Present, Heidelberg, Germany
Daniel has never felt so eerie, so strange. It was uncomfortable, like something crawling under his skin, it was like he was forgetting something majorly important. It was an itch at the back of his throat, he couldn't get rid of it but at the same time it wasn't anything too. It was maddeningly contradictory feelings.
Daniel jumped in his seat on the couch he sat on. His wide eyes settled on the man standing opposite him, hovering over the table that held the detailed map of their neighbouring areas.
"Pay attention, Dan. You have to take over - pay fucking attention. I verachten having to speak to a brick wall."
Daniel rolled his eyes, already bored of his brother's dramatics.
"Elias, you know I am never as distracted. Cut me some slack, once in a while it's okay."
Elias’s red marker made lines, marking routes to dig up the safety tunnels. No one has needed them in ages, they have been sealed shut on its own by nature. Trees, gutters, then houses...they have to open it now, make new accomodations.
When Elias looked up again, his face held no humour, it was tight, it was serious.
"It is okay when you do not have to take up a pack without much preparation, Dan. But we do. We need the full attention, vor allem des zukünftigen Alpha."
"The one I equally despise. I don't want this, Eli! You are the Alpha, have been for 4 decades. Why do I need to take over?"
"Because I got the chair in council."
Daniel rolled his eyes.
"You talk like I care for the council, Elias. They're tyrants."
Elias stopped in marking his routes on the map and looked up sharply, a little disappointed.
"They kept you safe, they kept Red wolves safe. If the process and measures taken to keep The Guardians safe seems tyranny to you, Daniel, maybe you really shouldn't be Alpha."
Daniel opened his mouth to protest, to apologize but Elias wanted none of it.
"I would rather not have a mad Alpha running around with old ways. And I especially don't want to be the one executing you and wiping our pack clean." Ashamed, Daniel looked down, fumbling with his fingers.
Everyone knew how things worked around. Red wolves were The Guardians, the ultimate safety - like the China wall to China.Go against and harm even one Guardian, as young as three day old to as old as 300 years old, and you have Council on your ass, your head their trophy.
It wasn't even a lie, packs have really been wiped clean because Alphas often acted out of fear of losing their packs and position to the Red Wolves, not trusting the council.
To keep them safe the council was formed, to keep them safe any Alpha found guilty of hurting a Red wolf - unasked for - dead, and the pack's unflinching support - a free invitation to be wiped clean.
"Why are you so distracted?"
"I-I...I met her."
"My Seelenverwandte , adelfí psychí, spirit, fated, soulmate... Whatever they say it these days, Elias."
"You met your soul?" Elias raised an eyebrow, surprised.
Wolves hardly met their soul anymore. It was more of a beautiful myth these days, a fairy tale.
"Where is she? Who is she? Dan, that's a big thing!"
"Yeah, no." Daniel frowned, scratching at his scalp. It throbbed painfully as he said the next words with great difficulty.
"She left. She didn't say anything but a few words and she left."
"She can't...what did she say?"
"An- uh... anima gem something..."
Daniel thought hard, fingers digging in his throbbing temple and as soon as her words flashed in his brain, his eyes widened, as if the click of an old rusty lock opening.
"She said anima gemella. Then she...she touched me.”
Dragged her soft fingertip down from my temple to cheek and let it rest at the corner of mouth, Daniel didn't voice that.
He traced the path of her finger. It had been so soft, her touch feather light, but the warmth of her touch had been scorching. He could still feel the skin she touched burn, as if it was a literal path she made.
His finger reached his temple on it's own accord, trailing down his cheek and resting on the corner of his lips. His eyes burned bright blue as he looked at his elder brother, a haze clearing from his mind.
"She touched me, her eyes never straying from mine and then she...then she stepped away, bowed to me, looked me in the eyes again and said the same thing. Anima gemella...no, there was more."
Daniel recalled, tried hard to remember while his head felt close to exploding. Clutching at his head in his hands, he spoke again. "Yeah, she said something else, she said Anima gemella... Amaris."
"Amaris?" Elias squeaked. "And she spoke Italian? Are you sure that is what she said?"
"That's Italian? What does it say? Why did she bow, Elias?"
Antsy, Daniel looked at his brother seriously, waiting to unravel the mystery of her words. Language never was his forte. It was magic in itself he spoke English as well as he did.
3 days ago, Daniel thought the most beautifully hypnotic woman was toying with him, he didn't even realize - more like couldn't accept - she was his soul until she bowed to him. That was what had rocked him. The tradition says the first one to bow has been the one who has waited the most.
It isn't even something the wolves know they are doing consciously. It is as if ingrained, it is the soul of their wolves bowing, or so the elders say. No one ever actually explained what the wait is meant to be for because there were mates who have been as young as 6 to recognize each other and as old as a millennium - well, maybe that's an exaggeration...
It definitely isn't having waited for their soul specifically, that has been proven over the years.
It is said that those who bow are the ones getting rid of some weight. The wolves explained it so, like a weight lifted off of their shoulders, like finding an oasis at the end of a long walk in a desert, like salvation after burning pain.
Of course, Daniel knew what bowing was, why it was, what he meant was why she bowed, what had she been waiting for?
"Anima gemella means soulmate, soul, in Italian, Daniel."
Elias explained carefully, reluctantly. "Amaris, Spanish name, means child of moon. The only person I have known to be roaming these parts and with Spanish name Amaris is..."
Elias lost his train of thoughts. The realization was a punch to his gut. Amaris, the Amaris, was Daniel's soul, which basically meant that Daniel was in general danger from being associated with Amaris.
"Did she mark you? I don't see a physical mark!"
Elias was hysterical, he gripped the collar of Daniel's shirt, pulled it away, twisting his head all over to look for the mate mark, sniffing his scent with more precision.
He couldn't find it, Daniel's scent hadn't changed either. But he knew how hard it is for a soul to leave the other. It is unheard of, if not dangerous.
Leaving them rots away at your soul.
And to leave your soul without your mark is plain stupidity. Wolves hardly find their souls, their halves, they never let them go as easily as Daniel said Amaris had.
And it was Amaris, for fuck's sake, she was a walking Goddess to most. Like hell, she'd let Daniel go!
"Eli - Eli... Elias!" Daniel pushed away. "She didn't mark me! Trust me I would know." Daniel's voice dripped with pain. "Now tell me what the fuck is going on. How do you know her?"
"She is...Daniel, and it could be a complete coincidence-," Elias' voice didn't sound like that it was a coincidence at all, "-but the only person I know of with such characteristics is Amaris DeLuna. She is the head councilwoman."
Daniel inhaled sharply, his legs buckling and he staggered back to his seat on the couch from before. Amaris DeLuna, head councilwoman, 5 centuries old, was his mate? Daniel's?
Goddess on earth, they called her. She was Guardian of The Guardians, she saved Red wolves and she was Daniel's mate? Someone as simple as Daniel?
It was hard to accept it, harder to push the lump in his throat that burned him at the separation from his soul, that came at him in a harsh wave all at once. Say, she was - which she was, Daniel's mate, that is, no doubt about that - then why did she leave? Why not mark Daniel or let him mark her? Why leave?
3 days ago, Daniel thought it was awkward and sad that his possible soul didn't want him. After all, Daniel had no power, no powerful standing in the pack. The world had changed, now females and males alike desired power and position for their halves.
Sure, he was head warrior, Alpha's brother, about to take the position of acting Alpha for a decade, but it wasn't anything big. So, he understood that, but now it was just maddeningly confusing, now it burned a hole in his chest.
He didn't know why, maybe because in 3 days he hadn't thought as much about Amaris, maybe he hadn't paid attention to the lack of marking until Elias pointed it out, but now all out in the open, it hurt.
It ached to the point that Daniel wanted to dig his claws in and take his heart out to ease some of the pain.
Rubbing his clawed hand over his chest, he looked into the fire burning in the fireplace. It was beautiful, the way the red and yellows and orange flames devoured the wood so easily, gave heat and warmth at their expanse...it was so beautiful.
It reminded him of the look in Amaris' eyes. Her eyes had burned at the recognition and as she'd come closer, Daniel had found himself wanting to drown in her eyes. They were molten silver, like the moon. His heartbeat had gone notches up with every step she took closer. It beat too fast, too harsh as she had traced her finger on his skin, spoken those words.
Her voice was melodious, like chiming bells, soft, silky. He couldn't remember anything else, what she wore, what her hair was like, what her lips...nothing. All he remembered were those eyes, and that voice.
He had stayed frozen in that same place for hours after Amaris left, hours that felt like another millennium, waiting for her to turn and see him, so he could learn more things about her, forge her in his memory.
But she didn't return.
When he returned home, Elias told him he got the council seat, that Daniel was the acting Alpha as was the tradition, for at least a decade.
Amaris, the head councilwoman, changed her council seat every decade. Too many hungering for her place and power. She threw mongrels out more often than not.
There has only ever been one council member that has been on his seat for 4 centuries now, he is considered Amaris' second-in-command, and to some, as they point out based on Amaris and council man's interaction, rumours were he was her soul, the only reason why his seat was always untouched and he was so trusted by Amaris.
But obviously, that was wrong because Daniel was Amaris's soul.
Everything had been in chaos for three days. The pack was celebrating their Alpha's chance at council seat - a big feat in the wolf world, they say - and Elias had been busy packing and making Daniel understand his responsibilities, taking over the pack. He was busy settling everything for a smooth transition.
Every Alpha got 3 months to prepare their temporary successor and because Alpha Elias was unmated and had no child, the position fell to his brother Daniel.
"Dan...she is dangerous."
Daniel's wolf raged and without any idea how, Daniel had Elias pinned to the far wall, throat constricting in his fingers.
"Do not...say that...ever again." Daniel let Elias go who coughed violently, taking in air greedily.
Cursing himself inwardly for verbally attacking someone's mate, Elias stood up and apologized, letting the wolf in his brother relax marginally.
Now that Amaris' fate was clear, to at least Elias, his head was clearing up, making points join here and there, completing the puzzle.
Daniel never did bow to anyone unless he wanted to. Their father and Daniel never went along, he always questioned their father's authority, always stood over rules he found wrong to spit on them.
No Alpha was able to have Daniel bow down to him.
He listened to Elias only because he loved Elias, he respected him. Of course...Elias sighed, things were finally clearing up.
"I didn't mean any wrong, Daniel. I meant she is in danger, which means so are you. She is ... There is a lot you do not know about her."
"Then tell me."
Elias sighed, turned around to his bookshelf and pulled out a thick leather bound book.
It was easily the thickest book Daniel has ever seen in Elias’ study. Elias didn't much care about reading and books while Daniel couldn't be any different.
Daniel was a nerd, quite literally, even with his language barrier. What with, German and English books that he gobbled up more than food.
It surprised him though, the book. Daniel didn't even know Elias had this book. He has read every transcript, every novella, every guide and rule book in Elias’ study; and this book, he had never seen.
When Elias opened the book, Daniel's heart panged in desperate need.
"It is handwritten."
"Technically it's a copy of handwritten. Um...it was-"
"Amaris. She wrote it."
"Yeah." Surprised, Elias looked up at his brother. "How do you know? I have this book under lock and key. Every Alpha does. It's the first rules book for any Alpha-to-be, you could say."
Daniel didn't know that, though it would make sense why Daniel never knew this thing even existed.
Nor did he know how exactly he was aware of the fact that Amaris wrote it, he just knew. His heart was beating wildly, like some part of him recognized Amaris' handwriting - which was absurd, but so was everything else.
"I have no idea how I know anything but..." He looked up at his brother, eyes filling with water - losing focus as he stopped mid sentence, head cloudy.
"Are you alright?"
Daniel's body was swaying as he stood in front of his brother, his wolf closer to the surface. Honestly, Daniel looked ready to drop.
"This is scaring me, Eli. I forgot about her for 2 days until you made me talk about her and now I feel like… My head hurts trying to remember her words. But I feel okay for now...I think so, anyway. Tell me about her."
"Dan..." When Daniel stared sternly for an answer, Elias spoke without thinking almost, although he was himself admittedly confused. "She bound your memories?"
"How...what? Is that even fucking possible!?" Hysteric and agonized, Daniel threw his hands up in the air, letting them flop on the table.
That information hurt more than anything else.
"I am assuming, Dan. It could be something else, or nothing. Or-"
"Or it really could be so. She guides Red wolves, yes? No ordinary one can."
Elias blinked dumbfounded. Daniel could be right but Daniel being right would only bring heartbreak to Daniel. Elias didn't want his brother to be right.
"I don't - Dan!" Elias held him upright as he was about to faceplant on the rug, leading him to the couch to sit on. Passing a glass of water to his brother, he continued.
"There is a whole lot about her, you do not know. A huge history, she is one of the very few oldest wolves alive. There hasn't been anyone else as her. She is practically a living ancestor to all of us."
"You have read this?"
Daniel asked after a silence as he fingered through the thick book, fingers lingering over the words.
"Learned it. Every Alpha has to. Like I said, rule book. It's her story from beginning to now. Amaris DeLuna was to be told to every Alpha, her oath and words regarding The Guardians to be etched in our brains because they form the path of the future."
"Path of future."
"Title of book, yes. She is quite a woman with words." Elias said fondly, igniting a fire in Daniel's chest.
His wolf begged to be let out and hurt Elias for thinking of their female but Daniel held back. He saw the signs, Elias worshiped Amaris in a way a child would his idol. There was nothing more than just plain admiration.
"I have a splitting headache. I don't want to waste time reading it, Elias. Please, just tell me all this."
"You have to read it anyway. You're to take up the position of Alpha, you need to read it."
Elias sighed loudly. How he wished he had a child right now, so he really could let it slide, tell Daniel a shorter version and be done with it, let him decide the paths - wait for his half, or go after it.
"Dan, you have to read it. It's customary for every Alp-”
"Goddess, I will! But I need to know of her more. Just tell me important things and I'll read this later. I promise."
“Okay.” Elias sighed. “I will, only after you take some rest and recover from your headache.”
verachten - despise
vor allem des zukünftigen Alpha. - especially the future Alpha.