Ancient Wolves - Prophecy of the Ruins

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Chapter 60

The old woman frowned. “It’s not exactly as you think it went. Not everyone may have been involved in the decision, but they weren’t forced to take part in the plan. All the pack members who didn’t want to sacrifice everything left the pack. You might not remember it, but your pack used to be a lot larger than it was in the end. Plenty left when they had to decide to stay and die or leave and forget about everything.”

I stared at her in disbelief. “As this makes it any better. They had to leave their homes and pack because they didn’t want to die! Besides, when we were supposed to leave for the Vindictoria pack, everyone was complaining. No one wanted to go.”

The old woman nodded. “The members who decided to stay and move on with the plan weren’t all too convinced when it was time to act on their promise. Of course, saying something and putting it into action are two different things. All the people who promised to be ready to put their lives on the line were suddenly confronted by reality. It was actually happening, and it was scary. They all knew what was going to happen, and they weren’t sure if they were ready for it.”

The younger woman placed two steaming cups of tea in front of Gunnar and me, but I had no intention of drinking that, and judging from the look on Gunnar’s face, he didn’t want to drink it, either.

I focused back on the old woman, who was blowing into her cup as if we were discussing the weather right now, and not the death of my pack. “Of course, they would have been scared! They were about to die because of a stupid prophecy you have seen. It’s crazy they all went through with it, knowing the risks it involved!”

She raised a brow. “It would do you good to take the prophecy more seriously. I can understand your anger and that it’s hard to wrap your head around it, but no one was forced to take part in meeting the Vindictoria pack. They could have stepped away, but it meant they also wouldn’t be able to come back again or remember it.”

“And you make it seem as if that was easier to choose. Either you die, or you can’t remember anyone you care about? What would you do, wipe their memories?”

She nodded. “Exactly.”

“It’s shameless how nonchalant you are about this. It’s almost as if you didn’t care about any of them, as long as the ruins were safe.”

Her eyes darkened, causing sweat to break out all over my body. “It appears to me that you still haven’t understood the significance of the ruins. You can be angry at me all you want, but don’t act as if your parents were hostages and had no free will. They decided on this, and they wanted to go through with it. All the others who joined you did so willingly. I’m sorry you lost your family, but I did not take them from you. If there would have been another way, we would have done it differently, but there wasn’t. The sooner you understand that, the better. As the protector of the ruins, you are meant to do everything to keep the balance. That is your task as a wolf of the Ruinas pack. Otherwise, you do not belong here.”

I shook my head, trying to make sense of it. Maybe she was right, and I didn’t understand the significance of the ruins yet, but I see them at fault for that, too.

“How am I supposed to protect and cherish the ruins if I never learned how to? I didn’t grow up with the task and the importance of the ruins, and suddenly, I’m supposed to be head over heels for them, when I know my parents died because of them, too? Please tell me why I shouldn’t hand them over to the Vindictoria pack on a silver platter?”

The old woman seemed unmoved by my outburst, but her eyes were still dark and cold. “You were supposed to learn a different lesson, a lesson ancient wolves tend to not learn. A lesson they shy away from.”

“And what was that?”

“To live like a human and to love like one. No better way to understand them than to be one. Ancient wolves protect the ruins, so they can keep the balance on Earth. There are significantly more humans on this planet than ancient wolves. You were meant to love humankind, so you understand why you are protecting the ruins. It’s larger than you and me. Your parents and pack knew that. Now it’s time for you to understand that, too.”

“That’s the reason everyone moved into the trap of the Vindictoria pack and my wolf got taken away from me? So I can learn to love like a human?”

“No one ever took your wolf from you. It was only put into a deep sleep. We had to do so to buy us time. The Vindictoria pack was ready to take over the ruins as soon as you left to meet the alpha. But when they tried to take them over, they couldn’t because not everyone with the Ruinas blood had died yet. We ancient mages were still loyal to the Ruinas pack, too, so they had no chance to convince us to hand them over either. All we had to do was for you to come back with allies.”

I glanced at Gunnar, wondering if she was talking about him. “What if I hadn’t returned or never found my wolf again?”

She tilted her head to the side, her eyes softening again. “We knew you would come back at one point. You were never meant to be separated from your wolf forever, after all. Have you figured out what had brought her back?”

I shrugged. “I suppose the cleansing dance I did during Beltane brought her back.”

“Not exactly. The spell was meant to wear off when you found your allies. The cleansing probably just sped up the process.” She smiled at Gunnar. “Hilda told us about the night.”

Gunnar’s eyes widened. “What do you mean by that? Hilda knows you?”

The old woman chuckled. “My, of course. Hilda is a descendant of the ancient mages. They are human mages and often act as advisers for wolf packs. Other than us, they have the freedom to be wherever they want, but their magic is weak. They are usually good at blessings, though.”

I looked at Gunnar, seeing him stare at the old woman with an open mouth. “That’s unexpected. I never knew she was a descendant of ancient mages, but I suspected she wasn’t all too human either.”

“Most advisers don’t like to share their heritage or power with the pack they advise. They rather weave themselves into the pack, without telling them who they are. It’s difficult for humans to gain the trust of packs, but they are stubborn and tend to make themselves at home. You would be surprised how many of them are out there, often cleaning up after the wolf packs, so humans won’t get involved in wolf matters.”

“It’s something we can’t do so well for the ancient wolves, as we are forced to say in the power fields at all times. We can’t leave,” the younger woman added, sipping on her tea.

I wonder if they thought I would have sympathy for them to be stuck here forever, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel pity.

“So, everything was planned by you, then? Me losing my wolf, living as a human, meeting Gunnar. Why did you do that? Was anything ever in my control?”

I felt uncomfortable in Gunnar’s arms, almost as if I got played by them. As if my feelings weren’t even my own. My heart was racing, hoping that they didn’t force me into this situation.

“It was all in your hands, alpha. The path you walked, after you fell into the water, was under your control. We never made decisions for you or manipulated you in any way. All we knew was that the path you would take would eventually lead back to us.”

“It still feels wrong. Almost as if loving George was only meant to be a lesson, nothing more than that. Like I had used him.”

A sad smile covered her features. “You can’t see it that way. Yes, it was a lesson, but everything in life is. Everything after the prophecy prepared you for a life as a human. That’s why you lived such different lives as a wolf compared to others. You were meant to understand the human ways and see the bigger picture. That there is a larger world outside the wolf bubble. You needed to want to protect humans, and for that, you had to love and care for them.”

I clenched my hands into fists, feeling my nails boring into my skin. “George was only a tool then.”

Gunnar tightened his arm around me, but it didn’t help to make me feel better this time.

“Alpha, this might sound harsh but stop feeling such pity for you and the people in your life. Whatever you felt for the human was real. All your intentions and dreams you had, were real. But just because it was real and felt right, doesn’t mean that it was meant to be. That doesn’t mean you played with the human, no, it only meant you lived your life as honest as you could. You should take pride in how deeply you could feel for someone, a human no less, even though it is such a rare occurrence for wolves. Humans also don’t always find the right partner on the first try, and that’s normal. But that doesn’t mean the love they felt was insincere. There is a time and place for everything, and you did all you could. The human taught you many lessons. You wouldn’t have learned any other way. He was part of a much bigger picture, and there will come a time when he can move on. Just like you have to move on, too. You have people in your life now who cherish you, and it would not be fair to push them away, because you think it wasn’t your choice. Because it was.”

“We also didn’t decide that it would be Gunnar’s pack to meet you. It could have been any other pack. That it turned out to be them was purely a coincidence. And that you let them into your life was your choice. I hope you don’t question that,” the younger woman added.

I wasn’t sure if I could trust their words, but I knew everything with Gunnar felt right. Having him in my life felt like finding the last piece of a puzzle I had been working on for a long time. Even if they were lying, I wouldn’t want to miss them in my life.

“I’m glad I got to meet her before any other pack,” Gunnar said.

A laugh bubbled up in me before I could stop it. “You are so cheesy.”

He nuzzled my hair. “I’m just honest.”

The old woman looked at us with warm eyes. “I know it may be hard to forgive us for what happened to your pack, alpha. You never have to forgive us, either. But we hope you will understand the importance of the ruins and why your parents did what they did. They knew how important they were, and they trusted you to follow in their footsteps. They truly loved you.”

I swallowed a lump in my throat. For a moment, I wanted to run away and give up everything, but by doing so, I would disappoint everyone who had fought for the ruins. I might not be able to forgive the ancient mages, but I also couldn’t hide anymore.

“What would happen if all power places would fall into the wrong hands?” I asked.

“When that happens with all of them, the Earth will face a tragic end. There were a few power places that got destroyed in the past already or got mistreated. We had several awful natural disasters in the past because of that. All we can do is prepare ourselves for protecting them because it’s more significant than anything. It’s an enormous task. We need you to help us, but we know you are up for it,” the old woman said, staring right into my eyes. How can she be so sure of that? I didn’t feel strong, and I still felt like everything that had happened was unfair and wrong.

“You might not feel ready now, but there will come a moment when you know what to do. It will feel as natural as breathing to you. You were prepared to protect the ruins your entire life, even if it was in a unique way. Follow your heart, and you will know what to do. We won’t steer you in any direction you don’t want to go yourself. Believe in yourself and your allies.”

The old woman slid off of the rocking chair, making her look even tinier.

Gunnar and I stood up as well, looking down at her, and with one flick of her hand, she moved us out of the house.

“We will always watch over you. Take care,” she said, shutting the door. I blinked once, and the house had vanished.

What exactly happened just now?

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