Roses and Fangs

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[ELEVEN]

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It didn’t seem the Capitol was getting plundered only a few weeks ago. The city looked bright and cheery. The decorators had left no stone unturned. The Capitol beamed with beautiful lights in a variety of colours, the shops were frolicked by the guests coming from different realms. This was also an occasion for booming the economy. But despite it all, Rosebud’s eyes were on the beautiful rolling mountains and the magnificent temple resting on it.

The Moon Goddess’ temple.

It had been in the realm since many millennials, it was built of rose quartz and opals and marbles. The temple, by its very nature, exuded calm and peace. Rosebud’s eyes went to the full moon. It was large and blood red, a contrast against the temple it shone upon. A shiver ran down her spine. The maids helped her step out of the tub filled with milk. The rose petals were stuck to her frail body.

A cloth was wrapped around her body, and she was taken to a chair. Rosebud looked down at her hands. They were devoid of the shackles. She wouldn’t be wearing them anymore. She closed her eyes, feeling her magic swirling within her. Rosebud wrapped her fingers within her opal beads, letting their pure energy mingle with hers. She felt powerful today. Rosebud knew her magic was potent today, it was practically oozing from every pore of hers. She was an enchantress, and with the way all the maids were cooing and adoring her, she knew it was working.

Rosebud kept her magic to a minimum most of the days, she was not very good at controlling it. The shackles had done a better job of keeping her power in check.

“You are glowing, Princess,” a maid cooed, “the King will be on his knees.”

Rosebud blushed and mindlessly played with her beads. Her hair was detangled with a large-toothed comb. Her mind kept running to Valdus. There was something in the air today. Her cravings had increased, she wanted to be around him. Her heart yearned for him. She had even whined about it to Ramona, but the bride and groom were to not see each other before the nuptials. There was a weird tickling between her legs. Rosebud was deeply embarrassed by it. Ramona had also provided her with a beneficial book.

Rosebud had some seriously amorous thoughts. She had spent the better part of the previous night salivating over King Valdus’ rippling muscles, his battle scars, his rugged attitude and his wild hair and ruthless disposition. She suddenly found his rather rude and menacing behaviour attractive. She loved his stern demeanour and the adoration he had reserved just for her. But there was also a nervous pit in her stomach. Rosebud knew Valdus would shift into a wolf. Rosebud had never seen a shifting, she just knew they were wild and untamed creatures who would tear into just about anything.

The maids brought her dress. Rosebud gasped at the sight of it. It was an off the shoulder dress with floral motifs all over. The sweetheart neckline would give a generous view of her bosom. The tulle was so sheer and not layered, and she wouldn’t be wearing anything underneath. She stepped into the dress and the maids buttoned it from behind. She stared at herself in the mirror. Half of her breasts were hanging outside, and the other half was visible from underneath. Rosebud’s dusty pink areolas were visible too. She was sure her butt would be noticeable also.

Beautiful and fragrant night-flowering jasmines were pinned to her hair, and some rose petals were rubbed against her lips and cheeks.

That was it.

There was no dressing up or layers of makeup. It was simple yet beautiful.

“I will ask Beta Valerio to come,”

Traditionally, the bride’s father and husband would escort her to the temple, but since Rosebud was an orphan, Beta Valerio would be accompanying her. Rosebud was grateful.

Beta Valerio stepped in the dungeon. He dressed in relaxed-fitting linen pants and nothing else on the top. Rosebud blushed at his blatant nudity but frowned when she saw his pupils dilating.

“Princess, you look so beautiful,” Valerio choked out, “King Valdus is a lucky man.”

“Thank you, Beta Valerio,” Rosebud whispered, “for the compliment and for escorting me. You didn’t have to, but you did, and for that, I will always be indebted.”

“Don’t be, Princess. You can ask me to lay down my life, and I will do it.”

Princess Rosebud knew he was serious. Betas were fiercely loyal to the Alpha and his mate. Valdus’ great-grandmother had once come across a situation where her Beta had said the same. She had giggled and asked him to prove it, within the next second, the valiant Beta had pulled his heart out of his chest and laid it down in front of her.

“I will never ask you to do that,” Rosebud said quickly, “I want you alive and healthy.”

“You are too sweet, my Princess.” Beta Valerio’s eyes softened. “Now, let’s take you to the temple.”

“Is the King there?”

“He is, Princess. And he is waiting for you. The King has been eating my brain since the morning, the man is going crazy without seeing you!”

Rosebud giggled sweetly and walked to him. Beta Valerio bent down and placed his arm behind her knees, and one encasing her back and picked her up. Rosebud didn’t say anything, she was still apprehensive of a man’s touch. To her surprise, Beta Valerio’s touch was comforting yet protective. She immediately felt at ease with him. He had been appointed the head of her personal security, Rosebud knew he was the perfect man for the job. He was also accompanying her on the tour.

Beta Valerio stepped outside the castle. A small troop stood there, armed to the hilt. They would all be escorting her to the temple of the goddess. Beta Valerio would take her there on foot, as the tradition demanded.

The streets cleared automatically as the Beta walked through them. His eyes were focussed and determined. Rosebud strangely felt as if they were on a mission and bit her lip from laughing out loud.

“I hope I am not too heavy, Beta Valerio,” Rosebud asked after a while.

“Lighter than a feather, Princess,” Beta replied.

They ceased all conversations after that. Rosebud turned her attention to the moon shining on top of them. Her heart rate increased. Even Beta Valerio seemed angsty. She knew it was the moon. The full moon night was particularly dangerous for werewolves and lycanthropes. During Mother Evanora’s regimen, shifting into wolves was banned. Today was a turning point for the realm. All the werewolves will finally embrace their true selves and shift.

What would Mother Evanora think of today? Would she be happy, seeing Rosebud as a bride? Rosebud’s mind travelled to a conversation she had with Mother Evanora a few years ago.

Mother Evanora pushed the spectacles over her nose and peered over the files in front of her. Rosebud stood by the doorway, waiting for her Mother to finish so she could go inside and announce her plight.

“What troubles you, sweet Rosebud?” Mother Evanora mused while still looking over her files.

“I can come later, Mother. I didn’t mean to disturb you,” Rosebud whispered.

“You can never disturb me, Rosebud. You mean so much to me.” Evanora smiled softly and beckoned her inside. “Now, sit and tell me.”

“I am afraid of asking the question, Mother Evanora.”

“Be free, there is no shame or judgement here,”

“Today I saw Sage getting married to a man, she didn’t seem very happy,” Rosebud stared at Evanora with slight apprehension, “ shouldn’t one be happy?”

“Just because she wasn’t smiling doesn’t attribute to unhappiness. Maybe she was just shy or scared.”

“Scared of what?”

“Rosebud, she is stepping into a new chapter. Her husband’s territory is unfamiliar to her, she doesn’t know where she is going, that is bound to make anyone sad.”

“But why did you send her so far away? You could’ve have found a mate for her within the Capitol.”

“Long-term happiness was the goal here, Rosebud. I wanted Sage to be delighted with the mate I had chosen for her. I was aware of all the facets, my decision will bring her the peace and calm one craves,”

“But she chose a mate for herself, she said that the goddess herself had given her a…”

“Don’t be stupid, Rosebud,” Evanora got up from her chair, “I know what is best for Sage. I don’t want you arguing about this. When the time comes you will go to your mate, I have already chosen a very promising candidate for you.”

“What?”

“Yes, now Rosebud, please let me get back to my work.”

But Rosebud didn’t move. Her feet were stuck on the floor, she couldn’t believe the words that left Evanora’s lips.

“Rosebud, do you trust me?” Evanora asked.

“I do,”

“Then be assured that it is all going to be good in the end,”

“Princess, is everything alright?”

Rosebud turned and looked into Beta Valerio’s eyes. They were climbing the quartz steps of the temple. Rosebud sighed and let a sweet smile appear on her lips, she was indeed lucky, she was going to marry someone who was indeed intended for her. There was only pure joy and elation in her heart. All thoughts about Mother Evanora left her mind. Her eyes drunk the architecture of her beautiful home. The tall pillars and the arches that rested on top of them. The circular structure of the temple looked regal tonight.

“We are almost there,” Beta Valerio growled as he climbed the last few steps and stepped into the temple.

The moment they entered the temple, a soft breeze flowed past them. The massive courtyard had large lanterns hanging above them, illuminating the temple with a soft glow. There were soft murmurs as Valerio set Rosebud on the ground and she turned around to examine. The temple was filled with men, they all sat along the perimeter of the courtyard.

They were the two fifty Alphas of the realm. She would be meeting each one of them personally over the next couple of months. Growls left their chests at the mere sight of her, she looked to be the most beautiful in the whole entire realm. A heavenly fire was lit in the middle of the courtyard with her soulmate sitting right by it. His chest lay bare, the rippling muscles on display. It should’ve been enough to scare her, but the love and tenderness in his eyes proved otherwise.

“Come, my sweet mate,” Alpha King Valdus beckoned her towards him.

Rosebud’s steps were quicker now as she reached him. He helped her sit down beside him. Cupping her cheeks with his hands, he placed a small kiss on her nose. Rosebud beamed. She wrapped his arms around her neck and put her head on his chest. His masculine scent soothed her bundled nerves.

“I am so happy,” Rosebud blinked away her tears, her lashes grazing his chest, “I have always wanted this.”

“I am happy too. I will finally have you. I have dreamt of this for so long, Rosebud, you have no idea.” Valdus ran his fingers through her hair. “And I will finally kiss those beautiful lips of yours.”

A giggle escaped her, and her full lips throbbed with need.

“May we begin the ceremony?”

Rosebud looked up, Carmichael stood there with a benevolent smile on his face.

Valdus nodded, and Carmichael sat opposite them. The fire burned briskly in front of them.

“Today, we are gathered here for the holy union between two soulmates: Valdus Maynard Magnar and Rosebud. With the combined blessings of the Moon Goddess and the Lupus Magus, their union will be blessed with eternal love and happiness. Anyone who has an objection against the marriage, please stand,” Carmichael announced.

No one spoke a word.

“Alright, then. As per the customs that have dictated the realms since centuries except the last, I request Alpha Maynard to pick Selene’s sword in front of you and make an incision on your palm parallel to the wrist.”

Rosebud gasped. Valdus picked the sword and brought it over his palm. Without any hesitation, he made a clear cut, parallel to the wrist. Blood started to ooze out of the wound, and a small sniffle escaped Rosebud’s lips.

“Don’t worry, my sweet. The wound will heal very soon.”

That didn’t ease Rosebud.

“Smear the blood on your Mate’s face, Alpha Valdus.”

Valdus brought his hand to her face and started to caress his palm across her cheeks, over her lips and nose, her forehead and her neck. Rosebud didn’t say anything, but she observed Valdus’ reaction. His pupils were dilated, and she watched a sharp fang piercing his lip.

“Alpha Valdus’ blood marks the pure witch, Rosebud. This is an ancient tradition which replaced the much barbaric ritual of biting your soulmate. With his blood, Alpha Valdus has marked the pure witch, Rosebud as his territory. Princess Rosebud is the embodiment of Moon Goddess herself. By marking her, Alpha Valdus brings the independent spirit of the Goddess into his land.”

A cool breeze floated by, making Rosebud shiver. Alpha Valdus brought his hand around her shoulder and pulled her closer, warming her up instantly.

“Princess Rosebud, it is important that you mark Alpha Valdus too. A way in which he can feel you closer to himself. I suggest you pull out a few strands of your hair. We can work with that.”

Rosebud didn’t hesitate, she pulled a few of her long strands from her scalp, trying to not wince at the pinching pain. She handed the strands to Carmichael. He folded the strands and put them into a locket and closed it. He brought the silver locket over the fire, letting it melt slightly so that the strands would forever be locked. He placed the pendant through a chain and handed it over to Valdus.

Valdus quickly tied the locket around his neck.

“I am never removing this.”

Rosebud smiled.

“And now moving on towards the rings. They have been bathed in a combination of the holy waters of all realms, they are now pure and full of potent energy.”

A tray of rings was brought, Rosebud peered over them. They were so pretty. Valdus’ ring was made of dark stone.

“Alpha Maynard’s ring is made of the stone belonging to an era when this realm was nothing but raging volcanoes. The ring contains the ancient fire of our realm, a fitting ornament for the King,” Carmichael explained.

Rosebud’s eyes went to her own ring, a smile appearing on her lips. It was a sizeable yellowy diamond in a teardrop shape, the ring itself was in a strange blue metal.

“This diamond is rumoured to have been created when gods and goddesses were creating the universe. It is said to hold the golden light of the divine, hence the distinct yellow colour. Now, the blue metal is a distinct form of silver found in the strange land of elves. This type of silver enhances the wearer’s powers, in our case, the Princess. The King went to great lengths for having this ring made, Princess.”

“Thank you, my Lord,” Rosebud whispered.

Valdus smiled and brought the ring to her hand, slipping it in her dainty finger. Rosebud did the same.

“I, in the great light of the Goddess, pronounce you husband and wife. Alpha Valdus, you may now kiss your bride,” Carmichael said.

Valdus didn’t have to be told twice. He descended his lips upon Rosebud’s. Her plush mouth hit him, and it was all fireworks. Rosebud moaned sweetly. His domineering mouth guided her. This was Rosebud’s first kiss, and she knew no other would compare to it, ever. His heady masculine scent made her feel drunk as Valdus reluctantly parted his lips.

Rosebud’s eyes met his, they were red, and the fangs were out completely. She felt the stinging pain in her lips. Valdus moved two steps behind her, and her heart cried.

Why is he going away from me?

But the worry was short-lived because Valdus’ body contorted into a huge animal. A choked scream left Rosebud’s lips. His muscles tripled in size, and a coat of hair covered his body. His nose elongated into a broad snout and eyes became further hooded. Valdus’ body was a crossover between a giant wolf and a human. The authority increased manifold and all the Alphas around them fell onto their knees. Their bodies quivered, wanting to shift.

A loud roar escaped Valdus’ body. The entire temple shook at the intensity. Rosebud’s ears rang at the deafening roar. Soon, through her peripheral vision, Beta Valerio too shifted. Another howl escaped Valdus’ body. It seemed like a command.

All the Alphas shifted after them.

“They will go on a run, Princess. It is customary. All the Alphas go on a run in the forests of Mount Selene.”

Valdus turned around and ran out of the temple, soon all the Alphas started to follow him.

Rosebud sat there. The temple was now empty.

She heard the loud howls echoing across the Capitol.

“This is the first time, so many wolves have shifted in the past hundred years. The realm finally belongs to the wolves again,” Carmichael whispered, “everything feels alive again.”

It was the truth. The realm reverberated with a different energy altogether. It felt like a living organism.

“Get up now, Princess,” Carmichael said, “it is time to prepare yourself for the coronation.”

Rosebud nodded and got up. She couldn’t believe she was married. Her soul felt complete, it felt like she had found a part of herself. But there was more.


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