It was gruesome...
... The sight of Louise dark blood had spilled out from her body had me grimacing. While the magic within her had tried it’s best to heal her body. In the end it only prolonged her suffering. But that was karma in its truest form.
She didn’t deserve a quick and easy death. No she deserved more pain than she had inflicted on others. However, her body could only hold out for so long, as the magic burned away.
Atreus comforting arm was now wrapped around my waist. He had been my rock through everything and once again I was leaning into his body for the comfort it gave me.
Oh, my goddess my father! I thought and looked to the other side of Atreus where he was no longer.
“Where’s my father Atreus?...
I thought I seen him on your arm earlier?” I whimpered in a panicked tone. Pulling me in and swiping his face across my own, soothing me with his touch.
“I sent him to the infirmary with Charlie. Don’t panic. He needed medical attention. Charlie has contacted me since they arrived. He seems stable at the minute so no need to fret.” My breathing calmed as did my heart rate.
I should leave this scene but for some reason I couldn’t take my eyes away from her mangled-up corpse. I was waiting for something. I just didn’t know what.
“Hey, how are you feeling now?” Nimue came up and queried.
“Yeah, I’m good, just a little mentally exhausted. But glad that it’s all over.” Dragging my eyes away from Louise. I gave a small smile. My thoughts were a muddle, but I returned to watch Louise’s body again.
Then it happened...
Movement at her mouth. Out came one after another butterflies. Everyone was looking on in shock not understanding the significance of what was happening.
“What the heck is that?” Atreus said and I smiled up at him.
“It’s something very important and what I was waiting for.” I replied while watching the agonizingly slow and strange scene. The little body’s taking flight, after they spread their wings and flew away. It was both beautiful and sad.
“Those are the souls she stole. They are now returning to the Goddess. Where they can finally rest in peace.” A tear spilled out my eye as I watched in awe.
What I hadn’t noticed was that a mass of the crowd had gathered. There was still this eerie pause of silence and my voice had projected louder than I expected. My newfound powers were having all kinds of different effects on me. This being just one.
As we watched the scene unfold, more and more wolves gathered. The truth of what the butterflies were had spread like wildfire.
Juno then burned to come out, to mourn the passing of the stolen. Therefore, I shifted, and Atreus shifted beside me. We padded our feet over the flat planes of the grassland following the butterflies.
One wolf after another followed us...
Nimue and Elder Tsuki shifted and took up flanks either side of us. With Nimue to my right and Atreus to my left. Then when the souls began to ascend higher and higher, we just sat back on our haunches.
Watching the souls ascend to their resting place…
I howled out to the Goddess. The mother of all to carry the souls back to her safely. Atreus followed, howling in unison with me. Then Nimue and Elder Tsuki. Quinn, David and the others came up close and joined in…
It was like a chain reaction. One after another calling out howling. Releasing the pain that they held in. Freeing themselves from all the pain and suffering that had prisoned them for so very long.
Our howls echoed long into the night. My own sorrowful keening howl prolonged to the end, until it was just me. Having released all the pent-up sadness and anger.
..I felt the sense of relief wash over me and Juno. We now had a future to look forward to, the potential war had been ended before it had a chance to start. We had our mate and pack. My father was now alive, and I was going to make sure he was part of our lives.
Atreus large wolfen body was pressed up against my own nuzzling into me. ‘It’s time.’ He said through our bond. I knew what he meant. The moment was over, and we needed to return to the city. Excitement to meet my father and speak to him properly rushed through me. I nudged Atreus back and he knew I was ready.
When we turned, I was shocked to see the number of wolves that were there, mourning our lost ones.
‘Paloma wait!’ Nimue mind-linked me and I turned to her.
‘Thank you. Not just from me. But thank you for all of us. Without you both, we wouldn’t be here now.’ She let out a yip and a small howl then bowed to me. I was so shocked; I shook my head trying to get her to stand up as I nudged her with my nose.
‘There is no need for this stand up.’ I protested but she wouldn’t budge.
‘There is every need, now go and accept the respect that I and everyone else has for you.’ She nudged me with her nose and as I raised my head and looked out to the sea of people, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Every single wolf was bowing to me. Tears welled up in my eyes, when I turned to Atreus for a shoulder to lean on, he was also bowing to me.
‘No. Atreus get you big head up. We are mates and equals. You will never bow to me. Just like you never asked me to bow to you. Even when I was a weak Omega. You were always my strength.’ I demanded of him. And he rose from his position coming up to nibble a little on my neck then licked a slobbery kiss across my wolfen face. I laughed at his antics, tears welling in my eyes. Knowing full well I would get him back for this. Maybe not this minute, but soon…
When he was least expecting it. Juno said..
We walked through the crowded wolves, who had given us both their respect. Many of whom had travelled from the packs that had been infiltrated by the Tenebris. It had given them so much hope knowing that the leader was no longer alive.
Many approached and nodded some even came up and bared their necks to both of us. I wasn’t used to this kind of treatment. Usually, I was the outcast the lowest on the rung and it was both strange and fascinating to be in such a different position. However, I was respectful and thankful for all that they were willing to give.
When we finally returned to the city. Though exhausted I went straight to the infirmary where my father was. The only reason I hadn’t gone sooner was my inner Luna had demanded that I be there to send off the souls of the departed. I didn’t know until the time came. But when it did, it was very clear to me why I felt I couldn’t leave the corpse of that woman.
It was the early hours of the morning when I had finally arrived back in the city walls. I felt like pushing down doors and knocking through anything to get to him. The desire to be by his side and know he was ok was so strong. It shocked even me how much I already cared. But I did!
Even though he wasn’t there for me through my life. I have been told the tale of his unfortunate life. I know that the woman he pined over was my mother... And maybe it was me he had been searching for all along.
I don’t know any facts yet. But I won’t leave until I do. I have so much I want to ask him. So much I want to tell him.
I rushed through the door I had been directed to. A doctor with his white coat was already stood over his body. The look of shock in his eyes was funny when I blasted through the door.
"Paloma." Atreus said in a scolding tone behind me, yeah I was still getting used to this newfound power and strength. I didn't mean to almost kick the door through the wall, but heyho what ya gona do! I would apologize later now I need answers, as I looked down to the unconscious form of my father.
“Is he ok?” Rushing out my words, I began to gesture in a circular motion for him to get on with it. “Just tell me will he survive? Are his wounds fatal?”
“And you are? I can only give out confidential medical information to the patients next of kin or a nominated party.” He looks down and flicks through some papers. “I can see the Beta of the pack has been nominated his point of contact―”
“I am his daughter.” I almost growled out before he could say anymore.
“Ah I see. Well nice to meet you I am Doctor Thompson and I have been dealing with your father’s case. It seems he was wounded with a blast of magic which is taking a little longer to heal than I would like. Right now, I have put him in a medicated coma where his body will heal at a swifter pace.
However, at this moment in time I am not sure how long his recovery will take." He tried to explain.
"What!" I yelped out.
"All magical wounds take longer to heal on a normal Were. As for you fathers’ case this is a little bit of unknown territory. Alpha Angevin has been in his wolf form for over twenty years. I still don’t know what kind of effect that would have had on his body not to mention how it would have affected his mental capacity. All we can do is wait and see.” He replied with a sad tone. I could see the respect he held for my father so I didn’t push much further what else could I do.
Relaxing into a cot that had been brought into the room I finally closed my eyes and drifted off into a most needed sleep. With Atreus guarding close by I could relax and allow my body the time it needed to refuel.
I was awoken by a low sound of voices chattering. When I looked to see the culprits, I could see Atreus and Nimue chatting outside the door.
Leaving my father’s room, I walked out into the hall.
“What's happening? Is there something wrong?” my first thoughts went to the Tenebris. Though we had taken out their leader they were still rooted deeply within our community. It would take a long time to weed them all out.
“No, nothing’s wrong Nimue here just has a little proposition if you wanted to hear it? We left you to rest love. You really needed it.” Atreus smiled down at me then wrapped his arms round me. My back to his front and we stood there awaiting Nimues proposal.
“I just thought that we could bring your father to the waterfall, to our Gaizka home. The water within will help him recover much faster. He is your family. And so, he is our family.
..That place is sacred and not to be used without caution. But for a time like this and all that you and your family, my family. Have been through it is the perfect time.”
Of course, I agreed.
It was now a day later, and my father had been in the same chamber that Nimue had spent of a century in. Its waters had kept her alive and it had sped up the healing of my father as well.
He awoke this morning. And all seems well. We still haven’t had time to converse or speak about what had happened in both our lives.
Yet, we were able to have a deep embrace, well a hug. He hugged me for almost twenty minutes and all that he said was ‘my sweet baby girl’.
He had been so traumatized I didn’t say or do anything. Just allowed the embrace to happen and enjoyed the scent of home. He was now my home. Well along with Atreus. They both had their own place in my heart. One especially devoted to them.
“Here.” I passed a glass of water to my dad. My dad, I couldn’t keep the grin off my face I felt so happy to see him sitting up and looking healthier.
He was beautiful, a strong Alpha male. His body wasn't at it's prime having spent so long in wolf form. Though the doctors had said with a little training it wouldn't take too long to get him back in fighting shape.
He had long blond hair that trailed down his back and was so striking. It was funny to see, he had a beauty mark just under his eye that matched my own. I never noticed my own too much or payed to much heed to it, but when I had seen the same one on my father it made me smile.
“Thank you, sweetheart, now you’re going to have to tell me your name because I can’t go on not knowing the name of my beautiful daughter, can I?” he stated with a smirk and raised eyebrows.
“It’s Paloma…” I smiled back.
“Beautiful, just like you.” He said while giving me another hug. “You know your almost a copy of your mother, well apart from the markings that is.” He hugged me close again then swiped my hair away from my face. “I’m glad she was given the chance to name you.” My eyes shot up to look at my father.
“She did?” I asked shocked.
“Yes sweetheart, have you ever thought what your name means?” He asked and I shook my head, I never really worried about such menial things. I always thought that the orphanage had named me. After all they said I was just found. No one had handed me over or given me up. They just found me…
“Yes well, she had a fascination for butterflies, I am not sure why, but she thought them sacred. And so… She named you after one. It’s serendipitous that you now have such a marking on your own skin.
The mark of the Goddess. You truly are blessed; my sweet little girl and I am so sorry I failed both you and your mother. I was fooled by the Paramount into going on a hunt for some Rouges who were supposed to be connected to the Tenebris." I could feel the pain in his words as he spoke and hugged him closer. Just sitting with him and being a listener. I knew he needed that...
"Being Alpha to this large pack... I had to go for the safety of the collective. I barely recovered from the loss of your mother. Only the thought of you and protecting you gave me purpose. I am so sorry that I failed you both.” The lines of his face were deep and the sadness they held told the tale of his sorrow. I ached to see it and hear him blame himself.
“Dad, please don’t ever think that. This was all the work of the Paramount. Louise. And all her minions. We can’t blame ourselves for the actions of others. And whether you want to believe it or not. I know my mother wouldn’t want that for you either. I know I never truly met her, well not in the sense that I could talk to her, but I do know that she obviously loved you. And you her…
She knew what was coming that’s why she made the plans to protect me. She had known for a very long time. Long before I was born. The seer had predicted my future and hers. She knew and she never blamed you.”
He smiled back at me. “Thank you. Thanks for giving an old man some peace.” I hugged him again. Both of us were healing each other.
Hours went by and we spoke of our lives. He told me of how he and my mother had met, fell in love. How they had to keep their bond and relationship secret for my mother’s sake. She was the prime target for the Tenebris. The Vegus Luna always was. The power she held was too strong. And with the myth that the Vegus Luna would one day take down the Tenebris. She was always a target. As I would always be…
“Are you ready.” Atreus came into my father’s room and asked.
“Always.” I smiled up at him putting out my hand. Atreus pulled me from my seating position up into his arms. Giggling up at him I planted a kiss on his lip when I heard a rumbling deep growl. Both our heads turned to my father. Atreus had his eyebrows raised in surprise.
“Sorry, I still have to get used to my only daughter being carried out of here by another male.” My dad said reluctantly, and we all laughed.
“Are you coming too, dad?” I asked from the arms of my mate.
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.” He replied and walked out beside us into the cavernous reception room within the waterfall.
Nimue and Elder Tsuki came walking over arm in arm. “Fantastic, are you ready for this it’s going to be amazing.” She asked me.
“I think so, I have been practicing. So, I hope I won’t disappoint everyone.” I replied.
Atreus pulled me closer to whisper in my ear. “You won’t bunny, you never could. Now go make us all proud.” Then he put me down to my feet. I brushed down the white gown I was wearing.
It was a long maxi style that I had come used to wearing. White was the color of the marked and so that was all that we wore. With a sweetheart neckline and a tight bodice, it showed all my marking so that everyone could see who I was. I was no longer going to hide or pretend to be something I am not.
For most my life I have been half the person I was meant to be. And even though that was to protect me…
I was not going to be anything but myself from this day on.
I stepped away from everyone as I walked up to the curtain of the waterfall. The loud splash and thrum of the pounding water slightly changed as the curtain pulled open and I walked out onto a large stone walkway that Nimue had called forth.
The starry night was beautifully shinning down upon all that were gathered. Nimue joined me by my side as we watched our fellow Wolves gather in the grounds of the Goddess Temple.
For the first time in a century, they were here. The city had almost emptied all it’s citizens into the large gardens.
“I want to thank you all for coming here tonight. I know to most of you I am but a stranger. However, I give you thanks for the respect you have given me. Tonight, we come together to mourn our lost souls.
Many of your love’s ones have been taken too young, too early. Without reason or crime. Their souls were stolen for the greed of the Tenebris.
Tonight, we will honor their lives.” I said and walked to the edge of the lake. Bending down I picked out a small leaf boat and placed a small origami butterfly in. Placing the boat on the water. I stood back to my feet.
“Each butterfly represents the soul of your departed loved ones. Let us send them off with love. There are baskets placed around the lake, everyone can take what they need. Let us all remember of families and loved ones, with honor, love and respect.”
Atreus went and placed his butterfly boat in the water for his mother as did I. Then he joined me. All our friends and family doing the same. Until the whole lake was full, brimming with the little leaf boats.
Nimue nodded to me and took my hand where we both returned to the edge of the water. The crowds of the people gathered all about the waters edge.
Holding each other’s hands, feeling the communities and pack sadness and joy. Our marking became aflame as the power within us ignited. We raised our hands and watched as the origami butterflies came to life and took flight.
..Floating up higher and higher into the moonlit night sky. Back to the Goddess. She had given us the power to send all those lost souls home. As the representations morphed into the real souls, pulled from the bodies they had been placed. The crowd watched in awe as they went higher and higher into the night sky until they blazed up into a fiery display and disappeared.
It was the very first festival of the lost souls, and would continue on, once a year from this day forward. We were going to celebrate our lost loved ones, remembering the impact they had on our lives. Remembering them and giving them a good send off. It was beautiful and it was healing…
Atreus pulled me into his body as he hugged into me from behind. “You’re amazing you know my little bunny.” Nibbling on my ear. I took a deep breath and relaxed into his arms. My job here was done.
What my life had taught me...
..it was too short. Too unpredictable and I couldn’t spend it worrying about what dangers were out there. I had to live in the now. Because tomorrow might never come... and if it didn’t.
..At least I had lived to the fullest.
I wouldn’t hide as my mother did.
I would live my life in the open and trust the Goddess has a plan.
One day I would have my babies with my mate.
And far, far into the future they would carry the future of the Vegus Luna. My journey wasn’t ending, it was only just beginning…
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