The round wooden table shook as roars of laughter echoed throughout the large room. Various men and women slapped their hands on the mahogany tabletop, as if to diffuse their uncontrollable bursts of comedic relief—meetings never seemed to remain on schedule with this pack. Leon sat there next to his eldest friend, and most powerful man he’d ever known, Chester Broadway. He cleared his throat loudly and as if on cue, the entire room silenced, the wide-eyed respondents focusing their attention towards the able man.
“I know it’s an exciting night, it’s a full moon after all. We should be out celebrating the myth, as if our powers could be controlled by a fragment of light!”
Leon grinned as he watched Chester stand, his Alpha’s dark hair cut short and neat. His gray eyes landed on his beloved Amenia, her gaze on his soft yet endearing. Leon felt a knot twist upside down in his stomach, an eerie feeling of envy creeping upon his skin at the sight. It was instinctual for a werewolf of his age to desire companionship—to go through the extraneous yet rewarding process of finding a mate. Leon knew that when the time came, it would be so fulfilling that it didn’t matter the time he had wasted searching for her. The only thing that would have mattered is the fact that he had that person alongside him, showing him how he could grow and form a stronger bond with both himself and his love.
As the room began to quiet again following the vibrations of chuckles from Chester’s sore attempt at a joke, he continued; “Not everything can be so fun, though. We have some news regarding the Occulta Umbras pack. They have decided to revoke their treaty regarding our land—they feel we should hand over the territory line to their beloved Nero. We should prepare for their endless waves of attempts to take what’s ours. I need everybody alert and on edge—I am unsure what their next step forward is.”
Leon bit the inside of his cheek, muting his never-ending inquiries. Questioning was useless—he was expected to simply understand that their pack, Illustrata Nocte, was the Good Guy, and the Occulta Umbras pack was the Bad Guy. He felt strongly that their battles and failed attempts at treaties were simply covering up the surface wound that was a once unified pack that regrettably divided into two. A few decades before Leon was born, these two packs were one, and the goals they had were agreed upon by most of the pack members—aside from a select few who were later exiled, and as a result, formed their own group. Now, here we are, thirty years later and the two Alpha’s were still clawing at the bit to fight over every discrepancy possible.
Chester was aware of Leon’s distaste towards the idea of battling a pack that he saw as a potential ally, but apparently Chester felt that his hands were tied, and that Nero would never comply with negotiation. In his eyes, battling these wolves and undermining them at their weakest link was the only way to regain power and secure the territory they’ve held on to for so long. Leon had to accept the fact that he wasn’t in control, and wouldn’t be until Chester handed the role to him or earned it by fighting to the death. One option was years down the line, and the other would never be an option at Leon’s hands.
Leon tapped his finger on the cool can of his beer, listening to the metallic thud as the hum of music drowned out into the background. The moon was exceptionally vivid tonight, shedding light on to the mossy backyard full people, shadowing their faces as most of them got a little too tipsy to care. Leon felt like a wallflower tonight, though, and was not in the mood to gossip with his younger sister about the boy she thought could be “the one.” He wished it was so easy.
“You seem extra down tonight,” Chester chimed in after taking a seat on a log bench nearby, “What’s the matter?”
He looked towards his Alpha, eyeing him carefully before forcing a grimace of a smile, “I’m fine, Chester. Just sulking in my own wishes and dreams.”
“Still dreaming of being an astronaut, huh? Or has it moved on to the big, brave firefighter?”
Leon smacked his lips and plopped next to him, setting his can down carefully in a flatter indentation on the grass, “I don’t want to see a fight. We’ve gone years without fighting them—did they really just revoke the treaty and threaten retaliation if we denied their request?”
Chester’s eyes grew narrow towards him, taking him in carefully before clearing his throat. Chester saw much potential in Leon and had raised him as an older brother figure ever since he could remember. This also meant he knew how much a pain-in-the-ass he could be. Him being the Alpha just meant he had a lower tolerance to Leon’s hint towards defiance than he used to.
“You don’t know Nero,” Chester said with a sigh, “he’s relentless and has goals. He won’t listen to negotiation, nor will he show mercy if he gets the upper hand and has us on our hands and knees waiting to be killed. I won’t sit by and wait for that to happen.”
Leon simply nodded, unsure how to respond. What he was saying as right, he had no idea who Nero was and what he was like. Nero could be a serial killer for all Leon knew, but the way they painted that entire pack drew to the conclusion that they all desired a certain essence of chaos that could be detrimental to society. As if they could start the apocalypse or something. Leon doubted their dramatic reactions—but was forced to comply with what Chester was saying and simply trust that Nero was a cold-blooded killer like they all said. Something deep within him doubted something about this entire situation, though, he just wasn’t sure what it was he found so important.
“If you just listen to me,” Chester began quietly and swirled his beer around in his cup, “You’ll be running this pack. I’m not old, nor am I ready to go down without a fight, but if something were to ever happen, I want you to be ready to take the wheel. If I were to go down tomorrow, would you be ready to keep this pack alive and well?”
Leon blinked towards the man, a lump in his throat forming at the idea. Chester was roughly ten years older than him, but Leon remembered the days they would sit outside on the porch, playing with his action figures into the wee hours of the night. He remembered how they sat in their room, daydreaming about what their mate was like—little did the younger version of himself know how closely his beloved friend was to finding that mate. Leon, however, had no such luck. Twenty-Four and a thousand dates later, still no mate. Being mate-less didn’t matter right now, though, the impending pressure of preparing himself to take over one day was becoming far too surreal. If this rival pack came at them, they’d obviously tackle the largest obstacle in their way first: The Alpha. Leon doubted his own capabilities to lead his pack towards a safe and secure status. Not that it was entirely all that important right now, but Chester had a point. They had to plan for the worst.