Vincent whipped his head around at Gunnar, his eyes wide. Blood ran down his neck from the bite on his throat, and his skin looked ashen. Only his cheeks were flushed, making him look feverish.
Tyra and Bertram fought two other wolves. One was on the floor. It was still breathing, but it was more a short puffing than anything else.
“Didn’t expect to see you up again,” Vincent said, a smirk on his, which had lost its power. There was clear fear in his eyes, his hands shaking. When he saw me staring at them, he hid them behind his back, arching a brow at me.
“I think it’s time to give up, Vincent. You lost,” I said, still feeling light-headed. At this point, I was pretty sure any normal human would have been dead already by the amount of blood I had lost. But I suppose Balance was helping me stay strong.
As if she heard me thinking about her, I felt a warm breeze touching my skin. Knowing that we weren’t alone in this, and there was something much larger supporting us, made me feel encouraged. Optimistic even.
Vincent laughed. “Do you think the Vindictoria pack would retreat from a fight like cowards? Nothing is lost yet, and I won’t be beaten by a little girl and her friends!”
His gaze locked on me, and a growl left his throat so low that it sent shivers down my spine. I flinched, stepping back. His attitude changed drastically. He might have been dangerous and arrogant this entire time, but this murderous glare was on a new level.
Gunnar stepped forward, his nostrils flaring. “You caused enough damage as it is! It’s time to end this.”
Vincent not even glanced at him as he staggered forward, his eyes boring into mine. My wolf howled, pacing back and forth in my mind, warning me to be careful. I felt like my feet weighed too much to be lifted as I stared at him, taking another step forward. The stone floor echoed under his feet, and out of nowhere, he screamed into the sky. I exchanged quick glances with Gunnar, who had a frown on his face, mirroring my confusion about Vincent’s behavior.
The air grew colder, and when I looked back at him, I saw black fog rising out of his body, engulfing him like an embrace. A large smile spread over his face as he lowered his head, his eyes red.
“You gave me no other choice,” he said. His voice sounded distorted, kind of wrong, and with no more warning, he jumped in my direction, changing mid-jump.
I jumped out of the way, crashing onto the floor, yelping in pain. My breath hitched in my throat when I looked at the beast in front of me. He was no normal wolf. Something was wrong with him. His entire body was clouded in a black fog as he took another step toward me. His eyes shone so brightly red that they looked unreal. I could feel my heartbeat up in my neck, beating frantically. I scooted backward, only to be stopped by a wall.
Saliva dropped off his mouth, and when it landed on the ground, it turned into black liquid. Before he could take another step, Gunnar, in his wolf form, crashed into his side. They slid over the stone’s surface, growls echoing through the air.
My head was spinning, not having enough energy to even attempt to get up and help. The two wolves circled each other, the atmosphere growing so tense that it almost felt as if I could cut it with a knife.
I scooted further away from them, trying to get the distance between Vincent and me. Every time his eyes dropped on me, it felt like he was eating at my soul.
When I reached Jelto, I stopped. He didn’t even lift his head to look at me, only continued to stare at the spot in front of him with empty eyes.
“Is that what you wanted?” I asked him, my voice high as I pointed at the two fighting wolves. “Was this your plan? Did you want to kill us all, just so you could fulfill your selfish wish?”
He shook his head, almost unnoticeable, as I saw tears welling up in his eyes. “I didn’t know what I wanted. All I wished for was to be normal.”
I let out a puff of air. “Vincent would have never helped you with. I hope you at least realize that. You discarded years of friendship, trust, and love, just so you could believe in someone who was ready to do anything to kill anyone who got in his way.”
“I didn’t know better.”
“You should have,” I muttered, wincing when I saw Gunnar crashing to the ground and being stepped on by the black, shadowy wolf.
What in the world happened to his wolf? It looked like it wasn’t meant to be here.
The words of Balance hushed through my mind when she said that some people are drowning in their gifts, ready to sacrifice everything to fulfill their selfish desires. She had looked at Vincent then, and I wondered if she meant he sacrificed something significant to get to where he was now.
“Some people sacrifice part of their soul to find a way to success, not seeing any other way than self-destruction,” her voice echoed through the air, and I looked around, trying to find her somewhere. But she was nowhere to be seen. “If you can call that success.”
I looked back at Vincent. He was panting as he stumbled away from Gunnar. More black liquid dropped out of a wound on his hind leg. Gunnar still seemed unscathed, but he must still feel weak from the bullet he took to the chest. I might have given him temporary strength by fusing our packs, but it might not be enough.
From the corner of my eyes, I saw a wolf approaching, and I was ready to jump away when I recognized Tyra and Bertram joining us, their snouts full of blood. I looked behind them, seeing the other two wolves beaten on the floor.
Tyra pushed her head against my shoulder and I wrapped my arms around her, pulling her close to me, and hiding my face in her fur. I didn’t care that I rubbed my face in dirt and blood. Her being close to me, alive and breathing, offered me a peace of mind I never thought I would get again.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
She nodded and pulled out of my arms, sitting next to me and observing the fight. Bertram settled down next to Jelto, glaring at him. When he saw me looking at him, he lifted his gaze, his eyes softening.
I never thought I would be worried about Bertram, but here we are. He offered me a curt nod, before moving his eyes back to Jelto.
“Are you not going to help him?” I asked Tyra. She turned back into a human, gasping when she settled down next to me. She had several bites and gashes around her body, but otherwise, she seemed to be fine. “This is his fight, and he won’t lose.”
“Shouldn’t we rather finish it quickly?”
She glanced at me. “We will intervene when he needs our help, I promise. But how are you? Are you holding up? You don’t look good.”
I tried to shrug, but my body wouldn’t listen to me anymore. I lost feeling in my limbs a while ago, and every breath got harder and harder, almost as if my lungs slowly turned into stone.
Tyra cursed under her breath. “Where in the world is Cedric?”
I glanced back at the fighting scene, my vision turning blurry as the ruins rumbled under me. Shivers rocked my body, my teeth chattering against each other. Tyra grabbed me by the shoulders, and I tried to focus on her, but I couldn’t see clearly anymore. I saw her mouth moving, but couldn’t hear a word she said. I wanted to push her out of the way, wanting to keep an eye on Gunnar to make sure that he was going to be okay, but there was no use fighting against my heavy eyelids.
“Take a good rest, young alpha. The ruins are going to be safe. You did all you could,” Balance said, easing me to embrace the darkness that seemed to promise peace and calmness. And I gave in.
“Why is she not waking up!” Gunnar’s voice roared through the air, startling me. I wiggled my toes, relief washing over me when I could feel them again.
“Stop shouting and focus on your task at hand. I’m taking care of her!” Someone said close to my ear and lifted my arm, pouring cold liquid over it.
A sharp pain rushed through me. I gasped, opening my eyes, and coming face to face with Cedric. His hair looked all over the place, a complete difference from his usual neat look.
His eyes dropped to mine, and he let out a sigh, a small smile stretching over his face. “Are you okay?”
“I’m not sure,” I whispered, my voice hoarse.
“I’m going to take you away from here soon. I just had to do something about your wounds.”
He frowned as he continued to wrap my arms with bandages. I lifted my head, seeing the black shadow wolf lying on the floor, in a black puddle of something. I kept wondering about it before, but that can’t possibly be his blood, right?
“Is he dead?”
Cedric followed my gaze and shook his head. “No, he is alive. Barely. Gunnar is unsure what to do with him and is trying to get in touch with Vincent’s father. After seeing you collapse, he almost shredded him into pieces. But we still have to consider that he is the alpha’s son, and killing him might cause a big wolf political uproar.”
The tension lifted off of me. I didn’t know why, but for some reason, I was relieved that Vincent wasn’t dead. I shouldn’t be, though.
“Okay, you are all settled. I have to bring you away from here quickly now. In all honesty, I don’t even know how you are still alive.”
Cedric put his arms around me and lifted me off the floor with ease.
A loud growl from behind us startled me, and I looked over Cedric’s shoulder to see a grim-looking Gunnar, a phone pressed to his ear. When he saw me looking at him, his eyes softened, and his shoulders visibly slumped. I wish I could hug him and feel his warmth, but there was no time for this right now.
Cedric stopped, turned around, and sighed. “Calm down, alpha. I’m only taking care of her. Finish this business quickly, and you can see her in no time.”
When there was no answer, he got into motion again. “Possessive,” he muttered under his breath and swiftly carried me off the ruins. I had so many questions, but it was too exhausting to stay awake, and the soothing motions of Cedric’s walk rocked me back into a deep, comforting sleep.