Chapter 2 - And Life Goes On
Eleven years later....
“Umph.” I hear Tori grunt as I landed a blow to her stomach. “Come on woman, you should have seen that coming by a mile!” I say to her with a slight giggle. We were working on hand to hand and to be honest, I wasn’t using my full speed or strength. She really should have seen that coming, but I think she’s a bit distracted.
“Irie!!!! You’re too fast for most of the wolves here and you know it!” Tori whines out as she frowns at me.
Eleven years ago, I came to MeadowEdge, seemingly an abandoned or orphaned pup that the Beta had found at the edge of their territory. Alpha Mark Richards and his Luna Cecily knew the truth of course, but the three had helped concoct this story so their pack would be none the wiser of my origins. Since our wolves typically don’t surface within us until around puberty, there was no pack connection to my old pack. And Beta Luke had made sure that my ‘smell’, the one that would tie me to them, was gone by the time we arrived at MeadowEdge.
I stopped going by Illyria the day I left home. Although not really a huge change, I go by Irie now. They had asked me what I would want to be referred to as. Being six at the time, and not really wanting to let go of my life, I went with a shortened version of my own name.
“Oh, come on! That might be half true, you know my fighting style better than most, but not the best by far. YOU of all people should have seen that coming since you are the one who trains with me every day. And on that note, you have zero excuse here.” I bark at her.
Tori Prescott has been my best friend for over ten years. She befriended me shortly after I was ‘adopted’ into the pack. Back then, I felt so alone. Even though I knew it was to protect me and everyone from Moonlight, the feeling of being sent away wasn’t a good one. I was really withdrawn, didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t really go out and play. I was pouting and upset with the world because of my circumstance. I went to school because the Alpha made me, not because I wanted to. That was really the kicker too. I loved to learn, to be challenged. I loved absorbing everything around me. The fact that I didn’t even want to go to school was just awful.
It was at school one day, while I was sitting alone that Tori befriended me. She came up to this sad, small girl and offered her a smile and someone to eat lunch with. She forced me to let her in and talk with her.
At first, she just forced me to allow her to sit with me. Then she started making me talk about myself. Since I couldn’t say much about my past, I stuck with the stuff I liked to do. She latched on to everything and then started prodding me to get out of my depressed little bubble and learn to live. We’ve been best friends ever since.
“It’s too early to think about these things! Who the hell needs to be up and training at 5 am anyway!” She whines back at me. For someone so determined, she’s pretty obstinate when it comes to interruptions in her sleep.
Tori seems like she should be my polar opposite. With her brunette hair and brown eyes, she contrasts me in the physical appearance department for sure. Then there’s her attitude. Where I’ve learned and grown to be decently poised, thanks to Luna Cecily, she’s blunt force trauma at its best. I weigh out situations, problems, just about everything. She goes in headfirst. That’s what makes it seem like we’re really opposites, but really, we just balance each other out. I reel her back; she pushes me forward.
“Tori, you want to toughen up and move up in the rank. You want to make enforcer someday, right?” I quirk my eyebrow at her when I ask. She nods, as I knew she would since we’ve been talking about this for years. “Then you need to be the first one out here, working your ass off. Showing you have the drive and determination to do this. There will always be someone bigger, stronger, faster. But you can build your skills and still take them down with the right moves. Now get your ass up and try again!”
I’m not part of any of the warrior classes. Couldn’t be one even if I wanted. I have some pretty stellar speed, strength, and agility, so you’d think given that I’m not who I am, I’d be out there working on my own rank. But putting me in training, trying to move around in the ranks wouldn’t be ‘protecting’ me. So Alpha Mark never allowed it. I could help train, but no, being a ‘moon baby’ as he calls me, I’m destined to end up as a great and powerful Luna. Crock of shit if you ask me.
After I’d gotten over my pouting and basically being depressed over being hidden away like some living treasure, I’d started trying to understand why it had to happen. According to legends, because of my birth, I’m supposedly blessed with some higher-level skills. Again, legends say that if I were a male, I’d be basically top dog. Undefeatable. Because I’m a female, I’m just a big better than most. But oh, I guess my womb is magical.
Utter poppycock. There’s really nothing out there to say exactly how. Just that female’s born like me always have super strong, powerful sons. So I’m a walking super pup factory. Alpha Mark finally accepted I wasn’t going to let this go and explained to me that many rogues would want me because once I was able to be marked and pupped, they think they could just force produce their own super army out of me.
The thought, I now understand, was that if I was kidnapped as a pup, I could be trained for a future mate. Obviously not by fate but by choice. And not mine. Then when I was older, and hopefully subdued, I could be marked, mated, and produce pups.
So, every rogue group out there who learned of my birth went on the offensive. All to try and capture a small girl in hopes that a stupid part of our lore was actually true. Countless deaths and injuries all for something no one was sure was true. But it didn’t matter because everyone believed it was.
Thus, all this protection. And all of Alpha Mark and Luna Cecily’s coaching and teaching. They would teach me everything they could. Strategy, defense, pack management, how to counsel others. In the eleven years that I had been here, I had spent hours and hours between the two of them, learning. I’d even spent a number of hours with Beta Luke.
I’d rather be teaching the adolescent pups their basic training or even working at the clinic. At least if I had the choice in my future, which would be my wish. I couldn’t care less about all the crap they taught me. I learned it, but it really didn’t matter much to me. I know that there’s a possibility, even if just because I’m an Alpha’s daughter, that I could end up as an Alpha’s mate. So I listened and let them train me. I just hated that so much was decided for me. Dictated.
When I came here, the school tested me and, given that I supposedly didn’t remember much, determined that my academic skills placed me in the second grade. I was six really but couldn’t and wouldn’t tell them that. Beta Luke said that me pretending to be older due to my intelligence was a good thing. It would make it seem less like I was who I wasn’t supposed to be. So, my birthday, which happened to be at the end of the school year anyway, combined with my ability to be in second grade made me seven years old.
I excelled at all of my classes and worked my ass off in school. Although not pleased with the dictations and all, I did love school, after I got over my gloom. School work, to me, it was easy. It became my outlet from all of the lessons that I learned outside of it. So I delved in and focused. So much so that I excelled quite well. That didn’t surprise me in the least.
I ended up graduating a year earlier than expected. To those in MeadowEdge, I graduated at seventeen, when really, I was sixteen. That was almost two years ago now. Two years of working around the pack and spending time at the daycare and the clinic, and of course with Tori, the Alpha, Luna, and the Beta.
The last three were determined as hell to make sure that I was the epidemy of perfection. Another thing they had promised my parents. Besides keeping me safe, they would ensure I had the best education, both formally in school and with them, that they could offer. It was a lot to deal with, even more to accept.
Most of the pack thought that the Beta, who was the one that “found” me, had a soft spot for the poor little orphaned girl. Based on the rumor mills I caught, that soft spot was transferred over to the Alpha and Luna, which is why I spent a large amount of time with them. Several of the pack members had questioned, over the years, why I was taught so much. I was never formally linked to MeadowEdge and it confused many.
The explanation was generally glossed over. Alpha Mark would explain that since they didn’t know my origins and couldn’t figure it out, I was a permanent guest. For pack safety of course. His explanation on my education was just that, I was willing and eager to learn. Then he’d make some cocky comment about how it would be nice if others were as eager. That generally stopped the squawking.
They had just about run out of new things they could teach me at this point. Not that there wasn’t always something new to learn, but you can only impart so much. The rest generally comes with experience. I’m pretty sure they were okay with that, the end of their teaching, because my eighteenth birthday is coming up soon. According to them, it was going to be fantastic and a whole bunch of sappy this and that. I still don’t know if I’m excited or scared shitless.
“Irie. Irie. Goddess to IRIE!” Tori snaps her fingers at me. She had gotten up close and personal too, but she normally does.
“Oh, sorry. I spaced out there.”
“Obviously. And you were commenting about me spacing out. Are you thinking about your birthday again?” Tori knows ‘who’ I am. After being my best friend for so long, I trust her with my life. So I told her the truth years ago. All of it too.
The first time I told her, she laughed at me and said that I was crazy. It took pointing out a large number of things to convince her. The kicker was recording Alpha Mark saying something about me and that stupid “Moon Baby” title though. She damn near fainted on me and we spent days, well I spent days, just explaining the why of everything. She finally got her bearings and has helped me... deal... ever since.
Tori and I never told a soul what she knew. Even the Alpha and the Beta don’t know she’s aware of my origins. She’s been the only one I can really talk to. I had to have someone else, someone that wasn’t just trying to teach me about this and that, who knew me for really me.
Life is excessively lonely when you can’t express yourself truly. Early on, even with Tori as a friend, I felt out of sorts because I really couldn’t talk openly about myself. And then even if I did to those I was allowed to, there was no understanding of my feelings. They couldn’t as they had never been in my position. Once Tori knew, I felt a weight lifted. Thank the Goddess.
“Well, maybe just a little.”
“You’ll be fine!” She tells me. “You’ll finally really turn eighteen, we can scope out and see if your mate is here, and if not, we can bar hop ’till we find him!”
Tori turned eighteen last year but hasn’t found her mate yet. Wolves are able to find their mates when they turn eighteen and that’s supposed to be no exception for me. Mates or Soulmates are a wolf’s other half. The being that completes us and balances us in every possible way. In cases of Alphas and their Lunas, they provide a balance to the leadership aspects in a pack. The same can be said for every class of wolf. Typically, the females help bring balance and compassion to their male mates; however, there are cases of the opposite. Regardless of the dynamic, mates are setup by the goddess to be each other’s perfect compliment. Like a puzzle piece.
For me, it’s more complicated. At least in my opinion. It seems everything always is.
My mate, although the same type of mate as everyone else, gets to deal with my true identity. I don’t know if that’s a scary thought or not. Alpha Mark told me that I’ll likely have a powerful warrior or even Alpha as a mate. Because why wouldn’t the goddess give me a strong other half. Someone to protect and treasure me and whatever offspring we have.
That idea is what scares me.
With what I’d learned about my “value”, there was no way to know how my mate would react. What if my mate had the same idea as the rogues? Use me for my super pup abilities. That would be no better, or maybe just worse, than the fate that the rogues had for me.
My thoughts always drift to how I would even tell my mate about myself. Do I even tell them? And what if I do and they don’t want to deal with the baggage? Until I have a mate to mark me, anyone else wanting to ‘claim the privilege’ could try. What if my mate doesn’t want to deal with those who would try to abduct me again should I let me secret out? And even after marking, some people could still try to take me. I mean, they were willing to take a little girl.
Rogues have kidnapped women in the past as part of their desire to have offspring. It’s rare for a female wolf to become pregnant without being marked, but a mark doesn’t have to be from your mate either. Those stories are all old though. Old and terrifying. I haven’t heard of more recent situations like that to even begin to know truth from lore.
Since we’ve already proven that we’re susceptible to lore, more specifically our belief in it, I was cautious. All it takes is one person believing something, thinking it truth, then convincing others. Then you have the craziness from before.
“Calm down Tor. You haven’t found your mate yet, what makes you think mine will just pop out in front of us? For all we know, they could both be in a different pack. We don’t know anything at this point.”
“I just have a feeling. Plus, even if he doesn’t, that just means we get to par-tay!!!” There are times, like these, where even I wonder how the hell we mesh as besties. I sometimes believe that Tori thinks that the goal in life is to be carefree and fun. Times like this reinforce that thought.
But then she surprises me and asks me to help her train or study. As quirky as she is, at least I always know she’ll keep me on my toes. The asking for help, for training, is what led us to where we are specifically today
“Whatever Tor. Now get back to work!” I sass at her while running at her so she’ll scurry back to her training. “Let’s worry about all this later. Now mush mutt!!!”
I wind Tori around the pack, running laps and making her jump, climb, whatever is needed. I may give her guff, but she’s really good and should have no problem with her trials. At least I know I’m a good coach.
This has been our daily routine for a few weeks now, give or take the topic of conversation. And we kept this routine every day until the day of my birthday.