Ancient Wolves - Prophecy of the Ruins

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Chapter 45

The next morning, I woke up with swollen eyes and a headache. My hair and skin felt clammy, and the sides of the tent were wet. I wrinkled my nose and peeled myself out of the sleeping bag. If only I could go for a nice hot shower now, but instead I used baby wipes to clean myself as good as I could, before brushing my teeth outside.

There was a soft breeze, but it was relatively warm for an early morning. Not warm enough to stay outside for long, though. I bounced back into the tent and took out my phone, looking for companies to take care of various jobs that needed to be done.

I also took Gunnar’s advice and ordered a dumpster, which I luckily could reserve for tomorrow. That meant I had the entire day to sort out the things I wanted to keep. Even if that might not be much. I hoped the dumpster I ordered would be big enough to fit everything.

Pest control would also look at the house, but I still hoped I wouldn’t need them. The day after tomorrow, I booked people to check the water and electricity, and I even found someone to look at the broken windows and the flooring.

My stomach grumbled after I had been on the phone for over an hour, but I didn’t have much to eat, except prepackaged chocolate buns. I should have grabbed something a bit more nutritious yesterday. Eating the bun, I put on my shoes and tugged my phone in the pocket of my jeans, ready to head inside to inspect the house.

I sighed when the warmth greeted me, glad that the central heating still seemed to work properly. It smelled rather dusty and kinda moldy, but I hoped that would be fixed by getting rid of the old furniture and cleaning the house.

After finishing the rest of my breakfast, I grabbed the cardboard boxes we bought yesterday and walked upstairs, entering my old room for the first time since the incident.

It felt like time had stopped here. The room looked exactly the same. Nothing was broken or out of order. I took my time to go through the bookshelf, looking at the books I loved to read back then, and smiled at the photos decorating the walls. I peeled them off the wallpaper carefully, looking at the smiling faces of my pack, as I couldn’t help but shed a few tears. They left such a big hole in my life, and I missed them so much.

After I put all the things I wanted to keep for now into the boxes, I headed back downstairs to grab a couple of trash bags. I knew for sure that I wouldn’t want to keep all my clothes, and I could donate them later. I hurried back and forth while ignoring the ringing phone. It was currently charging, and I knew it was George calling. His ringtone blasted through the air, and eventually, it started to annoy me. Since he realized my phone was turned on, he didn’t stop calling. But I had no time or headspace to handle him right now. Even if I knew I had to at some point. I also couldn’t turn it off again because I wanted to be available for the companies I called.

After I cleaned out my room, I headed to my parents’ room, hesitating in front of their bedroom door. My hand was shaking as I grabbed the doorknob. I took a deep breath and pushed the door open, tears stinging in my eyes as I took in the lifeless room.

One part of me thought that if I believed in it hard enough, they would come upstairs and enter this room as if nothing happened. But it was all wishful thinking. They wouldn’t come back, and I needed to move on, as hard as it was and as much as my heart throbbed.

I entered the room and emptied their wardrobe, only keeping a few scarves my mother knitted. After all the clothes were pushed into bags, I looked around, wondering what to do next, when I spotted a book on my mother’s bedside table.

Turned out it was her diary, a soft leather cover with flower ornaments covering the front, and ‘Diary’ written in the top right corner. I picked it up, surprised by how heavy and thick it was. Tracing the flowers with my finger, I contemplated if I should take a peek inside. Was it okay for me to read her diary? Maybe I should destroy it instead of reading it, but something told me I shouldn’t. She had it lying around in the open, and there was no lock, either.

One little peek surely wouldn’t hurt, and opened the book on a random page.

My breath caught in my throat when I saw myself as a child, smiling back at me, a trophy in my hand.

First victory at an archery competition - age 10

I smiled, remembering that day. I was fascinated by archery after my father taught me how to shoot an arrow in our garden. Soon after, archery was a daily activity for me, and I wanted to join a competition to challenge myself. It remained my first and only victory, as I never took part in another one. In the end, I mostly enjoyed archery because it was a hobby I shared with my father, not because I was actually serious about it.

I skipped through the pages, realizing everything written in this book was about me. It was almost as if my mother wanted to keep all these memories, so she wouldn’t ever forget anything I did.

I opened the first page, seeing a small newborn puppy cuddling with a bigger gray wolf.

My beautiful daughter’s first hours on earth.

It had been ages since I had seen this photo, and a laugh escaped me, imagining how George would have reacted if he had asked to see my baby photos and would have gotten confronted by this. I sighed. It was the right decision to move away from him. This was part of my life I would love to share with someone. Without hiding it like I had to.

I turned more pages and haltered when I found a photo of me with a huge flower crown on my head. The flowers almost seemed to eat me up, as I seemed so small in comparison.

Mia during Beltane.

Beltane? Did we celebrate it after all, but I couldn’t remember? Which was surprising, considering how much my parents and grandparents argued about it. I never imagined my parents ever supported it.

But overall, my childhood looked as happy as I remembered it. My family and pack loved me, and it looked like nothing could have separated us. Then I stumbled over a grim-looking photo of me. It was the first picture where I didn’t have a grin on my face. I looked almost scared, terrified even. Instead of the colorful clothes I always used to wear, I wore a black dress. I also had a relatively large stone clenched to my chest.

The fated day.

Following that, my mother wrote a long paragraph. I couldn’t remember anything about such a day. She wrote about a tradition where children receive blessings from ancient mages.

Mia’s ceremony didn’t go as we expected. The ancient mages were in a big uproar about a horrible fate that would befall our pack.

‘When the last drop of blood of the Ruinas wolves falls, the ruins will be in danger. Protect the girl, as she will be the one to save us from a tragedy to arise for us all.’

My mother’s usually clean and swirly handwriting looked crooked and untidy, vastly different from other entries.

I read the last sentence repeatedly, my heart racing. Protect the girl? They must have meant me, but what would I have to do with it? No one ever mentioned anything like this, and I couldn’t remember experiencing that day. What did they mean by horrible fate? Was it the attack of the Vindictoria pack they already saw coming?

My wolf growled in the back of my mind, feeling uneasy and threatened by the new information we received. She also couldn’t recall a day like that and felt stressed about the memory loss. I had to agree with her. Why are parts of our childhood missing, and why did no one stop the attack if they knew about it?

I checked the remaining pages, trying to find more information, but nothing else about it got mentioned. One thing that changed, though. The wolf-related traditions we used to celebrate stopped, and everything looked so very human.

Turning to the last page, my stomach dropped. They took that photo the night before we traveled to the Vindictoria pack. My parents insisted on taking a group picture before we went to bed. I was already wearing my pajamas. It annoyed me that my mother had to drag me downstairs to take a photo. I told her we could take several photos on the trip, but she insisted.

I was squished between my parents on the sofa. They both held one of my hands, and they squeezed so tightly it almost hurt. The rest of our small pack was sitting on the floor, holding each other. We were smiling, but I was the only one whose smile looked actually genuine. They all looked sad. It was the moment I realized they had known that they wouldn’t return, and they never said a word about it.

We love you.

Whatever will happen, remember one thing: you have been the best thing that happened to us. You are our precious daughter, and when you read this, we know we aren’t there to protect you anymore.

We can’t even imagine how lonely and lost you must feel. You are probably angry and sad, maybe even disappointed. We never told you anything, and you must want answers. You will find them eventually, we promise you. It all will make sense.

Please know that everything we did, we did because we wanted the best for you. You always have been a curious and clever girl, and you turned into a strong woman. We hope you will find the strength you need to fight against fate.

Mia, please protect the ruins. You don’t understand why, but you will. Reach out to the ancient mages and ask them your questions. They will guide you. You have to find allies. That’s the only way to remove the spell we put on you.

Even without us, we know you can do this.

We are sorry, and we will continue to watch over you.

We love you, now and forever.

Mum & Dad

I stared at the page until it became blurry with tears. I dropped the book and screamed until my voice went hoarse. My ears pounded from the anger I felt. I couldn’t understand why my parents did this to me. Why did they leave me in the dark like this?

I dropped to the floor and pulled my knees to my chest. I didn’t want to fight against fate and protect those stupid ruins. All I wanted was my family and pack back. Why did it have to me? Why are they all dead, and I was still alive?

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