We trotted across a strange meadow. A lone tree, its branches devoid of life, jutted up at the top of a hill. It was dead. Our eyes picked out the sight of a lightning burn, a jagged black scar down one side of the tree. At the tree’s base was a large hole in the ground, and the scar seemed to continue into the hole.
Our instincts took us toward it, but before we could reach it, a lone howl drifted across the night sky. The Alpha was calling.
Instantly, we veered back, heading toward the south side of the lands where the Alpha and the pack would be waiting for us. We fought against it briefly, and for a tantalizing second, almost won. In the end, however, we knew it was pointless. When the Alpha called during a Wild Moon, we obeyed. Some battles our human side was simply not strong enough to win on its own. Both sides would have to fight, and the wolf in us obeyed the Alpha.
Paws digging in deeper into the ground, we ran faster, knowing we would likely have the farthest to go to reach the Alpha. It wouldn’t do to be late. That would call undue attention upon us. We hated attention.
The manor came into view, and we wandered to the front, our head swinging around, scanning the pack. Where was Jo? Why wasn’t she up front already?
It was customary that the newly shifted wolves would come to the front of the pack at the end of the Soulshift. Then the entire pack would stream by like a military unit on parade. That way, a newly shifted wolf could review the entire pack to try and bring their Soulbond into existence, linking them with their mate for life.
Being that this was our eighth time going through it, we knew to go straight to the front and plunk our ass down on the grass and wait in boredom for the pack to go past us. We longed for the Soulbond to find us. It was lonely.
Two Wild Moons ago, we’d watched Kyler find his Soulbond. We remembered it fondly, the mating of two wolves who had instantly fallen in love with one another. The joyous howls of the pack that had gone up to celebrate the new mating left chills on our spine even now. We wanted that. We wanted our mate.
Behind us, the Alpha climbed the ascent to his Pride Rock, looming over the pack like one of the ancient shifter deities from legends of old. The human in us scoffed at that idea. The gods of old, like Amunlea, Empress of all Shifters, had been written as regal, elegant, and kind.
The Alpha was an asshole. Even our wolf could agree on that, regardless of her preference to obey his calls. Obedience and fondness did not go hand in hand. Still, we found ourselves looking at him, waiting for him to command the pack to proceed.
Behind the Alpha strode another figure. A little smaller than the Alpha, the wolf was still as pitch-black, blending neatly into the night in a way our silver-white fur never could. It was dark to our light.
At that thought, our world exploded.
Warm sunlight rushed through us, shoving our human half into the backseat, once more giving full power to our wolf. It surged out from us and into the night, a long golden link that plunged into that darkness.
A wave of something we’d never felt before filled us, buoying us up. Lifting us high on its wonderous touch. For the first time since we’d shifted, we were complete.
We howled. The pack howled with us.
Happy. Joyous. A Soulbond had been formed this night. After eight long months, we knew on some level that our search was over. That it was in the past.
We surged forward, eager to meet our mate.
Inside, our human side rebelled in horror as it realized who we were running toward.
The Alpha’s son.