I glared at my brother, burning holes into his skull. If anyone knew how much I hated the family legend, it was Keaton, yet here we are. Just the thought of it made me want to throw a fit like a toddler.
“It’s redundant. Everyone knows that story,” I grumbled, but it was too late. Keaton had everyone thrilled over the idea. Especially my uncles and cousins because they liked how dad told the story. Everyone did. Dad had a way of jazzing up his storytelling.
“The legend never gets old. I like- “Derek was interrupted by a swift kick to the foot. He gave me a puzzled look until the lightbulb went off in his head, “I mean…never mind.”
I kept trying to persuade everyone with another story but to no avail. “Okay, the legend it is,” Dad said, handing my mother his coffee mug.
“Great,” I muttered, shifting uncomfortably on the log. The idea of feeding Keaton to a coven of vampires seemed more intriguing by the second. I’m sure my parents wouldn’t mind one less kid to worry about.
Dad sat up straight before he began, “It was a wintery night in 1706 when the alpha Lucas Collins stepped outside his home to find an intruder. An injured man lay across the snow in a pool of blood, begging for mercy. The alpha didn’t understand how he ended up on River Ash territory, but he couldn’t help but pity him, given the man’s condition. That same wolf was Jackson Blackburn,” The air suddenly moved with tension as dad mentioned the man’s last name. It was a name that unsettled everyone in the city to this day.
“The alpha and his Luna opened their home to Jackson so he could heal properly. Lucas had good intentions to interrogate the man; however, he had no memory of crossing their land or his injuries. The only known fact, he traveled alone and belonged to no existing pack. He was a lone wolf.”
I tried to ignore my father, concentrating on the crackling flames, but I’d found myself listening closely to the details even though I’d heard them countless times. That’s the thing about the legend. No matter how many times the story is told, you find yourself listening closely every time.
“Over time, Jackson and Lucas became friends...best friends. Eventually, the alpha offered him to join River Ash, and Jackson happily excepted. However, Luna was skeptical of the lone wolf. She would often complain about Jackson’s odd behavior. At night, while everyone in the packhouse was sleeping, Luna would catch him roaming the halls and standing over member’s beds, watching them sleep. It was said she’d seen him drawing strange demonic pentagrams on the walls, but in the morning when she questioned him, he was clueless, and the drawings disappeared.”
“I don’t get it,” Khloe commented, “Why didn’t Lucas banish that creep in the first place? Didn’t he believe his Luna?”
At this, Uncle Ryan decided to speak up. He held a grim expression as he looked at Khloe and said, “Not even the mate bond could save them from the danger they allowed in their home. Jackson was a cold-blooded monster. He covered up his lies, and Lucas was blind to it all.”
“Would you shut up! I’m telling the story,” Dad growled at his younger brother, causing everyone to laugh, “Now, as I was saying,” Uncle Ryan rolled his eyes and let dad continue.
“Unfortunately, Lucas saw with his own eyes just how ugly that man he called his friend could get,” Dad spoke grimly, “One night, he awoke to the cries of a woman coming from the deep end of the woods. He instantly recognized the screams belonged to his younger sister. Without hesitation, Lucas searched the dark woods in hopes of finding his sister before something terrible had happened, but it was too late.”
I inhaled deeply as I prepared for the next gory details. It was brutal, and I couldn’t imagine why someone would do that to a living being.
“That spot right there,” Dad pointed behind me to a specific area in the woods. Everyone turned to look as dad explained, “That is the same spot where Lucas witnessed his friend feasting on the flesh and bones of his pregnant sister and her unborn child.”
Chills ran down my spine as I looked over my shoulder, imagining the blood splattered on the trees and ground. I could almost hear her screams in my head while pictures of Jackson tearing into her womb clouded my mind. I was instantly disgusted and wished not to have any knowledge of this. After a brief silence, dad cleared his throat. This is where things would get more intense.
“Before Lucas could kill that vile man, something strange happened,” Dad paused intensely, “Much like Jackson’s first night, the alpha woke up the next morning with no memory of the tragedy that took place. It was like he awoke from some nightmare, but it was very much real. The lone wolf managed to wipe his memory clean and leave no trace of his sister’s remains. Lucas and the pack seemed to have forgotten he ever had a sister. She was completely erased from existence.”
I caught the gloomy expression on mom’s face as I looked up. She wasn’t a fan of the legend either but for many different reasons from mine.
“More years passed, and eventually, Jackson became power-hungry. He wanted to be the alpha of his own pack, so he did just that. To everyone’s surprise, Jackson left River Ash and created the Blood Rose pack, which became the largest and wealthiest pack of Silverhill. However, people were more shocked to find out about his unexpected fortune. After all, he came to our territory with nothing to his name, only the clothes on his back. But unknown to others, Jackson had been helped by someone of much greater power. Someone out for the destruction of the female population in our family,” The energy around the fire became eerie after dad finished.
My mouth spoke on its own as I whispered “Lamashtu,” before reciting the protection prayer. This was necessary to keep the mother of beasts away and our soul protected from her dark magic, “I clothe my loved ones and myself with the light of the moon goddess, for she will guide me through the darkness and shield me from any evil. I am a child of the night and fully submit to the true mother, the creator of warriors,” There was a momentary silence as we all prayed to ourselves.
“Lamashtu,” Dad said grimly, “They call her the mother of all beasts because she enjoys feeding on pregnant women and turning their fetuses into her monsters. The demon-witch was created from the ninth kingdom of hell to balance the scales between good and evil. However, the demoness craved power much like her father, and she spent centuries gaining followers who believe one day she will rule over all existence. One of them being Jackson Blackburn.”
“They say Jackson prayed to Lamashtu for wealth and power. He sold his soul to the demon-witch, and for that, he paid the price, and so did our family. When Lucas and his Luna became pregnant with their first daughter, Jackson was compelled by Lamashtu to kill Luna and her unborn child. She would’ve been the first female born within the Collins family. Unfortunately, Lucas lost all sight of reality, and this time he was successful in putting an end to Jackson Blackburn. But none of it mattered because it wouldn’t bring back his mate. Lucas Collins committed suicide, leaving behind his only son and the River Ash pack.”
I gulped, waiting for him to finish the story of the legend. I almost wanted to leave, but I pushed through the uncomforting details and stayed.
“Since then, it is reported in hospital records that every Luna of River Ash has miscarried their daughters. For reasons unknown, Lamashtu has cursed the Collins Family line for generations, wiping out all the females born within our family. They say she will come back with a vengeance, blessing River Ash with a monster,” Dad stood up as he looked at me pensively and said, “Astrid is the firstborn female to break that curse.”
At this, all eyes were on me. My cheeks flushed, and my heartbeats quickened. Nicole and Derek playfully nudged me, trying to lighten my mood, but it wouldn’t work. My mood was already spoiled, “She’s special,” Derek said.
“Right,” My cousin John laughed, “Let’s just hope she doesn’t kill us all in our sleep,” He remarked, causing the others to chuckle. I growled lowly, flashing my canines at him. I’d heard those stupid comments my whole life. I was bullied in school because of the legend. Everyone was scared to talk to me, let alone breathe the same air as me. Satan’s daughter or poisoned she-wolf is what they’d call me.
My blood slowly started to boil as some of my male cousins joined in on the teasing. I wanted to wipe the smirks off their faces. Khloe noticed my change in demeanor, “Knock it off. Leave my sister alone,” She growled, but they kept on with their jokes. One of them decided to come up from behind me and make ghost sounds.
“Fuck off,” I growled, getting up from my seat and pushing him back with all my strength. He flew a couple of feet back. Meanwhile, I closed the distance between John and me, “Why wait until you’re sleeping when I can just kill you now,” I muttered, my claws elongated. He smiled, holding his hands up in defense.
“Nice kitty,” Keaton said, holding me back. Nicole grabbed my arm, pulling me back to my seat. They knew when my buttons were pushed too far; it was hard to control my emotions.
Dad gave me a lingering look as if asking If I was alright. I nodded, and he continued, “It was a shame to lose Lucas, but his son stepped up when he became of age. Jackson also left behind a son, starting the Blackburn family line. The fallen alphas’ sons hated each other though both came to a mutual agreement and signed a treaty, keeping the peace within the city. Throughout the years, Blood Rose and River Ash remained enemies, and today we continue to feel the hate towards them when they are near.”
“Blood Rose pack has become stronger and overpopulated, creating the Silver Moon pack. But worst of all,” Dad paused, looking off into the distance, “The hybrid wolves now rule them. The Blackburn Brothers,” Dad said.
“Can’t believe that crazy bitch Loretta slept with a demon,” One of the guys muttered. They never knew when to shut up.
At this, mom got up and headed for the house. It upset her so much when people talked poorly of Loretta Blackburn. She was mom’s good friend, but she committed the worst crime one could. She mated with a demon.
Wolves were only paired with our own and sometimes humans. Hybrid wolves are extremely looked down on and strictly forbidden by the council. In some rare cases, if one is paired with a witch, their children must undergo many tests given by the lycanthrope council to prove that they are capable of living among civilization.
Although the three Blackburn brothers are demon-wolves, the council agreed to offer them a chance to prove their stability. I never understood the reason behind this. The council executed most hybrids who weren’t up to their standards. Sometimes I’d thought It was because even the council was scared of the demon-wolves.
No one stood a chance against their immense demonic powers. They say the alpha possesses mind control and can manipulate the flames of hell. His victim’s souls are claimed by the fire and left to burn for eternity.
I never got the chance to meet the Blackburn brothers. Some of the members say I’m lucky to have never crossed their paths, but there is a hint of curiosity in me, wanting to know if all the rumors are true. One day I will soon have to face the demons of Blood Rose and Silver Moon.