Chapter Five: The Cage

"Ugh!!"

There was a loud clang of metal, and then I was bouncing off the bars and onto the ground.

The impact from the fall bruised my butt, and I glared ahead into the ever-present darkness that accompanied me these days.

"Goddammit!!" I yelled, feeling the itchy and raw feeling well up in my throat from disuse.

I stumbled to my feet, locking my knees as I prepared to charge again.

My legs were stinging, a result of the constant bruises forming against my skin.

Before I could launch myself at the metal bars again though, I heard the door open.

My dry mouth opened, desperately. "Brandon! Just let me out please, it's been days. What am I going to do? Run and get myself killed? I'm better than that, I promise I won't run!" I pleaded, my dry throat sounding gross and unappealing to my ears.

I needed water, badly.

Time was hard to keep track of with the blindfold. I knew Brandon visited at least once every other day, I'm not sure if it was out of his kindness or not, but the Beta would bring me scraps of food and water. Sometimes he'd just sit and chat even though I hardly ever replied. He'd update me on Elijah, and with the small tidbits of information that slipped in the cracks of the perpetual night I was subjected to, I figured it'd been about a week and a half.

The darkness was becoming more frightening, I wasn't adjusting well.

It's hard to adjust to feeling weak when all you've ever known is strength.

"Brandon?" I called again, surprised that he hadn't replied by now. Usually, he wouldn't shut up.

I heard his footsteps growing closer until they stopped right before the end of the cage. I knew because I'd counted. It only took five steps from the door, they always stopped at the same place.

"Since when are you on a first name basis with my Beta?"

The voice instantly made me freeze.

Morax.

Even with the blindfold on, I could picture his cold, gold irises staring back at me. I could picture his domineering jaw, the flat ridge of his nose, and how it crinkled when he smirked.

I also recalled how he had knocked me the hell out.

I scowled.

"He's the one that told me to call him that. And you have a lot of nerve showing up here! You didn't have to capture me, I would've come willingly!" The reply was hot on my tongue, but I heard the Alpha scoff from the other side.

"In case you've forgotten, little wolf. You shot me with an arrow, forgive me for not taking the extra chance with you."

His words made me scowl deeper, but I begrudgingly understood them. My shoulders slumped down, and I took a seat, relaxing. I curled my legs up as far as they could go and tucked them under my chin.

"So... how long will I need to stay like this..?"

I still couldn't see anything. It made the Alpha's voice deceptively soothing, like a warm drizzle of honey. It was hard to believe the man was so brutal when his voice was so smooth and serene. Perhaps he really was like wolfsbane. It was vibrant and beautiful, deceptively alluring despite the lethal toxins that flowed throughout it, from its petals, straight down to its roots.

I imagine Morax was the same way.

A lethal flower with a pile of bodies beneath his feet.

My chin lifted off my knees a bit, surprise settling inside my stomach as I heard a clutter of keys. My stomach dropped immediately, fear sinking inside my insides as they sloshed around in anxiety.

"What're you doing?" I asked, my voice in a harsh whisper.

The door pulled open. The long creak of metal paused my heartbeats.

I knew what men did to women who were prisoners of war, I had heard the stories. So my first instinct was to move back, covering my arms as I attempted to growl. But no sound came out--my wolf was still locked away. The shiver was alive in my arms, the bile high in my throat.

Please don't!

I was only seventeen, I didn't even know my mate yet!

The thoughts were thundering in my head.

I flinched when strong hands suddenly grabbed my shoulders, and I opened my mouth to scream.

"Calm down." His words made my breathing pause, and I heard him sigh. "I'm many things, but I don't care for forcing myself on a woman. No one in my pack would ever be allowed to do so, either. Whatever you're afraid of, it would never happen here. Besides, I'm insulted. Do I seem like the type to need that type of fake gratification, little wolf?"

The way he said it, he sounded almost bored. And my eyes widened, not that he could see that, but still. I stared in the direction his voice came from, my mouth slowly closing.

"Then why are you in here?"

His proximity was confusing me, my spine felt rigid. I had an intense urge to kick him, but I was sure it'd land me no favors. His hands lifted from my shoulders, and I shuddered when I felt them run over my cheekbones instead.

I opened my mouth to question him again, but his finger shushed me.

I paused, the rough surface of his skin feeling odd against my lips.

"Be quiet before I change my mind and leave you here. Then you can keep trying your chances at breaking down fortified titanium and steel bars. If that's what you want, be my guest."

His arrogance pissed me off. I gritted my teeth, and without another word, I crossed my arms.

I could have sworn he muttered 'childish' under his breath.

Then his hands were back on me, stroking softly beneath the blindfold. I could feel his warm breath on my face. And then, I was blinking.

His serene tones were set in a melodic hum as if he was coaxing someone to dance with him. The melody was beautiful, its ambiance lifting. I barely noticed that the blindfold was slipping off my eyes.

Until the sudden change of light hurt, and I squinted against the ray of yellow that pierced through the window.

I heard more than seen the disgusting plop of wet flesh that fell to the cement floor.

"Ew, was that what you put on my face?!" I suddenly wanted to hurl. I was staring at the very much alive 'blindfold' that was riggling on the floor. It looked more like an organ than a red and black cloth. The slippery sensation made sense right then, it was secreting an odd obsidian liquid. Yet the color left no stains beneath it.

It was the weirdest thing I'd ever seen. I bent down and went to poke it.

"If you do that, it'll latch back onto your face and I won't take it off again."

My finger paused mid-descent. I pulled back with a grimace watching as he carefully placed a jar in front of it. It wiggled itself into the jar, like a worm, before curling up like a cat inside the clear glass.

Disgusting.

I made a point to look away.

With my pupils finally adjusting to the light, I could finally see him fully again. And I was taken aback by how different he looked from the day he came to destroy mine and my brother's life.

He was wearing a thin but heavily decorated shirt across his bulking muscles, lines, and twines of gold enriching his status as they shined with the same vibrance his eyes did. His long legs were covered in ripped black jeans that hugged his thighs. Alpha Morax was tall, at least 6'3. His face was clean-shaven and his brows were fierce as they stared down at me.

I hated to admit it, but he looked like royalty. And when I peeked down at my own dirty and grimey clothes, I felt like I was just a slave next to him. I knew it was accurate considering my situation...

But it still pissed me off.

"So does this mean you're releasing me?" I grumbled.

"Hardly." My eyes met his. "You'll be out of the cage, but you'll still be considered a captive and under surveillance until you can produce results on the artifact. And until you do so, your brother will not be leaving his cage."

I paled at the thought of Elijah drowning in the darkness by himself, and I fisted my hands tight. I knew it was our punishment, but it felt cruel.

Then again, whoever he killed would never be able to see the sun again. They would never love, dance, or enjoy anything again.

The thought was heavy in my chest.

My brother had killed someone. Yet I hated Morax for doing the same, did that make me a hypocrite?

I shook off my thoughts, focusing on the goal in front of me. The artifact.

The one I had no chance in hell of fixing.

"How am I supposed to do that if I have no leniency? I'll need ingredients at the least!" I spat, feeling frustrated and trapped as I bluffed my nonexistent knowledge about the artifact.

I watched as his brow rose high on his face. It must be a habit of his. "I never said you'd be forced to stay in one place, I said you'll be under surveillance. You can gather whatever you need, but your guard will be with you at all times." He informed, looking smug.

I decided then that Alpha Morax had a punchable face.

"Who will be watching me?"

I couldn't help but hope it was Brandon. He was chatty and kind, warm like Elijah. I felt I could get used to his company, maybe even grow to like him in this hell hole.

But when the man in front of me smirked, my hopes were dashed.

"You're looking at him, little wolf."

The news couldn't have been worse. My face fell.

If he was offended by my reaction, he didn't show it. Instead, he moved over to me. Unshackled my ankle, and hoisted me up by my elbow.

"Hey, take it easy!" I protested, but he paid my complaints no mind. One foot in front of the other as he came to the large oak door.

The sight of the door I had only heard for the last week, gave me an odd sense of freedom. I held my breath as his hand gripped the handle.

"Welcome to your new home."

I gasped as the door finally opened.

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