Twisted Fate

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Chapter 26

-Arlo-

“I’m begging you,” The kneeling man begged for his life, “I have children.” It was the third soul I collected today. Azazel expected more by the end of this week. Otherwise, mom or I would suffer another lashing. People were beginning to ask questions about my scars. No mortal can know the truth.

“They always beg when their time is up,” Azazel sighed, forcing the man to stand and dragging him further into the dark woods, “You summoned the dark lord at your lowest times, and he bestowed upon you great gifts. By the power of our Lord and Asmodeus, my son will collect your soul as payment for the outstanding debt.”

He screamed and resisted his dreadful fate until Azazel struck him one merciless time, the enchanted whip marking him with the burning spikes of hell. The man stopped struggling to hold his bloody and unrecognizable face as the demon prince pulled back.

I stared at the hanging flesh drooping from his face, unfazed. Sixteen hopeless years of my father shaping me into his copy and my mother suffering beatings from her lover. My younger brothers would never know the love of their father, and I would always be this- the monster in training and the next heir. I’d become accustomed to this living nightmare.

“Arlo!” Azazel growled as I stood there, frozen, “Would you prefer I bring your mother out here instead? I might even consider letting this man go if you wish to replace him with her youngest mutt.”

I shook my head, keeping calm even though I was a mess, “No, father. I was just preparing myself.”

“Get on with it then,” He gestured towards the man. I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans and shook the fear off. I swallowed hard and mentally repeated the same words that helped me sleep better at night.

He deserves to die. He sold his soul to the devil for personal gain, and now he must die. If you don’t kill him, then Azazel will get angry. He will slaughter mom, Kane, and Carson as punishment for not fulfilling your duties. This is the right thing to do.

It took a moment for the excruciating heat to rise in my chest. It’s only been a week since my first shift, and the demon powers came three days after that. Azazel was impressed at how fast they came. He says it’s because of my strength that I am growing at an increased rate.

I growled before the flames of hell covered my body from head to toe. I stepped closer to the man, saying a silent prayer for forgiveness. As he saw me approaching, he begged one last time.

“Please, please-”

“PLEASE,” The warlock bellowed, bringing me back. I paused and looked down behind me. For a split second, I’d forgotten I was dragging him with the same leash he used on my mate, pulling him further into the woods where his friends awaited him. He gripped the spiked leash, fear and regret heavy in his tearful eyes. But it was too late.

They always beg when their time is up.

I kept dragging him until I reached the secluded area and tied him up next to his friends. They begged and begged for their lives, but it was my job to teach them a lesson. They were going to rape my mate and then leave her for dead. Just the thought left my hands trembling with rage. My clothes were soon drenched with sweat and blood. Azazel would be proud.

“How does it feel…” I snarled, mercilessly whipping the warlock who orchestrated the plan. When the sobs of my mate replayed in my head, I whipped him even harder, “How does it feel to be out of control of your own body.”

“I’m sorry,” One gasped as he held on to his life by a short thread.

“Yeah,” I wiped the blood from my face with my forearm, “Me too,” I said blankly and continued the torture. Eventually, I got tired of using the whip, so I began using the plyers and other sharp objects I brought for fun.

“Awe, man,” I said, watching one of the warlocks take his last breath, “Your friend died too soon, so I guess you two will have to take his punishments for him.”

The remaining cried until their vocal cords gave out. I was planning to get more violent before something shuffling through the trees caught my attention. I snapped my head in the direction of the commotion. My brothers revealed themselves, their eyes slightly widening at the sight.

“What the heaven are you doing?” Kane exclaimed. I sighed heavily, resting my hands on my hips, annoyed by the disturbance.

“I told you I had things to take care of.”

“No,” He rasped, “You said you had to take care of some things in the office. This…” He pointed a shaky finger to the graphic scene, “This is not office work,” He ran a hand through his hair and continued, “For fuck sakes, Arlo! What if you’d been caught? You really think someone would look the other way if they saw you out here acting like a mad man. The council- “

“I don’t care about the council or anyone else. Let them watch.” I shot back, going about my business.

“And you wonder why our reputation remains tarnished,” He threw his hands up and shouted over the screams, “Knock yourself out but don’t come crying to me when someone spots you!”

Carson stayed behind as the torture continued. I could feel him watching me as I began cutting off limbs, but I couldn’t care less. I wiped the blood from my face, searching for another sharp tool to use, but the words coming out of my brother’s lips stopped me instantly.

“You look just like Azazel.”

It took a moment for his words to register before I straightened my posture. I couldn’t help but feel offended. Azazel’s side of the family would always tell me how much I resembled my father. I hated it the most.

“What did you say?” I inched closer, breaking the distance between us. Despite the intensity in my eyes, he didn’t once look away or cower as I stared him down. People often underestimated Carson. He was always smiling and cracking jokes on the outside, but under the surface was a strong and courageous young male. Without hesitation, he’d jump in the eye of the storm while others watched from the sidelines. It was one thing I admired most about him.

“You look just like Azazel, torturing these warlocks like this,” He said. My chest heaved as we stared at each other pensively. His judgmental eyes communicated words that failed to leave him vocally.

“Get rid of that thing already,” He scowled at the whip that once belonged to the demon prince, hanging from my belt. Without another word, he turned on his heels and left me to make a decision, one that would question my true character.

Did Azazel succeed in his mission? Was I the next demon prince of the ninth?

Not even close! I was a lightyear away from that title.

I looked down at my painted clothes and the crimson ground beneath me. An unsettling sickness grew in my stomach. In the next moment, the flames of hell covered the warlock’s body, putting them out of their misery. Not a single sound left their burning lips. They were more than happy to be wrapped in death’s embrace.

-Astrid-

The x-ray board came in my line of sight for the hundredth time. Though I tried to convince my parents I was fine, it still wasn’t good enough. So, the nurses scanned my bones, and my vitals were taken until the results came back positive each time, assuring them that the warlocks didn’t inject me with poison.

“See, I’m not growing a third arm. Can I go home now?”

My father glared at me in return and forced me to open my mouth and stick out my tongue. I lost count on how many times he’d checked for scales or anything else abnormal.

“Stop with the attitude and let us do our job,” He gritted through his teeth when I bit down on the tongue depressor.

“Release me from this place and let me do my job. I’ve got a pack to run, remember?” I said with the same snobby tone. Mom scolded me with her intimidating, dark blue eyes.

“Your father and I are trying to help you the best way we know how, Astrid. So, stop being a brat and let us take care of you.”

I gripped my father’s hand when he flashed the light to check my throat and grabbed my chin. He growled lowly and yanked his arm back.

“My mouth hasn’t changed since the last time you checked. Leave me be. Sylvia has faithfully given me a daily dose of witch crack, and I’m tired of seeing these same four walls. I want to go home.”

Dad was about to argue when loud footsteps approached the door before it opened. The slender male smiled slightly and pushed up his glasses. Nicole and Derek came in behind him. My eyes lit up as he stood in front of my bed.

“Michael, please tell them I’m fine!” I’d never been so happy to see a pack doctor. However, he crushed any hope I had of leaving this place soon.

Michael shook his head, “I cannot confirm that yet. I still need to have a close look at your neck.”

“Ughh!” I slapped my hands down on the bed, unhappy with his answer “I swear if you weren’t my best friends’ mate, I’d castrate you with my sword for saying that.”

“You wouldn’t dare touch my man. I want a lot of pups,” Nicole frowned and spoke sternly, “Stop giving my mate and your parents a hard time. Being a pain in the ass won’t get you home any faster.”

“Exactly so, suck it up and let Michael look at your neck,” Derek chimed in.

I glared at everyone in the room, crossing my arms as they stared at me in annoyance, “Fine,” I muttered. There was no way I’d be released without getting thoroughly examined. After giving the okay, Michael stepped forward and took a closer look at my neck. The cuts on my neck healed, but I still had some scarring that would take more time to heal. He leaned in closer and narrowed his eyes before nodding.

“Everything looks good. I don’t see a reason to keep-“

“Okay, thanks, bye,” I said, rushing out the door and headed to the parking lot. Freedom never felt so good.

~

“Are you sure you’ll be alright?” Derek was practically breathing down my neck as I headed for the edge of the woods. His company wasn’t something I looked forward to this early in the morning. I wanted to be alone.

I enjoyed my time at home after being locked up in the hospital for days, but I wanted to get some fresh air. My wolf was in desperate need of a run, not just because of our recent injury but she’d been under a lot of stress due to the emotional turmoil of planning to reject our mate. We needed to feel the cool morning breeze brush through our fur as we ran away from our problems.

“We still haven’t found any leads on the attack. Traveling alone could be highly dangerous for you right now, Astrid. I’ll come with you just in case anything happens,” Derek persisted, but I refused to be followed around like a child.

“Derek!” I abruptly turned on my heels, almost knocking into him, “I’m an alpha, for God’s sake. I appreciate the love, but I can take care of myself.”

“At least let me walk you halfway.”

I was about to put my food down, but the words didn’t get a chance to leave my lips before the mind link between the pack opened. It was filled with women crying frantically and warrior’s shouting commands. Derek and I exchanged a confused look before running in the direction of the commotion.

We caught up with a she-wolf kneeling outside her home with her face in her hands. Derek tried speaking to her multiple times, but she couldn’t get a word out through her continuous wailing. Keaton soon spotted us and came running our way.

“Dad wants to speak to you right away,” He spoke with a tone that made my skin itch and had me running towards the house. Upon reaching my office, my father and the warriors were doing their best to calm the frantic mothers. I could barely hear my father speak to me as they cried an entire ocean.

“Their pups are missing, Astrid. Someone took them last night,” Dad finally broke the news to me.

“What?” I asked incredulously. There was no way someone could have kidnapped their pups without alerting the patrollers. It almost seemed impossible, but the chaos in the room told me otherwise.

“Search the permitter’s and don’t stop until every inch is covered.”

“Yes, alpha,” Liam nodded at me before turning to the warriors and calling out orders. Meanwhile, Keaton and Mom helped me get in touch with the other packs around the city. No one was facing the same problems, leaving me to believe that only our pack was targeted. I began dialing a family friend when an unknown number flashed on my phone.

“Hello?”

“Is it happening there?” Arlo’s voice came out on the other end, “Are your pack children missing?” He clarified.

“Yes, but how-“

“Some of Blood Rose and Silver Moon pups are missing as well. Look at the message I sent you.”

The screen vibrated in my hand as his message came through. Apprehensively, I looked down and opened the message with an attachment. A note was pictured with bright red letters, reading ’surrender the alpha of River Ash and the pups live.” I read the note over and over again before it finally registered. This was happening because of me. Someone was trying to kill me, and they took innocent pups as leverage.

“I’m coming to get you,” Arlo said before the dial tone rang, confirming he ended the call.

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