“Last time I hid behind that tree, come on.” Shadow literally has to grab my arm and drag me to the tree. I am so overwhelmed and amazed by what I just experienced in the water that I cannot move or even think.
I try to make sense of what just happened, but I cannot. Only now, do I understand what Shadow went through the first time she came here. I frankly admire her bravery and strength; if I was magically sent to this place on my own I would have had a breakdown and went insane.
You are a fucking alpha, get your shit together! Amoux growls at me.
Get my shit together! I am freaking out, and I know that you are too. I snap at him.
“Alec, calm down.” Shadow pushes my back softly against the tree as her hands hold my face. Therefore, I realize that I am panting. I focus on the tingles I feel on my face; a result of her skin touching mine; her eyes that stare right into mine, and her steady heartbeat that calms mine down.
“That has never happened to me before.” I mutter to myself once my senses return back to normal.
“It is okay Alec.” My mate gives me a soft smile before she lets go of my face and focuses on the lake behind us.
“He is here.” She declares the same time I hear splashing in the water. Both of us watch the water closely until the huge sea snake comes to the surface.
It takes me a few seconds to once again get over the shock. This time, however, fear consumes every muscle and bone in my body. Regardless, I manage to maintain my negative emotions and tuck them away in the back of my head.
“This feels like a fantasy book rather than reality.” I stare at the sea snake in disbelief. The thing swims in the lake like it is the most normal thing to do. To it, it surely is, but to me it is impossible.
For Fuck’s sake! What the hell will you do when the snake turns into its human form Alex?
I am dealing with a mild shock, sue me!
Mild? I am certain you are about to faint!
Amoux why are you talking?
Because I want to Alex. I feel my wolf smirk in my head. Suddenly, I hear a growl that is not mine. Thus, I turn my attention to Shadow to find her eyes slowly turning black.
“Shadow?” My hand holds hers. She does not reply, therefore I try to mind-link her.
Our mate did mention that the mind-link does not work here Alex. Amoux reminds me when I fail to reach Shadow’s mind.
“Shadow, look at me. What is wrong?” She does not reply. Instead, her eyes turn pitch black before she gives me a smirk.
“For some reason Shadow is having a panic attack. So, she let me take control since her state would get us in trouble.” I detect the change in the tone even though she has the same voice.
“Accalia?” Despite the situation we are in, I am still a little ecstatic to finally meet Shadow’s wolf.
I want to meet her. Amoux yells in joy.
Now is not the right time for this Amoux.
I do not fucking care! He yells.
Look, I know you want to meet her, and I promise that once we leave this place, I will make sure that you will meet her and talk to her for as long as you please.
Fine, but I will not forget your promise.
“Is Shadow okay?” If she is having a panic attack, then she is the priority.
“She is fine. Sometimes she gets really panicked and nervous that she cannot move a muscle let alone think. When that happens, she lets me take control so she can hide in the serenity of our mind.” Accalia explains, and I can see how much she cares about Shadow.
“I have never seen that happen to you before.” I do not mean to say it, but I am lost in my memories as I try to think of a time when that occurred in the past.
“It has not happened in a few months. I happened a few times a month back in the Red Eclipse pack. Damn, this lake is really ugly.” Accalia turns her gaze to the body of water behind us. I do the same, and I immediately notice the things Shadow described back at the house. The waterfall is non-existent, the water is a lot lower and it is contaminated, also there are no beautiful plants surrounding it. It is, just like Accalia described it, ugly. I then turn to the other side to find the weird ancient castle.
“It is peculiar.” I mumble as I try to absorb every little detail about it.
“I know, let us go and see what we will find inside it.” Accalia holds my hand and forces me to follow her towards the castle.
“Wait, wait…” I grab her with my other hand and make her face me.
“What?” She gives me a raised eyebrow.
“I do not think this is a good idea.” I give her a hesitant look.
“Oh come on, what is the harm? It is clear that the castle is abandoned. Although I have to admit I am feeling extra confident because I have an alpha with me.” The smile she gives me warms my heart, and it also shows me how different Shadow and Accalia are. Clearly, Accalia is way more open and adventurous than Shadow. I am about to refuse, but Amoux growls at me.
Do it, and I will make your fucking life a living hell. He threatens me.
This is not a good idea Amoux.
I do not care Alex, you will do whatever she wants. I want to object, but that would make me a hypocrite. After all, I too want to do what she desires.
“Do not tell me you are not at least a little bit curious about what lies inside those ancient forsaken walls.” I chuckle before I give her a small nod.
“Yes, yes I am.” Thus, she resumes pulling me towards the building.
I look at the castle’s giant front gate. Both the dust and the spider webs conceal its color and most of its design. Still, some of the décor that is on it is clear. There are countless swirls; some are big other are small; and they appear to be separating between weird shapes that I can only see as irregular cubes. It sounds bizarre and not artistic, but it actually looks rather good. I hear Accalia growl before she harshly opens the gate. I wince at the sound that it makes but refrain from showing it.
I turn to Accalia; she gives me a smirk before she enters the building. The quietness that lies within the castle’s walls is the exact opposite of peaceful. We walk through the halls as we examine the things that surround us. The first thing I notice is how the interior of the castle is not dusty. In fact, it is spotless; it seems to be recently cleaned.
Do not be a fucking idiot, the castle is utterly silent. The only people here are our mate and us.
It is just weird! How in the world is this place clean? It does not make sense! I expect him to answer, but he just grunts.
I am not afraid, but I hate putting myself in stupid situations. Also, we know nothing about this place and I loathe doing something without at least having an idea of what the outcome might be. I hate the endless possibilities when it comes to things I do not understand. This whole situation seems like an unnecessary risk. Sadly, Accalia and Amoux do not share my opinion. I am tempted to stomp my foot on the floor and pout, but my alpha pride does not allow me to do so.
We end up in a throne room; it is completely uninteresting except for the stone throne that is placed on the top of five large stairs. Behind the huge chair, there are three huge portraits; the one on the right has a dolphin swimming by a beautiful waterfall, the one in the middle has an infant being put in a lake by hairy and huge hands; a man’s hands I assume; while the last one is a replica of the first portrait only instead of a dolphin, there is a sea snake.
To the throne’s right, there is a glass box that contains a golden crown; the box is laid on a backless stone chair. I cannot exactly see the crown’s exact shape or design since it is too far from me, and I am not curious enough to climb the five steps and see. To the left, there is a wooden hanger that has an elegant red rob on it; it seems to be way too long for anyone to wear but I do not know what these people are into to judge anything about the piece of clothing that seems to be made for their king. In addition, there is a huge empty pool right before the steps. It is in the shape of a circle and it seems to be brought from an animation movie; it would have looked beautiful if it was clean and had water in it.
“This is the most hideous throne I have ever seen.” Accalia looks at the thing with disgust, and I do not blame her. That chair is capable of turning a person blind from how unpleasant it looks.
“Since we are here, let us go to the second floor.” I mutter with distaste as I walk out of the throne room and head for the first stairs I see.
“You are so uptight.” Accalia points her finger at my face as we stand at the end of the stairs.
“And you are stupid.” I give her a wide smile, thus she growls at me. I take a step closer to her, kiss her cheek, grab her hand, and we start going up the stairs.
“Is Shadow still okay?” The steps seem to be endless; if I were a normal werewolf I would have started panting. There are over a hundred steps; whoever designed this castle really did love doing things the hard way.
“Yeah, she is okay. This reminds me, I want to thank you.” Accalia stops just before the top of the stairs and faces me. The look of gratefulness and sincerity that is in her eyes brings warmth to my bones.
“For what?” My voice becomes softer and I hold her hand as I wait for her answer.
“For helping Shadow. I know you think that she is the one who helped you but in reality it was the other way around. Ever since Diamanda died, Shadow changed; we both did. However, ever since we met you, Shadow has been gradually turning back to the person she was before. I know that she will never be completely there; but you are helping her heal the wounds that can be healed.” I find myself speechless. I knew that Shadow was heavily impacted by her little sister’s death, but it never occurred to me how much she was affected. I want to say something back, but I do not know what to say. Therefore, I hug her as tight I can.
It takes her a few seconds to wrap her arms around me. I lay my head on her shoulder and my nose touches the mark on her neck. I wait for her to shiver at the touch, and she does, but not in the way she would have if she felt our bond. I ignore the negative thought as I pull away from her and walk up the rest of the few stairs with Accalia right behind me.
The second floor is filled with closed doors that I suspect are bedrooms. We walk through the endless hallways for a few minutes before we come across a slightly opened door. Behind the door, I hear a faint sound of water moving. I freeze and glance at Accalia silently asking her if she hears it too. She only nods before she makes her way to the door.
“No, Accalia, wait…” I hiss, but my words reach deaf ears.
She is frustratingly reckless. I complain to Amoux.
She is not reckless, she is curious, which is something you know nothing about Alex!
You are being biased; you are my wolf you should be on my side!
And she is our mate. If you are so worried about her, then follow her!
You are right. I mutter before I enter the room after Accalia.
Like the rest of the castle, everything in the room is made of stone, even the furniture. The room is large; against one of the walls is a large bed, which is made of stone, that has a thin red duvet on it, the closet is also made out of stone and it lies against an entire wall, opposite to the closet is the wall that has three large windows that show the wuthering nature in this place. Also, the red opened curtains on each window do not help the scenery.
What really catches my attention is the huge pool that is in the middle of the room. Unlike the lake, the pool’s water is completely clean, and it is nothing like the pool in the throne room. This one is diamond-shaped and at the bottom are countless black pebbles. Inside the pool is a huge dolphin that swims without a care in the world. It is like the animal cannot even see Accalia and I.
“Tell me you are seeing what I am seeing.” I whisper as both of us stand before the pool. I do not receive a reply; instead I get pulled out of the room as fast as lightning.
“Okay I have a theory.” She whispers.
“I am not following.”
“What if Owen’s people can turn into any water animal they can choose, or at least change into something other than sea snakes?”
“Then that would explain the dolphin in that room.” I point at the door that Accalia closed once we got out.
“It would also mean that the castle is not abandoned, and once the sun rises, that dolphin will turn into a man or a woman who will find us here.” Accalia only huffs at the pissed look I give her.
“Oh come on, do not be a drama queen, we will leave this place before that can happen.” She gives me a dismissive wave with her hand. Unlike Shadow, Accalia does not have the habit to play with her rings or bit on her lip piercing.
“We do not even know if that thing is the only one in the castle.” I hiss.
“There is only one way to find out.” I nearly faint from the evil look she gives me.
“No, Accalia, do not dare.” She does not even glace at me as she gives me her back and heads to another room. I growl angrily before I follow her. If she was anyone else I would have yelled at her a long time ago, but I do not have the heart to do such a thing.
I prefer Shadow over Accalia! I practically scream at Amoux.
Well, I cannot say who I fucking prefer since I did not meet Accalia, and I only met Shadow once.
Okay, what happened to the supportive Amoux I know and love?
I do not know, I think Accalia is affecting me.
Yeah, in a negative way. The only thing I can think about is how much I yearn to get back home.
In the room Accalia chose to enter are two sea snakes swimming in a pool that is by the window; that makes Accalia shiver.
We walk through many hallways, we go to many lefts and rights, and we go to countless rooms to check if they contain any pools. Unfortunately, every single room has a pool, and inside each pool there is at least one dolphin or sea snake.
“Okay, we have to go; we have to return the letter.” My pride prevents me from admitting that I am nervous that one of the creatures in the pools might turn into their human forms earlier than they are supposed to. To my surprise, Accalia nods without objecting.
We walk three steps before both of us stop in our tracks and look at each other in horror. We spent hours walking through the castle without thinking about how we would return to the front gate. We have no idea where we are.
“What do we do?” For the first time since she took control, I see fear in Accalia’s face.
“I do not know, but we have to figure it out fast because the sun sets in less than twenty minutes.” Tears start to appear in her eyes as guilt consumes her features.
“I am so sorry.” She whimpers.
“Hey, it is okay. You do not have to apologize.” I place both of hands on her shoulders as I look into her eyes.
“How can you say that? We are in this situation because of me.” She starts to take quick shallow breaths, and I recognize that as a sign that she is about o have a panic attack because I saw that happen to Shadow once before.
It seems like these fucking panic attacks are something both of them share. Amoux is evidently unpleased and worried. Just like me, he does not like it when this happens to out mate.
“Who cares why we are in this situation? What matters is getting out of it, okay?”
“No, no, I cannot do this, I cannot do this…” She vigorously shakes his head and she starts to freak out.
“Accalia, please calm down.” I plead.
“I cannot do that, I feel like… I am being choked to death.” For minutes, she gasps for breath before her eyes are no longer black. They turn back to green; Accalia just forced Shadow to take control.
“Alec?” The familiar tone brings relief to my soul. It is not that I despise or do not like Accalia, it is the exact opposite actually, but I need a responsible person on my side in order to get out of this castle.
“We need to get out of here.” Instead of answering she looks behind me with terror in her eyes. I turn around to see the sun already starting to rise. Before neither of us can react, we hear footsteps walking towards us. I can see the fear in Shadow’s eyes and that is what causes me to react in time. I grab her hand and start running away from the footsteps that gradually get louder. We run until we reach a staircase. It is not the same one we used to get to the second floor, but since the footsteps multiply with every second that passes, we have little options. Thus, we practically, jump down the steps.
“What now?” Shadow’s voice shakes.
“We have to find any door that would get us out of here.” As I talk, my mate’s attention turns to something behind me. Within a second, she puts her hands against my chest and pushes me into the first door she sees. Neither of us look around the room, we only focus on the heartbeats; the room is empty.
Through the window, I see the sun rising. I immediately become anxious and restless, but I ignore my emotions as best as I can because I can sense Shadow’s fear and severe nervousness. I suddenly find myself almost glad that she cannot feel the bond; if she did she would have sensed my emotions and that would have made our situation worse.
“I think the hallway is clear.” I open the door and we tiptoe out of the room. I make sure to not let go of her hand so she does not feel alone. The second we step out of the room’s safe zone, we see someone coming in our direction. I am about to run back to the room, but Shadow grabs my bicep and makes me face her. She touches the necklace around her neck with her free hand.
“It is glowing yellow.” I whisper. She looks down at the necklace, but she does not seem to care about the color the thing glows.
“What are you thinking?” She does not answer. Instead, she lets go of my bicep and offers me her hand. I take it without hesitation. A few seconds later, a short woman appears. I want to react, but I notice that she looks right through us.
Our mate made us invisible with her necklace.
Yeah, I realize that Amoux.
We walk for a few more minutes before we finally find the gate we came from. Once the lake is in sight, we start running as fast as we can. Shadow carelessly drops the letter by one of the trees as we jog towards our destination.
We find the lake’s edge completely empty; the sea snake is no longer there. I look up at the sun; it has fully risen. I turn to Shadow and I see that tears threaten to fall down her cheeks, but she maintains her feelings.
“We should jump in.” Shadow’s eyes are full with determination. I want to tell her that it is too late, but I figure that we have nothing to lose.
Without a second thought, we both take a deep breath and jump into the water with closed eyes. Moments pass, but nothing happens; I do not feel the water pulling me towards the bottom and I do not feel any change in the water itself. When my lungs start to burn, I give up, and swim to the surface, and I hear Shadow doing the same. We are still in the foreign realm.
“The necklace is still glowing yellow, what does it mean?” I look down at her neck once again.
“It means we are in a magical location. In the past two weeks, I made sure to memorize the meaning of each color because I wanted to know what clues the necklace can give me.” Shadow and I look at each other; our eyes hold the certainty that the mistakes we made are demonstrating their consequences.