Rhiannon shivered and wrapped her hands around herself. Her wet clothes clung to her.
"Rhiannon!" Alfred ran towards her.
Ignoring the dishevelled state he hugged her.
"Thank God! You are safe sister, you frightened me."
Rhiannon felt genuinely grateful, "I am ok Alfred, I was saved....by a wolf," she said.
"What?" He peered at her as if she had grown horns.
"When I woke up a wolf was staring at me."
"Maybe he was contemplating lunch," Alfred commented," anyway let's go. The prince is worried about you."
Alfred wrapped his cloak around Rhiannon which she accepted gratefully.
"I am relieved to see you safe, my lady," Prince Matthew said as Rhiannon arrived near the horses along with Alfred. He looked genuinely concerned.
While they rode back the prospect of getting scolded by her father and stepmom, made drowning in the lake seem like a cakewalk.
"I know what you are thinking sister, " Alfred whispered to her.
"Don't worry I will talk to father," he smiled.
Rhiannon smiled at him. He was much wiser than his 15 years.
Rhiannon grinned at him.
"Thanks, brother, I know you have my back."
It's didnt work out that well though. Catherine yelled at Rhiannon for spoiling the prince's outing as if she jumped in the lake on purpose, she was banished into her room for rest of the day.
Rhiannon sighed with relief, she was used to this and preferred staying in the room than joining them for dinner.
Vasilios was lying on his back on the
soft grass. He was stark nude as the sun warmed and dried his body.
He had folded his one arm under him and looked at the clouds floating in the sky. He had made sure to shift into a wolf just before she gained consciousness, he chuckled imagining her shock at being rescued by a naked man.
She was not afraid of him, which was a surprise. He hadn't come across any human maiden who treated wild wolves like pet dogs. Whereas she had petted him and called him my friend wolf. He smiled again recalling her lovely face, the way her slim body felt in his arms. She intrigued him.
"Rhiannon, what a lovely name you have," he smiled. His wolf nodded in agreement.
Rhiannon was sipping on the hot chicken soup in her room, while old nan knitted her yarn.
"Nan, have you heard of intelligent wolves? Like do they rescue people?" Rhiannon asked.
Rhiannon had not told anyone except Alfred that she was rescued by a wild beast because no one would believe her and she didn't fancy being called a lunatic aside from a bastard.
She just said that she swam to the shore. It was more believable.
"It depends on the wolf if they are attached to their masters. They can even give their lives to save their masters. Animals are more loyal in that way," old nan sighed.
"I don't mean pet wolves nan, wild ones, do they rescue people?"
Nan took her eyes away from her yarn and gave her a piercing look.
"Why you ask so girl?"
"I am just curious."
Nan left her knitting and sighed.
"There are legends of shapeshifter people, they can turn into beasts whenever they want."
Rhiannon looked at her surprised.
"Really? Is it true?"
"Yes my dear, beyond the forest of brambles lies the kingdom of Arcadia, long ago their king Lycaon was cursed by God Zeus to turn into a werewolf. Ever since then his descents are shapeshifting wolves. Their kingdom is strong and very powerful, for no one can defeat their army of wolves. Every 25 years they ask for a tribute, of an innocent virgin maiden. That maiden is never seen or heard from again."
Rhiannon listened intently, "but this is just a story right?"
"You never know, some legends are true, don't bother about such things." She took away her empty bowl and tucked her in the bed.
What if it was a shapeshifter who had rescued her? She giggled at her imagination. Perhaps, she was turning eccentric like the old nan.
That night Rhiannon dreamt of a snow-white wolf. A lovely snow-white wolf was walking towards her through a moonlight forest. Then suddenly a big grey wolf joined her. He licked its face and she responded.
King William looked down at the letter and the well-dressed messenger who had arrived from Arcadia. He knew about the treaty, which was signed long ago by his ancestors of sending a pristine maiden as a tribute.
The last time Lidio had to send a tribute was 100 years ago. William had no idea that he would have to deal with something like this in his lifetime.
"Very well, I will see to it." He responded.
Getting a maiden was not a problem, many peasants and serfs would gladly give away their daughters for a few coins. But the ancient rule wanted a girl with noble blood. He wasn't sure how to get such a maiden.
None of his noblemen would give up their daughters as tributes. He clasped his hand and supported his chin on his knuckles pondering.
Vasilios walked through the city of Zyla tha capital of Arcadia. He finally reached his destination and knocked on the oak-panelled doors of an old mansion.
A young omega girl opened the door and immediately bowed on seeing the crown prince.
"I am here to meet Beta Damuis, I hope he is at home?"
"Welcome your highness," she said, " master got your message, he is waiting for you. Please follow me." The omega replied.
He nodded and entered the hallway. He had been visiting this place since he was a young pup.
Beta Damius was an old and one of the most respected scholars of Arcadia. He had been a trusted advisor of Vasilios's grandfather and later Vasilios's tutor during his growing up years. They had shared a very good bond because Vasilios was eager to learn while Damius loved to teach. They had remained friends ever since. Even after Damius retired and left the court.
One of the few men whom Vasilios genuinely respected.
He was distracted from his thoughts as he saw the grand old beta Damius stride into the room. His long white robe fluttered behind him at the speed at which he walked. Vasilios was always amazed at how nimble that old man was. He was well past 500 years old, which is a normal life span equated to about 80 years old.
His body was still fit and his beard was white as snow. His blue eyes were always full of mirth. Even after losing his mate some 100 years ago. Damius was still very much in love with Lady Eva and always kept her pictures around the house.
"Vasilios, it is so good to see you. Hope everything is good at the court and the kingdom ?" Damius said after giving Vasilios a tight hug.
"I am good sir, my father has sent his regard," Vasilios grinned at his former tutor and offered him some premium cuts of meat and fruits in a basket.
"Thank you Vasilios," he gestured at an omega who took away the basket.
They sank back into the comfortable cushions of the chaise while the omegas served refreshments.
"So what brings you here young man?" Damius asked.
Vasilios shifted a little unsure of how to broach the subject.
"Sir, I have some questions, and I believe only you can answer them."
Damius raised an eyebrow.
"Of course, ask away, you know how I love to brag my knowledge," he winked.
"Well, I wanted to know about mate bonds," Vasilios said cautiously.
"What do you want to know about them?" Damius asked, his curiosity piqued.
"Everything, tell me everything about soul mates," Vasilios replied.
Damius smiled then took a sip of wine from his goblet."There is nothing special to know about mate bonds, which you already don't know, Vasilios,"Vasilios looked at his goblet and glanced back at his tutor."Perhaps, I was not specific, I understand the concept of soul mates and it's strengths, I want to know why most Alphas shun it, specifically with humans?"Damuis kept his drink on the table and stared at his wife's portrait."Let me tell you a story, it was long ago, I was around your age. One day I went to a nearby village for the summer festival of Venus, oh ! what fun it was, they don't do festivals like that anymore," he paused," anyway, there she was dancing in the ring, I was mesmerized, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. My wolf was uncontrollable, that was it, I had found my mate."He stopped a silly smile played on his lips as he remembered t
Rhiannon sat in her room, idly brushing her long, dark curls, wishing she was anywhere else but in this room, in this castle, on this day. She glanced over her shoulder at the stiff folds of shining fabric covering her narrow bed.Her dress was delivered to her room and she was ordered to be excited about this banquet? It was sure to be overpopulated with arrogant nobles, she was supposed to play the demure bride of the old count.As a bastard, she was not quite a noble, but not quite a servant, therefore fitting in nowhere. The servant girls instantly ceased their gossiping when she approached. The girls of noble birth snubbed her as beneath their station as if she wanted to spend her time in their stiflingly dull company in any fashion. They bonded with Margaret though.She sighed. On the brighter side, she was finally allowed to be out of the room.
"Rhiannon, you are so lucky to marry me," the count said in a slurred voice."Perhaps, you should slow down sir," Rhiannon said putting the glass away."Let's dance," the count stood up pulling Rhiannon along with him. Startled, Rhiannon whimpered, but his clasp was so rigid. She could not resist.Vasilios gripped his goblet in anger. It put a slight dent in the golden cup. He could have easily crushed the ware like wax but it would have resulted in questions. He was here to get the tribute.But the moment he entered the Castle he could smell her. Her scent was everywhere, this was her home. He knew it right away. His keen senses soon picked up the details about her. She was the bastard daughter of the duke.Not that it mattered to him. His wolf didn't care about societal reputations but his mother wou
The count and Rhiannon were walking quietly through the forest near the lake, his low voice talking of his estates and his fortune that would be hers once they were married.The count had suddenly turned up the next morning. Apologising for leaving early during the banquet. Then he insisted on her going riding with him. Now here she was along the lake. Taking a walk and thinking about Vasilios.She replied sparingly to his questions, as something about him made her stomach ill at ease."So as I was saying, my castle has 100 rooms, maybe you should visit me sometime, I would love to show them to you," he held her hand in a romantic gesture.She pulled her hand away from his grasp. "Thanks for the ride sir, I am tired now, I want to go back," she said, increasing her steps.<
"Will you care to explain, what is going on and why do you look so dishevelled?" Areos were hammering Vasilios with questions, the moments he had returned to the guest wing.Although he had taken a dip in the lake to wash off the blood, he still looked dishevelled.Vasilios sighed," I killed him.""Yes I know, and it's going to get out of hand unless you explain to me why?""He touched her, he was trying to hurt her," Vasilios gritted his teeth in anger.Arios looked confused," wait what?""That count was forcing himself on a lady, in the forest. I did what he deserved."Arios raised an eyebrow," right, but we don't get involved in human affairs, also you could have just scared him off, what was the need to kill him?""I lost control, she is my mate," Vasilios said quietly.Arios stared at him dumbfo
Tap tap tap tap.....The sound of water dripping from a leaking pipe broke her nap.Rhiannon had been locked in the cell after being dragged away from the court. She had not protested because it was useless.It's not like she was scared of dying. That would be fantastic compared to the life she had been leading so far. However, she was furious over the unfairness of it.Her character was questioned. Her reputation was in tatters, even if she managed to escape death she had no future. She would have to run away.She was sitting against the hard cell wall, awaiting her fate."Rhiannon," a familiar voice called her.She turned towards the cell door and was surprised to see Alfred standing there.He looked at her with concern."How are you, Rhiannon?" He asked in a soft voice."Alfred, what are you doing here?" She stood up and walked up to the cell door."Well, I wanted to see you, I am sorry for everything."
Vasilios was restless, it was nothing unusual. He has been in this state for quite some time, he recalled the conversation with the king sometime back."Well, your grace we have arranged for your tribute."Vasilios raised his eyebrows," excellent! I hope she fulfils all the requirements, your majesty."He sensed the king bristle."Well yes, almost, you see the Duke of Allendale has another daughter from a mistress, she is a maiden, with a Nobel blood. I was hoping if you would accept her as your tribute."Vasilios narrows his eyes at the king," isn't she the one who is accused of murder?""Well yes," the king looked uncomfortable, "if you have a problem with that, perhaps, I can suggest someone's else...."Vasilios raised his hand," she will do perfectly fine. I accept her a tribute."The King sighed with
Vasilios stepped over the dead body of her possible tormentor who was now a dead man.His bloody hand reached out to stroke her brow."Are you hurt in any way?" His voice was hoarse and his breathing ragged. She saw the concern in his eyes.The shock of seeing him as her rescuer had subsided, it was now replaced by wonder, how did he know she had escaped? Why did he rescue her? To take her back? To keep her his slaver forever?She quickly stepped back and clutched at her cloak, her knuckles turned white. She had her freedom; she now understood she would have to resist to keep it. He might catch her eventually.Still, she would rather die than go back.Before he inferred her intent, she turned and ran away. He stared at her sprinting figure disappearing into the woods. He sighed, then sprung after her like a wolf chasing his prey.As she s