"Alright gentlemen I believe that is all-"
"Not quite your majesty." I was interrupted by none other than Lord Ingrival. I hated the prick. He was an older councilor with graying hair and a slightly wrinkled angular face. He gave my father a lot of trouble in his day and now gave me trouble instead. There was only one thing he wanted. "The council wishes to express their concerns that you have not yet announced a Luna. You so far have no heir which is needed for the future stability of the kingdom. With that the council has decided to-"
"The council has already made a decision on this matter Lord Ingrival." I was tired of this conversation. Even when we have already come to a compromise he still tries to push his agenda. "I still wish to find my mate. I understand the delicacy of the issue but to force an unwanted pairing upon me will only serve to produce more problems than it would solve. The council has granted me until my next birthday to find my fated mate and I expect the council to hold to that decision."
I look at the various members. Some almost looked embarrassed by what was being said but others met my gaze in challenge. Of course Lord Ingrival had more to say.
"The council wishes you to find your mate but the needs of the kingdom must be considered. A Luna is essential to pack stability and even more so for a kingdom. How do you think our kingdom can continue to prosper without one?" I had to hold back a growl my wolf gave. He was pushing at the edges of my mind to take control. He wanted to show these cowards who was truly in charge here. Before he could do so my uncle interrupted.
"I think you are confused my lord. That is not how the line of succession works. The next Luna is not simply the mate of my nephew. It is who the moon goddess appoints. Even if my nephew selects a mate it is not a guarantee that they will be the next Luna."
My uncle was wise. He had grown up with my mother knowing she was to be Luna and as such spent many years researching knowledge around the line of succession and ancient lore. There was no one with more knowledge than him.
"A white wolf has not been found in all of this council's searching," Lord Ingrival countered. "The Moon Goddess either has not appointed a next Luna or she has been lost already. This council's responsibility is to ensure the longevity of the kingdom. If the Moon Goddess will not appoint a Luna, then we must appoint one in her stead. "
My wolf roared out in anger letting his Alpha power fill the room. He did not tolerate the council disrespecting the Moon Goddess so. I watched as the various members struggled against the power before bowing their heads in submission. Even Lord Ingrival cast his eyes downward though it was through gritted teeth. The only one who wasn't affected was my uncle who sat calmly in his seat looking at the other council members. The only sign of stress he showed was the clench of his jaw. Even after the power faded away, no one spoke for a few minutes until my uncle stood placing his hands on the table and spoke again.
"Why are we arguing about this? There is more important matters at hand. Ralacks have been spotted in the northern remote areas. We need to snuff them out before they gain a hold." Lord Ingrival stood to meet him.
"A couple of lone Ralacks is not as much of a threat as the fate of the monarchy"
"You forget lord!" My uncle was yelling now. "The last time this council ignored a sighting of the Ralacks, we lost our king! Do not repeat the same mistake again." It was my uncle's power that now filled the room. I needed to step in before he lost himself.
"Lord Ingrival you need to remember that the whole purpose the Ralacks have is to bring down the monarchy. Any sighting of them is a threat to the crown. My own uncle, your lord protector, was injured by them and is still healing from the wounds he suffers at their hands. I can in no good conscious name a Luna when I can't even guarantee her safety. Lord Ingrival narrowed his eyes at me at first and then a slight sneer crawl upon his face.
"Very well your majesty, my lord, we will investigate this threat. If we find the culprits we will eliminate them, and once we do you will name a she wolf of our choosing as your mate and queen to further protect the future of this kingdom." Shit. He was going use this to push forward the issue. I was quickly running out of time.
"And if I find my mate? What then?" I needed at least some sort of out. Lord Ingrival didn't seem bothered by the question and shrugged his shoulders.
"Then the council looks forward to meeting her...but the chances of that happening at this point seems slim."
After we assigned a group of warriors to investigate the Ralack problem most of the the councilmen were dismissed. Lord Ingrival was a little too satisfied with the results. I stayed behind pretending to look at various paper as they all filed out. Only my uncle stayed behind.
After the last councilman had walked out the door I leaned forward onto the table threading my hands into my hair sighing loudly.
"What am I going to do, Uncle?" I moaned. "They aren't going to let this whole mate thing go and I have no hope of finding a replacement." I lifted my head a bit so I could rub my eyes with my hands before sitting back. When I turned to look at my uncle he was leaning back in his chair staring at the large door the councilmen walked out of. The only movement he made was his finger tapping the table. I decide to break his concentration so he could share his thought with me.
"Uncle?" His turned towards me, eye widening slightly before he studied his face to hide his emotions.
"Sorry, your majesty. I was just thinking..." he wasn't able to finish the thought before his mind wandered off again. Typical.
"Yes uncle. You were...but what about?" I stared at him waiting and staring but even then it took him a minute before he he turned and saw me. He awkwardly cleared his throat before speaking.
"The important thing is to look into the Ralacks. Eliminate the threat. Who knows? This may work in our favor. Depending on the threat it may take longer that the original deadline the council gave you, giving you the extra time you need to find a suitable mate." He had a point, if a threat could be found.
"And what if Lord Ingrival has his way and is able to prove there is no threat, giving him the power to declare a queen before we are ready?"
"That won't be an issue." My uncle's tone we stern and confident.
"You really think there is a threat don't you? You weren't exaggerating when you said it was a whole pack of them."
"They were there when I was visiting the north. I fought them. Was injured by them. If they are not there, than they are somewhere else."
"And how are you injuries, Uncle? I know you said you needed some time before returning to your duties but I would like to at least reestablish the pack bond with you. Not being able to mind link with you during meeting has been tedious to say the least." My uncle froze when I mentioned the pack bond.
"I am not quite healed enough yet for that." I was growing frustrated. Every time I mentioned remaking the bond he would doge it saying he still needed time to heal. It had been almost a month now. How much longer did he need.
"Forgive me Uncle." My tone said I was looking for anything but forgiveness. "I don't mean to demean your injuries, but if I knew to the extent you were injured, perhaps I would better understand your hesitance. It seems to me as if you have recovered. In fact you look even better than you did before the attack." My words
lowered his gaze. His eyebrows furrowed almost in sadness.
"Forgive me your majesty. Physically I am well but my wolf sustained a lot of damage during the attack and is still regaining his power. I don't know if he could survive establishing the bond at this point. "
"Mmm. I guess that's why I haven't seen you in your wolf form. Very well. I don't wish to rush you. Tell me when you are ready." I turned to look at the various papers in front of me covering all different kinds of issues. I replayed the conversations we had in my head when a thought occurred to me.
"Uncle?" He turned to look at me again. "Maybe we are going about this the wrong way." My uncle scowled at me confused
"What other way is there?" He asked.
"You reminded me of something today, about the line of succession. The next ruler is chosen by the Moon Goddess through her appointed Luna. Maybe we need to start looking for her rather than trying to find a mate for me."
"I don't see that as being important right now," my uncle countered.
"What? How could that not be important? The next Luna determines the next King. If we find her and present her to the council, it eliminates the opportunity for the council to appoint the next Luna."
"But it would also mean you would step down as king...are you ready for that?" Now it was my time to look away. I had been raised to be the next ruler as my father was before me. But I was also raised to honor and respect the Moon Goddesses wishes.
"Being a good ruler means doing what is right for the kingdom, and what's right for the kingdom is to have their rightful ruler...even if it's not me." It pained me to say those words but it was still true. There was not chance that I could be the mate of the next true Luna. My mate was dead. I always knew there would come a day where I would have to step aside, but until then I would do my best to rule the way my father taught me.
My uncle put his hand on my shoulder. When I met his gaze I saw a slight smile and pride in his eyes.
"Your father would be proud of you. But until the day you need to step down, I will serve you faithfully." I grabbed my uncle's arm and looked back at him smiling, grateful for his support. After a moment my uncle patted my shoulder and stood. "I must be off I have a group of warriors to brief on their next mission to find the Ralacks in the north." And with that my uncle walked out of the council chamber.