The borders had opened two days ago. The inflow of escapees had been accompanied by the order not to approach any of them until the council deemed it safe; a hard thing to do considering the sleepless eyes and desperate glances following Steven’s every move. He was in a tight spot. Not only his mission had failed, but he was also running late. He needed to find a shortcut, soon, or face the Alpha’s wrath. This part of town wasn’t familiar, but he estimated his path would take him directly to the lair, provided he followed a straight line.
It was dark under the bridge, the moonlight not reaching that far to chase away the night’s shadows. As a Prince and the kingdom’s strongest Beta, Steven would never be scared away by the murk. He adjusted his vision and pushed through, hoping to pass the gloomy tunnel as quickly as possible. His boots squelched under him and he let out a disgusted whine, the smell of sewage and dead rats hitting his nostrils. He picked up his pace, aiming for the clean air and the sliver of silver light visible a few feet away, only to stop short when a whimper caught his attention. If he was a lesser man he would have ignored it, but there were Humans among them that had been promised protection. Better to investigate now than let some poor bastard pay for it later.
A boy was lying at the edge of the tunnel, face down in the mud, his breathing jagged and his mouth flooded with filthy water. Steven strained his ears but only the other’s faint heartbeat reached him; almost-frozen throbs dissolving into thin air. He turned him over; he couldn’t have been more than sixteen. Human, for now... A bite on his shoulder... There were people he should call for, protocols he should follow. Picking up another noise, though, made his princely duties fade into the background as his predatory instincts kicked in. Another heartbeat was approaching. Fast... Turning around, he let his nose hunt for any stray smells, scanning his surroundings for a threat. The unmistakable scent of power had him tensing and he assumed a defensive position over the unconscious boy, his first impulse always to protect.
The man that came into view was taller than Steven, bulkier, but, in their world, physical attributes meant nothing. Without a second’s pause to assess the enemy and perceiving him as a threat for his newly-bitten, soon-to-be Beta, the newcomer charged at the Prince, not caring that he had just committed a crime punishable by life-long imprisonment. By the looks of it, he was way beyond reason. Another victim then... An Alpha without a pack...
The Prince soon discovered he wasn’t a match for the feral man, receiving more blows than he was blocking and almost being torn to pieces. He was quick on his feet, though, something the other Werewolf didn’t have the luxury of. Steven needed to keep the stranger away from the boy and there was only one sure-fire method to lull a wild wolf so, diving left, he kicked his feet up and pushed with all his might. The Alpha lost his balance mid-swing and stepped into the moonlight where he froze, staring at the night sky with amazement that stemmed from too many nights in the dark. He tilted his face towards the pale beacon, letting it bathe him in its cold light, and the Prince thought this was his chance. But the man wasn’t distracted for long as the boy behind them let out a groan, the first sign he was waking up. Remembering himself, the Alpha looked at the Prince, daring him to challenge his claim. Steven had the choice to flee then, but even if there weren’t laws to uphold, he would still not let an innocent teenager in the hands of an unstable Werewolf.
Taking a determined step forward, the Prince transformed, letting out a howl that would have his entire family running to them. Too late; the man had made his choice. If he couldn’t have the Human, no one would. With inhuman speed, he pushed Steven out of the way and reached the boy, but before his claws could reach the exposed, defenceless throat, his own heart was torn out of his chest. A questioning look was left on the Alpha’s face for a moment before his world turned to nothingness.
The Prince fell to his knees, gasping. His pack should be approaching, but he couldn’t feel them anymore, the missing links more painful than any wound he had sustained. His mind remained blank for a few more moments before the gentle hum of someone else’s subconscious joined his, binding them together with an unwanted contract. Power surged through him. Power and fear...