Fur vs Skin

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14.

โThe sun watches what I do, but, the moon knows all my secrets.โž


Just as Marcus said, him and Santha started the process of informing me of their culture and how the pack functioned, reeling me deeper into the reality that all of this was real; shattering whatever hope of living in blissful ignorance I once occupied, completely gone. Before my person lied books, different shades of browns and smells, their wrinkled pages telling their story of survival.

โ€œAll right, letโ€™s see,โ€ Santha mumbles to herself, settling a pair of glasses on the bridge of her nose, the chair connected to its end resting behind her neck, โ€œweโ€™ll start with this.โ€

Flipping to a page in a rather large book, she slides the book across the surface of the coffee table where many others lied upon, catching it, I raise it to my lap, gazing at its contents.

Origin of Lycanthrope

Lycans stem from Greek Mythology, their bloodline created in the midst of anger. The son of Pelasgus (Admetos) served Zeus, the ruler of all immortal gods of Mount Olympus, a meal made from a sacrificed boy to gain a spot among the gods. His desire to rise to power and to conquer all quickly diminished once Zeus discovered the truth.

Enraged, the almighty god aimed to punish the man, but, before he could rain down his terror, the cowardly brother placed the blame on his sibling, Samuel, resulting in the innocent manโ€™s fate: to be turned into a beast, roaming the worldโ€™s earliest breaths of life with internal life only phasing when the moon raised full.

โ€œThis is one of the more modern books,โ€ Santha tells me.

Snapping my gaze up, Iโ€™m met with her calculating stare through the planes of her glasses, no doubt her eyes gauging my reaction to the information Iโ€™ve taken in so far. Once she finds nothing, a flicker of surprise flashes in the depth of her orbs before it vanishes, she redirects her attention to opening books and turning them to designated pages.

Heaving a slow, even breath, I skip my eyes across the other books that lie open and ready for me to feast on. At the corner of the table, a book showcasing a diagramed image of a wolf as it stands on its hind legs, its height enormous even though it was drawn on the page.

โ€œThe book youโ€™re holding is a small portion of the history summarized while the originals are written in our mother language and tucked away safely,โ€ she says, looking at her handy work.

Marcus comes from the kitchen, a mug of tea in his hand, taking a spot behind the seat Santha occupied. Leaning over its edge, he presses a kiss to the junction of where her shoulder and neck meet: handing the mug to her. She mumbles a โ€˜thank youโ€™ and takes a delighted sip, a wave of content easing her features before placing the mug on the surface of the coffee table.

I catch a glimpse of teeth marks embedded in her flesh the place Marcus kissed, the action of her lifting her cup revealing its existence, seeming as if it healed over time yet was still visible.

Ignoring the pressing question and curiosity, I watch as Marcus strides a few paces forward, hovering over the coffee table to gaze down at the books.

โ€œDid you want to ask questions now or wait until the end?โ€ he suggests.

โ€œIโ€™ll wait,โ€ I respond, placing the book in my lap back on the table.

โ€œAll righty thenโ€ he nods.

โ€œIโ€™ll start with something simple,โ€ he steps back from the table and resides his spot next to Santha, leaning his weight on the back of the chairsโ€™ structure. โ€œOur pack isnโ€™t the only one that exists, there are thousands of us scattered across the world stemming from different bloodlines, but all connected to one. And with those packs, there are ranks.โ€

โ€œThe Alpha, which is what I am, oversees the packโ€™s lifestyle and protect his followers with his strength and power that was gifted,โ€ Marcus reveals, โ€œNext is the Beta, which in other terms resembles the Alphaโ€™s second-hand man, supporting and giving aid to then Alpha when itโ€™s needed or if anything tragic ever falls upon the Alpha, the Beta takes control of the pack.โ€

โ€œThat man when I first was brought here, by the door,โ€ my voice interrupts briefly, thrown back to past memories โ€œwas that your Beta?โ€

โ€œYes, matter-of-fact. Good eye, there.โ€

A wink thrown in my direction; I shake my head with a small grin at his tactic while fiddling with the lent of my jeans, casting a glance to the sofa where Arsen still sat, quietly observing us.

โ€œLastly is the Gamma, which is also additional support to the Alphas. The rest of the people make up the population of the pack, holding no titles and living normally apart from warrior Lycans that make up the protection system for the pack.โ€

Marcus leans off the chair, once more making his way toward the table, his eyes scanning the open pages for something.

โ€œThough there are other packs out there,โ€ Santha chimes in, โ€œour pack runs a bit differently.โ€

Reaching forward, she takes ahold of a book just as Marcus was reaching for it. She beats him to the punch with a giggle, shooting her a look that furthers her amusement, her fingers quickly flip through the pages; once found, she holds the book upright on her lap and showcases a heritage tree.

โ€œWe follow old customs that have been forgotten by others. For instance, the elders, are Lycans that have lived longer than the people that make up the pack, they hold a higher status than Alphas.โ€

โ€œGoing back to my earlier statement,โ€ Marcus says, running a hair through the fallen strands of hair, exposing his forehead. โ€œthere really is so much that I can say and appoint even though I hold the title of Alpha, you can say that theyโ€™re the โ€œmastermindsโ€ behind the scenes.โ€

โ€œI see. .โ€

My head works the gears in my mind, slowly processing the information given to me in chunks, absorbing all the contents, and spitting them out into something that I could easily understand.

โ€œLet us know if weโ€™re going too fast or dumping a load of information on you,โ€ Santha says, a little concerned.

โ€œNo, no, itโ€™s fine, continue.โ€

โ€œOkay,โ€ she eyes me, โ€œbeing that our pack functions differently, weโ€™ve secluded ourselves from other packs due to the differential gaps of customs.โ€

โ€œDown to the clothing, rituals, language, markings, et cetera. The only reason Marcus and I wear regular clothing is that we still go out into the human world, every so often, to retrieve essentials and to pay for the cabinโ€™s bills,โ€ Santha ends, placing the book back where it belonged.

โ€œWeโ€™ll touch a little more on those topics when you start joining in on the activities.โ€

I hum, leaning back into the chair and sigh for a moment. โ€œWhat about these activities that the elders want me to participate in?โ€

โ€œHonestly, there really isnโ€™t much you can do while in human form,โ€ Marcus says, eyes lost in thought. โ€œThereโ€™s only basic combat training that requires physical participation but really, they want you to surge in our culture and learn about what we are.โ€

โ€œWhy? You all speak as if Iโ€™m one of you,โ€ I say, conflicted at the hidden meanings and phrases behind their words, the way they look and observe me not too far behind in my own mind.

Marcus presses his lips together, not agreeing or denying my statement. A sudden wave of fear washes through me, questions and worry beginning to cause havoc within my mind as I try to hide the hint of anxiety that seeps from the pores of my face and shifts my expression. Itโ€™s not as if they havenโ€™t hinted that I hold some sort of โ€˜beastโ€™ inside of me, but there is no possibility that I could: both of my parents were human and there wasnโ€™t a lick of โ€˜lycanโ€™ blood in our genes. . . was there?

A rumbling noise resonates through the living room, none other than coming from Arsen, my change of attitude fueling his growls as he shifts in his positions, ready to rise to his feet. Santha sighs, and stands to her feet, one by one, closing the collection of books on the coffee table.

โ€œI think thatโ€™s enough for today,โ€ she says softly, stacking the books and handing them off to Marcus. โ€œwe can continue this another day.โ€

My chest rises with a breath, nodding my head.

โ€œThe books are on the shelves if you want to read them freely.โ€

Swallowing thickly and lifting my head from staring at the embroidery in the carpet, I meet her gaze. โ€œOkay.โ€

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