A howl pierced the night like a knife stabbing through a feathered pillow. Sara was startled awake as the call pulled her from her deepest thoughts and dreams, from the serenity of her sleep that she so longed for. The last few days and nights had been restless ones, with major activity erupting throughout the West Coast. That being so, she scarce had time to sleep in. Sara remained in bed a second longer, motionless as she interpreted the call as it echoed through twilight’s hours. Sara’s heart was racing as the howl poured through her, pulling at her attention the way she was sure it was doing to the rest of the members of her pack.
The call was cold and long; angry even. Her emotions stirred, shifting abruptly to embrace the emotions within the howl. It filled her with pain and grief, as well as a fear she had never before felt. It wasn’t unusual to be called in the middle of the night, in fact it happened often and it almost always meant something bad had happened. Tonight’s call however, was different. Something most definitely had gone wrong, and it seemed to be far worse than anything she had ever been awoken for.
A second call tore through the silence of the night; one filled with pure anger and rage, a fury the made Sara afraid for her life, as well as for the lives of the members of her pack. The call was a growl as well as a howl, a warning as well as a demand. Immediately her body pulsed, as if her heart was erupting to life after a moment’s rest. Pain gripped at her every limb, like electricity coursing through her body. Sara rolled off her bed, slamming into the cold redwood floor in a flurry of pillows and blankets. She knew this pain; she had endured it many times before. The wolf inside her was being called into existence, as her presence was being demanded. Sara was being forced to shift, forced to answer the call that she now unmistakably recognized as coming from the Beta of her pack, her second commander, Alphonse Cross.
Sara was terrified. Never before had she felt that amount of power come from Cross, who was generally a pretty easy going guy, aside from when he was following orders. Never before had she been forced to shift by anyone other than an Alpha, or one of the Hierarchy’s that ruled her world. It was a feat that until now she had simply dismissed as impossible. Sara shivered beneath the power of the call, and couldn’t help but question exactly what was going on, and what it would mean for the days to follow.
Was her Alpha dead? Had Griffith met his demise and was Cross now stepping up as commander, as her new Alpha? Sara wouldn’t mind that. Griffith was a decent man, but a strong willed one; a man that forced the respect of his pack through pure power rather than earning it. That would explain how a Beta could force the shift of his pack members, seeing as it was generally a power reserved for the more dominant, the Alphas. Sara dismissed that idea immediately though. If her Alpha had indeed fallen, she would’ve felt it, she would’ve sensed that death was approaching. No, someone else had fallen tonight, but who?
Sara forced herself to embrace the pain and collect herself as quickly as possible. There was no time to waste. She didn’t bother dressing and grooming herself, and probably couldn’t even if she had wanted to. The call was clear on one thing; the pack’s immediate attendance was being demanded. She rolled onto her feet and erupted into a full on sprint through her bedroom then down the hall. In one monstrous leap she flew down the stairs, landed in a shoulder roll, and was tearing through the first floor of her house. In only seconds she was outside where she skidded to an abrupt halt and listened to the howls answering the call in the quiet of the night.
Sara could now tell that the call wasn’t coming from her headquarters. No, the call would’ve been more drowned out by the noise of Issaquah, the city she lived on the outskirts of. No, the call was coming from the west, from within the mountain ranges and woods behind her house, which could only mean one place, the Elder Village. The Elder village was exactly that, a village for the some of the eldest wolves. It stood a couple of miles inside the woods of Cougar Mountain, an area most were well aware to steer clear from due to the outstanding number of vicious animal attacks.
A few houses down the road, Sara saw Esuri Magena, another member of her pack, standing in front of her house listening to the call as well. It was a requirement that no wolf of the pack lived in an area alone so Sara and Esuri had agreed that they could stand to see each other the most as opposed to seeing some of the others. The two weren’t friends, acquaintances at the most, but close enough that they looked after each other. Esuri’s eyes met Sara’s and instantly the two knew what the other was thinking. It was time to answer the call.
Esuri was a tall mulatto skinned woman with long dark brown hair that fell to the middle of her back, who appeared to be in her mid-twenties, a lie that almost appeared perfectly true. In fact, Esuri was a few centuries old, with the truth of her exact age lost in time. Esuri was a Jamaican woman, having been bought to the country as a slave amongst it’s discovery, and was one the oldest werewolves to date.
Esuri took off across the street and exploded into the forest in a speed far beyond human. Sara sprinted into a run herself and was in the forest within seconds, a few yards behind Esuri. The Elder Village couldn’t be reached by a vehicle, but if distance could be judged in terms of minutes in a vehicle, Sara estimated it was twenty minutes. Lucky thing for her, being a werewolf came with its perks, and if she transformed, she could reach it within five to ten.
The night was a brisk one, Sara soon realized as she took off into the forest in nothing but a pair a very short black shorts and extra large shirt. The sky while dark was glistening to life with stars, and a half moon that shined brightly above. It was a beautiful night, a night any animal and human alike would appreciate. The trees whipped by Sara as she moved swiftly through the forest, running as fast as she could. She could feel the branches slicing at her arms and legs leaving minor wounds that would heal within minutes. There was no time to worry about any amount of pain, no time to be cautious. It was time to be an animal, to be a wolf and move as fast as possible.
A few yards ahead of Sara, Esuri was sprinting through the trees, moving gracefully, dancing through trees and bushes alike. Esuri took a step on a boulder in her way and leaped into the air. She seemed to almost glide for a few moments before the shift occurred. Her body broke and bended in grotesque ways as her it began to shift. Her spine and face elongated as bones and muscle reattached to form a new just as beautiful body. Her skin tore and shed from her body like that of a snakes, only to be replaced by beautiful thick black fur that seemingly glistened under the light of the moon.
Sara had never been one to believe in such things as magic, but there was something truly magical in seeing a one hundred twenty pound human being shift into a gigantic three hundred pound wolf. That in itself made her believe, for what else aside from magic could do such a thing?
“Sara?” Sara heard someone no too far off to her right. She should’ve heard the incomer long before she should’ve been able to smell her, but Sara was far from focused tonight. Valyrie Annaffiare, another member of her pack was racing forward frantically just as Sara was. Val was barely dressed as well, in the same night time outfit as Sara, as she sprinted through the forest, her long curly dirty blond hair whipping beyond her in the moonlight.
“Sara, what’s going on?” Val asked, hoping that Sara had attained some information that she failed to do so. It was natural to expect an older more dominant wolf to have answers to questions, and while Sara usually did, today she was just ask scared and lost as every other wolf.
“I don’t know.” Sara snapped unintentionally as Val drew in close to the point that they were now running side by side with each other. “But I do know that that’s not Griffith forcing us, that’s Cross.”
“So does that mean Victor is dead?” Valyrie questioned, and it took all the strength in the world to not snap at her once more. Valyrie was indeed a young wolf, only a few months old, but even at that age state for Sara, she was well aware on how the pack worked.
“If Victor was dead we would’ve felt him die. Cross is the one forcing us, but I’m not sure how. It’s not something I’ve ever experienced before.” Sara put in the effort to pick up her speed even more, trying to put a little distance between her and Valyrie. Valyrie was a good girl, but unfortunately for her, she was a young, inexperienced Omega wolf, which was pretty much the lowest status of wolf one could be.
Together the two ran deeper into the forest. Sara traversed the landscape with ease, not as graceful as Esuri did, but nearly just as professional, while Sara heard Valyrie trip and fall once or twice behind her. Sara held back a laugh and a smart remark. Valyrie would learn her lessons in time and tonight was not the night to try and instruct anyone on the ways of the wolf.
Sara could feel the stir of magic being ignited in her body, a burning soothing sensation that felt unlike anything else she had ever felt. This was the feeling she received right before every shift, and she was just about ready to. Sara immediately felt stronger and faster as the energy or the magic filled her body. Naturally, even in human form, she was still stronger and faster than any normal human being, with senses heightened beyond anything a human could achieve as well, but in the moments before a switch the extent of those abilities tripled to where she truly felt superhuman, but it was exceptionally difficult to stay right in the middle of wolf and woman. As far as she knew, even the oldest most powerful wolves couldn’t hold that state for more than a few minutes without triggering the wolf state completely.
“Valyrie, shift.” Sara growled the command which Valyrie obeyed immediately. The morph from woman to wolf was still painful for Valyrie, and she couldn’t do it in full motion like most of the older wolves. She slowed down to a complete stop as the shift began. She began to scream and whine as her bones broke and body disfigured. Sara tore a branch off a tree to their right and shoved it into her mouth.
“Bite, Val. You screaming like that will set off the guards of the other wolves around, and call the more dominant males and we don’t need to be fighting tonight, and I especially don’t need to be fighting to protect you.” Sara said, and Val did as was told of her. She bit down hard as the switch continued, and broke the branch before the shift was over, but remained quiet none the less. After a minute or two, a relatively small wolf compared to the likes of her own and Esuri’s rested in the forest before her. Val was a gorgeous wolf; that much Sara appreciated. The wolf had thick white gold fur that in the sun shined brightly. The wolf was left panting, recovering from the painful ordeal that shifting was for new-born wolves. But she was okay. That Sara made sure of.
Val’s eyes were low, head slightly bent in defeat, revealing the weak spots of her neck, a proper dismissive gesture when standing before a more dominant wolf. Perhaps Valyrie was learning the ways of the wolf after all. She rested her head on her front paws, awaiting Sara orders.
“Go, I’ll catch up.” Sara ordered the young wolf, but Val refused to move. Sara wanted to argue with her, but decided not to. In wolf form their minds would be in sync, and she would know the thoughts of the wolf and why she was choosing to disobey the order.
The change happened quickly for Sara and nearly painlessly. She was an older wolf to some, seeing as she had been one for fifty-nine years, yet was young in comparison to most other wolves. The shift from women to wolf was nearly instantaneous for her now, though the actual process still felt like it took forever. When her bones broke and muscles tore she barely felt anything aside from a warm fiery sensation coursing throughout her veins. Still pain erupted when her face and spine grew and broke and reformed to that of the wolf’s body, but even that was dull now.
After a second or so her wolf had come into its own. Val stood up and bowed her head again in defeat, a very wise move. Sara was larger than Valyrie in wolf form, and a bit longer too. Her fur was a thick mixed coat of red, gold, and brown, that resembled the colors of Autumn’s leaves.
Being a werewolf was as much as a gift as it was the curse it was meant to be. It came with its perks, heightened senses and reflexes, speed and strength that went unmatched by any human being, and healing capabilities that, depending on the extent of the wound, often left not a trace of the previous damage. As far as Sara was concerned, there were only a few qualities that made the curse of the wolf exactly what it had been intended to be in the first place, a curse.
The first one was the obvious, the full moon. The full moon only ever forced a shift when the curse was initially passed on. After that, the shift isn’t forced, it is simply called, and it is up to the werewolf’s capabilities on whether it is going to shift or not. Those strong enough were usually able to refuse the call, while others turned into rabid animals. The ones that did shift in turn were watched by the more powerful wolves and could generally be kept in control by a more dominant wolf, or the order of Watchers of the Moon.
The second was the anger. Every werewolf had an unlimited arsenal of rage that was extensively difficult to keep under control. It was an easy thing to trigger the rage, to turn and shift and fight, yet it was sometimes nearly impossible to get that werewolf calm again.
The third and most annoying was that the wolves in a pack all had synchronized minds when in wolf form. Thoughts flowed as easily and as freely as rivers into an ocean, from wolf to wolf. It took an old, wise, and experienced wolf to keep his thoughts to himself. The only wolf that somewhat stood a chance at keeping a secret was the Alpha, yet it wasn’t rare for his thoughts to spill into the mind of his pack either.
Even now Sara could hear the thoughts of her fellow pack members piercing her mind, flowing through her as easily as blood in her veins. Now, Sara knew why Valyrie refused to move, refused to go on without her. The poor girl was terrified. Never before had she felt so much power, and such rage. She knew that if she went ahead and did something to accidentally set one of the wolves off, she wouldn’t stand a chance. Right now, Valyrie was a little girl, a cub cowering behind anything that could protect her, and in this case, it was Sara.
“Someone’s dead.” The thought entered her mind. Her fear had just been confirmed. It was the one thought that stood out amongst the river of incoming thoughts, and it alone was able to drown out the rest. Someone was indeed dead, that much was clear, but who was it? Who’s death could cause this much power and rage within Cross? Sara asked the question, but already knew the answer, and as it registered in her mind, so did it in the minds of the rest of her pack. Instantly growls and snarls of anger and pain resonated throughout the forest, mimicking her raging cries. The wolves tore through the forest now, racing towards their destination.
The lights of the village were now slowly coming into view, as were the other wolves making their way through the woods. There were more wolves than just those of her pack, others were pouring in to see what happened, to see what tragedy had now befallen their elders.
Sara and Valyrie broke through the thicket of trees respectively. The village itself was small, maybe two dozen Victorian styled houses centered around an extremely large town hall where most of the meetings between packs were held. The hall had been put within the Elder Village because the insight of the elders was always sought and appreciated when decisions were being made. In front of the town hall a statue of three large wolves had been placed, in remembrance of three very important wolves.
The wolves in the statue were all different sizes. The third and smallest wolf was on the left hand side of the one in the center, the first King of the wolves, Lucian Heart. The second smallest on the right was Maximillian Wrath, an icon amongst the wolves as he was one of the greatest Judges of all time. The third and grandest of them all which stood in the center had many names, though simply Wolf had become the one that everyone referred to him as, for according to legend, he was the strongest most powerful wolf the world had ever seen. He was, as legend told it, a man born wolf, by the only wolf mother to ever exist, Emelyn Troy. According to legend he was killed in a battle he fought alone against the Seethe of Rome, a battle that ultimately bought about its fall.
Before the statue stood a figure, cradling another lifeless figure in his arms, which the wolves of the pack and more encircled. Alphonse Cross was holding on for dear life to a mangled, torn, and bloodied body, as he howled at heaven and hell alike, a mournful cry that pierced the heart of every wolf around. The face and body of the man that hung limp in Cross’ arms was hard to make out, due to the wounds and the dark of night, but once Sara could tell who it was, she instantly wished she hadn’t. Cross cried and howled uncontrollably, begging for the life of his namesake back, because in his arms lied the body of his father, also named Alphonse Cross, one of the most honorable and notable wolves of all time.
The body was ripped and torn, broken and defeated, with claw and bite marks destroying the once handsome face and body of the Elder, who had clearly put up a fight until he could no more. There was no question that Cross Senior fought for his life as best he could; the condition of the body was evidence to that. The unanswered questions that remained was who would want to fight and kill him, and why?
Victor Griffith, Commander of the elite force of wolves known as the Watchers of the Moon, as well as the Alpha of the Issaquah Wolves, and third in line to succeed the Monarch of Washington, should anything happen to the other two, stepped forward from the horde of mourning and howling wolves and approached his second in command. He was a tall muscular man that appeared to be in his mid-twenties, though was really around three hundred years old. Griffith was a very handsome man, light of skin and eyes with a long black hair held back in a ponytail.
“My condolences brother,” Griffith stood before his beta. “This act of cruelty will not go unpunished.” Cross’ eyes were fixed on Griffith, ignited with rage, grief and pain. “We must clean this up though, the proper channels must be notified, and the investigation must be underway. You’ll need to testify what you saw, and any last words your father spoke. I need you to cooperate.”
“My father lies bloody and broken in my arms, and you would have me try and control myself?” Cross growled.
“I would have you do what is necessary for your pack, and for yourself.” Griffith answered to assert himself as the Alpha. Magic poured throughout the village, a magic so strong and swift that it hit the other wolves like a tidal wave. Griffith forced those of his pack to sit and bow their heads before their Alpha, but Cross did not budge.
Instead Cross let out a monstrous roar that implanted fear deep within Sara’s soul. Another wave of magic hit, and this one while just as powerful as Griffith’s, didn’t come from her Alpha. Sara raised her eyes for a moment only to see that the unthinkable had happened. Griffith was growling and snarling as he was forced to kneel before the power of his Beta.
It was unclear how Cross did it; how he could force his Alpha to cower before him, as well as those from his pack and those not, but he himself looked surprised. He fell to his knees, placing the body of his father in the grass before him and bowed, tears streaming down his face.
“I’m sorry… I’m sorry Griffith. I do not know what happened.” Cross was begging before his power lifted from the Alpha and the wolves. Griffith stood still for a few seconds longer before standing tall once again and reassured the wolves that he was Alpha once more.
“Had the circumstances been different, that would not have been forgiven.” Griffith growled. “But it is. I am sorry for your loss, Brother.” Griffith walked away from his Beta and the wolves left behind. Sara raised her head to the sky once Griffith was a ways off and cried a mournful howl, a song of sorrows strengthened by the wolves around her. Tonight there had been a cruel and tragic death, and while the time for vengeance and justice would swiftly arise, this moment alone belonged to the wolf’s lament.
End of Chapter 1.
Thanks in advance for anyone who gives this story a shot, and for your feedback should you leave any.