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The Unforged Crown (1)

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Chapter 2

Elai

“It seems like the spirits have returned into hiding again.” I said observing the quiet morning rise in the eastern side of the forest we were patrolling around. Alek, me and two of the enforcers, volunteered to run along the borders of the kingdom to look out for any other damage done by the chaos while the rest went back to report the Head Enforcer.

“The spirits would be back after a few days again. This issue has started to get out of our hands. Why are we not able to stop it?“. Ligo, one of the enforcers, said over the mind link.

“We can’t go around ordering the spirits to stop their rampage without knowing what they want. It will anger them more.” I reminded the group. It was right after the time of the dawn when the caressing and, gentle rays grew warm. I always preferred this time of the day to train and practise run because it was peaceful, as compared to how the rest of my day would go.

“We’re about to reach the Crystal river.” Rosa informed us as soon as my ears picked up the distant roar of the water and a familiar sensation tingled through my spine to the rest of my body. The Crystal River ran along the end of the eastern border, the only entrance to the Theomata from our side. I had been here only a few times during my patrol that was enough for me to avoid this place out of the unnatural experiences it gave me during the visits.

With the hum of the river increasing, my paws dug deeper into the soil as my acceleration increased suddenly. My consciousness drove me into a pit of focus that sought only one thing. Freedom. Freedom from what and where I didn’t know but, my mind wasn’t coordinating with my body, thus resulting in me to get a hazed vision and light head. I heard some muffled voices provide distraction in my head but, it wasn’t that coherent and, soon it faded completely. My body craved for release of power that I was showing now as a startling loud growl erupted from my chest, while my form seemed to grow larger with better eyesight. I was in no control of my body which had happened before also when I developed such abilities in an unexplainable way. It was the same thing happening again but with much intensity.

I got separated from the group that ran behind me. My lungs were pumping air at an abnormal rate. I could visualize myself plunging into the river if my limbs were unable to stop itself.

As distracting as the sound of the raging water was, I heard the rustle of leaves in the rhythm of canter beside me. There was a firm pat on my hind legs breaking the contact of my legs with the ground causing me to fly off and crash hard on my side. I couldn’t even breathe for a moment. I laid on the soil, listening to my own hammering heart in my ears with aching muscles refusing me to stand up. Slowly my hazed mind settled a little allowing the voices in my head to reappear in a familiar sense.

“Elai? Elai? Are you okay? Elai?”, Alek’s concerned voice called out to me.

I squinted to adjust my open eyes in the sudden bright light. At first, it was a blurry mix of colours before my sight focused on a brown body looming over me with worried hazel eyes, checking over my forest green ones. I took a deep breath and hauled myself off the ground.

“Where are we now? “, I asked the group as my limbs shook in an attempt to take the load of my upright body.

“We’re near the end of the eastern border. Elai, are you okay? What happened? You suddenly sped up and didn’t even hear us calling to you.”, a light blonde wolf stepped towards me, bearing a confusing mask.

Even I wasn’t sure about what had happened just now so, I tried to avert my gaze from theirs. I noticed that as soon as the feeling of power and freedom had come, it was gone right after I fell and recovered myself. I wasn’t sure about who had tripped me but, the way Alek panted in rapid breaths than the other two beside him suggested that it was him who had taken the effort to stop me. I was under their inquisitive gaze for a long time before Alek spoke up to dismiss both enforcers, surprising me in particular.

“No questions now. You both complete the run. I’ll be with Elai.”

They didn’t dare to protest the order as he had the upper hand in both position and anger so, they did as they had been commanded to do. The next question from him too wasn’t an expected one.

“Since how long?”, I wasn’t sure what he was asking for but, judging from the recent act of mine and his knowing look, I just hoped that my answer won’t create unnecessary misleads.

“It always started here. Whenever I was near the eastern border or the river, I would get this overwhelming feeling of release and power. I don’t understand it and can’t even explain you to complete clarification so, I never told you about it.” My gaze faltered from his and travelled around the wood catching uninteresting sights there within. I had known Alek for my entire life and, our friendship was of that kind to predict each other’s motives through only a few words and gestures. I hadn’t spoken to him about this as my dismissive mind thought it wasn’t of a big deal to think about and, would wear off with the time which I was finding difficult to deal with now.

“Let’s talk about this after we reach home.”, I felt his gaze on me as his deep voice sounded loud in my empty running mind. There was a brief intervention of a wind, fluttering the leaves at its passing where they fell before me. Some were still green.

I nodded at him and, as I was turning away, a figure flickered behind the thick bough of the trees which provoked an involuntary growl from me. Alek growled back at me in disapproval and, before I could ask him, a blonde wolf with gleaming green eyes sauntered towards us and, headed towards Alek.

“Did I interrupt you, boys? If so, then I am not in the least apologetic about it.”, Zelda’s casual remark made me roll my eyes internally.

“Like I would expect such manners from you.” I retorted back but, it went ignored since she and Alek were busy licking each other’s face. Talk about being introvert when Alek’s near his mate. Typical.

“What brings you here Ze? You’re supposed to be at the kingdom gates, aren’t you?”, I asked Zelda, Alek’s mate, was appointed as the Head Keeper last year. The keepers kept records about the daily transactions happening in the kingdom, including some border and security issues so, her presence here could mean-

“Well, I got to know that the spirits were seen near the border again the other day. It was confirmed when the enforcers returned in the morning and reported both me and, the Head Enforcer. Both of you and Alek didn’t turn up, including two other so, I came here to check on you four.” She interrupted my thoughts and, her cheerful face was suddenly masked by a firm look, accessing both Alek and I with her slightly relieved glance.

I realized that our run lasted for almost two days and, her concern over our well being was obvious. Feeling the burden of guilt, I was about to explain her regarding our sudden decision to patrol the area when Alek leaned close to her ear making her recover the previous mischievous look and, the lightness of her face. I tried not to gag at them, not that I could do it in my wolf form anyway.

“Alright, I am tired and starving so, let’s back now.” I sounded more desperate than it was intended to when they parted a bit with Zelda still tucked under Alek’s neck. I side-eyed Alek signalling to him that I will talk to him about this matter later.

Zelda walked beside us as I explained why we had decided to check around the area and the encounter beforehand. The other two enforcers were ordered to return after the patrol so, we didn’t wait around for them. When we were quite far from the border Zelda spoke up,” Elai, why don’t you join us in the dinner? I have also invited Jett. We four can have a quality friend time with ourselves, you know.”

As appealing as the last sentence was for my starving self, I required some time with myself to rest and, have some food before I could function well so, I half-heartedly declined her offer also remembering that I had to visit my parents.

“I’m sorry Ze, I would have but, my Ma must be expecting me at dinner. I haven’t met her for the past few days and, I don’t want to upset her.” Her pretended look earned a chuckle from me as I repeated,” No, I don’t want to upset you too but, you are far convinceable for me to cheer up than my Pa ever could be so...” I chuckled again when she bumped her shoulder with mine. Alek moved closer to her and, gave me a disapproving look. I shook my head to ignore his threat.

Upon reaching the Kingdom town gate, I saw the two other enforcers just crossing the entrance. They mind linked me negative about the damages around the area and, I sighed in relief. We passed a handful of citizens who greeted us politely before reaching the main street of the town. There was an intersection of roads in the middle of the town holding the royal symbol of our kingdom. It was the golden bust of a wolf holding the axial junction of the moon on top of the earth in its wide-open mouth, upon a marble slab that had the manuscript of the official treaty between the three kingdoms. From there, the intersection led four separate paths through different parts of the town that further divided into several streets and junctions.

After we reached the main intersection, we had to split up as their house was on the other side of the whereas mine was closer to my cabin built near the forest. I bid them away from where I took the path to my cabin instead of my house. It was built near a small quiet lake detached from the bustling town of the kingdom and, held more solidarity than the other.

I reduced my run to jog after my cabin came in view and, slowly walked towards the back door. I always had a set of clothes near the back door for the reasons I felt necessary and, after I shed my wolf form, I wear those clothes and, quietly enter the house. Though the cabin was stocked adequately, a lack of living presence always made it resounding and pleasantly calm so, any loud noises here disrupted the feel of being alone and quiet. I never liked it. I crossed the hallway and, reached the front door to unlock it when I freeze on my way. The front door was already hanging open with the lock nearly broken in two pieces. A cold realization washed over me and, I rushed over to my kitchen that had an ugly sight waiting to greet me. There wasn’t a single piece of material that was in its rightful place and, most alarmingly, the fridge door was hung open halfway through revealing its empty skeleton with no food in sight.

The frozen surprise upon seeing the sight took no time to turn into fury and, my voice resonated loudly in the home as I shouted in the empty air,” I will kill you this time.”

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