Chapter Four: Accord

It all happened faster than I could comprehend.

One minute I was kneeling, my arm shaking from the release of my arrow. The next, my back was slamming hard into the ground. Dirt flew past my vision as the speckles faded to white.

"You have a lot of nerve, girl!" The harsh sound of his whisper didn't miss my ears, and I gasped for air as I was met face to face with Morax. He was much bigger when he was directly on top of me, his stout shoulders encompassing as he pinned me to the ground. I was stunned by how quickly he had moved, one minute he was leisurely pacing, the next he was somewhere else altogether. It was like it had all happened in a blur.

My breathing was harsh and shaky.

I reached up to hit him in the face, but he slammed my wrist back down against the earth. That's when I noticed the deep smell of blood in the air. I blinked, and the crimson liquid dripped directly onto my face. My eyes traced over his features—and that’s when I saw it. There was a large open gash on the Alpha's cheek, the shape no doubt the work of my arrow.

He had dodged it.

Shit.

"Give me one reason, just one, not to end your life right this instant?" His silk voice was a rumble.

I squinted, squirming beneath his large frame. But it was no use; my kicks barely had any force against his rock-hard thighs.

"I-" I scrambled for an excuse, knowing Alpha Morax was just toying with me. Like I was a crippled and flightless bird.

I knew I should've been dead already, but he was watching me. Enjoying his luxurious advantage.

"I’ll give you until the count of three to give me a suitable excuse.” I barely had time to register his words before he started. “One..." His claws extended, the sharp edges cutting the edge of my skin. The sting flooded a whimper into my throat.

"Two," He murmured, coming closer. I could feel his breath on my chin.

"ROBIN!" I abruptly heard Elijah yell, and I managed to glance out of my peripheral.

The sight had my eyes widening.

I panicked.

"I-I can fix your artifact if you spare us!!" I suddenly gasped out, trying to calm my heartbeat.

His claws stopped right before my throat. From this close-up, I could finally tell the emotion in Morax's eyes--it was intrigue like he was working out a puzzle.

I could only hope it was a good thing.

"You think you can fix an ancient relic? How cute."

The words just left his mouth when a chair came down hard on his head.

I grimaced.

And time seemed to stand still.

His curled brown locks were draped down, but they barely moved from the force of the chair. Then he sat up straighter, looking unfazed. I looked over his shoulder as well and felt my face fall at the image of Elijah standing there... with a plastic lawn chair over his head still.

Well, half of one. It had broken in half over the brunette's head.

The Alpha had amusement dancing in his eyes, in the darkest shadows of the gold. It was like watching a well-timed waltz. My breathing felt sharp.

"A chair, really? That was the best you could do?" He asked, his brow raised high on his face.

I watched as Elijah colored before a wolf tackled him to the ground. Its leg was torn and bleeding, and I knew it must have been the werewolf I attacked earlier. His snarled black lips showed sharp teeth, and he snapped them at my brother's stricken face.

Morax stood, but when I went to move, he pointed his spear against the soft flesh of my neck. I didn't dare even swallow.

During the commotion, I had forgotten that my clan had just sat by and watched us like a spectacle. But now that the dust was clearing, I could remember. A little boy was crying in the corner of the field.

"Now back to before we were so rudely interrupted. You, girl." I scowled at his adamant refusal to use my name, "You were trying to make a deal for both of your lives. Weren't you? I'll tell you what, if you can manage to fix the relic within three months, I'll pardon your brother. You'll be part of our clan as our prisoner and your brother will be taken into captivity as well. Until you can be trusted to fulfill your end, you'll be bound in chains. Yet after," His eyes trailed down my form, unreadable. "You can try your little magic trick at fixing what was broken."

I was floored, the first real sign of hope lighting inside me as I felt my mouth fall open. But before I could speak, he cut me off. His eyes were deadly and serious.

"However, if you fail, I'll rip his throat out right in front of you. And then I'll burn you alive."

The sheer coldness of his tone startled me, and his eyes pinned me where I laid flat against the ground.  

"Do we have a deal, little wolf?" He practically purred the words.

I froze.

I had three months to fix a relic I knew nothing about.

Three months to find a way out of it.

Or we would both die anyway.

I swallowed.

Seemed easy enough, right? The man who stood above me shifted his weight and moved back just enough for me to sit forward on my elbows.

I kept my gaze steady, fisting my hands in the dirt. "We have a deal."

Alpha Morax smiled, and the spear finally moved away.

“Oh thank god, Robin.” I heard Elijah breathe out in relief; his hands were tied behind his back. The Beta was human again. I turned to smile at him.

And then, I felt a sharp pain on the side of my head and there was nothing but darkness.

                                                            ++ {…} ++

All I could hear was the sound of cicadas, their cries music in the shadows around me. I could hear the crackle of the fire, yet there was no light. I reached out into the sea of ink but felt nothing.

“H-hello?” I called out, grappling for something to tell me where I was. I could feel the floor, the wall behind me, but nothing else. I tried to move, crawling across the ground—but I paused when I heard a rattle. Reaching behind me, I was stunned to feel the cold kiss of metal shackled around my ankle.

“What’s going on?” I whispered, unsure why I couldn’t see anything at all.

Irrationally, my brain played tricks on me.

Did they take my eyes?

No, surely, that would hurt.

Wouldn’t it?  

My hands reached up to cup my own baby cheeks, sliding up further still until I could feel an oddly textured cloth against my fingertips. I was blindfolded, but when I tugged at it, it didn’t budge.

It was oddly slippery, unlike any sort of cotton I had ever meddled with before.

“I see you’re finally awake, did you sleep well?”

My hands stopped their game of tug of war with the fabric, and I pivoted my body to the sound of the noise. “Who’s there?” I questioned, I knew Alpha Morax must’ve taken me hostage, but that wasn’t his voice I heard.

I could never forget the sound of his voice. Not after today.

I sniffed the air once, but I couldn’t smell much besides the musty odor of wherever they held me captive. I noticed then that it was unbearably cold, too.

I shivered against the rough floor. My jacket was gone.

“It’s useless to try and sniff me out, you know. That blindfold you got on there, it’s special. It blocks your senses and stops your shifting.”

Instantly I froze, my fingers coming up to touch it again. “What do you mean, how is that possible?” I demanded, shuffling toward where his voice was coming from. But I could only get so far, my fingers coming up to cup metal bars, just as the end of my shackle drew tight. I could only move a few feet, it felt like. I frowned.

“It’s a cloth felted from a nomadic beast of the east, a witch’s touch if you will. Our Alpha has reach with some unlikely allies.” The man informed, and I grew still.

For werewolves to have an alliance with witches, the daughters of the sun? It was unheard of.

Then again, so was everything about the Aconite Clan. I couldn’t figure them out.

But I must’ve shown some of the confusion on my face, as I felt more than heard whoever was on the other side of the cage draw closer. His hands touched the other sides of mine.

“I know this must be disconcerting, but until you can prove you’ll keep your word, it’ll be like this for a while. Though I have to say, I feel bad now. You look much gentler now than when you were shredding up my leg.”

My chin tipped up, and I gasped softly. “You’re Morax’s Beta.” I finally realized, and I drew back away from the cage.

But he only laughed. In the darkness, all I could keep picturing was his snarled teeth inches away from Elijah.

“Yeah, but you don’t have to worry. I won’t hurt you, you can call me Brandon, okay?”

His voice sounded warm, but the room was so cold.

How could I possibly know what to believe? My fingers fisted in my lap—and all I knew was darkness. It felt lonely and frigid.

I stayed silent.

I heard him sigh, and I heard the sound of his pants rustling. One leg seemed to be delayed behind the other when he began to walk away.

“Well, if you get hungry, let me know. I’ll be close by, okay?” He offered, softly.

I didn’t utter a word. Not even after the door shut.

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