Madelyn

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-18-

On the other side of the portal, Connor found himself at the edge of a great city. There were trees all around. A great many strange scents assaulted his nose, but there was one familiar one among them all, and terrible fear washed over him. It was not his own, though, he could tell that much. It was Madelyn, she was terrified about something, but he didn’t think she yet realized he was near.

Hearing foot steps coming his way, he quickly ducked into a grouping of hedge plants, hiding himself from sight. Two men neared the hedge, talking quietly. His ears perked as he heard the word “wolf” from one of them.

“...found her in the same clearing.”

“The same one? I wonder why she’d return there after seeing you there so many years ago?”

“She was fleeing something...or perhaps someone. I don’t know why, though. She hasn’t told Mother anything, but Grandfather is with her now. If anybody can get her to talk to them, he can.”

“He sure has his ways, doesn’t he?”

“Aye.” They continued talking but resumed walking away.

Connor didn’t like the sound of the conversation. He knew they were speaking of Madelyn, but didn’t know why they wanted her, and whether she was truly in any danger from them or not. Either way, he was going to get to his mate.

***

She awoke in the bed, covered by a light sheet. The room was empty except for her and she could tell it had been a while since she’d passed out.

‘They’re alive?’ she thought to herself. ‘But, how can that be? Brian told me my mother was dead, died while trying to give birth to my brother.’ She sighed softly and moved to sit up, shaking her head gently. She heard a noise outside her door. Startled, she stood and moved out to the veranda. Looking over the rail, she noted that it was more of a balcony than a veranda, with a drop of about 45 feet. She’d survive it, but her legs would likely break. Madelyn knew she had to leave here, had to get back to Connor, but just didn’t know how. They likely had a guard on her door, and if not, they had someone watching her to be sure she didn’t try to leave.

She figured her only chance would be to change to wolf form. At least then, she’d have speed on her side. Her only question was how far would they go to keep her here.

“Are you so frightened of us, Madelyn, that you’d consider jumping to escape?” a man said from behind her.

Madelyn turned to see someone she had seen before, that day when she first saw the boy, in the clearing.

“Who are you?” Madelyn asked him.

“I am your grandfather.”

“I don’t understand any of this,” Madelyn said softly. “My biological mother is dead. Brian told me the story as he’d learned it.”

“Brian told you the story that Marie was sent to spread. She was the one who told your father his son and your mother were both dead, and she was the one who seduced your father into marrying her when you were but a week old. All of your legal documents were altered to reflect Marie as being your mother, but for all that she learned to love you, there was always the ulterior motive.” He moved out onto the veranda and sat in one of the chairs, waving to another as he did so.

Madelyn felt compelled to sit, but she resisted, choosing instead to stand. Her resistance brought a smile to the man’s face.

“You’re just as strong as your brother is, granddaughter,” he said gently to her. “He resists my suggestions on a regular basis. It’s a game between him and I now. Most of the time, he wins it, too.”

Madelyn turned away from him, the urge to change to her wolf form hitting her hard as a wave of longing for Connor washed over her. Thus far, he was the only person in her life to have ever given her a choice. Even though that choice was very limited, he gave it to her. And she’d run with it. Quite literally. Grabbing onto the thought of that run through the yard, how happy she was as he chased her down, she reached up to caress the scar on the nape of her neck.

“I want to go home,” she said simply, tears coming to her eyes as she tried to reach out with her mind, tried to feel Connor, talk to him, tell him she was ok and she was coming home, no matter how she had to get there. Wiping the tears away, her face hardened as she turned back to the man sitting by the table. “I want my mate, I want to go home to him, now!”

“Your mate?” he glanced to the scar on her neck. His face paled as he saw it and felt the wolf within her, and realized how close she was to losing control of it. Rinion had a lot of explaining to do. Standing slowly, holding his hands in front of him, palms up to show he meant no ill will to her, he began approaching her with slow, careful steps.

“Madelyn,” he said softly. “We need some time to talk, to tell you of what you are, to teach you.” He stopped and sighed softly. “But your mating with a Garou has complicated everything, granddaughter.”

“How?”

“You will not be content to remain here for your training,” he explained as he finally reached her, one hand moving up to gently caress her cheek. She flinched as his skin came into contact with hers. He could feel her mistrust, her longing for her mate, and behind it all, the wolf, ever present, always watching and waiting to be loosed. It had always been there, but was always asleep, until Connor had woken it with his bite. Pressing his hand to the side of her face, he closed his eyes and bowed his head slightly. Madelyn gasped as she relived her entire life all over again, in the span of a few seconds.

When her grandfather’s eyes opened again, she stumbled backwards, against the railing, tears falling as he stared at her in wonder. His little granddaughter had come through all of that, and still stood here before him today, a strong woman in her own right. With or without the Garou, or the Elves, she was a very strong woman.

“Please,” she whispered. “Let me go home.”

“We will let you go, Madelyn, but not to that house,” he said finally. “You are not safe there.”

“How can I not be safe there when Brian and my parents said I was?” she said, agitated.

“Marie was not your mother, Madelyn,” he countered softly. He sighed softly before taking her hand and leading her to the table. This time, instead of impressing the desire to sit upon her, he said softly, “please sit, Madelyn, we have much to discuss, and you would be much more comfortable sitting than standing.”

She sank into the chair slowly as he began his tale.

“Twenty years ago, on a cold winter’s night, a man entered into a circle he had no right to even be near. The woman was to have conceived that night, but not by that man. It was to have been a single son, one child who would be very special, Madelyn. That child was conceived. The child was to have united the Elven people one day. Unfortunately, the first child conceived inside the circle was not a son, and was to become even more special than the son was to have been. You see, your father is the only remaining descendent of the first European Garou to immigrate to the new world. That particular Garou was very special in his own right. He had managed to unite the Garou and the Elven people through a mating. His mate was Elven, turned Garou through the mating ceremony.

“Through the years, each male descendent of that Garou has had one son. He might have had a daughter or two as well, but none has had more than one son. This went on through the centuries, until your father mated with my daughter.”

Madelyn listened, unsure whether to believe any of it, or to write it, and everything, off as one big bad dream. Then the longing for Connor started again, and she knew it wasn’t a dream. If he was real, then all of this surely was, too.

“All of your ancestors’ first born children were sons, Madelyn. Each one gave life to a son before he gave life to a daughter, until you. You shared a womb with your brother, but you were first conceived, and you were first born, as well,” he sighed softly. “Had your mother’s intended arrived, you would not have been born, granddaughter.”

“Who was he?” she asked. “Who was her intended?”

“He was Marie’s brother, and he was killed in the snow on his way to perform his duty,” he said softly.

“His duty?”

“Yes, granddaughter, his duty,” he replied. “You see, the Elven do not see marriage and babymaking as you might. It is a duty to marry and mate. It is not a right or a privilege. Your mother’s duty was to lie still. His duty was to plant a son in your mother’s belly. Once it was there, his duty ceased, yet your mother’s would continue, as she would raise the boy in seclusion, away from her family and friends, alone by the Lake of Silver, where she would teach him all he needed to know to perform his duty.”

“Seclusion? I don’t understand why she would have needed to be secluded,” Madelyn said softly, shaking her head sadly.

“That, I’m afraid, is another story, my dear,” he paused. “And your mate is searching for you, to take you back. If you return to that house with him, your life will be in grave danger, Madelyn. If you return there, there isn’t much I can do to help save you from them.”

“What do you mean?” she said, feeling an urgency to know the story of how her mother and brother came to be here, alive and well, instead of dead and buried. “Who is ‘them’ and why do they want me?”

” ‘They’ are the Grauguri Elves, and they want you to breed you,” he said simply. He watched as her face went through the stages of shock and disbelief to uncertainty to anger and fear.

“Why? Why me? And with whom?” Madelyn’s mind was a jumble as she went through the questions, not stopping to let her grandfather answer each question. Her wolf’s defenses were raising and she was so close to changing in that moment.

“Granddaughter,” he began softly. “You are very special. You, and your brother, are a combination that was once thought impossible. With the mingling of your father’s and your mother’s genes, something has been created that should never have existed, but does, for,” he hesitated slightly before continuing, “for better or for worse.”

Madelyn looked at him, curious about that last statement. He was not to answer it, though, for at that moment, a large charcoal grey wolf burst into the room, teeth bared as he moved between Madelyn and her grandfather.

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