the words slicing into me like claws. “This man was my father, and he’s dead because of yours.”