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Embers curse prime wolf, p.10
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       Ember's Curse (Prime Wolf), p.10

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  "It takes a while for her to warm up to new people. Just to be safe, keep an eye out for her talons. She likes to pull hair when she gets into one of her snits."

  I ran my fingers through my hair and peeked at the Harpy perched menacingly up in the tree. She looked at me with a smirk that I completely took as a threat to my long, dark locks. I made a deal with myself then and there, that if that damn bird came flying at me, I would have every right to fight claw to talon with her. The king be damned. So, I just put on my "I'm a wolf and I will eat you" glare and dared her to come at me, but I secretly hoped that she wouldn't.

  "Don't worry Ember. I won't let the big bad Harpy get you," Collin said, loosening up a bit. I was happy to see him switch from attack mode to his usual lighthearted self. The tension in his jaw and the tense way his shoulders were set was proof that he was still very much aware of his surroundings and that he was staying on guard, regardless of the switch temper. It felt odd having my very own protector, a very sexy one at that. Collin’s loyalty made me feel special, and when he absently placed a large hand at the small of my back, the intimate and protective gesture calmed me down a little bit as well.

  "I'm ready to do this. My blood has been spilt, your chant has been said, and we now have a witness. What more do you need from us?" I asked the queen.

  Chapter 11

  If you asked me a couple days ago if it were possible for me to be sitting Indian style next to my new mate, and next to the Queen of the Hydriads and King of the Meliads, I'd say it was crazy talk. But sitting here on a patch of damp grass with the royal nymphs was precisely what I was now doing. Orea was explaining to us how important it was that Collin and I come back here, in three months’ time, to help hold the porthole to the Dark Realm closed. In return for our service, she would excuse our part in the human trespass and oath breaking.

  "I am willing to help in any way possible," said Collin. "I'm just not sure how we can.”

  "They have no clue what they are now capable of, Orea. What their bonding has created," the king said.

  "I'm sure your right, Ash. I have to say, I'm highly confused as to why this has escaped their notice. I can sense that the change has already occurred," she turned to me and our eyes met. Her silver, swirling orbs made me dizzy and I could feel her power probing and pushing against the walls of my subconscious.

  "Have you two been consumed with a craving for blood? Or have you experienced any other changes since your bonding?" she asked us both.

  "As a matter of fact..." Collin began to say.

  "Some strange things have been happening. Blood cravings are one of them, and we have also been shifting differently."

  "It’s happening then," the king said, nodding his head.

  "What's happening? Can one of you please get to the point and explain this to me. I've had it up to here," I said, lifting my hand and hovering it over my head, "with this shit. Give it to us straight."

  "Mind your manners child, and your mouth. I can still wipe my hands clean of you. I have no qualms in taking the human, and while I'm at it, your pack’s broken oath. I will squash them both."

  Laughter from the trees pulled me from the queen’s reprimand. It was that damn Harpy. She sat like a creepy stalker staring at me with a smug look. Her lips pulled up into a wide grin, while she let out another chirpy laugh.

  "I say drown the offending mutt, my queen. Let the water fill her mouth and burn her lungs. That will assuredly shut her up."

  "I can handle my own dealings, Fresia. Keep your vengeful thoughts to yourself."

  "Yes, my queen. But if you do drown her, can I have her hair? I really love hair. Especially the long kind. I could make such a beautiful nest from it," she said with a very disturbing lust-filled glance at mine.

  "That’s enough, Fresia. It's time for you to leave us now. Go find Porter and have him cook you something delicious. Maybe a cheesecake or an apple pie?"

  The hair crazed Harpy abruptly stopped staring at me and focused on her master at the very first mention of desserts. She fluffed her wings and licked her abnormally large lips. "Can I have Jell-O? That would make me go home, only for Jell-O."

  "If you can leave without plucking a single hair from anyone's head, then I will allow you some Jell-O. The red kind even," the king said, raising an eyebrow.

  And with his final words, Fresia took flight. With a shrill screech, she dive-bombed toward our little group. Mere inches before she barreled into us, the king raised his hand and she slipped away into the same blue light that they both had appeared from. I was very happy to see her leave and from the relieved sigh from Collin, I'd say he was just as happy with her departure as I was.

  "Now where was I," the queen asked. "Ah, yes. I was about to tell you why your presence at the porthole is needed."

  Could it be true? Was I finally going to get some answers? Dealing with these two was like falling down the proverbial rabbit’s hole. I never knew what was going to happen next. Something did have to happen soon, though. I still had friends to revive, a very reluctant vampire who was still part human, to save. Plus, there was still a party I had to attend after this as well. Shoot me now. I thought to myself. It would make the end to all this crap seem a lot swifter.

  Chapter 12

  I'd seen more supernatural occurrences in these last few days than in all my years as a prime werewolf. I'm not going to say that finding out that there is an evil faction of mixed ‘others’ terrorizing humans and the supernatural kind surprised me, but it did make me worry about the people that I held dear to me. My pack included. These latest murders definitely hit way too close to home. The gruesome murders of my pack mates should be all I was focused on right now and should be given the proper attention that they truly deserved. I had to get to Tommy and explain to him that I needed full, unrestricted access to this case; a case he didn't even know existed yet. But first things first, I had to make a deal with the queen.

  "She-wolf, you started your life the same as all your prime ancestors before you; as a werewolf with some of the attributes of a vampire."

  Orea dragged her finger in the dirt before us. She leaned forward a bit to make sure her drawing could be seen by everyone.

  "Once a millennia, a child is born into the arms of either a wolf or vampire. This child is unique and has the potential to either be the greatest of evils or the pure essence of what is good and just."

  I watched as the lines and arches she was drawing turned into a pretty accurate depiction of the scale of justice.

  "This child will eventually be known as the Canon, and is fated to set the governing rules for all ‘others’ in existence."

  After she finished her drawing, she grabbed a handful of sand and began pouring it into the right side of the scale’s dangling cup. The drawing took on a life of its own and rose up from the ground settling on its base just in time to catch the falling granules.

  "Before the child is ready to transcend and fulfill his or her calling, a full life must have been lived. If the Canon, by their own deeds, filled either one of the cups of justice more than the other, this will be the path the world is to be lead into. There will either be a time of darkness or one filled with light, as it is now, for the next one thousand years."

  "What does this ‘Canon’ have to do with me?" I asked the queen. Just thinking of someone being born into this world with that much influence over all mankind was very disturbing. I looked at Collin. He was completely focused on the queen and her animate drawing. "Is this person the reason why you need our help at the porthole?"

  "What Orea is taking a fortnight to get at," said the king, "is that either you or Collin were born to be the Canon. It seems that the nature of your family’s curse, Ember, has interacted with the prophecy and has left the both of you in a tangled mess. With that being said. We have no clue of its origins.”

  "Ash is correct. For the very first time in known history, there are now possibly two Canons. What this means for all of us I haven't the answer, but
the potential is staggering."

  Her implications seemed surreal to me. I thought back to last night and momentarily relived the attack at Nathan's house. It was true that my body reacted to the threat very differently than it should have. Instead of my wolf breaking through to defend itself, something else took over me entirely. I had felt alive, stronger, and more aware of myself than ever before. And yes, I had been out for the attacker’s blood, literally, just like a vampire would be.

  I felt the same way, Love. It was all consuming, Collin said. He had obviously been reading my thoughts, even though I distinctly remember asking him not to. However, under the circumstances, I understood why.

  This does explain a lot, I said in return. Are you in the least bit curious how we happen to find ourselves here, talking to probably the only two people who would know all about us?

  This does seem a little too convenient, Collin said.

  The king and queen glanced at each other and smiled. "It looks like their catching on, my queen. Shall we release everyone and let them be on their way?"

  "Now Ash, slow down. We're not finished here just yet." She then turned her devious swirling eyes on us and said, "I might have lured you here in a very, shall we say, imaginative way. With your help, I might add. Bringing a vampire to my lake, who wasn't fully transitioned?" She shook her head and the corner of her mouth lifted into a half smile. "You made it way too easy." Orea outstretched her arms and motioned for us all to take one another's hands. "But no matter, the end result is still the same. Let's take oath and all of us can be on our way."

  Orea slashed her arm through her drawing and the picture fell back to the ground in a pile of smoky dust. She then called out to the lake in rolling notes that no instrument or machine could ever duplicate. The enchanting tune beckoned one of the three identical nymphs from earlier. She emerged from the water with Brady in tow. After leading him by the arm over to the others, she laid him down gently.

  "Hi Dad," she said, waving enthusiastically to Ash.

  "Hi, my little mermaid," he said, waving back to the smiling nymph. "Don't forget that you promised to go swimming with me, Selah, and Tula tomorrow. We have been looking forward to it all week," she said, wagging her slim finger at him. The gesture was meant to be serious but she still had a huge smile on her face.

  "I wouldn't miss it for the world, Ariel. Now run along. Your mother and I are in the middle of saving the world."

  "Yes, Father," she said.

  Collin and I sat in our respective spots, not saying anything, while we watched the nymph dive back into the lake.

  The queen had tricked me. Granted, I did provide the ammo, a mistake I was never going to make again. That was one thing I couldn't stand about the Fey. They were all tricksters in one way or the other. Funny thing is, if she would have just asked for my help, I probably would have given it to her. But like she said, the end result was the same, I was stuck helping her if I liked it or not. So resigned, I placed my hand into hers and settled my other one into Collin’s and anxiously awaited the end of all this.

  "In three months’ time the door that shelters us from the Darkin will be unveiled. It has been the sworn duty of King Ash and I to hold back these vile creatures and keep them from littering our world," the queen began to explain to us.

  The King pulled a knife from a brown leather sheath that had been hidden from sight by the many leaves that covered his hip.

  "Two millennia ago, several of the Darkin escaped our watch and spread their vile disease upon our land. They created the creatures that you have come to know as vampires. Although we allowed their creations to live untouched, if only by strict laws, the Darkin are a bane upon this world and are to be extinguished at first sight. Their lusts are not diluted by humanity like the vampires. The Darkin are the embodiment of every needful emotion. Lust, greed, and overindulgence, is what they are mainly comprised off."

  My head jerked to the side at the sound of Collin making a pain filled grunt. Ash had just finished slicing open his palm and blood poured from the cut.

  "Some warning would have been nice, man," Collin growled. His eyes turned red and pointed fangs protruded from his mouth. I ran my hand along his tensed up arm. I could feel his muscles rippling underneath his skin, a sure sign of an impending shift.

  "Just breathe. Your wolf is about to take over so I need you to calm down." I might not know jack about being the Canon or making oaths with the fey, but I did know how to calm an excited werewolf down. "Can you maintain for just a few more minutes?" I asked him calmly and sent whispered promises for a later time into his mind.

  "We haven't got very long, can we speed this up?" I asked the queen. She looked from me and then to Collin and nodded her head in understanding.

  "We are in need of added assurance that the porthole will not be breached. Word has reached us that there are a group of vampires determined to free their ancestors from the Dark Realm. They are ruthless and will stop at nothing to achieve their goal."

  The king slowly replaced the knife into its holder, but first, he cleaned Collin’s blood off the blade by wiping both sides of it across a small patch of grass. He then released Collin’s wrist and slowly pulled back his own. I hadn't realized that none of us were holding onto each other anymore. Too many things had happened in the last several minutes to pay attention to something so trivial.

  "By the blood you spilt onto the elemental altar, do you freely give your word to help us protect the porthole from the Darkin?"

  My stomach began to do flip flops at the thought of actually having to one day fight the beings that the queen spoke of. Collin and I locked eyes for a moment. "If you want to back out it's fine. I will figure out another way to save Brady and the others," he said to me, the words came out in a soft growl. It was still his voice, just a bit deeper when combined with his wolf’s. "There is no other way," I answered him.

  Collin went before me and said the words that would bind him to an uncertain future. When he finished, I repeated the words that would ensure that I would be side by side with him on that path.

  "I give my word and blood oath to protect the porthole." And with those few simple words, our fate was sealed.

  ***

  Collin’s wolf was still riding him hard, fighting vehemently to be released. I looked up at the night sky. It would be a full moon in two days. That would explain why it was so difficult for him to push the wolf back. His control was already tentative because of the side effects from our bonding. The urge to protect me would have been enough to force a shift after today's events, let alone having to deal with the impending full moon.

  "Go ahead, run with him. Your mate will feel better after he takes down an elk. These woods are flush with game."

  I looked over at my friends who were still deeply under the nymph’s spell. The queen noticed where my eyes had landed and said, "I will awaken them and wipe their memories of all that has occurred, if that is your wish."

  "No. I mean yes, wake them up, but no don't erase their memories. I couldn't do that to them."

  "As you wish," she said, walking away from me. "I will leave their minds intact. Peace be with you on your journeys. And hear me well, She-wolf, in 3 months’ time, I will be expecting you."

  "I'll be here," I said in answer.

  I turned my attention away from her and onto the sight of Collin falling to his knees. His claws dug into the hard earth and his shoulders popped out of their sockets in preparation for his shift. I watched him morph into his beautiful beast for a moment longer before I joined him in the change. It was time to let our wolves run free. I slipped effortlessly into my wolf’s embrace. She covered me with her soft grey fur and armed me with sharp claws and teeth. Her predatory instincts melded with my human consciousness and, in a glorious flash, we became one. Wolf and human, predator and protector; an Alpha she-wolf. There was no sign of the vampire side of me, the side that not only had a thirst for vengeance, but also had an unquenchable thirst for blood.


  If the Darkin were burdened by that feeling every second of their existence, I could see why the royal couple was worried about them getting loose and having free reign over the humans. It would only take a handful of years for them to decimate the earth if enough of them escaped through the porthole.

  I pushed through the tall brush with my muzzle. Collin was right on my heels sniffing the pheromone filled paw prints that I left in my wake. I was anxious to break free of the tree line and find a nice open area for us both to run in. Collin nudged me in the rear playfully giving me the hint to hurry up, but I purposefully slowed down my pace instead. He wasn't dealing with any regular wolf; I couldn't stand the thought of being submissive. I would make it clear to him that I was an Alpha in both of my true forms.

  I am aware that you're a big bad wolf my sweet, but also be aware of this. I'm a pretty big wolf myself and I say my mate needs to loosen up and have a little fun. And then wouldn't you know, the son of a gun nipped me in the butt right before he leapt clear over me. I watched as his hind legs disappeared from sight into a thick patch of bushes.

  You're it! he said with a growling chuckle.

  Oh, I don't think so! I said, swiftly taking off after him. I dropped my head and pumped my four legs the hardest I had ever tried to before. The speed I was reaching through the rough terrain was invigorating. I could see the branches ahead of me moving and shaking. That little bit of movement worked to my advantage. It left me a path to follow him by.

  Man, he was fast, maybe even faster than me. But my wolf growled at even the thought of that and pushed on harder and faster. She liked a challenge. His crisp, sharp scent filled my nostrils and I knew by how strong it was that I was gaining on him. The tight branches and bushes broke away into an open field and I watched as my mate shifted directions when he spotted prey.

 
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