Kota’s home was surprisingly quiet as they descended the massive staircase in his home. He guessed that everyone had given him space to be alone with his mate. Word of him bringing his mate back with him had already made waves through the village.
Many of his people had already congratulated him in passing, happy that they would finally have a Luna. In his five years since his father stepped down, he had yet to find a mate and was beginning to lose hope. Hope that didn’t end today, but blossomed once he laid his eyes upon her.
Champrelle closely followed him, keeping a little distance between them. She was busy taking in the view of his home as he led her through it.
He had grown used to it at this point. His house was a three story log cabin built from cedar and pine. The floors were flat stones that had been quarried from the local dry riverbed and perfectly smooth thanks to nature. Everything about the house was warm and inviting, with a lot of brown and colorful fabric on the furniture. Much of the furniture itself and fabric had been crafted by the local community. Building and furnishing homes were community projects, something for everyone to contribute to the good of the tribe and the Quyakal people.
A decent size chef’s kitchen was a favorite among his cousin Kiisa, who damn near lived there since she was always cooking in it, experimenting with new dishes. The fireplace in the living room was decently sized as well, except for the stones it was constructed from scaling the wall to the ceiling as the showpiece. Reaching eighteen feet high, the ceiling was vaulted with a massive chandelier constructed by antlers gathered over many seasons from Elk.
Three large leather sofas sat in an incomplete square with a giant eighty-five inch OLED tv on the wall where a fourth couch would’ve been. Lamps crafted from starched linen and wood sat in the corners of the couch area lit up the area in a warm glow when the chandelier wasn’t on. Plants dotted the living room and kitchen here and there, making it homey and smell fresh.
Yeah, his house was stunning from a design point but he could see why his mate loved it. He hoped she would grow to love this place as her home; if she accepted him that is.
He shoved that doubt to the back of his mind as he noticed that Champrelle had stopped midway in the atrium of the living room. The high vaulted ceiling created an indoor atrium, the landing of the second floor above them open to the ceiling. She was staring open mouthed through the massive wall of windows at the end of the living room. They were floor to ceiling height to the right of the sitting area, showing the forest outside with the mountains peaking in the distance. It was a stunning picture indeed.ust d
“Kota. This is amazing!” She gasped, her hands covering her gaping mouth.
He chuckled, “It is. I’ve yet to grow used to it. There’s much more to see, though. Come on.”
Beckoning her to follow him, he switched the tray to one hand as he opened the large wooden front door. Together they made their way across the field and towards a large group of buildings over the small hill. Once they crested the hill, the view of a small village came into view.
The Quyakal’s village was smaller than the modern city with shops and restaurants in the village center and boasting a population of just under four hundred people. Long ago, his people had copied the design of human cities and adopting it to fit their way of live. Their village didn’t pollute the air or water, unlike human cities. Ulfnar had a keen sense of smell, just like the wolves they could shift into, so pollution tended to burn their nostrils.
Each building was a moderately sized cabin and varied in shape and size depending on its use. The grocery store sold products from both the human world and local farmers, so it was the largest apart from the community hospital across the road. Clothing and fabric stores made up the bulk, among with artisans of various crafts. Two restaurants occupied the outer edge, situated perfectly for competition. Instead of pavement, they had built wooden boardwalks to keep dry when there was inclement weather. The little village had everything a modern city would have but on a smaller scale and more environment friendly, at least according to Kota’s father.
Kota led Champrelle through the village towards his cousin Kiisa’s kitchen in the dining hall. Everyone who walked by going about their day stopped to stare at them, their eyes wide and mouths talking with fellow citizens. Word of Kota finding his mate had made the rounds, so he expected this to happen. They even earned the glare from Kota’s ex-girlfriend, the woman he dated through his time attending the tribe’s school. He was convinced she would be his mate. Never before had he been so certain, and so wrong.
On his eighteenth birthday, like all Ulfnar, his body reached maturity where he could sense his mate. He sensed nothing from his girlfriend. Shortly after they separated and moved on with their lives. Thankfully, he didn’t feel anything for her now, but it was obvious she had never gotten over him. He figured she was upset that she would never be Luna now.
The damn woman was a pain. A pain that wouldn’t go away.
In short, he was glad for it. She was a certified piece of work, a bitch, as his best friend Roklee always said. Roklee also happened to be the Beta, so he would occasionally get updates on her childish tantrums.
K’leelah wasn’t Luna material to lead her people, nor would she ever be. At best, she was someone who had failed to listen to the teachings of the elders and was getting punished by the trickster raven god Freki as a result. One day, he hoped, she would learn her lesson.
Kota was broken from his thoughts when a small child approached Champrelle and he.
“Ha’la ai, Reita, how are you today?” He beamed at the little girl who stood before the two of them with a big smile on her small face.
Champrelle thought she was the cutest kid she’s ever laid her eyes upon and knelt to her level so she was eye to eye with the child as Kota greeted her. The little girl was about nine or ten, her dark brown hair neatly braided with blue and red ribbons. She wore a yellow sun dress with blue beads embroidered in the pattern of a flower across the chest with brown sandals on her feet.
“Ha’la ai, Alpha Kota! I wanted to tell you that I did good in my spelling today! My mommy said thank you for helping me.” Beaming at Kota, she handed a paper with writing on it.
Kota read over the messily written letters in their native language. Reita had correctly spelled some of the more difficult ones to remember. He was impressed by her progress. Warmth radiated through his chest as pride welled within.
“She’s very welcome! Look at this,” he pointed out their word for River, “you’ve become better, little wolf. I’m proud of you. Keep studying and your marks will improve.”
He knelt to hug the child, her small arms wrapping around his neck.
Reita stole a shy smile at Champrelle, retrieving her paper, before running off into the crowded street.
“She’s so cute.” Gushed Champ as she straightened to smile at Kota.
“Yeah, the poor little one was struggling in her schooling so I offered to personally tutor her since I had some free time. It’s the least I can do after all her mother has done to help keep me on track in tribal council meetings.”
Champ nodded as they continued on the way toward the dining hall.
The clang of pots and pans along with a woman muttering to herself were the only noises Kota and Champ heard as they stepped into the dining hall. Making their way down the center aisle, Champrelle followed Kota as he pushed the swinging door open, holding it longer for his mate before letting go. He wanted to remain a complete gentleman.
“It’s about time, Kota. I’ve had to busy myself with cleaning and you know how much I hate cleaning.” Complained a voice as he set the tray next to the double sink.
Standing on the opposite side of a large metal island was a portly shrimp of a woman, her white apron covered in stains and annoyance flashing in her dark eyes. Her black hair was pulled back into a messy bun atop her head, strands sticking out this way and that. The little woman’s thick mane was almost too much for the red ribbon that held her hair up high. She vaguely resembled Kota with similar high cheekbones, but Champ had seen that was the norm with their people.
Vaguely, the woman reminded her of Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus.
This must be Kiisa, his cousin.
“Kiisa, I was trying to be a gracious host. Give me a break, will you?” His golden brown eyes met Kiisa’s narrowed black ones.
She was a little woman with attitude. Growing up, Champ knew a woman just like her, bringing a smile to her face as the two argued like children.
The little woman finally took notice of Champrelle, her eyes softening as she took in the sight of her. Champ smiled, waving hello.
“Luna Champrelle, it’s an honor to meet you. I’m warning you now that he’s a stubborn brute who likes to pick on me and-”
“Kiisa, cut it out! I haven’t told her yet.”
Champrelle was taken aback. What hadn’t she been told? Here she was enjoying the bickering and now there were more answers that needed to be told. This whole situation was becoming more bizarre the longer she was here.
“Kota, you big dummy, you have the awareness of a newborn Elk.” She sighed, removing her apron and coming around the island, taking Champrelle’s hands in her chubby ones.
“What aren’t I being told about?”
Kiisa smiled gently as Kota nervously avoided Champ’s eyes.
“Honey, you’re Kota’s life mate!”
Her mouth dropped to the floor as she struggled to comprehend what Kiisa had told her.
“I’m his WHAT?!”
*All names and locations in this book are fictional and aren’t intended to represent real world people, places, or actual indigenous groups. I tried my hardest to come up with my own people and not use stereotypes to keep from being just another White person adding to the collective trauma of the Indigenous people of North America, specifically the United States. The land I reside on is the historical/ancestral lands of the Chickasaw people.*
Ha’la ai: (HAH-LUH-EYE) [Word for Hello]
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