Bonus Chapter – The Chrysalis of a Killer
This bonus chapter follows the moment Arla committed herself to Aleric in the old timeline. The first leap that led her down her dark past.
This chapter shows where it all started, a nice way to compare to where they ended up. This is the old timeline’s version of Aleric (as we all know), and this is also a version of Aria never seen before either. All of this is way, wayyy in the past. Years before the book even began.
The importance of this chapter is that it shows the moment Aria fully committed herself to Aleric and began her road to becoming the person she eventually became. This is Aria before her guilt, her regret, before Aleric‘s truly harsh treatment and, most importantly, before she was brought back to life the first time. Just a child who didn‘t understand why her mate didn‘t love her; confused as to what she needs to do in order to fulfil the role everyone expects of her. Someone who still has hope that things will work out.
My heart. I could hear it pounding loudly in my chest, screaming at me to reconsider. To walk away and not enter through the doors in front of me.
*Thump, thump… thump, thump… thump, thump*…
I looked down at the tray in my hand, reviewing the amount of preparation I‘d put into organising this. It was a small gesture and yet I was hopeful that he would acknowledge my effort.
Really, it had been Sophie‘s idea. She‘d suggested that I find out what he enjoyed… what he liked to eat, drink… what he did for his hobbies. She told me to find ways that showed him I was at least trying to put effort into our relationship.
‘*“‘You need to be bolder, braver,” *‘ she had said to me. “‘*He‘s never going to love you if you don’t prove to him why he should.”*”
*“But we‘re mates…,‘*‘ I argued, confused by her suggestion. ‘*“‘I thought… I thought that meant that he would feel the same way as me.“‘*‘
She then looked at me with her sad eyes, a sight that was slowly becoming more and more common over these last few months, and sighed. “*“This man is an Alpha, Aria, and predicted t
o become the most powerful one at that. You were fated to help him achieve that goal. So… help him.“*
…But it was so much easier said than done.
Aleric and I had been mates for over a year now but I still struggled with how to properly show him how I felt. He was cold, unreadable, imposing… impossible to understand. And yet I loved him. Loved his quiet, unquestionable aura, his strength… the way he made my body shiver when he was close. It‘s just that he didn’t see me that way… yet.
…So what do you give a man who already has everything?
What do you do so that he‘ll maybe look at you with the affection you so badly crave?
A tray of treats and tea delivered to his office? Would he even want to be bothered right now?
He normally allocated time for me in his schedule for… mate things. Unfortunately, today wasn’t one of those days. He would probably be spending the night with Thea again since she normally kept his bed warm during the week.
Soon, though. Soon she would be leaving. Everyone had told me so. ‘A mistress can‘t compete with a mate,‘they all said. ‘He‘ll get bored of her eventually.’
But I hated waiting… and I wanted to see him even if it wasn‘t one of my designated days. Being around him made my wolf happier and made me feel better too. Would it be possible to help him see that I could do everything Thea could? …That I could make him happy if he just gave me a chance?
‘I shouldn‘t do this,‘I thought, quickly talking myself out of it. ‘I‘m only going to annoy him.‘
But my wolf whined inside, wanting to see her mate. She was too greedy sometimes, too demanding. Didn’t she see the way he looked at us? How much he didn‘t want us around?
I sighed, caving to her pining.
Taking a deep breath, I extended my hand… and hesitantly knocked on the office door.
A moment of silence instantly followed, something that dragged on for what felt like an eternity. Was he ignoring me? Was I wrong in thinking he was even here right now?
But no, I could smell he was in there. I‘d followed his scent all the way from his quarters this morning until it lead me to the general office downstairs. He was in there, I was sure.
“…Who is it?” his voice then called out from the other side.
‘I should turn back. It‘s not too late. I can just apologise and leave quickly…‘
“Umm… sorry! I didn‘t–.”
“…Come in, Ariadne.” to the
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The only thing stopping my hands from violently shaking was knowing that if I dropped this tray outside his front office, that it would be even scarier than going in to face him. I needed t o keep my composure or all of this was going to be so much worse.
As best I could with one hand, I maneuvered the door open, twisting the handle, and lightly pushed it ajar.
…And instantly regretted intruding.
Aleric sat at his desk, documents sprawled everywhere, and was accompanied by three Elders.
They were in a meeting… and I‘d just interrupted.
One of the Elders I recognised immediately as Elder Luke. How could I not know who he was? Inside the pack vault, I‘d avidly read all of his political strategies from the last five years and immensely enjoyed the way he tackled a lot of the major issues surrounding pack relations. He was a genius in his field and I held nothing but respect for him.
Though it was a little strange I hadn‘t realised Aleric was in a meeting. For whatever reason, I hadn‘t noticed the extra scents that lead through the door. Maybe I was just too focused on just the one very intoxicating one of my mate.
…A mate whose cold eyes were now glaring at me, piercing the small ounce of confidence I‘d tried to muster up before coming in here.
The air was tense, serious, the sort of atmosphere you wouldn‘t normally want to intrude on. They were all huddled around where Aleric sat, their eyes now all on me expectantly to explain why I had interrupted.
“What do you want?” Aleric asked impatiently.
I quickly looked down at my hands to where I held the tray, my mind flustered. This had been a terrible idea.
“I–I just umm…,” I stuttered.
I couldn‘t even speak properly now. Was this really the best I could do?
I took another deep breath and looked back up towards him, willing myself to at least get through to the end of this interaction with a shred of my dignity left. I was a Luna. His Luna. I could come to see him if I wanted to… right?
“I know how hard you’ve been working lately… with the Silver Lake war and everything,“I continued, finally meeting his cold eyes. “I just… I thought you might like something to help keep you going.”
preparations of dites
He stared back at me, his face completely unreadable. Almost as if waiting for me to get to the point.
“I prepared it all myself… apologies, if it‘s not to your liking.”
The three Elders then turned to look at Aleric, waiting to see what his reaction would be. It wasn’t often Aleric and I interacted in public so their curiosity was probably piqued. Though I was sure they already knew of his distaste for me by now.
Aleric then sighed and let go of the papers from his hand.
“Fine. You can leave it on the table here,” he said, pointing to an empty space on the desk.
My heart leapt a little at his approval. He hadn‘t instantly rejected the idea… but that could have just been because there were others present.
Without wasting any more time, I quickly walked over to leave the tray where he instructed, doing my best not to cause any further trouble for him.
…But I couldn’t stop my eyes as they naturally wandered over to the documents in front of him.
War correspondence, schematics, and field reports littered the area before him, filling the space so much I was surprised there had been room for the tray.
They‘d been at this for months, I knew that much. After Aleric had killed Alpha Tobias, the world seemingly descended into madness, constantly in fear that we were going to be under attack at any moment.
But I had been hiding something from Aleric this entire time too. It was wrong, I knew, but I
couldn‘t help it.
The truth was that I was familiar with most of the documents here already, having snuck into the pack vault at midnight a few times out of curiosity, a place reserved for ranked members only. Not that I wasn‘t technically a ranked member… more so Aleric had expressly forbidden me from going in there. Apparently, there was no reason I needed to be involved with that side of pack management, but I couldn‘t seem to stop myself.
I’d always been taught growing up that a good Luna was a prepared one. And so I had studied.
he expectations of the Elders, beyond what any Luna should have to, but it was a responsibility placed on me nevertheless. Somewhere along the line, I even started learning about how intricate political strategies could be, how much of a fascinating puzzle they could
Sometimes, if I focused enough, it was like I could see it all playing out in my head. See how moving people in certain ways would lead to correlated outcomes, anticipating what they may do in retaliation to those results. Almost as if it were a game.
And the war with the Silver Lake was proving to be one of the most interesting ones yet. I had
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a few theories for how it could play out but was waiting to see which side would move next. Would Aleric end up winning the next battle? Or would their new Alpha, Caius, prove victorious?
The problem was Aleric didn‘t like it when I left the packhouse for too long but there wasn’t much else to do in terms of entertainment. Looking over the war documents had become a hobby of sorts. A passion. Even giving me a tiny bit of a thrill when I thought of new ways to g o about certain issues.
…Suddenly, I was dragged out of my thoughts and thrown back into reality.
Without looking, Aleric had reached out to grab something on top of the desk and accidentally brushed my arm in the process.
…And a small gasp escaped my lips.
Sparks immediately erupted from where our skin made contact, igniting my body inside. And, just like every other time, a euphoric rush shivered through me. I wanted to reach out, to touch him again, to feel it for just a few seconds more…
“You can go now,” Aleric said, verbally dismissing me when I stood standing there without moving
“Ah, a–apologies,” I hurriedly replied, my brain still frazzled from the bond. But I quickly took a step backwards to leave, not wanting to tarnish the small positive experience I‘d already accomplished so far. “I‘ll leave you to it. I hope—.”
“Your name is Ariadne Chrysalis, right?” Elder Luke then chimed in, cutting off my final words.
I looked over at him confused, unsure why he was asking me something he already knew the answer to.
“We’ve never actually had the chance to speak before, Luna,” he said, taking a step forward to extend his hand. “My name is Luke Hastings, the newest Elder on the council.”
I instantly looked over at Aleric for his approval but he only stared back at me expressionlessly. Was he okay with this? With me talking with the Elders?
…But wouldn‘t it be rude if I declined his greeting?
I quickly looked back over at Elder Luke and accepted his hand, shaking it within mine.
“Yes, I‘m familiar with your work,” I said quietly. “You have accomplished a great deal in such a short amount of time. It‘s very commendable.”
He chuckled and pulled away, his eyes holding a glint of deep intelligence that made me wonder what vast knowledge he was hiding. I was sure there was so much more he could tell m e than just what I’d read in the reports.
“You flatter me, Luna,” he said humbly. “Though I couldn‘t help but notice your own
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curiosity with the work we’re doing here. And given that you‘re familiar with my history, do 1 mean to take that as confirmation that you, too, are well studied in this field?”
I chewed on the inside of my cheek, sceptical as to whether I should confess. Aleric had always made it clear that I wasn’t meant to be involved with anything like this. My job was managing
small affairs and events within the pack… not politics.
“Oh… I don’t know. Not really,” I said softly, taking another step back towards the door. “I should probably be going now though. I‘ve already taken up too much of your—.”
“Humour me,” he insisted, reaching down to hand me some of the documents from the desk.
I stared at the field report and map he‘d given me; two documents I was already familiar with, yet were two documents I wasn’t meant to have seen before.
“I’ve heard rumours that our Luna is as intelligent and well versed as she is beautiful,” he said, complimenting me.
Was this his way of getting me to feel more comfortable and open up that I had been sneaking i n the vault? Did Aleric set him up for this? To get my confession?
I scrutinised the pages in my hand, already having several ideas on the issues they were facing, but knew that my opinion wouldn‘t matter anyway. My suggestions were just silly fantasies of a young Luna, not that of an experienced strategist.
“…What would a girl like me know about war?” I nervously replied, handing him back the documents. “I‘m no Alpha.”
Elder Luke exhaled and took them from my hand. “Ah, that‘s a shame. We‘ve been stuck in a stalemate with the Silver Lake for so long now that I was looking forward to picking your brain on the matter. To get a fresh perspective.”
‘Me too,’I sadly agreed inside.
I would have loved the opportunity to speak freely with Elder Luke, to revel in a proper academic conversation relating to the current affairs of the pack. But instead, I gave him a small smile, leaving towards the door once more.
“You think too highly of her,” Aleric muttered quietly behind me. “All she knows is books. She wouldn‘t be useful for anything of this nature.”
His words instantly stopped me in my tracks just as my hand rested on the door handle, stinging as if he had just physically wounded me.
Was that how he really saw me? Useless?
All Aleric ever seemed to care about was winning this war, to continue climbing in power. Why was it that it felt as though, between his work and Thea, there just wasn‘t any room for me?
…And then a thought came to me.
Bestilling the states that is filter
…If I could make myself useful to him, help him get what he so desperately wanted… then would he finally have time for me? Finally want to make time for me?
But I was scared. Scared that, even if I did try, he would just laugh off my ideas. I had no real life experience with any of this. All of my theories were just based on books, old records and m y own imagination.
“*”You need to be bokler, braver,”* Sophie’s words then echoed in my head.”*”He’s never going to love you if you don’t prove to him why he should.“*”
…Was this what she had meant?
…Was this what would make him happy?
I closed the door once more and spun back around to face the group, doing my best to keep my composure.
“…Was there something else?” Aleric asked, his cold eyes slowly filling with disdain. I could tell that he wanted me to leave, and do so quickly, his patience finally dwindling.
But I pushed aside my fear. I needed to show him that I could help him, that I could add value. That I was worth his time.
No, I needed to cast aside my anxiety and fulfil my purpose.
Because if the Goddess could stand back and allow for his cold treatment of me, then perhaps this was all a part of her plan. That she would make it so I would have to earn his love to follow him down his path.
I needed to remember that I was fated to Aleric; his other half, his mate. My role was to help him achieve greatness and succeed. It was what the Elders had already prophesied me to do.
So all that was left for me to do was to just do it. Just as Sophie had said.
“Actually… yes,” I replied to him, raising my head slightly. “I just realised that there was something I noticed when looking at the files but I forgot to mention it.”
Without waiting for his invitation to proceed, I quickly walked towards the group and held my hand out to Elder Luke to retrieve the documents back. His eyes were filled with intrigue as he obliged my request; eyes that were the polar opposite to Aleric‘s disapproving ones.
“In my opinion, your strategies so far have been fine, but too focused on brute force… no insult intended, of course,” I said before laying the pages out on the desk in front of them. “As your previous stalemate battles have shown, you‘re never going to succeed against someone like Alpha Caius with just landscape strategies and strength alone. You need to think more outside the box. Aleric‘s skill in battle is an asset, for sure, but so is the way Caius can manipulate his men so easily. And an army of men who are motivated will always prevail over one that isn’t. In fact, I’m sure if we didn’t have Aleric, we would have lost this war already.”
| “Ariadne!” Aleric growled in caution, angry at my blatant insult to the pack
Thrily behind a killer
But what I had said was true. Aleric was trying too hard to catch them in tight spots but didn‘t have the full strength of the people behind him to execute it correctly. It was like playing a game of chess by expecting to only use the king piece. The pawns were there… it’s just that they were all becoming more stagnant the longer the war drew on. They were now just going through the motions, becoming fodder to keep the war from completely ending.
And the result was stalemate after stalemate.
“Alpha, with all due respect, I’d like to hear her thoughts through to the end,” Elder Luke said, appealing to Aleric. “We’ve been out of new ideas for weeks now. I think we should at least give her a chance. The only thing we have to lose right now is a few minutes of our time.”
Aleric leaned back in his chair, his hand balled into a fist, but nodded his head anyway. I could tell that he didn’t like me being involved. His irritation was radiating off him even if his face didn’t outwardly express it.
My eyes quickly flicked back and forth between the two men, sizing up the situation, questioning whether this was still a good idea. Would I only accomplish angering Aleric beyond repair?
“Please… I’d like to hear the rest, Luna,” Elder Luke said to me, gesturing that I proceed.” Taking into consideration what you‘ve said so far, what would you then propose we do?”
I paused for a few seconds in thought, still inwardly debating whether I should find a valid reason to escape. However, deep down, I knew it was probably too late to do so now even if I wanted to. It would cause more attention if I left now than it would if I continued.
“You need to separate Caius from the bulk of his men, narrowing them down to a smaller isolated group for Aleric to take on,” I said slowly. “Once it‘s a more intimate battle, it would b e easy enough to finish the job.”
Aleric then suddenly scoffed, causing me to flinch from the abruptness, and a humourless smile formed on his lips. “You think it‘s that easy? Weren‘t you the one who just mentioned that landscape plans weren‘t going to work here? You haven‘t said anything we don‘t already know.”
I quickly then turned to look at him directly, ignoring all the things in my head that were telling me to just apologise and leave. To not talk back to him like I was about to.
“Actually,” I corrected, “what I said was that those strategies wouldn‘t work ‘alone‘. Caius isn‘t going to just abandon his men and he‘ll sense a trap if you try and lure him into a secluded area. No, what you need to do is make him think that his intel says it‘s safe to approach. You need to make him believe that closing in on us is his own idea.”
“And how would we do that, Luna?” Elder Luke asked politely, a small smile of encouragement on his face.
“You need to infiltrate their scouts,” I explained. “Find their communication route, figure out
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their encryption system… and then it’s just a simple matter of inserting our own misinformation into the mix to suit our bigger agenda. They‘ll think it‘s coming from their own team and will follow wherever we lead them; especially if we mention Aleric isn’t present.”
The room then became deathly quiet as they all took in what I’d said, showing mixed expressions towards my suggestion. It was unnerving, to say the least.
“Here,” I continued, pointing to a semi-closed off area on the map. I needed an excuse to look back down before I completely cracked under their pressure and lost my confidence. “You should eventually try and lead him here for the final stand. The maps shows some good tree and rock coverage here as well as a large flat area… it will work well with Aleric’s fighting style but it‘ll still allow for a surprise attack once they show up.”
The men all looked at each other, almost as if having a silent discussion with just their faces; one that I wasn’t allowed to be privy to.
It was risky, I knew that. If we uncovered the communication route but burnt our one chance, i t would be significantly harder to pull off the same thing a second time. They‘d immediately rework the entire network and make it infinitely harder to infiltrate. In battle, it seemed the unexpected was most effective, but it was rare they would fall for the same trick twice.
If we were to do this, we would need to do it right the first time.
“Ariadne, I don—.”
“ – Don‘t think I could have thought of something better myself,” Elder Luke said, finishing what was most certainly not Aleric‘s sentence. “Incredible suggestion… don‘t you think so, Alpha?”
Aleric’s jaw tightened, his eyes narrowing at me, and I felt as though I was going to evaporate from just his gaze alone. Isn‘t this what he wanted? A new idea for how to win?
“…Yes,” he finally agreed, albeit reluctantly. “Fine. We can try it. Who do we have available to take the lead on digging up the communication route?”
“Beta Jarrod is currently on the front line, keeping the warriors in line…,” one of the other Elders chimed in. “But Brayden is probably available? Though I don‘t know if this kind of work would be suitable for him. He‘s also still grieving Gamma Oliver‘s recent passing from the last battle.”
“What about Jonathan? Alexander? Anthony?” Aleric prompted. “Are any of them free?”
“Jonathan is working surveillance already on our side… but maybe Alexan—.”
–“–I can do it,” I quickly cut in. “… I can uncover the communication trail.”
…What did I just say? Did I actually just ask to take the lead on this? I shouldn‘t even be in this meeting right now, let alone making suggestions. They‘d already indulged me enough by just listening to my idea.
tuttoysalisezi a killing
But a part of me had already decided that this was what I wanted to do, adamant on staying true to my earlier conviction to help Aleric. This was what the Goddess wanted, I was sure.
“…I‘ve thought of a few trails that they could be using,” I continued. “All you’d need to do is permit me access to a scouting team so I can send them out and confirm the correct one. Just one or two of the better trackers would be fine. They just need to know how to cover their own scents once they’ve discovered the route.”
“You’ve put an awful lot of thought into this for someone who merely glanced at a few documents briefly,” Aleric said, his statement implying that he realised I had probably been looking into this much earlier than I led on.
“I’m… very passionate about our pack,” I replied, choosing my words carefully. “The state of affairs has been weighing down on me for some time and I found solace by thinking in–depth about our current situation. Excuse me for keeping my worries from you.”
Not necessarily a lie… but definitely not the truth. Could he tell?
“Aleric… please,” I then found myself continuing. “Please let me show you that I can do this. Put your trust in me just this once. I promise you won‘t regret it.”
I held my breath, waiting for his permission. Waiting for him to acknowledge me even the tiniest bit… to allow me a foot in the door and show him I could be useful if he just let me. Not a scared young girl… but a partner.
Eventually, he sighed, waving a hand towards me. “Fine, whatever. Get it done. You have a week.”
“Alpha-,’ Elder Luke started to protest, realising the time frame set was ridiculously short.
But I cut him off before he could speak for me.
“–I accept,” I instantly agreed. “Thank you for the opportunity.”
It didn‘t matter if the task seemed impossible. This was just another test of my commitment and I would prove to him that I could handle it.
Already I could feel the butterflies in my stomach making me feel breathless over his small acceptance… but I wanted more. I needed more. I would make him see me as the person I was meant to be, that the Goddess wanted me to be.
Tomorrow would mark the beginning of something new, I was sure. Something that would set us on the path we were destined for.
…And, deep down, I had a feeling that maybe… just maybe… things were only going to get better from here.