XXXII. THE KING
Bringing his scotch to his lips, Cassius observed the parchment laid flat beneath the glass plating over the wood of his desk. A map of the expanse of the world, but his eyes honed on the Realm of Wolves.
He trailed his gaze along the coast of the territories. From the lower Pack regions of Tethys and Iapetus, to the eastern borders of Charon and Rhea, up beyond Ganymede, until he reached the ridges outlining Adrastea Bay and along the Valkeric Ranges, the formations that held his home. Io—the northern-most Pack of the Realm. Its head which wore the crown. The mind that controlled and guided, kept peace with reason, kept them protected from those creatures of the lands beyond, of their own.
A purpose not everyone seemed to understand or appreciate, no matter how many times throughout history it had been proven.
The highest king dragged his eyes down the piece until he found the Realm’s center, its heart. A line of an eight-pointed star denoting the city of Mavec.
Lifting his head, he gazed upon the chair where Deimos’s former Alpha had once sat—not once, not twice, but three times—rambling about some ridiculous tax proposal in some poor excuse for distraction. As if Cassius hadn’t been aware of how Kyran and his entourage had taken a different route into the City each visit. As if he hadn’t had eyes on his accompanying Guard and Council members who had a tendency to wander off through the streets, through the Hall. Noting. Mapping.
So he’d learned over the course of their simultaneous tenures, Alpha Kyran was not a dumb man, but one blinded by his own ego. Blinded by a sense of self-importance catered to by a history long-forgotten and a lineage whose power had long, long faded since its rise nearly a millennia ago during its dawn of traitors. A time they were fortunate to have lapsed into nothing but whispers of hollow wind through the pages of books and scrolls in the catacombs beneath the Imperial City. A time that had attempted to return before a head of the beast had been severed and all traces of it eradicated.
But it wasn’t enough.
Obviously, it hadn’t been enough, if it could rise again, hidden so strategically, deviously, within the brambles of bloodlines and birthrights. Only revealed when he thought they’d been triumphant, given a small blessing by the Goddess.
But Cassius could see it, had felt it in a warning from the ancestors as he beheld the scene at the Gate, even when the beast could not. And he knew now was the time to destroy it, before it realized. Even if it meant he’d be the villain.
They’d thank him someday.
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End of Part III
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