The Rise

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Chapter Six

"Tomorrow we'll visit this place," I said, gazing at Valerio.

He nodded promptly, then his eyes glazed over, probably mind-linking our strongest Protectors to accompany us.

Everyone stood and said their goodbyes. Aaisha departed with a batch of cookies that Nakida made. Before Samuel left, he hugged me closely and told me that the pups wanted me to visit them soon. But I suspected that it was him who needed the company. Being an alpha was hard but being an alpha after losing a best friend was even harder.

Nakida and Ayodele walked to the door together, chatting about the dinner they were going to make for their mother and father. But before Ayodele could leave, I called for him.

He turned around, a smile on his face. "Yes, Moon Goddess."

"Can Valerio and I speak to you before you leave?" I asked.

"Of course." He nodded and told Nakida he'd be with them soon. Once she left, he sat down at the table. "I hope I have been some help to you."

I smiled. How the hell was I going to tell him he was going to die? How do you even go about something like that? I had no details of his death, no time of death, just a hunch and a very good vision as my evidence.

"A great help," Valerio said, noticing my uneasiness. "We would love it if you could work with us more often."

I shook my worries away and nodded. "You have so much knowledge that we need."

He thanked me, his eyes brightening just like Nakida's. "I would love to help. It's been my dream since I was a little boy."

I stood there smiling back at him, not knowing what to say or how to say it. I was stripped of all words.

He paused, his eyebrows knotting. "But that's not what you wanted to tell me? You look nervous."

I was more than nervous. I gulped and sat down across from him. It didn't matter anymore if I could do this; I needed to do this. "Ayodele," I took his hands in mine, "I'm about to tell you something that is going to affect all of us. And I really, really wish it wasn't true because, from what I've seen so far, you are a man far beyond your years; someone who is kind and intelligent."

His eyes filled with worry. "What is it?"

"I have visions of the future. They're short and not as detailed as I'd like them to be, but they do come true. I've experienced them before," I said thinking back to the night after Damon died and I walked in the rain. He nodded, urging me to continue. "This is very complicated, but you were in my last vision. And, you were not Ayodele anymore."

His brows creased. "Who was I then?"

"A boy named Ashur who was recently killed by a Challenger."

"What? How... is that possible? How do you know it was me?" he asked.

I really didn't have any answers for him without sounding ridiculous, so I sounded ridiculous anyway. "It was your body and your face with the voice and soul of a child inside of you."

"So... so my soul – wasn't – it wasn't there?"

"No," I said. Silence enveloped the room. "No, it wasn't."

We sat quietly for a few moments, too many moments than I would have liked. I showed him Ashur's soul that was on my forearm and explained to him what I knew, my body was an outlet for souls to inhabit while they're waiting for a new body.

"What does this mean? Does this mean I die?" he asked.

I didn't say anything. Instead I squeezed his hands gently. He squeezed back. His face was void of emotion, and I wasn't sure if he was about to throw a fit or cry his eyes out. Honestly, I wouldn't blame him for doing either.

What I didn't expect was what he did next. He nodded his head. "Okay."

"Okay?" Valerio asked.

"If I die, I'm going to die protecting and aiding you, My Moon Goddess, with all of my knowledge. Together we will stop these divinities from hurting any more of our kind." He bowed his head. "Please let me help you."

My eyes widened. Not what I was expecting, but what was I expecting from Nakida's brother? Their whole family were strong men and women. I shouldn't have expected anything less.

"Of course. I promise to keep you alive for as long as possible, Ayodele."

"You can try, Moon Goddess, but when my time comes, it will come for a good reason and my body will be Ashur's mother's happiness."

He stood, and I bowed my head, showing him the greatest honor of respect. "I am forever in your debt. How can I repay you for being brave?"

I learned these past few weeks that gratitude was a great friend. And I planned to show it more often to the people around me.

"One thing," he began. "Please, let me tell my family and Nakida on my own terms. I want them to hear it from me."

I nodded my head. That was the least Valerio and I could do.

When Ayodele left the room, Valerio placed a hand on my shoulder. I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding. That was over, and it went surprisingly better than I thought it would. I just had to make sure he was really alright. This might hit him harder than he expected once he actually went home, saw his family, and felt their love.

But, now, a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I was still burdened by it, but at least it wasn't a secret that I had to keep from everyone anymore.

"You did good," Valerio said. "He's strong. I don't think many people would have reacted the same way knowing they would die soon."

I agreed with him. Many people feared death, not many accepted it whole-heartedly like he did. "If you have time, can you try to find out more about this-this power? Has a transfer of souls into bodies been done before by other divines? Ayodele seemed to be taken off-guard by it." Valerio swiftly nodded. I thanked him. "I need to go for a run after that."

Valerio and I walked to the trail I usually took and stripped. I hadn't been running in a few days, and it definitely was much needed. I shifted into a wolf and saw my white and black wolf standing on each side of me.

My paws on the dirt, the wind in my fur – it felt so calming. I knew White and Black were aching to be set free, so I let them run ahead of me as Valerio and I ran together. We were pushing our bodies to the limits, leaping over branches and kicking dirt up behind us.

About fifteen minutes into our run, White and Black had disappeared from my view. For all I knew they were miles ahead, probably racing each other. But a few moments later White's howl echoed through the forest, followed by a vicious growl from Black.

Valerio and I sprinted faster until we saw Black standing in front of White, growling down at the ground in front of them. I rushed over, shifting into my human form. White was huddled close to Black as Black continued to growl.

I knelt down near White, seeing a streak of red in her fur that was healing quickly, then I looked over Black's shoulder. On the forest floor, drawn in the dirt were two circles, one drawn within the other.

Black looked at me, then the ground, then the trail ahead of us. I trusted him, so I let him run after the scent. I couldn't smell it, neither could Valerio, but Black could.

Once White nestled herself back into my palm and I knew she was safe, Valerio and I waited for Black. About a half-hour later, he was back, his head hung in defeat.

I knelt down next to him and pet his fur. "It's okay, Black. We'll find him next time."

A/N

Ayodele's reaction to his death?

Who is this wolf in the woods and what is he doing?

I think Black and White are so cute! What do you think?

Warmly, Destiny <3

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