Ancient Wolves - Prophecy of the Ruins

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Chapter 32

“What the hell is your problem?”

He bared his teeth at me and snapped the air. “You, obviously. What are you doing here?”

I eyed him. Didn’t he know I was Gunnar’s guest? “The alpha approved my stay here, and you have to accept that.”

“You are trouble. I know it.”

I stood taller, feeling annoyed by his accusations. “I haven’t done a single thing to you or your pack, and I don’t deserve your hostility.”

His snout wrinkled as he slowly rounded me. I didn’t keep my eyes off of him, knowing he might attack me even when we were close to the alpha’s house. His posture and energy made me think he wasn’t low in the hierarchy. Probably a delta wolf, and from his smooth movements and lean body, he wasn’t weak either. I was confident I could take him on, but only if I was in a better condition.

Bertram stopped and puffed up his chest. “My task is to protect my pack, and you are a threat.”

I sighed. “Very noble of you, but this is unnecessary. What are you doing here, anyway? Isn’t this Gunnar’s property?”

His eyes sparkled. “I watched the boundaries when I saw you here.”

The urge to protect his pack and to watch the boundaries, he really is a delta then.

“Bertram, I’m the alpha’s guest, and if you remember, he told you to stop taking matters into your own hands. To make things easier for both of us, why don’t you leave me alone?”

I knew whatever I said wouldn’t change his resolve anyway, but I wasn’t seeing myself fighting with him. I knew that was what he wanted. If I react to his provocations, I would escalate the situation further and it might really start trouble. The very thing he wanted to happen. But it was hard to stay calm when my wolf was screaming for us to show him his place.

His ears perked up, and his tail shot straight in the air as he continued to round me with bared teeth. The hostility in his eyes grew stronger, saliva dripping from his mouth. I bumped into Svea when I stepped back, and my heart skipped a beat. I had forgotten she was here, a fatal mistake. She glanced up at me with wide eyes, her small frame trembling.

I pushed her further away from me. I wasn’t worried he would attack her, but she was afraid and I wouldn’t want her to be in between us if he attacked me.

Another growl echoed through the air and he got ready to jump at me when I spotted Gunnar strolling towards us.

Relief washed over me, knowing I didn’t have to deal with him and potentially cause an even more serious situation.

Bertram’s growl died in his throat when he realized who was joining us, and he tucked his tail down. I let out a puff of air and relaxed, feeling the tension finally leaving my muscles.

I remember thinking that Gunnar looked like the king of the woods when I saw him after the chase. But he looked even stronger and marvelous with the sun shining on his dark fur, making it almost glistering in the light. Each step he took was with confidence and certainty. His green eyes were bright and serious, observing the situation like a hawk. And he looked massive, especially next to the smaller brown wolf at his side.

It was my first time seeing Tyra in her wolf form, but she radiated the same energy and power, if not more so. Her fur was curly and had a reddish tone in the sunlight. Everything about her screamed alpha, but I didn’t feel provoked or intimidated by her, and neither did my wolf. We both stared at her in awe as she joined us and nudged her daughter in the face.

Gunnar stood tall in front of Bertram, staring down at him. “Bertram, is this what I think it is? Are you defying my orders? I clearly remember telling you to leave Amalia alone.”

Bertram took a few steps back, his tail now tucked between his legs and his ears so flat on his face I could barely see them anymore. “I’m worried about the pack.”

“I wonder, are you trying to gain favor by acting like a protector? I’m well aware that is your task, and it is honorable how serious you take it. But I’m tired of having to repeat myself. Amalia is my guest, and she is my friend. I don’t like it when someone acts disrespectfully towards my friends. For as long as she is here, she remains under my protection. There is no need for you to worry about it.”

“But alpha, I worry about her being a threat.”

Gunnar growled. “Do you believe I wouldn’t be able to take care of one lone wolf in my territory? Do you think your alpha is helpless without your help against her?”

I huffed. He didn’t have to make it seem as if I was so weak that he wouldn’t even have to break out in a sweat to take care of me.

Bertram’s head whipped up, his eyes wide open as it darted around, avoiding to look at Gunnar directly. “No! I don’t believe that.”

“Then reconsider your actions. I have been lenient with you, but this is your final warning. Stop harassing Amalia, or else I will lose it.”

Bertram whined and slumped down. For a moment, I almost felt bad for him, but I had to remember who was in front of me. He was the one who started it.

“Now get out of my eyes,” Gunnar said, dismissing him.

Bertram took off with lightning speed, not looking back once. We stared after him until he was out of sight.

Gunnar let out a sigh and turned to me. “I can’t believe him. I feel like I messed up somewhere as an alpha.”

I shook my head. “It’s okay, don’t worry about it. The foreign wolf in the pack’s territory must make him nervous. Besides, he dislikes me. That’s not your fault.”

“It still bothers me,” he said.

He looked troubled and tired now, all the energy he radiated before vanishing. A heavy feeling settled in my stomach seeing him like this. If it wasn’t for me, he wouldn’t have these doubts. My wolf urged me to cheer him up, but I had no words. I didn’t know what else to say to lift the burden off his shoulders.

She took matters into her own hands, and heaved us forwards, crashing into Gunnar’s side. I understood what she was going for and barked at the wide-eyed alpha. When he didn’t move, I jumped into his side again, making us tumble to the floor. I nibbled at his ear playfully before standing up and running away from him.

He laughed. “You are so done, Amalia! Wait until I catch you.”

We chased each other around the garden until we were exhausted and settled down in the shadow of a large apple tree.

Gunnar fell asleep and next to him, a snoring Svea cuddled into his side. I didn’t expect that he could let his guard down out in the open. Adult wolves are cautious about being vulnerable, and being asleep can be dangerous. My wolf tried to make sense of it too, feeling confused by the alpha’s behavior.

“I know what you are thinking about,” Tyra said, interrupting my thoughts.

I turned to her. “What do you mean?”

She nodded towards Gunnar. “You wonder why he can fall asleep like this and how he can be so vulnerable as an alpha.”

“Can you read my mind now? But I suppose it’s because he is at home, in his territory, with no threat in sight.”

“You think so? The pack’s territory is not necessarily safer than any other place. There could always be other wolves who only wait for such an opportunity to take over the alpha role.”

I sat up. “Wasn’t that all in the past?”

Tyra stared into the distance and sighed. “Bertram is the perfect example that things aren’t as calm as they might seem. He is using you as an excuse, but in reality, he is testing the boundaries. We should never forget that we are wolves. It’s in our nature to test who is weaker or stronger than us. Some wolves are happy remaining lower in the hierarchy, while others want to be at the top.”

I nodded. We didn’t have issues like those in my pack, but we also weren’t many wolves. Everyone was more or less happy with their position and role in the pack. At least that is what I always thought. In hindsight, I might not have realized tension, even if there were any.

“So, you think there are more who want to test their boundaries?”

“We hope there isn’t, but when there is one weak link, there might be even worse going on we don’t know about. It has been calm for a while, but with what happened in the past, who knows when the next storm will rage through our middle.”

I glanced back at Gunnar. “He has even less reason to let his guard down like this then. Except he wants to prove that he is so strong and confident, it doesn’t scare him.”

She looked at me as if she couldn’t believe what I said. “I wonder if I should tell you or if I should let you figure it out by yourself.”

I shook my head and plumped down on the floor again. I didn’t feel like playing games right now.

She nudged me with her nose. “He has two strong alpha females by his side. Why would he worry?”

I laughed. “That’s not true. I’m not strong at all right now. I don’t even dare to fight with Bertram. But you are strong. I feel very safe around you.”

“You don’t realize the impact you have on others. Maybe you aren’t in the best shape, but you have the right attitude. It’s your energy that makes weak omegas pull their tails between their legs and the higher ranks, wanting to claim you as their own.”

I huffed. “If that was the case, Bertram wouldn’t cause such a scene with me, would he?”

“Forget about that idiot for a moment. I already told you he wants to test boundaries, and you were the right tool for that. But I have seen the others that night when you exploded out of your skin. When your gaze roamed around the field like you owned the place. Yes, most felt threatened by you, but they were also in awe. You were the mysterious stranger who popped out of nowhere and captured their interest. I’m sure plenty of men in our pack would love to know more about you.”

I scooted away from her, a growl bubbling up in my throat. “You make it sound as if the pack is full of thirty teenagers. Besides, I just got out of a relationship and don’t care about any men being interested in me.”

Tyra dropped her gaze and nodded. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you angry or be insensitive. Of course, you are right. I only meant to say that you are an eye-catcher, and everyone knows you are strong. Gunnar knows that, too. He trusts you.”

“What if I don’t want to be an eye-catcher? What if I don’t want anyone’s attention anymore and stay alone forever?”

“Amalia, believe me, you don’t.”

My stomach dropped, remembering she had no choice back when her husband died. She ended up alone and misses the warmth she had every single day. I had a choice. At least somewhat, but it still hurts anyway. “I thought I already found the right one.”

Tyra sat up and stared down at me. “Maybe when you aren’t hurting as much anymore and your head is clearer, you will realize he probably wasn’t what you needed.”

“And what is that?”

“An equal.”

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