CHAPTER 16- SUBMISSION
Both wolves wasted no time after they’ve shifted.
They had limbs that burst to life as the echoes of their howls diminished to silence. The shift made their minds clearer, the darkness reduced to a subtle twilight and the sound of each other’s hearts a beacon where they clung.
Torryn saw her pierce the woods where they passed, the beat of her heart a constant drum. What was once fear that dwelt in Snow’s heart was now a rippling glee. Her wolf was young and curious, her fledgling frame hesitated between the trunks. Torryn ran beside her. His wolf a solitary guide through the woods. His built was sleek and stern, his actions more composed. Being in wolf form too often made it feel like second nature for him.
Snow struggled through the woods like a cub on its first hunt. Her every move relied on Torryn. It made his heart swell as he watched her follow beside him.
She had no idea how beautiful she was.
Her wolf was a mix of gold midday sunlight and pale moonlight silver. The white fur made the ash blonde streaks a contrasting gradient on her head. As the two colors bled throughout her body, the shades of white and gold blended seamlessly until her limbs were white as snow.
Torryn led her to the clearing where the woods posed no boundaries. As she dove into the moonlit meadow, she began to run. The she-wolf started bobbing, bouncing every other step like a cub on the loose. She twisted and turned towards him watching if he followed behind her.
She need not to worry, Torryn thought, for his eyes were only on her.
Follow me, he spoke as his limbs bolted a powerful stride. Torryn saw her follow. He led her through the clearing, passing the stables, and into rows of pine trees. Their destination was the garden below Torryn’s chambers. The patches of un-roofed soil bear witness to the garden’s expanding growth. Lilies and fox gloves bloomed as Snow bowed her head to touch the petals with her nose.
Torryn found the arch of stone that led to the winding stairs. He shifted as his human form ached in need of her.
“I need you in my bed, little bird.” His voice growled in need as he spoke.
Snow looked through the stone arch as the flames lit the small corridor. Her paws landed through the bed of wild daisy as she heard him call. Snow’s mewl made him smirk as he bent down to dip his hands into the fur of her neck.
Torryn’s heart beat wild. He was barely breathing. Snow kept her green wolf eyes on him as he pressed his forehead on hers. His chest a chasm that held his rioting heart pounded as Torryn pulled against her neck. His fingers laced through her fur. Her name landed in small breaths on her soft coat.
He wanted her.
Just as Torryn’s heart began to slam deafening pulses against his ears, Snow shifted. A tangle of dark brown curls branching through Torryn’s finger tips. He landed soft kisses on the skin of her neck where he marked her tracing the scar with his tongue. He could not resist her.
Torryn pulled her up and dragged her into his chambers.
The full force of his need sent thick energy that made Snow pant. He sat her down on his sheets as his lips found her mouth. He pinned her down to the edge of his bed as his gaze travel to her body. His face spelled greed, his hands where a glutton between the wetness of her thighs. He stroked her as she arched her back in cries of sweet pleasure.
“Not too loud, little bird.”
Snow cupped her mouth dampening the screams that followed. Torryn knelt before her. Snow’s body lay so close to the edge of the bed as the base of her hips cushioned his manhood. Her slick warmth made Torryn let out a low growl.
The full might of his wild unrelenting need for her showed. He separated her legs. His grip firm and strong on her hips.
Torryn’s body slid down between her legs. He stopped when his manhood touched where she ached the most. His solid mound brushed her as she shuddered.
“In me,” Her voice faint and brittle.
“Louder,” He ordered.
“Inside me,” she raised her voice as a moan interlaced between the words.
Snow called out his name when he sheathed himself inside her. His movements powerful and slow thrusting until he could not help but roll his eyes in pleasure. She had him splintering around her.
Torryn’s hand found the curve of her shoulders as he pulled her closer, slamming into her as both moved together.
It was unending, his thrusts made the delicate skin where he entered flush red. As Snow went over the edge, Torryn gritted his teeth with the growing pull of her chasm. Snow was panting, begging, calling out his name when Torryn roared, a low oozing rumble from his chest.
Both wolves stirred in unison, each of his thrust Snow received in welcome. Her hands gripped his back as he loved her slow and hard. Their skin glistened until the fire of the woods were nothing but embers.
And when Snow began to rapture, he growled and went with her.
“I love you,”
Snow bit the words as she stood beside her sisters at the great hall. The hands on her sides became pale. The cold limbs tugged on to the fitting collar of her dress to let the skin of her neck loose. It was an attempt to breathe with no relief. Her lungs struggled. The air was thick. Their eyes were piercing.
I love you.
Snow’s face lost all color just thinking about it. Nausea sent cold drops of sweat on her forehead. Her skin became translucent as the blue veins of her lids showed. She was to hold it together until Victor’s Welcome ended.
The Grimlakes stood before the crowd. Each clan with their flag clustered before the five she-wolves. She and her sisters were in their best dresses, cheeks and lips brushed with rouge, head of hair neatly pulled back – well except for Snow who had the rebellious curls out on her shoulders. The five of them were lined up, letting the crowd bask in their presence. With no one or nothing to hold on to, Snow was certain that if she fainted, the cold marble would be glad enough to catch her. She licked her lips and tasted bile.
Snow caught a glimpse of the Burnwood flag and felt like she could spill her insides. A memory of her and Torryn’s love making made her wince. She hid the expression with a trembling hand. The pale limb shielded her face as she coughed.
No matter how many times she traced the memory, Snow could not understand why she managed to say such things. I love you.
Her feet wobbled. A trembling hand braced the cold skin of her forehead.
She told him she loved him.
Right as their bodies ceased to tremble with their release, Torryn eased her down under the covers. He took hold of the sheets and covered her shuddering body. Then, he spoke in her ear, telling her he was to leave. She resisted holding on to his arms. But, the promise of his return calmed her as sleep began to take over. Before she surrendered in deep slumber, her lips carelessly spoke the words.
I love you.
And, like darkness that swarmed the lands, like the fire that can reduce anything to ashes, like barrels of waves smashing driftwood against the rocks, she felt like it was the end of the bloody world. It was only that morning when she woke up without him by her side that she realized what she had done.
Her vision began to take a shade of black and gray. And from a distance, a muffled voice managed to shake Snow from her thoughts.
The elder spoke as the crowd stood in attention.
“I give you, your victors.”
Drums. Howls. Hands out stretched.
Snow did not know what to do with the brewing energy from their spectators.
Underneath Burnwood flag, were wolves stripped of their upper clothing. Each man revealed dark pigments drawn on their backs, arms and chest. The lines of black formed geometrical figures. The markings against their skin branched up their faces.
And, Torryn was nowhere in sight.
“We shall begin with the offering of gifts,” the elder spoke.
The crowd howled as Everett came forth.
They wore black leather in layers of dark tunic, bearing mahogany crates on their arms. Each chest lay open as they stood before them. Snow peaked through the slabs of wood and saw weapons of steal; spears, knives, traps, cross bows, enough to spark a small rebellion.
The task proved to be helpful as her thought drifted elsewhere. She began to breathe and her legs managed to bring he closer to the crates.
Damien flashed a grin as she saw him. Snow smiled beneath the growing pain on her chest. He came before her.
“For the great huntress,” he bowed before her, Snow could only smile. Her lips where coy, lifting the corners of her bland grin against her stiffened cheeks. He held out his hand to one of his men. The wolf scrambled to one of the crates and handed Damien the weapon.
Snow’s eyed widened as the bow made of solid metal was presented before her.
Her hands took it as Damien urged the present to her. Snow wasn’t trembling as she studied the remarkable marksmanship on the weapon.
“It’s a recent discovery, Aluminum alloy,” Damien spoke, “The body is hollow making it light. The limbs are stronger, more flexible which gives you more power. Well, more power with the right arrows.”
Damien led Snow to a crate full of metal arrows of different sizes and kinds. Her eyes feasted on metal arrow heads of different shapes and arrow shafts of different length and diameter.
“They’re beautiful,” Snow bowed before him as she held the bow. It was surprisingly light for its size. Her spirits lit up. She could not wait to hunt with it.
The Wolframs followed carrying woven baskets of smoked meat, loaves of aged sour bread, and wheel of fermented cheese. Barrels of rum rolled before them as Snow felt her chest become light. The coldness of her fingers was replaced with warmth as she sat the metal bow down.
“How the heavens are we to carry this back home?” Margaux snagged a remark.
The women glanced at each other. Snow’s shoulder bobbed in suppressed giggles as her sisters followed.
“We need about,” Lais added, “Three or four carriages?”
Snow bit her lip as she placed her fingers on her lips. The rest of her sisters grinned, snorting as Snow hid her face in her hand. She was about to give in to laughter when she heard her sisters grow silent.
As she attempted to glance at her sisters, Snow’s eyes snapped wide open when she saw him.
That scar across his face sent shivers down her spine - like it usually did when she was too close. The stitches of the wound framed the scabbed skin. His eyes a dark brown bore through her. Snow’s back went straight, her heart a fluttering chaos.
She gulped hard clearing her throat as he walked towards them. He came from behind where the servants received the gifts of each clan.
Gray strands shot out from his scalp studding white flecks against the blackness of his hair. What was once a head full of long wavy locks began to recede. His age showed even further as lines under his eyes, on his forehead, beside his nose creased. He wasn’t in a good mood. She knew all too well.
Snow stood still as she watched Aragon Grimlake cross his arms against his chest. He stood between the five of them. He whispered something to Celeste as she nodded to his words. Snow let the cold consume her body once again. Her lips where pale as pale as her fingers were getting. And again, she felt nauseous.
The crowd felt his presence as they stood in attention. The drums stopped, the conversations slowly muted, all eyes where on him. After a few weeks of living away from her father, Snow almost forgot the energy lifting under his skin. It was overpowering and heavy. It weighed her down – it weighed all them down. Perhaps the magnitude of wolves felt it too.
Snow watched her father as his palm rubbed the stiffness of his neck, his eyebrows where almost scrunched together.
Please, don’t be mad. Snow hoped.
As the Wolframs lay one last basket of spices and medicinal brews. The five stiffened except for Celeste who was still beside him. His father cleared his throat. Snow and her sisters flinched and darted looks at each other that resembled utter panic.
The man began to rub his temples and frustrated sighs flowed form his lips. As he opened his them, Snow could only hope for the worst.
“Dear guests, pardon my late arrival.”
She and her sisters began to breathe as the harmless remark made the crowd at ease. The silence shattered in applause and wails as the wolves received her father’s greeting. Snow brushed a cold sweat from her forehead finally breathing a sigh of relief. He was decent after all.
Before Snow’s hand found its way back to her side, barrels of rum slammed on the marble floor. The wooden cylinders rolling down the small steps back to the crowd where the Wolfram’s stood. Its contents spitting drops of liquor on the floor.
“We won’t be needing those,” His voice was stern. His arms firmly crossed against his torso. Snow’s father had that look in his eyes like he could kill, “My daughters don’t drink.”
The five stiffened as they recalled memories of their merry making heavily influenced by alcohol. Snow cleared her throat as she glanced at her sisters.
They all looked as terrified as her.
If death would have a feeling, this would be it.
His hand grabbed the corner of his jaw as he sipped the numbing brew. The warm liquid spread through his mouth as the thick fluid enveloped his tongue. The side of his face throbbed as he tasted blood. His tongue gently licked the swollen gum where remnants of blood and the depression on his fang lay sore.
Victor’s Welcome had already begun, and he was still in one of the small rooms of the kitchen sipping on the bitter concoction.
The only thing that gripped him to the land of the living was her.
His heart pounded with the vision of Snow. His imprinting towards her was still fresh and strong, Torryn wondered if when his need will ever stop. Just he was about to leave her that night, Snow told him she loved him.
After all that he has done to her, taking his fill over her body, manhandling her, leaving her sore and cold, yet Snow told him she loved him. The monster that he was did not deserve such love. But she gave it anyway.
Torryn could not suppress the smile taking over his lips. Warmth spread through him. He could not bear to stay every time he is finished with her. He might not resist to make love to her again and that will just exhaust her.
It was the morning of Victor’s Welcome, she needed all the strength she can get. The clans would be handing their gifts by now. And Burnwood still doesn’t have their alpha with them.
His clan was big but with produce so little, they had nothing to offer the victors during the ceremony. Although they lack in material possessions, there was something he knew his clan could offer.
The same protection he and his father’s men had given other clans.
Burnwood has the best fighters trained of ways of old, down to the skills used from the great war. Their wolves were sharper and their intuition more suited in the battle field. They remained steadfast against the growing threats of Rogues and the monsters that lurked in the woods. He did not know what else Burnwood could offer.
They had ancient mementos, heirlooms like the one he gave Snow. The ring of Eve of the North suited her. His jaw ached ever so slightly as he grinned. The numbing brew was just beginning to take its effect.
How would the elders react to such gift? He imagined his grandmother’s jaw drop down from her face.
Then, Burnwood had the elders. The old miserable women filled with ancient wisdom. He rolled his eyes.
The ladies made sure all things were in order based on traditional rites, passages, prophecies and other things Torryn knows nothing about.
Some alpha he is, he thought as he snickered.
But through the years, he saw his father serve and all their ways were the same. Torryn failed to see the clan’s growth as the wolf clan was so rooted in history.
What they lack in growth they made up in number. The newborns never cease in quantity but there was something amiss. It pained him to see such empire be just an empire, a vessel of killers and nothing else.
And with so little to offer her, Torryn knew only one way to face Snow’s father.
Torryn sent her father an invitation days ago. He anticipated his arrival by Reaping but the man did not show signs of his presence.
It would be a privilege to be around him, the Aragon Grimlake, who himself served and fought during the Great War in such a young age. If he and his men were trained to fight in ways of old just by ancient scrolls and painted scripts.
Snow’s father lived through the war to learn it first-hand.
Torryn wanted a word with him. The threats that prowled the shadows become greater as the day passes. With the Reaping of the Rogue Nation drawing close he could not help but fear the worst.
After what happened the previous year.
“Sire, it’s time” One of his men came. Torryn shrugged the thought and stood from his seat. He downed the last of the numbing brew and marched out of the room.
The crowd separated paving a path for him to tread as he entered the great hall.
He had dark pigment on his skin, drawn ancient symbols on his back as he walked bear chested amidst the crowd.
Torryn marched towards the five she wolves as he caught glimpse of the Grimlake alpha at their center. He felt him, his energy stung his nose, it made it hard to breathe. Torryn nodded before him just as he saw the oak tree on carved ivory against Aragon’s chest.
Torryn’s metal crest lay in level with it as two alphas met eye to eye.
“Greetings, alpha,” Torryn said as the crowd grew silent.
“Aside from the promise of grandchildren,” Aragon’s lips arched, “what else can you give me?”
Giggles rippled through the crowd as Snow grew red beside her father. Her hands were pale. Her sisters on the other hand, Margaux – in particular, could not help but glare at him. The sharpness of their stares reduced to giggles as Clara let out a yelping laugh. The crowd’s amusement was certainly contagious.
“I offer something different, Sire,” Torryn smirked, His eyes met Snow as she subtly shook her head. “Not just grandchildren.”
“How different could this present be?”
The Grimlake alpha was stern, his arms against his chest. His energy reduced Torryn to bits as he stood with his head down before him. Torryn accepted the submission, he held one arm to his chest as he bowed. Aragon’s dominance made it difficult to stand back straight.
But he was not to let the Grimlake alpha wait any longer.
From Torryn’s hands dangled a thick thread where his wolf fang hung. It was a simple necklace Torryn hand crafted. He held the still blood-tinged fang. It was the size of two of his fingers consuming half of his palm. His jaw tightened as the remnants of his tooth lay swollen on his gums.
He handed the token to Aragon Grimlake, the alpha stared at the sharp canine. He stood silent his stare darted at the fang of Torryn’s wolf.
Torryn’s chest became heavy with the memory of his father. He did not know what good fathers were made of. He had no idea why they do what they do.
It confused him. As Aragon mentioned grandchildren, Torryn was certain he was not ready to become one. But although his father spent most of his time in the fields, Theon Burnwood was a good to him.
It was a shame that he had not shown his father submission. Why hasn’t he pulled out his fang sooner for him?
But now, before his mate’s father, he could.
Torryn cleared the building mass on his throat as he spoke the words of the ancient ritual.
“I, thy son, offer a symbol of my submission,” Torryn knelt on one knee, the wolf fang still swinging from his fingers, “with this fang plucked from the depths of my wolf, I offer my life to serve, thee.”
Aragon Grimlake lowered his gaze to stare at his offering. Torryn’s now outstretched hand held the gift waiting for the recipient to take hold if it. Seconds passed by, but the Grimlake alpha continued to stand silent.
Torryn gritted his teeth feeling the aching gum throb. His heart felt heavy as he lost all hope. He was about to stand on his feet when Aragon took the wolf fang in his hands.
His action was swift and unsettling. Aragon took hold of the string as he stared at the wolf fang. The Grimlake alpha emitted power from his body like the rays of the sun. Torryn could only look down and shield his eyes.
“Stand up,” The Grimlake alpha spoke in a low rumbling rasp.
Torryn did not know what to make of it. The ritual wasn’t finished as Aragon too needed to respond. It seemed to him that he has rejected his submission. Torryn was about to stand up when Aragon’s hands rested on his shoulders.
“I, thy father, accept thine offering,” his voice was bland and forced. Underneath his breath, he mumbled as he pulled him up.
“By the Gods, stand the hell up.”
Torryn looked up and saw the old man smirk.