From my lack of verbal response, Kaleb regained his composure and took the lead questioning him. “What else do you know about that night, Mr. Blackwell?”
Charles gazed briefly at his wife before looking each and every one of us. “I’ve never thought there would come a day that I’ll be telling this story. To think I vowed myself to carry it to my grave,” he muttered softly before squaring his shoulders. “This is a long story. I’d rather we all sit down before I start.”
Kaleb remained where he was, standing close to our group, while I sat down by the couch in the room. Tony joined me as Axel sat by the armrest beside him. As for Charles, he positioned himself by the wooden desk, leaning by its edge. With his back to Cole, he gestured him to come around and sit at the single couch where Clarisse had sat. Ash and Dan remained close to the door, their stance seemed like they could stand there for hours. Then he started.
A month before the dreaded night, there was nothing out of the ordinary until the Clan received a visit from a man I hadn’t seen for years. It was Maddox Blackwell. My little brother.
“Maddox, what are you doing here?” I inquired after my man cornered him easily on the borders of our territory, which was a surprise. He was an Alpha, though he’s now a Roué, he could easily overpower them.
“Can’t I visit my family every few years or so? Or was that included on the term as well?” he cheekily replied. He looked slightly smug.
“I banished you, Maddox. I thought it’s already obvious what that ensues.” I firmly answered, keeping things professional.
“Oh, come on! Don’t be too serious, brother. You’re already showing wrinkles. Smile and relax some more.”
“Why are you here, Maddox?” I probed again.
Rather than verbally answering, he arrogantly smiled. He abruptly turned and started running before making a hasty leap as he shifted into his Lycan form. I was caught off guard by his actions. It took me a second to collect my thoughts before shifting as well and following behind him. I had underestimated him. The years had caught up to me while it made him faster. I allowed my best tracker to follow his trail only to come back with little information. He disappeared after he shifted back to his human form and got into a car.
“From that point on, he had been seen around the area a few times in a row. However, whenever I’d be the one chasing him, he’d walk away as he did before. It was like a dance between us. Not once I got an answer why he was in the area. So I grew cautious and increased the security within the Lycan board. At the back of my head, I thought of warning our Custodian neighbors about the Roués but decided against it. Maddox was still my brother, even if he was no longer part of the Clan.
It was then I knew a seed of my mistake had taken form. I should have warned your father about my brother being in the area nearly five times for the past months. But I know your laws, Custodian. And Maddox was still my blood. I won’t be the one to lead him to his death.” He paused for a moment sigh.
“But instead you led him into mine…” I whispered. I knew he clearly heard me as his eye twitched.
He continued, “The morning of the attack I was alerted from one of my men that Maddox was back in the area. This time he was no longer alone. Rather than be pissed about it, I composed myself and called all of my seasoned fighters to the frontlines. By the time we reached where the border scout had seen them, they had been in a one-sided battle of two against six. But now the odds were in our favor, with ten men rallying behind me, I clashed in the middle of the battle, nearly startling the six Roués, including Maddox.”
He stood there, remembering the memory like it was yesterday.
My paw dug on the dirt as I skidded to a stop close to my brother. With his eyes distracted upon the numbers behind me, I bared my teeth and took him by his neck. He shrieked in pain as my teeth pierced a bit deeper on his skin.
Though I knew the link between us was severed when I banished him. Yet being an Alpha, It’s easy for us to link our thoughts with a former member of our Clan. But it’s like speaking out loud – much louder.
’I WARNED YOU TO LEAVE! AND YOU BROUGHT AN ARMY WITH YOU!’I yelled.
‘DON’T OVER EXAGGERATE! SIX IS HARDLY AN ARMY, CHARLES!’ Maddox exclaimed in reply.
‘YOU’RE IN MY TERRITORY. AND HAVING THIS NUMBER WITH YOU IS A CHALLENGE OF AN ATTACK.’
’WE’RE NOT HERE FOR YOU!’
‘THEN WHO…?’ I couldn’t finish the sentence when Maddox put all his mental strength into blocking the link. And it was then I notice another difference from him. Not only was he slowly gaining physical strength, but he also garnered his mental fortitude as well.
How could I make an enemy of a man who I knew had the possibility of overpowering me?
However, my worries didn’t matter at that moment. All I could concentrate on was the job, and that was to take out the threat away from my people.
The six Roués with Maddox didn’t have the same strength as two of my best men. It was an easy win for us. They dispatched his back-up and left Maddox all by himself again, beaten and defeated, although he was still very much alive.
‘Alpha, should we do something with him? He’s already part of the enemy. We can’t let him go like last time.’ It was my Beta, Mikael, who spoke through the link for the rest of my men.
‘I understand your reasoning, Mikael. But, what you’re asking of me is to kill my own kin? Would you kill your sister if she poses as a threat and kills your men?’
‘I’m not sure…maybe.’
‘Since you hesitated, I presume you understood my dilemma.’
‘Then what do we do with him?’
‘Take him as far away from here as possible. If not, ship him to another country if you must. But don’t kill him’
“You should understand, Rhoane. Your people might view us a creature of the night, unable to feel sympathetic for humanity. But we are still living creatures. We have the same emotions as any other breathing living being on his planet.” Charles bleakly stated.
“I didn’t know you’re able to converse with Maddox through the link, Dad,” Cole finally spoke up after his father started his storytelling.
“I never told anyone, except your mother, about it,” he paused and glanced at Cole. “But now you know as well.”
“Did you see something while you were in his head? Is it the point why you’re telling us this?”
“Yes. It is. And what I’m going to tell you might sound like a joke to you Custodian. Without valid proof, these mental images I uncovered would mean nothing to you. I might have only seen images as a façade of what he wanted me to see. But when I saw the flames that night, burning brighter than the moon, I knew it was real.”
We all waited patiently as Charles collected his thoughts. “I thought my brother was leading those Roués since he had an Alpha blood, it wasn’t entirely a ruled out the possibility. However, the image I saw in his mind, he wasn’t the one calling the shots. The Roués are no longer lone wolves. Someone is banding them together, creating a new Clan of Roués.”
Then Tony started coughing to hide his laugh.
“That’s ridiculous!” Kaleb finally spoke. “Roués are purely driven by their own self-vendettas. They’ve lost their sense of unity as part of a pack, and not once had heeded to a command.”
“You speak like you’ve lived our life, Custodian,” Cole remarked icily.
Kaleb glared in his direction but otherwise didn’t provoke him.
“I understand your opinion, Kaleb. And it’s the truth as well.” Charles interjected, grabbing both of their attention to him. “However, we’ve overlooked the gift our forefathers and ancestors had given us, especially the descendant of the first Lycan, Salazar Lycos.”
“From my knowledge, there are currently four families who carried the blood of the Lycos line,” Tony said. “The Blakesley in Australia, Ochoa in Brazil, Volkov in Russia, and Blackwell.”
“I’m glad your knowledge of my people is accurate, but there’s one thing our kind hadn’t spoken about for a millennium,” Charles informed.
“Salazar Lycos had five children.”
“I don’t think the Lycans folklore could be a theory for something real, dad.” Cole pointed out. “And from the records we have, Salazar Lycos only had four living offspring who reached their adulthood. Even the data on our ancestry could trace it back to that time.”
“But there was a record about a little girl who Salazar favored over his four older children.”
“The child died, didn’t she?” Cole pondered.
“As the story goes… but there were no written accounts of how she died.”
“Okay? I don’t think this conversation about history does us any good but give us more headaches. Mind getting to the point why we’re talking about Salazar Lycos’s descendants?” I interjected, feeling my brain numbing at the information overload.
Charles nodded. “My theory is one of the descendent found a link to the fifth descendant, and want the power of that bloodline. So, they grouped this new found Roué Clan to fall the blame. And somehow my brother had been roped in since they are cut from the same cloth.”
“That might be a serious accusation you’re sprouting, Mr. Blackwell. You can’t assume one of the four descendants, who by the way, have stronger Alpha genes running through their veins, are committing treason against their own species.” Tony said.
“From how my own brother betrayed me, I’m sure it’s not only in our family who’s prone to greed.” Charles dryly declared.
“But who from the three? Since your family already has Maddox in their team,” Tony inquired, looking even more serious than he already was.
“That’s the limit of my knowledge. To accuse a possibility of someone betraying doesn’t do much damage; however, to add a name to those accusations would be another thing.”
“Of course,” Tony grimly remarked before rolling his eyes.
“But do you have someone in mind?” I inquired, interested of who he thought it was.
“No. I don’t. And even if I did, these thoughts shouldn’t even be spoken out loud. I have high respects for my distant relatives.” Charles adamantly declared.
“I apologize for pressing the matter,” I shyly said.
“No need to apologize, my dear. Of course, I understand you want to know who it is. But I’d rather not say a name now and find out the person is blameless. I don’t want to create unruly thoughts towards a man who could be innocent.”
For the first time since I’ve been tossed to this new situation, a small smile tugged at the edges of my lips. Even though Charles had his flaws and secrets, he was a kind-hearted man and loyal to his family and Clan. The look in his eyes said it. He was not the enemy, though I couldn’t say the same to his brother.
“I think pondering about this in a closed confined space doesn’t get us anywhere. We need to get out there and find these answers ourselves.” Tony suggested. “And finding Maddox should be number one on that list.”
“I agree. But my brother isn’t someone who’d easily get himself caught unless he wanted to,” Charles countered. “However, I think I have something in mind to get him to talk.”
“And what would that be?” Kaleb inquired in interest.
“I think compromising with an enemy wouldn’t be a good plan, especially with someone whose adamant on attaining their goal. For sure, Maddox wouldn’t agree without getting something in return.” Tony concluded.
“Don’t worry about that. I know my brother even if he’s nearly a stranger to me now.” Charles stated confidently.
After the meeting, Charles called in more Lycans to join us. The new addition in the room was Ash’s and Dan’s father, plus the lead scout who had news for us about the Roués who were in our apartment. All ears were on him when he gave his report.
“There were three of them, but only two entered the apartment. The place was trashed but they haven’t taken anything from our assessment. They were inside for approximately half an hour before we caught their trail.”
“Thank you for your hard work, Bill,” Charles said before dismissing him. “Crowe, get a team ready. Frontlines only.” Dan’s father nodded then exited the room. “Mikael, take your son and strengthen the inner perimeter, especially within the compound.”
“Got it.” Beta Mikael nodded and turned to Ash, who was by the door. “Come on, son. We’ve got work to do.”
Ash glanced at Cole for a second before following his father out. As the door closed behind them, Dan moved closer to Cole as Charles approached him. “Son, I want you to man the fort here. Protect them.” Though his voice was almost inaudible, our heightened hearing caught it easily.
“Of course, dad,” Cole firmly avowed.
“And protect her. Promise me.”
“You don’t need to ask me twice.”
Charles liked his response and turned to me. He kept a good distance from our group, which was slowly growing more guarded by the second.
“Rhoane, I understand how you feel about finding out who was responsible that night. And I know you’ve resented my brother for being a part of it. But I’m asking you as both a respected Alpha and his brother, to not kill him with your hands. It’s our job to be the one punishing our loved ones who betray us.” Charles looked slightly desperate as he pleaded in apology.
But words had failed me to respond to his plea. In a sense, I understood him wanting to take responsibility for his brother’s action. If fate were to put him in my path, I wouldn’t wait for him to show up and fight my battles. I wouldn’t hesitate to take the first strike.
Once we exited the room, the house had suddenly gone eerily quiet, like there hadn’t been a party in here only a few hours ago. We remained in the living room while the Lycans did their job. Since Cole and Dan were staying with us, they updated us about the plan, which was the capture of one of the Roués under Maddox.
It was a long day of waiting. At one point, even Kaleb wanted in on the mission. But it would be futile if one of us ruined their intricate plan, which involved being part of the Clan and could communicate through the link, something that none of us could do. None of that plan would work if we didn’t have the same accessible communication.
“I know I should be somehow grateful for what they’re doing for us, but I don’t want them taking all the action. This is also our fight.” Kaleb muttered and cussed.
“You aren’t the only one disappointed,” Tony chorused.
Axel could only nod in agreement as he stayed fairly close to me.
There was a brief silence in the room before Cole updated us again about the progress of the mission. “The team heading North had caught a trail. They’re sending back-up in their direction.”
“How confident are you they’ll succeed within the day?” Kaleb asked.
“Fairly high. These men who are after them are trackers. One of the best in the country.” Cole confidently informed.
“I hope we get to do something as well,” I grumbled in defeat and leaned back on the couch. “Can we?” I asked, glancing at the faces of my friends.
“My lady. I may not agree to their ways, but I’d rather have the Lycans do the dirty work for this one.” Axel finally spoke up for the first time in a while.
“I agree with Axel, Roe,” Tony stated.
I peered at Kaleb, but he was staring out in the distance. With a heavy sigh, I had gone back to counting sheep while waiting for something to happen. However, we didn’t have to wait long. Before the sunset, I heard Dan shift from his position at the same time we heard someone entering the house. We all turned in unison as Charles strode in with three unfamiliar faces walking behind him.
Cole stood up beside me. And I followed suit. To my other side, Axel and Kaleb shadowed as well.
“Where is he?” Cole was the first to talk before Charles got a word out.
“They’ve taken him in one of the training houses at the back of the compound. Mikael and Crowe are with them.” Charles answered without batting an eye at his son’s commanding tone.
“I want to see the Roué,” I interjected before walking around the couch.
But I only made it halfway as Cole pulled me back. “Are you sure you want to see them?”
“If you’re going to be questioning them, I have questions myself that need answering.” I firmly stated.
“My lady, I don’t think…” Axel interjected but I cut him off with a look.
“I’m not changing my mind, Axel. If you boys don’t want to go, then stay here,” I suggested. “I’m sure Cole would escort me,” I added, staring back at him.
For a moment, Cole studied and met my stare, like he was trying to waver my resolve. But I held his gaze. I’m not turning back.
“Fine. But we’re not staying behind.” Kaleb huffed in defeat.
I gave him a stiff smile before turning back to Charles. “Please lead the way.”
As we headed out of the house, two jeeps were already waiting for us outside. Charles headed straight to one of the jeeps while Cole walked towards the driver’s seat of the other jeep. I asked him after we’ve all settled inside. “Why are we taking the Jeep?”
“It’s quite a long drive towards the training house from here. We keep it separate from where we live to make sure some of the new Lycans who first shifted won’t cause havoc in the compound.” Cole explained.
“I didn’t know young Lycans were volatile.”
“For a moment, they are. It’s the first time their wolf side had seen the world. They sometimes get offensive as a way to defend themselves.”
I nodded as I comprehended the new information.
Per Cole’s words, the trip to the training house was a near half an hour away from his house. Looking around the area, nothing but endless rows of trees and mossy grassland surrounded us. In the middle of a meadow nearly wide enough to be two football fields was a house. The bumpy ride came to a pause as we continued driving towards inside the open field. It was then three men walked out of the house to greet us. Charles’ group was first to arrive as they parted by the front door. Cole followed and parked the jeep beside his.
“Alpha,” one of the man greeted us said. “We’ve already secured the prisoner and the room.”
“Good work,” Charles remarked before entering the house with a confident stride.
Cole took my hand as we walked silently behind his father while Kaleb, Axel, and Tony followed closely with the rest of the Lycans on our trail. Out of instinct, my eyes studied the new environment. The place felt empty and bare, not a furniture in sight. But across from us was a titanium plated door, with two Lycans manning each side. My heart suddenly quickened, but I felt no fear on who I’m about to face.
Now, I’m going to get my answers.