4: Who Are You, Really?

“It’s unusual for an Alpha to travel without his pack, or at least a small detail,” muttered the old man.

“Shh,” his wife whispered, glancing at their guest, “if he’s an alpha, you know he can hear you speaking about him.”

The old man grunted and turned back to the fire. “If he could hear what really matters, where was he when they stole our son from his bed as he slept? Will he bring back our Samuel?”

The woman’s wolf hung her head, and tears filled her eyes. “Will you constantly remind me of my pain?”

“Is the pain yours alone, woman?” he responded, his voice thick with emotion.

Before she could respond, the lone wolf they had welcomed into their small home bounded up the steps gracefully. “Mother, Father, is there anything you need me to do, this evening?”

“You’re a guest in our home, you really shouldn’t have to do anything,” the woman said kindly.

Grinning, the young man with the light brown eyes leaned against the door jamb, “While this is true, I am also younger and I have a lot of energy. Please, let me help you. In a few days, I will move on, but in the meantime, I am glad to assist.”

The woman, who was probably in her forties, smiled and walked over to the boy, placing a hand against his face. “Bless you.”

The older man watched his wife look with affection at the young stranger, her eyes still shining and he felt the lump grow in his own throat. For whatever reason, he didn’t feel threatened by this boy and perhaps, in his heart, he knew that there was no real threat. His presence in the house had brought a sense of peace and he didn’t want to rob his wife of this.

Clearing his throat, he said gruffly, “Wood.”

Smile still on his face, the boy turned. “Sir?”

Already turning away, “You can go and get some more wood out back. It’s going to be a cold night.”

“I am at your service.”

Without another word, the young stranger left the house again.

As Reyan tossed logs and smaller sticks into the wheelbarrow he’d found around the side of the house, he wondered how he was going to broach the topic of their son with them. The day Samuel had been taken, a few years ago, he’d been struck with the most vivid dream of a little boy he didn’t know and he had felt the fear as they had put him in a sack and tossed him into the back of a van. The fear had escalated to terror as the child had tried to turn into his wolf in order to escape his captors, only to be shackled the moment he broke free from the bag. His howls still rang in Reyan’s mind today.

And those of his parents had joined the young cub’s howls when they realized their child was missing. The pain they still felt had been what Reyan had followed in order to track them down and now he was hoping to get the full story. He knew he had to be careful because they had no reason to trust a lone wolf, especially not once he told them he was from Nyanga, the lost kingdom of the eastern highlands. This pack had never sought protection or leadership from the King and Queen who had ruled once before, so they had no reason to reach out to him now.

Winning their trust and their allegiance was of utmost importance in his plan to build a new alliance amongst the wolves of Southern Africa and beyond. Power wasn’t really important to Reyan but he knew he needed it if he was ever going to get back what was his. So, here in the third homestead he’d visited since the beginning of this journey, he was getting ready to reveal his true identity in order to extend his hand. He had heard the old man mention that he thought he was an alpha, and he knew there were some things he couldn’t hide from another alpha, so it was only a matter of time before the whole truth came out.

After dining with them, Reyan said he was going to get an early night.

“I still can’t believe you’ve been hitch hiking for three days. It’s so dangerous!”

“I have to find my sister.”

“Where are your parents?”

Reyan’s eyes met the man’s eyes and he let all his pain and anger show when he answered truthfully.

“They’re both dead.”

“Oh, you poor child.”

The old man looked away first muttering an apology and Reyan turned to the lady with a gentle smile. “I turned out alright.”

“Of course you did.” Standing up, she said, “Come, let me show you where you will sleep.”

Reyan thanked her and closed the door to Samuel’s room behind him. Shivering, Reyan hoped he would be able to sleep so close to the source of pain.

Placing his single bag on the floor, he took off his shoes and lay down on the bed.

He knew without looking around that they hadn’t changed a thing about their son’s room. It was a shrine and it must have difficult for Samuel’s mother and father to give him this space to sleep in.

Closing his eyes, Reyan went back to the dream he’d had of Samuel’s abduction, hoping that proximity to his things would help him find the boy and the men who had taken him.

As the events played out like a reel in his mind and Rey felt what this boy had felt, saw what this boy had seen, he became distinctly aware of a new sensation that he’d never experienced before in relation to Sam’s kidnapping. The deep betrayal burned in his chest as his young heart absorbed the truth. The further they took him from the house, the greater the hopelessness became in Samuel, but Reyan tried to stay vigilant as he took in as much of what the child could see. Then, not long after they shackled him, Reyan felt and heard the familiar sound of his mother’s soft weeping.

It also seemed a little different this time than it had in the past, and Reyan realized it was not an experience his power allowed him to tap into. Barbra was crying now in the room, just down the hallway from him. That realization brought him further away from the memory and closer to the present. Along with sadness, he sensed a father’s guilt and anger, which made him wonder what was from then and what was happening now.

Then Reyan realized that someone had just entered the room

Reyan smelled the gunpowder before he heard the click of the safety. His eyes snapped open and he saw Walter pointing a rifle at his head.

With the resonance of a pack alpha the older man said, “I am Walter Ringani and I demand to know who the hell you really are and what you have to do with my son Samuel.”

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