The room quickly erupted into chaos once Aleric had fallen. The council, who were probably all too shocked to move earlier, were now realising the full gravity of the situation.
The situation where both Alphas now laid unmoving before me.
Several warriors and Gamma Oliver turned their attention to me, an intent to kill written all over their faces, and I couldn‘t blame them for thinking that. Aller murdering their Alpha, Oliver would feel it were now his responsibility to retaliate given he was the only full-ranked member remaining.
Or so he thought.
I watched as he started to charge at me, his body almost on the brink of shifting and….
“ENOUGH,” I shouted out, my voice thick with authoritative command,
And everyone immediately froze around me.
I stood, waiting for several seconds and, when I was finally satisfied everyone had completely stopped, I cleared my throat, addressing the room.
“Everyone sit back down. NOW.”
It seemed to come naturally to me, my authority having no more restraints to hold me back. All these months of training had apparently paid off.
And everyone complied. Without anyone left with a comparable high rank, there was no doubt that my orders would be adhered to implicitly.
“Okay, then,” I said, my tone relaxing a little. “Let‘s just all sit down… breathe… and talk for a second, shall we?”
I walked over to where Tytus‘ chair was and sat down, earning myself a few looks of horror from several people around
“Alright. Well…,” I started, looking out at the room, “I imagine you all have a lot of questions–.”
“You think we‘ll follow you, girl?” Elder Nathaniel spat out, cutting me off. “That you can murder our Alpha and we‘ll just blindly accept you? Absolutely not. The sheer audacity you have to even think for a second t h–”
“Silence,” I ordered, holding my hand up to stop him. “…Congratulations, you‘ve now lost the right to speak to me again until I say so.”
He opened his mouth to argue back but I could tell that my order held firm. Nothing was able to leave past his l!ps.
“Good,” I praised. “Now then, as I was saying, I know you all have a lot of questions. However, as crazy as it sounds, I actually have things I need to do tonight that are more pressing than this. So, we‘ll just need to make this quick. Well, that… and because the former* Alpha heir will also die if he doesn‘t go to the hospital within the next few hours. Something I‘m sure none of us here want.”
No, killing him was unfortunately not an option when I wasn‘t certain yet how it tied into Thea‘s plan or Selene. The drug I‘d dosed him with was mostly made from a sedative but contained a tiny trace amount of wolfsbane in it.
The intention was that the wolfsbane would act as an immediate measure to slow him until the sedative could work its way through him. And it had worked perfectly. However, at the end of the day, it was still poison and he would die if he didn‘t receive medical attention
“Let‘s just cut to the chase then shall we?” I continued. “Confirm the succession of Alpha to myself and w
o can reconvene in a few days to go over the nitty gritty detalls.”
“You can‘t just barde in here without any claim and demand the pack!” Gamma Oliver yelled,
But I didn‘t,” I calmly replied, “Alpha Tylus is now dead, his successor, whom I challenged during his attempt to mark mo, is now incapacitated. According to the natural laws of our kind, the title is now rightfully mine. Though, need I remind you all that, with my mark from the Goddess herself, I was always just as entitled to this pack os Aleric was, My claim entirely legitimate.”
“That‘s not… you can‘t…,” he stammered, trying to find an adequate excuse.
However, Elder Luke then cut in.
“If you believe that Aria‘s right to the litle of Alpha Is any less than Aleric‘s… then you are in contempt of the Goddess‘ will,” he said, “A challenge was issued… Aria then showed her strength and ability to overcome not just one.. but Iwo Alpha bloods. Anyone who would even begin to discredit her claim to this title would be doing so out of their own selfish beliefs,”
That seemed to shut Oliver up.
‘They don‘t respect you enough…,’ the voice inside whispered, ‘You should make them kneel. All of them. I would force them to acknowledge your authority.‘
But I quickly pushed away her suggestion. There was no need to drag this out longer than necessary.
“Brilliant. Any other questions?” I asked the room, scanning their faces.
I needed them to hurry this along. The intervals between cold shivers were now decreasing in time and soon I wouldn‘t be able to focus on this anymore. Normally, a ceremony would be done for the transfer of Alpha rank however, in light of everything happening, I was happy to just opt for the verbal contract. Technically, only the words were required.
When I was met with only silence l then smiled. “Okay, perfect. Swear me in and we can all go about the rest of our day. Obviously, someone will need to deal with Aleric… and the body. Please ensure Alericis given full medical treatment and is sent to the cells once he has recovered. No one is to have any direct contact with him unless I say so. Is that clear?”
The room mutely nodded around me.
“Very well,” Elder Luke said, breaking the tension slightly from the council, “Aria, please approach and kneel.”
I stood up and met Elder Luke at the front of the room, doing so under the watchful eyes of everyone else around me.
“Aria, do you promise to protect, serve and do right by this pack to the best of your ability?” he asked.
I bowed my head as I took on the responsibility. “Under the gaze of the Goddess, I, Ariadne Chrysalis, do accept these terms.”
“Then let me be the first one to officially welcome you. On behalf of those present today, we, the council of the Winter Mist, hereby accept the Saintess, Ariadne Chrysalis, as our new Alpha and leader. We are all in your care now.”
I wasn‘t expecting any applause or adoration, of course. After what I‘d just done, I was completely realistic about the situation. But even if they hated me, this was for both their future and mine. Even if they didn‘t know it.
“Thank you, Elder Luke,” I said, standing back up. “I appreciate your support and wisdom, as always. I‘m looking forward to the great work we can accomplish together.”
But then I felt it. Like an immense pressure building inside against one of the bones in my thigh…
…And I knew it would snap at any second.
“Okay, everyone! Apologies for this,” I said, turning back around to face the entire room. “But… respectfully, everyone needs to get the f#ck out. Like right now. I want warriors posted at the front door and no one is to enter. No one.”
They all didn‘t waste time in moving, carrying out my order just as I‘d asked. Aleric and Tytus were also removed swiftly, something I tried not to focus on. The last thing I needed was to dwell on that right now.
And so, after a few minutes had passed, it was finally only me and Elder Luke left.
“Do you need a hand?” he asked kindly, already knowing what was happening. “The first time is always the most painful.”
But I shook my head. I‘d already been through this once and knew what was ahead. And right now, I just wanted to be alone more than anything. Having someone else here would just be a sad reminder of my loss.
Though it felt strange to be doing this in here; this place being typically reserved for only gatherings. However, the meeting hall was the largest enclosed area within the pack and I knew that leaving to the woods right now would be far too dangerous. Especially when I wouldn‘t be able to defend myself for a while.
“Very well,” he said, bowing his head at me. “Call for me when you are ready.”
And with that he left, the room becoming completely empty. Now it was just me and…
I cried out from the pain, falling to the ground.
It hurt. It hurt so goddamn bad. This body had never felt what it was like, felt the new shapes and sensations that came with shifting. Unfortunately, just knowing what to expect didn‘t seem to lesson that in the slightest.
My breathing soon quickened until it became laboured and, slowly, I could feel my bones breaking, my skin moving, my limbs reforming….
“F#ck,” I cried, tears falling down my face. I just wanted this to be over with.
Normally one would have their family here to distract them from the pain, to help and support them through this. But I didn‘t have any family left. No, it was just me now.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn‘t long before the pain became so overwhelming that my body became numb to it, shutting it off inside my brain. Only the sound of my flesh being torn and bones snapping filled the air around me. Just the sickening melody of my pain to accompany me.
…And then, finally, it was done.
It could have been hours later before I felt myself reach the end of it.
I laid panting on the ground, my body now changed into that of my wolf, and new heightened sensations immediately swept through my body.
Everything became so… Vivid. Colors were sharper, scents were more prominent, and I could even hear distant muffled sounds coming from outside the room. It seemed like there were so many things I‘d been missing out on, so many privileges I‘d once taken for granted. It was hard to believe I‘d lived another four years without this.
But then I felt it.
I felt her.
My wolf. She was waking up.
The only one who hadn‘t ever abandoned or hurt me in the past. The only real friend I had ever had. The only one who knew of all the pain and suffering I‘d felt… because she had suffered through all of it right along with me.
Finally, she was back.
‘I missed you,‘ I sobbed within my mind.
But something was wrong.
She was… anxious. On edge. Like she wasn‘t sure what was happening.
‘Don‘t you remember? Look at what we‘ve been through… look at everything that we have survived together,’ I said internally.
And I showed her. Images of the past, of the present, of the pain and torture we experienced. Of the things she‘d missed, of the heartaches we‘d endured… of the betrayals we‘d suffered.
But she instantly recoiled from me, pushing herself back into the furthest part of my mind. All of the things I was showing her had been too much. She didn‘t understand… couldn‘t handle the immense amount of pain in my memories or how it was possible to be from another timeline.
…And I realised then the cold truth. The devastating reality of the situation…
She wasn‘t *my wolf.
No, she belonged to the girl who had lived in this body for fourteen years. An innocent in all of this. It seemed that I, alone, was the only one who had been brought back… not my wolf.
None of this probably made any sense to her, yet I‘d greeted her with an onslaught of pain carried through two lifetimes. And she chose to wall herself away.
Coward. Weak,’ I spat at her.
My wolf had been forged from within the rejection of our mate, from the lives we‘d claimed, and from the pain we‘d lived through every day together.
This wolf… was nothing. More similar to the naive girl I‘d originally been growing up than anything of true strength. Without even trying, she had already withdrawn in order to protect herself from me.
‘Fine then. Have it your way,‘ I hissed inside and took back full control of our body.
| slowly stood up on all fours, trying to remember how to maneuver the fur–covered form, and began walking around the room. And I kept walking… and walking… every second spent trying to force my body to respond to my will, move to my command…
But there was no push back though… no contradictory force…
It was just me in here.
Just me… and not my wolf.
Eventually, my resolve finally broke and I fell to the ground, my body beginning to shift back. And I could feel myself shaking as I transitioned… but it wasn‘t from the physical pain.
As soon as I had returned to my human self, a sob wracked through me, overcome with the sheer emotional distress I‘d gone through; something now made only worse by the realisation that I really was truly alone. That there was not a single being in this world I could trust anymore.
And Goddess, I didn‘t want to do this anymore. I didn‘t want to feel this way anymore. I‘d lost everyone I‘d cared about…
…And I was so alone.
…We don‘t need them,‘ the familiar voice of my other self whispered inside.
And it was a jarring reminder that there was another who knew of what I was going through. Knew exactly what I was feeling. The only person who had given me the strength to do what needed to be done during that meeting today.
‘We protect ourselves first,’ she continued. ‘We work hard and we get things done. Let this be the last time we shed any tears for those we have lost.‘
I curled myself up on the floor, hugging my legs to my chest. Her words were comforting for the aching inside.
‘But let us not forget the person behind why so much has gone wrong in our lives.‘
‘The person who was responsible for originally introducing Thea to the pack, for killing us, for why we no longer have our wolf, for gaining our trust before mercilessly betraying us… for killing our parents… for falsely claiming that they loved us.‘
Tears continued falling down my face as I listened, but I knew I needed to hear this.
‘Aleric was, and always will be, our undoing. He was our beginning and our end. Time does not change that.’
‘Now that Tytus is gone, he will try to kill us whenever he next gets the chance. We murdered his father. H. e cannot be trusted. Do you understand?‘
And I closed my eyes, nodding my head in acknowledgement at everything she was telling me.
It was time to let go and accept that Aleric was the same monster inside.
But maybe that was okay.
I didn‘t need him, after all. In fact, I didn‘t need anyone anymore. There was no one left in this entire pack ‘who could ever tell me what to do again. No one left to chain me up or force me to give myself to
someone for the sake of their son‘s succession.
No, I‘d be okay.
Just me… and *hert. The only ones..