Ancient Wolves - Prophecy of the Ruins

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Chapter 35

We stepped outside, and Tyra turned to me, a smile on her face. “Our great-grandparents bought this property when they moved here from Sweden. They were one of the first from the pack to leave, but over time, more and more moved here.”

“Do you still have relatives in Sweden now?”

She nodded. “Yes, there are still a few living in Sweden, and we still consider them as pack members, even when they are so far away.”

As we walked to the road, Tyra greeted her neighbor, who nodded and smiled, but then hurried inside with only a glance in my direction. Tyra raised a brow but didn’t comment on it.

“Only pack members live in this village. It separates us from humans and gives us the freedom to run around as wolves whenever we want. Humans barely stumble into this area, and if, they leave quickly. They feel something is different about this place and don’t want to stick around. All the woods around here are ours, too. That’s Cedric’s and Joseline’s house.” Tyra pointed at a house on our right, covered by ivy. Only bits of pinkish walls glimpsed through the thick leaves. To the left and right, thick bushes hid the property.

She opened the wooden gate and stepped inside.

“They have an enormous garden. I believe Cedric told you before that they cultivate all kinds of herbs, flowers, and other plants for the medicine they make.”

I stared at the garden in awe. It almost felt as if I landed in a different universe. There were big trees in the back, which weren’t visible from the outside. Plenty of butterflies and other insects soared through the air, and birds bathed in small stone fountains.

“Pretty, right?”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Snow White and the seven dwarfs walked around the corner any minute now,” I muttered.

Tyra laughed. “Joseline invests a lot of time taking care of the garden. Come on, let’s go inside.”

She walked up the little path to the front door, knocked once, and stepped inside without hesitation.

“Can we just go inside like this?”

She winked at me over her shoulder. “This is my second home.”

“Tyra, is that you?” A female voice called from upstairs.

“Yeah, it’s me. I brought Amalia with me.”

Above us, hurried footsteps echoed through the house, and soon after, a tall woman with long dark hair pulled me into a hug. The smell of lavender almost intoxicated me. I squealed in surprise.

She pulled away, a broad smile on her face. “I waited so long to meet you! I fell ill during the trip and couldn’t join any events.”

I nodded, still speechless over the sudden hug.

“Joseline, you do that thing again. Being all energetic and pushy.”

Joseline pouted and let go of me. “Sorry, I tend to get over-excited. I’m Joseline, Cedric’s wife. I heard so much about you.”

I smiled. “Nice to meet you.”

She beamed at me and clapped her hands together once. “Do you have time for tea?”

“There is always time for your tea. You have to try it, Amalia. After trying her tea, you won’t ever buy store-bought tea again,” Tyra said.

Joseline rolled her eyes and chuckled. “She is exaggerating. But come on, let’s sit down in the garden. It should be warm enough by now.”

She led us through the hallway and into the kitchen. I was stunned by its beauty. The large windows enlightened the room, and all the plants made it seem like stepping into a greenhouse.

“Would you rather have fruit tea or something with herbs?” Joseline asked and filled a kettle with water.

“Something with herbs sounds good.”

She nodded and placed the kettle on the stove. “Do you want the usual, Tyra?”

“Yes, thank you.”

I looked around the room and spotted a few paintings decorating the walls. All of them appeared to be from Tyra.

“So, how have you adjusted to life so far?” Joseline asked, leaning against the kitchen counter.

I shrugged. “I suppose everything is going fine. Even though it all still feels surreal to me.”

She nodded. “It’s tough when the life we used to know suddenly takes a completely different turn. But I hope you know you can always ask us for support.”

I again wondered why someone would be so eager to help a stranger. Was that a pack thing? I very much doubted that, not after the reaction from their neighbor.

“Thank you.”

It didn’t take long when the kettle whistled and Joseline poured hot water into the three cups. Each of us grabbed one as we headed outside.

We settled down on comfy chairs in the garden, in the shadow of the trees. I leaned back and took a deep breath, enjoying the moment.

Joseline placed her tea on the table and crossed her legs. Only then I realized she had one prosthetic leg glimpsing under her maxi skirt.

“I lost it during a fight,” Joseline said, realizing I stared at her leg.

Heat rushed to my face, and I cleared my throat. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to appear insensitive.”

She laughed. “Oh, please. I have had a prosthesis for years now, and I know it’s something people will see and wonder about. But it’s part of me now, and I’m glad I have it.”

“It must have been a nasty fight,” I said.

Joseline sighed. “I guess the sad thing is that it wasn’t. Did Tyra tell you about the fight Aloysius was involved in? His last battle, so to say.”

I nodded, glancing at Tyra, wondering if she was comfortable talking about what had happened.

She smiled. “The fight with the alpha, who severely overstepped our boundaries and overstayed his welcome. I never told her exactly what happened.”

Joseline pulled her hair into a ponytail and huffed. “A few years ago, we offered medical services to other wolves and packs in the area. We bought a small house and set up a shop. We declared it a peace zone, and anyone who used violence on those grounds would be banished. I sold medicine and herbs while Cedric performed examinations. As ancient wolves, we can’t always see a human doctor easily, after all. Especially not when pregnant. Cedric was a big help to other packs.”

So, it really was a pack thing to be this helpful and kind to strangers, after all. Maybe the neighbor was an exception?

“It was supposed to be a win-win situation. We hoped if we offered a service which would be helpful for basically all the other packs around us, they would leave us alone with their power games,” Tyra said.

Joseline nodded. “And for a while, it all worked out perfectly. Not only was there no more tension between us and the other packs, but also among themselves. It was a lot more peaceful overall.”

“Everything was going great until it wasn’t,” Tyra added.

“One alpha complained about the long commute they had, and it would have been easier if we either offered them part of our territory, so they could settle down close by, or Cedric and I would join his pack instead.”

Tyra sighed. “He had very ill children who needed a lot of care. Aloysius and I felt bad for the poor little ones and offered them to stay in an empty house until they got better. The alpha happily agreed, and soon he and his family, plus two of his betas, moved into the house.”

A cold shiver ran down my spine, imagining the rest of the story. I knew it didn’t end well, and knowing that it all started with such a kind gesture made it even worse.

“The children did eventually get better, but when it was time to leave, the alpha always had a different excuse for staying. Our pack slowly grew suspicious of them, and they urged us to make them leave. They never really trusted them, but towards the end, the pack members watched their every move, just waiting for something to happen,” Tyra said. “When we realized they planned to push us out of our territory by moving more and more wolves close to the border, Aloysious knew he had to do something. He first tried to speak to him, but the alpha wouldn’t hear any of it. He refused to leave while denying all the claims.”

Joseline huffed. “One day, he came into the shop, trying to convince us to join them if we wanted to avoid a war between the packs. Cedric wasn’t at the shop that day, and I was alone. He knew I wouldn’t have anyone to protect me, and he also knew I was no match for him. It first turned into a heated argument, which ended in him turning into a wolf and attacking me. He bit my leg and fractured it so severely, it had to be amputated a few weeks later. Aloysious was beyond himself seeing that and chased him out.”

“And then he got shot?” I asked.

Tyra nodded. “In his rage, he didn’t realize that he was leaving our territory. They got shot, and the other alpha fled. When Aloysius finally came back home, he had already lost a lot of blood from the bullet hitting his abdomen. He died soon after. It was already a miracle he managed to come back all the way here.”

I clenched my hands together, feeling rage running through my veins. The alpha not only abused their kindness, but hurt the person who healed his children and killed the person who offered them a place to stay. “I can’t believe he did such a horrible thing.”

Joseline shook her head. “Neither could we. His wife and children were wonderful people. I doubt they were aware of his plan. But it didn’t matter when our alpha got killed because of their alpha. All they could do was run away when Gun attacked every single wolf that had remained behind.”

“Did he kill the children, too?” I asked, almost afraid to know the answer.

Joseline’s eyes widened. “Of course not! Gun would never hurt children. He let them go.”

I sighed in relief and nodded. I hoped Gunnar wouldn’t do such a thing.

“We never heard from them again. I’m pretty sure they moved somewhere far away,” Tyra said, and emptied her cup with one big gulp.

I stared at my still full cup, took a sip, and was immediately shocked by the taste explosion in my mouth. “Wow, this is the best tea I ever had.”

Tyra laughed. “I told you. After this tea, you won’t drink any other tea again.”

I smiled. “I suppose I have to come here more often, then.”

Joseline chuckled. “You are always welcome here. Day or night.”

A heavy feeling settled in my stomach, remembering the danger I might bring them. What if I was the foreign wolf that would overstay its welcome and bring tragedy to the pack once again?

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