The Elders are brought in almost immediately and I undergo the uncomfortable procedure of venom extraction for the transfer of power.
“Just breathe through your nose,”
Toran instructs me as I am forced to bite down on a glass jar so that my canines protrude while an Elder squeezes the base of my jaw.
Tiny droplets of dark venom spill into the jar until I produce enough to fill two vials with my venom.
My jaw aches by the time I’m finished.
Tylen arrives with the pack tablet made of black stone with two wolves and a moon carved into the face of the stone.
Between the two peaks of the crescent moon, is an indentation with runes along the edges leading up to the carvings.
I get a good look at Tylen, the rightful heir to the title, but he does not seem the least bit concerned about the title going to me instead.
“Don’t worry about me,” he says when he notices me staring.
“I’ve never wanted this. I hate pack meetings and diplomacy.”
He pats my back to show no hard feelings and takes his place beside the other pack members in the tent.
“Are you ready?” Toran asks, his eyes flickering with confidence.
My mind drifts off to my mate and our pup.
Talia has no desire to be Luna again and I promised we would make this decision together when the time came.
The circumstances have changed, Grayson says, his tail flicking back and forth with pride.She Anows we will worship the very ground she walks on should she ever take her place beside us as Luna.She knows we will value her expertise and her guidance regarding all matters of the pack and she will understand why we came to this decision without her.
Trust her.She deserves our trust.
With Grayson’s reassuring words, I take a deep breath to calm my nerves and nod.
“Then let’s do this,” Toran smiles.
He leads me to the table where the tablet sits and the Elder begins the ceremony.
There is no time to waste so he gets right to the point.
“Zane White, repeat after me: I, Zane White, do solemnly swear to preserve, to protect, and to serve the members of the Ravenstone Pack.I swear to put the needs of the pack before my own and to uphold the values of this pack.I swear to lead with strength and courage to the best of my abilities and to lead by example and stand with my fellow wolves through times of hardship and times of prosperity.I swear to guard the lives of every member of my pack until my final breath, so help me Moon Goddess.”
I do my best to speak slowly, replaying Talia’s words of encouragement when I stumble through some of my words in order to calm my racing heart.
No one seems to notice or care about my stutter, reiterating that it was my father’s own prejudice that stood in my way, not my own capabilities.
When I’ve finished reciting my oath, the Elder takes a vial of my venom and injects it into the tablet, the green venom flowing through the runes to the carved wolves.
Toran then takes a dagger and slices the palm of his hand, a pool of blood quickly forming in his cupped hand.He pours a few droplets of blood into the small indentation and then hands me the dagger.
Without hesitation, I slice my own palm, watching as the blood travels along my fingers.
My heart pounds in my ears as the blood spills onto the tablet and into the indentation, mixing with Toran’s blood.
This is it, I sigh.
My time as Alpha has come.
Together, Toran and I press our bloodied palms against the carvings of the wolves.
There is a ringing in my ears for a second before the mindlinks between all the pack members flood my head.
It is overwhelming at first, my temples throbbing from the overstimulation but the pain very quickly fades away, a sudden calmness washing over me.
When I look up at Toran and the other pack members, a look of pride washes over them and they salute me with an ‘R’ sign over their heart.
“Welcome home, Alpha,” they say, kneeling down on one knee before me.
Outside, howls of my fellow soldiers are heard welcoming me, but their song is kept short and brief for our battle has only begun.
My men gather around me, all of them ready to fight.
“What now, Alpha?” they ask.
I look down at the map of the Harbor.
“N-now, we take Scarlett Haven.”
My wolves quickly build a base camp in the heart of the Harbor, setting up our guns around the perimeter to keep the Ravenstone mutts away while we figure out our next moves.
So far, my plans to attack the East have failed as expected but my western attack proved partially fruitful.
We are now in control of the Harbor but it seems the Ravenstone mutts are determined to keep the bunker a secret from us, blocking one of our paths into the inner circle.
Their overprotectiveness of the channel and the inner island only proves my theory that the bunker lies somewhere in between and that my Elenore is very likely taking refuge there.
I am still in shock that my mate is alive, living just a few miles off the coast all this time.I have thought of her all night since discovering her existence, unable to understand how I could not have felt her all these years.I had felt her death, I had felt my soul shatter with her final breath that night.
But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.
The Ravenstone wolves were savages on the night of their attack and virtually no bodies were able to be identified, many torn to shreds or burned before we could recover them.
I never could identify Elenore’s body, but I found her wedding ring next to a severely damaged corpse roughly her size and shape and having felt her fade away, I assumed she was my wife.
How wrong I was.But it does not matter.
My wife is alive and I plan on taking her home.
Beta Earl interrupts my thoughts, entering my boat where I am currently waiting for his report.
“Did you break through the channel?” I snarl menacingly, Earl shaking his head at me.
My fingers grip the steering wheel of the boat tightly, Earl stepping back in fear as he provides his pathetic explanation.
“The Eastern channels are heavily guarded so we have been unable to break through Ravenstone’s lines of defense.The other channels are mine fields of gas canisters and explosives and we can’t seem to scan for their canisters fast enough before they set off.”
My wolf, Arden, snarls with dissatisfaction and I search the map for any other clear paths to the center of the island ring.
Several years ago, we were able to detect the existence of the Raven tunnels via sonar but layers of steel and concrete made these tunnels impossible to attack.
To add insult to injury, my scouts have been unable to locate the main entrances to the tunnels.It’s infuriating knowing that bastard still has the upper hand on me after all these years.
Somehow he even found about Zane’s existence and my wolves can’t find his stupid tunnels! Just as I’m about to order the scouts to start yet another search for tunnel entrances, a symphony of howls ripples through the mid-morning air.
What the f**k is that? Arden and I wonder in unison, our ears straining to hear more.
The howls suddenly come to a halt, leaving me to wonder if they ever truly rang.
Beta Earl stares curiously into space, equally puzzled by the sounds of what appear to be a celebration.
What could Toran be celebrating? I think to myself.
I am holding his pack hostage.I don’t have time to think about this as a group of soldiers arrive.
“Alpha, Beta,” a soldier says, bowing his head in reverence at Earl and I.
“We – uh – we found James, sir.His body was floating by the docks.My condolences, sir,” he adds, avoiding Beta Earl’s eyes.
Earl says nothing, but I notice the tremor in his hands.
Weakness, Arden sneers.
“We’ve gathered intel from the witnesses nearby.Several of the soldiers reported seeing James fight with a silver wolf.”
it must have been that bastard Toran or his i***t son! I growl.
“No one recognized the wolf as either the Alpha or the heir.Many witnessed General Taryn fall to her death so we believe this to be a fourth silver wolf”
I raise an eyebrow at the soldier who shifts nervously under my gaze.
A fourth silver wolf? Silver wolf clans are far and few in between, but I also highly doubt Toran has a second son I don’t know about.Who is this mystery silver wolf?
“I don’t pay you to believe!”
I snarl at the soldier.
“Find out who this silver wolf is and bring him to me.I want his head for killing Scarlett Haven’s future Beta.”
“Yes sir!” the soldier salutes me, storming off the boat with the other soldiers to complete his task.
Silence fills the boat as Earl struggles to contain his emotions.
“At least he died with honor,” I mutter, a bitter taste filling my mouth when I remember Caine’s own demise.
“I can’t say the same about my son.”
This small speech doesn’t seem to help my Beta and I let out a sigh of annoyance.
“War is always messy,” I sigh, walking over to my bar and pouring out a drink for my Beta.
“But it’s a necessary evil to get what we want.Mark my words, your son’s death will not be in vain.We will take Ravenstone if its the last-“
Once again, we hear howls break the silence, this time much closer to our perimeter.
Arden is immediately on edge and I storm out onto the docks to find my soldiers scrambling for their gear.
On the hilltop, I see the silhouette of a single wolf.I cannot make out who it is but I feel their gaze directly on me before they disappear into the trees.
A humming sound murmurs just above us and we see small photography drones fly over the harbor.
Each drone appears to carry a small glowing egg in a tiny arm.
Eggs? I scoff at the stupidity of it only to realize I’ve made a grave mistake.
The drones drop their little eggs onto the boats floating by the docs, exploding on impact.I am nearly flung into the water, my ear drums ringing as I hit the floor.I blink hard, straining my eyes to see through the dust and smoke.
The sounds of screaming are drowned out but I can make out the distress and destruction through the flames.
I tell myself, slowly forcing myself onto my feet.
As I look around the Harbor, soldiers run into the water to help their comrades while others shift and prepare for battle.
Our boats are severely damaged, leaving us stranded on the island with our enemy.
Sound slowly starts to return, orders and commands being yelled out between soldiers.
“Alpha! Look!” a soldier calls out, pointing towards the hill.
I turn to the hill again and see the same wolf from earlier looking down at us, an air of dominance to him as he stands tall and proud.
A group of wolves stand behind him, ready to follow their leader.
As they walk closer, I realize the leading wolf is not a Ravenstone wolf at all, the two Ravenstone Alphas standing behind the mystery silver wolf.
He looks familiar, I tell myself, the golden eyes of the silver wolf narrowing to slits as they glare at me.
A gust of wind blows past me, carrying a scent I never thought I would smell again.
I gasp, the silver wolf smirking at me as it walks towards me.it can’t be…I freeze in utter disbelief as Zane leads the Ravenstone mutts down the hill.
Arden bursts into laughter as the wolves stop just out of range from our weapons, sitting on their hind legs and staring blankly at us.
This is a joke right? Arden scoffs.
Is this supposed to scare us? That spineless mutt thinks he’s some sort of Alpha now? Zane’s wolf only blinks before turning to look at my soldiers standing beside me.
What the f**k is he staring at? Suddenly, the two men closest to me point their guns at me while another soldier in wolf form bares their teeth at me menacingly.
Two soldiers march quietly towards the guns and mines we set up and begin to disarm them.
“What the f**k do you think you’re doing?” I snap at them, none of the men wavering as they point their guns and snarl in response at me.
“Put your guns down!”
I growl, but no one moves an inch.
“I said PUT YOUR GUNS DOWN!” command, yet it seems my orders fall on deaf ears, all of my men disobeying their Alpha.
Without a word, Zane’s wolf stands up and walks closer until he is only a few feet in front of me.His golden eyes stare defiantly at me, fiery flecks of emerald swirling in his irises, He has his mother’s eyes.I feel a slight pinch at my temples before a low voice whispers in my head.
“You should always bow before an Alpha,” the voice snarls.
Two gunshots fire and I feel my knees give out as two bullets pierce my legs.
Audible gasps can be heard from my soldiers who watch in horror as I kneel in pain.My hands instinctively cover my wounds to stop the bleeding and I snarl at the two traitors who shot me.
“What the f**k!” I roar, my blood boiling with rage.
“Do not turn your back on me ? the voice growls in my head, my body reacting to the command despite my own protests. I stare at Zane in shock as he shifts into his human form, the scars on his body fiercely on display for all to see.