Chapter Two: Consequences

My legs felt like they were suddenly made of molasses. I knew I was walking at a regular pace, but my surroundings felt surreal as my pack raced towards the sound of the alarm. I felt like my chest was heaving, but no one glanced at me in wonder--none the wiser to my struggle. 

A part of me, however small, hated Elijah for putting me in this situation. But as we came upon the domineering sight of our father standing tall beside the Alpha, I knew a much bigger part of me wanted to protect him. 

No matter how dumb he was, or what horrible mistake he had committed, I knew I'd have his back.  

I could only hope it wouldn't cost me. 

I took in a rather large gulp of air as we entered the crowd, and I could feel Elijah basically hovering into my back. It was ironic really, considering I was the younger one. But when the big oaf tried to mold into my side, I drew the line. A swift elbow to the ribs and a hiss later, and I cast a glance at him. 

"Get it together, dumbass." 

"Ow--ow, I'm trying, you she-devil!" He whispered back, rubbing his side like a big baby. 

I rolled my eyes upwards, but then froze as a girl from my class gave us a curious glance. She sniffed the air, and I froze. 

She looked confused, her dark brows knitted. Her shoulders were tense too, her body language screaming caution. 

I knew right away she could smell the blood on my brother. Despite my best attempts to cover it, I had forgotten about the streaks of matted blood in his hair. The grime she was staring at with a focused look. 

The dread inside my stomach was potent when I saw her open her mouth to speak. Elijah had taken a minuscule step back. 

But luckily, the Alpha's voice broke through the large congregation of wolves before she could utter a single peep. I quickly turned away, ignoring the burning stare on my back. 

"Elijah," I whispered low as the assembly began, the Alpha's deep voice resounding in the air. "Don't look back at her, she'll get even more suspicious." 

"Okay." He agreed. 

We kept our stares straight ahead, watching with anxious heartbeats as our Alpha paced into the center of the field. His stout shoulders encompassed his tension as the weathered man turned to all of us. I kept my gaze straight ahead, not wanting to arouse suspicion from his dark grey eyes that stared at us all like we were flies. 

"Today, we are gathered because the unthinkable has happened among our ranks." Alpha Rollin's voice boomed across the field, and all of us stood rigid. 

Werewolves were supposed to be like family, and we were one. But without a doubt, our Alpha was more strict than most. He believed in one sacrifice for the good of the many. If you were to so much as hunt without proper permission, you wagered your rights and place within our pack. 

So I could only imagine the repercussions of Elijah's actions, at best he was exiled. At worst, I couldn't even bring myself to imagine it. But whatever it was, I wouldn't let it come to pass. A world without my brother, for as much as I hated him sometimes, would be too unforgivable. 

I stood straighter. 

"It is with my deepest regret to inform you all, that someone among us, has broken a rule so precious to us, that they may as well become rogue right now or lay down their neck for slaughter! Someone has broken the accords, that we shall not trespass! That we shall not put our pack in danger! And more importantly, that we shall not kill unless it is to protect our home!" 

Gasps and whispers filled the crowd, and I watched the way Elijah grew ghostly pale. It took everything I had to tear my eyes away, to act like I didn't see.

I knew we had to act naturally. But even I struggled to calm my racing heartbeat. 

Rollin grew closer, his face a firm painting of fury as his teeth glinted in the sunlight. He was standing tall, his scent sweeping through the field like a turbulent wind as he projected his aura over each of us. The clan bond physically hurt us as I grit my teeth against the burning sensation that attacked my chest. It was ripping at me, daring me to defy. 

It was the only warning our Alpha would give, and I knew it. My hands shook with the resistance it took to not clutch at my chest, unlike most of the crowd who was whimpering by now in pain. 

"WHO DARED?" He roared. 

The aura drew back, and his scarred face scanned the crowds. Those eyes were clouded and filled with an emotion I couldn't decipher. I had never seen it in our Alpha's eyes before. 

"I will give whoever it is one chance to come forward on their own. If not, I will find you, and I will make you pay. War is upon us unless we offer up the offender, tonight! Our new neighbors are in fact, the Aconite Clan. If you're unfamiliar with that clan, I will refresh your memory. Their leader is Morax, the same commander who has taken damn near half of the western lands of the river."

I could hardly believe my ears, my composure slipping as horror dawned on me. I now recognized the emotions on display on Rollin's visage--it was fear. 

Alpha Morax was new to those in power, but I had heard the many rumors. One perk of being the Beta's daughter, I usually knew more than the others. But when it came to Alpha Morax, I was sure everyone had heard of him. His clan was infamous, constantly moving and prowling, and they broke peace treaties at what seemed to be a whim. There had been fear and speculation that he would come east, but no one had thought it would be so soon. Four clans had already fallen to Aconite, mounds of bodies in their wake. And what made it more terrifying? Morax had only been in power for a little over a year. It was fitting he had renamed the clan after the flower known as wolfsbane. 

That was who my brother had made enemies with? 

I couldn't process it. Or maybe I just didn't want to, but I felt like I was too numb to even feel shocked at the information. 

"I would suggest whoever killed one of the Aconite Clan come quickly, if you do not do so willingly, I am unable to stop them from finding you themselves." 

Those words caught my attention, and I looked up quickly; I wasn't even sure when I had started staring at my feet. 

"W-what do you mean?" A brave, younger, boy called from down the circle of wolves. 

Rollin looked grave, his voice softening as he spoke to the child. "As we speak, Morax and some of his clan are on their way here now. They want blood, and it shall be given. I have warned you all more than enough, it is one for the sake of the many. To keep us all safe, we will give them their retribution. Now, who will that person be?" 

I didn't mean to, but I started to tremble. My worst fears were realized. 

I could lie and lie, but what would I do if they recognized Elijah's scent? I now knew for a fact that our Alpha wouldn't save him, we were on our own. 

The realization was isolating, a spider in my bones that skittered and itched. I looked up, and I was shocked to see Rollin and my father staring right at me. 

I held my breath. 

I would lie if they approached me, I would say my brother and I had hunted an elk without permission on the side opposite the river. I would rather face becoming a rogue rather than have him killed. It would be okay, I knew it. As long as I didn't lose my cool. 

It would be okay, I reassured myself again and again. Even as Rollin seemed to study me, before leaning over to whisper something to my father that I couldn't hear. 

I strained my ears to try, but it was no use. I didn't break eye contact with either of them, even as my father wore a terrible frown. 

"R-Robin, I don't feel so good." Elijah whimpered, and I was startled. Whipping my head around to look at him, it was then I realized, that Rollin and my father hadn't been staring at me. 

They had been staring at Elijah. 

His face was covered in sweat, and he was so, so pale. I knew there was no way they hadn't noticed. I had been so preoccupied with keeping myself together, I hadn't noticed Elijah losing it. I looked around and belatedly saw how everyone was looking at him, accusation in their eyes as they whispered. My heart dropped to my knees.

"Elijah, it's okay!" I tried to whisper, but my voice sounded loud in the sudden silence of the circle. 

To my shock, my brother had collapsed, his head in his hands. His blonde hair shook vigorously. "Elijah..." I tried again, and I smelled it before I heard it. 

A strong scent of meadow grass, like flowers and raindrops. And then heavy footfalls. 

I looked up, surprised to meet a pair of eyes so intense that they made my mouth dry. 

They were like liquid gold, framed by a handsome face. But that wasn't what scared me, it was the way he stared straight through me. His eyes were lethal. 

"So you did find the weed in your little," those eyes scanned us before he sneered, "clan." 

Those gold irises narrowed down on my brother's cowering form. "I'm impressed, Rollin."

Rollin approached the man, and he nodded. "This is the traitor, our own Beta's son. You may do with him as you wish, Alpha Morax. He is no longer one of ours."

I was shocked at the cruelty and I looked to my father, but he turned away. 

Lie, lie, lie! I reminded myself as I went to open my mouth, but before I could come up with the story I had planned, Elijah began crying, and my heart shattered. 

"I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to hurt anyone!" He started, and any hope I had at getting him out of this died. 

"Dad! Do something!" I suddenly yelled out to him, ignoring the way the rest of the wolves had stepped away, simply abandoning my sobbing brother. I, without thinking, put myself between him and the towering Alpha before us. 

My eyes stayed trained on my father, praying he would protect us; protect Elijah! 

But the ice in my veins pierced my heart when he shook his head at me. "He is no longer my son." 

I could only watch as he walked away, the way my brother cried haunting me. 

How could you leave your own child to die? I didn't have the answer. 

But when I saw Alpha Morax closing in, I made my decision as I braced myself in front of my brother. I bared my teeth. 

Golden eyes widened a tad. 

"Well, isn't this interesting?" He cooed. 

But I only growled louder, the rumbling in my throat loud. "Come any closer and I'll kill you." I threatened, knowing damn well I couldn't back it up.

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