Deathly silence reigned. The hairs at the back of his neck rose in that primal sense of danger no Were would ignore. Nothing moved, even the two friends who’d been given an unexpected reprieve.
Certain they were surrounded, but unable to spot any of the Weres Don dropped his weapon. He saw Will shift back and stand knowing, as Don did, that only enforcers hunted rouges with arrows, silver tipped arrows.
As young as they were, Don and Will stood no chance against the hunters so their only hope was that they’d not be indiscriminate. Some enforcers killed anyone who didn’t smell like pack no questions asked.
“We know you’ve been disowned, yet you smell like pack. Why?”
Will and Don exchanged a puzzled look. They knew a packless wolf’s scent changed to match their status and had assumed theirs had as well. As it was hard to be objective about their own scent and the change was somewhat gradual they’d both assumed they’d not sense it in each other.
“Maybe because we still have a Luna.” Will put forward to the unseen questioner.
A tall dark skinned man walked out from behind the trees into the clearing, a bow held casually in one hand and several arrows still in his quiver. Several knives adorned him and Don knew he’d have more hidden about.
His scent carried his age, showing him to have just passed his first century. As Mythkind physically stopped aging at the human age of twenty-five their scent was the only way to tell their age, at least for Weres.
“A rejected and disowned Luna who held no alpha blood.” He stated. “How can she sustain your status?”
“We don’t know.” Don replied.
The man’s dark, cold gaze turned to him. “Lie to me one more time pup, and my colleagues will make a pin cushion out of you.”
Don gritted his teeth. “Fine,” he grit out. “We can’t tell you.”
The enforcer took an arrow and nooked it. “I’m giving you permission.” His chilling tone left no doubt of his willingness to end them.
“Look, the moon goddess told us to keep our mouths shut.” Will cut in. “If you want to kill us that’s up to you but I’d rather face you than her wrath.”
‘What the heck are you doing?’ Don demanded.
‘Either she saves us or this bloodhound kills us and saves us from the hardships to come.’ His friend answered.
Worst part of it, Don couldn’t fault the clearly idiotic reasoning. He swore, just as his wolf growled his displeasure in their mind. ‘It hurts, really does, that you’re actually making sense.’
The enforcer’s face darkened to resemble a thunder cloud, scorn stamping his features. “Do you expect us to believe the goddess who hates our collective butts would care one way or another about a nobody of a girl?”
Don stiffened at the insult to his Luna. No matter that they were a pack of three, that they were all cubs in comparison, the man before them was a mere warrior. And Don was a beta. His genetics were superior, he was a commander of warriors, this man had just insulted Don’s Luna.
Disregarding the unseen enforcers using the trees for cover, he purposely approached the one before him. “Regardless of who you are, who we are,” Don stated as he stopped where the point of the arrow pressed against his chest. “It’s not your place to question what makes an alpha.”
“What? Your Eastaughffe Alpha shared her with you two too?”
Don didn’t need to dignify such childish pettiness with an answer. His fist connected with the Were’s jaw. Normally, he was a reasonable being. He thought through situations before reacting, but he’d been helpless to protect his Luna and his reward for trying had been banishment.
He’d spent the last two weeks running from enforcers of his former pack, barely having time to get to one of the caches of money his pack had hidden in no man’s land. It was meant for those times pack members needed to replenish their pockets without trekking back to the packlands. As a beta blood, he’d known all of them, even some Jake hadn’t.
Along the way, they’d met hostile rogues and had to fight. But what pissed off Don more than anything, was that he’d lost his Luna. One minute he was watching over her sleeping form and the next it was as if the forest had expanded with her at the centre. His cry had awoken Will and no matter how they’d run, their Luna had remained far from them, then too far to see.
That was when the forest had rebounded and they’d been back to their campsite. Without the woman they were sworn to protect. Barely a day from their pack and they had failed.
Maybe he had a death wish, Don no longer knew. It certainly seemed that way since only an idiot done with living would punch out an enforcer who had an unknown number of hidden backups.
Before the man could react, before the hidden enforcers had time to draw their arrows - even with their enhanced skill - the essence of the wolf filled the clearing. It was raw aggression, dominance. The kind that had them all falling to their knees before it registered to their conciousness.
Don found himself kneeling besides the enforcer, the others no longer in the trees but around them. And in the centre she stood, the moon goddess in her wolf personna. She was the ultimate Alpha, the embodiment of the rage Weres kept their lid on until needed.
Ice cold silver shone from her eyes, belying the inferno of rage that radiated from her. She reminded Don of an ice sculpture, so perfect and untouchable. Her icy hair flowing around her as if in response to an unseen wind and her pale face framed against the dawning sky.
When they’d met her before she’d strangely resembled Nia. While her face had been pale, she’d had the same midnight hair and blue eyes. If Don really thought about it though, something about her earlier look had reminded him of Nia’s aunt. Not that her aunt was as perfectly beautiful as the moon was.
“Tell me cur,” her chilly voice vibrated through the air addressing the man besides Don. “Who are you.”
The enforcer looked up, confusion marring his face, but he quickly turned from the fire burning through the ice of her gaze. “My goddess?” He asked.
“Who are you to question the validity of the only Alpha I recognize?” The enforcer trembled and Don saw he wanted to prostrate himself before the goddess but she held him up with the force of her will. “Who are you to question her Beta and Gamma whom I sent you to protect?”
Don felt a rush of power ignite in him as the Moon acknowledged his title, elevating him to more than an heir. He heard Will’s breath catch knew he’d felt the same rush. The man besides him wimpered.
“Who are you to slander the name of my Alpha with false rumour?”
“Forgive me goddess,” he cried.
The Moon laughed. A humorless laugh that took all the warmth from the dawn and them. “I’m no longer the forgiving being I was.” She stated. “But I will show you some mercy,” she purred, in that deadly way that belied the act.
Without pause, she grabbed at the air in front of the enforcer and pulled. He screamed as blue light threads sprung from him to the goddess’ hand. She continued pulling until a wolf form detailed in light seperated from the man and stood between him and the deity.
To say they were all horrified would be an understatement. The enforcer’s scent was no longer Were. Though he didn’t age, the sense of him was Human. “My goddess,” he begged, tears shamelessly trekking down his cheeks.
“I need you to pass this to any other enforcers who might want to rise above themselves.” She went on in a ruthless tone. “Share this moment with them and tell them that this will be their fate if they dare touch my Alpha, or her Beta and Gamma.”
The man nodded. “Yes, oh my goddess.” He moaned.
“Good. See that you don’t displease me,” she made a swiping motion towards him and his wolf jumped back inside. “Or the next time you will live out the rest of your life without the wolf. Now leave my sight.”
The group of enforcers cleared out faster than even their legendary speed allowed. Then the goddess turned to him and his friend.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself Lyndon Harper,” she said to him with a smile. “I took my daughter from your care. She has to find her strength and has people she needs to meet.”
After the horror she’d enacted, the smile seemed so out of place, scarily so. The hairs on the back of his neck rose at how quickly her mood changed. He was awed by her, intimidated.
“Now you two, have somewhere you need to be.” She added.