✔️| The Gift of a Curse {1}

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All pack members above the age of thirteen are required to be present in the training arena in fifteen minutes. Oliver’s order reaches every member in the Red Eclipse pack through the mind-link.
Shadow you heard the alpha, we have to go back. It is going to take us at least ten minutes to get to the arena. My wolf’s voice echoes in my head.
Actually Accalia, that gives us five minutes. We do not have to follow every word Oliver says! I argue. I push my paws to move a little faster. I have always hated how she feels the need to obey every single command of his like we are his slaves and we only live to serve and please him. I confess, alphas should be respected, but I do not believe that they should be treated like they are better than the rest of the werewolf nation. After all, we are all werewolves.
His name is Alpha Oliver, do not disrespect him! Accalia scolds me. I am about to give her a sarcastic reply when I feel another wolf’s fur against my own.
Clay? The other wolf only growls.
I slow down before turning around so I can face Clay’s brown wolf. Once his hazel eyes meet my green ones, he looks at the opposite direction and starts to run back. I roll my eyes at him; it is no surprise that he has the same infuriating tendencies as Accalia; to prove their discipline to their alpha.
About a mile away from the arena, Clay stops and gestures at a huge tree with his head and I immediately growl in annoyance before going behind the tree and shift into my human form. I shiver as the winter wind collides with my bare skin. I search through a few bushes before I find some Nike shorts and a huge t-shirt to put on.
One of the very few things I like about Oliver is that every week he has pack members stashing clothes in the woods. After all, the amount of times werewolves tear their clothes is one day cannot be counted sometimes, so these hidden clothes prevent us from walking around nude.
I make my way back to Clay to find him in his human form with a basketball shorts on.
“We could have waited a few minutes, he did say fifteen minutes.” It is one of my goals to one day get him to, at least for once, ignore the rules and does something he desires, but knowing him I doubt I will ever be able to accomplish this aim. He shakes his head at me, but I can see a hint of a smile on his face.
“Why the hell not? I mean, why does he even want us to gather? The last time he assembled the entire pack for an emergency meeting, he announced that he will start looking for his mate, as if he needed to tell us that!” I mock our alpha as Clay comes behind me, holds my shoulders and starts pushing me towards our destination.
“Do you know what he has to say? You must know; you are the head warrior. Unless Oliver did not share his secrets with you knowing that I would nag at you until you tell me.” I babble without expecting an answer.
Clay and I have been friends for almost fifteen years. As kids, the only friends we had were each other. Therefore, we do almost everything together. Even now, when both of us are in our early twenties, our bond has not changed has not changed. Although both of us come from families of high status, we are not admired by anyone in our pack. Therefore, we stick together. Honestly, I would not have it any other way; I would rather have one true friend rather than ten fake ones who only talk to me because of my brother’s position as beta.
“Maybe we finally have a Luna, or maybe…” I am cut off by Clay turning me around so I can face him. He gives me one of his famous glares and it immediately causes me to shut my mouth.
Please be quiet, I do not need a headache. My best friend’s voice appears in my head.
“Are you saying I cause you a headache?” I ask dramatically as I put my pointy finger in his face.
I am simply stating that if there is indeed an emergency, then I will need to be completely and utterly focused on what the alpha is going to say in the gathering. Clay mind links me with an emotionless face.
If I was someone else I would have mistaken the intentions of his attitude, but I know him better than anyone; including his own parents. Consequently, I can distinguish every hidden emotion under his impassive face. Everyone thinks that he is incapable of real feelings, but I know that who he is now- or what he chooses to show people- is just the aftermath of what life has cruelly done to him in the past.
“Which is the polite way of you saying that I cause you a headache.” I conclude as I shake his hands off of me and continue walking.
“Clay” I call out his name to get his attention.
“So you think something is seriously wrong? Oliver has been calling all the men of high status into meetings a lot lately.” I ask with seriousness because based on the way Clay has been acting, I know that something big and bad is coming.
I think it is better for you to listen to what the alpha has to say rather than hear it from me. He replies as both of us lean on a tree at the very back of the arena away from everyone else. A part of me wants to push the subject, but the other part tells me that maybe Clay has a point.
I nod and wait until it is time for the announcement to be made. It takes him a couple of minutes but eventually Oliver gets on the mini-stage with Beta Stefan, my older brother, and Gamma Bellamy.
Silence! Oliver orders through the mind link.
“I am well aware that it is out of the norm to call in a meeting for every mature werewolf in the pack, but I am afraid that the werewolf nation is facing a global crisis.” Oliver’s voice penetrates the rough wind that is causing the trees to slightly shake. It is in times like these I thank God for being a werewolf; if I was a human I would have been frozen to death with the clothes I am wearing in this weather
“I believe many of you have heard the rumors already, but werewolves of high status from various packs around the world are being murdered.” Murmurs start but a loud growl from the alpha retrieves silence.
“As I was saying, werewolves are getting killed. At first, it started with two betas in both Australia and Europe, a few days later the bodies of three gammas were found in both North and South America. As expected, all alphas have been trying to get in touch with the Amazonian warriors. Alas, they seem to have ceased all contact with us – which is another problem our nation faces-.”
I can feel dread creeping into my veins; the Amazonian warriors are the only ones with a status higher than an alphas’. They are female warriors chosen to be the link between the species that live on this planet. With them being gone, the supernatural will fall in an era of chaos and disorder. With them gone, we have no judges, no jury, and no justice. The warriors’ duty is to keep the alphas in check, run the trials in court, and prevent countless wars between packs and species in general. Without them we are doomed.
“The situation is critical. We cannot wait for them to show up and fix this for us; we already lost almost a quarter of our high status men. Therefore, we have taken matters in our own hands. We have agreed to hold a meeting for all the alphas in the world.” Oliver holds his breath in a way that suggests that he still has to deliver the bad news.
“Now the duration of this meeting is unknown because nothing like this has ever happened before. Hence, it was decided that we should choose a territory that is regarded the best place for all alphas to be in. Since Australia is the smallest continent, it is the easiest to protect. As you all know, there are only two packs in Australia, our pack and the Mystic Pride pack. Unfortunately, our neighbor’s gamma is one of the men who got assassinated. Consequently, we will host the meeting.” Once again, murmurs fill the air. This time Oliver waits until his people quiet down on their own before he resumes talking.
“Starting tomorrow, alphas along with few of their warriors will start arriving to our territory. I expect from each and every one of you to show nothing but respect and hospitality towards all our guests –even the ones we have bad blood with- this is a war against our kind, and we need to stand together to protect each other and eventually be victorious.” Cheers and claps are heard as the alpha; beta and gamma get off the stage.
“Did you know about this?” I am still leaning on the tree.
Do not look at me like that; the alpha would have had my head if I told you anything. He was very clear that you should not know anything before the rest of the pack. I roll my eyes at that. Oliver has always stood in the way of the things I want.
“Well, what else do you know?” I swear to God, one day my curiosity is going to get me killed, but I just cannot help myself.
Frankly, that is all I know. When he sees my unconvinced face he tries to prove his words.
But we are supposed to have another meeting later today. I will share with you all that will happen once it is over. I just give him an approving nod before I stand straight and run after my brother.

Despite the shiver in my body, I follow Stefan’s scent until I am standing in front of Oliver’s house. I try to listen in on their conversation but the entire house is sound proof. Thus, I take a deep breath before I walk into the front porch and knock on the door. A couple of seconds later I am met with a very angry Stefan. I open my mouth to talk, but he beats me to it.
“No!” he yells.
“What do you mean ‘no’? I did not say anything yet!” I throw my hands up in the air.
“You do not need to say anything for us to know what you want.” Oliver emerges into my sight and stands next to Stefan.
“We are not telling you anything Shadow, so do not waste our time and yours since mum told me that you are needed in the kitchen in the pack house.” Stefan tries to show as much authority as he can. He believes that one day; I will submit to his sexist wishes and do as he says. Unfortunately for him, that day will never happen; I will never allow him or any male control me.
“That is not why I came here; I just wanted to tell you that…”
“That lie would pass on people who have not known you since you were born. You heard your brother so go on… off you go.” Oliver takes a threatening step towards me, but it does not make me back down.
“Oliver, just hear me out…” This time he is impatient as he pulls me inside the house and roughly pushes me against the wall with his fingers wrapped tightly around my neck.
“It is Alpha Oliver, do not dare disrespect me again. As for the real reason why you are here, do not forget that you are a female Shadow, and females do not have any business in engaging in wars or building strategies and plans, these jobs are meant for men, why do you have a difficulty in understanding that?”
Despite the fact that I am being choked to death I refuse to move or try to make him let go of my neck. Doing so will only serve as a confirmation to his sexist beliefs, and I will be damned if I show him or my brother any kind of weakness. Hence, I find the satisfaction in glaring at both of the men that are in the room.
“Oliver” Stefan’s voice comes out a little worried. Oliver immediately lets me go. I know that the reason they are worried for my life is because it would affect both of their reputations if I accidentally died at their hands; it would be a scandal.
It takes every ounce of energy I have to not fall to the floor. I maintain my glare as I gradually regain my normal breathing.
“Let’s be clear about one thing Shadow.” My arrogant brother looks me in the eye, his fabricated worry for me completely gone.
“The only reason your recklessness and disrespect is perpetually overlooked, is because you are my sister. If it was not for me, Oliver would have thrown you in the dungeons many years ago. So learn to know and accept your place. You are a woman, thus, you are not a warrior or a beta. Your only job is to follow orders until you find your mate.”
I know he is lying; if the decision was in his hands, he would have killed me years ago. Silently, I look away from either of them and make my way to the door.
“One day I will prove you wrong, and when I do you will be so ashamed you will not be able to look me in the eye.” I slam the wooden door in their faces and I start to take angry steps towards an unknown destination.

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