Tyra frowned. “Not good at all. We lost our alpha, which is always bad, but we lost him because he got killed by a human. His death wasn’t as honorable as he deserved. Death by a gunshot, that’s horrible. There was a huge riot and many pack members wanted revenge. It almost overshadowed the reason it all happened in the first place. The human might have killed him, but he only defended himself. It was the other pack that caused Aloysius to make the mistake.”
“Did they kill the human?” I asked, clenching my hands into fists. I understood their anger, but killing the human wouldn’t have been the right thing.
She shook her head. “No, they didn’t, because the question of who will be the new alpha was more important. Some people we never even considered becoming an alpha came forward to fight for the position. Only then did we realize their extreme beliefs. They wanted us, the ancient wolves, to be on top of the food chain. We shouldn’t need to hide our identity anymore, and they wanted to change everything.”
I gasped. “How did you deal with them? It doesn’t sound safe to tell everyone what ancient wolves are.”
Tyra sighed. “It shouldn’t have been a matter of discussion. When the alpha dies unexpectedly, the first beta will take over the role. Gunnar was supposed to be the official alpha, but they didn’t want to accept it. They argued humans were involved this time, and it was proof we were supposed to change our rules and find someone who will stop that from happening ever again.”
“That makes no sense to me, and Gunnar is the alpha now, anyway.”
“He is now, yes, but the path to becoming an alpha was no easy one. When he was about to receive his alpha tattoo, people challenged him. He was already stirred up because Aloysius had died, and he didn’t want to deal with mistrust before he even became an alpha. It was disrespectful to challenge him during those times, but technically, anyone could challenge him, regardless of rank.”
My mouth went dry. That must have been a horrible time for Gunnar. He just lost someone important to him and was about to take on a very heavy duty, and people didn’t agree with him. They all appear so peaceful now. Who would have thought it all started with so much hate?
“From the people who signed up for the challenge, only a few of them weren’t a surprise to me. Those people had been rebelling for the longest time and were close to being kicked out of the pack. They were weak wolves, but always believed they were stronger. Too bad they challenged him with the condition to fight until death.”
I sucked in a breath. “I didn’t think that would happen in this day and age! Does that mean Gunnar killed them?”
She eyed me for a moment, before nodding ever so slightly. A shiver went down my spine. How awful must it be to kill the people you grew up with?
“We lost ten wolves that time. Not all of them caused trouble before, and we never wanted to lose, or worse, kill our wolves. Gunnar always wanted to be like Aloysious. He wanted to deal with everything peacefully, without violence, but they wouldn’t let him. In the past, he used to be quite careful and stood in the shadow of Aloysious, but he seemed to be content in that position. He was never the type to enjoy the spotlight, but when he had to step forward, he did, and he fought. But he wasn’t happy about it. You should have seen his face after the last wolf dropped to the floor, never waking up again. No words could describe the pain in his eyes. No one dared to challenge him again. He gained respect, but it wasn’t by the means he wanted.”
I leaned back on the sofa, my heart racing. I couldn’t imagine what kind of picture that must have been. Ten wolves, all dead. All killed by the future alpha, who never wanted that to happen.
“Gunnar likes to put up a front now, but I know he is still scarred by what has happened. He made it his mission to protect all ancient wolves. All who let him. And that includes you. I wonder if you realize all the dangers we face.”
“What do you mean?”
“You haven’t been part of a pack in years or had any contact with ancient wolves whatsoever. But yet you rather want to roam around alone than join the safety of a pack.”
“The safety of the pack didn’t help me before either,” I muttered.
She nodded. “I can see how it might be hard for you to trust another pack again, or that you don’t want to be associated with the ancient wolves anymore. I can’t imagine what you must feel like after your pack died, but running around alone can’t be the solution.” She grabbed my hand and clenched it. “I like you, and I know you aren’t a bad person. You distance yourself because awful things happened to you. You’re different from who you were before, and maybe you are afraid to face the wolf world again. But it’s your world. Never forget that. And our world is dangerous.”
“I know that the world is dangerous. I believe the murder of my pack should be proof enough,” I bit out.
Tyra smiled as she let go of my hand. “It doesn’t happen every day that an entire pack gets wiped out, but it’s not uncommon to fight each other. I don’t know why your pack died, but I know you won’t be safe anymore when you decide to move on alone. We always say your pack got wiped out, but you are still alive, which means your pack has not yet disappeared. There must have been a reason they wanted you all gone, and you still being here means they probably have a reason to find you.”
My heart raced. Was that the reason my mother didn’t want me to turn back into a wolf? Did she want to protect me?
“Your wolf was deeply hidden inside you, but it’s not the case anymore. You will attract other wolves, regardless of where you are. They will either kill you or convince you to join them. But most of them won’t approach you as peacefully as we did.”
I didn’t think about other packs until now. I only had Gunnar’s pack on my mind.
“I could go back home,” I proposed. “I never sold the house, and it technically still would be my territory, unless it got claimed while I was absent.”
She threw me a wary look before answering. “Your territory can’t be claimed. There are whispers about the land being cursed. After your pack died, several tried to claim it to enlarge their territory, but they couldn’t. From what I heard, it was especially frustrating because they believe the ruins hold special power.”
“The ruins? You mean the small remains of an old castle,” I said and shrugged. “Those are only rumors. My father always told me there was no truth behind it, just old legends. My grandparents believed it, though.”
“I wouldn’t know, but the land is still yours. It should be, anyway. But do you think that would be your best choice? You would still be a lone wolf, even if you technically had the name of your pack. But one wolf doesn’t make a pack.”
I sighed. “I don’t know what to do, Tyra. Everything changes now, and it might be the only place I might feel safe.”
“I believe you should think about it for a little longer. We are going back in a few days and I believe Gunnar already told you, but we will have one last BBQ before we all go back home. You should come and celebrate with us.”
I slumped into myself. “I’m not sure if it’s the best idea.”
She laughed. “You will be fine! No one will harm you, and maybe you will enjoy the company so much that you decide to join us after all.”
“I didn’t turn back into a wolf, Tyra. Maybe all the speculations are wrong, and then I really don’t belong with you.”
"Don’t worry. I’m certain it’s only a matter of time until that will happen. And before it happens, you have to figure out what you will do with your human man."
I rolled my eyes. Did she have to call him that way?
She ignored me and made herself comfortable. “I know you came here because something happened between the two of you. Gunnar almost ripped the door out of its frame when he got alerted about your situation. So, what happened?”
I pulled my knees up and closed my eyes. Thinking about what happened overwhelmed me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to talk about it at all. I opened my eyes and looked at Tyra. Her eyes were warm as she waited for me to tell my story. But maybe it was exactly what I needed to do, to get this burden off my chest.