EARLY UPDATE WHO'S PROUD?
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"We don't think ourselves into a new way of acting, we act ourselves into a new way of thinking,"
"Are you ready to go?" My head snaps over to Roman who emerges from his closet shirtless, every defined muscle on full display as he approaches my couch, pulling a thin undershirt over his bare skin that covers his arms like the night shirt of a medieval king.
I glance back out the window into the garden I sat observing, looking over the patterns I had long remembered illuminated by the moonlight and stand up, smoothing over the white lace dress covering my body.
"Yes," I say softly, walking past him and to the door of his room.
"Maeve are you sure you want to be the one to end Wren's life? If you end her life in the name of the goddess she will bear a mark onto you in significance of that, much like my mark is on you," he says and my brows furrow.
"You mean I'll have another tattoo?" I ask, turning to face him as he opens the door to his room and we step into the halls, beginning our long descent into the night.
"That's one way to look at it, except it won't hurt and it will only appear on certain occasions," he says and I nod, looking down to the floor as we continue to walk. "We also have a meeting tomorrow with the international board on the issue of South America, Alpha Nicholas has agreed to enter the conference call and we are hoping to mediate the issue but it looks unlikely at this point," he says and I lift my head up at this.
"You think he'll try to break off and form his own kingdom?" I ask.
"If I had to put money on it I'd say almost certainly but who knows, there is still some hope for change, even if it's only a small amount," He responds and I have to bite back a laugh. Still room for hope, go figure Roman, go figure.
"To answer your question earlier I will be killing Wren, yes. In fact she is probably one of the very few who even deserve to die but if she does I want it to be my burden," I say and he looks surprised by this. I don't have a taste for blood but I do have an overwhelming urge for revenge and justice. She tried to have me killed, murdered, in cold blood, a fifteen year old girl whom she roped into a organisation that is at this point straight up sketchy and she would do it all again if given the chance.
To say I'm mad is an understatement and maybe I might regret it, maybe after pulling the trigger I will be so riddled with guilt that stomaching what I've done will be too hard to handle but I don't really care. If I am going to have to be apart of this at all then I at least want to have the murder I know is justified on my hands.
"Fair enough," he responds and his arm snakes its way around my waist as we walk into the gardens.
It takes longer than I expected to venture through the pack grounds and I hear the people at the ceremony before I see them all, clustered around a stage wearing strictly white. There are so many of them, beyond what my gaze can fully grasp in a field large enough to house such a gathering. We approach the stage side on, its size heightened to give those at the back a view I suppose and my nerves begin to tighten with each step.
I glance to the side of the stage, which sits empty aside from two large thrones made of wood and a circular bowl propped between them and I notice the same cloaked woman who essentially married Roman and I stood with her head bowed in prayer. Her hands are covered in markings of different kinds that fade and change underneath the luminescence of the moonlight, like a scripture was being written and rewritten on her very skin. Romans hand tightens briefly on my side and I look up to him, noticing the switch he has taken to being a full Alpha once again.
"I have to go and assist the Beta's with the prisoners, you should take a seat on the stage, the ceremony will start any minute now," he informs me and butterflies flutter in my stomach like they are trying to escape a raging storm. I give him a small nod and move towards the side entrance to the stage, stopping near the spiritual woman who is in fact uttering a string of words in an archaic language, looking just as crazy as she sounds. Her eyes snap up to mine and I intake a sharp breath, she stares at me through eyes of pitch black, small white specks floating around in her orbs before they change into a ghostly white.
"The goddess speaks of you, child," she says and shivers erupt over my skin. As if sensing it, the woman places her inked hands over my forearm, trailing her long nails that could piece me with a fraction of movement lightly. "Yes," she drawls, a slight smile appearing on her face, "she speaks of you indeed,"
"What does she say," I mumble out, a crease appearing between my brows.
"She speaks to me in fractions, she says you will wear the crown to heavy for your head and through your pain will you find your peace," her teeth flash as her cracked lips open in a smile and I take a tentative step away from her.
"What does that mean?" I ask, through my pain will I find peace?
"Uh uh uh," she says, waving her index finger, "That is not for me to tell. When the goddess wants you to know, you will know,"
"What? That's stup-" I cut myself off when Roman's hand places itself onto the small of my back.
"What's stupid?" He asks, staring at the crazed woman like she is as normal as any old person.
"Nothing," I cut off and the witch laughs.
"Your Luna is very clever, very clever indeed. See child, an Alpha is birthed by blood but a Luna must learn," she says yet again and Roman dips his head to her in respect.
"Thank you for your wisdom," he says curtly and pulls us away from her as she begins to mutter words of prayer to herself again, like the switch to her trance was flicked back on.
"What's her deal?" I say, my eyes still trained on her like she's about to perform a ritual and serve me as the sacrifice.
"When you've been around for four centuries I suppose you start acting a little strange," he says and I shoot him an incredulous stare to which he shrugs. "Things aren't always as they seem," he states simply and guides my body to the stage just as large drums begin to sound out. I step up onto the platform, ignoring the stares of the hundreds of wolves stood loitering in the crowd, all awaiting the death of their former pack members and walk steadily to the throne that awaits me.
I turn around carefully, sitting down onto the wooden chair crafted out of all kinds of wood with engravings so intricate it tells me that these chairs have been around for a long time. I wonder what other Luna's have sat where I sit now, watched what's about to unfold and done nothing to try and stop it. My eyes scan out over the crowd and I still can't get over how large it is. In front of the stage I notice a few higher ranking officials, all seated on chairs with a perfect view, the crowd streaming out beyond them into regular pack members who have come along for the spectacle.
It's a sea of white adoring wolves who look up to the stage in solace with their beady eyes, the moonlight shining down onto the open field illuminating their clothes and reflecting a sort of deathly grace. The beat of drums drowns out the thumping from my chest and washes over me like a charm. The feeling of the wooden throne wraps around me like a second skin and although I want to, I don't tilt my head to inspect Roman sat on a throne of his own, knowing full well that the seat would only serve to make him more imposing.
The cloaked woman walks up onto the stage to the beat of the music and stands in front of Roman and I, outstretching her arms and titling her head back as she begins to chant in that same language she prayed in, her words wrapping around the air of the field and gripping onto it tightly. I look over to Roman with a look that reads just how sane I think the entire thing is, expecting to see him too looking onto the ordeal with a scrunched nose but he doesn't.
Roman, the mighty Alpha, the king of this castle sits on listening to the woman with his eyes closed in full seriousness, the words she speaks actually having an effect on him.
It takes me aback and for a second I feel guilty for disrespecting a culture that is obviously extremely old and extremely important to all of these people here. But then I remember that its their very culture that accepts, hell even promotes the freedoms of humans to be abolished.
Roman's hand slides over mine on the thrones arm rest and my head snaps to see him nod at me, beginning to rise from the chair. I follow suit, trying my hardest to ignore the rippling silence that envelops the crowd as the rhythm of drums comes to a complete halt and instead focus my attention on the priestess who tuns to face us with a knife in her hand.
Again. What is with these people and sacrificing their blood? It's just oath, after oath, after oath. Roman retracts his large palm from mine and extends it to the woman who takes it with a sickly smile that makes me shudder. She pulls the blade through the air and places it gently into his palm, closing her eyes as she begins to mumble words yet again, those same markings appearing and vanishing on her hands.
Roman doesn't even flinch as the lady draws blood from his palm in a single slash and brings his hand to her mouth, drinking in the red liquid that seeps from his hand. My stomach flips as she removes his palm from her red stained lips and Roman's skin stitches itself back together.
The woman moves to me and takes my palm, a look of shock covering my face as she grins and slices through my soft skin, eliciting a sharp wince from my lips. I feel Roman's heated gaze on me as she drinks the blood from my body and its enough to make me want to recoil, I suppose this is their way of submitting to the goddess, much like the blood oath I made with Roman made me submit to him. Except I don't feel any strange force weighing down on me aside from the utterly bizarre sensation of the priestess drinking my blood.
The second her slender hands releases it's grip I retract my hand, watching in bemusement as the skin heals itself over, just like it did to Roman's. I don't have the time to stare at it too long because before I know it the woman is back in front of us both, holding out a ceramic bowl and chanting to the rhythm of the drums which pick up with a ferocious tune. Roman begins to remove his white tunic, revealing the rippling muscle beneath that flexes with each movement he makes. I look down to my own two-piece dress, the flowing skirt detached from the lacy top and on instinct I look to Roman who shakes his head ever so slightly, letting me know that out of the two of us, he is the only one who will be removing clothing.
The priestess holds up the bowl to Roman who takes it in his hands and drinks the liquid in three large gulps. It only takes seconds for a series of tattoos to appear over his skin, different markings and images splaying over his broad chest and wrapping around his torso like a second skin, making him look even more threatening than before. There is hardly an inch of space on his upper body that hasn't been covered aside from his neck and hands and I gulp deeply when the bowl is passed over to me. Holy hell. What in the actual holy hell just happened? I don't have the time to process the change in Roman's body as he lifts the bowl up to my gaping mouth and the water trickles onto my parched tongue.
My eyes snap down to my hands and the skin beneath the lace remains bare, void of any markings and I remember what Roman said earlier, about acquiring a mark for each life you take. My eyes run over his chest again and the colour drains from my face, there has to be hundreds of markings covering him, all intertwined and on full display like an arrangement of killing trophies he has accumulated over the years.
He's a serial killer, a sadistic, serial killer who has ripped the lives of god knows how many innocent people apart in the name of his goddess and now he is going to do it again. I go to take a step back but the roar that emerges from the crowd stops me short, the sound of their thundering claps echoing into the field like rain falling down on a tin roof, sending a tingling sensation rippling down my spine.
The priestess leaves the stage and Roman gives me a pointed look, instructing me to go back and sit down on my throne like a good little Luna and I don't object, not because of any other driving force than pure fear. The people here would sooner rip me apart than help me out in any way, like they are going to do to the humans coming out on trial. But this isn't a trial, their fates have already determined, this is an execution.
Roman moves to the centre of the stage and the crowd silences instantly, you can almost see them teetering over one another just to get a better glimpse at their beloved leader. I'm sure him having his muscled chest on full display doesn't help with that either. My view is restricted to his hard defined back but I can envision what he looks like to all of his followers, a ruler, a leader, an Alpha.
"We unite here today as a pack to bare witness to the end of those who would dare to threaten us, to serve justice in the name of the goddess and protect our people from further harm." My stomach tightens with each word that falls from his lips but I maintain my look of indifference. "Today is a day of solace for us all, a day where those who were once members of our pack will face the wrath of the goddess for their betrayal but also a day where we lose people we once loved. Justice is never an easy thing to serve, but it must be served."
"As you are all aware an attempt to end the life of my mate, your Luna, was made by a group of reckless bandits who had been plotting their treachery for months, waiting for our connection to the moon to come so they could murder her in cold blood. A threat to the pack so large must not go unanswered and I promise as your Alpha that the people responsible will face fair retribution." A chorus of cheers erupts from the crowd as they break free momentarily from the expected silence that strangle them. The silence takes another tight grip as Roman merely raises his hand.
"The thirty deaths that were to take place tonight have however been modified." Various whispers of confusion sounds out over the sea of people and my own eyebrows adjoin in uncertainty.
"It has come to my attention that the nature of this crime was heavily orchestrated by five main contenders of whom all will face the penalty of death and be brought to justice. The remaining others will instead be imprisoned for a variation of ten to twelve months with parole. Should a single one of them break pack law after their sentence has been fulfilled then they will face the death penalty."
"The goddess is harsh but she too serves mercy upon us when we need it and in order for our pack to continue growing stronger, we must be the first to implement this change. Let us bring those convicted to the stage to receive their punishments as decided," he finishes and the gasps do not cease, not when Roman turns around to glance at me briefly before sitting on his throne and not as Teo is dragged up onto the stage.
My gaze follows the sound of a strangled cry and my head snaps towards the front of the crowd, where an older woman is being held back by a large red headed man whose face is hard with disappointment and a sadness that tells me this affects them much more than it does me. Why on earth would they be invited along to this? Teo's mother looks onto her son with pure anguish covering her face and I watch as his limp head moves as another sob escapes her mouth, his head freezing in its place.
The guards hauling Teo onto the stage push him onto his knees in front of us and I look at the despair covering his gaunt skin, the reality of what is about to come seeping into him. Teo's eyes frantically search mine before subconsciously drifting too Roman who sits comfortably in his throne, unlike me.
"You have one last chance, you can decide your fate or leave it in my hands," Roman says, quiet enough so only the three of us can hear, his voice hard and sure. Teo's head twists towards his mother and he turns back, looking directly into Roman's eyes and nodding, silently begging for mercy.
Roman stands, looking down onto the ex leader of my Umbra and my throat tightens as tears begin to well up in my eyes. "Teo Plateuro, you have betrayed your pack and put the life of your Luna at risk two crimes that are unforgivable in the eyes of the goddess. How do you answer to your crime?" Teo bows his head in shame.
"Guilty," he says lowly, looking up to me on the throne and then back to Roman.
"Very well, I hereby strip you of all and any titles, naming you rogue to this pack and banishing you from ever stepping foot on New Moon soil again. You will live out the remainder of your days in exile and any links you once held to the people of our pack will be severed." Gasps sound out through the entire field and mummers of disapproval wave over but I pay them no mind. Its like a weight has been heaved from my chest. He's not going to die, Roman's not going to kill him. I look over to his mother to see her crying into the chest of the large man, a single tear rolling down his cheek as he comforts his relieved yet hurt mate.
Roman nods his head and the same guards take Teo's alive body from the stage, leaving it empty to the view of people who make no effort to hide their discontent. Four other people whom I don't recognise are dragged onto the stage in Teo's absence and I can tell from the struggle they put up that they aren't wolves. One of them curses at the crowd before spitting in their direction, turning their full attention and hate onto him. My eyes lock on Wren who moves across the stage in silence, the most composed out of all the rebels before me.
"You have betrayed your pack, schemed to kidnap the Luna and murder her in an attempt to take power over our people and serve your own, vicious agendas. You stand guilty of murder, assault and battery. How do you answer to your crimes?" He recites, his voice holding no remorse at all and his eyes leaving no room for anything but a murderous vengeance. The four people all kneeling fight against the restraints that hold them but my eyes don't stray from Wren who looks to the crowd behind her before staring back with an untameable anger.
"The only thing we are guilty of is trying to secure freedom for human kind and break free from your tyrannical hold," a man speaks up, spitting at the shoes of Roman's feet. A guard approaches Roman holding a small square box and he removes a pistol.
"This is the weapon you used to kill a young soldier guarding the wall correct?" He asks, addressing his question to the same man who shudders.
"He deserved to die. All of you mutts deserve to burn in hell! And that stupid traitorous bitch should be there already!" A loud bang! Breaks any further words the man had to say and I tuck my hands in my lap to stop them from shaking, looking at the lethal glint to Roman's eyes with nothing but fear. I watch as a small sigil appears on the top right side of Roman's back and he places the weapon back into the box, the guards dragging the dead body off the stage.
"You stand trial for developing the very bombs that hospitalised ten wolves and killed three of our human workers. How do you respond to these charges?" He asks and the woman's lip begins to quiver as she cries.
"Guilty, I stand guilty," she says, shaking like a leaf with clenched eyes and a head hung low. My heart thunders in my chest as a long sword is brought out and placed into Roman's palm.
"For the human maid who died from a shard of glass pricing her heart," he announces and the resignation in the woman's eyes as she accepts her fate makes my heart lurch. My body jerks forward to stop Roman from making a mistake just as the woman pulls out a small detonator switch, her thumb hovering over the red button.
"For the resistance." Screams start up, not screams for themselves but screams for me, their human Luna who won't withstand a bomb and my stomach drops she spares a wicked grin in my direction. Everything slows down to a complete halt and it feels like my heart ceases to beat in my chest. This is it. My end has come abruptly and fast and there's nothing that I can do to stop it, I'll never get to stick around to make sure that Roman enacts the human rights draft and after this I doubt he will. I'll never get to see my Oliver again, not even a final goodbye, nothing.
She opens her mouth to say one final remark and as her eyes stay trained on me Roman's sword comes crashing down with brutal force, severing her hand from her arm in one clean swipe. Before I have time to react the sword swings to the side with the skill only a warrior could have and removes her head clean from her shoulder. The crowd erupts into cheers and cries of victory, muffling the small scream that escapes my lips as I push myself into the wooden throne, recoiling from the sight of the headless body slumping dead onto the stage floor.
Wren and her last standing associate are pushed onto the ground by guards and cuffed, blocking the sea of wolves from seeing the look of sheer horror on my face. I remove the shaky hand I didn't know was covering my mouth and fight the urge to vomit when Roman turns to look at me, concern covering his face and splays of blood covering his bare chest. I see the restraint in his eyes, preventing him from coming up to me and taking me away from watching anymore, his urge to protect me clearly taking its toll.
But just as I think he is going to act on those urges the human male starts to retaliate with greater force and Roman swivels around to him and takes his head in his large hands, twisting his head to an unnatural angle and letting the body fall limp to the ground. I look to the back of his neck which was once bare to see a tattoo of a sword appear followed by a twisting vine which wraps around it.
And then there was one. Wren trains her eyes in me and our gazes lock. She doesn't have to say anything for me to receive her message loud and clear. Look at the man you sit beside, look at the monster and what he's capable of. And her words would nearly work if she wasn't inanely hypocritical, if she and her accomplices hadn't just tried to blow me to bits a second ago. As though she didn't murder a child in cold blood, as though she is more morally grounded because the blood that runs through he veins hasn't been tainted. I'm so sick and tired of people thinking their bloodline is superior, that they deserve more and should have more and won't even budge on the idea that it might not be true.
Roman may have been a poster child for superiority but at least he has shown that he can somewhat open his mind and at least I know that through him I can make legitimate change happen. Roman is right, changing the system is the only real way to create change for the better, war, bloodshed, mindlessly killing one another won't do any good for either species and if I'm being completely honest won't so any good for the humans either. It'd be like bringing a knife to a gun fight.
I told her that I'd enjoy watching her die and I meant it. A case with a gun is brought out, much like the box containing the weapon Roman used to execute the first man except this one contains intricate markings, all woven over the box like another secret message. Roman takes the box from the guard and opens it, revealing the very gun that was used to kill Lucy. All of my bottled up emotion rises to the surface as my mind moves back to that night, to the cold, empty look in Wren's eyes as she ended Lucy's life. To Lucy begging me to help her after I made her a promise of a better life that I'll never fulfil, to the fear and pain in her eyes as her life slowly drained away. I couldn't save her and that is something that I'll have to live with until the say I die but I can serve her justice.
I take the gun from the box and rise from my throne, looking straight in Wren's eyes and relishing in the flash of fear that crosses through them. Her head raises up to me and she opens her mouth to make one final remark, a hint of a smile appearing on the corners of her mouth but I pull the trigger before she can make it.
I don't watch as he body falls limp to the floor of the stage and I don't stick around to find out if my presence at this ceremony is done, I simply turn on my heels and walk down the stairs, turning my hand over to see a small bird, a wren, appear on my wrist.
I impulsively died my hair brown and I've been in isolation for like three days. But enough about me...
How'd you like the chapter? This was a really interesting one for me to write and honestly it was kinda fun which is why its been released early aha. We got to see a more magical side to the wolves and their culture! Which was fun for me! And its also longer than usual whoops, but who's complaining?
This chapter honestly marks the real kick off I'd say into the plot like shits getting real from here on in and I am so excited for it guys. When I say stay tuned I really mean it bc yooooo its gonna get crazy.
As usual, love you all, hope this helps curb the boredom that comes with quarantine! I'd suggest if you've had enough of reading (which would be crazy bc how could you ever?) but if you have then watch TIGER KING on netflix and let me know if you think "That bitch Carole Baskin fed her husband to the tigers"
LOADS OF LOVE