✔️| The Gift of a Curse {1}

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“Xander is not going to like this.” Joshua says as he thinks deeply about my plan. The look in his eyes tells me that he does not care about Alec’s opinion. The mention of the alpha’s name causes a shiver to travel down my spine. Even though I kissed him and practically jumped on his body, I still feel like it was some kind of dream. I am tempted to sit in a corner and think for hours about those glassy blue eyes that are apparently mine. But, I have bigger more important things to think about.
“Oh, he does not like it alright. But I think he is considering it. Besides, when push comes to shove, we are going to have to do something.” I claim. After I left my room, I went to Joshua’s house, I took a few wrong turns, but eventually I found the witch’s home.
“You are right, but a spell that covers every inch of the territory is going to require a lot of energy, and it will weaken me for a few days.” Joshua leads me to his library.
“So you cannot do it?” I look around at the bookshelves.
“I can, but I am going to need something or someone to channel.” The witch pulls out a large stack of books from a bookshelf and places them on the desk.
“Why are all your books so old?” I examine the book he opens and starts to read on the desk.
“They are all grimoires that I have been collecting since I was six years old. They come in handy in situations like this one. All we have to do is find the grimoire that contains the spell we need.” Joshua does not even look up from the spell-book.
“We?” I raise an eyebrow.
“Yes well, Xander is throwing a meeting with the entire pack to inform them of what is about to go down in a few hours. In the meantime, you and I are going to stay here and do the research needed to find the spell.” He gives me a smirk before he goes back to scanning the book.
“And how are you going to get the energy needed to perform this spell?” I sit on the chair next to him.
“Well, I can channel one of the witches in the pack, but I fear it might not be enough since we would not be related by blood. Therefore, I reckon that using the necklace my brother gave you is my only option.” It takes me a second to remember what he is talking about. When I do, I mentally slap myself; I had completely forgotten about it, I could have used it to conceal my scent rather than wear Nolan’s shirt.
“Do you have it on you?” I nod; I have not taken it off since I found it in my room back in the Red Eclipse pack. Joshua notices my reluctance to take it off and he smiles.
“Do not worry, I will return it to you by tomorrow morning, I know it is the only thing you have of Nick right now.” I nod for a second time and give it him.
“So how will it help?” I ask as I watch the witch put the necklace around his wrist.
“Well, Nick gave you the necklace, but before that it was his, and he had worn it for years. Thus, it holds his scent and his energy. I can use it to channel my brother. Like I said before, since we are related by blood, it will give me enough power to perform the spell and still be able to use my magic later if I need to.”
“That sounds tricky.” I mutter as I choose a grimoire and make my way back to the desk.
“You did not ask about the meeting.” Joshua changes the subject.
“What?” I frown in confusion.
“You did not ask about the meeting Xander is throwing.” The last thing I want is talk about ‘my mate.’ I feel like I should settle my thoughts and feelings before I talk about him or to him. The whole situation is perplexing even though I had known something was wrong from the very beginning.
“Was I supposed to?”
“No, but considering how Nick described life in the Red eclipse pack in his letters through the years, I imagine you are not used to see an alpha actually involving his pack members in such matters. I mean, he once said and I quote: ‘Alpha Oliver of the Red eclipse pack is the most selfish inconsiderate ass I have ever met.’ So I thought you would consider Xander’s actions a little bizarre.” His hazel eyes look into mine.
“I am well aware that Alec is nothing like Oliver. And if you think Oliver is bad, wait until you meet my brother, he is ten times worse.” I say in distaste.
“Alec? That is new.”
“Yeah well, I do not like Xander so…” I try to play it cool, but I cannot help the layer of sweat that covers my forehead. I guess knowing that Alec is my mate makes things a little awkward, especially since I have no idea who knows and who does not. For all I know, I could have been the only person who was in the dark. I immediately push the thought away, I am not a person to make assumptions about other people, and I refuse to start now.
“Any way, Xander believes that no matter what, his people have the right to know what is going on in their home.” The witch answers the question he believes I should have asked. The wide smile on his face gives me a sense of discomfort, but I dismiss it.
“How exactly am I supposed to know what I am looking for? I mean it is not like I speak French, Italian, or Latin.” I lean on the desk.
“You will know.” Joshua closes the first book and starts reading the second.
“I will know?”
“Yes. These grimoires are spelled to help the seeker find what he or she are looking for as long as the owner of the grimoire – that is me- allows said person to read it. It is hard to explain, you will understand if you find the spell.”
“Okay.” I huff and start reading.
“This is might take a while.” Joshua mutters.
“Right, so is there a way for you to use your magic to provide some gummy candy?” I smile as I think about devouring the heavenly candy.

“Where is Owen?” Joshua asks once Alec and the rest enter the house. It took us a little over an hour but we finally found the damn spell; I have never loved reading, going through ancient grimoires I could not even read did not help make me reconsider my opinion.
“He disappeared as soon as the sun set, like usual.” Chance answers and throws himself on the couch in the living room. Lorenza immediately clutches to him.
“Like usual?” I look at Joshua asking him for clarification.
“He has a thing for being outdoors at night. Every day when the sun sets, he goes to his house and he does not come out until dawn.” Alec is the one who answers. My voice gets stuck in my throat at the look he gives me so I just nod and focus on my left to find Nolan give a glare. I roll my eyes.
“Xander just told the entire pack your plan Shadow. I believe it is unworthy of the risk.” Ethan says harshly. Luckily, I am used to people talk to me like that, so I pay little attention to it. My eyes catch a bandage on his shoulder, but it is not my business to ask. More importantly, I do not care enough to ask.
“Well then, it is a good thing it is not your decision to make.” Alec’s tone matches his father’s.
“Xander…” Jocelyn tries to walk to him but he takes a step back and points a finger at her.
“No, once you would be the ones to make the final call. But now, I am the alpha; I decide how to protect the pack.” I have never seen Alec be so angry before. Yet, I can tell that this anger hides something below it; shame, regret.
“All this for this she-wolf.” Ethan gestures at me with disgust.
“My son would never say such things; he would never make a decision without including the rest of us. What is going on with you? What is this bitch doing to you?” Ethan points directly at me. Alec’s eyes turn black and his claws come out. I abruptly make my way to Ethan and stand in front of him causing Alec to stop mid-stride.
“Get out of the way Shadow.” Amoux says with a low voice.
“No.” We stare at each other for a few minutes before he looks away and looks at the ground causing gasps to erupt in the room. Before anyone can say anything about their alpha submitting to me, Joshua speaks up.
“I trust Xander.”
“Me too.” Chance and Nolan say in unison. As a result, Alec gives them a grateful nod as his eyes return back to normal and his claws disappear.
“We do not have time for this.” Lorenza says for the first time. It must be the first time the angry bird and I agree on something.
“How about this? Brook and I will go and start evacuating the pack members into the trap floor while you guys go over the plan.” The beta’s mate looks over at the four young men. When none of them objects she hums in approval and offers her hand to a very silent Brook. Just as they reach the door, they are stopped by Jocelyn’s voice.
“We will come help you.” Alec’s parents follow them. Once it is just me with the four men all eyes are on me.
“Why are you looking at me like I grew scales?” I wrap my arms around myself suddenly feeling uncomfortable. When none of them answer me, I know they are mind-linking each other. Whatever they are debating, I know I am not mean to hear it. Therefore, I wait until they are finished.
“I do not feel comfortable with just the two of you being out there with twenty eight hostiles.” Nolan is the first to speak.
“Twenty seven. Clay is not a hostile, he is on our side.” I remind him with a sense of protectiveness in my tone. Alec growls at that.
“You are not comfortable? Imagine how I feel.” Alec mutters.
“What do you mean?” Nolan asks him suspiciously.
“Nothing.” Alec scratches the back of his head, a habit I have come to realize that he does when he is nervous.
“Nothing my ass. We are not stupid Xander; we know that you are hiding something.” Chance raises an accusing finger in his alpha’s face. Alec gives me a quick look before he turns to his beta and gamma.
“You’re right, I am hiding something. You deserve to know, but right now I need you to focus on the problem that is heading our way. I promise tomorrow morning I will tell you everything.”
“Xander you cannot tell us that you are hiding something and then ask us to be focused on something else.” Nolan replies.
“I know it is a lot to ask, but you said that you trust me. So, I am asking you to trust me, please, I cannot afford anyone to be distracted, not when someone can die because of it.” Alec puts his hand on his gamma’s shoulder.
“Like I said I trust you.” Chance speaks up. Alec gives him a smile before turning to Nolan.
“Of course I trust you, you are my brother.” Alec immediately gives Nolan a hug.
“Wait for me.” Chance yells as he throws his arms around his two friends.
“Children.” Joshua mutters from beside me while rolling his eyes.
“Do they always like that?” I whisper.
“You have no idea.” The witch rolls his eyes once again.

“We do not want the warriors to find out that we know they are coming, so Joshua will only perform the spell right before the two of you leave the territory.” Alec says with unease.
“And when do we leave?” I ask.
“Twenty minutes before dawn. That way we will have enough time to execute the plan before any of the warriors has a chance to unleash the gas.” Joshua answers.
“’The Cave Of The Dead’ is on the west border so that is where we will all be an hour before dawn in case the foe decides to strike earlier.” Nolan informs me.
“Okay, so what do we do until then?”
“I do not know about you, but I am going to go and write Nick a letter to let him know that I will channel him. I cannot exactly use his magic without his consent.” Joshua leaves his library. His footsteps indicate that he goes to a room in the second floor.

“Remember, do not under any circumstance allow any warrior to release the gas, it can kill you instantly.” Alec buries his face in my neck and I let him. I believe the reason for it is fear. I have no idea what is about to happen, I do not know if things will go as planned. Therefore, I allow him to comfort himself through my scent.
“I will be fine Alec.” I say as he pulls away. I try to put on a brave face despite barely being able to stand straight.
“Shadow, come on we are ready.” Indeed we are; Joshua talked to Nick, the spell is up, the pack members are evacuated in the trap floor under the infirmary, and it is twenty minutes before dawn. I take a deep breath before I take Joshua’s hand and we take a step outside the territory’s limit together.
“Be careful.” Alec calls out as we gradually walk further from the border.
“I am scared too.” The witch says after we walk side by side for about three minutes.
“So what is our first move?” I refrain from replying to his statement. I am afraid if I do, I will not be able to do what needs to be done.
“I think we should find Clay. We will actually have the advantage if he is with us.” My heart warms up at the thought of seeing my friend, seeing him safe and alive.
“How do you suggest we find him?” Joshua is about to answer when I hear footsteps. In less than a second I am thrown against a tree with Joshua hovering over me. He silently tells me to stay quiet before he moves a little to see the person who moves rather slowly only about two feet away from us.
The witch quickly reaches out to something around his neck; he pulls Nick’s necklace from his neck and places it around mine. He points at his nose; he wants me to cloak my scent. It takes a couple tries, but Joshua’s nod of approval indicates that I succeeded. We give each other a nod; a sign that we are ready to attack when suddenly we hear an unfamiliar voice.
“I know you are there.” I can imagine the sadistic smirk that comes with his voice; it causes me to shiver.
“Are we really going to play the chasing game?” I can tell that the warrior is actually enjoying himself. I look at Joshua in panic; the witch just gives me a nod before he reveals himself to the warrior.
“Ah, a witch. Let me guess, Alexander Cresswell has sent you to save his pathetic unworthy life.” His words anger me, but Accalia talks me out of jumping on him.
Joshua does not waste time and raises his hand towards the warrior. Immediately, the hostile falls to the ground and screams in pain as he clutches his head. A few seconds later, he is on the ground unconscious.
“That is the part we did not think of.” Joshua mutters to himself as I come out from behind the tree.
“How are we going to get him into the dungeons?” My movement stills at his words. We really did not think about that. I had the audacity to present my plan and fight for it to be executed only to find that it is uncompleted. This might cause the entire Open Wound pack to die. My breath hitches as I feel the oxygen refuse to enter my lungs.
I grab Joshua’s hand when I feel a burning heat in my chest.
“It is glowing.” I say as I study the necklace around my neck.
“It is glowing blue. What does it mean when it glows blue?”
“It means the bearer of the necklace is in danger, you are in danger. They are about to release the gas, we have to move.” Joshua grabs my hand and starts running. As a result, my panic level reaches its peak, this is where we either die or survive.

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