The Rise

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Chapter Sixty-Eight

I grabbed Valerio’s hand and was about to close my eyes to teleport us to the Mountain to see if she was still there, but he pulled away.

“No,” he said. “She’s not there and you’re not going to use your power after that. You just saved us all. Take a rest, Mae.” He took my hand and led me to the car. After saying a few words to the doctors to keep a close eye on Luca, Valerio drove us through the fields of nothingness.

We passed Aaisha’s property first. Of course, it was empty, but it was still so sad to see nothing and nobody. Then, we passed Samuel’s property. People were gathered outside gazing at the bare and broken trees - at least, the ones that were still there. Some people gazed at our car as we drove by.

I smiled through the window and people actually smiled back. I thought a part of them would be angry at me for destroying their home, but it was better than destroying their pups and their families.

Once the first wolf saw me, he called others over. Soon there was a line gathered on the sides of the roads. A grin appeared on my face. Everyone was happy. This is what we had been trying to get to for centuries. I wanted to stop, but I had something more important to take care of. We would come back later.

Valerio continued to drive as I watched them disappear through the rearview mirror. I sighed and settled into my seat, finally content. After this whole year, after so many deaths, I finally felt truly at peace. It was all worth it.

Valerio reared onto the highway, and we drove to the city. I gazed at building after building. I wondered how much these people felt the aftermath of destroying Mother Nature.

We slowly passed a street vendor on the side of the road. His small hotdog stand that Dad used to take me to when I was a kid now had his hotdog prices up to $5 a dog. My eyes widened at the price. “It’s been less than a day and the prices have risen by this much?”

Valerio sighed and parallel parked between two news trucks. “I’ve gotten reports of crops immediately being dried out and useless to sell or to eat. Yes, it’s only been a few hours, but it’s astonishing how much she had to do along with try to kill you.”

“Props to her,” I said, a hint of sarcasm to my voice.

“The news is blaming global warming… I don’t think that they put two and two together.” He chuckled and shook his head. “But when they do… then they might get a bit mad at you again.”

I rolled my eyes. We couldn’t catch a break, could we?

Valerio pulled up to a curb, and I grabbed the door handle.

Valerio nodded to a news van. “Are you ready for this?” he asked. “They’ve figured out that the Woman on the Mountain has something to do with you, so they’ve been here all morning sources told me, trying to get her to come out and speak to them about everything that has been going on.”

I gazed over at the news vans and nodded. “I’m ready.”

“I’ll be by your side the whole time. You don’t have to speak to them. We are here for one reason and one reason only.”

Again, I nodded.

When we stepped out of the vehicle, Valerio placed his hand on my back, guiding me through the busy city streets. We walked a block or so over and that’s when I saw them. They were all gathered in front of a building with their reporters gathered by the door, waiting for the Woman on the Mountain to come down. Camera crews surrounded the reporters.

There was no doubt that they would recognize me immediately. After I took a deep breath, preparing myself for the questions that I didn’t have to answer, we began walking toward them.

We came within twenty feet and someone yelled my name. “Moon Goddess!” Everyone turned to me. Reporters began running in my direction, pushing their microphones and phones close to me. Question after question was thrown in my direction as bright lights shined in my eyes.

With one hand on my back and the other pushing reporters aside to create a path for me to walk through, Valerio guided me toward the building.

“Moon Goddess, how would you describe the fight for humanity?”

“Moon Goddess, do you know anything about the sudden drying out of crops?”

“Moon Goddess, is it true that your species doesn’t hate humans?”

I had ignored all of the questions until that one. I didn’t have the energy to answer for the most part, but I wanted to make it known who we really were. When we approached the door, I stopped and turned around. I grabbed Valerio’s hand and nodded to him. “Please tell her that I would like to speak with her.”

Valerio shook his head. “We will together.”

I nodded and turned back to everyone. “Hello,” I started. “Yes, it is true that I am the Moon Goddess, goddess to the werewolves. And yes, it is true that a divinity was trying to destroy my species and began trying to kill humans as well. She is now departed from this world and will no longer be here to destroy us anymore. She had used a few rogue wolves against me, promising something greater. She used them to make us seem like violent, vicious creatures, but I promise that we are not all like that, just like humans are neither fully good nor bad.

“I will be working alongside some of my most trusted warriors,” I gazed over at Valerio and smiled. “To bring peace, not only among our people, but between werewolves and humans. I want a day where you see us as equals… No, we are not the same, but our differences make us who we are. We still love. We still protect our families. We still are passionate about the people and things we love.

“Now, I must attend important business,” I continued. I nodded to the cameras and smiled sweetly. Valerio buzzed on the door behind me as the questions continued to fly in every direction.

Almost instantly, the door was unlocked. Valerio pulled me inside and shut the door behind us. I could still hear the reporters outside. We stepped into the elevator. When the doors closed, Valerio wrapped one arm around my waist from behind and pulled me close. “That was good.”

I took a deep breath. “Hopefully, I gave us a fighting chance in this society.”

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