I undressed in one of the side rooms putting my clothes and shoes into a small string bag then shifted into my wolf form.
As I bound out the door, I could see the smile on Mrs. Laurent’s bespectacled face while she waved me goodbye and wished me good luck.
My pace was steady through the crowded streets. It was fascinating to be able to shift within a city and see so many other wolfen forms around. I decided I liked this place and if I ever have the opportunity to come back here under better circumstances, I would love to explore this ancient city.
After running for a good ten minutes, I slowed to a stop, the sight of the Goddess’ Temple Garden, in Horto Deam Templo bringing me to a halt.
The home of the Lunar Sage, and temple to the Goddess. Why was it in such disrepair? Looking at it again I couldn’t understand how a city that was so well taken care of had left one of its most important features to rack and ruin.
It is bizarre! The vision of the incongruous wild untamed garden jarred with the pristinely kept city.
“Young one you are wondering of this farce.” An old lady approaches me, speaking in a plaintive voice with a knowing look.
‘Yeah! I don’t understand, how come the Goddess Temple Garden has been deserted like this? Do you know?’ I questioned forthright then realized I was in my wolf form and just shook my head.
The old lady smiles at me and begins. “Young one you are quite something.” She says tilts her head like she can see more to me than I can contemplate.
“The Sage was a beautiful young woman, though really she was ancient.” She speaks and laughs in a wistful way. “She was around before I was born and she should be still here now, though nobody knows where she disappeared to after that faithful night over a century ago.
It has been claimed that she has passed but I certainly don’t believe it.”
I glance over to her as she looked longingly at the wild green area. I can’t help but wonder why she does not believe the rumor; I am tempted to return to human form just to converse with the old one. Thought before I can do anything she continues…
“It is because another would have replaced her.” She stares into my eyes hoping to drive home her meaning.
“Only time will tell, though darkness comes. It has it’s claws in the fabric of our society now. She will return I believe it, she is somewhere, hiding maybe!” She says contemplatively.
“You see the one who would maintain the garden was the sage. It was forbidden for anyone other than the blood of Gaizka to enter or maintain the temple and its grounds.
And so… As you can see no one would touch the sacred ground without the Sage, the Patria Luna.”
Well, that was more informative than I expected. So, the Patria Luna is also the Lunar Sage! Who has been missing for a very long time, though when I filter down the information, I am shocked to realize how little information has been trickling down to the ordinary wolves of our society? Not only are we ill informed we are blind to the happenings of this city.
The legend that is the Sage has always been taught to us and yet we know nothing of her misfortune. We have been kept blissfully unaware! Leaving me with the growing sense of insecurity and worry. Clearly the people of this city realize, this old lady surely does, certainly clear by the way that she speaks, the place is rotting from the inside out and I don’t mean the vegetation I mean the people, the Paramount being the top of that list…
Spinning from my view of the garden to thank the old lady, but she was gone! Disappeared like a whisp of smoke on a blustery day. Shaking it off I picked the bag I had dropped back up getting back on my way to the barracks.
Hopefully, Atreus will be back when I get there.
I didn’t bother probing him through our mind-link, I thought it better to chat in person about this new information. This conversation needed to be done in person. I could spook him now with the intense feelings of fear and trepidation that have festered within me since leaving the Pretiosum Liber.
Approaching the building I can see Quinn off in the distance sparring with another. I will talk to her later, Atreus needs to be the first one I speak to. I leap up the stairs and enter the through the front door.
“PUP!” A loud male voice rings out and I stop on my path and turn about to be faced with an exceptionally large very buff older male. He must be six foot four with dark hair that has a splash of grey painting the sides. He is dressed in the uniform of the Bellator Warriors. Though he clearly outranks the rest, definitely an Alpha male. His large brown eyes scan over, assessing me with judging eyes. I sit and await his command.
“You are clearly not one of mine. A guest?” he asks and I nod in acknowledgement.
“Well… welcome to my humble Barracks, though you should know it is respectful to shift in the provided changing rooms before trotting through the building like it is an outdoor recreation center!
The rules apply for all that live and attend here. We live by example. Thank you for your co-operation.” He looked askance over me with a definite tone of sarcasm.
It was then I noted he had company standing behind him both beings stood tall with supercilious dispositions. The ever-wonderful Vaughan and his mate Angelina! I thought with sarcasm…
Just my luck having the great fortune of running into this pair. I take a brief glimpse over their faces, Vaughan looks momentarily in my direction then turns away like he couldn’t bare to face me. Angelina on the other hand is glaring down at me with fervent hatred in those sultry eyes of hers. If I were a weaker wolf, I would probably crumble under the depth of the hatred that is being projected in my way.
Thankfully my inner strength has always been a blessing, reinforced now by the bond I share with Atreus and the fact I am a Luna gives me the strength to ignore her and I saunter over to the changing area like I didn’t have a care in the world. No amount of stink-eye can knock me out, I am too stubborn to let her know she is getting to me.
Noting the stomp of Angelina’s feet, I turn to see her mid tantrum acting like a capricious child, with mood swings and I smirk internally.
Changing swiftly, I run out only to be met by the wall of body that is the same man again.
“Sorry…” I say taking a breath and look up into those soft brown eyes. “I- I didn’t quite get your name, I am Paloma.” I continue, strengthening my tone when I corrected myself.
“You are not what I expected.” He says as he scans over my body.
“And what was that?” I spat out with a little sass before I managed to filter myself. I must show respect to these assholes even if I know they are. Being Atreus’ mate now, means I inadvertently represent him.
“Not you that is for sure. So, you are the one that Atreus has mated to. I can see your beauty that is a given, but not so sure what he sees in you beyond that.” The alpha speaks grinning lasciviously and holds up his hands. “No offense!”
Asshole! I whisper under my breath and walk over to the elevator I see in the corner. When I bend slightly to push to button to open the doors I jump when someone taps my shoulder.
“Paloma! Thank the Goddess you are ok!” A familiar female voice says and wraps her arms around me until I am squeezed in a tight bear hug.
She pushes me outward holding onto my shoulders then and scans over me to check I am in one piece. I can’t help but smile at the sweet woman who now giggles unabashed.
“Niamh! When did you get here?” I squeak out when she crushes me in another hug.
“We just arrived.” Charlie her mate says when he approaches my eyeline with a uncharacteristic smile on his face.
“Wow I am so happy to see you guys. Is everything alright back at the pack?”
“Absolutely the Delta is looking over the pack as we speak. We have a large group of warriors camped just outside the city, and a strong base back at the pack grounds to take care of everyone so no need to worry.
I see you are taking on your new role already Luna.” Charlie says with a raised eyebrow and a smirk.
“Ah yes, well it’s only natural to worry about the pack, I know I am only a new member, but I feel the connection deeply.”
“Paloma I just want to say how sorry I am about everything that happened with you and Nathaniel, there is still no trace of him anywhere and no leads have been found yet either.” Charlie says with a building rage the more he thinks about Nathaniel’s betrayal.
Cupping my face Niamh and speaks. “Well, she’s on to bigger and better, Atreus is a much better suit to you I can tell already, and I haven’t even seen the two of you together. His mark is beautiful.” Niamh says and rubs a finger across it in awe. “Do you know you are looking at the new Beta, Atreus promoted Charlie.” She announced with a giggle and then ran over and jumped into his arms while they looked at each other lovingly. Couple goals, I couldn’t help but think.
“Wow, guys that is amazing news I am so happy for you. That’s the reason for your arrival.” I asked with curiosity.
“Yes, Atreus promoted me the morning of your departure giving me the task of organizing the pack after the betrayal of Nathaniel. We can’t be too careful. It took us this long to sort everything out and this one here refused to leave without me.”
“Well the new Luna, needs some girl support. Am I right Paloma?”
Before I get a chance to reply the elevator doors slide open and we all head in. “You guys are sorted for accommodation?” I asked.
“Yes, I have already contacted Atreus on our arrival. We are heading up to the accommodation right now.”
Charlie and Niamh step off on their floor and we say our goodbyes for now. I smile knowing that Atreus has some back up now. After Nathaniel’s betrayal to not only me but the pack it must have been hard on Atreus as well. I have been so caught up in my own pain I had forgot to see the distress that man had caused to the others he had left in his wake.
Swinging the door open to our suite I am greeted with a tired looking Atreus.
My heart leaps for joy when I am greeted with his beautiful, dimpled smile, taking a page out of Niamh’s book I run at him jumping into his awaiting strong arms, clinging to him like he was my lifeblood.
The touch of his skin in contact my body gives me instant peace and I hungrily brush my lips against his in a wanting kiss, filled with desire, love and a desperate need.
His tongue enters my mouth and I embrace it with my own. Tasting the man that I love and need, loving every sweep and flick of the velvet organ that ignites my lower body with a fiery need for friction and a desire to be filled and mated again and again. Our bond sending me into an almost frenzied state.
Before I get carried away, I stop for a breath placing my forehead upon his for comfort while my legs stay wrapped about his waist.
“We need to talk.” I say solemnly while the fear and dread and all the information I have acquired today overloads my emotions.
“Whatever you need love.” He says and carries me over to the sofa taking a seat whilst holding me still in his arms.
I tell him everything, from Quinn’s crazy almost physical fight with Mrs. Laurent to how amazing it was to walk into the Pretiosum Liber, meeting the Keepers, finding the hidden room and what I overheard the Paramount saying.
“We need to leave here Atreus; she has bad intentions for us. Not just me, for everyone and whatever this power she wants is. It doesn’t sound too good.” I say fervently hoping he will agree.
“I agree.” He says contemplatively and then both our heads turn when a wrapping knock bangs on the door.
“Stay here love, I will get this.” Atreus says and puts me down on the sofa with a loving kiss.
When the door opens wide and in Walks Elder Tsuki I am both relieved and surprised and take a deep breath after holding it in anticipation of our uninvited guest.
“You are wrong there love. Elder Tsuki is a very much invited guest I just haven’t had time to tell you yet.” Atreus says with a cheeky grin my mouth turns into an ‘O’ on realization.
Standing up to greet the Elder I walk over and bow in recognition holding my hand out in greeting. “Sorry about that.” I say with a smile. “Thank you for coming to our suite, I guess. Would you like any refreshments.” I ask and both burly men smirk with my nervous behavior.
“No need.” Tsuki says with a friendly smile and Atreus leads him over to the kitchen table. Then we all take our places around it.
“I have been looking forward to meeting you young one, Atreus has told me much about you since you have come into his life.”
“It is very nice to meet you also Elder Tsuki.”
“No need for formalities here young one. We are family now, especially now that you are mated. This is fantastic news. I had almost given up hope on this one ever trying to form a new bond though to be given another fated is such a blessing to you both.”
A smile envelopes my face while I listen to the older man speak.
“There is a lot to speak of. Paloma here has gathered a substantial amount of information herself today. She visited the Precious Artifacts library and was visited by the keepers. Have you ever heard of these keepers?”
“Only in books, Atreus. And very little is written or known about these maidens though every reference I have come across is that they are Guardians and protect the Pretiosum Liber its contents and in doing so protect us the Lycanthropes. I will give you one piece of advice though do not speak of them to another. The fact you have spoken to them will only put a larger target on your head. I am not sure the seer has even ever spoken to them.”
“You know the Seer?” I ask with curiosity.
“Once a long time ago. She has disappeared from us for over a century, and no one has taken up her mantel until you have shown up with similar markings. The fact that the Paramount wants possession of the power within the markings leads me to believe she was the one who was responsible for the Seers disappearance. I have always felt this way but there was never any proof and she slowly took control. Weaving her way into every part of our society that it was too late to remover her from the position by the time most had recognized that she was not what she pretended to be.”
“So, it isn’t just me, or us should I say? There are many people who do not trust in the Paramount?”
“She should never have been in the position in the first place. She stole it from the Seer. The Seat that she holds, the power that she wields was all once the Patria Luna’s. She is the one who should hold the power not her attendant. That was her position before the Seer disappeared.
Now look where she is. If that is not a motive than I don’t know what is.”
“Can I ask you a question?” I asked the older man. “Of course, fire away young one.”
“Do you know anyone called Nimue.”
“Yes I do child, why do you ask and where have you heard this name?”
“The Paramount…” I said gulping down when I saw the reaction on Elder Tsuki face.
“What did she say?” he questioned ardently.
“She thought the library was haunted and that it was Nimue haunting her. She said she put her down. I mean I sounded like she killed her?” I replied shrugging my shoulders in uncertainty though the more I thought about it the more convinced I was she had killed her.
“Yeah, I think she killed her. It certainly sounded that way when she spoke to the witch. Who was she?”
“The Seer, she was the Patria Luna.”