"What is it Athena?" I ask, grateful that both she and Asher were able to come down so quickly to help us.
"The man in your drawing, he was one of the messenger wolves that was in our inner circle."
"So you know him?" I hear Max asking, to which Athena quickly replies, "And you don't?"
She looks right at me as she says it, but the confusion on my face must have given it away.
"I guess you were still young back then so I don't blame you..." she trails off, but I have no idea what she's talking about.
"What do you mean Athena?"
She looks at me, slowly walking towards me and Max, "Honey, he came from your pack, his name was James."
I sit there in shock, not knowing how to even react at what I was just told. "Why would he come after my pack?"
Now it was Athena's turn to be confused, so I continue, "He was the man who reached out to me via mindlink to lead the war, and he was the same wolf who attacked my pack and killed my parents."
I see her trying to figure out something before she speaks, "He came to training as he was your pack's messenger, that's how we all met him. He was one of the best at distanced mindlink and he quickly learned everything we had to teach him. We learned much later on that he became a rogue, but by the time we found out and reached out to your pack to ask, news spread about the attack... I'm so sorry Kyda. We don't know much else about the broader story. He was a bit distanced during training, not very talkative about his personal life."
"It's okay" I tell her, "I'm happy even for this information. I just can't believe I don't remember him from my pack, but maybe by the time I was born, he may have already been a rogue. My parents never mentioned him and we didn't have many people leave our pack so I'm surprised. We were usually the ones taking lone wolves in"
Before I stop to think about him, I hear Max speak up, "Why wouldn't Sonja know him? He looks to be about the same age as your mother"
"She's younger than my mom. There's about a 7.5 year age difference. If he became a rogue when my mom was on the younger side, she would be about 10 or 11. And that drawing is of him present day, I'm sure he changed a lot over the years. However, you have a point. Maybe if we ask her to think about him being part of the pack and ask her to take a second look at the photo, she may recognize some facial features. It can't hurt to ask" I try not to get too hopeful, but maybe a nudge will help my aunt's memory.
"I'll ask her as soon as we see her. I think now she's off trying to bring more packs to our cause, but in the meantime, we can start the training with Athena if that's alright?" I ask her, and see her nod happily in my direction.
I hear her alpha Asher chuckle, "you have no idea how happy she is to teach you this. She loves being able to revive old traditions and she misses teaching" he tells me, clearly adoring of his luna's ability and strength.
"Try to be calm as possible" I hear Athena's voice as we sit across from each other, eyes closed. "The process is all mental Kyda. You need to relax your mind. We don't know if you have any dormant genes to give you an advantage with this process so we'll take it slow."
I shut my mind to the surroundings and focus on Athena's voice, concentrating on the silence and bringing my state of mind to a clean slate.
"Now, picture yourself mindlinking someone from your pack. Feel the slight vibrations, the mind trying to connect, the strength of that connection. Picture yourself multiplying it, as if your waves are hyperextending out into openness around you. Flex that distance as if you had no inhibitions, no wall. Like ripples near a pebble that extend to the depths of the ocean."
I imagine my brainwaves for mindlinking spreading like tentacles, grasping at those around me, flexing their strength, feeling their vibrations, their power.
I sense them reaching at the edge, realizing it's the edge of my pack's mindlink and try to push passed it, but I can't. I get frustrated, pushing again and again for what feels like forever, before I feel the tentacle-like energy snap back, pulling me from my state.
I already see Athena's eyes on me. "You tried to get past the pack's border didn't you?"
"Yes, but I couldn't." I huff out, frustrated.
"Kyda, these things take time. Some wolves took months of daily practice and years to master. And we're trying to push your mind to do it in a few weeks at best. Don't push yourself past the limit and weaken your mind. Tell me how it felt."
"I could feel myself reaching the border and it stopped. I tried to push harder, and after a few tries, they kind of snapped back into me and I was jolted."
She chuckles. "Brute force isn't what will get you passed the border Kyda, or else simple mindtraining and strength will allow wolves to hack into any pack. You need to make the waves trust you, trust your intentions. You don't push your way through, you ease into it."
"Trust? But how did James get into my mindlink?"
"He was part of your pack before. Even pushed out as a rogue, his connection was partially there, and combined with his strength, it may have been enough."
I nod in understanding. "So what do I do now?"
Athena smiles at my question. "It's good you're eager. Keep up that ambition even when you get annoyed with the process. We continue the same form of meditation as before, but once you reach the border of your pack, don't push. Stay there for a bit. Get comfortable with being at that distance, warm up to the border, and in later lessons, we can talk about passing through"
She smiles warmly at me and I take in a deep breath, awaiting her next lessons.