02 – Fathers & Sons

The sun lazily rolls over the sky until the oranges of dusk wash over me. I have not moved from the spot where I collapsed after my vision. I don’t care if it is too cold to be naked in the woods. My neck itches and burns in its torment of my soul. Lily is gone forever, and yet, I am left bound to her with no way to bring her back.

The warm fur that tickles my back does not stir me. The low whine and cold nose nuzzling me finally causes me to glance over my shoulder. My father in his wolf form is massive and majestic. His dark fur is a stark contrast to my ghostly white. He licks my cheek and nuzzles me again.

I flop my head back in the mix of snow and grass, not saying a word.

The wolf behind snorts and nudges me harder.

“She’s gone,” I whisper, my voice hoarse.

The massive wolf gets up, leaving me in my naked despair.

Moments later, icy slush washes over my body.

“Get up,” my father growls down at me in human form.

“Just let me die,” I moan, curling more and shivering as steam rises off my body.

Ivar kicks me hard in the ass. “I said, get up.”

I snap as I sit up. “And I said, she’s gone. Just let me die!”

“You are a damn fool if you think she is outside of your reach.” He snarls at me as he leans down and jabs me hard right in my mate mark. “The reason I know,” he jerks the collar of his shirt to bare where my mother’s mark was. All that remains of the shooting stars is a jagged scar with Luna’s mark over the top of it, “is yours is not scarred like this. Your mark burns as if it were given yesterday. So get your ass up and get some clothes on. I need you back at the village.”

I frown, staring up at my father. Something about his words sit ill with me and I slowly get to my feet.

He throws clothing at me before he turns to head into the forest.

Once dressed, I fall in step with him.

“A man came into the village this morning laying claim to the Luna.”

“How is that possible? She is your mate.”

“You know the answer as well as I do. He has already issued the challenge for his fated mate. We duel when the sun crests the horizon. You must listen to what I have to say to you, Rolf. If his claim is true, and the Fates have decided, I am a dead man, regardless of my power. Which means you will become Alpha.”

“Do not talk like that, father. You will win.”

For the second time today, I get my ears boxed. “Stop thinking like a love-struck pup. My fated mate is already dead. The fates do not grant second chances lightly. We are all well-aware the girl has not born me a pup.”

His grim profile makes me swallow hard, guilt washing over me that I have caused him so much trouble in recent months.

“The Luna is free to go with him without consequences, should he win. The pack will remain under your care. I have already made my wishes known to Viggo, and he supports this.”

My eyes widen in surprise to hear Viggo supporting me for Alpha as not ten hours ago he banished me from his home. “Yes, Alpha,” I murmur.

We walk in heavy silence, following the setting sun, and not heading toward our village.


A ghostly smile dances across Ivar’s lips as he looks down at me. “We should each bring back a stag for tomorrow.”

“You sound like you have already lost, father.”

He grunts his anger radiates out with his Alpha presence. “Maybe I am just an old man who wants to hunt with his son?!”

I turn my gaze down and show my neck in submission. “Sorry.”

“Now strip. The last one to catch a stag has to carry them both back.”

My eyes light up and I yank of my clothes as if I were getting ready to bathe with Lily. It has been too long since I last hunted with my father. When my mother lived, we hunted often. After Luna joined our pack, his time became devoted to politics. To lose a fated mate, is a sign from the Gods of weakness.

We take off into the darkening forest and the thrill of the hunt lifts my spirits. Though my mind drifts to the night I tried to hunt with Lily and her need to save the cute doe, which led me having to save her from the buck. The distraction causes my father to win the hunt handily.

Our walk back to the village is filled with laughter as I regale him with how I was distracted. Without even realizing it, he had guided me into talking about Lily. I try to explain to him how the buildings touched the clouds and showed your reflection in them. How clothing is too tight, and itchy. Along with how men look like boys because they are all clean-shaven.

He is most fascinated by the cars. “They go faster than horses?”

“Much faster. They even have metal birds they sit in, called airplanes. They can get from here to the other side of this land in mere hours.”

“You are joking.”

“If only I were. It is nothing like it is now. Where our home is becomes a public space for recreation. They call it a park, and it is bound by the buildings that touch the sky, along with solid ground made of stone. The forest is all but gone. What trees are there, were placed by humans.”

“That sounds dreadful.” Ivar shakes his head.

“It was, or it will be, but Lily loved it. Her eyes shone bright when she took me to an indoor market. They do not even use coin to purchase things. They use these hard chits they pass around and pretend they have value.”

He stops us before we reach the edge of the village. “You truly do love her. Do not forget the feeling in your heart. The fates will guide you to her. All you must do is have faith, my son.” He clasps the back of my neck and pulls me close to lightly bump foreheads.

“No matter what happens tomorrow, know that I love you and am proud to call you my son. You have grown to be a fine Alpha. Embrace it.”

“Yes, father.”

Viggo casually strolls from the woods, carrying his own stag. The glassed over eyes and somber expressions between Ivar and Viggo causes me to frown. The private conversation via mind link reminds me of when I was a short pup and left out of important conversations. Viggo must have been shadowing my father the entire time to allow us this goodbye.

When we reach the pack house, chaos is ensuing. Men are threatening each other, and women are spewing curses faster than I can keep up. I throw down the stags at the pit, and Viggo follows suit. The angry voices have taken three states of being.

The first view is the outlander is laying false claim to the Luna to destroy the pack. The second view is Luna is plotting with the outlander to steal the pack. The third, and most troubling, is that I have been cursed by Morrigan for murdering her daughter and she summoned the outlander to murder us all. Lack of Morrigan’s presence is not helping the matter.

“Where is your mate?” I hiss at Viggo.

He shakes his head no and moves to stand next to my father.

“ENOUGH!” Ivar roars with his Alpha command.

One by one, we all submit, baring our necks to him.

“How dare you treat my guests in this manner!” He bellows. “This is a duel of the Old Ways. The next one of you I hear disrespecting this honored tradition, I will deal with.”

I move cautiously to take my place at his left, as Luna is currently sequestered to her quarters. Tradition dictates the female remain unobtainable by either male until the Fates have decided. With Alpha, Beta, and Alpha Heir standing as a unified front, all squabbling dissipates. The outlander raises his mug to my father in silent thanks.

The prizes of our hunt are rushed away to be prepared for the feast tomorrow, and the mead flows freely again. While we are all breaking bread, the room holds a somber reverence to it. I silently watch my father as he surveys his pack. The lines at the corners of his eyes seem more severe, and his skin looks pale. When he smiles, it does not reach his ears.

Sadness fills me as I realize my father is expecting to die. I’m not ready to be Alpha. I cannot even keep my Luna. This pack will be torn to pieces with all the challenges to my claim.

As if reading my mind, my father slaps his hand on the high table to gain everyone’s attention. “This is supposed to be a night of merriment, but all I see are dour faces. So let us have some entertainment! Who here wishes to best Rolf and enjoy the mead at my table!”

My head whips around to look at my father, and I am greeted with a mischievous grin dancing across his face.