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Blood & Bonds - Salvation’s Prey

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The land weeps; downtrodden from war and merciless murderings of Rogue Nation. The packs are divided, every wolf pack for themselves. What's a born Alpha in hiding with her two sons to do? Isabella embarks on her return to the Silver Lakes pack. With old friends and new enemies on the horizon, Isabella courageously faces her destiny untold as it weaves and intertwines itself before her. But even in her hope's light, looming darkness follows. Not everyone is open to change. Not everyone will resist temptation's lure. Will her greatest support fail her in her time of need? Or is she destined for a life dominated by another? With every step, Isabella draws closer to her destiny. But at what cost will her destiny charge for freedom?

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1. From the Ashes

In the dark, bleed silence of his office, the air stale with self-loathing and pity, Dominic growls and grunts over maps of his pack lands. Large red crosses, different intensities of red, added time after time he has searched his land for a trace of Isabella. 6 years feels like 6 hours. Isabella still plagues his mind as much as the day she fled from him. His pack lands covered completely in crosses. There is not a inch he has not personally explored. No sign. No trace. No feeling of her death or life. Nothing but regret and torment for bed fellows. He growls frustrated and stalemated again, prowling angrily towards the window of his office. He hunches over the window sill, gripping the pane roughly. As he searches the view, his mind is flooded of the memory of Isabella at the lake with him waiting for the surprise he organised. Her smile at him; the way she looked so happily at him. For the briefest of moments, Dominic’s skin dances with the heat and electricity it was once ignited with as her skin pressed on his. He pines for that feeling again. For years he has cried to the empty recesses of his cold heart, screaming what he would give to feel that again.

Dominic tears his eyes from memory lane and back to his office. He tosses patrol reports over his map and groans reading the dismal results. Rogue attacks almost every week; countless injuries and damages. Although, promising that the loss of life has plateaued around his pack. As strong as his army is, they are unable to improve the security and safety of their borders. The Blood Diamond pack is still as strong as ever. Dominic has made every effort to protect his pack. Rogue Nation has only gotten stronger and stronger, with an endless supply of wolves to keep flooding the land with death and carnage. The plague sweeps across their forests and lands with no vaccine or antidote. The leaderless, murdering, savage hounds are no respecters of packs or bloodlines. They attack whomever they want. Dominic’s scouts have been able to keep tabs on the largest pack of Rogue Nation. Gratefully, they are all the way over on the other side of Luther’s territory; more than a weeks worth of constant running from his pack border. They pick off the weaker packs; the surviving ones from previous attacks. All over the land packs are being overrun and eradicated. All except the packs belonging to 3 old Alphas. Dominic smiles at the reports that Alpha Landon, Keith and Tristan still defend their pack lands; none of which have surrendered any land to Rogue Nation. “Interesting.” Dominic smirks to himself. “The old dogs survive another season.” His smirk fades and his eyes sharpen on their lands on his map; his brows furrowed angrily. “But, How?! How can 3 small packs with stand Rogue Nation’s onslaught year after year?”

Interrupting his thoughts, Jasper, Tucker and Koda trudge into his office without knocking. He watches them casually walk in, complete disregard for etiquette. “You heard of knocking?” He grunts at them.

Tucker and Koda slump into chairs opposite the table, unaffected by Dominic’s growl. Jasper stands opposite side of the desk to Dominic, folding his arms across his chest, glaring at him with less and less concern for the etiquette Dominic seems to deem himself worthy of. “We always have a morning meeting. Anything new?”

Dominic has struggled to get any of his former friends back onside. They have all reduced him to their Alpha. Not his friend or his Brother. Their loyalty is to the hierarchy and the members of the pack, not to him. Dominic sighs heavily circling the three small packs that refuse to surrender at all to Rogue Nation. “These three. They have shown incredible resilience for ones so small and without a formidable army. Have you been able to figure out why?”

“They have their shit together. There has been no activity along those borders.” Tucker says spitefully, getting up and moving for the window.

Jasper and Koda share a knowing look as Tucker moves across the room. Dominic ignores the attitude and continues to paw over the maps of the region. Jasper watches Dominic ignoring the obvious and slams his fist down over the Silver Lakes Territory. “You’re looking in the wrong place!” He sneers circling the territory harshly. “We need to talk to the wolves running the patrols in THIS pack. The other three are not doing it alone and we know for sure, Charles isn’t doing it.” Jasper remarks pointing to the best patroled borders in the country and they all are around the Silver Lakes pack. “You want to know why, that’s where you start. It’s where you’ve always needed to start.” Jasper chides stepping back, glaring at Dominic.

“NO. We don’t need help from them. We are the strongest pack in the land!” Dominic rejects immediately.

“Sure, just ask the Fodder.” Tucker mutters sarcastically from the window.

Dominic turns to Tucker, his eyes growing darker with anger, “Tucker. You are fast wearing thin my patience.” He growls threateningly.

Tucker scoffs and rolls his eyes. “My bad Dom.” He walks out the door and slams it behind him.

“What’s his problem today? Is it that time of the month?!” Dominic mocks childishly.

Instantly enrage, Koda erupts from his chair and is caught by Jasper’s arms, holding him back. “Don’t EVEN! Don’t you DARE mock him, Dom!” Koda shouts at him.

Jasper growls, submitting Koda and pushing him to the other side of the office. “Let it be! There’s no point.” He snarls at Koda, who begins pacing the face side of the office. Jasper turns angrily but determined back to Dominic. “I’m not surprised at all. Why would you remember why the longest serving ranked member of your pack is more aggressive towards you today than any other.” Jasper says pointedly. Dominic frowns for a moment as his meaning isn’t clear. Then, it hits him. The day. The time of year. Dominic cannot conceal his shame in not having remembered. Before he can offer any words, Jasper cuts him off. “We need your permission to talk to Silver lakes Patrol. If we can figure out where we’re going wrong we can protect the pack better.” Jasper steers the conversation back on point, unwilling to discuss anything else.

“Fine. Do what you must.” Dominic relents, angered by his cocktail of his shame and Tucker’s distain for him. Without anymore words, Jasper and Koda exit the office. Moments later, Dominic watches two of his most trusted wolves bound from the pack house into the woods, towards her home. Dominic slumps into his chair and drops his head into his hands, shaking his head. “How could you forget?!” He grumbles to himself. “How could you not have known?!”

Jasper and Koda leave the pack house and roam the borders of the Silver lake packs till well after midnight. It’s been hours before Koda catches a whiff of Maddox and Jagger. Koda bounds atop a rocky formation shifts into his human form. Jagger and Maddox recognise him instantly and growl in hatred. “Please? I only want to talk. Jasper and I.”

Jasper walks out from behind the rocky formation with his hands high in surrender. “We only want to talk.”

Jagger snorts at the pair as He and Maddox shift into their human forms. They both stalk threateningly up to them. “Well look who it is? The awfully pleasant one.” Jagger seethes, glaring down over Koda.

“No one extended a dinner invitation,” Maddox growls to Jasper, “why are you here?” Jasper can feel the rage simmering just beneath the surface of the pair. Their wolves are ready to fight and to kill. He knows this is a very dangerous situation for himself and Koda to be in.

With a strong voice, Jasper meets Maddox’ glare with all confidence. “We’re here to request a meeting with Bronson. We know that the Alpha isn’t calling the shots with these border patrols and we want to talk to the wolf that is.”

As his words fall between them, Maddox and Jagger snicker enraged even more. “You think that you can come here and ask for help?” Jagger’s anger only surpassed by his disbelief.

“You think that we haven’t forgotten what you mongrels did to our Alpha?” Maddox roars. Jasper and Koda look between each other apologetically, missing their friend and would-be Luna. Maddox shoves Jasper hard, spitting in fury, “It may have been 6 years, but it might as well of been yesterday!”

“I had nothing but respect for Isabella –” Jasper can’t continue as Jagger charges him to the ground. Maddox pounces to holds off Koda. Koda is not match of Maddox’ strength and training.

Jasper struggles but doesn’t fight back under Jagger’s rage. “How dare you say her name! You have no right to utter her name!” He roars over him. His voice as pained as Jasper’s heart. “She broke bread with you. She showed you who she was. And you support the wolf that killed her!” Jagger screams at Jasper.

“We were friends! I understand you loss.” Jasper pleads, barely spluttering out as Jagger bares down over his face.

Jagger punches Jasper in the face, blood spraying across the grass under him. “You understand NOTHING. You will never understand what we lost!” Jagger seethes.

“She was your Alpha, but she was my Luna. I had every ounce of respect for her and more. When she left and rejected the pack, it ripped the entire pack. I felt the loss!” Koda shouts woundedly.

Maddox growls and grips Koda by the neck and suspends him high in the air. Jasper’s eyes widen in fear as he watches Maddox elongated his claws. “No! Stop! PLEASE!” He cries out desperately. Maddox turns his death glare to Jasper, paused for a moment. “Please, Rogue Nation is only growing stronger. Your regions are the only packs handling their attacks. None of the other Alphas will meet with Dominic. We just want to protect our pack. We are struggling to protect families.” Jasper begs Jagger and Maddox.

“You had the opportunity to learn from one that could have shown you how. But your Alpha killed her.” Maddox says dangling Koda effortlessly in front of Jasper.

“The wolf you seek died in your care at the hands of Your Filthy Alpha. No one can help you now.” Jagger spits at Jasper and gets up off him.

Maddox glares at Koda as he sets his feet back on the ground. Without releasing him from his grasp, Maddox growls in Koda face, making him tremble. “You should be grateful that someone taught me the value of mercy.” At Maddox’ pained words, Koda is tossed backwards to Jasper. Maddox retracts his claws and turns to leave with Jagger.

“What did she call you? Oh, that’s right - Fodder. Seems the Alpha is still right, even beyond the grave.” Jagger taunts to Maddox. With shamed looks and regret plastered on their faces, Jasper and Koda watch as Jagger and Maddox leave.

Koda and Jasper sigh defeatedly. “FUCK!” Jasper roars.

“We have to do better patrolling if we are to make a dent in the attacks from Rogue Nation. We won’t find help outside our pack.” Koda resigns pawing at his neck.

“Now I know how she felt. Helpless and isolated with mounting obstacles, surrounded by wolves who hate her.” Jasper says dropping his head.

“We didn’t hate her, and she knew that.” Koda says comfortingly. They both miss Isabella and mourn her absence.

“Yes, but the one that mattered did and it’s costing us everything.” Jasper growls angrily. He and Koda head back to their pack downtrodden and hopeless. With no solution to protect their families, hope fades quickly and the future is as bleak and dark as the dreary night.

“Mummy!” Comes a shrill high pitched squeal piercing through the hallways of the mansion. Isabella flinches in surprise by its sudden eruption. She smiles warmly as she puts her paperwork down and turns expectantly to the office doors. The morning is crisp. The air, sweetly fragrant from the flower gardens outside, carries on it the chorus of giggles and squeals of her twins rushing towards her. With every thudding footstep growing louder and louder, she waits in anticipation.

BOOM! Through the door crashes Darcy, blushed cheeks and wildly excited eyes. “MUMMY!” He shouts as he runs to her side. “Mummy, Daddy cheated!”

“Did he now?” Isabella gasps exaggeratedly.

She turns to the door to see Orion prodding his Father along, scolding him along the way. “You didn’t count to 10 AND you used your supper smell! That’s cheating!”

Magnus laughs heartily as he playfully picks Orion up and tosses him over his shoulder. He turns mischievously proud of himself to Isabella. “Good morning My Love. It seems I’ve been court marshalled.”

Isabella giggles as she picks up a souring Darcy and walks towards him. “On what charges have you been brought before me?” She asks coyly.

Orion pushes himself up, dangling over Magnus’ shoulder, exclaiming loudly, “He Cheated! He’s a rotten, dirty CHEATER!”

Magnus bounces him on his shoulder and growls slightly. “Excuse me? What have I told you about that sort of language?” Orion ducks his head and lays very still while Magnus and Isabella slightly smile widely together.

“Ah! No!” Darcy contests, rising to Orion’s defence. “Dad cheated! We were playing hide and seek. Dad was suppose to count to ten. Orion and I ran to the gardens. We almost made it to the hedge when Dad scooped us up! He didn’t even try”

Magnus narrows his eyes at Isabella and she stiffens slightly. Lovingly, she turns both her boys to face her. “This is a very important matter that I will settle. But while I deliberate the details of the charge, can you please wait with you AuntyNova?”

Darcy sulks into Orion as Magnus places him on the ground. “Come on, Darcy. Aunty Nova won’t cheat!” Orion mutters as they trudge from the office.

Magnus is quick to engulf Isabella firmly. “My Love.” He says worriedly.

Isabella turns up at him concerned. “Who is coming?”

Magnus’ eye sharpen and his grip around her increases. “He’s here.” A loud knock at the door, sends the mansion into eery silence. Isabella breathes deeply, feeling Cartia offensively cautious of the unfamiliar scent on the air. Magnus takes Isabella by the hand and leads her to the foyer. He looks down at her, giving a cautionary look. Cassius is waiting by the door for Magnus’ instruction. With a nod, Cassius opens the large oak door to a tall, thin man, shrouded in black clothes and regal burgundy cape. His grey hair is set in place, quaffed to one side. Isabella takes in the vampire as he steps towards Magnus with an irritating air of arrogance. “High King Helsprung. I was not expecting you.” Magnus says bowing respectfully. King Helsprung gives a polite nod in response but nothing out of his way.

“King Vasili. I have been meaning to have an audience with you. However, it seems the last time we were to be together, neither one of us could attend.” His words make Cartia extremely wary. Isabella works hard to calm her suspicions. “I thought I would come over unannounced to see you in without parade. I do value transparency in all things. So, I insist, lets not stand on presentation with each other, Magnus. Call me Jethro.”

Magnus bows again, outwardly nervous and extremely caught off-guard. “Of course Jethro. Welcome. Come in, I’ll show you to the office.”

Jethro raises his hand and silences Magnus, his eyes pinned on Isabella. “How very progressive of you Magnus.” He says condescendingly, stepping closer to Isabella. “You keep pets now?”

Isabella smirks as Cassius and Magnus find their restraint. She confidently offers out her hand the the vampire. “Are you all, at your decrepit age, so archaic or is it only inherent in your bloodline?”

Cassius quickly ducks his head for a smirk, while Magnus stands aghast by her words. “Sire, allow me to-”

Jethro raises his hand to silence Magnus once again without removing his eyes from Isabella. Locked in a staring contest, neither Cartia or Isabella are willing to let the old Vampire intimidate or reduce them. All at once, the air thick with tension, Jethro reaches for Isabella’s hand, lacing his long, white, bone fingers around her hand. A sinister smile crosses his face and he chuckles deeply. “A wolf with some wit. A rare breed indeed. What is your name?”

Isabella shakes his hand firmly, squeezing his hand hard in a show of force. “Isabella.” She smiles sweetly.

Jethro nods challenged and delighted by her spirit. “I’ll remember the name.” He turns to Magnus and asks with a sly smirk. “Who is Isabella to you?”

Magnus puffs up in pride. “She my partner.” Isabella beams with pride. “She lives here with me.”

Jethro releases Isabella’s hand and studies her intently. “You know the law Magnus. I had heard you preferred to stay in your own Kingdom for meetings, never going too far from home. I never thought it would be over a wolf.”

“The law states I cannot marry outside of royal bloodlines. Any heirs are to be of royal lineage.” Magnus cuts in, his temper being held at bay by a thread. “I have broken no law.” He almost grits out.

Jethro gives Magnus an unconvinced look before returning back to Isabella. “This is all very new age to me. How curious I am to find a creature willing to be second to another.”

“I am not second to any other, nor will I ever be.” Isabella shoots out before Magnus can say anything. “I am Isabella Elwood, and I am a born Alpha. High King or not, I don’t like the way you’re talking about me as though I am less than you. It would serve you well to regard me with more respect.” She smirks, narrowing her eyes as her gold flecks in them began to twinkle.

Cassius rushes for Isabella as Magnus moves in between them to calm the situation. Jethro steps back and laughs heartily. He claps his hands loudly at her display. “Yes! Yes! Very impressive for one so young.” Cassius, Isabella and Magnus all look at him confused. “I must apologise for rousing you all. I had intended on merely meeting King Vasili, however, I had to meet the creature I could sense. It’s interesting to note Magnus, the second I arrived, her aura was all I could sense.” Jethro approaches her with a polar opposite demeanour than the one he entered with. “The moment I saw you, your energy was all I could feel.” He says calmly and tenderly. “You are indeed an Alpha, but you are no ordinary Alpha. There is an ancient bloodline in you. One I have not sensed in a very long time.”

Isabella and Magnus relax as Jethro smiles broadly. Cassius steps away bewildered by the old man’s sudden change in spirit. “I don’t understand Jethro. What was-” Magnus begins as he nestles Isabella under his arm.

“It was a test. I wanted to see what kind of Alpha she was. One so young is so naive to the potential written in the bloodline. Yet, at the very least my provocation should have triggered a more aggressive response. However, Isabella and her wolf are intrinsically bound more tightly than any other Alpha I have encountered in this country. She wasn’t provoked to violence. She was provoked for justice.” Jethro smiles a warm excited smile at the three of them. “Tell me, Isabella, does Magnus take care of you? I am the High King you know. There a more befitting punishments than the silent treatment or banishment to the couch.”

Isabella laughs hysterically with Jethro and Cassius as Magnus stands awkwardly by. “Come, Jethro. Come in for an early lunch.” Isabella says linking an arm through his and ushering him further into the mansion. Cartia has been sensing him since his shift and she has become very amenable to him. There is a presence about him that is calming and sure. Magnus follows behind completely bewildered at what has just happened.

Isabella sets them up in the courtyard dining area. It’s perfect with the breeze and shaded seating area. Jethro, Isabella and Magnus spend hours getting acquainted. Isabella is fascinated by Jethro. He has lived 1386 years and moved to many different countries. The oldest wolf she knows of is 180. Cartia can’t imagine being alive for that long gripes. Isabella giggles at Cartia’s complaint. “My wolf wants to know how you survive being immortal? She couldn’t imagine being in a state of no end.”

Jethro smiles with pain. “It is true. It is very difficult to be immortal, especially when we fall in love with a mortal.” He gives a knowing look to Magnus who looks wounded by reality at Isabella. “It is both a gift and a curse. Life is what you make it, because life will inevitably end. But for those who have no end, there is no burst of feeling, no burning passion. For we will always have tomorrow to experience it. You, as a mortal, will not. Hence your drive and tenacity. Life in it’s fragility is beautiful. Immortality in its entirety is torture.”

Isabella sighs saddened by Jethro’s perspective. “I wasn’t expecting such a bleak answer.” She offers humbly.

Jethro smiles at her and reaches across to gently hold her hand. “Life is like water. Water is essential for life around us to exist. But just like water, life can get too much and swallow you whole. Much like a tsunami washes away cities or rivers engulf towns. It’s not bleak, Isabella, its realistic.” Isabella smiles appreciatively of the metaphor. “And at my age, my young wolf, I have earned the right to be a cynic!” The table erupts in laughter

It’s late afternoon when Jethro sighs agitated. It doesn’t go unnoticed by Isabella or Magnus. “Is there something the matter, Jethro?”

Jethro squares his shoulders to his pair of hosts. “It is required of me as the nominated spokesperson of the High Council, to encourage you, Magnus, to take a wife and sire an heir to the thrown and your bloodline.” Isabella frowns straight away and Magnus groans loudly. “I know. I know. I’ve been sitting on it all day. We royalty live forever. This love that you two share can progress no further than what it has, but can be allowed to continue to live... for now. Eventually, Magnus,” Jethro says narrowing his eyes at him, “In her lifetime or not, you will be required to marry and have heirs to the kingdom.”

Magnus looks down at Isabella and rubs her shoulders tenderly. “I do not want to love another. I do not want another while she lives. I will love her as long as she lives, and then the council may require me to marry. I’m more than 1300 years your junior. Why are they in a rush?” Magnus scowls at Jethro.

“For the exact reason you are 1300 years my junior. There are not enough generations between the ruling Kings of the Vampire Council and beneath. We take our time and our bloodlines are suffering for it. Creatures have found new ways to end those eligible to be monarch, thus ending many great and powerful ancestral lines. As royalty, it is our responsibility.”

Magnus relents as Isabella reassuringly lays a comforting hand on his chest. He places his hand over hers and brings it to his mouth, pecking the inside of her palm. “I understand the responsibilities Jethro, and nothing will stand in the way of what is mine.” Magnus bores his eyes into Isabella as his words leave his mouth. She smiles lovingly back at him, filled with all the love and confidence in them.

Jethro nods understandingly. “Very well. I will leave you two kids to enjoy the rest of the day. I have another Kingdom to visit.” He rises out of his seat and shakes Isabella’s hand first. He gently raises her hand to his lips and kisses it earnestly. “It was truely a pleasure meeting you. I hope we get to spend more time together. I would love to delve into your lineage.”

“Next trip, Jethro.” Magnus says squeezing his shoulder and shaking his hand.

“Yes, next trip.” Jethro nods to the pair and smiles big. “Till we meet again.” And with a burst of power erupts into the afternoon sky.

Magnus holds Isabella tightly against his chest, roaming her beautiful features as she gazes dreamily up at him. “That went a whole lot better than I thought it would.”

Isabella giggles shaking her head. “I wish you had said something before he arrived. Something along the lines of ‘Hey hun, A HIGH KING IS VISITING!’” She playfully snaps shunting his shoulder.

“But look how it turned out?!” Magnus contests capturing her arms and holding her tightly into his chest. “I think he likes you.”

Isabella giggles wildly. “I think you’re lucky I’m already taken, or you’d have someone else challenging you for me.” In a swift motion, Magnus collects Isabella and spins them into the side of the mansion. Isabella laughs loudly, pawns at Magnus’ face, neck and shoulders. “Oh, what’s wrong My King? Do you see something you like?”

Magnus growls lowly as he traces her collarbone with his nose, peppering her skin with kisses on the way up to her ear. “No.” He whispers in a smooth velvet tone. He feels her slump and stiffen and he growls in amusement. “I see something that I love.” Isabella is a wash with wonderful butterflies and wraps herself around Magnus. Magnus tilts her chin down and plunges his tongue into her mouth, eager to devour his love. A surge of ecstasy floods Isabella’s core as the taste of Magnus ignites fires all over her. Magnus swells to the occasion, aroused to the brink of insanity by the creature that is both his reason to live and die. A battle for domination begins, with their tongues fighting for top position. Isabella grinds in his arms, pushing herself against his ever growing hard member. Magnus chest reverberates with a primitive and ravenous growl. “We need more privacy for what I’m going to do and what your going to scream.” Magnus huskily whispers over her lips. Isabella digs her nails into his neck, spurring his appetite.

“MUM!” Darcy and Orion shout as they stampede onto the courtyard balcony. “MUM!” They shout looking over the gardens.

Magnus’ infuriated growl has Isabella in silent stitches. “A King can’t catch a break today with unwanted guests!” Magnus snipes. “Later then.”

“Later.” Isabella giggles as Magnus puts her back down. “Later, My King.”

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