Alpha King Valdus Maynard Magnar.
It had been so long since he had last heard his name in its entirety. A wolfish grin spread across Valdus’ face. His eyes gleaming red, his wolf roaring with triumph. This was the result of years and years of sheer hard work and strategizing. Valdus finally had what rightfully belonged to him.
Valdus stared at the palace. It was more than a millennium old. The castle was built with freshly erupted magma rocks. Over the years it had cooled down, and the palace was now looked as if it were constructed of thick black boulders. Valdus was proud of it, it was built by his ancestors. This place didn’t belong to that King Edward.
The man couldn’t even shift into his wolf for god’s sake. What a coward and weak excuse for a king!
Enough about him, he was getting executed tomorrow while Valdus was here to stay and rule.
Many years ago, he had been kicked out by a witch with the tightest ass. She was snooty and thought herself to be better than the wolves. Mother Evanora. He remembered her name; it was etched into his soul. Valdus and his wolf yearned for her blood.
It had been so long since he tasted the blood of a Pure Witch.
“Your Majesty, do you want us to march to Moon Goddess’ temple and kill Mother Evanora?” one of Valdus’ subordinates stepped forward and asked.
“Now, what is the hurry?” Valdus chuckled, “we are not killing anyone just yet.”
The subordinate nodded and stepped back.
Valdus stepped forward.
“No one attacks the witches until I say so,” Valdus commanded.
The troops marched forward. Valdus’ confidants, Priest Carmichael and Beta Valerio walked beside him.
“How does it feel, King Valdus?” Carmichael, the dark witch, asked.
Valdus sighed at Carmichael’s question. Everything in his mind was contradicting.
“It feels good, Carmichael. Everything in this realm belongs to me, to fight for it and take it back… it sure feels good. But what is the point when I have no one to rule with, my soul-mate? What is a werewolf or a Lycan without one?” Valdus spoke. He often leant his troubles to the dark-witch, it kept Valdus sane.
“Alpha King, please do not fret. I made an enormous sacrifice to Lupus Magus last night. The Queen is near, my King. Believe me on this,” Carmichael assured Valdus.
Valdus had a hard time believing Carmichael. Over the years they had made numerous sacrifices to Lupus Magus, but he was yet to receive a mate. Valdus was already lost to his wolf. His beast was now beyond repair, it was nothing but a killing machine with no regards for emotions. Would he even receive a mate now that there was nothing left at all?
Valdus was empty on the inside.
They reached the steps of Mount Selene. The stairs were made of beautiful rose quartz. Under the moonlight, these stones would get charged with the purest of the powers, healing and rejuvenating anyone who climbed its steps. Valdus remembered when he was young, his mother Queen Yael would always bring him to these steps every full moon as his father tore apart the castle every full-moon night. The shifts were harder for adult Lycans. Their species was cursed. Every full-moon they would go on a rampage, their beast hungry for blood. On those days, his father would always ask Queen Yael to go to the temple.
It hurt Yael to not be with King Wolfgang Magnar. But she did what he said.
Valdus was not doing that. He would have his mate with him every night, full-moon or not. He would never let her out of his side. That was a promise.
Because that’s how his mother died.
Valdus cleared his throat and climbed the steps. You had to climb up the stairs to worship the goddess, but with Lupus Magus, it was stepping down. His shrines were always built underground. That ways the Lupus stayed closer to the underworld.
Valdus stared at the beautiful marble structure. Earlier, they had wanted to make the entire temple out of moonstone, but it just couldn’t stand, and so it had to be marble. But it looked so beautiful, nevertheless. But Valdus knew that he hated this place more than anything else.
There were no gates in the Moon Goddess’ temple. It was always open at all hours for prayer. They stepped in the main praying hall; the whole place looked deserted.
“I cannot see anyone here,” Valerio said.
“Yes,” Valdus said, “but I can feel them. Listen closely, Valerio. You will hear the sounds of little heartbeats beating so fast.”
Carmichael cackled. Valdus wasn’t the only one who wanted Evanora dead.
A cool breeze floated by, and the fragrance of lilies hit Valdus. The beast in him perked up.
“Can you smell the lilies?” Valdus said.
He was distracted by one of the guards.
“Your highness,” one of the guards called.
Valdus walked to him, followed by his confidantes.
They entered a beautiful courtyard. There was a beautiful pond right in the middle with lilies and lotus in full bloom. The place was decorated with a variety of flowers and statues. Valdus examined one of the statues. The craftsmanship was worth applauding. There were precision and talent here. Maybe Valdus would hire this craftsman for building statues of the Lupus Magus.
“King Valdus, I think, this is where the scent of lilies was wafting from,” Carmichael whispered.
“No, Carmichael,” Valdus whispered, “the fragrance had not come from here. It was the scent of lilies, yet I think it belonged to someone, it was an essence. I need to find it.”
“It could be one of the Pure Witches.”
Valdus agreed. Pure Witches smelled so good; it was a shame he had to kill them all. But of course, he would torture them first. The wind floated by again, and it brought a multitude of scents with them.
“Come on,” Valdus roared.
They walked in the direction of the scent. Valdus’ wolf was filled with unease. It paced in Valdus’ mind, restless and anticipating something.
“Something is up with my wolf, the Lycan is just all over the place,”
Valdus snarled, “I do not feel the usual bloodlust, Carmichael,”
“Be focussed, King. This could be a trap laid down by one of the trickster witches. They may be throwing you off with this ploy,”
“Oh, don’t you worry, Carmichael. This little play is not going to hurt me.”
“We need to go down to the basement,” Valerio informed.
“I know why,” Valdus said, “they have safe underground passages there. My father built it for the temple.”
Valdus walked down to the basement. There was a small trapdoor.
“Open it,” Valdus commanded.
One of the soldiers ran forward and opened the trapdoor. Valdus’ heartbeat was at an abnormal speed now. His throat was dry, and he felt lightheaded.
“They are in here, Alpha,” the soldier announced with a murderous glint in his eyes and a devilish smile on his face.
“No one will do anything to them,” Valdus announced. His voice reverberated across the room.
The soldier nodded and jumped inside. A few more jumped inside before Carmichael, Valdus and Valerio too jumped down. The place was illuminated with fire lamps. On the other side of them stood around twenty to thirty witches. Valdus’ ears started to ring. The fragrance of lilies hit him hard.
“There they are,” Valerio cackled, “we are going to have so much fun.”
“We sure will,” Carmichael agreed, “and who do we have here? Is that
Valdus wasn’t paying attention to this. His mind was on the scent.
“She is here, Valdus,” his beast howled.
Valdus’ eyes widened.
“Our Mate is behind the other girls. Tread carefully, I can already tell that she is petrified.”
Valdus nodded. He stepped forward, and the girls cowered.
“No one moves, Carmichael and Valerio, please step back.”
The confidantes stepped back, they looked at Valdus with questioning eyes.
“Elder Waugh, it’s been a long time,”
The idiot had his nose squeezed and lips puckered up.
“Alpha Valdus seems like you have taken your liking to the ways of the savage,” Waugh taunted.
“Werewolves and Lycans are meant to be savages, Waugh. It is our way of life. This finery that you don, all the silks and delicate fabrics, it is not meant for us. We dress our women in those, we pamper them with jewels and delicate materials. Wolves are supposed to be rugged and tough. You look like a pimp from the streets.”
Waugh deflated at Valdus’ comments. But he had been right. Valdus was dressed in a dirty pair of jeans and nothing on top. He was smeared with dirt and blood. Valdus’ nails weren’t cleaned or manicured, they had soil and toil on them. He was covered with scars because that’s what he had been doing for the past hundred years: building an army to take back what had been taken away from him.
“Now, if you want to keep your head, please step behind me. Beta Valerio, take care of him.”
And with that, Valdus turned his attention to the girls again.
“Little Witches,” Valdus grinned, “Lupus has played his cruel game again.”
The girls whimpered. Valdus stepped towards them.
“Where is Evanora?” Valdus asked.
None of the girls replied. Valdus’ hands were itching to get a hold of his mate, but it was essential to find Evanora as well. His wolf was howling like a dog with rabies.
“I said, where is Evanora?” Valdus roared.
One of the girls started to sob, but they didn’t answer.
“If you don’t want to be torched down, right now, then tell me where is the little bitch?” Valdus asked.
“We don’t k-know,” one of the girls sobbed, “she has gone somewhere, and we don’t know where she is.”
“Now, I feel like that is a lie. I can smell it on you, tell me, where is Evanora?”
“We d-don’t know,”
“Say it!” Valdus roared. He was getting impatient. He wanted to go to his mate who hid behind these girls.
“We don’t know, I swear. Only, Rosebud does! She was the one to tell Evanora of a location!”
“Romana!” Waugh snarled, “how could you out Rosebud like that? You know how special she is to Evanora!”
“Rosebud, come forward,” Valdus said,
“I don’t want myself repeating again.”
The girls moved away and there she stood. Dressed in a white flowing gown and a sheer veil covering her face, was she the Moon Goddess?
The girl glowed like the celestial bodies.
Who was she?
“She is a Pure Witch. The only Pure Witch in the Lycan realm,” Romana whispered.
“You are not pure witches?” Valerio asked.
“No, we are the devotees of the Goddess but not Pure Witches. They are blessed by the Goddess themselves at birth. Rosebud is an Enchantress and an expert Sculptor,” Romana whispered.
Waugh was seething. If looks could burn, Romana would be a pile of ash.
And the scent hit him again. The smell of beautiful lilies. Rosebud cowered under his gaze, and Valdus’ beast growled.
“This is her; she is it Valdus,”
Valdus had waited for her his entire life. He had scoured realms, but he didn’t find her. There were so many possibilities in his mind, was she a fairy? Or a vampire? A pixie perhaps. But here she was, a beautiful Enchantress, a Pure Witch. She was already bewitching him. Valdus knew she was the most beautiful girl, and he hadn’t even seen her face.
He knew he already loved her.
“Rosebud,” Valdus whispered her name.
Rosebud was her name; she was his soul-mate and the only person who knew where his sworn enemy hid.
“Alpha, should we take Rosebud into captivity? We will throw this girl in the dungeon,”
“No,” Valdus snarled.
Valdus turned to Carmichael.
“Rosebud is my soul-mate,” Valdus whispered.
His voice was low, but everyone heard. The witches gasped, Waugh’s eyes widened with horror and so did Carmichael’s. Valerio was the only who looked pleased.
“Congratulations, Alpha Magnar. You finally found her,”
Valdus didn’t care about that. Rosebud was a criminal, she knew where Evanora was. She was the reason why Evanora wasn’t in this passage with them. Valdus knew he could brush it off, but he didn’t realize his Mate’s intentions yet. She could be plotting against him, and as a King, he didn’t want to use his position to justify Rosebud not going to the dungeons.
“Get me the cuffs and chains,” Valdus commanded.
Valdus knew he was doing the right thing. He was the King; it was his duty. But he knew he was wrong as well; he wasn’t a Mate to her, he was cruel. But this was necessary.
“Alpha, she is your mate…”
“And also, the only person who knows where my enemy is. She is a criminal, Valerio.”
“You don’t have to do this,” Carmichael said, “Lupus sent her to you, your sacrifice ritual worked. Do not punish a Pure Witch, my King.”
“Get me the cuffs,” Valdus snarled.
One of the soldiers handed him the heave shackles with iron cuffs attached to its ends. They were heavy and solid. Valdus walked to Rosebud, her scent was heady, and his Beast was trying to pull him back. But this was to be done. The duties of a King had to be followed.
Rosebud whimpered, and the voice pierced him. She took a step back but stepped on her own gown and fell on the ground. Valdus kneeled down beside her, and she stared at him through her veil. He could feel his eyes on her, they were pleading with him.
“My duty is important too, my soul,” Valdus whispered and tied two cuffs to her feet and two to her hands. The iron weakened the powers, not by a lot, but the witch definitely felt it. And an elongated period could diminish her skills.
Valdus then picked her up in his arms. Rosebud was very still, but Valdus could hear her soft sobs.
“All the witches in the iron dungeon, including Elder Waugh,” Valdus commanded, “and prepare a separate dungeon for my mate. She will stay there.”
Valdus entered the dungeon that had been prepared for Rosebud. It was cold and damp, and a simple cot lay in the middle with a pitcher of water by its side. The dungeon was away from the others, it was the only one on this floor. Valdus didn’t want Rosebud living with other inmates. He placed her on the cot, frowning at its poor quality. How many inmates must have laid down on the same bed as her?
“My soul,” Valdus whispered, “I am going to remove your veil now.”
Valdus gently pulled the veil away from her face. They were sitting on the cot, with him looming over her. The cold breeze made the room all the more frigid then it was, but it didn’t bother Valdus. His gaze was transfixed on the beauty in front of him.
Rosebud had beautiful red hair; they were so long. Probably reaching her knees. Valdus, enamoured, wrapped his finger in a strand. They were all loose ringlets, so natural, yet there couldn’t be one person who could compare it with hers. Valdus kept the strands between his fingers and met her moss green eyes filled with tears. He cupped her full cheeks; Rosebud’s skin was porcelain and blemish-free. She had a little nose; it was so perfectly shaped. And her lips were just like her name; the colour of rosebuds and so small yet plush and full.
Valdus looked away. He closed his eyes, thanking every god coming to his mind. Valdus was filled with devotion and reverence for his pretty mate. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Valdus touched his face, the scars didn’t feel pretty. He was ugly, with his deep-set eyes always angry, and the crooked nose and thick lips always set in a flat line.
How could this beast get a beauty like her? He closed his eyes. Rosebud was the new Queen, a banquet had to be organised for her. Dignitaries and leaders of all the realms will have to be invited. His soul-mate would be paraded in front of them. They would all stare at her, and the tales of her beauty will reach to every being in this universe. More would want to see her, possess her… hurt her.
No one would hurt his precious Rosebud. He would make sure of it.
“My Soul,” Valdus whispered and turned back to her, “I can relieve you of your punishment. Just tell me Evanora’s location and I will surround you with silks, plush beds and the softest of the blankets.”
Big pearly tears glided down her cheek, and she shook her head.
“My Soul, don’t do this. This dungeon is not meant for a Queen, entrust me with this knowledge and relieve yourself from this hell,” Valdus begged, “don’t make me choose between my duty as a King and as a mate.”
Rosebud lowered her eyes, letting those tears slide down her cheek.
“Don’t cry, please, you don’t know what they do to me,” Valdus whispered hoarsely.
Rosebud didn’t say anything. Valdus cursed under his breath and got up.
“I don’t know what you have been taught, but I know Evanora enough, ‘always listen to your King, always listen to your Mate and always be for your Kingdom’. Those were the words she grilled in my mother’s head, and I am sure she must have done the same to you. You like it or not, but I am your Mate, I am your King, and as the Queen of this realm, you will have to act like it. Anything less than that is treason.” Valdus walked out of the dungeon, leaving his Soul Mate alone in the cold cell.