The Culling

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Chapter 3

I stood in line, my eyes fixed on the captain’s door. Today was the day that he was assigning charges. One by one, they were all called into the office, until I was the last one standing in the room. “Rivers.” Hearing my name called, I quickly stepped into the office, shutting the door behind me. “Your charge is one of the most important wolves in the kingdom.” The captain spoke the second I sat down.

“You will be guarding the Crown Prince. You know the rules. You are to stay hidden and keep him within sight at all times unless he’s under a direct threat. And then you are to remove him from the threat by any means necessary, king’s orders. You’ll start first thing in the morning. The prince rises at 6, so you’ll have to be standing outside his door, hidden of course, by then. Am I understood?”

“Yes sir, Captain.” I quickly stood and saluted him before leaving his office. Making my way outside, I quickly called my brother to tell him the good news. My call went to voicemail, so I just left Lincoln a short message instead, promising to call him later when I had more time to talk. Deciding on a quick run before dinner, I went to the barracks and changed clothes. I couldn’t wait for tomorrow.

The next morning, I was awake by three and out of the barracks by four thirty. The second I stepped outside, my scent had completely vanished. By five, I had found a great spot just outside of the prince’s door that gave me a good view of the two hallways and the very large window. At exactly six, the prince’s door opened and he stepped out. Silently, I started to follow him as he swiftly made his way to the small breakfast room where most of his family was already seated.

After breakfast was finished, the king and the prince retired to the king’s office. And even though the door was closed, I could still easily hear their conversation. “Father, I would like your permission to travel to each of the packs.”

“Why do you want to do that?”

“Last week at The Culling, I stumbled across my mate’s scent, but before I could find her, it was gone. And I wish to go looking for her.” Realizing that it was a private conversation, I blocked them out. Two hours later, when he emerged, he held a look of determination on his face. I knew then that the king had given his son permission to go look for his mate.Oh yea, I muttered to myself as the two of us headed outside, I get to go on a field trip.

The rest of the day flew by rather quickly. The prince had spent most of his time in the royal stables working with his mighty steed, Zeus. After a late dinner, Darcy retired to his room. It was a little after nine that evening when Major Green relieved me. He told me that the captain wanted to speak with me, so with a brief nod and salute, I hurried out of the castle.

When I reached the barracks, I was met with the captain. “Ah, Rivers, just the person I was looking for.” I quickly took a seat and waited for him to speak. I didn’t have to wait long. “As I’m sure you already know, your charge has asked his father for permission to go pack hopping in search of his mate. Because of the situation, I will be sending three extra guards with you.”

“May I ask who will be coming with us Captain?”

“I’m sending Bane, Major Green, and Sands. Do you understand?”

“I understand Captain. What are the arrangements for the guards sleeping schedules?”

“You, of course, will have first watch Rivers; from six to the time that Prince Stone retires to his room. From there Major Green is to relieve you. Bane and Sands will be running patrols at night around whatever pack house the five of you will be staying in. The major already knows, but as for you newbies, you are not to speak with the prince unless he speaks with you directly. If he does, you are to keep your answers direct and to the point.”

“I understand Captain. I’ll pass your orders to Bane and Sands.”

“Good. Now, I understand that one of the packs that the prince will be traveling to this time is your old pack. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that as long as you are on duty, you are not allowed to mingle with anyone.” The captain hid his smile when he saw the woman before him nod her head quickly. He had to often remind himself that this was her first week in the ranks.

“What you do in the hours that you’re off duty is no concern of mine as long as you are in your post at six in the morning. Do you have any comments or questions?” He asked but he knew that she wouldn’t have any.

I shook my head no and the captain stood up. “Great. Go tell Bane and Sands that they need to pack their bags. If they have any questions, they are to come see me. The prince wants to leave at seven tomorrow, so y’all need to be out of the barracks by five.”

“Yes sir.” I stood and shook the captain’s hand. “I’ll see you when we return sir.” Quickly leaving the office, I went to find the two men. And I found them sitting in the rec. hall playing cards. “Bane, Sands, the captain said for the two of you to packs your bags. The two of you are going with Major Green and me tomorrow on a trip along with the prince.” The two men jumped when I spoke and looked at me, surprised.

“If you have any questions, the captain said to go to him with them. The prince wishes to leave at seven, so you will be out of bed by five. I want the car to be packed and ready to leave the moment the price steps out of the castle.” I told them the rest of the things I wanted done before we left.

“Who’s driving?” Bane asked me. “Major Green will have the first stent. I’ll be riding shotgun. Bane, I want you seated by the prince and Sands you take the back seat. Halfway to our first destination, both of you can change seats if you like. The captain said to tell you that you may only speak with the prince only if he starts a conversation with you first. We are to remain alert at all times. Understand?”

Both men nodded and watched as I turned and headed towards my bunk. Sands leaned closer to Bane and whispered; “Now that is a woman.” Bane smiled softly and nodded. “She’s a very driven and determined woman.” With their card game finished, the two men made their way to their bunks as well and started packing. Five would come early and they knew that they had several things to do before they left; especially since they wanted to make a good impression with the captain.

When four thirty rolled around the next morning, Phoebe and Major Green were awake. Their things were already sitting by the door, ready to be loaded into the back of the SUV. With a soft grown, I quickly made my way to Bane and Sands bunk, where I found that both of them still sleeping. With my left hand, I grabbed Bane’s ankle and with my right, I grabbed Sands and pulled them from the bed. The men hit the floor hard and groaned. When the two men saw who had pulled them from their sleep, their eyes opened wide as they scrambled to their feet.

“Both of you need to hurry if you don’t want to be late.” Was the only thing I said to them before I pivoted around and strode out of the barracks. Swiftly, I made my way to the prince’s door and took my post. At five thirty, the door opened as the butler took the prince’s bags and promised to place them in the SUV. His door shut quickly and silence filled the hallways. Half an hour later, the prince left his room and headed for the family breakfast.

When seven rolled around, Phoebe, Major Green, Bane, Sands, and the prince were all in the SUV as it left the estate. An hour passed before I made the major pull over and change seats with him. I had noticed that the man was tired, though he hid it well. As I slipped my seat belt on and quickly got the car back on the road, the major sent me a grateful smile before leaning his head against the window and drifted off to sleep.

I could tell that he would soon be retiring. Every now and then, the prince would ask one of the two men seated beside him something, and they would answer. But, as they had been instructed by Phoebe, they kept their answers to the point.

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