Chapter 49 - The Rebel
We travel in a half phase state, meaning we’re halfway between humans and lycans. This way, we can smell and see more than in our human form, have the speed and the agility of lycans, but we don’t have the full claws and long sharp canines and teeth to be deadly enough to fight like true lycans.
We follow their faint scent past the Royal property, into the woods, and down the valley. The moonlight is shining and reflecting off the white snow. It makes everything seems as bright as daytime.
“Stop!” says Serena. Her voice is guttural. Her jet black eyes scan the area. She knows the area better than any of us, so we follow her lead. “We’re getting close to a werewolf’s pack territory.”
“Look,” says Genesis, pointing towards a little house, barely visible through the gaps of the trees. We’re on a little mound of a hill, looking down the valley below. The house is still about 150 yards away but I think it’s the beginning of the pack’s turf. I can already smell the various unfamiliar scents carried by the wind.
“Do you smell that?” I ask them, sniffing the air. The three of them quickly lifts their noses up and sniff.
“Blood!” snarls Penny fiercely. Blood, fire, and death. The four of us simultaneously jump up and sprint forward while phasing fully into our lycans.
My feet feel like they barely touch the ground as I charge forward with the girls behind me. We follow our noses and ears deeper into the pack’s territory where the smell becomes stronger and the sound of screaming and fierce growling piercing the air.
I barely notice small, charming, cabin-like houses dotting the territory or several burning ones that we passed. My feet never pause at the sight of blood soiled snow and dead bodies littering the ground.
My eyes honed in on my mate from afar. Two large unfamiliar male lycans are charging at him at the same time. He manages to evade them but crimson red blooms across his chest and arm. His shirt is tattered. The other two lycans aren’t faring much better. They're actually looking much worse but I'm not going to sit on the sideline, just watching.
“We’re going to end you tonight, Crown Prince,” grunts the one who landed his claws on him. Fire sears down my spine and spread through my veins at his words. No one hurts my mate.
They circle each other and I crawl in wait. My skin tingles and my mouth waters. Come on, give your back to me and we'll play.
I can feel my mate’s awareness of my presence. He snarls with dark menace like a greeting, changes his stance to maneuver his opponent to present his back to me like a gift. So I pounce.
I wrap my legs tightly around his enemy’s middle. I grab the male lycan’s hair and pull his head back. The sound of his roar fills my ear as I sink my teeth and canines into his throat. He staggers violently around, trying to dislodge me from his back but my legs are like a vice.
Arghh!!! Pain sears through my leg when he buries his sharp nails into my thigh. He pulls at my leg and his claws dig deeper into my skin so I sink my teeth deeper into his throat. The tendons and cartilage crunch between my jaws. The metallic, salty taste of blood fills my mouth. Gurgling sound comes out of his mouth and chest. His pulse throbs on my tongue. My leg feels like it’s on fire but I will not let go.
He staggers forward and falls on his knees, taking me with him.
My mate lets out a spine-chilling roar and I look up and release the male from my hold. My playtime is over. Blood gushes out of the male's throat and my mouth. My mate's black eyes flash threateningly, his canines and sharp teeth are gleaming in the silvery moonlight. He growls as he gives the lycan a quick swipe across the abdomen and chest. The male howls. Blood splatter everywhere.
I struggle to my feet and watch as my mate work on him. How vicious my mate is. How utterly beautiful.
The other male who was fighting him before is already lying on the ground. Headless and spineless.
The group of us sits near the frozen riverbank in our human form, grim and resigned.
We’re waiting for Constantine and Genesis who went after one of the rebel lycans who was going to destroy a neighboring pack. One of his stupid friends gloated and revealed to Constantine of his plan not long after we girls arrived.
Shirtless Lazarus is sitting on a chopped tree stump with Serena cleaning his wound. I can see the bloody claw marks across his chest, much deeper than the ones on Caspian’s. I watch as Darius works on popping Lazarus’s shoulder back in place. His jaw is clenched tight, but he doesn’t utter a sound. Darius himself has claw marks all over his body.
Penny is sitting cross-legged on the frozen ground. She’s holding a stick, poking and jabbing it angrily at a small fire that we built. She looks eerie in the glow of the fire with the ferocious expression on her face and blood splatter all over her.
A cold wind blows the stench of blood and death to us as if we needed a reminder of what had just happened here tonight. Caspian brings me closer to him. I’m sitting between his legs on the ground across from Penny in front of the fire. I try not to press up against his wounded chest.
The puncture wounds on my thigh have stopped bleeding but the searing pain is still there. I feel it to the bone. It burns and it throbs. I’m keeping my mouth shut and not letting my mate know about it because I’ve no right to whine. So many people lost their lives and loved ones tonight.
“How did this happen?” I ask. My voice sounds as lost and dazed as I’m feeling. “I thought you’re meeting Chamberlain.”
“He didn’t show up,” answers Caspian.
“So we followed his scent and found him,” Darius adds, shaking his head. His jaw tight as he grits his teeth. “Or what’s left of him.”
“That’s when we heard them... and smell blood,” Caspian says. “Lycan rebels were destroying this village. This was a very peaceful werewolf pack. They’re always under the protection of the Palace.” He rakes his fingers through his hair and groans. It’s very obvious how upset he is.
“There’s never been an attack this close to the Palace before,” growls Lazarus. Serena lays a gentle hand on the side of his face, calming him down.
A few minutes later, we hear their footsteps. Genesis and Constantine are looking weary. Clothes torn and bloody like ours but thankfully no serious injury on them that I can see.
“Are there any survivors?” Penny asks them.
“Yeah, we got there just in time,” replies Constantine. “But the same cannot be said about this pack. We met what’s left of them on the way here. The Alpha is gone.” His shoulders are hunched forward as he joined us by the fire. Genesis sits next to him. “One lycan is enough to wipe out this whole village in just an hour, but twelve?” He shakes his head.
“We’re lucky to have been here when they were just starting,” says Genesis, rubbing his shoulders. “It’s obvious they were planning to wipe out as many packs as possible tonight.”
“We should go and guard the other packs,” says Constantine. “They might decide to send more, to finish what they started.”
“No, we’re all injured,” says Caspian, placing his hand gently on the side of my injured thigh. “We will send guards out to all the other packs and we need to get our men to clean up here.”
“We have to let the King know,” says Lazarus.
“Yes, there’s a lot to do here and we have to let my father know,” agrees Caspian, sounding pained.
“Do you think Chamberlain knew who’s behind this? Was that why he wanted to talk to you? Do you think that’s why he was killed?” I ask them.
“I’ve no doubt that’s what he wanted to talk to us about,” answers Darius. “Chamberlain always had his ears to the ground...and very loyal. We need to find the people behind this.”
“For now, we shall bring his body back and have a proper burial for him. The rest of the victims will have the burial in their territory where their ancestors lay, as should be,” says Caspian.
I think the eight of us are looking like the living dead when we arrive at the Palace. We are covered with blood from head to toe and our clothes are all torn and dirty. Even Queen Sophia looks alarmed when her eyes land on us.
Caspian, Constantine, Lazarus, and Darius disappear into the office with King Alexandros while we girls get cleaned up and have our injuries looked at.
It feels better after I got cleaned and changed. The pain has lessened with the medication they've given me.
I run a hot bath for Caspian for when he gets back. I sit on the edge of the tub, watching the swirls of the water, just thinking of tonight and tomorrow. This has been a very long and hard night. I doubt tomorrow will be any better.
I dip my hand in to make sure that the temperature is right then walking out of our ensuite bathroom to find Caspian’s tall, lean but muscled figure draped over the sofa. One foot is on the floor while another one is dangling over the armrest. A drink sits forgotten on the floor. His golden hair is ruffled and his head is resting against the back of the sofa. He’s staring moodily at the glass ceiling. He looks like a petulant child but I know he has some serious matters on his mind.
“You should have your wound looked at,” I tell him. He remains silent. Only his eyes track my movement through his lashes. His feelings are closed off to me and I don’t know what’s running through his head. I know it’s nothing good when he’s shielding it from me.
He’s always trying to protect me but I truly want to share the burden with him. Since I know for sure that he’s miserable, I’m going to make him feel better. I kneel down and take off his bloodstained shoes, then I remove his socks. Next, I stand between his legs and start to unbutton his torn, blood covered shirt. He lets me undress him as he watches me with those intense green eyes. Later, I lead him into the ensuite.
He sits silently in the deep cast iron bathtub as I run the soapy sponge all over him. He closes his eyes when I run my fingers through his hair, washing it. Then I let the dirty water out and use the handheld shower hose to rinse him with warm water all over.
“So many were killed tonight. They’re supposed to be under our protection but we failed them. I failed them,” he says finally when we’re both lying in bed, watching the flames licking the wood in the fireplace.
“No, you didn’t, sweetheart. How could you know that they will attack? We managed to save so many other packs tonight.”
“That wasn’t good enough. We should have been there sooner.”
“How much sooner? You know when a lycan decided to attack a werewolf pack, it’s like releasing a fox into a chicken coop. How long did it take twelve lycans to cause such destruction? Minutes? Seconds? You were there just in time. Even if you put a guard there, he wouldn’t be able to see it coming or prevented what happened much better than that. He might have even gotten himself killed.” I sit up to face him. My eyes land on his bandaged arm and chest before they travel up to his face. I tried to treat his wound the best I could. “Baby, stop beating yourself over it. We need to focus on the future.”
“You are right,” he agrees with a sigh. But then he groans, “But the future isn’t much better. The rebels are getting bolder and I’m not ready to be a king yet. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready.
“My father wants the celebration to continue. He doesn’t want the rebels to think that they have the power to dictate our actions. While I understand his reasoning, it seems so callous. So cold. A pack so close to the palace is mourning their loss, yet we’re having a ball.”
I can feel his fury and frustration through our bond. Frustration and fury with the whole situation and with himself. I can also sense the fear that he’s trying to hide. Fear for my safety and also the pack. He fears for others as well, even his mother.
“Why did they do that? Why kill so many?” I ask him as I reach up and run my fingers through his hair. The silky strands feel soft sliding through my fingers. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.
“The rebels kill and plunder a lot more in the Southern Region. That’s how they get money to support their mission and create chaos to gain supporters. But what happened tonight was different. It happened so close to the Palace. I think they want to create doubt and discord among the Royal loyal followers.” He goes silent for a while and he looks so peaceful that I thought he was falling asleep when he continues quietly, “I think it’s a warning as well. A warning of more chaos to come.”
I stroke his cheek and I feel the calmness in him even when he’s answering my serious question.
He opens his electric green eyes to look directly into mine. “Thank you, Moya Printsessa.”
“For being my calm. My voice of reason. You make me see things more clearly. I think I understand now the reason behind the rule that one has to have a mate before being crowned King. I can’t do it without you.” He brings my hand to his lips and kisses each one of my fingers.
I smile at him. “What errand did you send my cousins to do this morning?”
“Sending dry food and supplies for the winter to the poorest packs around the valley. I know Jonah is the type of person who can’t sit still. I don’t want him to get himself into trouble.” He grins.
My smile widens. That’s true, Jonah knows how to get himself into trouble. “Does King Alexandros always do that? Sending food and supplies to the poor packs around?”
“King Alexandros doesn’t know about it. I’m just starting this year. Jorden told me how you went without food for days even though he sometimes sneaked out food for you. I wish I was there for you. Since I couldn’t help you then, I’m helping those I can now. I can’t do that to the whole world but I don’t want anybody around here to have to go through that.
“We have so much. Maybe we’ll expand next year. Maybe we could give out scholarships to...”
“Sweetheart?” I interrupt him.
“I think you’re going to be a great King.”
We have breakfast in our own private dining room in the East Wing. My cousins, Jorden and Jonah join us this morning. They are now aware of what happened last night. Lazarus seems to be doing well but our conversation isn’t as cheerful or crazy as usual.
“You think something bad is going to happen today, don’t you?” asks Jonah.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen today but I have a feeling that last night’s event was just a warning. I want us to be ready,” answers Darius. “I’m bringing my former comrades from the Royal Army- the ones who I trust in today.”
“Both of you,” says Caspian to Jonah and Jorden. “Stay close to Quincy at all time.” I have the feeling that it’s more for their safety rather than mine because I’ll be heavily guarded.
“I think it’s time for us to get ready for the ceremony,” announces Serena.
When we get back into our bedchamber, François is there with a dress on a hanger next to a tuxedo.
“Queen Sophia sent these over, Your Highnesses,” he informs us.
Caspian has a strange expression on his face when he sees them.
The dress is off the shoulder, floor-length princess gown. It’s made with pale shimmering blue silk. The corset style bodice is beaded with pearls. The floor length voluminous silk skirt is stitched with delicate silver lace appliques. It’s a fairytale of a dress. Breathtakingly beautiful. I’ve never worn anything quite as beautiful in my life.
The grey tuxedo has an identical pale blue silk waistcoat and bow tie.
“She also wants you to have these.” François hands me two black velvet boxes. “I will send the maids in to help with your dress and make-up, Your Highness.”
“Thank you, François,” I manage to say before he walks out.
Queen Sophia sent these? I raise an eyebrow at Caspian who’s already looking at me.
“I don’t get it,” he says with a frown as I cautiously open one of the boxes. I gasp when I see a beautiful matching set of diamond earrings, a necklace, and a bracelet nestled inside. “This is my mother’s way of saying that she’s approved of our union. she was so against it before. Why approve now?”
*My next update for this story will be next Friday again.
*Another chapter for Gideon will be posted on Tuesday.
Have a wonderful weekend, everybody!