I’ve been walking through the corridors of the palace aimlessly for the last 15 minutes; I don’t expect the pack will return for another 2-3 hours minimum.
As I drag my feet, I sigh with boredom. It’s a hard life not wanting people to be near me… but also craving my pack at the same time.
Ugh! What is wrong with me?
I notice light pouring out underneath Idris’s office door; it’s unusual for it to be on as he will be on the pack run. I walk closer, ready to turn off his light for him; it costs a lot to run a palace, you know? Need to keep costs down wherever you can.
He must’ve hurried out to the pack run and forgotten to turn it off, I think to myself with a shrug.
As I’m nearing the door, shadows move in the light. The sight causes me to stop in my tracks; I blink, thinking I’m just seeing things… but then the shadow moves, yet again.
Thinking about it, I didn’t see Idris at the pack run. I wonder if he’s ok...
I start to push open the door without knocking. I know I should, but consider each other family and I never have before! The rustles of papers indicate that someone is in a rush to put something away before I finally stick my head around the door.
“Hey, Pops!” I greet.
This is a name Rex and I gave Idris when we were about 9 years old; we told him that when we are older, mated and have our pup, he would be their Pops… it has kind of stuck ever since then.
“Oh! Mae! Hi!” He says, rattled and running a hand through his messy raven hair.
I stop and take in his flustered appearance; he looks guilty... like I’ve just caught a child with their hand stuffed into the cookie jar and now he’s trying to think of a believable excuse.
Narrowing my eyes slightly, I ask, “Are you ok?”
My eyes complete a quick sweep of the room for any suspicious activity. Any papers that were out were certainly put away with haste.
“Yes. Sorry, just didn’t expect company. I thought everyone would be out on the run”, he says, pushing his tousled hair backwards, out of his face again.
“Nah! I haven’t bothered with those runs for ages now, you know this!” I say playfully, throwing myself down on the plush chair opposite his desk.
“What are you up to anyway? I thought you would be on the run”, I question, subtly attempting to take a closer look at his desk to see if he’s left anything out.
“I decided to give this evening a miss... something else needed my attention”, he says calmly with a gentle shrug.
He seems to have recovered from whatever had him rattled; his cool and collected mask is back in its place.
“Oh yeah? Anything I can help with?” I ask genuinely.
“No, don’t worry about it. Just some boring Beta duties, I’ll have finished up here soon”, he smiles warmly.
Idris supports Dinah with her Beta duties. Although she is the ‘head’ Beta as it were, he is kind of like an acting Beta when Dinah could do with some extra hands, or if she just wants to finish up earlier, they will tackle her duties together, so they can spend more time together.
“Ok, no worries”, I stand up, heading towards the door, “give me a shout if you need anything”.
As I shut the door behind me, a feeling of dread sinks deep into my gut.
Pops was definitely off… I can’t shake the feeling he is hiding something from me, but I don’t understand what it could be… or why? He’s never hidden anything from me before.
I stand outside in the training grounds; it has purposefully been set up to cover all fighting situations we may encounter - open ground, tight spaces and different terrains, such as sandy, rocky and hilly terrain. There are obstacles that we can pull out to enhance our training too. Do you need to practice fighting on a cliff face? It can be arranged! You name it, we have it!
Combat training is mandatory for all wolves five years old and up; even though our wolves emerge at thirteen, it is crucial we all know how to defend ourselves.
This mandatory lesson was implemented by my father... even if we decide not to become pack warriors, he still wishes for each and every person in this pack to know how to defend themselves - for a better chance at survival.
He wants enemy warriors to be taken aback by our pack members fighting skills - even if they can only delay an enemy. Should anyone in the pack find ourselves in a situation where we haven’t been able to get to a safe space; and need to defend ourselves, none of us will go down without a good fight - not even the pups. If they took down an untrained adult rogue, it wouldn’t shock me; they’re warriors through and through.
Eddie is teaching the older wolves today – me included. Amber is teaching the youngest members of the pack. It took her a long time to come to terms with the dark scar that runs down her face, but personally, I think she looks badass! We’ve all heard the story of how Amber got her scar; it was given to her by her very own twin sister, Alice. Alice was corrupt with a dark heart. I believe that is the part that Amber took the longest to come to terms with... how her own sister, especially her twin, could do such a thing to her.
Little Lia spots me and gives me a cheeky grin; she is absolutely killing her training - the other pups can’t seem to keep up! I give her a quick wave before turning in the direction of my group.
Combat training is a sore spot for me; it was once one of my favourite things to do. I was the top girl in my group; I excelled at it, the fighting came as second nature for me. But, now that my wolf has vanished, I can barely hold my own against an Omega; it makes me feel weak and pathetic in comparison to the standard I once upheld. I used to skip training because I was embarrassed by my sudden drop in skill and ability to fight. Eventually, my mum kicked my butt back into shape and made me realise my ability to fight wasn’t what made me, me.
“Ok, everyone, partner up!” Calls Eddie. He has just run through some advanced defence and attack tactics for different species; we are now expected to put these into practice and demonstrate what we have learnt.
I make a beeline for my usual combat buddy, Elsie. She’s very petite for a wolf, maybe 5ft at a push, although I believe her mother is Fae, who are known for being particularly dainty, her hair is fiery red whilst her facial features are pixie-like and innocent. I tower over her at 5ft 11, but she stills kicks my arse every time! Not going to lie; it does hurt my ego, just a little bit… ok… maybe a lot.
Today we’ve chosen the sandy terrain. We face off against each other, crouching down into our fighting stances. In my peripherals, I see everyone else starting to spar one by one. I breathe deeply, preparing myself mentally and physically for another butt whooping - my muscles groan at the thought.
Kicking off of the sand as fast as possible. I charge.
I run as fast as my useless body will move me, which is only that of a relatively athletic human. Elsie is already flitting around from foot to foot; she is crazy agile and light-footed, making her movements look effortless.
To be honest, it wouldn’t even surprise me if she started yawning soon; I mean, it probably is boring having to spar with me; I’m not exactly much of a challenge, I’ve never won against her, she always beats me with ease.
Dodging my punch without difficulty, she is quick to go on the attack, hopping around my body, landing fast, sharp jabs to my body, making me cry out in pain. Somehow I manage to jump away from her quick assault, panting hard as I hold my tender ribs.
Come on, Mae. You have to be smarter about this, I scold.
Taking a quick look at my surroundings, I come up with a new strategy.
If this doesn’t work, I’m done for!
Charging Elsie again, I duck low, grabbing a handful of sand before I toss it up and into her face, temporarily blinding her. My trick has forced her to close her eyes and get the sand out of her face. Using this to my advantage, I land a couple of blows of my own to her torso.
I got a hit! I sing to myself, having a mental happy dance.
Unfortunately, my victory is short-lived. Elsie is all over me, strike after strike, not leaving me again room to regain my footing or wits.
I attempt my tactic again, throwing sand at her once more, but she has learnt this trick quickly; her dainty pixie wings sprout from her back, creating a gust of wind that blows away the sand before it makes contact, the gust kicks up some of the surrounding sand, forming a swirling sand vortex of doom.
It is at this moment I know I’m about to have my butt handed to me again.
Her wings are almost translucent; they shine and shimmer rainbow undertones. They might look as if they will crumble if you touch them, but let me tell you, they are far from delicate! They are secret powerhouses!
I’m stuck in a whirling sand vortex. I can’t see Elsie. As a matter of fact, I can’t see anything at all. I’m a sitting duck.
The sand batters and buffs at my skin; the speed the fine sand is blowing around me causes it to slice me open like tiny shards of glass. I can smell the faint scent of blood on my skin as I’m continuously assaulted.
Suddenly, the wind slows… and I feel Elsie’s clawed hand to my throat.
“Thanks, Mae. You’ve improved since our last session!” She says sweetly.
I only give her a quick nod, mostly because I don’t believe her at all... I’m also on death’s door… at least I feel like it anyway. Hunched over with my hands on my knees, I desperately try to catch my breath; my face is beet-red, whilst sweat is pouring out of every nook and crevice of my body.
I hear before I see the commotion, my eyes drift lazily to a noisy crowd forming around the prize pupils - my brothers. I walk over to watch too, sometimes I even take mental notes of their battle tactics… even though I don’t have the skill to pull them off myself.
My brother’s sparring is my favourite thing about combat training; they’re highly competitive, which makes them incredibly entertaining to watch. Neither one wants to lose, ensuring they put their all into every session.
Hunter and Ozzy are deep in the throes of battle; the crowd continues to cheer and holler. It’s like this every other day during combat training. Though if I’m being honest, they are a sight to behold. I’m proud to call them my brothers; they are both remarkably powerful in their own unique ways.
They’re only able to spar with each other in our group; anyone else wouldn’t match their skill sets... and would end up in the pack hospital. On top of that, Hunter and Ozzy wouldn’t get a decent training session; they wouldn’t be the killing machines they are to date without sparring each other.
Hunter has pure Kingly strength and speed like our dad; his strength and speed cannot be matched, not even by Ozzy. Hunter doesn’t hold many demon abilities; when he is in his wolf form, his eyes flicker like flames like our mothers, but his eyes are golden like our fathers.
I can only assume that his genetic makeup that calls for him to be the next King outweighs his demon traits. Hunter can coat himself in flames like our mum, though his flames are golden, like his eyes. It makes the perfect defence for him against physical attacks; not only does it slow any physical attacks, but the flames cause damage to his attacker too.
Ozzy, on the other hand, has the speed and strength of our mum. Which makes him more powerful than an Alpha. He inherited multiple demon abilities like our mother. He has demon wings; he can harness hellfire and visit people in their dreams - if he wishes to. He holds authority over the hellhounds, and he has the power to create portals, which is something our mum cannot do.
Though Hunter is a powerhouse of a wolf, Ozzy is cunning and tactical. He will use his other abilities to his advantage, anything he can to throw off his twin. Forcing him to practice the art of thinking on the spot to overcome his robust opponent. Hunter, on the other hand, has to try and outsmart his twins’ clever tactics. It leaves him no choice but to rely on something other than his substantial strength and speed.
We will rarely see an outcome for the battle; they usually fight and fight until the session is over - or until Eddie forces them to stop.
I watch on in awe as Hunter charges for Ozzy. Ozzy jumps into action, creating a portal in the ground. Hunter is running too fast to stop himself from falling into Ozzy’s trap; he falls through only to re-enter our dimension about 8ft above Ozzy’s head; Ozzy propels himself into the air, his fist collides with Hunter’s chin as he flies past him.
Hunter glares at his twins, using the back of his hand to brush off his chin. Not one to take a punch lying down, Hunter is fast to respond, grabbing Ozzy’s wrist; before wrapping his large hand around the back of Ozzy’s neck and slamming his own head into our brothers.
Ozzy stumbles backwards, disorientated - yet quickly stabilises himself again. His eyes look dazed, but a dark smile spreads across his lips, his arms ignite with green hellfire before he launches fireballs in Hunter’s direction. Hunter gracefully side flips to dodge, then inflames himself in his golden flames; they act as a protective barrier to the balls of fire, causing them to fizzle out before they manage to reach Hunter’s body and inflict any damage.
Hunter’s flames die down before he propels himself at Ozzy once again, like a bullet, blink and you will miss him. Just as he reaches Ozzy and takes a swing, Ozzy drops downwards through a portal; before another portal appears on Hunters left side. Ozzy flies out, sending a fierce flying kick towards Hunter; Hunter has anticipated this move and grabs his leg, launching him like a catapult through the air; Hunter gives chase to Ozzy’s freefalling form, ready to pummel him. Releasing his wings, Ozzy regains control before going hand to hand with Hunter.
Realising he won’t be any match for Hunter in this form of combat for too long, he swiftly throws three fireballs in different directions, one over Hunter’s shoulder, the other at the floor and another just past his side.
Ozzy gives Hunter a wink - this was his plan, he’s created portals for those fireballs, they all come hurtling full speed through the portals. Hunter is hit by the first but manages to gather his wits for the remaining two, dodging them by springing forwards into a forwards roll, landing softly even with his large frame.
“You’re going to die, brother!” Hunter taunts.
From his crouched position, Hunter kicks out Ozzy’s legs from underneath him. Before Hunter can react and continue his planned assault, Eddie calls out that today’s session is over.
Ozzy hits the floor with an almighty thud. Hunter stands over him, his hand outstretched, ready to pull up his brother - Ozzy gladly accepts.
Once he is back standing, Ozzy slaps Hunter on the back as a silent thank you for the match. He isn’t one to speak all that much unless he feels it necessary; his preference is to observe. If you don’t know Ozzy very well, he can be extremely intimidating, not from his size, which is leaner than Hunters, but because at times, he can come across as slightly, well… unhinged.
He’s not a bad guy at all, but the way he holds himself and the way he talks; gives him an aura of danger, whereas Hunters aura, although he is dangerous with his power, he comes across as a lot more open and friendly. Though that may be because Hunter is purposefully holding back his aura of dominance.
They walk off the training grounds laughing and playfully nudging each other in the ribs; I run over to catch up to them.
“Hey, guys!” I call.
They pause and turn, huge smiles forming on their faces.
“You were both incredible!” I say as I come to a halt in front of them.
“Thanks, Mae! You looked like you have improved since your last spar with Elsie too”, Hunter compliments, even though I know he’s probably just trying to make me feel better.
I laugh, “Ha! Thanks, although I’m still getting my ass handed to me by a little Fairy every time!”, I joke, rubbing my sore butt.
“Do you need me to pull off her pretty little wings?” Ozzy says with a sinister smile on his face.
See, this is what I mean… unhinged. I know he is joking and can tell you now, he would not hurt a soul... unless they deserved it. However, to others… well, he’s enough to make them turn and run for the hills screaming.
“There will be no Fairies needing to be harmed on my account,” I say as I punch Ozzy in the arm; he feigns pain, probably for my poor wolf-less ego.
“Well, if you change your mind, you know where I am”, he says with a playful wink.
Well… at least I think he is joking.