The alpha wouldn't talk to me. Outside of the necessary conversations required between an alpha and his beta, Hakota hadn't spoken a word to me in two weeks.
I had no reason to complain. I was the one that had lied to him after all, had betrayed his trust in me and through my actions had told him that I clearly didn't trust him. Then there was also the fact he was trying to help me. He had tried several times to set up a meeting between the Forest King and himself only to be denied the permission to step foot into the Forest Kingdom without it being taken as a declaration of war. There was simply nothing that could be done between the King of the Forest Kingdom and the King of the Old Kingdom.
The younger generation of lycans just said screw the consequences and go to war, but they were too young to understand what a liability they were. They hadn't lived through decades of warfare, they were young and untrained and we couldn't afford to lose the next generation of lycans. While they would do well on a battlefield, a well planned assassination was a grave threat.
Let alone if the Forest Kingdom had succeeded in creating others like Malik to use against us in war. A new type of Hunter we needed to be wary of.
Since Hakota clearly didn't wish to speak with me, I didn't push him.
But his silence hurt me, his cold shoulder hurt me.
Luckily, Cleo was understanding. She did not shun me nor did she hold a grudge. I did get a sad look from her every time I attempted to bring up the rift between Hakota and I, tried to apologize or at least explain but he would always turn away without a word.
Cleo would always just pat me on the shoulder before following out after he mate. "He'll give up his tantrum soon enough," she tried to console me.
Hakota wasn't pouting though. He wasn't being petty and trying to punish me. He was genuinely hurt. He was staying away from me for his own benefit. He couldn't face me now and I wasn't going to force him until he was ready.
As for Jeko, he was still around, perpetually pissed off but trapped here in the Old Kingdom. We had not done anything to him, nor had we disowned him from the pack or declared his mating with Winter void so he could not return home unless he renounced our pack which his father would never allow.
The Forester wasn't going to challenge me to a mate fight either. I would win, even if I didn't kill him, I would beat him into unconsciousness to where he could no longer continue. He wouldn't last long against me and it would only end in his humiliation.
So I was in the same situation as before except now my best friend wouldn't talk to me.
On the bright side I didn't have to hide my relationship with Winter anymore so I didn't have to sneak around and douse my room in perfumes to hide her scent.
A sharp whistle caught my attention and I lifted my eyes from my mate who was lounging in my lap as she dozed while I ran my fingers through her dirty blonde hair.
Winter stirred at the piercing noise and sat up, rubbing at her eyes drowsily and yawning.
Malik invited himself into my room, waving a folder in his hand as he pranced over to my bed where Winter had pushed away from me to stretch. Not even taking off his shoes, the boy leapt over me and sat down between my mate and I, taking away my pillow to make himself more comfortable as he nestled in, propping open the folder on his lap.
"You could at least take off your shoes," I grumbled while Winter leaned into Malik to fully view the contents of the folder.
Lifting up the folder, the hybrid gave it a kiss, "This, my star-crossed friends," Malik chirped, tapping Winter on the nose with it, "is your salvation." With a gloating grin he lifted his chin, "You may worship me now."
I flicked his ear, "Not likely, but how about you tell us what you have before making all of these claims?"
Pouting, Malik rolled his eyes and started tossing papers my way. "Thanks to my brilliance, all plans are moving forward accordingly and I predict in a few months all of this will behind us."
My eyes quickly scanned the documents, one after the next as I paged through them. They were intercepted messages, detailed spy reports and updates describing the current gossip within the Forest Kingdom packs.
"This is..." Winter breathed in awe before looking up sharply at the hybrid who was all too pleased with himself. "Malik, how did you get all of these?"
"Sitka did most of the work to be honest, I just had to tell everyone about his personal life, but that's a small sacrifice for the greater good, isn't it buddy?" The boy cooed, patting my shoulder.
I shrugged his hand off, looking closer at a few select lines. "The Forest King has disrespected our traditions and insulted the pride and strength of our kind. Denying a mate fight between the beta of the lycan pack and his son because he believes a Forester too weak survive and threatening war if the lycans propose the challenge is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. He obviously believes his own offspring to be weak so is he himself any stronger and deserving to call himself our King? Too scared to let his son fight for a mate, one of our oldest traditions and yet he hides behind the threat of war." I recited what was written on the paper that was dated and labeled as a direct report that was taken from a pack meeting between two alphas from the Forest Kingdom.
The other papers virtually said the same thing. They were all questioning the rule of their current King and proposing him unfit for such a title within their Kingdom.
Malik wiggled his brows, taking the papers back from me. "Yup, pretty great isn't it?"
"You're creating a civil war," Winter said.
I grabbed a paper dated from two days ago, the latest of the reports.
"How did you even do this, Malik? I thought Syn fixed all of your false orders and warned them about your games."
Waving his hand the hybrid snorted, "I undid my father's work in two days, child's play." To say it was alarming for him to call his infiltration into our private spy network child's play was an understatement.
"And is it safe for me to assume that you have something to do with why the Forest King refuses to see my father?" My mate quirked an accusing brow, "It's more than a little strange he won't even see him even if only to gloat."
Shrugging Malik answered, "I don't like variables I can't predict or control." I paused in my reading, giving him a scrutinizing look, unsure if I should be worried or relieved that he considered Hakota an uncontrollable variable. "I can't have them coming to an agreement that messes up my plans after all."
"Wouldn't that be better if they could come to a compromise that keeps the peace?" Winter pointed out flatly.
"That's a naive way of thinking," the boy drawled, "I know enough about the slimy Forest King to know he would only honor that agreement for as long as it suited him. Also, I can't have them discovering my meddling in their correspondences."
"You have spies from both sides?"
"Technically I have Hakota's spies and then I have some informants loyal to only me," Malik waved his about in the air, "they don't serve the lycans, they serve me," Malik admitted.
Winter's eyes narrowed, "How?"
"Well obviously I'm an alpha of the Forest Kingdom," the boy rolled his eyes as if it was obvious. "I'm the puppet master and the benefactor to my little alpha pawn. He's my face in the Forest Kingdom and in return he gets to benefit from my great ideas. You could say I'm helping out a friend to achieve his dream of becoming Forest Kingdom King."
I flicked the paper in my hands down, "Yeah, well you got your friend killed," I replied dryly. "He was executed for his plots of treason two days ago."
"Oh dear, did he?" Malik replied flippantly, not looking the least bit concerned. He plucked the report from my hand, "What a shame."
"So that was part of your plan?" I demanded, not understanding how sacrificing his greatest informant and foothold in the Forest Kingdom could possibly be beneficial.
"Nothing sparks as cause like a martyr for it," Malik purred, crawling over me and sliding off the bed. He tucked the folder under his arm and showed himself to the door. "Don't worry beta," he said, over his shoulder when he paused in the doorway. He shot me a broad smile, his white eyes glinting, "there's at least ten more who will take up his mantle." He gave me a two finger salute and left, whistling an upbeat tune.
"That boy worries me," Winter murmured.
I looked down at my hands. Malik practically held the world in his own, at least regarding the fate of our pack. So easily he was able to gain control, to manipulate things. There was no doubt in my mind that the hybrid held an equal chance of saving us as he did of destroying us.