The rest of the week went by in a blur. More training with Dominic, more meditation with Moira, and more of Jayce continuously going M.I.A due to ‘pack business’. Cameron had assured me that it was all standard Alpha stuff, but a feeling inside me was telling me that something was off.
Every time Jayce would get back, from whatever it was that he was doing, he would act weird with me. He would breathe in my scent as if it were a drug and was even more sex crazed than usual, if that was even possible. Not that I was complaining but I wanted the sex to be because he loved me and needed me; at the moment I felt like it was just a way of him asserting his dominance.
I was beginning to feel claustrophobic. I knew that when the Alpha was away it was the Luna’s duty to handle things back with the pack but now that Jayce was always away, I was always...here.
It was the same thing everyday. Train, meditate, maybe deal with a couple of pack issues, eat, sleep...repeat.
Moira was no closer getting to the bottom of my pissed off panther problem than she was a week ago. I still couldn’t shift into it and if I tried too hard I just ended up with a splitting headache and a blood nose.
I sat at the back of the compound, my feet resting in the cool water of the creek. It was another warm day and the sun was high, my only reprieve from the heat being the shade of a tree and the water around my toes. I found myself constantly drawn to this area. I hadn’t picked up the scent again since about a week ago but I couldn’t help but return to this spot everyday thinking that maybe, just maybe, it would come back.
Quinn. I think you should come to the front gate. There is someone here with a message for you.
I jumped to my feet hearing Cameron’s mind link and slid my shoes back on. Who would be here with a message for me? Who would the message be from? Jayce? Surely not.
I jogged to the gates, taking me a few minutes. Cameron gave me a half smile and gestured for me to stand off to the side with him. His behaviour was odd and had me concerned already.
“What?” I whispered, looking over his shoulder to see who was at the gate.
“There is a...a panther here to see you” he whispered back.
I blinked in surprise and pursed my lips. A panther in wolf territory? Who would be so stupid?
“What do they want?” I asked.
“Just said that he has a message from Onyx...probably the only reason he is still standing. One of our fighters tracked him here from the town, then jumped him upon reaching our border”
Hearing Onyx’s name made my heart race. I hadn’t heard from her or Norah since the night at the Orcann compound. Curiosity got the better of me and I needed to know what this message was. It had to be important to risk letting a panther travel into known wolf territory.
I walked past Cameron and up to the gates. Two of our fighters stood on the other side and between them was a panther, in his human form.
“You must be Quinn, Luna of the Fern Creek wolf pack” he said, bowing his head slightly, “my name is Obi, I am a friend of Onyx”
I smiled at the visitor, but looking around it was clear to see that I was the only one smiling. Either word had got out very quickly or the panther’s scent had finally reached the inside of the compound, but a small gathering of pack members formed behind me and all were clearly not liking the idea of a panther being here.
“Welcome, Obi. Yes, I am Quinn. What brings you here today?” I asked warmly.
Obi shuffled his feet slightly and looked to the wolves either side of him. The wolves, still in their human forms, towered over the top of his slight frame.
“Will my head be torn off if I asked for a private audience, Luna?”
One of the fighter’s eyes darted to me and I felt Cameron’s presence at my side.
“Of course not. No harm will come to you”
Cameron cleared his throat.
“What? Beta” I asked in a clipped tone.
It was obvious he had something to say. I didn’t care what it was, I needed to know what Onyx’s message was.
“Are you sure this is a good idea? Jayce-”
“Jayce isn’t here” I snapped, “Obi, please come in. We can talk in the pack house”
Obi smiled at me and held his head high, I felt like he had half expected to be turned away at the gates...or maybe to not have even made it this far in the first place.
I glared at Luca, who was taking much too long to open the gates; as if he was expecting me to change my mind. He averted his gaze immediately and opened the gates properly to allow the panther inside.
“Quinn, at least allow me to sit in” Cameron said as Obi approached me, still flanked by the two fighters.
“That won’t be necessary” I answered, “Obi, follow me”
I gestured to the dining table and Obi nodded, taking a seat. He still looked nervous, even though it was just him and I in the house. I’d agreed that Cameron could wait outside on the veranda and that I would link him if I needed him at all.
I placed two glasses of water of the table and looked at the panther. It was clear to see that he wasn’t a fighter, Obi posed no threat whatsoever.
“So, I am intrigued as to why Onyx would risk sending a panther into wolf territory just to deliver a message”
Obi cleared his throat and took a sip of water.
“She would be here herself, but as daughter of the King...well, he hasn’t let her out of his sight since the last incident”
“Daughter of the King?”
Obi nodded slowly, clearly not realising that Onyx had left that small bit of information out.
“Yes. Her father is King Magnus of the Panthera panthers, her mother is Queen Astrid. Onyx is Princess of the Panthera Kingdom”
Princess? That was defiantly something that Onyx hadn’t mentioned.
“Ok...so why has the princess sent you here today? You are lucky the wolves didn’t just kill you on sight”
Obi swallowed and took another sip of water.
“Yes. Well, that’s why she sent me. I’m probably the least intimidating panther in our kingdom. It was a risk she was willing to take to get her invitation across”
“Did you say invitation?”
“Yes. Onyx would like for you to come to the Panthera Kingdom. She believes that what you are might help bridge the divide between panthers and wolves...and I agree”
I sat back in my chair and thought for a moment. What Onyx was suggesting was huge. The thought of bridging the gap between wolves and panthers was next level. The divide had been there for centuries. Different shifter species didn’t mingle, if they did, it was with weapons and a lot of blood shed.
The only time the species had worked together was at the Orcann pack, and I’d seen how well that had gone down with the Kylo wolf pack.
“And what do mummy and daddy dearest think of this idea?” I asked.
Obi looked down at his hands and pursed his lips.
“The King and Queen don’t know I’m even here” he answered quietly.
“I see. And what happens if I get there and my presence isn’t welcome?” I asked.
“The King and Queen are good, fair people. I can assure you that the kindness you have extended to me today will be reciprocated”
I sighed and rubbed my face with my hands. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted. The intrigue of going to the Panthera Kingdom alone was enough to have me consider it but knowing that I could see Onyx again...well, that definitely got the notion over the line.
“When would this be happening?” I asked.
Obi looked down at his hands again, picking at the side of one of his nails.
“You could come back with me today”
“Yes. It’s not a long trip. If we both shifted into our panthers then-”
“No. I won’t be shifting into my panther” I cut him off.
Obi looked up at me but didn’t push the subject. He just nodded and shrugged his shoulders.
“I’m sure your wolf would be just as fast. It would only take a few hours. Three maybe”
I was confused. How could there be a panther kingdom only three hours away and I not know about it?
“The Panthera Kingdom is cloaked” Obi added, as if reading my thoughts, “only a panther can find it. At the moment it’s only a three hour run away”
“At the moment?” I asked.
“The Panthera Kingdom moves, only staying in the same place for short amounts of time. We are the last surviving panthers...The King and Queen are doing everything they can to ensure our species remain protected”
“You must have some serious mages on your side to do that” I said.
Or a witch.
“We do. We have several panther/mage hybrids but it hasn’t been enough to keep us safe. Panthers have been going...missing. We thought after getting Onyx back that it would have stopped, we just assumed that wolf, Clayton, was behind it all. But we are still losing them”
I nodded as I listened to Obi’s story. Who out there would be abducting or killing panthers? I thought back to the Alpha of Kylo’s visit and his obvious distain regarding the other shifter species.
“You think it’s wolves, don’t you?”
Obi shrugged his shoulders again.
“Maybe. Wolf packs are everywhere”
“You’re hoping that if it is wolves then I can be the key to blend the divide between the two species”
Obi half smiled.
“Guilty” he laughed, “you got me”
I sat back in my chair in silence, thinking. I understood the theory, it made sense, in a logical world. Personally, I found it ridiculous that all three species couldn’t live harmoniously. It was no longer the dark ages. Surely we could all offer each other things to help strengthen our packs, kingdoms and dens.
I couldn’t see the harm of at least paying the Panthera Kingdom a visit. I was as much panther as I was wolf and bear...maybe not lately though. Perhaps Panthera would have answers as to why my panther was dormant. Maybe I could get some information that would assist Moira in her research.
“Ok?” Obi gasped.
Obi smiled and clapped his hands together excitedly.
“Absolutely not!” Growled Cameron as he walked next to Obi and I, on our way to the gates.
I had packed a small bag to hang around my neck and had explained to Cam what was happening.
“Cameron. I’ve made my decision. You’re in charge, I’ll be back tomorrow. You’ll be fine”
Cameron stopped and grabbed my arm, turning me to face him. I glared at his hand and he let go.
“It’s not me I’m worried about”
“You’re worried about me?”
“I’m worried about what will happen when Jayce finds out. You’re not going”
I half expected this to be Cameron’s reaction. It wasn’t his decision though.
“Beta” I said firmly, “I am going and as your Luna I order you to stay here and look after the pack while I’m gone”
Cameron hated it when I pulled the ‘Luna card’. I smiled as I watched the muscles in his jaw twitch, he was pissed.
“Don’t think I’m going to defend your decision when Jayce finds out” he grunted.
“I would expect nothing less”