To my chagrin someone threw clothes at Atreus and he began to dress. Its like having a masterpiece shoved in a closet when it should be displayed and admired, too sad!
Though it wouldn't be practical I suppose, and the thought of every other She-Wolf ogling him made a surge of jealousy roar up inside me. Suddenly I was grateful for the clothes on his back, shielding him from everyone because only I deserve the right to admire his beautiful nakedness, only me.
Yup! Only me, because...
He... is... Mine!
Wait a minute! Did I just think that? Did I just say that in my mind? Wow! Ok, I gulped down and looked around shifty, then catch Atreus gaze. Does he know, oh Godess, please let that thought stay in my head, as much as I'm open to our now growing connection, I don't need the humiliation of him reading my very thoughts.
"You ok?" He questions.
"Um yeah! Just a little nervous about the whole removing my mark scenario. What does that entail, exactly?" I threw out the other questions I had brewing in my head, hoping to deflect from my crazily possessive thoughts.
When he smiled at me, I felt like he knew. He was giving off a cheeky smile.
"There is to be a ceremony." He starts with and all I can think is... of course there is! What else would it be.
"Don't panic, the Elders have guaranteed your safety, and I will be with you every step of the way."
"Not being rude or anything but after the whole 'trial' well- I have little faith in the Lunar Council right now...
It pains me to say it, but after all this, I just can't put my trust in them. These marks were given to me by the Godess and yet they deem her decision wrong?
They wanted me branded a fake and punished, shamed infront of my peers and my pack. After all that how can I have faith in them?
It makes me sad actually, I've always respected and looked up to the very elders that now are behaving in a corrupt way. It makes me question their past decisions, how many other innocents were imprisoned or punished for crimes they hadn't committed?
Can you see?
Can you see Atreus?
The people we revered as all knowing, righteous and wise are not what they portray!"
"I can see, Bunny. More than you know, and I understand your fears, just know I am here. You can lean on me, I will help you through this. Do you trust me?"
"Yes." I reply and stare deeply into his bewitching eyes.
"I do Atreus and just like you said to me, I have to return in kind.
There is something about you, in the beginning I believed it was wrong too, not any more though! I don't know what or why but... I trust you with everything that I have and I can't explain it, the feeling has been blossoming from the first moment I met you..."
Oh Godess did I just confess?
"Ah, have you got any water? I really need some." I quickly added, my mouth dry from the craziness that just popped out. I looked about in complete panic.
"HAS ANYONE GOT WATER!" I screamed, when someone quickly replied, I ran over to them and away from Atreus like a scared little bunny fleeing from a predator.
With my back to him I began gulping down, the liquid savior.
"You can't escape me that easily." Atrues whispered in my ear and as his breath hit my skin I almost moaned.
Gods I think I'm in trouble!
"Ha ha, your funny Alfa, I- I was just really thirsty." I said sheepishly.
"I can tell your definitely thristy for something..." Atreus replys, then winks at me. I've either died and gone to heaven or hell right now I'm not quite sure because boy is the man a tease and I think I love it!
I purse my lips, trapping my smile then he grabs my wrist again and pulls me along. Relieved that he ended it there, I couldn't take another rejection so soon after the last time he blew off our encounter. Keeping my mouth shut, I enjoyed the comfort I felt from his touch.
We are a few hundred meters away from the walled City, it was otherworldly in its sheer size and staggering architecture. The whole area leading up to the walls was short grass, the walls themselves were built from huge boulders cut to precision with an aged patina you could tell it was ancient and stood here for a millenia or more. It was clearly one of the hidden wonders of the world.
As we neared, our group halted before a moon gate. It is a circular stone structure, like a ring set into the ground, with two giant wolves carved out of stone either side. It sat solo in the vast expanse before the city, though mirrored the shape of the giant gateway that was set into the cities outer wall.
I was struck as one after another, wolf after wolf, walked through the moon gate. They could easily passed it by but didn't.
Was it a ritual? I couldn't figure it out as we stood in situ apparently awaiting our turn. Everyone stood still and watched as each person, or sometimes two walked through the portal?
With Atreus hold on me still firm, I tapped on his arm. "What's this all about?" I questioned so curious about the structure ahead.
"Your a curios little bunny aren't you, huh!" He smiled at me then began to explain.
"It is known by many different names, circle of truth, or truths is probably one of the top, the Godess's eye another. Though if I'm correct I believe the actual name is the Lunar Gate of Mactire and the city of Ossary, where no person or wolf can pass through, without sharing the lies that darken their soul."
"So its like a ancient lie detector, or truth serum. Ha! That's hilarious, we get to share our deepest secrets with everyone?" I questioned a little shook up by the idea, was I hiding anything? That could be bad, mmm...
I think I am ok? But it's making me feel nervous about laying myself bare infront of Atreus.
"It is nothing to worry your little head about. I've gone through many times and I have never had any trouble, you just walk under and through the gate, the two stone wolves hear your confessions, if you have any. By their judgement you can carry on or not."
"What happens if they decide you can't carry on?"
"Its ancient magic Paloma, believed to be put here by the Moon Godess herself. It protects the pack from the evil, who want to cause harm and also helps people realise some home truths about themselves.
The Mactire believe it a blessing to be forced to face the things that cast a dark shadow on their soul and I agree.
The first time I was so apprehensive and afraid of what I would discover about myself. Instead the truths that left my mouth were difficult to hear but it helped me heal the wounds they were inflicting. I faced them head on for the first time rather than pushing them into the depths of my mind."
"Am I allowed to ask? Or is that too much?"
He paused for a moment then began to open up.
"I held myself guilty for the deaths of my pack members including my Beta and my Ma-" They were difficult spoken words and I believe he was going to say his Mate but still couldn't bring himself to, I guess it is still to heartbreaking to speak of and I can understand that. The sorrow in his eyes told a tale of its own.
"Don't worry only the Stone wolves hear your words, unless you pass through with another. Actually the couples who live and visit here often pass through together, to prove their love and trust in one another." He said and smiled without his eyes. I could tell his mind was going to times long gone and I wondered if he walked through the Godess's Eye with his mate.
Envy reared its ugly head at that thought, did he have such a strong relationship with the mate he refuses to speak of, that they had revealed their darkest truths to one another?
On the other hand it got me thinking was I ready to do the same? And the truth was no! I was nowhere near ready to do that so why the heck was I feeling jealous and envious of a mate that's potentially dead, certainly not around anyways.
It was soon my turn and I walked up to the Moon Gate. The huge stone wolves eyes that felt like they could peer into the depths of your soul.
My body began to tremble as I walked closer, feeling the power pulsing off of this structure, with every step closer it grew stronger and stronger until I could hear a voice in my head.
'The truth will be revealed, the truth will be revealed.' Over and over until I could see the vision of Nathaniel, his angry face as he hit and punched me that terrible day. The picture ran through my mind like a horor movie, one I wished to never see again.
Then the voice was in my head again. 'Revealing his true face does not cast a shadow on yours.' And then it was gone and I was walking on again Vaughan and Gerard stood ahead, as my eyes filled with unshed tears and I knew in that moment how powerful the truth can be.
Turning around Atreus had now come through and he was making a beeline for me.
He walked with determination each step had purpose until he stood before me. I was entranced by his gaze, as he cupped my face in his hands and looked deep into my soul.
"I lied Paloma...
I don't regret our kiss, it didn't feel wrong, and it's all I can think about since it happened. This connection between us feels right, I didn't want to accept it because...
I have struggled with my mates death for years and believed she was still alive somewhere. We never found her body so I always held onto that hope.
Now that the Godess has sent me you, l had to face up to her death and I pushed you away because of it. I'm sorry Paloma, can you forgive me?"
His impassioned words filled my heart up and I nodded and managed to speak a chocked "Yes." Before his soft lips enveloped mine in the sweetest kiss I have ever experienced. It was chaste and slow but filled with promise of a future we could share. I wrapped my heavy laden arms around his neck and gave into our embrace.
"This explains so much." Vaughan said in a disgusted tone and I could hear Gerard agree then laugh sardonically. But I didn't care in this moment all I wanted was the sweet taste of Atreus and not even those two Dickheads could ruin it for me.
When his lips finally left mine I felt renewed and happy, he had entrusted me with the truths he hid and I now needed to do the same.
"Before you two run off into the land of lovers, you might want to ask her, what she saw about herself. I will tell you one thing she didn't look happy about it at all, she looked like she was about to burst." Gerard said, stirring the shit as usual. He just couldn't let it be could he?
Atreus looked down at me as I struggled with what to say or do.
"Do you trust me?" I asked, hoping I would hear the right answer.
"Of course." He replied and I let out a breath I hadn't realised I was holding.
"I want to tell you everything, all the things that I didn't want anyone to know, the things I feel ashamed about, but not here and not now. I will reveal it all to you alone, there cannot be an audience, do you understand?" I hope he can, please Godess.
"Yes, tell me when your ready. I will be waiting." He rubbed his hand over my face and smiled though it didn't reach his eyes. Godess I think I hurt him because there was a hint of sadness in those vivid blue eyes. I had little time to think on it as he grabbed my wrist again and pulled me forward to the city gates.
The loud creaking of the huge circular doors caught my attention as we neared the city. Though what truly amazed me was the welcome party within. Consisting of all twenty of the Lunar Council members. The Paramount front and centre.
"Welcome to the walled city of Ossary, the city of wolves. Alpha Atreus, we welcome you with grace and honour and hope your stay will be insightful." She slightly bowed to Atreus and everyone else followed suit.
Then clicked her fingers and suddenly the witch that bound me, was stood right ahead, once again. The disgusting smell of rot filling my nostrils as she neared.
"WHAT'S THE MEANING OF THIS?" Atreus roared sensing the danger from the witch, as she began to chant her incantation again. He pulled me behind him and growled the deepest and fiercest sound I had ever heard from one of our kind.
"Don't get your knickers in a twist Atreus, she is just removing the bindings." The Paramount sardonically said, raising her eyebrows as the chains and ropes that were tightly weaved around my body gave way and fell lax to my side.
The instant refreshing feeling warmed me and Oriel roared to the surface for the first time in what felt like forever.
"Paloma you are free to roam the city while we prepare your ceremony. Rooms have been prepared when you are ready or in need." She said and walked away as a startling bang came from the city gates closing behind us and locking us inside.
Did she just set me free?