I couldn’t stay in that room. I couldn’t stay there and watch Quinn run straight into the Alpha’s arms the second she came to. My panther was in a world of bliss, tucked away in the back of my mind with his head in the clouds. He had completed the bond with his mate and the only thing that could take that away was if Quinn’s panther rejected him; and let’s be honest, that was never going to happen.
Regardless of how happy my panther was, I couldn’t have felt more confused if I tried. Quinn had accused me of playing her, of seducing her and tricking her into mating with me. The woman had no fucking idea. Was she really that naive? Really that stupid?
I’d given her exactly what her panther needed but in doing that I would have to live with the consequences for the rest of my life.
I would be forever connected to her, well my panther would be anyway. I would feel whatever her panther felt; her happiness, her anger, her sadness, her pain. Everything.
Quinn had it easy. As long as her panther was tucked away happily in mated bliss then she could run on off with the Alpha; while I would remain alone. Now that my panther was mated to Quinn I could never complete the mating bond with anyone else. Unlike her, I only had one animal and now that animal was spoken for.
I would be left to rule the Panthera Kingdom on my own; the Panther king without a Queen. Sure, I could fight for Quinn. I could challenge Jayce to the death and take what was rightfully mine after tearing his throat out for all to see; but why bother?
The tribrid had made it very clear that she wanted Jayce over me and I refused to live in the shadow of a man who Quinn wanted more. I was better than that.
So I would stick around, help her kill the witch and complete the mission…then I would leave. I’d go back to Panthera and never see her again. That woman had done everything I knew she would when I first discovered her, she’d all but destroyed me.
I was sick of waiting. We had all the shifters we needed to storm Fern Creek but for some reason Magdalene wouldn’t budge.
I paced the hall, hands in my pockets. I was sick of this place. There was no natural light, it was always cold and damp. The smell of the rotting panthers and wolves was beginning to seep up from the dungeons below, making my stomach hurl.
Magdalene had gone too far. She had killed every panther and wolf that she’d been unable to possess, except for a young panther cub. I clenched my fists at the memory; his mother had fought the possession like a woman crazed, her only focus was protecting her child. But now she was under Magdalene’s control like all the others. Before I knew what I was doing I’d whisked the cub away and hidden him deep in the caves. I knew he was just a worthless panther but he was also a child, I would not have a child’s death on my conscience; regardless of the species.
Magdalene had told me not to bother her. She was locked away in her quarters, where she had spent most of her time the last two days. My patience was now wearing thin, I was sick of waiting. I wanted my revenge now. The longer we waited to attack Fern Creek, they longer they had to plot against us.
I approached the witch’s door, being sure to step quietly. I could hear voices. Who the hell was with her? What was she up to?
Knowing my scent was cloaked, I leant up against the door, my ear to the cold wood and listened.
There was low and rumbling male voice, it was dark and almost other worldly. The sound chilling me to the core. I listened closer, who was that?
I was suddenly frozen to the spot as I heard Magdalene address him by name…Hades.
I lounged back on the throne I’d conjured up, my boots resting on the heavy wooden table in front of me. I gazed around the room, tutting at the cold and drabness of it. Considering this was the personal quarters of an all powerful witch, I was expecting more.
My eyes fell of the witch, Magdalene. Her current skin was easy on the eyes. Soft smooth skin, bright green eyes. Large full breasts…and yet, she bored me. When she’d summoned me days ago and explained to me her plan, I’d been intrigued. She planned to destroy all of humanity…cool.
She needed something from me, of course; they always did. She needed more power so that she could blind side the shifter Queen and destroy her; the only being powerful enough to kill a witch.
I tried to hide my surprise when she told me about the Queen, the tribrid. I had been under the impression that the tribrid baby died decades ago, in a house fire that claimed the life of her mother and twin. But no, she had been hidden under my nose and I wouldn’t be surprised if the wolf goddess had intentionally done this.
You see, Magdalene wasn’t the only one with a plan. I was building my own army and the Wolf Goddess knew this. A shifter Queen would be a very impressive addition to my ranks and Magdalene was happy to assist her in getting there.
“Magdalene…” I drawled, “time is running out. Remember our deal. If you don’t send the tribrid to me then you will take her place. It doesn’t phase me, I can always find another way to bring her to hell”
“Hades…” the witch replied, “I have not forgotten our deal. I’m just waiting for the right time. You’ll have your tribrid, she will be of no match to my power now”
“You mean my power” I growled, “don’t forget who’s blood is flowing through your veins right now. I know your end goal is wiping out humanity but unless you fill your end of the bargain by our deadline then your goal might as well be a distant dream”
The witch nodded.
“It will be done. She will be thrown into the hell portal before she even knows what hit her, then the rest of the shifters will be mine. Don’t forget that my plan benefits you too. Wiping out humanity will provide you with many souls for your army”
I removed my feet from the table, dropping my boots to the ground with a boom. I saw the faint glimmer of fear in the witch’s eyes as the impact of my movement sent a tremor through the cave, as if the earth was quaking underneath us. I leant forward, my elbows resting on my knees.
“Don’t you dare tell me what benefits me and what doesn’t. I am Hades, God of the Underworld. My patience with you is wearing thin, Magdalene. You have promised bloodshed but over the centuries I have yet to witness anything extravagant by your hand. This is your last chance. You fail me now and you will find yourself burning amongst the brimstone. Understood?”
The witch pursed her lips.
“Understood. My lord”
I was exhausted. My body ached and my brain hurt. If I had been under the belief that Kyanite’s sessions were mentally draining then this one had shit all over them.
I’d spent the last five hours in the training grounds, working with the newly completed amulet. Cassius and Gretchen had presented me with the clasp amulet this morning, all of the gems safely affixed to the side. It was a beautiful creation. The moment I’d put it on my wrist I felt my animals vibrating within me, relishing the power of the gems and the energy they already possessed.
Kyanite had chosen to sit this session out and handed the reigns over to Cassius. The disappointment I felt had surprised me. It shouldn’t have surprised me though; Kyanite clearly already got what he wanted from me, the chase was over.
Instead of helping he just sat on the sidelines, not even watching. He might as well have been back in Panthera.
“Quinn, I think you’re ready”
My head whipped to the side and I looked to Cassius, a beaming smile plastered across his face.
“You and your animals are completely in sync. You can shift from one to the other without batting an eyelid, and your blend of all three animals is flawless…spectacular! Your sessions with the Prince have well and truly paid off”
I let my eyes wander over to Kyan but he didn’t even look up. Nothing.
“I agree with Cassius” Moira added, “the rest of it you can’t practice. You know what you need to do and you know how to do it. The rest is up to you”
My mouth suddenly went dry. That was it? My training was done? But I didn’t feel any different. I didn’t feel like a shifter Queen. I was Quinn, the twenty year old girl from Atlas. The pressure of the situation I found myself in was starting to become real, my heart racing in my chest.
Before my impending panic attack could really grab hold I felt a soothing and warm presence beside me. I turned my head and smiled to see Jayce standing there. He looked down and his beautiful brown eyes locked on my own.
“We’ve all got your back Quinn. We’re in this together, you won’t be on your own. Not even for a second”
I closed my eyes and leant into Jayce’s touch as he cupped the side of my face softly. It was funny, I knew I was stronger than him - Hell! I was stronger than everyone here - but when he stood next to me all I wanted to do was curl up against him and nuzzle my head into his large chest. The man was my protector, my safety blanket, my knight in shining armour.
“So when do we do this?” I asked, a new found sense of power and confidence surging through me, “do we just wait for her to come to us?”
Jayce was just about to open his mouth when an urgent pack link came through from Luca at the front gate.
Alpha, Luna…you need to get here now! There’s a wolf at the gates. Cameron wants to rip his throat out, we can’t hold him back much longer!
My eyes darted up to Jayce before we both took off in a sprint. Jayce shifted mid run into his wolf and me into my panther. I could sense Kyanite not far behind me, his breath hot on my heals.
What is it? He linked, I’m not part of your pack. Remember?
Intruder wolf at the gates, taking on the Beta.
Kyanite hissed and his panther sped up to run alongside mine. Power coursed through me at his closeness and my panther gave him a quick nudge to the neck, making sure her scent was on him.
It felt surreal. The distance I felt from Kyan in my human form was completely gone, right at this moment I couldn’t feel more close.
We reached the gates within seconds and I didn’t know where to look.
On one side of the gate was Cameron, completely shifted into his wolf form with five of out strongest fighters trying desperately to hold him down as he gnashed his teeth and roared, saliva frothing from his mouth and flying everywhere.
On the other side of the gate was a wolf, still in his human form. The smug look on his face as he watched Cameron trying to break free was enough to make me want to rip him apart myself.
Jayce ordered his Beta to stand down and I shifted back into my human form, approaching the gates, unable to hide the distain on my face.
“Brax” I sneered, “to what do we owe this pleasure?”