The next few days passed us by quickly, running together and blurring into one. Rosa and the other warrior wolves arrived, and we spent her first evening sat together in her family’s guest cabin, catching up and gossiping about Joshua, Jacob, and Samyak.
The sunlight had slanted in through the window, warming the sides of our faces as we’d grinned. I’d caught sight of Ryna stalking past outside, and had watched her disappear into the woods with a grim feeling settling in my chest.
Though I wanted to talk to Samyak, I found the days were slipping by without a moment for us to be alone together. The only part of the day we had to ourselves was at night, as we climbed into bed, and we were both so exhausted from the days of training that we fell asleep quickly, with little more than a hurried “Goodnight,” and a chaste, sleepy kiss.
Our days were filled with training, both mental and physical. A
I felt my face pale. I clung to Samyak, my hands scrabbling at him like the terrified claws of a prey animal. The moon’s light glittered in my eyes, spinning slowly like a distorted, monocolour kaleidoscope.“Arienne?” Samyak asked, his voice whipping like static against my ears. “What is it? What’s wrong?”Black spots pulsed through my vision, but I shook myself, determined to find out more.Gedeon? What time tomorrow? I sent back, my mind scrambling to find his. But no reply came, and I felt myself falling.Before I hit the bottom, however, I yanked myself back up to the surface. The tidal wave was coming, but we had time. We were prepared, and we could be ready. We would be ready.I pulled back, and my gaze met Samyak’s. He looked soft, his lips plump and his eyes tender. They furrowed in confusion when he saw my own exp
The sun was rising, the first glimpses of orange light tickling the purple sky of the dawn. I stared straight ahead, my flask of coffee going cold between my hands.They were coming, and we were ready.We’d been sent to bed halfway through the night. I’d struggled to sleep, but had fallen into its warmth an hour before I had to wake up again. The broken pattern of napping had made me more tired than I had been before, but my steely focus and determination was keeping me awake now.Samyak had excitedly filled his parents in on his gift, but when they had asked me about mine I’d had very little to say. Ryna’s aura, if that was what it had been, gave me hardly anything to go on. Samyak’s gift was real, palpable; we had both witnessed its effects first-hand. Seeing one maybe-aura was not much to brag about; besides, even if it had been real, I didn’t know what it meant.&nb
Alpha Brius was shadowed on either side by his family. His hair, red as blazing fire, stood out even in the darkness. The glow of the sun shone on it, blood dousing flame, and it rippled like water as he stepped forward beside his mate. I could just make out Luna Lucille’s classical features in the dim morning light, though her hair, darker than Brius’s, was obscured.“We said we would stand beside you,” he called. “No matter the task. You saved our son, and the White Elm pack is in your debt, Lapis Moon. We have come to fight at your side.”Luna Carla beamed, and walked down the slope to greet them, Alpha Felix at her side. “You came,” she breathed.“We did, Luna,” said Alpha Brius, bowing his head to her. It was a gesture of respect, and one that was not necessary under such circumstances. “You called, so we came.”I beamed dow
Death was easy. There was no pain in darkness, no anguish. There was no regret, no suffering. But there was no joy either; no elation, no sense of wonder. The darkness was all consuming, but it was not fulfilling. There was something missing, something niggling at the very farthest point of my mind.Then the darkness began to lift, and, though my bleary eyes stayed shut, a bright, golden light shone upon my face. I wondered if I would be opening my eyes into the afterlife, this first blurry vision of gold my eternal resting place.“Arienne?” Samyak murmured. “Arienne – please, open your eyes.” Then I heard him turn, shuffling despairingly to someone, anyone for help. “Why won’t it work?” He asked, his voice heartbroken, confused, like that of a child.This didn’t seem like death. Death was a painless, eternal nothingness. Samyak was crying, and I could see him w
“It seems,” Alpha Gedeon smirked, “that an accord will have to be negotiated. Young Jacob is to be Alpha of your pack one day, if I am not mistaken. Airini will make a fine Luna; of that, I am sure.”But nobody was paying Gedeon so much as an ounce of attention, not even the wolves of his own pack. All eyes were fixed on Jacob and Airini.She, like Jacob, was covered in the mud and gore of battle. There was a deep, purple bruise blossoming along the side of her face, which stood out starkly against her white skin. Her hair was fine, golden gossamer that floated down to her shoulders. She was easily as tall as he was, but lightly boned and lithely muscled. She looked delicate, but sharp, like an ivory blade.I grabbed Samyak’s hand excitedly, and in that moment I knew that Jacob and I had never been meant to be. My love for Jacob poured out of me now, an expression of friendship and joy for h
I tugged nervously at my dress. Nami and Rosa were behind me, weaving flowers and plaits into my long, brown hair. It waved neatly, having been blow dried and oiled by my entourage. “Are you sure you don’t want any lipstick?” Rosa asked, fiddling with a daisy. She glanced at me in the mirror, her sharply plucked eyebrows raised.“I’m sure,” I said, rolling my eyes at her. They sparkled in the bright light, wide beneath the swathe of brown and gold eye shadow on my lids.“I think you look good without it, anyway,” Nami shrugged. She wound a small, black band around the end of the braid she’d woven into my hair, and then stepped back. “You’re all done, Ari.”“Thanks,” I smiled, turning from side to side to admire myself in the mirror. The dress was simple: I was draped in gold, tightly fitting and hugging the curve of my waist. It had a squared off sweetheart neckline, and I wore a shimmer of glittering highlight across my collarbones. My sun necklace, given to me by my parents, so very