The time that elapsed after Sterling’s death was intense. Both internally and externally. Because the longer that went by, the more I began to wonder what the full implications of my actions would be. Already, my reputation in town had been dubious, being attacked once before for being a ‘Rogue Luna’.
So just what would happen this time when word got out that I’d killed the Alpha’s brother? I could hear Kieran saying something in a hushed voice from outside the room, leaving me to stare at the motionless corpse that may very well be my undoing. It seemed almost poetic that Sterling would find another way to potentially ruin my life, now from beyond the grave.
Though I couldn’t blame him for dying. That had been entirely my doing. In that moment, it had felt as if everything overwhelmed me all at once, vividly imagining what he would be capable of doing should he have been allowed to live.
And though morally that wasn’t my decision to make, I couldn’t help but wonder what my life would have been like had he not been so greedy. Had I been allowed to shift normally and connect with my wolf as everyone else seemed to have.
But no matter how I looked at it, murder for the right reasons was still murder. And it was something that I was all too familiar with
“Rae,” Kieran said, breaking me from my thoughts.
I tore my eyes away from Sterling’s lifeless stare to look up at him. “Are you okay?” he asked.
“They’re getting things ready to move the body,” he said. “We can move your luggage into my room if you’d like.”
Since Kieran and I had become intimate, I’d spent my nights with him in his room anyway and only used this place as a glorified wardrobe.
Moving my things there wouldn’t be that big of a change. But as I turned to start packing my belongings, it was then that I heard footsteps rushing towards the room.
Moving quickly with a sense of urgency, and I had a feeling I knew who it belonged to. “Sterling?!” Victor’s voice boomed. He stood at the entrance, his pace stopping the second his eyes found his brother on the ground.
“What’s the meaning of this?!” he demanded, “Who did this to him?” A knot twisted in my stomach at the thought of telling him. Would he believe me? He was very clearly upset, as was to be expected.
But I swallowed back my fear… and stepped forward, knowing I needed to do this. “Victor… I’m so sorry this happened,” I said gently, lowering my head.
“I can’t imagine the pain you must be feeling but… the truth is… Sterling” “Sterling attacked her,” Kieran interrupted, walking back over to my side. “He stalked her to this room and intended to force himself on her… to mark her as his.”
Victor’s eyes widened in confusion, “What…? Then who…” And before I could get the words out, Kieran then spoke, his words instantly making me look sharply up at him. “I killed him,” he said. “I … killed Sterling” …He was taking the fall for me. Lying to his father no less. Didn’t he realise what that meant? That he would be forever labelled as someone capable of killing their own family? The real reason behind his death wouldn’t really matter to some.
I knew too well how people could speculate and gossip… how they could twist the truth for their own narrative. If people wanted to believe something, they would, no matter how accurate it was. He was simply jeopardising his own reputation for mine.
“…You did this, Kieran?” Victor asked, the pain on his face contorting. “He renounced his loyalty to Ashwood, intending to start a new pack,” he said calmly.
“And after he admitted his disgusting intentions towards Rae after he stabbed her right in front of me… … I lost control.” “…Kieran,” I whispered, grabbing his hand to hint he should stop protecting me. But he wouldn’t look at me. He just held firm in his decision, never looking away from his father.
“The blood on your leg.” Victor then said to me. “That is yours?” In amongst everything happening, I’d almost forgotten about the hole in my thigh. The entire situation we were in had made me feel numb. “Yes… Alpha. A heel of a shoe embedded by Sterling.” And lie nodded his lead in understanding. “Then you should get it seem to by a doctor immediately.”
Without wasting any time, he then gestured for an attendant to come over.” Please escort Raven to the hospital. Make sure she’s looked after.”
“I should stay with her,” Kieran said quickly. “She was just attacked by someone twice her size. It must be incredibly traumatic for her.”
Not that it wasn’t traumatic, but Kieran knew full well that Sterling wasn’t a match for me. It was a little odd that he was changing the story to this degree,
even to the point of hiding my own capability. Would Victor assume it was me if Kieran told him I was able to fight?
…And, as I thought on it some more, I realised then that no one in the pack even knew I was skilled in combat. Kieran had made a point of ensuring our Training sessions were always private. Was it just another archaic viewpoint to do with women? Or… was there another reason?
“You need to stay here until I can confirm what’s happened,” Victor said. “Take responsibility for your actions, Kieran.”
But Kieran didn’t seem to like that response, him already moving to argue again.
However, if he thought that I’d let him endure the entire scrutiny without helping, he was sorely mistaken.
“A letter,” I said loudly before Kieran could speak. They both turned to look at me. “It feels as though you want evidence and answers for what happened to
your brother, Victor, and I completely understand that. So you should know that, when Sterling spoke of his plans to kidnap me, he mentioned already having packed a suitcase… and leaving a letter. You’ll find his luggage inside his car… and I assume the letter will have been left somewhere you frequent.”
And though his eyes were full of anger and pain, a moment of understanding seemed to wash over him as I provided him with what he needed… a way to accept that his brother truly was the despicable man he was accused of being
“I’ll be fine,” I said to Kieran, pressing his hand in comfort. “Be with your father. He needs you more than I do.”
That was the last thing we said before we shared a meaningful look and I left for the hospital. Leaving Kieran behind to clean up the mess of my own making… to take the blame for my actions.
And, in doing so, potentially altering the future forever. Both Mine… and his
Four days had passed since Sterling’s death.
The evidence was located, the record set straight, and his funeral was held two days after his passing. An event that was heavily contended by some given the weight of his alleged crimes, not to mention the fact he’d formally voiced his rejection of Ashwood.
Nevertheless though, he was still the brother of the Alpha, son of the prior one, and, despite his actions, some were still saddened by his death.
I’d spoken to Kieran after the events, protesting his protection of me, but he’d told me that if I hadn’t killed him, he would have anyway.
That he hadn’t entirely lied to Victor about losing control and that I’d simply beaten him to it. It made me feel slightly more reassured… though I still couldn’t shake the feeling of guilt.
Whether that was now guilt over killing Sterling, or for continuing to hide things about myself from Kieran, I wasn’t quite sure.
This felt especially the case now that the location of the documents was revealed It was like a nagging in my head, wondering what I should do with the information.
Even if it was purely curiosity over what they contained, I knew that 10 go looking for them was a slippery stepping stone towards my father.
But then to simply disregard the information made me wonder just how long I could continue to ignore the prevalent issue still ahead, the one of cutting ties with my father entirely. It was a jumbled mess of so many thoughts in my head that all weighed on me.
And… I didn’t know what to do.
“Raven?” I heard someone ask.
I looked up to see Allison.
I was sitting outside the packhouse, enjoying the sun as I tried to think on my dilemına. It seemed Allison had found me on her way to go somewhere, looking as though she was leaving for the day. “Hi Allison,” I said, giving her a gentle smile.
But she tilted her head a little at me, frowning “You seem worried,” she said. “Is everything okay?” Goddanin siblings. Their ability to read me was almost unnerving, “Oh… yes, I’m fine,” I lied. “How are you?” “I’ve been better,” she said.
And I knew that was the truth. We hadn’t spoken too much, but the signs were there.
Lately, Allison had been particularly quiet. A strange demeanour to see on her for so long. Truthfully, I think she had loved her uncle but, after hearing the news of his transgressions, she hadn’t acted overly surprised. Not shocked, just… sad.
“But… that’s just life, I suppose,” she continued. “It’s conflicting to feel upset yet angry by someone I loved. Things aren’t always so… black and white.” Truer words had never been spoken. “What is upsetting you?” she then asked. “…If you don’t mind me asking. Is it to do with Sterling?”
But I hesitated, shifting uncomfortably. “You don’t have to tell me,” she softly smiled, “But you don’t need to feel so alone either. If you want, you could accompany me. I’m on my way to the temple.”
“The temple… for the Moon Goddess?” I asked.
She nodded. “I find that sometimes talking to her about my problems helps to clear my mind.”
“Does she talk back?”
Kieran had mentioned their deity was allegedly real, not just faith-based. The question sounded ridiculous as it left my mouth, but it was meant with sincerity. However, a small giggle left Allison’s lips. The first time in many days. I was so relieved to see her happy that it overshadowed my embarrassment.
“No,” she said, covering her mouth. “But we all need to make our own decisions in life. It’s not for Selene to tell us what to do.” And though I didn’t completely believe in their religion, I thought that maybe there wouldn’t be any harm in going with her. At the very least, it would be a nice distraction from the turmoil in my mind. “Okay… I’ll join you,” I said, standing up. “Let’s go.”
And Allison’s face sparked a little with life, excited by my intention to go with her.
It took us around ten minutes to arrive at the temple and it was a sight that definitely took my breath away. The place seemed ancient, a sort of ageless beauty about it as the white walls glistened in the sunlight. But above all else, there was a large collection of stones mounted at the entrance that stole my attention. It seemed to reflect a rainbow within its surface, placed in a delicate swirl design.
“They’re moonstones,” Allison explained, seeing my interest. “Beautiful, isn’t
Of course, I agreed.
Inside was just as stunning with paintings and stained-glass windows lining the walls. But it seemed almost empty in terms of seating options, much to my surprise.
“Do… not many people come here?” I asked, a little awkwardly. “It doesn’t look like there’s space here to seat a whole town.” ”Traditionally, we perform most rituals outside,” she said. “When the moon is at its highest in the sky, looking down upon us, that is the point in which we are most connected to our Great Mother. We have a sacred spot in the woods where we go for those occasions. But this is just a temple. Somewhere we come to be
surrounded by her life force during the day.”
Well, that explained that. I suppose it made sense when she was literally referred to as a ‘Moon’ Goddess.
“I’m going to go grab us some candles from the back,” Allison said, turning to leave. “Feel free to look around. I’ll be a few minutes.”
And so I did just that… spending the time she was gone to look at all the paintings on the walls. Most were of a woman who I assumed was Selene… depictions of wolves and blessings. All staged within a light from the moon.
But it was as I was nearing a dustier corner that something then caught my eye. Because where the other paintings had all been positive, I couldn’t help but notice that the images here were a lot more… darker.
They seemed to be telling a story of a battle, one with many casualties and pain. I was taken aback by just how different these were and how horrific they seemed. And yet one stood out amongst them all, centred within the middle with a light within its darkness.
It was of a woman with flowing silver hair, so bright in colour that it seemed possessed by moonlight itself. She stood with her arms outstretched as she stared up to the sky, an expression of contrition across her face. And yet… and yet, in complete contrast to that, she was depicted with blood covering her clothes, standing atop a pile of bodies.
I frowned as I continued to analyse it, feeling uncomfortable by its graphic tone. “Oh… horrible, right?” Allison’s voice spoke behind me, making me jump. I sharply turned to look at her, finding her staring at the painting with distaste.
“…Who is she?” I asked. “This one seems very… different to the others.”
But Allison just approached slowly, her eyes fixated on the picture as if it had a hold over her.
“This is of the Silver Saintess, Ariadne,” she said quietly. “… The false prophet who walked amongst us one hundred years ago. She was a creature who declared themselves an embodiment of the Goddess, and yet saw to change the world to her will.
A world in the image of her insanity.” Her eyes then finally snapped back to my own, showing me the hatred burning within them. “She was an evil that has never been forgotten… A Devil of the Mist.”