"Your opponent thinks he’s won,” My father speaks calmy to me through the mind link. Grunting in pain, I place my hand firmly over the gash on my lower abdomen. Blood stains my hands and the marble floor beneath me. The male who caused my wounds stands a few feet away from me with a smug look on his face. He is arrogant though a fearless leader. He is the alpha of the Scarlett pack and my greatest challenge.
“Finish her!” His pack members chant as they watch with anticipation from the sidelines. Their chanting earns a few growls from the present members of River Ash- the pack in which I belong to. I was sure if they didn’t stop, my pack would lose control and attack them all, but one stern look from my father was enough to settle them down.
The alpha spits out blood from my previous blow and smiles down at me. “You’re pretty good, Collins. I’ll give you that much, but not good enough to beat me,” he says, contemplating his next move.
I take this brief moment to look up at the judgmental eyes of the council members. The three members sit at the balcony’s top, the battle circle’s best view. Behind them stands a tall statue of our creator, the moon goddess. She is carved perfectly with a torch in her left hand and beside her figure sits a werewolf, one of her greatest creations.
“One, two- “I count to myself, waiting for my opponent to make his choice. If only I hadn’t taken my eyes off for that spilt second, he’d be lying in my place instead. I became too confident early in the fight, my first and biggest mistake because once you stepped inside the circle nothing was guaranteed. No matter your strength.
Suddenly, the alpha growls before digging his claws into my injured leg. My fresh wound tears deeply as he lifts my body and throws me against the other side of the building. I swore I heard the cracking of my bones as I hit the brick wall. Black dots dance in my vision before I regain control, focusing on my opponent.
“Should we call it?” one of the council members named Basil ask his superior, “The she-wolf seems debilitated.”
The lead member tilts his head, locking eyes with mine. Jefferson, the director of Justice and leadership, sits in the middle of his colleagues, Basil and Frederick. Most people shiver under his gaze, but I’m not most people. I’ve never feared Jefferson, and he hates me most for it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wished the alpha would kill me already despite the rules. I knew what was coming before he said, “We shall wait.”
I overhear the crowd talk poorly of me with my werewolf hearing while I continue to lay there, breathing deeply. I heard the same things my whole life. They would say I was a worthless female, and I could never live up to my father’s expectations. They would say I’d be the reason for the downfall of my pack. They would say I’d never amount to anything in life, all because of the stupid legend.
Little did they know, I was going to make them eat their words. I was born for this position, and no one could take that away from me.
The alpha stalks towards me in hopes he wouldn’t have to deal with me much longer. I close my eyes and take a deep breath, waiting for him to step closer. It’s now or never.
"What are you going to do, Astrid?" My father asks.
"Wait for what?”
"For the moment, he foolishly thinks I’ve given up.”
I could almost see the huge grin on my father’s face as he says, ”Good girl.”
I feel the small vibrations of the alpha’s footsteps. My eyes turn pitch black and then my wolf takes full control of my body. She’s tired of playing these games and craves our opponents’ blood. It’s now our time to shine.
Without hesitation, I kick the alpha square in the face, sending him back a few meters. The alpha jolts up, but before he can attack, I jump to my feet and strike him again. This time he hits the large pillar, breaking it off into pieces. He stumbles to his feet, bewilderment decorating his face. The crowd gasps at the turning tables and a wide smile stretches my lips. I flash my canines, daring him with a forceful growl that shakes the budling.
The pack members jump out of their seats, roaring with excitement. However, the loudest of them all is the short she-wolf screaming at the top of her lungs in the front row seats.
“Take that bitch down, Astrid!” Nicole, my best friend and soon to be, Gamma screams while nervously clutching the arm of my other best friend and soon to be beta, Derek. Derek rolls his eyes and tries to release from her death grip but to no avail. Usually, no one would dare think twice about bad mouthing an alpha, especially in front of his pack but try telling that to my bold, mouthy best friend. I purse my lips to hold back the laughter as I dodge the blows from the alpha.
I punch my opponent repeatedly in the face, causing him to spit out more blood, “You’re weak,” he says, out of breath and hunched over. Typical response for the losing side.
I charged forward, and both of us tumble to the ground. We fight viciously on the floor for a while before I swing my bodyweight on top of him. My claws elongate and dig deep into his chest. His blood splats on my once dark grey battle uniform. His eyes cross when I hit his head multiple times on the floor and throw him around like a rag doll. I’m willing to bet he’d have a concussion by the end of this.
The alpha has more wounds than one could count by the time I’m done with him. He passes out after Jefferson declares, “That concludes this battle,” The doctors on standby rush to the alpha’s side.
Jefferson’s confirmation sends my pack rushing from their seats and climbing down the to the battle circle. I’m embraced and lifted into the air by the strongest River Ash warriors as they cheer for me. I couldn’t be happier to see everyone so proud of me. I waited my whole life for this moment.
The cheers abruptly die, and I’m put down when the council members approach me. There’s an awkward silence as the old wolves study me with their cold eyes.
“Impressive,” Jefferson compliments though I don’t miss the hatred ladened in his tone. It’s clear to see he’s disappointed by the outcome.
“Well done, Ms. Collins. You have completed all the training courses and proved your skills and abilities worthy of leading River Ash,” Frederick speaks up.
Basil shakes my hand and says, “We look forward to seeing you at the transition ceremony.”
“Thank you,” I say, relieved by their quick departure.
“Astrid,” My mother comes from behind me. She hugs me a bit too tight, and I wince in pain. My wounds aren’t healing yet, but by tomorrow morning, they’d be gone, “You did so good,” she says, easing up on her hold.
“Mom, you closed your eyes the entire time,” I chuckle. She didn’t want to be here in the first place, but my father said it was necessary for me that my mother show her support. However, I can tell she regrets changing her mind when her glossy eyes fall on my wounds. She didn’t want to witness her firstborn getting hurt.
“I’m fine, mom,” I reassure her.
“I’ll dress your wounds later; otherwise, you’ll get an infection. And I want you to be in bed for the rest of the day,” she uses her professional doctor tone. The best part about both my parents being doctors, River Ash never needed a pack doctor. We have two of the best already.
My father appears at my side after talking with the nurses, “Elias has a concussion and fractured ribs,” He informs me. His tone sounds concerned, but the way he smiles, I know he’s everything but concerned.
“Well, I would say sorry, but then I’d have to mean it,” I shrug. Dad throws his head back and laughs. Once he contains himself, he smiles and says, “I am so proud of you, honey. You’re going to be an amazing alpha. Even better than your old man.”
“Thanks, Dad, but I wouldn’t have come this far if weren’t for you,” I vividly remember the first time he’d taken me out to the training field. I was fifteen, the age in which our kind physically and mentally feels their wolf for the first time.
My father taught me how to track things down, how to run a successful business and be the leaders of a pack. How to hold a sword properly, and now swordsmanship is my second nature. How to trick your enemy into believing you’re the easiest kill, which clearly alpha Elias’ father didn’t teach him well. Most of all, how to be a great leader. My father taught me many important things in life that I will forever be grateful for and I
He shakes his head, “No, Astrid. This was all because of your hard work and dedication. I am honored to be leaving this position to you. But most of all, I am so proud that you are my daughter.”
I smile, trying to hold back the lump in my throat. I hate crying in front of people and I’m not going to do it here on the battle circle of all places. Although a single tear falls down my cheek as he embraces me. Dad secretly wipes it away before anyone witnesses.
As the evening goes on, I return home with my family. As promised, mom attends to my wounds with the proper care and forces me to rest in bed for the night. It’s almost 8oclock when Nicole and Derek come bursting into my room with a bottle and 3 small glasses.
“We won’t be long, Luna. I promise,” Nicole hollers to my mom downstairs. It must have taken a lot of convincing from Nicole to break mom’s no disturbing the healing soon to be an alpha rule. She drilled it into my dad’s head the whole way home, along with my younger siblings.
“What are you guy’s doing here?” I groan, rubbing my eyes. I was slowly in the process of fall into a deep sleep until they showed up. Guess I was more tired from the battle than I thought.
Derek’s eyebrows come together, “Celebratory shots-duh!”
“You guys, come on! I have so much to do before the ceremony on Saturday,” I refuse to run my errands tomorrow with a killer hangover. Saturday is two days away, and in between, my schedule is crazy booked with meetings and running around like a chicken with my head cut off from my mother’s event planning rituals.
“Ughh! What are you an alpha or my granny?” Nicole exasperates, rolling her eyes, “Look, we promise not to get you too drunk, but the three of us have two days left of freedom before we’re gifted with a shit load of responsibilities.”
Nicole unscrews the cap of the fancy liquor, flicking it to the floor with her middle finger. She pours the amber-colored liquid into the glasses as Derek holds them up, “So what do you say?” She hands me a glass with a mischievous smile.
“Fine,” I sigh in defeat because Goddess knows I’d lost this the minute they walked in. I planned on sticking to my word although when Derek and Nicole climbed on the bed to get comfortable, making me a sandwich between them, I knew the night was going to be long.