The Flames of Freedom
Somehow the sun was brighter on the outside, even though she was regularly allowed to wander the institution yard. The light of freedom and all.
She'd finally been let out after four years, having become a ward of the state after the murder of her parents. They thought she'd done it. What a ridiculous notion. Regardless of if she had or hadn't been holding the murder weapon and covered in the blood of her loved ones, they still should have investigated the crime scene. Though, she supposed contaminating over half of it in an effort to contact the spirits of her mother and father to find the murderer did make that more difficult.
"We should look at your parents house." Temperance suggests. She scoffs aloud.
"Yes Temp, lets return to the scene of the crime, where I'll no doubt be thrown back into Grayspire for going." She responds.
"Hey, you got a place to go or what?" Her driver snaps impatiently.
"Yeah, you know where the Full Moon is?" He gives her a look, like she's talking in riddles.
"The bar?" She rolls her eyes and huffs when realization dawns on him, he at least having the decency to look embarassed for obviously thinking she was a nut job.
"You sure you don't want to go home?" He asks.
"I've been at Grayspire since I was seventeen. I need a cigarette and a stiff drink," she laughs humorlessly.
"Seventeen? So I guess they're letting you go huh?" She was already tired of his inane line of questioning.
"I'm out on good behavior," she responds with bared teeth, opening the door to the still moving vehicle and hopping out in the parking lot of the Full Moon, thanking him for the ride without turning around or breaking stride as she beelined for the doors. The bar had no bouncer, and the inside was full of the local wolf pack. Looks like she'd accidentally walked in on something.
All the heads in the building turned to her, the room quieting. One hand raises in greeting, the other waves, a stool appearing beside her. She sits down as the wolves start growling at the blatant display of magic. She kicks her feet, too short to touch the ground when she's sitting.
"Don't mind me, I just need to talk to your alpha." Naturally one of the younger wolves had to start something. The kid couldn't be a day over fifteen.
"Who are you?" His lip curled back over his teeth and he stood from his seat, stalking over to her. She didn't move as he approached her, when he was standing in front of her she held a hand toward him and closed it, freezing him in place. Her nails tilted his head this way and that, she could feel him stuggling against her hold on him, but he was weak.
"For a mutt you're pretty cute," she grins. A snarl rips through his chest.
"Dahl, let him go," the deep voice of the man she was looking for rings out across the bar.
She squeals and rushes him, letting the kid go as she did. Two of the bigger men in the room grab for her but she dodges under their hands and flings her arms around his neck, his arm coming up to hold her, the other to pat her head.
"Puppy!" She grins. "I missed you so much," and she lands a sloppy kiss on the corner of his mouth.
"Can you not call me that anymore? I'm alpha now," he groans.
"You'll always be my puppy."
"This is Dahlia Angelou, she is the resident witch," he introduces her to his pack. She only recognized two members, to her confusion, filing that information away for a more appropriate time.
"I thought this town already had a witch?" The disgruntled teen she'd teased grumbled.
"Yeah," Ash trailed off.
"Puppy?" His silence confirmed it as truth and she sighed. "Puppy I really didn't want to do this on my first day out. I thought I told you to take care of it."
"Well, you see, she's just so-" his eyes became dreamy and the look told her everything.
Traditionally, only one witch could serve a wolf pack at a time, such were the Accords between packs to prevent one from becoming too powerful. When the younger witch had moved in there had only been one pack in this territory and Dahlia immediately contacted Ash with the demand to send her on her way.
"You've been gone for four years Dahl, we needed her."
"Have I not provided when you had needs? Have I not given you all that you desired, puppy?" She looked up at him through her lashes, the threat clear. Despite being locked away, her magic was strong, strong enough to help him cheat his way to the title of alpha and he owed her. His eyes hardened.
"A lot has gone on in the last two years that you don't know about. We'll talk about this later."
"Oh, if you mean the other pack that moved in I'm up to speed. I've been watching them for a while. I see far more familiar faces in that pack than I do here. I'm sure they'd be much more welcoming," she hisses. As she turns to leave, the two large men from before block her way.
She can hear growling, but it's not directed her way, and as the two men turn she catches a glimpse of a very broad male, one of the men from the other pack.
"Hey, I'm not looking for trouble. I'm just doing my job. I was told by my employer that one of the Grayspire patients that I'm supposed to be keeping an eye on was dropped off here?"
Dahlia pushed passed the two brutes in front of her and strutted across to Ryder, her warden from the institution.
"Present! I'm ready to go wherever you wanna take me big boy," she purred, fingers trailing his abdominal muscles through his shirt. His eye twitched.
"Please don't touch me Ms. Angelou." He grabbed her, nodded his head at the other pack in gratitude, and dragged her away to his truck.
"Eager to get me alone?" She teases as he lifts her into the monstrosity on wheels.
"You were supposed to go to your assigned apartment, Dahlia." He sighs in a tired way, hands gripping the wheel tight. "Why can't you just do as you're told? The only reason they even let you out was because I put in a good word for you!"
"I know, and I'm sorry Ryder. I just wanted to see my friend. You know they wouldn't let me have visitation." Puppy eyes begged his forgiveness, and he looked away. He looked back at her again and a rumble worked its way through his chest.
"I hate it when you make that face," he grouches. A smile tugged at the corner of his lips and she grinned.
"I guess it was a wasted effort though, he's replaced a lot of the previous pack and apparently my position as his friend and resident witch," she says bitterly.
"You haven't been keeping tabs on him?" He asks in surprise. She felt at a loss when she answered.
"I don't really like to spy on my friends, so I've respected his privacy."
His hand was warm as it rested on her knee in way that comforted her more than she could express.
"I'm sorry. You're more than welcome to belong to Ridgecrest if you'd like?" He offered, "I can speak to my alpha about rescinding his request to the Council of Crones."
"You really wouldn't mind? Because I'd hate to have to commit a murder on my first day of freedom," she teases. He knows she's serious though.
"Absolutely. Once we get you settled in I'll pop by and talk to him."
"Are you going to let me come with you, or will I have to scry the information for myself?"
When they reach the apartment complex, owned by none other than the alpha of the Ridgecrest pack, Ryder showed her around and then led her to a larger home built at the back of the complex. He didn't even knock, calling out welcome as he pulled her inside with him. It was quaint. Pictures of the pack lining the cream colored walls, but aside from that it was cookie cutter. Tidy, no knickknacks or decor. It was painfully obvious the alpha needed a women's touch.
"Alpha this is Dahlia, the previous resisdent witch of this area." Ryder introduces upon entry of the alpha's office.
"Why would I want what the other pack discarded? I think I'll wait on the council." He didn't even look up from his paperwork.
The only thing stopping Dahlia from launching herself at that sorry excuse for a wolf was Ryder's hand like a vice on her shoulder.
"They replaced her due to being absent for a number of years. She was being held at Grayspire." Apparently that peaked his interest enough to glance up at her.
"I've got more power in my little finger than you do in your whole body pup," she snarks, lip curling. She could feel Ryder become ridged at the glare pointed her way.
"What a chump. He's not even worth wasting your magic on. Forget his pack. Find a stronger one," Wrath insisted.
"Maybe he's just testing you to see if you have a backbone," Patience murmurs.
"Shut up!" She growls to herself.
"Dahlia no one said anything," Ryder tells her slowly.
"I'm not talking about you," she waves dismissively. The wolves give her strange looks.
It wasn't commonly known to other people of the Unseen World, but witches gained their power from making pacts with angels and demons. Most of them lesser beings. When she had come of age, her mother taught her how to perform the Summoning, as her mother had before her.
At a Summoning, one was to enter an agreement with their entity of choice. Dahlia had been a special case. At her Summoning, twins had stepped forth from the veil, the female golden and beautiful, the male twisted and dark. They had introduced themselves as Virtue and Sin. She held her arms out as they carved their names into her very bones, screaming the whole time.
When she'd woken days later, she could hear voices in her head, she thought she'd gone completely mad. In a row they'd introduced themselves as the seven heavenly virtues, Charity, Chastity, Diligence, Humility, Kindness, Patience, and Temperance, and the seven deadly sins, Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride, Sloth, and Wrath. They'd explained that, as part of the pact she had signed with Virtue and Sin, they were to remain with her at all times to offer insight, wisdom, and guidance. She'd learned to block them out over the years.
"More crazy in your whole body than in my little finger, it would appear," the alpha smiled, breaking the awkward silence.
"Alright. I'll withdraw my request for a new witch. No point in wasting the talents of one we've already got. You're dismissed."